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Climate & science - Feb 18

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage.


Defending good science: Michael Mann speaks out

Ugo Bardi, Cassandra's legacy

Michael Mann is the author of the "hockey stick" reconstruction that shows how the past decades have been anomalously hot as the result of global warming. In this video, he tells us of his experience, of the ordeal he has gone through, and that he is still experiencing, attacked by professionals of public relations who have unleashed a full propaganda campaign against him. Mann has been harassed and denigrated in all possible ways, including death threats to him and to his family. We need to resist against the forces who are trying to destroy climate science and science in general. Michael Mann, defined "Battle Hardened" in this clip, is doing that, and he is succeeding, but he needs all the help and support we can give to him. We all need to speak out against the forces of anti-science!
(18 February 2012)



A Second Front in the Climate War

Editorial, New York Times
Year after year, the world’s nations gather to find ways to reduce carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, with little meaningful progress. Frustrated by this slow pace, the United States and five other countries announced this week a modest but potentially game-changing initiative to cut three other pollutants that also contribute significantly to climate change.

The three pollutants — methane, soot (also known as black carbon) and hydrofluorocarbons — together account for about 30 percent to 40 percent of the rise in global temperatures. Unlike carbon dioxide, they do not remain in the atmosphere for a long time, but, while they are there, they drive temperatures upward.

... Governments everywhere should obviously be pushing to reduce carbon dioxide, the most dangerous greenhouse gas. In the meantime, opening an important second front in the climate war will demonstrate that progress is possible.
(17 February 2012)
Related: U.S. Pushes to Cut Emissions of Some Pollutants That Hasten Climate Change.


Scientist denies he is mouthpiece of US climate-sceptic think tank

Ben Cubby, Sydney Morning Herald
A PROMINENT Australian scientist has rejected as offensive any suggestion he is doing the bidding of a US climate-sceptic think tank that is paying him a monthly fee.

Confidential documents leaked from inside The Heartland Institute, a wealthy think tank based in Chicago and Washington, detail strategy and funding for an array of activities designed to spread doubt about climate change science, paid for by companies that have a financial interest in continuing to release greenhouse gases without government interference.

... One of the recipients of funding is Professor Bob Carter of James Cook University, a geologist and marine researcher who spoke at the "convoys of no confidence" protests against the carbon price last year alongside the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, and writes columns for News Ltd newspapers.

The documents show Professor Carter receives a "monthly payment" of $US1667 ($1550) as part of a program to pay "high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist [anthropogenic global warming] message".

Professor Carter did not deny he was being paid by The Heartland Institute, but would not confirm the amount, or if the think tank expected anything in return for its money.

"That suggestion is silly and offensive - a kindergarten level argument," Professor Carter told the Herald.

"Institutions or organisations simply pay for services rendered - in the same way that an architect is paid for their work, so are scientists," he said. "What they may make any payment to me for, I'm not discussing with anybody outside of my family."
(16 February 2012)



Canadian government is 'muzzling its scientists'

Pallab Ghosh, BBC
The Canadian government has been accused of "muzzling" its scientists.

Speakers at a major science meeting being held in Canada said communication of vital research on health and environment issues is being suppressed.

But one Canadian government department approached by the BBC said it held the communication of science as a priority.

Prof Thomas Pedersen, a senior scientist at the University of Victoria, said he believed there was a political motive in some cases.

"The Prime Minister (Stephen Harper) is keen to keep control of the message, I think to ensure that the government won't be embarrassed by scientific findings of its scientists that run counter to sound environmental stewardship," he said.

"I suspect the federal government would prefer that its scientists don't discuss research that points out just how serious the climate change challenge is."

The Canadian government recently withdrew from the Kyoto protocol to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The allegation of "muzzling" came up at a session of the AAAS meeting to discuss the impact of a media protocol introduced by the Conservative government shortly after it was elected in 2008.

The protocol requires that all interview requests for scientists employed by the government must first be cleared by officials. A decision as to whether to allow the interview can take several days, which can prevent government scientists commenting on breaking news stories.

Sources say that requests are often refused and when interviews are granted, government media relations officials can and do ask for written questions to be submitted in advance and elect to sit in on the interview.
(17 February 2012)



Where the Colorado Runs Dry

Jonathan Waterman, New York Times
MOST visitors to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon probably don’t realize that the mighty Colorado River, America’s most legendary white-water river, rarely reaches the sea.

Until 1998 the Colorado regularly flowed south along the Arizona-California border into a Mexican delta, irrigating farmlands and enriching a wealth of wildlife and flora before emptying into the Gulf of California.

But decades of population growth, climate change and damming in the American Southwest have now desiccated the river in its lowest reaches, turning a once-lush Mexican delta into a desert. The river’s demise began with the 1922 Colorado River Compact, a deal by seven western states to divide up its water. Eventually, Mexico was allotted just 10 percent of the flow.

... In 2008 I tried to float the length of the 1,450-mile river to the sea but had to walk the last week of the trip. Pools stagnated in the cracked riverbed. Like the 30 million other Americans who depend on the river, I worry about drinking water — but I also worry about the sorry inheritance we are leaving future generations.

Demand for water isn’t the only problem. Climate change also threatens to reduce runoff by 10 to 30 percent by 2050, depending on how much the planet warms, according to a 2009 paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Although the river delta can’t yet be pronounced dead, its pulse is feeble and its once-vital estuaries and riverside forests are shrinking.
(14 February 2012)

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