Archive for February, 2009
On a more positive bent, I welcome the arrival of former Green MP Nandor Tanczos to the blogosphere.
On Dread Times, the hemp-promoting Rastafarian continues to prove himself a independent-thinking, left-wing intellectual. In fact, on most things other than GM, I find him a moderate voice of reason.
It was sad to lose him from Parliament, but at least he still has a voice (mind you: Parliament vs the blogosphere… hmmm).
Two of his posts have already sprung out me: his piece on culinary imperialism and refusal to support a woman who hopes to save dogs from slaughter for food in The Philippines; and his level-headed dissection of the SIS’s monitoring of Green MP Keith Locke.
It is true that SIS surveillance of an MP both undermines parliamentary democracy and cuts across his work as foreign affairs spokesperson for the Greens. It is especially bad in that 55 years of files have turned up no evidence of illegal activity or anything other than a strong social conscience and a determination to do something to make the world a better place.
I’ll be a regular reader.
Goodness, it’s difficult to have a rational discussion about climate change.
I tend to agree with the thousands of expressly-qualified scientists who make up the International Panel on Climate Change, which says:
Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.
Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (human) greenhouse gas concentrations.
But sometimes you get otherwise-rational people who dig for every piece of contrary evidence (as if it hasn’t already been considered by the IPCC) and hold it up as a flame that would burn through the whole ‘theory’ of climate change and man’s role in it.
In Poneke‘s latest post, the former journalist fires barbs at ‘warmers’ who who apparently ‘gloat’ that the fires in Victoria are proof “of their religious beliefs”.
Sure, there are people who incorrectly blame climate change for every climate-related incident imaginable. But they’re on the fringes. That they exist doesn’t make climate change bunkum. Because one person publishes an op-ed attributing much of the blame on climate change (the story Poneke linked to; the supposed gloating zealot), that doesn’t mean climate change had nothing to do with it.
It is at least feasible that the long drought and record-breaking temperatures, coupled with hot winds, could be related to global warming.
But instead, Poneke finds it’s the “green lobby” (actually a group insistent on retaining a green wedge that ultimately acted as fuel for the fire) who is responsible for the scale of destruction resulting from the fires.
I cannot begin to claim that I am an expert on climate change, or even that I have comprehensive knowledge of it. I am confident Poneke has read more on the matter than I have. But he does seem to be reading through a particular lens. And the readings he highlights consistently reaffirm his skepticism about climate change. Fair enough. But those opinions are easy to find. I would love for the idea of climate change to be a complete misunderstanding; a total mistake. But it’s all too easy to find views — genunie, professional, balanced, considered, scientific, evidence-based — that confirm the IPCC’s views; views the likes of Poneke and other skeptics seldom point to.
This is pretty petty (and lazy), but, when it comes to climate change, I also tend to respect my dad’s opinion. That’s because he’s a physics PhD who has spent most of his career doing atmospheric research. He works with many of the people who are part of the IPCC, and even some of those skeptics. He understands climate change and has calm, rational, evidence-based arguments that have debunked every piece of contrary evidence I have run by him.
Dad’s not a ‘religious’ nut who blames climate change on every climate-related event, but I’m sure he’d agree that the climatic circumstances that led to the fires in Victoria at the very least reflect predictions made by scientists about the increasing prevalence of drought, hot weather, and fires in Australia. (Please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong, Dad.)
Now, I also have a lot of respect for journalists and bloggers (such as Poneke). The best of them are masters at distilling complicated ideas into easy-to-understand prose. They can clear thickets of tangled bush and convert it to picturesque parklands. But no matter how much he reads, nor how many opinions he can dig up to confirm his own, I’m going to ignore Poneke in favour of my dad.
I’m sure both will be thrilled to know.
I was once seated on a plane beside the coach of the Toronto Argonauts football team, Mike ‘Pinball’ Clemons. For some reason, we got talking about climate change. As an evangelical Christian, he told me, he didn’t believe in it. “I believe the world is going to end as the Bible said it would — and that is in a great ball of fire”.
He might not be that far off.
Dad emailed me his thoughts. Here I reproduce the private email without a shred of guilt:
In some ways though I think the contribution of global warming to the bushfires has been overstated. It’s probably a minor contributing factor, but bushfires are a natural event, and the consequences were larger because of the greater population in bush covered areas that are not regularly burnt these days. I saw an argument on TV that increased CO2 promotes growth and thus leads to more fuel for the fires. That’s definitely pushing it too far.
I’m not really that scared of snakes. I once saw a Cobra in a jungle in Thailand and didn’t flinch. Mind you, it was under a rock about 15 feet away, and one of our guides was wearing flip-flops and gingerly pointing at it with a stick. Apparently, it had fallen out of a tree just behind him. I shrugged. I couldn’t even see its teeth.
Later on that trip, the lead guide ate a live tarantula. Actually, it wasn’t live when he had finished with it.
But because of a recent hiking excursion in Sai Kung, where there was much discussion between me, Simon and Andrew about how a Boa Constrictor there had once constricted a labrador to death, certain of my friends think I have a snake phobia.
This misconception was reinforced when, while sitting in a rest area, Andrew threw a stone into the bushes behind me and I jumped up like a scared rabbit. Doesn’t matter. I’m still tough. I’ve seen a Cobra.
Anyway, Andrew said it’s easy to fend off a Boa Constrictor in the case of an attack. He had learned at primary school. You simply grab it by the tail and peel it off, he said.
Where I come from, the phrase ‘peel it off’ is a euphemism for male-oriented, hand-administered self-love. So I found the image of Andrew grabbing a Boa Constrictor by the tail and peeling it off a rather amusing one.
Simon is dedicating blog posts to his friends. I dedicate this one to him, and draw this to his attention.
You’ve been Steve Guttenberg‘d!
I’m more like this guy.
Dick Cheney has emerged from the political grave to remind the world why the last eight years were so horrible, and why it’s going to take more than a new President to put them fully behind us.
“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said.
Dear Mr Cheney: Go away. Stay away. Let us forget you. And stop giving terrorists reason for hope.
“The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected. Sometimes, that requires us to take actions that generate controversy. I’m not at all sure that that’s what the Obama administration believes.”
Yep, you sure did a good job of building that international respect.
Can someone warn his handlers that Cheney has escaped from his steel crate?
From The Onion:
A team of nine specially trained handlers have successfully lured outgoing vice president Dick Cheney into a reinforced steel traveling crate in order to transport him back to his permanent enclosure in Casper, WY, official sources reported Monday. “He’s a smart one. Once he sees the crate, he gets pretty nippy, but we’ve learned a few tricks over the years,” chief VP wrangler Ted Irving breathlessly said while applying pressure to a deep gash on his forearm.