Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Cold rush: The coming fight for the melting north

Arctic regions
Canada, Northern
Global Warming
Military policy
Northwest passage
Strategic aspects


Anonymous said...

Race to the Top of the World!

BY Scott Horton

PUBLISHED August 12, 2007


McKenzie Funk, “Cold Rush: The Coming Fight for the Melting North,”

Harper’s, Sept. 2007

Over the last couple of years, I’ve found myself up north of the forty-fourth parallel several times—a meeting with oil executives in Edmonton, a conference in Toronto, a professional gathering in Vancouver. I always take a bit of time to listen in to the news on the radio and TV, and to pick up a paper or two. The Canadian press is remarkably sane and stable, particularly compared to the more hot-headed territory to the south. And generally, there is a sort of unflappable quality to the Canadians. They’re proud of being decent, good-humored and, well, bland. But on each of my recent visits, I have picked up a bit of anxiety about relations with the great neighbor in whose shadow they live. There are stories about U.S. missile systems which operate assuming control of Canadian airspace, and then, even more menacing, there is the Northwest Passage.

When I first heard this, I thought at once of some of the ill-fated arctic expeditions from the Age of Exploration. But when I listened more closely, I realized this was not a history program: it was a current dilemma, and it reflected a looming conflict involving Canada, a less-than-good-neighborly United States, Russia and Denmark among other nations. The Canadians were worked up about it. And they were worked up by the fact that the Americans were indifferent to their concerns. “What sort of allies are these?” was the implicit refrain.

There has been remarkably little reporting and writing on this subject in U.S. media, which is strange, because it’s quite a big deal, and not just to the Canadians. But the September Harper’s will be out in a few days, and it contains the first major essay to be published on this topic. It’s quite a piece. I fell in love with it immediately.

Consider this opener, which reads like it could be from a Jules Verne novel:

On the first full day of the sovereignty operation, the captain slowed the frigate and we took out the machine guns and sprayed the Northwest Passage with bullets. It felt pretty good. It was foggy, and the unpolluted water boiled as we polluted it with lead. There was no life we could see, and few waves. The wind was cold, the Arctic Ocean a drab green. There wasn’t any ice. But if there had been ice, we would have shot it.

Caspar David Friedrich, The Ice Sea (1824)This story, and the sudden focus of national interest at the top of the world, is driven by global warming. What was once a frigid wasteland is suddenly emerging as a region of commercial and military importance. And hence the question of territorial waters—whether the Northwest Passage is a part of Canada, or an international body of water—is question that will determine future fortunes. The changes are amazing, and Funk has amassed an impressive catalogue:

This was the year that drought crazed camels rampaged through a village in Australia, a manatee swam past Chelsea Piers in New York City’s Hudson River, and the Netherlands announced that its famous Elfstedentocht ice-skating race might have to be postponed forever. Armadillos reached northeast Arkansas. Wolves ate dogs in Alaska. Fire consumed 50 million acres of Siberia. Greenland lost a hundred gigatons of ice. The Inuit got air-conditioning units. The polar bear lurched toward the endangered-species list. India’s Ghoramara Island was mostly lost to the Bay of Bengal, Papua New Guinea’s Malasiga village was mostly lost to the Solomon Sea, and Alaska’s Shishmaref village decided to evacuate before being lost to the Chukchi Sea. Canadian scientists reported that the forty-square-mile Ayles ice shelf had broken off Ellesmere Island and formed a rapidly melting island of its own. A European satellite showed a temporary crack in the ice pack leading from northern Russia all the way to the North Pole.

Funk forgot the stranded polar bears found on ice drifts, but then they do make their way on to the occasional AP photograph. He does a good job of portraying the nervous concern that Canadians attach to American aspirations. At the center of his account is an interview with Michael Byers, a well-respected scholar in the law of armed conflict and international law field, who gave up a professorship at Duke to return to Canada.

“We are talking about 300 million people with the world’s largest military and with a desperate need for water,” he said, “and to some degree the constraints of international law will fade into the background. But luckily water conservation is much cheaper than enormous engineering projects. They’ll find it hard to justify the expense.”

Byers made elements of this point convincingly in his 2005 book War Law, which I consider to be the best short modern treatment of this subject matter. And the ultimate threat that Canada faces is the same faced around the world by small states that subsist on the periphery of a great power: the risk that they will simply become satellites, dependent on decisions made by the great power, but without the ability to influence them in any way. Is it a realistic concern?

A month after visiting Michael Byers’s class, I decided to travel to Washington, D.C., to see what Canada was so afraid of. I found a capital that was awakening to the security risks posed by global warming, and also awakening, perhaps, to the idea that northern riches could be ours—yet barely connecting the dots between the two. No one really seemed to think that Canada would get in our way. No one really seemed to think that it would come to blows. No one really seemed to think about Canada at all.

That last line says it all, I think. Yes, Byers’s concerns are very well placed. But the issue is not limited to the United States and Canada. Funk describes an almost comical game played by the Canadians and the Danes in which they plant their flags on a barren island that lies between Ellesmere Island and Greenland, claimed by both nations. But the other far more consequential player is and has long been Russia, which has always reckoned itself an Arctic power:

In late June, Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper printed a large map showing a Russian flag flying over the North Pole and a supposed new addition to the nation’s territorial holdings: 460,000 square miles of Arctic Ocean. Russia’s first Article 76 claim to the pole, in 2001, was rejected for lack of data, but a team of scientists had returned from a six-week expedition by nuclear icebreaker saying that they had gotten what they needed. The 1,100-mile-long Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain range that bisects the Arctic—along with the region’s 10 billion tons of gas and oil reserves—would be Russia’s, they said. Although the United Nations has yet to evaluate the claim, Russia celebrated.

Funk leaves the story with two members of the Canadian crew he is traveling with out on the tundra:

The two youngest Vandoos [members of the 22nd Regiment]—a sixteen-year-old and a seventeen-year old—had been given the first watch. I saw one take out his video camera and start walking around the tundra, filming very little. His partner sat facing the Northwest Passage, raising his rifle and pointing it into space, then lowering it, then raising it, then lowering it.

The image is perfect, reminding us that this story is far from having run its course. At this point we have very little sense even of how it will progress. We live in an ever-changing world whose changes introduce new opportunities and dangers. Nowhere today are the transformations quite so dramatic as at the top of the world. But Funk’s voyage to this former wasteland had paid off; he has given us a chance to see the sights on the cheap.

Anonymous said...

Canada must lead by example in claiming Arctic

Sep 04, 2007

Richard Gwyn

The title of the article in Harper's Magazine was unusually sprightly for that rather staid journal. First, in bold letters, COLD RUSH, and below the subtitle, The Coming Fight for the Melting North.

The Economist magazine was less inventive. Its article was titled ``Drawing Lines in Melting Ice,'' with a teaser below about "the ungainly scramble for a slice of the Arctic's tantalizing riches."

Most times the Arctic commands attention because of its beauty, its solitariness, the inventiveness of its native Inuit, its fragility.

Suddenly, the reasons for its appeal, demonstrated by these simultaneous articles in major American and British magazines, have become practical and opportunistic. The stakes are now those of politics and national pride, and of economics and finance. In Harper's, journalist McKenzie Funk puts it bluntly: The U.S.'s interest in the north "was to see how much money it could make."

The motives of the other nations involved are much the same: Russia, predictably, but also the ``good guys'' – Denmark and Norway, and by no means least, Canada.

The immediate source of our own new interest in the Arctic is that of sovereignty. We own the Arctic islands beyond any question. Under the rules of the Law of the Sea Treaty's 200-mile limit, we also almost certainly own all the waters in between them.

On the sound principle of "use it or lose it," Prime Minister Stephen Harper this summer flew north to announce a new army base would be established at Resolute Bay and an unused port at Nanisivik would be refurbished for the new fleet of six ice-breaking patrol boats.

There are two soft spots to our claim. One, insisted upon by the U.S., is that a "free passage" for the ships of all nations exists in between these islands, like it does between Gibraltar and North Africa.

The other, espoused most strongly by Russia, is that, under the Law of the Sea rules, the sub-sea Lomonosov Ridge extending out from its northern coast gives it a legitimate claim to Arctic territory all the way up to the North Pole. Competing claims for much of this territory are being made by Canada and Norway and Denmark.

This is just politicking mixed in with some theatre, like Russia sending a mini-submarine to drop a titanium Russian flag beneath the Pole. What makes it all real is Funk's reference to the Arctic as a potential resource honey pot.

It's generally assumed that one-quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and gas lies waiting beneath Arctic ice and rock.

In fact, while this estimate is usually attributed to the US Geological Survey, the United States has done no systematic study of the region. The actual extent of the potential reserves will be clarified by surveys now under way.

As significant is the likelihood that all this oil and gas may actually be usable in the sense that it can be extracted at an acceptable cost.

The change agent is global warming. No part of the globe is warming faster than the Arctic. While average global temperatures have increased by 0.6C since 1900, those in the Arctic have risen by more than 2C.

Until recently, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center's estimate for an ice-free Arctic was a distant 2070. The latest guess by the centre's senior scientist Mark Serreze is for an ice-free Arctic by 2030, perhaps even earlier.

Ideally, the Arctic would remain beautiful and solitary. In reality, this isn't likely to happen. Thus, it isn't just the U.S. that's interested in an ice-free Northwest Passage: so too are China and Japan.

Harper has enunciated his "use it or lose it" principle just in time. We need to be there. We need even more to lay down strict rules, with severe penalties, for exploratory drilling, and for potential extraction and transportation.

We also need to set our own global warming house in order. Before we preach what others should practise, we must do a lot better than the world's second-worst (after Spain) record of a 25 per cent increase in greenhouse gases.

Richard Gwyn usually appears on Tuesdays. Email:

Anonymous said...

Monday, September 17, 2007
'Cold Rush' + 'How The Earth Was Made' = ?
I'm probably the only person in the world who read the article, Cold Rush in the Sept. Harper's issue the morning after staying up to watch the History Channel's documentary, How The Earth Was Made. The documentary provides an interesting backdrop to the article though. There's a kind of looming sense that, because natural resources exist underneath the bottoms of oceans, humanity ought to be drawing territorial lines along the mid ocean ridges, the natural lines between continental plates, as opposed to the more cartographically friendly shorelines.

What HTEWM does for CR, ultimately, is help keep a little voice in your head reminding you of the bigger picture in 'deep time'. The message was 'change.' That if the earth stopped changing, it would die. We tend to not think of the Earth as a changing, evolving thing, and I get the sense there's a mindset amongst environmentalists to stop change, or to 'preserve'. Does global warming matter in the long run if we're expecting another ice age in 10,000 years? Preserving a constant way of life for humanity will always be a struggle. Regardless of why it's happening, the melting north is probably the first big test of our ability to either preserve a way of life, or adapt to a new one.

CR gives an interesting, if not humorous, look at the beginnings of how we're reacting to there suddenly being less ice above Canada and Russia, and the message I took is that we're all pretty confused. At least economically. It's a little like when the internet was born and no one was sure exactly what we should be doing with it. We could probably make money with it somehow but we weren't sure exactly how to approach it, or how sustainable it would be. In a sense, we're still kind of confused about this.

If there's a message somewhere in the amalgamated experience of CR and HTEWM, it's that the next fifty to a hundred years will be a fascinating time to be alive.


Profiting from Global Warming

Canada's prime minister Stephen Harper is in talks with President Bush right now, and Harper is asserting his nation's claim to the Northwest Passage through the warming, resource-rich Arctic. An ice-free North Pole would offer important new shipping lanes and an estimated 175 billion barrels of oil and 912 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Russia and Denmark are also staking their claims to the Arctic, but the United States insists it is international territory. Journalist McKenzie Funk joins us from an Alaskan icebreaker to talk about why cashing in on global warming could become the Great Game of the 21st century. Funk is the author of an article in the September issue of Harper's Magazine called "Cold Rush: The Coming Fight for the Melting North."

Download MP3 | Embed HTML


Cold Rush

in Harper's by McKenzie Funk, September 2007

Under the seabed of the vast Arctic Ocean sits a potentially vast reserve of oil. In an act reminiscent of the age of empires, Russia recently planted a flag on the ocean floor, claiming the area for themselves. However, America, among other nations, believes the area should be kept open for all international shipping, and the wrangling over what belongs to whom has begun. In this in-depth and fascinating article, Funk explains the importance of the region both in terms of oil and its strategic location, and the fight being waged to claim sovereignty over this suddenly valuable piece of real estate.Posted 10:02, 24 October 2007
This abstract was written by Owen Foley and edited by Brijit.

politics, science & tech, russia, arctic ocean, oil, shipping, geo politics, energy, law of the sea treaty

Anonymous said...

Against Eco-Asceticism
This is the final installment of my debate with Colin Beaven, the New York City writer who goes by the moniker "No Impact Man" and is massively cutting back on his energy consumption. This episode begins with Colin criticizing my pro-growth position. I give him the last word, so let me just say I wish him the best and hope he changes his avatar to "Impact Man" and finds a logo and theme song that communicates all the ways in which human power is good, not evil.

Colin: God bless you if you're optimistic enough to think industry will change fast enough. God bless you too if you think we can recycle enough materials to put three TVs in every Indian and Chinese household and a car in every garage. God bless you if you think that will make people happy. God bless you, too, if you think just one approach will do the trick.

What would make America great again is introspection. Enough introspection to see that since World War II it has headed down a path that has made its people richer but far from happier. Anything that keeps them working so hard and so disconnected from community is not going to make them happier.

And there are ways we could be much happier and at least slow our growth in resource use while at the same time looking for the technological solutions you talk about.

Let me tell you about my approach--and by the way, it isn't to convince people to live the way I have been. True, I offer it as an option, if people are interested.

But more importantly I share my experiences living with lower resource consumption, to show that using less doesn't have to feel like deprivation, and to illustrate that, often, living a lifestyle that is better for the planet is often better for the person or the culture, too. (On a cultural level, think of the correlation between reduced car use and reduced obesity. On an individual level, think of the increase of family time and strengthening of relationships if we rely less on consumer items like video games and TV).

Also, my approach, as a writer and communicator, is to take a storyline that engages people?he No Impact project?nd to use it as an opportunity to expose them to the things that policy analysts like you talk about.

The difference between my approach and your approach, to be pointed, as you put it, is that your approach is to circulate your ideas, for the most part, amongst a bunch of other people who are already thinking about our habitat and climate change problems. You are not taking, in other words, a popular approach to the distribution of your ideas.

Nor are you taking an approach that everyone can get involved in. Your environmental strategy itself?alling for huge investment in renewable technologies?s something that most folks feel they have any power over. And if they can't take an action on it, how can they really take it to heart? I agree with your approach whole heartedly but it is not enough.

The time has passed for just having policy wonks involved in the discussion. We need the entire country to take an interest. And my hope is that the approaches of people like me, who find ways to popularize the discussion, will reach a wider audience. People like you can make use of people like me, by using us to help disperse your ideas, which is part of my mission.

My approach helps me to convince people that they can make a difference. And if people believe they can make a difference with their lives, maybe they will believe that their vote makes a difference.

As for answering your observations about my privileged background being the only way I can claim no impact (are you always so literal, by the way?), I hope you don't mind if I don't.

Michael: Well, I agree and disagree.

I agree that introspection is important. I agree that taking responsibility is crucial to human survival and thrival. And I agree that community is crucial, which is why we wrote chapter 8 on belonging and fulfillment in affluent if somewhat lonely societies like ours.

I agree that asceticism can be creative and vital (as Nietzsche points out in the third section of the Genealogy of Morals -- which might make for an interesting reflection in your book). I agree that we should reduce our individual carbon footprints. I even agree that radicals like you, in the tradition of Thoreau, are pioneering things that might be useful to the rest of us.

And I even agree it will all make for an interesting blog and book (and an interesting trend story for reporters, along with those no-shopping people in Minnesota or Wisconsin, I can't remember which). If it's a way to get folks focused on what it will take to get to sustainability, that's great. Of course I support it.

My concern is that the message people will hear is that they have to sacrifice and suffer if we are to do something about global warming, and I don't believe sacrifice and suffering will motivate people to support the kind of transformative policies that you and I both support (investments in clean energy, regulations, efficiency, conservation, etc.). Moreover, from a strictly technical perspective, I don't believe sacrifice and suffering can get us to 80 percent emissions reductions in the U.S. by 2050.

If all of this makes me a "wonk" that's fine by me -- it's where I end up when thinking about things like global warming.

Like you I'm also interested in the research on the decline of self-reported well-being (happiness) in market economies since WWII. We mentioned it briefly in the book, but I'm not sure what to take from it. What we know is that people ranked their relative happiness higher on surveys in 1946 than they do today. But do we really think that things were *better off* in 1946? Of course not. Jim Crow. Shorter lives. Worse medical care. Fewer choices for women.

It's hard to tease out causation from correlation here. The relevant question is: does that fact that self-reported rates of happiness in the U.S. were higher in the 1950s mean that we'll be happier when we have less stuff? I'm not so sure. We know that when people take an *unchosen* reduction in their standard of living they report lower, not higher levels of happiness (see Schor's book on this). They tend to get meaner, more conservative, and even reactionary (e.g., Hutus before the genocide, Germans before the Holocaust, and Americans after 1975, etc.).

Not that it matters: we live in a democracy and Americans (and all other human animals, from the Chinese to Brazil's indigenous tribes) will consistently *choose* greater material wealth over material poverty. Alas, that is history, both Rousseauean and Hobbesian versions.

Don't misunderstand my acknowledgement of your wealth. I point out your (and my) privilege not because I'm trying to catch you in a contradiction, or accuse you of hypocrisy (that would be silly given that I acknowledge consuming more than you and remain concerned with climate change) but rather because it tells us something about the Chinese, and thus about climate change. There are 500 million of them who would love what you have, even at your reduced consumption, and they're not asking us for our permission to have it (or three TVs, either, for that matter). I say this not as some guilt trip but rather because I believe we need a politics focused less on reducing our carbon footprints than on breaking the connection between energy consumption and emissions.

I'm grateful for our wealth and privilege (yours and mine both). I'm grateful we can send our kids to relatively good schools, that they are safe, and that we will (as wealthy *and* assertive dads) find ways to get them the best available medical care, damn the emissions, when they need it.

These feelings of gratitude put me in a good mood, a mood that wants high levels of wealth and health for all humans. It's also a mood that convinces me -- perhaps irrationally -- that we humans are ingenious enough to create relatively high standards of living for all humans without over-heating the earth.

Will "industry change fast enough"? Not if we don't do anything to help it change. That's the argument we make in the book. Private energy companies won't and can't do it alone (no industry ever has affected a tech revolution without government help). It is for that reason that we make the argument for major investments in clean energy (and other newer cleaner industries).

This is the agenda that most serious energy experts acknowledge, but it has never been pushed politically. Why? In a word, the paradigm of limits. It imagines we can reduce our way out of this crisis. I don't think you believe this, but I worry that your lifestyle may lead people to believe this is what you're saying. Of course, you have a book and blog where you can introspect and reflect on what it will take to really deal with the crisis. I applaud that, and congratulate you on your success speaking to a wider audience than, say, me.

Do we have anything to talk about? Sounds like we do.

Colin: The funny thing is, Michael, the point of my project has never been to be ascetic. The point was to use fewer non-renewable resources, but what we found was that our culture doesn't provide much that is renewable with which to replace the non-renewable! That meant we had to resort to less stuff, and the fact is that many of the gifts that we've received from our No Impact lifestyle experiment were related to the space left behind when we had less.

We learned, as a family, for example, that we were much happier without our attention and time being sucked up by all the screens--TV, computer, video games. We saw that these things have the tendency to make us all spend more time alone, when in fact, what makes people happier is spending more time together.

From our experience, I began to wonder about American cultural emphasis on gross domestic product (GDP), and the almost unquestioned idea that we should do what it takes to make sure we should all have more of what we want--namely, more TVs, computers, and video games. Economic growth. As you know, many of the politicians have stood in the way of our joining the rest of the world in concrete carbon emissions reductions targets for fear that it would stifle economic growth, the idea being that this would mean fewer TVs, computers and video games (I'm being simplistic, I know) and therefore less happiness.

But if my little family found that we were happier without, for example, the TV, that we had rid ourselves of one obstacle to thriving family and community relationships, then maybe an emphasis on economic growth and getting more is not synonymous with happiness anymore (though I agree that it was 100 years ago in the US and still is in many parts of the developing world). In fact, over the course of our No Impact year, we spent about half of the money we spent the previous year (negative growth). Yet, we spent more time with friends, spent a lot more time with our little girl, ate much more healthily by avoiding packaged and far-away foods, and got a lot more exercise and time outdoors riding our bikes. We were happier.

This is a long way from asceticism, assuming that what you mean by asceticism is deprivation. Because I would argue that, in fact, our culture is already deprived.

Most of us work so hard that we don't get to spend enough time with the people we love, so we feel isolated. We don't really believe in our work, so we feel prostituted. The boss has no need of our most creative talents, so we feel unfulfilled. We have too little connection with something bigger, so we have no sense of meaning.

To top it all off, not only are so many of us discovering that we've been working our years away to maintain a way of life that we don't really like, but we are waking up to the fact?opefully?hat this same way of life is killing our habitat.

So while I agree with you that we need to find technological solutions in order to make consumption less harmful to human health, security and happiness, I disagree that we should be working only to find systems that can maintain the social status quo. I think we could do better. I think we can innovate not just technologically but socially to save energy. I think that we can work towards a society where people don't lust after the consolation prizes because they don't need to be consoled.

Much of what brings people together is also better for the environment. Doing things one at a time, as isolated people, is energy inefficient. Living together, traveling together, being entertained together, on the other hand, is more efficient and makes us happier.

Let's build villages instead of suburbs. Places where you can walk to the store or the post office and stop at your neighbor's for a chat along the way. That would mean less driving for the environment, more community for the people, and more exercise for the tummies! Meanwhile, as an example, studies show that the unhappiest of commuters are drivers while the happiest are bikers. Let's make it safe to bike--a virtually free innovation--and build excellent public transportation systems where people can talk to each other instead of honk at each other.

Let's also work less and make our work more meaningful. Because of the throw-away-product based economy, so much of what we make is designed to be trashed within months. We have to make things and buy things over and over again unnecessarily. Yes, recyclable materials would be great but what about durable products?

Not only would that help the eco-systems but think of the labor it would save. What if we turned that same labor to doing something more meaningful? What if we turned that same labor to figuring out how to provide water access to the billion that don't have it? That's called improving human happiness while saving the environment.

You've said that reducing our carbon footprint isn't enough to do the trick, and I agree that--alone--it is not. You've suggested that reducing our carbon footprint veers towards deprivation, but I believe that that reducing resource use, if it includes system change, can actually increase abundance--if what you mean by that is human happiness as opposed to economic growth. Therefore, it should be part of the equation.

As for people always choosing greater material wealth, I don't believe you (unless you juxtapose it with poverty). Take your own example. With your incredible smarts, you could work for anyone doing anything. You could make a lot more money working on the other side for Exxon. You don't. Why? Because once we reach a certain level of comfort, we want meaning. You write about this yourself. What's necessary is to provide a social structure where meaning is actually achievable.

What you say about breaking the link between energy use and emissions is absolutely true. It is also absolutely true that there will be and should be increasing energy use in the developing world. The wealth in standard of living must and should be spread. But here in the United States there is just so much waste that doesn't make us happier and often makes us less so. So while we need huge investment in renewable energy solutions, we should also be looking to cut the waste here in the United States (and the rest of the developed world).

So look, it's not really that I disagree with you at all. I first contacted you because I agree with so much of what you say. And I think it takes all kinds. What I'm adding to the agenda is that, here in the developed world, we can actually tighten our belts and end up less deprived, because some of the systems we've developed, that suck up so much energy, don't make us happier. And part of the way I came to this conclusion was by trying to live within these systems without sucking up as much energy, in other words, by living as No Impact Man.

Posted by Michael Shellenberger on January 29, 2008 at January 29, 2008 1:51 PM | Posted to

Interesting conversation.

I think the No Impact Man project has spurred lots of people to consider their daily energy use, and that this project can be inspirational as a result.

I think what would be more practical would be low cost solutions that people could use to meet their daily energy needs with renewable power. So that people can have cold beer, hot showers, AND no impact. But that's not as flashy.

I'm more interested in small scale, low cost renewables like the solar thermal powered engine made with old car parts or vertical axis wind turbines.

Posted by: Daniel Bell at January 30, 2008 10:52 PM

Anonymous said...


Written by

The Global Warming Screenwriters Group


FARMERS, men and women, 50 extras
JOHAN (fiancé)
HILGRET (fiancée)
RAL, a carpenter
CITY FOLKS, 100 extras







Farmers -- men, women, and older children -- in drab workclothes harvesting crops with machines, with sickles. Some are on small tractor-carts and oxen carts, while farmers load them with grain crops and produce. Dogs bark, keeping livestock out of the fields. The sun bears down, farmers wipe sweat from their brows.

This could be a scene from the Middle Ages, except for the futuristic tractors and vehicles, and the STRANGE ''polar CITY'' gleaming in the background -- an immense, self-contained single structure of glass, steel, and concrete.

JOHAN (20) and HILGRET (17), working with the others, flirt. A CHILD (8) leads a reluctant goat by a rope. The MOTHER tells the child it’s 10 at night, way past his bedtime (though it is daylight).

A MINSTREL, age 30, in bright, multi-colored costume, a lute and rucksack slung over his back, comes up the road upon this pastoral scene.

Suddenly SIRENS BLARE, DEAFENING, CACAPHONIC, frightening to the core.

The farmers stop, look at each other. They quickly finish loading in the crops and produce, as the carts start moving toward the city.

The women run toward the hamlet of shacks to get the small children asleep in bed. Some people rush to capture the chickens, goats, sheep, and cattle. Johan runs looking for something, calling “Billop, Billop.”

They all head toward the polar city, leaving half the field unharvested. Rushing, rushing. Frantic.

Minstrel sees the rush, asks what’s happening. He’s told it’s the hydrogen sulfide gas coming upon them. Minstrel becomes frightened to the core, like the rest, and runs with them.

As the folks approach the polar city we see the city’s name above the huge doors flung wide open:


In the distance, far away from the city, there comes an invisible plight of death, killing plants and wildlife in its path, coming toward the fleeing farmers, toward the city.

The sky becomes overcast with huge clouds, reminiscent of the Grim Reaper.

Only Johan remains behind in the deserted hamlet, searching. He finds his lamb, Billop. He puts it over his shoulders and runs well behind the others, who are already entering the city.

int./ext. GREAT city entrance hall/fields outside - daylight

THE GATEKEEPER stands at the city doors, monitoring all entering the city, checking off their names, allowing in a WOMAN with a new baby who hasn’t been registered yet. It is utter chaos, confusion, people and carts and livestock jamming in through the doors. The CITYDWELLERS, including RAL, age 30, watch the scene, but give way as more farmers enter. Some shake hands, embraced each other.

The Gatekeeper turns way pets, half the dogs and cats, and most cattle and oxen, to the grief of the children, even adults.

The Gatekeeper stops Minstrel. There’s a debate about allowing him in, but a MAN reads the rule book -- in cases of danger, strangers may be admitted, until the danger passes. Minstrel goes in, but others look askance at him.

All are in, tractors, equipment, cattle, oxen, pets are outside, the pets straining to get in.

In the distance standing crops in the fields whither in the path of the approaching gas.

Hilgret is looking for Johan.

“All in” calls the Gatekeeper, and draws the huge air-tight doors closed. Children WEEPING AND WAILING over their pets. Hilgret looking frantically for Johan among the 200 or so people. She calls “Wait” to the Gatekeeper, but it’s too late.

A LOUD BANGING ON THE CITY DOORS, jolting all to an eerie attention. Some shouts in acute fear, “It’s the poison knocking on the door!”

The Gatekeeper opens the small shutter on the door to look out the window. It is Johan, but the poison is already downing the livestock and pets beyond him, and before the Gatekeeper can even decide, Johan falls writhing in a wretched death.

Hilgret comes up to the window and sees him die. She lets out a piercing WAIL that shivers down everyone’s spine.

The Gatekeeper averts her eyes, and looks toward Minstrel. “There may be a chance you can stay with us. You’ll have to go to the Human Resources Department, speak with the chair, and the Mayor and Council will have to decide. Ral, can you show this Minstrel around, while I notify Human Resources?”

int. polar city 83 - daylight

Ral takes Minstrel on a grand tour, starting with the extensive GREENHOUSE, some WORKSHOPS. It is an efficient, but rather dreary place. People do their jobs well, but without passion, more out of duty, like automatons.


The farm folk are settling into their living quarters, that are like hotel rooms with kitchenettes. It is 12 midnight, but the sun still hangs low on the horizon. SOMEONE makes a comment about the midnight sun, and we know we are in a polar area, some regret about not getting all the crops harvested.


This is a huge, dark gallery-type room. All we see is people shoving the goats, chickens, sheep, and cattle through the door and closing it. Someone throws in some animal feed.

int. polar city 83 - sunset

Ral is with Minstrel in the noisy SHOPPING MALL, sitting with him at a table eating a light meal. There’s animated discussion among the farmers and city dwellers about the gassing. Most are filled with fear.

Ral coaxes Minstrel to play a song. Minstrel takes his lute and starts singing a ballad, and the noise subsides. People gather around. This is the first music we hear in this dreary place, and expressions soften with a yearning, a day-dreaming.

One song is about the great warming and how their ancestors built these beautiful polar cities.

Minstrel wanders singing and strumming his lute over to Hilgret crying over in a corner. He sings her a beautiful, sad ballad of lost love. She stops crying, following the sad story.

The Gatekeeper arrives, goes to Minstrel, “The HR Chair’s gone to bed. He’ll see you tomorrow.”

int. human resources - morning

THE HR CHAIR grills Minstrel about his skills, but finds he has none that are useful to them. All he can do is sing, tell stories, do artwork, and sculpt figurines. He tells Minstrel that the report has to go to the committee.

Minstrel confesses he was a dunce in school, and ask about this gas poisoning. The HR Chair is incredulous, but tell him with a huff of impatience that its due to the great warming. They’d been expecting it for over a century. The hot oceans become depleted of oxygen, a breeding ground for certain bacteria to convert the methane into hydrogen sulfide. And now it’s massive and worldwide, and coming onto land, especially during summer, during the growing season.

Minstrel is distracted as the Chair talks, looking at the signs. He interrupts, asking why the office is called Human Resources, bec at his old city, it was called Personnel. The HR Chair is annoyed with such a silly comment.

int. council room - morning

The MAYOR sits at the head of an oval table, surrounded by 8 COUNCILMEN (Chairs of various departments), including the HR Chair. They deliberate about the new slot that has opened up due to Johan’s death, and how they really need more machinists and buildings to help change more space into indoor greenhouse agricultural production, as the farmers didn’t harvest the whole crop, and they’ll now have to grow crops during the long dark winter.

A councilman asks about the stranger who came last night. The Mayor passes around reports on him, saying he doesn’t appear to have any skill they could use. The HR Chair passes around a list of people in other Polar Cities who have applied for residence here, enumerating their various skills -- he mentions a few best candidates.

int. polar city 83 - day

Ral shows Minstrel around they city. They discuss the bleak situation for Minstrel, and for the city in this emergency time. Others come up and ask for songs. Minstrel obliges.

Minstrel then asks whether they have a theater. Ral says no, but ELDSTER, age 60, says the junk unit had once been a theater. He leads them to it, and unlocks the door.

int. THEATER-junk UNIT - DAY

Eldster, Ral, and Minstrel enter the old theater. The lights go on and we see a dilapidated gallery theater that would have seated 1,000 people, except most of the back seats have been removed and the whole area is like an urban junkyard, full of junk to be cannibalized for other products.

And the farm animals are roaming around freely. The place stinks. Ral steps in a dung pile.

There’s a stage with moth-eaten heavy curtains and thick layers of dust. Only 5 front rows of seats remain.

Minstrel goes down and jumps up on the stage. Eldster finds the stage lights and turns them on. Minstrel sings. Slowly people wander in. Dust blooms up as they sit in the seats.

int. councilroom - day

The Mayor mentions it’s been a week since the gas poisoning, that it is now clear for travel, and that three people from other cities have applied for admission to their city. A councilman mentions the Minstrel has become enormously popular. The Mayor grumps that they don’t need such diversions from work, not in this emergency time, that they need more workers. He tells the councilmen to find out just how much productivity has decreased since Minstrel came.

int. woodshop -day

CARPENTERS are busy making cabinets and ladders and other useful products, some out of the old theater seats. One asks Ral what he’s making -- a small ark replica. Minstrel is in the corner whittling Noah’s Ark figurines. Children surround him, delighted with the small wooden animals and old Noah. The Councilman, Woodwork Chair, come over and scolds the children for not being in school, then scolds Ral. Ral explains that he finished his quota for the week, and was just doing the ark on his break.

int. councilroom - day

The Mayor is holding the reports. Well, it seems productivity is even up a bit, despite the Minstrel’s diversions. One councilwoman says that people seem, well, happier, more hopeful. The Mayor reminds them of the seriousness of the situation, that they can’t afford to carry even one loafer, that there’s another city a bit better off than them that has agreed to take Minstrel.

int. theater/junk unit - day

Minstrel is on stage singing a song. People are in the audience, and the farm animals are milling around. Children are at his feet playing with the Noah’s Ark set.

The HR Chair comes and tells Minstrel, that he will have to leave. The people are upset, the HR Chair explains it’s for the best of the community if at all they are to survive. Minstrel is sad at first, then tells everyone it’s for the best, that he’ll be fine in his new city, and to keep a song in their hearts. Feigns a smile.


Minstrel, rucksack and lute on his back, bids farewell to various people who have come to see him off -- including some children holding ark animals in their hands, Gatekeeper, Ral, Hilgret, and Eldster. They express appreciation for his music and art.

When Minstrel is out of earshot, Hilgret tells Elster that he saved her from dying of despair. Ral tells Gatekeeper that it seems any hope for this Polar City 83’s survival is going out the door. Gatekeeper nods sadly.

ext. fields - day

Polar City 83 is in the b.g., the great doors open with people waving farewell. Minstrel takes his lute and sings a song as he comes down the road.



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Environmental Reading Group

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Environmental Reading Group (EREAD)

The Environmental Reading Group (EREAD), is a weekly faculty/staff/student lunch group for cross-disciplinary conversation about contemporary environmental writings.

EREAD meets on Wednesdays at noon in the conference room in Anderson Bio Labs. To be notified about readings, dates and locations, email

All readings are PDF files and are available only to Rice University users.

Next Reading

December 19th, 2007

"Natural Capitalism" by Amory B. Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins, and Paul Hawken Harvard Business Review May-June 1999

"A World of Abundance" by William McDonough and Michael Braungart Interfaces May-June 2000

Recent Reading

December 12th, 2007

"Is Humanity Fatally Successful?" by William Rees Journal of Business Administration and Policy Analysis 2002-2003

December 5th, 2007

all from The Economists' Voice June 2007

"A New Agenda for Global Warming" by Joseph Stiglitz

"A Meaningful Second Commitment Period for the Kyoto Progocol" by Sheila Olmstead and Robert Stavins

"Climate Change: The Uncetainties, the Certainties and What They Imply About Action" by Thomas Schelling

"Time to Change US Climate Policy" by Robert Hahn and Peter Passell

November 28th, 2007

Chapters 16-21 from Global Fever: How to Treat Climate Change by William Calvin 2007

November 21st, 2007

Thanksgiving break - no reading

November 14th, 2007

"Prologue" and "Towers" from Soul of Nowhere: Traversing Grace in a Rugged Land by Craig Childs 2002

November 7th, 2007

"GEO-4 – Executive Summary for Journalists" The Global Environment Outlook of the UN (GEO), 25 October 2007

October 31st, 2007

"The Future is Drying Up" by Jon Gertner New York Times October 21st 2007

October 24th, 2007

"The Threat to the Planet: A Review Essay" by Jim Hansen, New York Review of Books July 13, 2006

"Scientific Reticence and Sea Level Rise" by Jim Hansen, Environmental Research Letters 2, April-June 2007

October 17th, 2007

More excerpts from Landscape of Desire: Identity and Nature in Utah's Canyon Country by Greg Gordon, 2003

October 10th, 2007

Excerpts from Landscape of Desire: Identity and Nature in Utah's Canyon Country by Greg Gordon, 2003

October 3rd, 2007

"Multifaceted Justice in Adaptation to Climate Change" by Jouni Paavola et. al, from Fairness in Adaptation to Climate Change 2006

"Climate Change Challenge for the Poor--Part I" by Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, Yale Global September 26, 2007

September 26th

"Cost of Pollution in China: Economic Estimates of Physical Damages" from the World Bank and the State Environmental Protection Administration, P. R. China, February 2007

"As China Rises, Pollution Soars" by Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley, International Herald Tribune, August 25, 2007

September 19th, 2007

"Dim Sun: Global warming? Global dimming? What's with the globe, anyway?" by Kip Keen, Grist: Environmental News & Commentary, September 22, 2004

"Strong Present-day Aerosol Cooling Implies a Hot Future" by Meinrat O. Andreae et al., Nature 435:30, June 2005

"Clear Skies Raise Global-warming Estimates" by Quirin Schiermeier, Nature 435:30, June 2005

"Impact of Global Dimming and Brightening on Global Warming" by Martin Wild, et al., Geophysical Research Letters 34, 2007

"One Hundred Days of Climate Action" by David W. Orr, Conservation Biology 21:4, 2007

September 12th, 2007

"Powering the Planet" by Nathan S. Lewis, Engineering and Science, No. 2, 2007

September 5th, 2007

"Bonfire of the Superweeds" by Michelle Nijhuis, High Country News, August 20, 2007

August 29th, 2007

"Tar Sands Fever!" by Dan Woynillowicz, World Watch, September/October 2007

"Rule to Expand Mountaintop Coal Mining in U.S." International Herald Tribune August 23, 2007

August 22nd, 2007

"Eyeing Future Wealth, Russians Plant the Flag on the Arctic Seabed, Below the Polar Cap" by C. J. Chivers, New York Times, August 3, 2007

"Cold Rush" by McKenzie Funk, Harper's Magazine, September 2007

August 15th, 2007

"Another Global Warming Icon Comes Under Attack" by S. E. Schwartz et al., Science, July 2007

"The Big Thaw" by Tim Appenzeller, National Geographic, June 2007

August 8th, 2007

"The Joy of Sales Resistance" and "Conservation and Local Economy" from Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community by Wendell Berry, 1994

August 1st, 2007

Introduction and Part I from Land Circle by Linda Hasselstrom, 2007

July 25th, 2007

"The Importance of Peacock" from The Abstract Wild by Jack Turner, 1996

July 18th, 2007

"Endgame: Meditations on a Diminishing World" by Edward Hoagland, Harper's Magazine, June 2007

July 11th, 2007


July 4th, 2007

Independence Day, no EREAD

June 27th, 2007

Chapter 8, chapters 9 and 10 from Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert, 2007

June 20th, 2007

Chapters 6 and 7 from Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert, 2007

June 13th, 2007

Chapter 4 and chapter 5 from Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert, 2007

June 6th, 2007

"Economic Inequality Predicts Biodiversity Loss" by Gregory Mikkelson et al., Plos One, May 2007

May 30th, 2007

Chapters 2 and 3 from Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert, 2007

May 23rd, 2007

Preface and chapter 1 from Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert, 2007

May 16th, 2007

Excerpts (introduction, chapter 3, afterword) from Deep Economy by Bill McKibben, 2007

May 9th, 2007

"Restoration" by Paul Hawken, excerpt from Blessed Unrest, 2007 New York: Virginia Press

"The Thoreau Problem" by Rebecca Solnit, Orion Magazine, May|June 2007

May 2nd, 2007

"The Ecology of Work" by Curtis White, Orion Magazine , May|June 2007

"To Remake the World" by Paul Hawken, Orion Magazine, May|June 2007

April 25th, 2007

"Jungle Law" by William Langewiesch, Vanity Fair, May 2007

April 18th, 2007

"Dreams of a Jade Forest" by Wade David, excerpt from Shadows in the Sun, 1998

April 4th, 2007

"What's So Funny?" by Tim Dickinson, Outside Magazine, April 2007

March 28th, 2007

"Raccoon" and "Cat and Mouse" by Craig Childs, excerpt from Crossing Paths, 1997

March 21st, 2007

"Beyond Hope" by Derrick Jensen, Orion Magazine, May|June 2006

"The Idols of Environmentalism" by Curtis White, Orion Magazine, March|April 2007

March 14th, 2007

"Eating Better than Organic" by John Cloud, Time Magazine, March 2, 2007

"The Ecological Fishprint of Nations: Measuring Humanity's Impact on Marine Ecosystems" by John Talbert et al., Redifing Progress: The Nature of Economics, 2006

February 21st, 2007

"Agiabampo to Lubec " excerpt from Swimming in Circles, by Paul Molyneaux, Thunder's Mouth Press, 2007

"Economic Efficiency in Fisheries and Aquaculture" by Paul Molyneaux, International Journal of Transdisciplinary Research, Vol. 1 No.1

February 13th, 2007

Mr. Green by Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, January 22, 2007

February 6th, 2007

Unhappy Meals by Michael Pollan, New York Times, January 28, 2007

January 30th, 2007

Selected Readings from The Great Deep: The Sea and Its Thresholds by James Hamilton, 1992

January 23rd, 2007

Executive Summary from Livestock's Long Shadow:Environmental Issues and Options

Chapter 7 from Livestock's Long Shadow:Environmental Issues and Option

January 16th, 2007

"Portraits in Carbon" by Todd Neff, World Watch, January|February 2007

"Swift Boating, Stealth Budgeting, Unitary Executives" by James Hansen, World Watch, November|December 2006

December 12th, 2006

Selected Readings from Design on the Edge by David Orr, MIT Press, 2006

December 5th, 2006

Articles related to EREADer Jeremy Caves' presentation

"Conservation Esthetic" by Aldo Leopold, excerpt from A Sand County Almanac, Oxford University Press, 1949

"Standing Up for this World" by Mary O'Brien, Orion, September|October 2004

"Protecting National Forest Wilderness After the Wilderness Act" by Dave Foreman, Wild Earth, Spring|Summer 2004

November 28th , 2006

"A Meditation on Building" by David Orr, excerpt from Design on the Edge: The Making of High Performance Building, MIT Press, 2006

November 21st , 2006

"The Flora and Fauna of Las Vegas" by Ellen Meloy, excerpt from Raven's Exile: a season of the Green River, University of Arizona Press, 1994

"Las Vegas Versus Nature" by Mike Davis, excerpt from Dead Cities, The New Press, 2002

November 14th , 2006

"A Quirk in the Law" by William deBuys, Orion, November|December 2006

"Voices from the Gas Fields" by Rebecca Clarren, Orion, November|December 2006

"The Coalition That Could" by Rebecca Clarren, Orion, November|December 2006

November 7th , 2006

"Drugging the Waters" by Elizabeth Royte, OnEarth, Fall 2006

"The Owl, Spotted" by Alison Hawthorne Deming, OnEarth, Fall 2006

"Will Evangelicals Help Save The Earth?" by Bill McKibben, OnEarth, Fall 2006

"A Thirst We Can't Quech" by Jacques Leslie, OnEarth, Fall 2006

October 31st, 2006

"Chapter 5: the present impasse and steps forward" by Andrew Dessler*, excerpt from The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to Debate, Cambridge University Press, 2006

*CSES Colloquium speaker, November 2nd, noon, Duncan Hall 3092, lunch provided. RSVP

October 24th, 2006

"The Organic Myth" by Diane Brady, Business Week Online, October 16, 2006

"The Vegetable-Industrial Complex " by Michael Pollan, New York Times , October 15, 2006

"Big Farms Will Keep Spinach on the Table" by Daniel Akst, New York Times, October 15, 2006

"Where's the healthiest beef? In the pasture" by Nicki Britton, Houston Chronicle, October 17, 2006

October 17th, 2006

"The Farm " by Michael Pollan, excerpt from Omnivore's Dilemma, 2006

"The Feedlot " by Michael Pollan, excerpt from Omnivore's Dilemma, 2006

October 10th, 2006

"The Battered Border: Immigration policy sacrifices Arizona's wilderness " by Chris Clarke, Earth Island Journal, Autumn 2006

"Blue Desert " by Charles Bowden

October 3rd, 2006

"Challenges in Environmental Ethics " by Holmes Rolston III, Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology, 2003

September 26th, 2006

"Managing the Effects of Nanotechnology " by J. Clarence (Terry) Davies, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

"Stricter Nanotechnology Laws Are Urged" by Rick Weiss, Washington Post, January 11, 2006

"Rice studies the big picture on tiny nanoparticles " by Eric Berger, Houston Chronicle, September 19, 2006

"Nanotech Nightmare?" by Connie Cone Sexton, The Arizona Republic, September 19, 2006

September 19th, 2006

"Slow Food Nation " by Alice Waters, The Nation, September 11, 2006

"One Thing to Do About Food: A Forum" by Eric Schlosser, The Nation, September 11, 2006

"Mean or Green?" by Liza Featherstone, The Nation, September 11, 2006

"Hard Labor" by Felicia Mello, The Nation, September 11, 2006

September 12th, 2006

"The Question Science Won't Ask" by Craig Holdrege, Orion, July/August 2006

September 5th, 2006

"Environmental Challenge" by Peter H. Raven, May 22nd, 2003

"Presidential Address: Science, Sustainability, and the Human Prospect" by Peter H. Raven, Science, August, 2002

May 30th, 2006

"The Sway of the World: Gore-backed group will spend big to convince Americans climate change is real" by Amanda Griscom Little, Grist Magazine, May 19th, 2006.

"Interview: David Guggenheim and an Inconvenient Truth" by Alex Steffan, World Changing Essays, May 4th, 2006.

May 23rd, 2006

"No Bar Code" excerpt from "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan, Mother Jones Magazine, May/June, 2006

"Paradise Sold" by Steven Shapin, The New Yorker , May 15th, 200

May 16th, 2006

"The Happiness Gene" by Robert Michael Pyle, Orion, May/June, 2006

"A Hormonal Message" by Sandra Steingraber, Orion, May/June, 2006

"Making Connections" by Michelle Nijhuis, Orion, May/June, 2006

May 10th, 2006

"Beyond Hope" by Derrick Jensen, Orion, May/June, 2006

"On Earth Day" by Alex Steffan, WorldChangingEssays, April 21st, 2006

May 3rd, 2006

"Oceans of Waste" by Paula Bock, The Seattle Times, April 21st, 2006

April 26th, 2006

"Park and Parcel: The underfunded Texas Parks and Wildlife Department struggles to sell itself" by Joe Nick Patoski, The Texas Observer, April, 2006

`REST-OF-MY-LIFE RESTORATION PROJECT' / Houston businessman John Poindexter considers renewing his controversial offer to buy part of Big Bend Ranch State Park / A LEGACY IN LAND’ by John W. Gonzales, The Houston Chronicle, October, 2005

April 19th, 2006

Selections from "Gasp! The Swift and Terrible Beauty of Air" by Joe Sherman, 2004

April 12th, 2006

Selections from "Raising Less Corn, More Hell: The Case for the Independent Farm and Against Industrial Food" by George Pyle, 2005

April 5th, 2006

"Lessons from the WOLF" by Jim Robbins, Scientific American, June 2004.

"Still Buzzing" by Michael Lanza, Backpacker, February 2006.

"When Bison Leave the Park" brochure from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior

"935 Yellowstone bison rounded up this year" by Mike Stark, billingsgazettedotcom, February 16th, 2006

March 27th, 2006

"The Death of Environmentalism: Introduction to the Symposium" by Maurie J. Cohen, March 2006.

"Spinning our way to Sustainability?" by Robert J. Brulle and J. Craig Jenkins, March 2006.

"A Call For Women to Lead a Different Environmental Movement" by Lynnette Zelezny and Megan Bailey, March 2006

March 8th, 2006

"The Bombing Range" from Walking It Off, by Doug Peacock

March 1st, 2006

"Needed: Technology that buries our carbon dixoide" by Froma Harrop, The Houston Chronicle, February 26th, 2006

"Wish upon a star: Sell Disney the Grand Canyon" by Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren, The Houston Chronicle, February 26th, 2006

Selections from "Crimes Against Nature" by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Harper Collins, 2004

February 22nd, 2006

"Moving Mountains; The struggle for justice in the coal fields of Appalachia" by Erik Reece, Orion, January/February 2006

February 15th, 2006

"Between Hoofprints: It isn't easy to find common ground on the West's rangelands" by Michelle Nujhuis, Orion, November/December 2005

February 8th, 2006

Selections from "Wandering Home" by Bill McKibben, Crown Publishers, New York, 2005

February 1st, 2006

"Earth First! Cofounder Dave Foreman on Being a True Conservative" by Jeremy Lloyd, The Sun, December 2005

January 25th, 2006

"Ecological Ethics: Building a New Tool Kit for Ecologists and Biodiversity Managers" by Ben A. Minteer and James P. Collins, Conservation Biology, December 2005

January 18th, 2006

Selections from "Out of Gas, The End of the Age of Oil" by David Goodstein, W. W. Norton and Company, 2004

January 11th, 2006

"Armageddon Versus Extinction" by David Orr, Conservation Biology, April 2005

"Conservation Theory for Conservation Biologists; A Reply to David Orr" by various undersigned, Conservation Biology, December 2005

"Evangelicals are Conservationists" by David Henderson, Conservation Biology, December 2005

"Orr and Armageddon; Building a Coalition" by David M. Johns, Conservation Biology, December 2005

"The Other Connectivity; Reaching Beyond the Choir" by David M. Johns, Conservation Biology, December 2005

"Between Heaven and Earth; Evangelical Engagement in Conservatism" by Fred Van Dyke, Conservation Biology, December 2005

"A Response" by David Orr, Conservation Biology, December 2005

December 14th, 2005

"The Great Leap, Scenes from China's Industrial Revolution" by Bill McKibben, Harper's Magazine, December 2005

December 7th, 2005

Selections from "Notes on a Shared Landscape: Making Sense of the American West" by David Bayles, Image Continum Press, 2005

November 30th, 2005

"Conservation Refugees: When Protecting Nature Means Kicking People Out" Mark Dowie, Orion, November/December, 2005

"Behind Gold's Glitter, Torn Lands and Pointed Questions" Jane Perlez and Kirk Johnson, The New York Times, October 24th, 2005 and "Tangled Strands in Fight Over Peru Gold Mine" Jane Perlez and Lowell Bergman, The New York Times, October 25th, 2005

November 16th, 2005

"Supreme Court Takes Up 2 Cases Challenging Powers of US Regulators to Protect Wetlands " Linda Greenhouse, New York Times, October 12, 2005

"The Galveston Bay Wetlands Crisis " Andrew Sipocz, National Wetlands Newsletter, July/August, 2005

"They Blinded Me with Pseudo Science: The Bush administration is jettisoning real scientists in favor of yes-men " Amanda Griscom, Grist Magazine, November 12, 2005

November 2nd, 2005

"Sleepwalking Into the Future" From "The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century" James Howard Kunstler, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005

October 26th, 2005

"Hung Out to Dry: Post-Katrina floodwaters are dirty, but so are other U.S. waterways" Osha Gray Davidson, Grist Magazine , October 11, 2005

"Minnesota's waters becoming more polluted" Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio , October 10, 2005

"Urban runoff a toxic brew" Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio, October 13, 2005

"Montana Faces Eternal Clean-Up of Toxic Lake" Adam Tanner, Reuters, September 26, 2005

October 19th, 2005

"Seeing the Wood from the Trees " Nicole Freris and Klemens Laschefski, Ecologist, July/August 2001

"Asphalt and Soya Dreams: Two Oceans, Two Countries and the Transoceanica " Tina Butler,, April 17, 2005

"Another look at global rainforest conservation: Are rainforests still in need of saving? " Rhett Butler,, April 19, 2005

October 12th, 2005

"Waiting for Salmon" Barry Lopez, Granta

"Pombo's Anti-Endangered Species

Bill Leaked Again" Center for Biological Diversity, 2005

"Revised Species Act Erodes Consensus" Bob Lando, Daily Republic, October 2005


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Columbia Presents 2007 Oakes Awards

Winners cover radioactive pollution, coastal erosion, and melting ice caps

McKenzie Funk took the magazine prize for an article in the September issue of Harper’s headlined, “Cold Rush: The Coming fight for the Melting North.”

Among the myriad articles that appeared last fall about the unprecedented loss of summertime Arctic sea ice and what that means to the suite of northern nations eager to one day take advantage of an open northwest passage, Funk’s was perhaps the best. His account of Canada’s “sovereignty operations” (apparently the most ambitious in the world and designed to protect the country’s claim to the important shipping route) takes him to a remote military out post and onboard one of the patrol boats. The story is masterful, in a Cervantes-like way, because it balances a situation that at times seems very serious or very silly; as one of the Oakes Award judges noted, Funk penned the tale “with a style that is both authoritative and good natured.” The lead, depicting one of the military’s many quixotic drills, was so good that it bears reprinting:

On the first full day of the sovereignty operation, the captain slowed the frigate and we took out the machine guns and sprayed the Northwest Passage with bullets. It felt pretty good. It was foggy, and the unpolluted water boiled as we polluted it with lead. There was no life we could see, and few waves. The wind was cold, the Arctic Ocean a drab green. There wasn’t any ice. But if there had been ice, we would have shot it…

When they finished, they kicked the shells into the sea. There were journalists on board, and the Arctic was warming, and the Canadians-a peaceful people, a people who take immense pride in their own decency-were trying their hardest to seem violent, dangerous, prepared. They were baring their teeth.”

*The awards honor John B. Oakes, who worked for The New York Times as a columnist (pioneering, in particular, a column about the environment), editorial writer, editor, editorial page editor, and creator of the op-ed page.


PROFESSOR Chris Rapley CBE, director of London's Science Museum, was awarded the 2008 Edinburgh Medal for his work on climate change.

The prestigious award, made as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, is presented each year to men and women of science and technology whose professional achievements are judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding and wellbeing of humanity.

Prof Rapley held the position of executive director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, and subsequently became the director of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

While there, he gained a reputation for visionary leadership, and positioned BAS firmly in the international and national limelight as the worldwide centre of excellence in its field.

Prof Rapley is a passionate communicator of science and his particular interests include our dependence on energy and our exploitation of carbon-based fuels – and the related effects of this dependence on our climate and our planet.

Here, he talks to Ian Johnston, The Scotsman's environment correspondent, about the mounting evidence for climate change, the work of climate change campaigner Al Gore, global population levels, exploding dustbins and the battle between science and religion.


How are we doing in the fight against global warming?

I'm both pessimistic and optimistic. There are reasons to be optimistic; there has been a huge sea change in the sector of society engaged in the debate, even three years ago it was still really the science community worrying itself about this, and now you can hardly open a newspaper or magazine without bumping into some discussion about climate change.

What's more, serious people in the worlds of economics, politics and business are engaged in a way that's been totally transformed in the last few years.

I'm also optimistic because of the insight I have gained from the Science Museum by just taking volumes at random out of the 30km of shelving in our library. If you take out any one of these volumes and go through it, you get a glimpse into the extraordinary creative capacity of the technologically competent and active component of human society to do things.

If we can marshal or harness that resource, then I think you could argue that the energy challenge and climate change is a cinch.

However, then the pessimistic side of me says: "But how well are we doing at harnessing that talent?"

The story for the last seven years or so is not very reassuring.

My scary overhead is a graph that shows human carbon emissions from about 1850 up to the present – it's more or less nothing, then it creeps up and, in 2000, it was about 6.5 gigatonnes per year, the weight of the carbon going into the atmosphere.

You can then show how that curve needed to turn over and start to reduce if we were to stay within what is generally thought of as the safe limit of in the atmosphere, which is 450 parts per million (ppm) – the value, beyond which, most people agree, things get dangerous.

You look at the curve we should have been on to stabilise at 450ppm, you look at the curve we should have been on to stabilise at 650ppm if 450ppm was too hard and you look at business as usual.

Then you plot the last seven years' emissions on there and they are bang on or slightly above.

Indeed, there's evidence that we're accelerating.

In spite of all the rhetoric, in spite of all the effort, in spite of the shift in seriousness with which this is all taken, we haven't made much of a dent in this curve yet.

Do you think the world will react in time to prevent catastrophe? Professor James Lovelock, of Gaia theory (which states living and nonliving parts of the planet interact and can be viewed as a single organism] fame, believes that by the end of this century humans will be forced to live in small areas near the poles. Do you agree?

When Jim published his book, The Revenge of Gaia, I knew why he said what he did, but I have to say I thought he was in an extreme position. I did not think that all was lost.

What's been happening since then, particularly with the melting of summer Arctic ice and the acceleration of loss of ice from Greenland and bits of the Antarctic... I've got this sneaky feeling that he may have been more right than we appreciated at the time.

I think the evidence is moving his way, although I suppose I don't wish to believe (that]. He was saying the climate system had gone through a tipping point. There is growing evidence that he might just be right, that we might have already committed ourselves to a different planet.

On the other hand, you have got to be careful not to overdraw the "hope budget" and make people feel that this is hopeless. We're still obliged to take action.

Do you think people are convinced of the science behind the warnings of dangerous climate change?

Much more has to be done, and that was my motivation for coming to the Science Museum because it has huge expertise in giving people a good day out but, at the same time, giving them information, helping them think things through.

A lot more people are prepared to accept something pretty odd is going on and we probably should do something about it.

I think there's still a huge amount of confusion out there as to what the evidence really is. When I talk to people about climate change, even those who are passionate believers, they are actually very vague about what the evidence is and often have got it wrong.

Are scientists hamstrung by the nature of scientific inquiry? Scientists never like to say, "yes we've proved this is going to happen, it's absolutely certain", and it's difficult to say concretely, "this is true".

There have been so many examples in the history of science where something that has seemed to be absolutely rock-solid has been proved to be wrong.

If tomorrow, I woke up and I was the discoverer of the killer fact that showed (theories on climate change are] all wrong, nobody would be more pleased than me.

But my judgment of all the evidence is that would be incredibly unlikely to happen. I'd love it if it was me because I'd be really famous then.

What matters to most scientists is not how much money they earn, but the esteem of their colleagues,(which] is hugely influenced by certain standards that the science community applies.

When they listen to (other] scientists, (members of the scientific community] ask, "are they being rigorous and transparent about the things they don't know?" It's very difficult for scientists to engage with people – and especially the media – who just want a simple story, because they are constantly having to add in all of these caveats.

It's why Al Gore has been so much more successful than most scientists at getting the message across, because he's not constrained by quite the same set of rules.

He's able to be a little bit more polemic, to run a little closer to the wind and to use all the ploys of a storyteller – pulling on people's heart strings and playing on the audience, which would be an absolute no-no for a scientist.

What would you say to a climate change "denier"?

I'm right in the middle of writing an e-mail to one at the moment. To me, the story is really, really simple. It's our carbon and it's up there. This is not controversial, it's unequivocal.

We know how much fossil fuel we've dug out the ground. It's been a fantastic story... we discovered coal, oil and gas and it has totally transformed the human condition.

I came across this statistic the other day: one barrel of oil has the energy in it that allows work to be done equivalent to 4,500 humans for a day. That's amazing stuff.

We've burned it and half of the it has released sits up in the atmosphere, the other half has been taken up by the oceans and plants on land. We've measured how that concentration has changed by looking at bubbles in ice cores that take us back one million years and by making more recent measures. We've put it up there 1,000 times faster than any natural process, so it's going to shock the system.

If there's any doubt about it being our carbon, not only can you do the sums about how much you've dug out and burned, but it's got an isotopic signature that says it's ours. That's the first fact.

The second fact is that the surface of the Earth is a lot warmer than it would be if there wasn't a thing called the greenhouse effect and is a player – it's not the main player, but it's an important player.

As a physicist, if you add , I need somebody to explain to me how that wouldn't enhance the greenhouse effect. How could it not?

The greenhouse effect overall is about 30C, so if you tweak by pushing it up the way we have, it's not surprising you might see a degree or so of warming.

You have warned that the growing world population is unsustainable. How do you persuade people not to have children?

First of all, you scare the hell out of them, I suppose, but that's not a very sustainable or ethical position.

Clearly a planet that has ten billion people on it is going to have a bigger human impact than a planet that has eight billion people, assuming they reach the same levels of prosperity.

If you helped people pursue their own aspirations to have smaller families, you get about 1,000 times the reduction per euro spent in future carbon emissions than you would if you were trying to develop nuclear power or wave and wind power.

There are still areas of the world where access to family planning and the social conditions to exercise your choice aren't available to people.

It's certainly the case that if you had a billion people on the planet rather than ten billion, that billion would be able to lead, in principle, an extremely rich lifestyle both physically and culturally, with all of the benefits of the modern world and do so in a sustainable balance with the planet.

I don't know if the figure is one billion, half a billion or two billion. I'm not saying we should be seeking to go from 6.5 billion to one billion, but .... if you can go in that direction rather than upwards, it is probably better.

Does Britain place enough emphasis on science? Are we producing enough graduates, coming up with enough inventions? How do you persuade people to study physics and maths, rather than media studies or history of art?

We're all so totally dependent on science and technology, it's a bit frightening that so relatively few people see science and technology as a worthwhile career.

But I think it goes much further than that. As a scientist, I can take pleasure from the world I see around me because I have a pair of eyes that equip me to look at things and say: "Wow, that's fantastic."

The world (becomes] a more amazing place the more you understand the scientific and technological underpinning, the principles upon which it works than if you just wander around and look at it.

I feel it's a tragedy so many people don't have access to those insights.

Are you concerned by the rise of religion/spiritual beliefs in politics and everyday life, clashes between scientists and supporters of "intelligent design"?

The retreat from rationality is worrying, but sort of understandable. The world is incredibly complicated – people are confused and a little bit frightened by it, possibly they feel powerless to have much influence over it, so I can understand why there is a growing interest in religion because that may well offer some solace, some answers and some comfort.

But I would argue that is quite dangerous.

If people make decisions, both in their own lives and collectively, through whatever societal processes there are that are not based on the best evidence and the best assessment of that evidence possible, then that's very risky.

Why did you become a scientist? What was your favourite subject at school, were you good at science and what mark did you get?

It was interesting because I did as well at history and English and other things. I think (my favourite subject] was probably Thursday afternoons in the chemmy (chemistry] lab, because we could do all sorts of amazingly interesting and slightly dangerous things, which probably wouldn't be allowed these days.

You could manufacture explosives, for example. I blew up somebody's dustbin once.

I hear people say health and safety has so limited what you can do with kids in the lab and that it's taken a lot of what you might call the fun and excitement out of science. I don't know if that's true, but it seems plausible.

The full article contains 2224 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.Last Updated: 14 February 2008 10:00 PM
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1 Jock Tamson,Scotland, Caledonia, Alba 15/02/2008 01:28:15
I shall not give up on global warming. I shall continue to live in hope.Report Unsuitable2 John Blackley,Winter Garden, FL 15/02/2008 02:23:26
I don't understand some of the global warming theory, I don't believe all of the global warming doom scenarios and I don't even listen to the global warming opportunists (politicians, certain contributors to this site, etc.).

My question to the esteemed professor might not have been, "So, how're we doing........etc.?" It might have been, "So, how do you convince people like me that you're not just the latest fad science?"Report Unsuitable3 GalacticCannibal,Murrieta, CA...bye Bush -Cheney..u. evil leaders. 15/02/2008 06:01:54

John Blackley,
Winter Garden, FL
Hey Dude ,
Neither do the cause of the Mickey dee's hamgurgers u devour, understand it. .

Its the cows in the fields or in the killing stalls . these creature fart all day, and their methane gases contribute to the pollution of the planet's air. And they also don't understand it .

So Dude you are in high intellectual company.

Run down to little Havana and explain it to them . That minority of Anti-Castro fanatics.



GcReport Unsuitable4 Brad Arnold,St Louis Park 15/02/2008 06:50:53
"When Jim published his book, The Revenge of Gaia...I did not think that all was lost. What's been happening since then...I've got this sneaky feeling that he may have been more right than we appreciated at the time."

Dr Lovelock says (based upon the PETM 55 million years ago) that once the tipping point of 500 ppm is reached, we will rapidly return to the hothouse state of the PETM. It is very unlikely that mankind will cut their emissions so fast and drastically that the red-line of 500 ppm will be avoided.

Instead, any feasible planetary rescue plan must include a method of removing CO2 from the air. I suggest the low cost and highly scalable method of biosequestration. Read my blog at for more information.

The PETM ended when ocean life kicked into high gear and removed the excess CO2 from the air over tens of thousands of years. We can improve nature's ability with genetic engineering. Trying to dramatically cut emissions and wait for a damaged Earth to remove the excess CO2 from the air is a weak mitigation strategy-we must remove that excess CO2 from the air as soon as possible.Report Unsuitable5 Reckless,Global warming swindle 15/02/2008 07:23:22
They're becoming scared now. People are slowly waking up to this giant fraud. How long can they go on telling us that CO2 is an evil gas (and tax us for producing it)?Report Unsuitable6 Rulesbutnotrulers,Federation, not separation 15/02/2008 07:26:05
Become vegetarian, ban concrete, and fossil fuel fueled cars and flying and heating, build only with wood, plant endless forests,allow only two children per couple, bring back wooden sailing ships, mass produce submarine turbines, and so on. Easy, really. Come on SNP. Take the lead!Report Unsuitable7 Unimpressed one,15/02/2008 08:20:01
"When they listen to (other] scientists, (members of the scientific community] ask, "are they being rigorous and transparent about the things they don't know?"

Perhaps the good professor can comment on the fact that NASA's Jim Hansen's peer-reviewed paper, which lead to the infamous temperature 'hockeystick' graph so loved by Al Gore and the IPCC, was so fundamentally flawed, it verged on scientific fraud? Or the fact that the same rubbish spouted by him and others about 1998 being the hottest this century was also a fraud? And regarding Antarctic melting - temperatures lower than ever in the region? I could go on, but as most rational people (those whose mortgage payments don't rely in buying into a junk science industry) this paragon of scientific impartiality is really full of it and should be soundly ignored.Report Unsuitable8 Unimpressed one,15/02/2008 08:26:05
"What would you say to a climate change "denier"? " This is unforgiveable gutter press slander that the moronic journalist spat out as a soundbite. I hope to Christ, that when all this junk pans out in a few years and it unequivocally shown that the sun can explain all observations of recent warming, that all the hangers on in the media, brain-dead politicians and lying 'scientists' supported by eco-bams, are reminded by the rest of the sane majority, that they perpetrated one of the biggest scare stories in human history.Report Unsuitable9 Unimpressed one,15/02/2008 08:28:06
"There is growing evidence that he might just be right, that we might have already committed ourselves to a different planet."

Sounds like he's already on it.Report Unsuitable10 Guthrie,Edinburgh 15/02/2008 09:21:56
Unimpressed one- the commitee concluded that the hockey stick graph was ok, and further analyses demonstrate that the shape is robust.
Also, no one except silly people like yourself claim that 1998 is the hottest year this century. Report Unsuitable11 E300,tomich 15/02/2008 09:41:12
"and further analyses demonstrate that the shape is robust"
Curiously the "hockey stick" figured so prominently in the IPCC third report only to be so conspicuously down played in their latest (fourth) report.Report Unsuitable12 Gothic Rose,15/02/2008 09:50:06
Its a nice day today.Report Unsuitable13 Unimpressed one,15/02/2008 09:50:32
"There is growing evidence that he might just be right, that we might have already committed ourselves to a different planet."

Sounds like he's already on it.Report Unsuitable14 Alternative (High Octane) Fuel Head,Edinburgh 15/02/2008 09:58:29
...the latest piece of propagandaReport Unsuitable15 GP,15/02/2008 10:18:46
1# superbReport Unsuitable16 Guthrie,Edinburgh 15/02/2008 10:19:09
OK E300, if the hockey stick has been downgraded, tell me where it is in the report and how big a page it takes up. Report Unsuitable17 eyeswider,freezing my assets off 15/02/2008 11:04:43
This guy probably believes fluoride is good for children's teeth, voting changes things, oil is running out and the sun plays no part in climate/weather - he still believes in the greenhouse for crying out loud.

"There have been so many examples in the history of science where something that has seemed to be absolutely rock-solid has been proved to be wrong."

"you get a glimpse into the extraordinary creative capacity of the technologically competent and active component of human society to do things."

Google: al gore goldman sachs carbon trading(hint they co-own the companies)

The single experimentally proven effect of increased CO2 in the air is an increase in the growth rate of plants.

Report Unsuitable18 Sanny,Upwey 15/02/2008 11:43:44
Just a quick point. Most of these scientific Casandras a constantly going on about fossil fuels and the amount of carbon we’re pushing into the atmosphere. May I ask where did this carbon come from? What is meant by fossil fuel?

Let us consider coal, this is a fossil fuel and it’s considered a major contributor to the CO2 in the atmosphere. As any schoolboy could tell you coal was once vegetation and in order to grow it used sunlight to drive a photosynthesis process to convert CO2 into a hydrocarbon and oxygen. OK I’m simplifying, but the carbon cycle is known to anyone who took ‘O’ level science. Again keeping it simple the plant stores the energy of the sun by forming hydrocarbons. These plants die and after a few million years they form coal. When we oxidise or burn these hydrocarbons, or coal, we release the stored energy and return the CO2 to the atmosphere from whence it came.

Much is made about the amount of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere by human action. What these climatescareologists fail to mention is that the total is about 3% of that which is released by nature. Basically if we stopped all use of hydrocarbons then we could reduce the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere by 3%max. Of course this could be increased if we all stopped breathing out. We to, as living organisms absorb O2 and release CO2, it is plant life that absorbs CO2 and releases O2.

We need to look at ways we can use global warming whilst at the same time prepare for the coming Ice Age. We’re almost at the end of the current inter-glacial period! Not trying to scare anyone, honest! However we are about 19,000 years into the 20,000 year cycle.

Report Unsuitable19 Slioch,Scottish Highlands 15/02/2008 11:50:39
#17 eyeswider

You have already admitted, Eyeswider, that you are a layman in scientific terms, as well as demonstrating that you do not understand physical sciences. Yet you link to a paper concerning the thermodynamics of the atmosphere, which you have not the remotest clue about.

These guys (Gerlich and Tscheuschner) pop up every six months or so with another paper saying much the same thing and each time are shot down by those who understand thermodynamics.Report Unsuitable20 Guthrie,Edinburgh 15/02/2008 11:55:48
Eyeswider- you love straw men. Nobody is saying the sun has nothing to do with climate, just that there is no evidence that most of the recent warming is anything other than our fault.

As for Gerhlich and Tescheuchner essay, it is fundamentally flawed in almost every way. The only way they are correct is that the greenhouse effect as it is commonly known is not the actual meechanism that the earth is warmed by. It is unfortunately named, but lon guse has habituated people to it. Report Unsuitable21 eyeswider,still here 15/02/2008 12:16:33
#18 Sanny

Well said. It is all political, except for the commercial aspect of course ;-)

Anyone who is funded to "prove" AGW is complicit be they vocal or silent on the issue. They will soon point out the "flaws" in contrary positions yet none will "show me the money"

Where is thy proof?
Not supposition. Not scare stories. Not computer models of 90% certainty. Not fundamentalist contrary-ism a la Not consensus.

Just some proof would be nice before taking us in a direction that leads away from the supposed problem, or leads to even greater trouble thanks.

It is going to get cold soon. It's the Sun, stupid.

Report Unsuitable22 Guthrie,Edinburgh 15/02/2008 12:25:21
Again, lack of evidence. When you come up with some evidence that it will cool dramatically, let me know. Report Unsuitable23 Fiona Logue,Edinburgh International Science Festival 15/02/2008 12:31:39
Just to say that technically Chris Rapley has not yet been awarded the Medal. He will be awarded it on Monday 31st March at a ceremony in the McEwan Hall, Edinburgh at 6.30pm. He will give his address "Great While it Lasted, Now What?" then and all you commentators might want to come along and hear it direct from him. Tickets available from Unsuitable24 eyeswider,still cold 15/02/2008 12:42:15
#20 Guthrie - you love double negatives.

Funny how nearly every publication I mention gets you going isn't it? Except for the 80% you totally ignore. Yes I am keeping score.

"Nobody is saying the sun has nothing to do with climate, just that there is no evidence that most of the recent warming is anything other than our fault."

Show me the proof.

Everywhere I turn people, including scientists such as yourself, are claiming the monkey did it - not the Sun.

Much more importantly show me the "evidence" that recent warming _is_ our fault. If there was any I _would_ be the "moron" you have called me more than once on here.

And I don't mean "send me to some evangelist clown BS" either. I want a reputable scientific discovery - at the very least. Real science that proves, incontrovertibly, that human produced CO2 has caused the slight warming we have experienced recently.

Not some "smoothed" graphical representation of a hypothesis or a proxy extrapolation or a theoretical presentation.

Either that or, to quote yourself on another thread to another protagonist, stop your yapping.

Report Unsuitable25 Unimpressed one,15/02/2008 12:53:24
#10, Guthrie, you are displaying typical greenie logic by denying that the IPCC, Hansen, et al., did not claim 1998 was the hootest year this century. It took an accountant to correct the dodgy NASA statistics and to demolish the 'hockeystick' fiasco. Boy, you must be a warmist fundamentalist to have faith in this tripe.Report Unsuitable26 techpunk,15/02/2008 12:59:34
it's the same old story with this lot. you fairly ask for proof of this man-made global warming theory, it cant be produced, and then you are slagged-off for your lack of scientific understanding.

it's pathetic, and boring. why do these people refuse to enter into reasoned debate?

i can't wait for this theory to be completely debunked...and i am increasingly feeling that the day for this is coming quicker than i first thought.

Report Unsuitable27 Sanny,15/02/2008 13:09:51
22 Guthrie,
The cycles of Glacial and Interglacial periods are well documentated. And we are around 19,000 years into the current cycle which should be 20,000 years.
25 Unimpressed one:
There are many within the scientific community who regard the IPCC as bad science. Others dispute the summary findings. The Main IPCCpapers are full of if's, and's , but's; or other qualifiers. Most of the data is based on measurements over the last 150 years - not even a blink of the eye in geological terms.
None of the IPCC work explains the Medieval Warm Period that occurred a little over 1,000 years ago or the subsequent mini Ice age about 500 years ago and from which some think we are still recovering.

I suspect that most of the IPCC's findings are due to newly acquired ability to measure effects of which we had previously no knowledge. Report Unsuitable28 Guthrie,Edinburgh 15/02/2008 13:15:27
HAhaha. Unimpressed one- you do know that the 20th century is not the same as the 21st century, right?

IT is worth using only publications which actually say useful stuff. You use junk publications mostly.
The proof that the warming is our fault is contained within the IPCC fourth report. You appear not to have read it, and have no desire to do so.

The apes did do it, and we have the evidence, see above.
Lets see- we have stratospheric cooling, isotope ratio changes which match what happens when you add gigatonnes of fossil carbon to the atmosphere, as well as human records of the burning of said CO2. Then we have the physics showing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. (as well as all the other greenhouse gases we produce)

So, if you say which bits you don't understand, I can explain them to you. Report Unsuitable29 Guthrie,Edinburgh 15/02/2008 13:18:44
Sanny- So you reckon we're due a new glaciation in the next 1,000 years, when last I read the scientists thought we might slide into one in the next 10,000 years instead?

Also, you display a complete ignorance of how science works when you complain about ifs and buts. Scientists use qualifiers all the time.
Also, you appear not to have read the reports, and there is no evidence we are still recovering from the little ice age, moreover, the IPCC is not obliged to explani the behaviour of the sun 1,000 years ago in order to point out that the current warming is mostly our fault.

Report Unsuitable30 Tweedmouth,Coldstream 15/02/2008 13:28:43
Interesting how they never explain HOW carbon dioxide makes the Earth warmer. On Monday it was 60 degrees F in the Borders - so the air sure got warm. And guess what - that night there were no clouds and all the heat radiated into space - we had a heavy frost. Similarly - there is a great deficiency of carbon dioxide at the poles - because there are no plants or forests and very few animals producing CO2. But most of the warming is taking place at the poles. How come? Similarly - there is a massive amount of CO2 in the tropics - because thats were the forests are; but the 'warming' is not happening as fast there. Why not?

Keep reminding yourself that CO2 is just 400 parts per million per unit of atmosphere. Which means that in every litre of air 999,600 parts are NOT CO2 - but 400 are. So how does a non-reactive gas at just 400ppm exert this magic influence on the other 999,600 parts?

Finally, they don't tell us that the greatest warming ever observed by science was the period 1930-45 when in the Arctic the temperature rose by a gigantic 4 degrees C - that's about ten times the amount they are worried so much about currently. The warm spell lasted 15 years - then it reversed and 1948 was the coldest winter ever recorded. So what happened over that 15 year hot spell in the arctic? Guess what - the icecaps did not melt, the Greenland Ice Sheet did not collapse, sea levels did not rise and polar bears carried on - polar bearing.

The planet is getting warmer at the rate of 0.6 degrees C per century (Armagh Observatory figures) and it has been doing so since at least 1796 when records began. Of course - if we accept that the current warming is just aprt of a planetary cycle - then the global warming industry won't have its nose in the biggest trough in science history. And they will have to start explaining why no warming has been observed since 1998.

Lies, damned lies and statisticsReport Unsuitable31 sam the god,15/02/2008 13:39:39
Global warming equals it being hotter in the uk so we will use less gas and electricity to keep warm/ live (just remember that the power companies put up the costs by about 15%) so all I say is bring it on the sooner the better Report Unsuitable32 George.,15/02/2008 13:42:50
10"Also, no one except silly people like yourself claim that 1998 is the hottest year this century"
"further analyses demonstrate that the shape is robust"
Who carried out this analyses?
The people who made it.
Even you think 1998 is in this century.
Michael Mann did. He now claims he said no such thing.Report Unsuitable33 Guthrie,Edinburgh 15/02/2008 13:56:01
Tweedmouth #30- your entire post is an argument from personal incredulity.

The various errors include claiming that nobody explains how CO2 makes the earth warmer. This is fully covered in the IPCC reports, drawing on over a century of work.
A laymans explanation can be found here:

As for Co2 being 400ppm, if you were to breathe aire with 5ppm Chlorine in it, you would soon need to be hospitalised. From this it should be clear that concentration is not as simple a matter as you make it out to be. The importance of CO2 is in stopping IR radiation, as explained in the link I gave above.

Finally, you provide no evidence for the claimed 4 degre warming in the Arctic, and it does not show up in global measurements from the time.
Also, I would not expect much melting of Arctic ice in 15 years. It has taken several decades for it to pick up pace with the current warming. There is not an immediate response.

Also, there is no evidence that the current anomalous late 20th century warming is part of a planetary cycle, and there has been plenty of warming since 1998.

Report Unsuitable34 George.,15/02/2008 13:59:27
Very few climate models take account of water vapour and the ones that do have it tagged as positive feedback. The net effect of an increase in water vapour may be positive however it may also be negative (clouds). If the climate had all these "tripping points" (utter rubish) we would have turned into another Venus long ago. To say that there is no evidence to put most if not all warming down to the Sun is just silly. It's not just the brightness of the Sun we need to measure. We have only been studying the Sun propely for a very short time. The Sun effects the Earth in many ways most of which we have no idea how and what that effect may be.Report Unsuitable35 Guthrie,Edinburgh 15/02/2008 15:10:10
No goerge, climate models do take account of water vapour. The word you are looking for is "tipping", not tripping, and the concept has a perfectly good and valid history, as evidenced by the paleoclimate record.
If you have no idea how the sun is affecting the earth, how can you say it does?
To put it a simpler way, the earth can only be affected by radiation and particles from the sun. We can measure these, and see what effects they have on the planet. Report Unsuitable36 eyeswider,still cold 15/02/2008 15:13:16
#22 Guthrie. "The proof that the warming is our fault is contained within the IPCC fourth report."

Excuse me but it is not. It is a work of fiction. There is no proof there just conjecture. I read it to prove it to myself that they are lying, scheming charlatans. It was boring and wrong in so many ways.

"The apes did do it, and we have the evidence, see above...we have stratospheric cooling, isotope ratio changes which match what happens when you add gigatonnes of fossil carbon to the atmosphere, as well as human records of the burning of said CO2. Then we have the physics showing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. (as well as all the other greenhouse gases we produce)"

Not supposition. Not scare stories. Not computer models of 90% certainty. Not fundamentalist contrary-ism a la Not consensus. Not "explanations. Not anecdotes or guesses or make-believe.

P R O O F. Please.

"So, if you say which bits you don't understand, I can explain them to you."
You could cut the condescension also. It doesn't become.

As before I do not deny we add carbon to the atmosphere, and that this is a bad thing, I am just asking for proof that it causes "the warming" is all. Proof.

If you really are a scientist you wouldn't be averse to a little research maybe? Something to get your teeth into is coming right up.

Report Unsuitable37 eyeswider,still cold 15/02/2008 15:34:08
#22 Guthrie.

OK here is the news.

Get a copy of The Sky (by Software Bisque) - - the one that is used by thousands of scientists, mostly astronomers and astrophysicists, worldwide to remotely maneuver telescopes amongst other tricks.

Give yourself a 3D isometric view of the solar system and put in some dates such as The Dalton, Sporer, Wolf and Maunder minima, the freezing of the Thames, the Nile, the Euphrates, etc, The Little Ice Age, the Medieval Warm Period, great storms from history, the invasions of Scotland by the Vikings(and their visits to Greenland) and other rising and falling of civilizations due to climate change. Note the patterns of the planets. Note the way they repeat for any given (similar) extreme event. Intervals of 179.049 years will show some enlightening truths about weather patterns. There are (not too many) others. (You will see drift. This can be, and has been, addressed.)

Then spend a while with this wonderful tool. You will be able to see why Keppler, Copernicus, Brahe and Newton not to mention the Chinese (who have been studying, and keeping records of, the weather/climate for a lot longer than anyone) studied the planets and used their positions to prepare for changes in climate and why I can state with certainty that it will get cold soon. You will also see why it has been warming (coincidentally with the recent CO2 increase - unfortunately for the green people haters) recently.

Put in a _lot_ more research and you will see why some of us can give very long range forecasts not just of temperature and precipitation but hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons and other severe weather events. To the week or day in some cases. Ask yourself how I can sit at home and do this stuff to the exclusion of all else. Weather betting would be a good answer.

Report Unsuitable38 eyeswider,still here 15/02/2008 15:34:32
Then. Try to get this startling, elegant and repeatable proof that climate changes eternally but warming (especially our current - soon to end - one) is transient out into the human consciousness. You will have great trouble because of the inertia of the AGW bandwagon and the controllers of the mainstream media's vested interest in keeping us all dumb and frightened.

In our current "world gone mad" the people who could benefit most from this rail against it most. Meteorologists and weather scientists - it will put them all out of a job - who needs research or faculties or equipment when you have the next 10,000 years mapped out?

Scientists will also defend to the last man their funding and their entrenched beliefs including the vanity that prevents them from seeing the whole within the parts.

Come on. You are a scientist. Repeating this should be a cakewalk for you.

I expect, however, as with previous encounters you will pick out some discrepancy in the above to chew on and ignore or ridicule the rest. You would be a moron to do so. I could so easily sit on this knowledge and have a nice little earner from the bookies but it is far too important for that as nations suffer from climate change as they _always_ have and an efficient (this is that in spades) prediction system can save lives. This beats any hand a warmer can hold as it is verifiable by anyone who is willing to put in the hours of study (@1600 hours if you want to make a living or a name for yourself).

We are not in for an ice age yet, unless our meddling causes it to happen sooner than it would have if we left the atmosphere alone, but it will be getting progressively cooler from now on despite the levels of CO2, the bellicose reactionary recidivists and the deniers of natural harmony.

Remember folks, you heard it here first. The Sun dah dah dah dit dit.
Report Unsuitable39 George.,15/02/2008 15:34:45
Snowstorm Shuts San Diego Mountain Road

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A California mountain highway near the Mexican border is closed because of a surprise snowstorm that stranded as many as 500 motorists.

Fire officials say Interstate 8 was shut down Thursday afternoon in the coastal mountains of eastern San Diego County. Snow and ice have caused numerous fender-benders and stopped vehicles in their tracks.

Authorities say only minor injuries were reported. There is no word when the road will reopen.

Authorities are sending in snow plows and other vehicles to rescue motorists.

About 30 people have been taken to a casino and fire station that are serving as shelters.
The first time snow has fallen on the city since 1967.

Report Unsuitable40 Unimpressed one,15/02/2008 15:43:07
#39, Don't stop there. One thousand die in 6 feet of snow and -30 degree temperatures this month in Afghanistan, worst snow in China in living memory, South American record low temperatures last year, record snow falls in US.... but of course it's not 'global warming', but 'climate change'! Gullible idiots. Report Unsuitable41 eyeswider,still envious 15/02/2008 15:46:00
I really wish I could claim this breakthrough for myself but I was shown how to do it.

The above is the reason I continue to take the mickey out of warmers and others. It is akin to shooting fish in a barrel when presented with the obvious and beautiful truth that this software provides and the humble realization that its results require.

#George - the true denialists would have you believe that any weather event is proof of AGW - with straight faces and open wallets.

It will get colder from now on.

#40 Unimpressed one. Yep record cold temperatures are global warming, sorry, climate change also.

Report Unsuitable42 George.,15/02/2008 16:37:48
35. Do you know how all the energy from the Sun effects the Earth directly or indirectly. Report Unsuitable43 George.,15/02/2008 16:39:15
Global warming will make it warmer.

Or Global warming will make it colder.

Or Global warming will make it dryer.

Or Global warming will make it wetter.

Or Global warming will make the Arctic ice melt away.

Or Global warming will add to the Arctic ice pack.

Or Global warming will make everything different, except not different the way Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury and Saturn are different. Other different.
Report Unsuitable44 Slioch,Scottish Highlands 15/02/2008 17:52:58
#37-#38 eyeswide

"Remember folks, you heard it here first"

Well, no actually, we haven't heard anything yet. Or at least nothing worthy of being called a prediction. All I've noticed is "We are not in for an ice age yet, ... but it will be getting progressively cooler from now on."

So let's find out a bit more: When you say:

a) from "now" do you mean today 15th Feb 2008, if not from when?

b) getting "progressively cooler" do you mean that the coming summer is going to be cooler than the recent January/early February in the UK?

c) are you referring to global average temperatures or just northern hemisphere or just Europe/UK or where?

d) If you are referring to average global temperatures, by how much are they going to drop each year?

You appear to say you have a precise way of predicting the future climate. OK, so make some predictions. We are waiting.

Report Unsuitable45 Slioch,Scottish Highlands 15/02/2008 18:04:16
#33 Guthrie

I think Tweedmouth's bit about 4C warmer in the Arctic (and some other things he said Armagh for examle) is picked up from a Warwick Hughes site. It's pretty awful, and the graph he shows (which gives the 4C) appears to exaggerate the temperature axis compared with similar temp./time graphs of the Arctic that I've seen.
Why anyone should want to discus global warming by looking at one temperature record from Armagh is an interesting question. It does, of course, have an Atlantic climate, so doesn't show rapid fluctuations, which is probably the tale Hughes was wanting to tell. More cherry-picking.Report Unsuitable46 rancid brown,Lying IPCC scum 15/02/2008 19:30:22
Skeptical Global Warming Scientists To Challenge "Consensus"

Hundreds of scientists, economists, and public policy experts are set to meet in Manhattan next month to discuss the other side of the climate change debate that the establishment media prefers to pretend does not exist.

The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change seeks to "call attention to widespread dissent in the scientific community to the alleged “consensus” that the modern warming is primarily man-made and is a crisis," according to The Heartland Institute.

Of course the fact that the establishment likes to engage in regular mass public deception by claiming the debate about global warming is over and any dissent is tantamount to holocaust denial doesn't bode well for potential media coverage of the conference, unlike December's UN meeting in Bali, which was lavished with endless ninnying importance about the need for a global carbon tax to save the planet from the evils of plant food (CO2). Unsuitable47 eyeswider,still laughing at #43 15/02/2008 19:58:03

What do the following have in common?

scientific consensus
political ethics
journalistic evidence
military intelligence

Construct your answer using the following words: all they oxymorons are.

Report Unsuitable48 eyeswider,15/02/2008 20:05:35

I am just waiting for the "The Heartland Institute is Exxon funded" worshiper nonsense.

Drug dealers don't need to fund anyone people.

You should see the acid dripping from the tounges of the vipers at regarding that company.

Some people cannot feel their intuition so they congregate and form a religion. We should feel pity but they are bent on reacting to a non-existent threat and we will all feel the wrath.

Report Unsuitable49 eyeswider,home - still cold 15/02/2008 20:10:15
#44 Slioch

So soon you forget. I posted my (UK) Feb forecast at the end of Jan when we crossed swords then. OK so Feb is only 29 days this year ;-)

I am beating the met office hands down as of today.

You show me yours and I'll show you mine.


Get the software. Go heliocentric. Look back. Look forward. Make your own predictions - this works for deniers and believers both. This works. It also takes some work. I am not going to that all over again for anyone. Do it yourself.

I may (not the month) post a March forecast (UK) at the end of Feb.

"A third rate theory forbids
A second rate theory explains after the fact
A first rate theory predicts." —A. Lomonosov.

The times they are a changin'

Report Unsuitable50 Slioch,Scottish Highlands 15/02/2008 20:13:38
#46 rancid brown

You don't mention that The Heartland Institute is offering $1,000 for anyone willing to talk at this meeting. Similarly, the American Enterprise Institute last year offered a honorarium of $10,000 to anyone writing an article critical of the 2007 IPCC reports.

There is plenty of money available for this sort of nonsense, and from today's thread there are evidently still loads of gullible fools happy to lap it up.Report Unsuitable51 Colin Midlem,Belmont, USA 15/02/2008 20:28:51
It's good to see that the climate deniers are still well and promoting a bright future for their grandchildren. It would seem that most sceptics/deniers are unversed in the scientific or Socratic methods of investigation.

Have they read and digested IPCC4 and the Stern Report? One thing I detest is the hoi poloi pontificating on matters about which they have so little education and have made so little attempt to understand. Perhaps they don't have the intellectual horsepower to research the subject and rely upon the musings of the Daily Express, Daily Mail and other red tops.

Have yet to see an exposition of denial by a respected and educated scientist or technocrat who believes that continued atmospheric pollution is a good thing. Expect this from the middle States of the US but not from the better educated Scots.

Rest my case.Report Unsuitable52 techpunk,15/02/2008 20:39:06
well good for you colin.

why is it so essential for you lot to belittle people, when defending your theory?

im right behind eyeswider here. he has already said that his sentiments are with the idea of "saving"...ok?

i am too. but what gets me angry is that there seams to be a great many people who will simply accept that we are responsible for climate change. it really is crazy, because (as i think we probably all accept), there are many other factors to account for.

and how some people can get so venomous about the fkn weather?


1)Report Unsuitable53 eyeswider,lol 15/02/2008 21:12:19

Nothing to see here citizen - move on. Careful what you say or your police will be around to silence you - is that why you are posting here?

I have grandchildren and your country is already infecting them and their future without you adding a carbon tax into the mix.

Please understand that we know a bad thing when we see it and the carbon cycle is not it.

I believe in the IPCC as much as I believe in the tooth fairy. Funded demagogues do not seem very attractive to me but I don't live in a country that espouses democracy yet marginalizes the only hope for such.

Do us all a favor Colin and vote for Ron Paul as he is the only hope for the rest of us let alone you septics (spelling intentional)

Report Unsuitable54 eyeswider,pmsl 15/02/2008 21:18:19

Once upon a time the IPCC released a report. This was trumpeted far and wide as gospel. Then one day someone asked for the proof that it had been "peer reviewed" and what this procedure had produced. In the interest of open disclosure the IPCC fought so hard to prevent the public from drawing their own conclusions by actually reading it that a hero arose and had to force the US government to publish this body of work by invoking their own "freedom of information" laws.
It turned out that two of the main non-signatories of this "consensus" were the only bodies or individuals that had presented questions on all 11 chapters of said tract. When anyone wanted to change the wording the IPCC usually agreed and changed the wording. When anyone suggested changing the meaning the IPCC refused pointblank and without quoting sources. Could this be why the USA and Australia were non-signatories to Kyoto? Maybe it was because the report only referenced previous reports that had been created with similar diligence?
Report Unsuitable55 eyeswider,still lol 15/02/2008 21:34:58
...trying to imagine the hoi-polloi reading the Mail and then "pontificating" on anything of worth.

"Dialectic is controversy, that is, the exchange of arguments and counter-arguments respectively advocating propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses)"

The key words here are theses and controversy. If AGW is settled I don't understand a reference to the Socratic method used in relation to it. But then I had to look up hoi polloi because I am proud to be working class ;-)

On reflection I think Colin must have been joking.

Report Unsuitable56 Slioch,Scottish Highlands 15/02/2008 22:25:31
#49 eyeswider

So that's it is Eyeswider: "It is going to get very cold very soon." A weather forecast for February. Is that all that your much vaunted prediction can provide? Do you not realise how ridiculous your pathetic fantasies appear?

That and your torrents of abuse and incoherent ramblings directed to those engaged in science. You have demonstrated a complete lack of any scientific understanding and a vitriolic contempt for those engaged in such studies. You speak ill of things that you have not the wit to comprehend.

When it all comes down to dust, you dare not make a prediction because deep inside you know you are empty of any understanding.Report Unsuitable57 Sanny,15/02/2008 22:50:51
29 Guthrie,

I think you need to get out more. Or at least try to read material, with an open mind, that may give a contrary view. There are a large number of scientists out there (not paid by the IPCC) who have expressed concern at their lack of proper scientific procedures.

Consider the following readily available information: -
“”Average global temperatures in the Early Carboniferous Period were hot- approximately 20° C (68° F). However, cooling during the Middle Carboniferous reduced average global temperatures to about 12° C (54° F). As shown on the chart below, this is comparable to the average global temperature on Earth today!
Similarly, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Early Carboniferous Period were approximately 1500 ppm (parts per million), but by the Middle Carboniferous had declined to about 350 ppm -- comparable to average CO2 concentrations today!
Earth's atmosphere today contains about 380 ppm CO2 (0.038%). Compared to former geologic times, our present atmosphere, like the Late Carboniferous atmosphere, is CO2- impoverished! In the last 600 million years of Earth's history only the Carboniferous Period and our present age, the Quaternary Period, have witnessed CO2 levels less than 400 ppm
Late Carboniferous to Early Permian time (315 mya -- 270 mya) is the only time period in the last 600 million years when both atmospheric CO2 and temperatures were as low as they are today (Quaternary Period ).””
During the last 300million years the average global temperature has steadily dropped from 22Deg to around14deg. As I said earlier, IPCC studies are looking at the record of the last 150 years and using modern instruments and techniques and can now ‘see’ phenomena that have remained hidden until now. That is not to say they didn’t exist just we couldn’t see them.
Do you think you could form a reply without your normal insults, I can assure you they add nothing to the argument!
Report Unsuitable58 Slioch,Scottish Highlands 15/02/2008 23:24:31
#48 Eyeswider said "I am just waiting for the "The Heartland Institute is Exxon funded" worshiper nonsense."

The website of the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, received $119,000 from ExxonMobil in
2005, (reference ExxonMobil Corporation, 2005, Worldwide Contributions), see: