Environment - Mar 7
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You're a good man, Lester Brown (interview)
David Roberts, Grist
An interview with the founder of Worldwatch and Earth Policy Institute
Q:What trend in the world is most alarming?
A: One is climate change and the other is population growth.
Q: Do you consider biofuels a permanent solution or a bridge?
A: I think we're going to need almost all agricultural resources to produce food. We keep forgetting the water issue, which is a sleeper. Half the world's people live in countries where water tables are falling. We may wake up one morning and there won't be enough grain to go around, and not enough water to produce enough grain.
We've always been concerned about the effect of high oil prices on food-production costs, and those are very real, given the oil intensity of world agriculture today. But more important is the effect of high oil prices on the demand for agriculture commodities. Once oil gets up to $60 a barrel, it becomes profitable to convert agricultural commodities into automotive fuels. In effect, the price of oil becomes a support price for agricultural commodities, and therefore food prices. If at any point the food value of the commodity drops below the fuel value, the market will move that commodity into the energy economy.
Q: How do you maintain your optimism?
A: Social change comes rapidly and unexpectedly sometimes.
...The two things looming large are oil -- security of supply, disruptions around the world, a vague notion that China's out there now competing for it, the price of gasoline, the price of home heating oil -- and the climate issue, the steady drumbeat. Every week or two another major study comes out, nailing down another piece of the climate puzzle. People are beginning to feel uncertain now.
Q: Plan B seems deliberately apolitical.
A: I didn't want it to be a political tract. But I could happily have weighed in on [politics]. When societies are in trouble, sometimes they have a Nero and sometimes they have a Churchill. One of the questions is how this administration will respond to the mounting pressure to do something about these issues.
(6 March 2006)
Anaesthetist Turned Climate Change Expert on Radio New Zealand
Linda Clark, "Nine to Noon" via Global Public Media
A Hawkes Bay senior anaesthetist turned climate change expert discusses his grave concerns about peak oil and global warming with Linda Clark on Radio New Zealand's Nine To Noon.
(27 February 2006)
Antarctic ice sheet losing mass
Mike Millikin., Green Car Congress
A study by University of Colorado at Boulder researchers has determined that the Antarctic ice sheet, which harbors 90 percent of Earth’s ice, has lost significant mass in recent years—most of it from the West Antarctic ice sheet.
(2 Mar 2006)
White House spin reaches science research
Peter N. Spotts, The Christian Science Monitor
The next time NASA hunts for fuel for new rockets, it might consider harnessing the explosive mix of science and politics.
Over recent weeks, federally funded scientists in and out of government have touched off small firestorms for publishing research results or making public statements that run counter to Bush administration policies. And Congress is investigating allegations that federal agencies have punished them as a result.
Political interference with science is nothing new, of course. But the flash points have become more intense of late.
Some analysts say these cases fit a larger pattern under President Bush: The administration sets a policy direction, cherry-picks available results to fit that policy, and suppresses discussion of results that don't fit. While past administrations have done the same, critics say the Bush team has raised it to an art form.
(3 Mar 2006)