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Monday, December 26, 2011

A new way of thinking as sea levels rise

The Washington Post

A new way of thinking as sea levels rise

View Photo Gallery —  Obama administration members participated in international climate talks in Greenland in an effort to focus attention on polar melting even as new data suggest that the rate of melting is much higher than anticipated.

From his government office in Virginia Beach, Clay Bernick can see the future, and that future looks a rather lot like the movie “Waterworld.”

The sea level is rising in Virginia Beach and the entire area known as Hampton Roads because of the warming climate, and the area also happens to be sinking for other geological reasons.

Within 50 years, a big part of Virginia Beach’s identity — its beach — could be lost if nothing is done, said Bernick, the city’s environment and sustainability administrator. Large pieces of land could also be lost to the ocean in Norfolk within a few generations.

In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that, outside of greater New Orleans, Hampton Roads is at the greatest risk from sea-level rise for any area its size.

“It’s a significant threat,” Bernick said. “At this point, I wouldn’t put it in the category of fear, because it’s a long way off.” But he added: “You’ve got multiple factors with flashing lights saying, ‘Okay, guys, what are you going to do?’ ”

To help answer that question in the past, municipalities turned to a manual published by the Army Corps of Engineers since 1954 on how to protect shores by holding back the sea.

But earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published the first manual on how not to hold it back, arguing that costly seawalls and dikes eventually fail because sea-level rise is unstoppable. The federal Global Change Research Program estimates that the sea level will rise 14 to 17 inches in the next century around Hampton Roads.

The analysis, “Rolling Easements,” published on the EPA’s Web site, hopes “to get people on the path of not expecting to hold back the sea” as the warming climate is expected to melt ice around the globe, EPA researcher James G. Titus said.

Titus said state and local governments should start crafting laws and ordinances to limit development on vulnerable lands and encourage people living there to move inland. Reflecting the scale of the problem, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission issued a report this month warning that 1 million residents would now be threatened by a Category 4 hurricane.

The EPA report said governments have three options to deal with sea-level rise: They can stay on the well-worn path of building expensive protection and raising streets and buildings. They can beat an organized retreat from the shore, perhaps by offering financial incentives to people and organizations to move inland. Or they can allow people to do whatever they want for their waterfront properties but tell them in no uncertain terms that they are on their own when the waters rise.

In Hampton Roads, planners and environmentalists said the EPA recommendations are on the table. Bernick called the report “useful.” John Boon, a professor emeritus at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science who has studied sea-level rise for years, called it “very well reasoned.”

Most people aren’t taking the threat of sea-level rise decades from now too seriously, but planners say it is worrisome when you consider what’s at stake — public roads, schools, bridges, tunnels, museums, police stations and housing developments that are built to last well beyond the average 30-year home mortgage.

“It could result in those things having a life span less than what we budgeted for,” said John Carlock, deputy executive director of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. “That part of it is trying to make wise use of taxpayer funds.”

Cities such as Norfolk have already experienced the effects of sea-level rise as powerful storms pushed water inland, leading to flooding in places where it once was rare.

Rising sea, sinking land

In a report this month, “Preparing for the Changing Climate,” the group Clean Air Cool Planet wrote that the increased flooding was inevitable along the Atlantic coast because the number of federally declared storms has increased — up by 50 percent over 20 years, for instance, in New England.

“In New Hampshire alone, the costs associated with declared storm damages have increased nearly 15-fold and the state has suffered through four ‘100-year floods’ in the last decade,” the report said.

Seven hundred miles south of New Hampshire, Hampton Roads is even more vulnerable because several rivers run through it on their way to the Chesapeake Bay and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. Its dense population of about 2 million residents swells with summer vacationers, making it “the largest urban concentration south of the Northeast until you get to Florida,” Bernick said.

Unfortunately, this crowded, low-lying area also has long-term geological issues to deal with. Thirty-five million years ago, a meteor landed relatively close by and created the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater. Hampton Roads is also home to a downward- pressing glacial formation created during the Ice Age. Scientists theorize that these ancient occurrences are causing the land to sink — and together account for about one-third of the sea-level change.

But human nature leads to rebuilding flooded areas however risky that might be, rather than leaving them.

“Unfortunately, we have a major storm like Hurricane Isabel and a lot of homes are flooded and people feel the economic impact,” said Boon, the professor. In response, city leaders hustle to protect shores in a way “that’s not very well thought-out,” he said.

A few years ago the city spent $1.5 million to elevate some homes in the Larchmont area, knowing the water will probably crawl to their doorsteps again.

If this keeps up, insurance rates will skyrocket as storms sweep the rising seas onto roads and inside people’s homes and businesses.

Building walls to protect development will cost a fortune, said James V. Koch, a professor of economics at Old Dominion University. Koch said the average cost of erecting a dike is about $35 million per mile.

“Norfolk has a little bit of that now,” Koch said of the city’s defenses, “but they’re not very well protected.”

A rise of a few inches will cause significant problems, Koch said, because much of Hampton Roads, including the Navy base, is at sea level.

In fact, two-thirds of the economy of Hampton Roads is based on “things significantly related to sea rise,” Koch said, and most especially Virginia Beach. A sustained rise in sea levels would be “a big thing” for the beach and those who make a living off it, Koch said.

Koch proposes one possible solution: “They have to think about moving back hotels or raising them up to make it possible to maintain a tourist presence.”

Virginia residents oppose preparations for climate-related sea-level rise

The Washington Post

Virginia residents oppose preparations for climate-related sea-level rise

As the opposition grew over the summer, confrontations became so heated that some planners posted uniformed police officers at meetings and others hired consultants to help calm audiences and manage the indoor environment, several planners said.

In James City County, speakers were shouted away from a podium. In Page County, angry farmers forced commissioners to stop a meeting. In Gloucester County, planners sat stone-faced as activists took turns reading portions of the 500-page Agenda 21 text, delaying a meeting for more than an hour.

A map of Virginia’s Middle Peninsula
Click Here to View Full Graphic Story

A map of Virginia’s Middle Peninsula

Agenda 21 is an agenda in name only, environmentalists say. The document encourages world governments to consider environmental impacts before developing land or slashing rain forests for resources, said Patty Glick, senior climate-change specialist for the National Wildlife Federation.

“Agenda 21 is the least thing they should be worried about,” said Glick, who like other environmentalists contacted by The Washington Post was surprised at the attention being given the document. “It has no legal or policy implication for local governments in the United States.”

Holt, who began scrutinizing public planning when her interior design business failed after the housing bubble popped, begs to differ. She sees the document as evidence of a global agenda that threatens property rights.

Her suspicions echo those of Tom DeWeese, president of the conservative American Policy Center, who wrote an essay opposing “smart growth” titled “Fight Agenda 21 or Lose Your Freedom.” The ultra-conservative John Birch Society cautions adherents through its Web site that the “Agenda 21 program may already be in your local community, through your home town or city’s membership in . . . Local Governments for Sustainability.”

“I don’t try to shove this down anybody’s throat. I’ve been able to connect the dots,” said Holt, who added that she has spoken against sustainability plans at meetings but doesn’t condone shouting and interrupting speakers. “They’re just doing their jobs.”

Lawrence and other planners have asked counselors for advice on how to control testy audiences. They were told to better explain their plans and recognize people who speak up but also to get rid of standing microphones where angry speakers line up.

“Let them talk, and let them vent,” planner Bruce Peshoff advised. “Sometimes planners . . . are their own worst enemy. They think they have to adhere to a schedule. That just lends to the feeling of oppression.”

In Carroll County planning commission meetings, Agenda 21 kept coming up, said Peshoff, a Kansas planner who was called on to help the county manage its meetings because his firm, Planning Works, emphasizes consensus-building. If the talk took a few extra minutes, “we would go with the flow,” he said. “That way, we didn’t monopolize a meeting.”

In time, a plan that preserved farms by prohibiting economic development that could have enriched some farmers passed, Peshoff said. At the same time, an interstate corridor was designated as an economic generator.

Shereen Hughes, a former planning commissioner in James City County, worried that some officials are giving ground to fearmongers. The uprising against smart growth “is ridiculous” and “a conspiracy theory,” she said.

But it’s effective. Planners aren’t saying this is wrong, Hughes said, because “most are afraid they won’t have a job if they’re too vocal about this issue.” Tea party members have political allies who “might stand up” against planners who complain, Hughes said.

Lawrence, a native of Gloucester County, bristled at being accused of undermining the constitutional rights of Virginians.

“It’s driving public policy sideways,” Lawrence said. “It’s not advancing it. It’s not going backward. The voice of a minority is trying to assert itself as the voice of the majority.”

Nonetheless, he said he has to give a little to get a little. “I welcome them every time,” Lawrence said.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Carbon Emissions Show Biggest Jump Ever Recorded

Carbon Emissions Show Biggest Jump Ever Recorded

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by the largest amount on record last year, upending the notion that the brief decline during the recession might persist through the recovery.

Emissions rose 5.9 percent in 2010, according to an analysis released Sunday by the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists tracking the numbers. Scientists with the group said the increase, a half-billion extra tons of carbon pumped into the air, was almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, and the largest percentage increase since 2003.

The increase solidified a trend of ever-rising emissions that scientists fear will make it difficult, if not impossible, to forestall severe climate change in coming decades.

The researchers said the high growth rate reflected a bounce-back from the 1.4 percent drop in emissions in 2009, the year the recession had its biggest impact.

They do not expect the extraordinary growth to persist, but do expect emissions to return to something closer to the 3 percent yearly growth of the last decade, still a worrisome figure that signifies little progress in limiting greenhouse gases. The growth rate in the 1990s was closer to 1 percent yearly.

The combustion of coal represented more than half of the growth in emissions, the report found.

In the United States, emissions dropped by a remarkable 7 percent in the recession year of 2009, but rose by just over 4 percent last year, the new analysis shows. This country is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, pumping 1.5 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere last year.

The United States was surpassed several years ago by China, where emissions grew 10.4 percent in 2010, with that country injecting 2.2 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide emissions are usually measured by the weight of carbon they contain.

The new figures come as delegates from 191 countries meet in Durban, South Africa, for yet another negotiating session in a global control effort that has been going on, with minimal success, for the better part of two decades.

“Each year that emissions go up, there’s another year of negotiations, another year of indecision,” said Glen P. Peters, a researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo and a leader of the group that produced the new analysis. “There’s no evidence that this trajectory we’ve been following the last 10 years is going to change.”

Scientists say the rapid growth of emissions is warming the Earth, threatening the ecology and putting human welfare at long-term risk. But their increasingly urgent pleas that society find a way to limit emissions have met sharp political resistance in many countries, including the United States, because doing so would entail higher energy costs.

The new figures show a continuation of a trend in which developing countries, including China and India, have surpassed the wealthy countries in their overall greenhouse emissions. In 2010, the combustion of fossil fuels and the production of cement sent more than nine billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, the new analysis found, with 57 percent of that coming from developing countries.

Emissions per person, though, are still sharply higher in the wealthy countries, and those countries have been emitting greenhouse gases far longer, so they account for the bulk of the excess gases in the atmosphere. The level of carbon dioxide, the main such gas, has increased 40 percent since the Industrial Revolution.

On the surface, the figures of recent years suggest that wealthy countries have made headway in stabilizing their emissions. But Dr. Peters pointed out that in a sense, the rich countries have simply exported some of them.

The fast rise in developing countries has been caused to a large extent by the growth of energy-intensive manufacturing industries that make goods that rich countries import. “All that has changed is the location in which the emissions are being produced,” Dr. Peters said.

Many countries, as part of their response to the economic crisis, invested billions in programs designed to make their energy systems greener. While it is possible those will pay long-term dividends, the new numbers suggest they have had little effect so far.

The financial crisis “was an opportunity to move the global economy away from a high-emissions trajectory,” said a scientific paper about the new figures, released online on Sunday by the journal Nature Climate Change. “Our results provide no indication of this happening.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Global Warming Facts

Global Warming

Global Warming Facts

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Global Warming Skeptics - Skeptics of global warming think that global warming is not an ecological trouble.

Global Warming Facts - 8 Facts about Global Warming

Causes of Global Warming - The Green house gases are the main culprits of the global warming. The green house gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are playing hazards in the present times.

Green House Gasses are the ingredients of the atmosphere that add to the greenhouse effect.

Al Gore Global Warming Initiative - Gore has written a book that archives his advice that Earth is dashing toward an immensely warmer future.

Global warming is caused by green house gases, which trap in the sun’s infrared rays in the earth’s atmosphere, which in turn heat up the earth’s atmosphere. These green house effect warming is called as global warming. The effects of green house effect are visible more prominently in the recent years, with number of natural calamities on the rise in the whole world.

The global warming has happened in the past few years and is evident from the rise in mean temperature of the earth’s atmosphere. The main causes for the global warming are attributed to release of green house gases by human activities. The main gases contributing to green house effect are carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane and nitrous oxide. The largest producers of these gases are the thermal power plants, which burn the fossil fuels and produce these gases in large quantities. The second biggest sources of these green house gases are the road vehicles and industries.

The global warming has led to increase in mean earth surface temperature and thus melting of polar ice. There are frequent melt down of glaciers that result in floods and other natural calamities. The melting of ice at the poles had led the mean sea level. And further increase in temperature may further melt the ice and lead to further increase in mean sea level, which will engulf low lying countries.

The effect of global warming is very evident on the animal kingdom also. Some animals have become extinct due to loss of their natural habitat or their inability to evolve to the rapid changes in the climate. Also there is a change in their life style because of the changes in the seasons. The migrating birds have changed their time of travel and also their place of migration.

The effect of global warming can be felt on seasons too. There is shift in season cycle, as the summers are getting longer than the winters. This has affected the animals and made them to change their lifestyle accordingly, and those who failed to do so have perished or on the verge of extinction.

The global warming is also responsible for the introduction of some new diseases. The bacteria are more effective and multiply much faster in warmer temperatures compared to cold temperatures. The increase in temperature has led to increase in the microbes that cause diseases.

Global warming is also effecting the crop production, as the crops are getting destroyed by the sudden change in temperatures or sudden on set of rains. Also the flash floods and other natural calamities affect the crop.

As a matter of fact, because of global warming, the earth’s atmosphere is getting more unpredictable with heavy rains in the areas, which have scanty rainfall or drought in the areas, which received good annual rainfall. The months of rainfall has also getting affected.

But there are some people on the other side of the wall also, they believe that the global warming is a natural process and cannot disturb our ecosystem. The earth’s surface mean temperature was even higher a long time ago, and the ecosystem has evolved from that temperature to this. So it can evolve further. But the changes that are happening now are rather fast compared to earlier times.

Global Warming is an International Issue

The average facade temperature of the globe has augmented more than 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1900 and the speed of warming has been almost three folds the century long average since 1970. This increase in earth’s average temperature is called Global warming. More or less all specialists studying the climate record of the earth have the same opinion now that human actions, mainly the discharge of green house gases from smokestacks, vehicles, and burning forests, are perhaps the leading power driving the fashion. Melting Glaciers
The gases append to the planet's normal greenhouse effect, permitting sunlight in, but stopping some of the ensuing heat from radiating back to space. Based on the study on past climate shifts, notes of current situations, and computer simulations, many climate scientists say that lacking of big curbs in greenhouse gas discharges, the 21st century might see temperatures rise of about 3 to 8 degrees, climate patterns piercingly shift, ice sheets contract and seas rise several feet. With the probable exemption of one more world war, a huge asteroid, or a fatal plague, global warming may be the only most danger to our planet earth.

Global Warming Causes
As said, the major cause of global warming is the emission of green house gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide etc into the atmosphere. Gasoline Causing Global WarmingThe major source of carbon dioxide is the power plants. These power plants emit large amounts of carbon dioxide produced from burning of fossil fuels for the purpose of electricity generation. About twenty percent of carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere comes from burning of gasoline in the engines of the vehicles. This is true for most of the developed countries. Buildings, both commercial and residential represent a larger source of global warming pollution than cars and trucks.

Building of these structures require a lot of fuel to be burnt which emits a large amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Methane is more than 20 times as effectual as CO2 at entrapping heat in the atmosphere. Methane is obtained from resources such as rice paddies, bovine flatulence, bacteria in bogs and fossil fuel manufacture. When fields are flooded, anaerobic situation build up and the organic matter in the soil decays, releasing methane to the atmosphere. The main sources of nitrous oxide include nylon and nitric acid production, cars with catalytic converters, the use of fertilizers in agriculture and the burning of organic matter. Another cause of global warming is deforestation that is caused by cutting and burning of forests for the purpose of residence and industrialization.

Annual Greenhouse Gas EmissionsGlobal Warming is Inspiring Scientists to Fight for Awareness

Scientists all over the world are making predictions about the ill effects of Global warming and connecting some of the events that have taken place in the pat few decades as an alarm of global warming. The effect of global warming is increasing the average temperature of the earth. A rise in earth’s temperatures can in turn root to other alterations in the ecology, including an increasing sea level and modifying the quantity and pattern of rainfall. These modifications may boost the occurrence and concentration of severe climate events, such as floods, famines, heat waves, tornados, and twisters. Other consequences may comprise of higher or lower agricultural outputs, glacier melting, lesser summer stream flows, genus extinctions and rise in the ranges of disease vectors. As an effect of global warming species like golden toad, harlequin frog of Costa Rica has already become extinct. There are number of species that have a threat of disappearing soon as an effect of global warming. As an effect of global warming various new diseases have emerged lately. These diseases are occurring frequently due to the increase in earths average temperature since the bacteria can survive better in elevated temperatures and even multiplies faster when the conditions are favorable. The global warming is extending the distribution of mosquitoes due to the increase in humidity levels and their frequent growth in warmer atmosphere. Various diseases due to ebola, hanta and machupo virus are expected due to warmer climates. The marine life is also very sensitive to the increase in temperatures. The effect of global warming will definitely be seen on some species in the water. A survey was made in which the marine life reacted significantly to the changes in water temperatures. It is expected that many species will die off or become extinct due to the increase in the temperatures of the water, whereas various other species, which prefer warmer waters, will increase tremendously. Perhaps the most disturbing changes are expected in the coral reefs that are expected to die off as an effect of global warming. The global warming is expected to cause irreversible changes in the ecosystem and the behavior of animals.

Global Warming ProjectionsA group of scientists have recently reported on the surprisingly speedy rise in the discharge of carbon and methane release from frozen tundra in Siberia, now starting to melt because of human cause increases in earth’s temperature. The scientists tell us that the tundra is in danger of melting holds an amount of extra global warming pollution that is equivalent to the net amount that is previously in the earth's atmosphere. Likewise, earlier one more team of scientists reported that the in a single year Greenland witnessed 32 glacial earthquakes between 4.6 and 5.1 on the Richter scale. This is a disturbing sign and points that a huge destabilization that may now be in progress deep within the second biggest accretion of ice on the planet. This ice would be enough to raise sea level 20 feet worldwide if it broke up and slipped into the sea. Each day passing brings yet new proof that we are now in front of a global emergency, a climate emergency that needs instant action to piercingly decrease carbon dioxide emissions worldwide in order to turn down the earth's rising temperatures and avoid any catastrophe.

It is not easy to attach any particular events to global warming, but studies prove the fact that human activities are increasing the earth’s temperature. Even though most predictions focus on the epoch up to 2100, even if no further greenhouse gases were discharged after this date, global warming and sea level would be likely to go on to rise for more than a millennium, since carbon dioxide has a long average atmospheric life span.

Solar PanelsYou Can Help Fight Global Warming

Many efforts are being made by various nations to cut down the rate of global warming. One such effort is the Kyoto agreement that has been made between various nations to reduce the emissions of various green house gases. Also many non profit organizations are working for the cause. Al Gore was one of the foremost U.S. politicians to heave an alarm about the hazards of global warming. He has produced a significantly acclaimed documentary movie called "An Inconvenient Truth," and written a book that archives his advice that Earth is dashing toward an immensely warmer future. Al Gore, the former vice president of United States has given various speeches to raise an awareness of global warming. He has warned people about the ill effects of Global warming and its remedies.

But an interesting side of the global warming episode is that there are people who do not consider global warming as something that is creating a problem. Skeptics of global warming think that global warming is not an ecological trouble. According to the global warming skeptics, the recent enhancement in the earth's average temperature is no reason for alarm. According to them earth's coastlines and polar ice caps are not at a risk of vanishing. Global warming skeptics consider that the weather models used to establish global warming and to forecast its impacts are distorted. According to the models, if calculations are made the last few decades must have been much worse as compared to actually happened to be. Most of the global warming skeptics believe that the global warming is not actually occurring. They stress on the fact the climatic conditions vary because of volcanism, the obliquity cycle, changes in solar output, and internal variability. Also the warming can be due to the variation in cloud cover, which in turn is responsible for the temperatures on the earth. The variations are also a result of cosmic ray flux that is modulated by the solar magnetic cycles.

Global Warming Skeptics

The global warming skeptics are of the view that the global warming is a good phenomenon and should not be stopped. There are various benefits of global warming according to them. According to the skeptics, the global warming will increase humidity in tropical deserts. Also the higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere trigger plant growth. As predicted, due to the global warming the sea levels will rise. But this can be readily adapted. Another argument of global warming skeptics is that earth has been warmer than today as seen in its history. The thought is that global warming is nothing to get afraid of because it just takes us back to a more natural set of environment of the past. Animals and plants appeared to do just fine in those eras of warm climate on the earth. According to few skeptics, the present chilly climate on the earth is an abnormality when judged over the geographical scale. Over geologic time, the earth’s mean temperature is 22 degrees C, as compared to today's 15.5 degrees C.

Is Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth accurate? Yes Indeed!

Skeptical Science
Getting Skeptical About Global Warming Skepticism

Is Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth accurate?

Al Gore's film was "broadly accurate" according to an expert witness called when an attempt was made through the courts to prevent the film being shown in schools.

The skeptic argument...

Al Gore got it wrong
"An Inconvenient Truth was criticised by a high court judge who highlighted 'nine scientific errors'. For example, Gore claimed two graphs plotting C02 and temperature showed 'an exact fit'. The judge said 'the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts'. Gore said the disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro was attributable to humans. The judge said that could not be established." (The Guardian)

What the science says...

Al Gore, certainly the most vilified proponent of climate change anywhere in the world, earned most of this enmity through the success of a film he presented called An Inconvenient Truth (AIT). The film was a staid presentation of climate science to date, a round-up of research, science and projections, with many cinematic sequences employed to harness the power of the medium.

The majority of the film, covering issues like Himalayan Glaciers, Greenland and Antarctica losing ice, the severity of hurricanes and other weather phenomena, was accurate and represented the science as it stood. Since the release of the film, considerably more evidence has been found in support of the science and projections in the film.

One claim was in error, as was one attribution of a graph. The error was in the claim that climate change had caused the shrinking of Mount Kilimanjaro, although the evidence that the shrinkage was most likely caused by deforestation did not appear until after the film was made. The error of attribution was in reference to a graph of temperature and attributes it mistakenly to a Dr. Thompson, when it was actually a combination of Mann’s hockey stick and CRU surface temperature data.

The Legal Case

The film is also subject to attack on the grounds that Al Gore was prosecuted in the UK and a judge found many errors in the film. This is untrue.

The case, heard in the civil court, was brought by a school governor against the Secretary of State for Education, in an attempt to prevent the film being distributed to schools. Mr. Justice Burton, in his judgement, ordered that teaching notes accompanying the film should be modified to clarify the speculative (and occasionally hyperbolic) presentation of some issues.

Mr. Justice Burton found no errors at all in the science. In his written judgement, the word error appears in quotes each time it is used – nine points formed the entirety of his judgement - indicating that he did not support the assertion the points were erroneous. About the film in general, he said this:

17. I turn to AIT, the film. The following is clear:

i) It is substantially founded upon scientific research and fact, albeit that the science is used, in the hands of a talented politician and communicator, to make a political statement and to support a political programme.

22. I have no doubt that Dr Stott, the Defendant's expert, is right when he says that:
"Al Gore's presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate."

The judge did identify statements that had political implications he felt needed qualification in the guidance notes for teachers, and ordered that both qualifications on the science and the political implications should be included in the notes. Al Gore was not involved in the case, was not prosecuted, and because the trial was not a criminal case, there was no jury, and no guilty verdict was handed down.

Note: the vilification of Al Gore is best understood in the context of personalisation. When opponents attack something abstract - like science - the public may not associate with the argument. By giving a name and a face and a set of behavioural characteristics - being a rich politician, for example - it is easy to create a fictional enemy through inference and association. Al Gore is a successful politician who presented a film, his training and experience suitable to the task. To invoke Gore is a way to obfuscate about climate science, for which Gore has neither responsibility, claim nor blame.

Last updated on 7 October 2010 by gpwayne.

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Related Arguments

Further reading

  • Al Gore responds to the UK court case that questions An Inconvenient Truth.
  • William Connelley writes a good article The Boring Truth about the judge finding 9 errors in An Inconvenient Truth including links to other blog reactions.
  • Real Climate's Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann look at exactly what Gore said in each of his 9 errors in Convenient Untruths and find "the 9 points are not "errors" at all (with possibly one unwise choice of tense on the island evacuation point)".
  • Catherine Brahic at New Scientist wonders Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth: unscientific? She concludes "Gore oversimplified certain points, made a few factual errors and, at times, chose the wrong poster child (Mount Kilimanjaro should have been replaced by any number of Alaskan or Andean glaciers, for instance). It's unfortunate, but it remains the most comprehensive popular documentary on climate change science I have seen."
  • Greg Hoke has gone to the trouble of transcribing an unofficial transcript of An Inconvenient Truth - useful for reading Al Gore's exact words.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

US Obstinacy at Climate Talks Destroying Hope, Planet


Published on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 by Inter Press Service

DURBAN, South Africa - The United States has become the major stumbling block to progress at the mid point of negotiations over a new international climate regime say civil society and many of the 193 nations attending the United Nations climate change conference here in Durban.

Immediate funding for adaptation and mitigation will help countries to confront climate change. (Credit:Tinus de Jager/IPS) "The U.S. position leads us to three or four degrees Celsius of warming, which will be devastating for the poor of the world," said Celine Charveriat of Oxfam International.

"They are proposing a 10-year time out with no new targets to lower emissions until after 2020," Charveriat said.

At COP 15 in Copenhagen the U.S. committed to reducing its emissions 17 percent from 2005 by 2020. This is far short of what is widely agreed as necessary: cuts in fossil fuel emissions 25 to 40 percent below those in 1990 by U.S. and all developed nations.

Scientists have repeatedly warned that global emissions must peak by mid-decade and then decline every year thereafter. But U.S. negotiator Jon Pershing said their Copenhagen emission reduction pledge is sufficient until 2020.

"There is a huge failure of ambition. Nothing here will keep us out of catastrophic climate change," said Jim Leape, Director General of the World Wide Fund for Nature International. The U.S. has already suffered record- breaking losses due to severe weather this year with only 0.8 degrees Celsius of warming, Leape said.

"If they (U.S.) won't moderate this stance they should step aside," Leape.

That sentiment was echoed by Greenpeace's Kumi Naidoo who also said: "Delegates must listen to the people not to certain corporate interests."

The Obama White House is betraying the American people, as well as the municipalities and companies in the U.S. who are taking serious action to reduce their emissions, Naidoo said.

Pa Ousman Jaru of The Gambia, a delegate representing the Least Developed Countries block, also asked the U.S. to step aside and stop blocking progress for the rest of the final week.

Jaru reiterated the developing world's commitment to a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol after the first one expires in 2012. Under the Kyoto Protocol all industrialised nations, with the exception of the U.S., are legally bound to reduce emissions five percent from 1990 levels.

Canada's emissions are close to 30 percent higher than in 1990 and said they will not participate in a second phase. Japan and Russia will also not participate leaving the Kyoto Protocol to regulate only about quarter of current global emissions.

There had been expectations that the Kyoto Protocol would die here in Durban but United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change climate chief Christiana Figueres said it would live on.

Nadioo agreed that the Kyoto Protocol would live but it would be on "life support for the next two years" of additional negotiations.

Jaru said that the other "track" of negotiations to regulate and reduce the remaining 75 percent is vitally important and must result in ambitious reductions. That is the track the U.S. is reluctant to participate in beyond its Copenhagen commitments because China, the world's largest carbon emitter, refused to agree to binding reductions for itself.

Now, for the first time China said it will agree, a move that Figueres called "very positive". She said it was part of the progress being made in Durban, which she expected to escalate with the arrival of ministers for the high level negotiations beginning Tuesday.

Another major issue includes the establishment of a Green Climate Fund, which is to scale up to 100 billion dollars a year in funding to help developing countries adapt to climate change. That is bogged down in how to set up and structure the fund. The more difficult issue of where the money is going to come from is on the back burner.

There was progress on talks to reduce deforestation, a major source of emissions. The U.N. programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) negotiation focused on thorny details of how to verify reductions with progress expected by end of the week. Decisions on financing for REDD+ have been postponed until COP 18 in Qatar next year.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Riot Police Block Most Affected by Climate Change from Entering Climate Conference


Published on Friday, December 2, 2011 by Agence France Presse

DURBAN, South Africa — Bearing the message that their livelihoods were in peril, hundreds of women farmers tried Friday to gatecrash UN climate talks in Durban, where they were peacefully held back by police.

"We are the ones who suffer most of the consequences of climate change. We look after families. So why are we not there in the conference?" asked Lilian Kujekeko of Zimbabwe emphatically. (photo: AFP, Alexander Joe) The women, from 10 countries across southern Africa, converged on the conference to testify how storms and heatwaves, intensified by climate change, were wreaking havoc on an already meagre sustenance.

Many wore green-on-black T-shirts reading "Rural Women Assembly" and carried hand-scrawled banners, including one that said: "Women Are the Guardians of Seed, Life and Earth."

About 50 police in full riot gear prevented the women and other protesters from entering the venue.

There were no arrests or injuries, and the atmosphere was more festive than feisty. But the women -- from Angola to Zimbabwe -- had a serious appeal to make.

"We are getting a lot of difficulty and suffering with water," said 75-year-old Betty Nagodi, from an arid region of northern South Africa.

"Now we don't know when it will rain. And then when it does, the hail knocks down all the tomatoes, butternut and other things," she said, fanning herself under the shade of a towering acacia.

Rising temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns could adversely affect water flows on the Limpopo river system, leading to production shortfalls and conflict over water use, according to a report earlier this month by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

"We have seen how climate change has disrupted the seasons, completely changing agricultural production cycles. It affects our lives very directly," said Fatima Shabodien, an activist from Cape Town, South Africa, also taking part in the rally.

"We are here to call attention to the impact of climate change on the livelihoods of rural women."

For Lilian Kujekeko of Zimbabwe, the diplomats and politicians negotiating behind closed doors -- "most of them men" -- needed to know that global warming was not an abstraction, and that in Africa it was women who were bearing the brunt.

"We are the ones who suffer most of the consequences of climate change. We look after families. So why are we not there in the conference?" she asked emphatically.

Weather in her home region has become increasingly erratic in recent decades, she said, with one recent heatwave peak topping 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).

The region's staple crop, maize (corn), is "very sensitive" to fluctuations in rainfall, she noted.

A report on climate change and extreme weather earlier this month by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts more droughts for large swathes of Africa, raising the spectre of famine in regions where daily life is already a hand-to-mouth experience for millions.

Factor in the biggest population boom of any continent over the next half-century and the danger of food "insecurity" in Africa becomes even greater, it cautions.

Some 15,000 diplomats, experts and campaigners at the talks under the 194-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are trying to breathe life into international negotiations tasked with fighting the threat of climate change.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and local grassroots groups have announced a protest march under the banner of "climate justice" for Saturday, and said they expect a turnout of up to 20,000.

The 12-day talks enter a high-level phase next week with the arrival of ministers, ending on December 9.