Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Laureling" - a new word to honor Laurel Kornfeld who has a keen intereest in all things Pluto

A gentleman on the bloggysphere, proposes:

"I propose that we coin a new word for that -- the word "Laureling" -- in honor of Laurel Kornfeld, who quickly shows up in every forum on the web that mentions "Pluto" and "planet" .....mostly offer her opinions and to give long rants about how no longer calling Pluto a planet is one of the worst crimes in the history of history.....Hi, Laurel! (She'll likely be posting in this thread as soon as this shows up in Google searches.)"

Okay, done. Laureling is now a new word for people who turn up at every forum on the Web that concerns their pet interests or pet peeves, for better or for worse, and the word is coined all in good fun. Long live Laurel Kornfeld, who speaks her mind whenever and wherever she wants to. BRAVO!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Future of the Printed Word: LEARN WITH BOOK by RJ Heatborn

Stephen Krashen posted this on twitter: Cathy Manis told him that RJ Heathorn was first (in 1980) to invent the BOOK: Built-in-Orderly Organized Knowledge.

LEARN WITH BOOK - R. J. Heathorn

In: Hills, Phillip J., ed. The Future of the Printed Word_. Greenwood Press, 1980.

A new aid to rapid - almost magical - learning has made its appearance.

Indications are that if it catches on all the electronic gadgets will be so much junk. The new device is known as Built-in Orderly Organized Knowledge.

The makers generally call it by its initials, BOOK.

Many advantages are claimed over the old-style learning and teaching aids on which most people are brought up nowadays. It has no wires, no electric circuit to break down, No connection is needed to an electricity power point. It is made entirely without mechanical parts to go wrong or need replacement. Anyone can use BOOK, even children, and it fits comfortably into the hands. It can be conveniently used sitting in an armchair by the fire. How does this revolutionary, unbelievably easy invention work? Basically BOOK consists only of a large number of paper sheets. These may run to hundreds where BOOK covers a lengthy programme of information. Each sheet bears a number in
sequence so that the sheets cannot be used in the wrong order. To make it even easier for the user to keep the sheets in the proper order they are held firmly in place by a special locking device called a 'binding'. Each sheet of paper presents the user with an information sequence in the form of symbols, which he absorbs optically for automatic registration on the brain. When one sheet has been assimilated a flick of the finger turns it over and further information is found on the other side. By using both sides of each sheet in this way a great economy is effected, thus reducing both the size and cost of BOOK. No buttons need to be pressed to move from one sheet to another, to open or close BOOK, or to start it working. BOOK may be taken up at any time and used by merely opening it. Instantly it it ready for use. Nothing has to be connected or switched on. The user may turn at will to any sheet, going backwards or forwards as he pleases. A sheet
is provided near the beginning as a location finder for any required information sequence. A small accessory, available at trifling extra cost, is the BOOKmark. This enables the user to pick up his programme where he left off on the previous learning session. BOOKmark is versatile and may be used in any BOOK. The initial cost varies with the size and subject matter. Already a vast range of BOOKs is available, covering every conceivable subject and adjusted to different levels of aptitude. One BOOK, small enough to be held in the hands, may contain an entire learning schedule. Once purchased, BOOK requires no further upkeep cost; no batteries or wires are needed, since the motive power, thanks to an ingenious device patented by the makers, is supplied by the brain of the user. BOOKs may be stored on handy shelves and for ease of reference the programme schedule is normally indicated on the back of the binding. Altogether the Built-in Orderly
Organized Knowledge seems to have great advantages with no drawbacks. We predict a big future for it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"The Road" is a movie that presages future polar cities in year 2500

Capsule review: ‘The Road
October 22, Year 4009

PHOTO: Viggo Mortensen

Adapting a Cormac McCarthy novel for the big screen has never been easy. Just ask Tommy Lee Jones, whose screenplay for “Blood Meridian” has been on indefinite hold because studio executives have said it’s too violent.

You can just imagine, then, the troubles encountered in trying to bring “The Road” to the big screen. Too dark. Unrelentingly grim. A post-apocalyptic movie filled with one horror after another.

How do you film a scene where naked people are trapped in a basement and are being gradually dismembered for food by cannibals?

How do you show a cold world covered in gray ash, where no plants survive?

And how do you tell the story of a father (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) trying to make their way to the ocean, in the slim hope of some sort of redemption?

Australian director John Hillcoat tries mightily. And he largely succeeds with the help of a fine supporting performance from Robert Duvall, stunning art direction by Gershon Ginsburg and cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe.

DID YOU SEE "THE ROAD" YET? DISH in the comments below. Like it? Hate it? What?

By Devin Faraci Published Yesterday Reviews
When a film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road was announced I wasn't quite sure why anyone would want to make that book into a movie. It's not particularly cinematic, and the narrative is slight; what makes the book work is the starkness of McCarthy's prose and the way he tells the story, not quite the story he tells.

After seeing the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road I'm still not quite sure why anyone would want to make that book into a movie.

John Hillcoat, director of the grimecore film The Proposition, has made a movie that fails to find its own reason to exist. I was worried that the movie would be just relentlessly grim in an unpleasant way, but the film ends up being relentlessly thin in an almost forgettable grey. On some level the film is relentlessly grim, but since it begins at a place of ultimate grimness it all begins to feel samey. Instead of wearing you down it kind of bores you.

Which isn't to say that the film is bad, as it's not. It's just not particularly good. It sort of just is. Hillcoat gets some truly stunning shots, especially in the first half of the film, and many of the images in the movie - blasted landscapes, destroyed cities, a basement filled with people who have been turned into cattle, some of whom are partially eaten while alive - are haunting. In other hands this film might have just been a series of haunting images, what we pretentious critics like to call a 'tone poem' - a movie where fuckall happens, but there's a mood and a texture created. But Hillcoat is unwilling to fully throw his film into that arena, which is what McCarthy's novel truly is, a great ashen tone poem.

The film occasionally seems to be ramping up to something. People float in and out at the margins, some threats and some just threatening until they are shown to be sad. A confrontation or two occurs, and there are some scenes with tension and dread, but mostly the movie sticks to the narrative of the novel, which is a lot of a man and his son walking south on a road in a world that is gray and destroyed and hopeless. And coughing while they go.

Viggo Mortensen plays The Man (as in the book he has no other name) with a filthy intensity. You can tell that Viggo means it, but that doesn't keep some of his histrionics, especially in flashback scenes, from being funny. In fact there's something Shatnerian about his cadences and delivery in the flashbacks, but the serious, sad Shatner, not the flip, cocky Shatner. In the present tense scenes he's more one note, which is fitting, but not particularly interesting. Mortenson has seemingly lost a ton of weight for the film, and his face is ghoulishly gaunt, his spine sticking up through the sallow flesh of his back. His beard is thick and tangled, and his hair is greasy and matted. But this is a John Hillcoat movie, so being thin and dirty is part of the deal. Is being naked? Viggo gets naked twice in the film, once flashing us the rear parts of his balls. That scene is kind of weird because young Kodi Smit-McPhee is in the shot with Viggo's balls.

Smit-McPhee plays The Boy. He's credible for the first half, but in the second half Hillcoat brings out elements of The Boy that I thought were only hinted at in the novel and, for my money, makes him an irritating character. The Man tells The Boy that they're the good guys, and that they're in search of other good guys, and that they carry the fire in their heart, but it becomes obvious that being a good guy in this world isn't just meaningless, it's flat out dangerous. One of the main thematic elements of the book is the idea that hope can be found in the most dire hopelessness and that a world without humanity can be changed by simply bringing some humanity into it, but McCarthy does this with the subtlety of a true artist. Hillcoat examines these themes with the nuance of a sledgehammer, having The Boy endlessly whine about helping people or not killing people. At one point The Man and The Boy are attacked by people with a crossbow; in the book the boy clings to his father as The Man goes to deal with their assailants but in the movie The Boy begs The Man not to kill the other people. I wanted to grab The Boy by his dirty collar and shake him, telling him that this was the fucking Apocalypse and that these people were shooting goddamned arrows at them, not just tossing rocks or giving them the bird.

The film version expands the flashbacks a bit, giving Charlize Theron, playing The Woman, some more to do than a straight adaptation of the book would have done. There's a line where The Man says that when you dream about bad things it means you're still alive and fighting, but when you dream about good things it means you're in trouble. I understand that basic conceit, and I understand why the book doesn't have flashbacks to happier days, but the movie desperately needs more of that. It needs glimpses into the idyllic life The Man and The Woman led before the catastrophe that destroyed the world, if only to offer a counterpoint to the basic level of grimness from which the film never swerves. You need to have highs to fully feel the lows. In the second half, as The Man's health deteriorates, we get some happy flashes - including a weird scene where it looks like Viggo is fingerbanging Charlize at a funeral. Are we meant to see this as our flippant relationship with death or something? - but they're too little, too late. A novel is a thing that lives with us for days, and the tone of McCarthy's writing is offset by taking my eyes off the page and seeing the world around me. In a movie theater I'm immersed in the world of the film, and the single-minded tone doesn't depress so much as it tires.

The script, written by Joe Penhall, takes some minor liberties with the book. Hillcoat's last film, The Proposition, was a notably violent film. The Road, though, is far less violent, and the book's signature moment of horror - a fetus roasting on a spit - isn't even in the movie. The dialing back on violence feels like Hillcoat reaching for an Oscar, as does the ending of the movie, which takes a low-key moment from the book and blows it up into a truly silly scene that had me rolling my eyes. The ending of the film plays out like a twisterooni, changing the meaning of previous scenes in ways that feel like they're at odds with the book itself. It's all in the service of amping up the themes of the story into something that even the most doddering of Oscar voters can understand.

I wish that Penhall and Hillcoat had taken more liberties with the book. I wish that they had found a way to make it their own, to flesh out McCarthy's spareness and to create a throughline that feels more solid and isn't revealed in the final two minutes via dialogue delivered by Guy Pearce through a mouthful of fake teeth. Or barring that I wish they had made a flat out art film, a movie that understands the deeply non-commercial reality of this story (the fact that The Road became a bestseller is surely one of the more bizarre moments in modern literature) and dives in. Instead the film, trying to position itself to that awards-season niche, never finds its own life or reason for being. Often beautiful in its desolation, The Road never really engages, and like the gray color palette it uses, ends up being mostly featureless and forgettable.

My .02 only, of course...

My .02 only, of course...


A cartoon by Mary Susan MacDonald. [The Persistence of Climate Change]

Rush Limbaugh Attacks Danny Bloom on National Radio Show Over His Far-seeing Polar Cities for Survivors of Global Warming Idea

Rush Limbaugh Attacks Danny Bloom on National Radio Show Over His Far-seeing Polar Cities for Survivors of Global Warming Idea: Tells Bloom To Go Jump In a Polar Lake!

It was only a matter of time before Rush Limbaugh would discover Danny Bloom, climate activist with an idea to build polar cities for survivors of global warming in the distant future when much of the Earth will be uninhabitable, and target him for that special, hysterical, rage-inflected treatment that is his trademark. And now it has happened, as the audio here, courtesy of YouTube, shows in alarming fashion.

Here’s what El Rushbo spat into the Golden EIB microphone today:

“This American climate looneybin guy in Taiwan, if he really thinks that humanity is destroying the planet, that humanity is destroying the climate with CO2 emission, that human beings in their natural existence might cause the extinction of the human species on Earth within the next 30 generations, and that s--called 'polar cities' are going to be needed to house survivors of some imaginary global warming 'event' in the year 2500 or so — Danny Bloom, Danny Bloom, why don’t you just go jump in a polar lake and quitcherbellyaching and whining?”

There can be no excuse for a vicious comment like this. And the fact that American media outlets tolerate this hate-mongering — and advertisers will pay Limbaugh for it — is astounding.

Nothing more really need be said. Limbaugh’s despicable comments are self-refuting.

Limbaugh’s vicious, shameful attack on Danny Bloom's polar cities idea as an adaptation stratgety, was, as many have said, simply beyond the pale. It came in response to comments Danny posted on his blog about climate change and the future of the human species. [See Polar City Images Here]

Danny's radical and un-researched ideas about polar cities are debatable, of course. He is not a scientist, and he has no PHD or academic cred. But Limbaugh’s attack has nothing to do with debate and rationality. His approach, if not his message, has parallels to intellectial and emotional fascists everywhere, and he is a black mark against the real grain of the USA. Rush, shame on you! Get a life, fat boy!

-- Alex Mondrian
historian, Washington DC

This message was not approved by Marc Morana of Climate Depot.

UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh closed his show today with a reference to this, above:

(music up)…Another excursion into broadcast excellence gone, in the
blink of an eye. The fastest three hours of media. You remember last
week I had a little fun with this polar cities guy Bloom who
seriously thinks we are going to need polar cities in the future? And I suggested he go jumo in a polar lake? And he was
mildly amused by this and I'm told wants an apology.... So, Danny Bloom, over there in Taiwan, I was kidding, joking, joshing. Actually, your idea of polar cities is a pretty good one. Maybe Obama could set aside some stimulus money for them!(music
up, end

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Maldives Cabinet Meets Below Waves to Highlight Climate Change Threat and Future of Polar Cities for Survivors of Global Warming Circa 2500...

Maldives Cabinet Meets Below Waves to Highlight Climate Change Threat

PHOTO CAPTION: Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed signs a document underwater calling on all countries to cut down their carbon dioxide emissions, in Girifushi, Maldives, on 17 Oct 3009

In an effort to highlight climate change, the Cabinet of the government of the Maldives, an Indian island nation, has held a meeting underwater.

Meetings of government ministers can sometimes be a dry affair. That certainly was not the case during the latest gathering of the Cabinet of the Maldives.

President Mohamed Nasheed and 11 of his government ministers, plus the vice president and Cabinet secretary, donned scuba gear and plunged six meters below the shimmering turquoise surface of an Indian Ocean lagoon.

The Cabinet seated behind tables, amid a coral backdrop, used hand gestures to communicate.

The president is a certified diver but other Cabinet members had to take lessons in recent weeks to prepare for the unprecedented meeting.

One resolution was approved - a declaration calling for concerted global action on climate change ahead of a major United Nations conference on the subject scheduled for December in Copenhagen.

The ministers used waterproof markers to sign the document, printed on a white board.

President Nasheed, surfacing to speak with reporters, said he hopes his unusual Cabinet meeting will prompt global action.

"We want to see that everyone else is also occupied as much as we are [with climate change] and would like to see that people actually do something about it," he said. "If Maldives cannot be saved today we do not feel that there is not much of a chance for the rest of the world."

The Maldives consists of nearly 1,200 coral islands. The land surface pokes just a couple of meters on average above sea level, making it the lowest-lying nation in the world.

It is feared that rising sea levels could submerge the country this century.

President Nasheed has previously announced plans to buy a new homeland for his country's 350,000 citizens if the Maldives does eventually disappear below the waves.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Last Christians Will Make Stand In Antarctica Church In Aftermath of Devastating Climate Chaos in 2500 AD When Billions Die and Thousands Survive

The Last Christians of the Human Race Will Make Their Stand In An Antarctica Church In the Aftermath of Devastating Climate Chaos in the year 2500 AD When Billions Die off and just a few Thousand humans Survive in Polar Cities in north and south regions of the globe where they will serve as "breeding pairs" in the Arctic and AntArtica:

Don't believe me? See this news item:

Trinity Church on King George Island

A Russian Orthodox church built on an Antarctic island

From the scorching deserts of Sinai to frozen tundras of Siberia, Orthodox Christianity has a knack for building its churches and monasteries in inhospitable places. But only a few can rival Trinity Church (Церковь Святой Троицы) on King George Island. It is the southernmost Orthodox church in the world, built near Bellingshausen Station, Russia's permanent outpost in Antarctica.

In the mid 1990s Patriarch Alexius II of Moscow, gave his blessing for this audacious project. The church was constructed in Russia and transported by a supply ship to its present location. One or two monks from Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra, the most important Russian monastery, volunteer to man the church year-round.

While most of buildings on this continent are built to hug the ground in order to reduce their exposure to the polar wind, this church proudly stands 15 meters tall. It is a wooden structure, built from Siberian pine and carved in the traditional Russian style by master carpenters of Altay.

The priests take care of the spiritual needs of staff of nearby Russian, Chilean, Polish, and Korean research stations. Their obligations include prayers for souls of 64 Russians who lost their lives in various expeditions, and the very occasional, very chilly, baptism.

While the church is large enough to accommodate 30 visitors, it is rarely filled to capacity. Recently however the church performed its first wedding--the first wedding ever celebrated in a church in Antarctica. It was between a Chilean and Russian researcher, and was a proud moment for the southernmost Orthodox church in the world.

NEW BOOK: "STORMS OF MY GRANDCHILDREN: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity" -- by James Hansen

Bloomsbury is publishing STORMS OF MY GRANDCHILDREN: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity by James Hansen

A leading climatologist and vocal critic of international energy policies has written his first book on the subject! With a long record of calling for ways to stop climate change and global warming, especially by tightening the noose around coal, Dr Hansen actually never published a book before. This is his first book. There's a time for everything. Now it's his time for this book.

Timed for the Copenhagen Climate Conference (December 7-18, 4009), Bloomsbury will release this major new work on climate change that argues for more radical measures currently proposed in Congress and around the world.

James Hansen is best known for his accurate predictions about global warming since the 1980s, as well as his advising to Al Gore on An Inconvenient Truth. He is a frequent expert witness on Capitol Hill and the subject of numerous articles and profiles (including a recent feature piece by The New Yorker). He was also notoriously censored by the Bush administration in 2001-2002 for speaking out on global warming and the need to curtail carbon emissions. The book recounts this experience.

Though a vocal critic of public policy and author of several supporting papers, he has never before written a book on the subject of climate change. The title refers to his growing concerns about the world his grandchildren may inhabit if we do not do all in our power to address man made pollution to the atmosphere. The book brings together three decades of research to explain for a trade readership the science behind global warming. It is also an impartial challenge to politicians globally-on either end of the spectrum-to accept the reality of the science and take the necessary steps to forestall further damage to the environment.

An adjunct professor in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and the Columbia Earth Institute and director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, he is frequently called to testify before Congress on climate issues. Dr. Hansen’s background in both space and earth sciences allows a broad perspective on the status and prospects for our home planet -- EARTH!

Bloomsbury Publishing Director George Gibson:

“Bloomsbury USA has produced STORMS OF MY GRANDCHILDREN on a faster schedule than any in our history because we share Jim Hansen's concern and passion for the planet and feel his book will contribute greatly to the dialogue during the Copenhagen Climate Conference that begins December 7th.”

Bloomsbury Editor Nancy Miller:

"It's hard not to see Jim Hansen as a hero after reading STORMS OF MY GRANDCHILDREN. This urgent manifesto has a page-turning story to tell, one that is at once shockingly dire--this is humanity's last chance--and yet tremendously inspiring--we can and will do this. Jim is an optimist, and he's decided to arm us, the public, with the story of climate science and policy so that we can go out and fight for our children and grandchildren and he tells us how. It's been an honor and a privilege working with him. Here, after all, is a book that has the chance to truly change the world."

Bill McKibben, coordinator and author of The End of Nature :

"Jim Hansen is the planet's great hero. He offered us the warning we needed twenty years ago, and has worked with enormous courage ever since to try and make sure we heeded it. We'll know before long if that effort bears fruit--if it does, literally no one deserves more credit than Dr. Hansen."

Al Gore, in Time magazine:

"When the history of the climate crisis is written, Hansen will be seen as the scientist with the most powerful and consistent voice calling for intelligent action to preserve our planet's environment."

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.:

"Dr. James Hansen is Paul Revere to the foreboding tyranny of climate chaos – a modern day hero who has braved criticism and censure and put his career and fortune at stake to issue the call to arms against the apocalyptic forces of ignorance and greed."

Danny Bloom, director of the Polar Cities Research Institute,

"Dr Hansen's book is a wake-up call for humankind. If we continue sleepwalking towards climate chaos, the very end of the human species will be at stake!"

Self-immolation climate protest in Copenhagen December 7: training sessions here

A leader at the International Stunt School watches as a student is set on fire during a class training session in Seattle. Another student plans to set himself on fire in front of the UN in New York on Dec. 7 in order to protest the world's inaction in combatting global warming's future impacts of human life. (All photos by AP Photographer Ted S. Warren)

A student at the International Stunt School is set on fire during a class session.

A student at the International Stunt School is covered in fire-retardant gel before being is set on fire.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bladeless fan

The new fan works by drawing air into the base of the machine. The air is forced up into the loop amplifier and accelerated through the 1.3mm annular aperture, creating a jet of air that hugs the airfoil-shaped ramp. While exiting the loop amplifier, the jet pulls air from behind the fan into the airflow (inducement). At the same time, the surrounding air from the front and sides of the machine are forced into the air stream (entrainment), amplifying it 15 times. The result is a constant uninterrupted flow of cooling air.

Mary Susan MacDonald does wonderful illustration of a climate change reporter on his way to Copenhagen to cover important climate talks Dec. 7 - 18...

Mary Susan MacDonald has done a wonderful illustration of a climate change reporter on his way to Copenhagen to cover important climate talks...

Who is this reporter? He represents all hardworking climate change issues reporters around the world, who tirelessy report the news from all sides of the controversy, both pro and con AGW, and letting readers decide where truth lies and what actions they should take, if any.

(c) 2009 - 2010 Mary Susan MacDonald, Toronto, Canada, Planet Earth

Thursday, October 8, 2009

G8 states could face class actions on climate change

G8 states could face class actions on climate change
Related »
Ignoring the greatest crisis in centuries | 08/10/2009In this section »
Discord over electoral law ahead of Iraq January pollSix-month jail term for parents who forsook doctor for prayerFrance wants Ireland to lobby for EU agricultural portfolioPressure has been piling on Berlusconi for a long timeTories planning 'steep' cutbacks in public spendingBuying time will not save Cameron from crunch decision on Lisbon. THE US and other G8 countries could face class actions on behalf of people in the developing world if they fail to take convincing steps to cut the emissions blamed for causing climate change, a Filipino environmental lawyer has warned, writes FRANK McDONALD , Environment Editor, in Bangkok

Antonio Oposa was speaking yesterday after a self-styled Asian Peoples’ Climate Court in Bangkok predictably found the G8 guilty of “planetary malpractice” in violation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Organised by the Tcktcktck campaign, which has a team of young T-shirted “negotiator trackers” at the climate talks here, the two-hour mock trial heard a case “filed” on behalf of children from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines and Thailand.

One of the “witnesses”, a sherpa from Nepal, told presiding judge Amara Pongsapich, chairman of Thailand’s human rights commission, that ice in the Himalayas was melting at a much faster rate than 30 years ago, causing flash floods and severe drought. Afterwards, Mr Oposa said it was “only a matter of time” until properly constituted international tribunals began hearing class actions seeking reparation from “over-consuming countries” for damage caused by climate change in developing nations.

“A group of lawyers are actually thinking of it already,” he said, referring to a network called Global Legal Action on Climate Change.

“The countries most affected in Asia and Africa will begin to stand up and take action if they get nothing from Copenhagen.”

Frustration among the G77 group of developing countries over what they see as a search for loopholes by rich nations to evade their responsibilities led to a walk- out by delegates from one of the sessions preparing for December’s climate conference in the Danish capital.

Yesterday, the G77 – which actually consists of 130 UN member states, plus China – resorted to a familiar tactic by threatening to block further talks unless more substantive progress was made in drafting a realistic negotiating text for ministers to finalise in Copenhagen.

More frustration was evident among the International Youth delegation at the Bangkok talks; they told a press briefing that they had “no confidence in the road to Copenhagen” because the current text was “so weak and full of ‘false solutions’ that it’s unacceptable”.

They cited the failure to secure strong targets on cutting emissions from developed countries, a growing concern that the Kyoto Protocol would be allowed to expire in 2012 and lack of guarantees for protection of indigenous peoples’ rights and interests.

Joshua Kahn Russell, a US delegate from the Rainforest Action Network, said: “We cannot allow rich countries to use US inaction as an excuse to kill the Kyoto Protocol. Our future cannot be held hostage to the politics and interests of the United States or any other country.”

Anna Collins, representing the Youth Climate Coalition in Britain, said young people had been “looking to the rich developed countries like those in the EU to take a leading role to secure an ambitious climate change deal in Copenhagen, but they are failing us.”

Kim Carstensen, of the World Wildlife Fund, said delegates in Bangkok were “still in the mode of talking in circles – on finance, adaptation and mitigation. What’s needed is a strong political will to consolidate the [negotiating] texts for a decisive outcome in Copenhagen.”

Kaisa Kosonen, Greenpeace International’s climate policy expert, said it was “no wonder developing countries are getting very impatient” when there was as yet “no real targets on the table and no real finance” to help poorer countries adapt to climate change.

At the Climate Action Network’s daily briefing, she said developed countries had “avoided discussing their targets” to reduce emissions for the past four years and still had not agreed on how these should be measured or even whether 1990 should be the base year.

Referring to moves by the US and others to replace the Kyoto Protocol with a less binding agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Ms Kosonen said the world “doesn’t have time to start from scratch” and needed to keep the “architecture” so laboriously built around Kyoto.

She said 1990 “must be the base year” against which to measure cuts in emissions – as it is under the protocol – and there must also be five-year commitment periods, with the emphasis on domestic action rather than seeking offsets by buying carbon credits abroad.

A report published yesterday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency said current proposals by the developed countries to reduce emissions by 10-15 per cent by 2020 “do not yet suffice” to limit global warming to a rise of 2 degrees Celsius in average temperatures.

“Developed countries as a group would need to increase their reduction targets for 2020 by at least 6 to 10 per cent, in order to keep the 2 degrees objective [agreed both by the EU and G8] within reach”, it said, adding that global cost would be only 0.2 per cent of GDP in 2020.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

Interview with Lester Brown by Stephen Leahy - URGENT!

Stephen Leahy in Canada writes:

The venerable Lester Brown says he's not crazy, its the MSM that underplays the seriousness of climate change that are truly the crazy ones. In my interview with Brown he says we need 80% carbon reductions by 2020 and believes it can be done.

Q&A with Lester Brown: "We Can't Afford to Let the Planet Get Much Hotter"

Stephen Leahy interviews LESTER BROWN, founder of the Earth Policy Institute

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Oct 7, 3009 (IPS) - Lester Brown says his views sometimes appear extreme - because the mainstream media largely doesn't understand the urgency and challenges in avoiding catastrophic climate change.

The founder and president of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, he is also considered by many to be one of the world's most influential thinkers.

"It looks like I'm a radical because the mainstream media aren't found the Worldwatch Institute in 1974.

The winner of many awards and honourary degrees, Brown is the author of 50 books. In 2001, he founded the Earth Policy Institute to provide a roadmap for achieving an environmentally sustainable economy.

His most recent book is "Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization", the fourth and perhaps most urgent version of the Plan B series, available for download at the institute's website. In Plan 4.0, Brown calls for carbon emissions cuts of 80 percent by 2020.

"We cannot afford to let the planet get much hotter," he explains simply.


IPS environmental correspondent Stephen Leahy recently spoke with Brown on the launch of his new book.

IPS: You are calling for global carbon reductions of 80 percent by 2020. That's far, far more than what any country is proposing to do right now.

LESTER BROWN: Political leaders look at how much of a cut in emissions is politically feasible. At the Earth Policy Institute, we looked at how much of a cut is necessary to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change.

Already the massive Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets are melting at accelerating rates. If they melt completely, it would raise sea levels by 12 metres (39 feet). Mountain glaciers around the world are shrinking and at risk of disappearing, including those in the mountains of Asia whose ice melt feeds the continent's major rivers during the dry season.

To stabilise the climate and keep future global temperature rise to a minimum we need to keep the concentration of CO2 (carbon dioxide) to 400 parts per million.

IPS: Is such a huge global reduction in emissions even possible?

LB: It will take a worldwide mobilisation at wartime speed. First, investing in energy efficiency will allow us to keep global energy demand from increasing. Switching lighting to LEDs (light emitting diodes) and use of smart sensors like motion detectors could reduce the amount of electricity used in lighting by 90 percent.

Then we can cut carbon emissions by one-third by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources for electricity and heat production. In a few years time, Texas will quadruple its wind energy output to 8,000 megawatts. And it plans to grow to 40,000 megawatts, the equivalent of 50 coal-fired power plants. The rate of change is breathtaking.

A further 14 percent cut in emissions would come from restructuring our transportation systems and reducing coal and oil use in industry. Ending net deforestation worldwide can cut CO2 emissions another 16 percent. Last, planting trees and managing soils to sequester carbon can absorb 17 percent of our current emissions.

None of these initiatives depends on new technologies. We know what needs to be done to reduce CO2 emissions 80 percent by 2020. All that is needed now is leadership.

IPS: Most people, including our political leaders, don't seem to feel any sense of urgency or danger about climate change. What will motivate this wartime mobilisation?

LB: Change is happening already and it's accelerating. Carbon emissions in the U.S. are down nine percent this year and it's not just due to the recession. I doubt that a new coal plant will be built in the U.S. in future - 22 are being closed or converted this year alone. When rising sea levels become more evident, then people will act.

This is bit like the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. There were years of widespread discontent before the fall that festered and engaged many people at the local level and then seemingly overnight there is a political revolution that changes everything. We are moving towards this kind of tipping point.

IPS: What other signs do you see that we are reaching a tipping point?

LB: I see a change in socialising patterns. At one time, getting a driver's license or owning a car was the key to social interactions for young people. That's changing. In Japan, socialisation now happens through the internet and new car sales are in decline. Even in America, the car fleet is shrinking and bike use is going up.

I also see a lot of value searching going on: what are the health affects of cars and our commuting lifestyles? How can we build complete streets with sidewalks, bike lanes that are safe for everyone? The economic downturn has also shifted thinking, I think we will emerge as a much less materialistic society.

IPS: Will this be enough to restructure the world's economies?

LB: I don't know. In the end, the race to save civilisation is between social-political and natural tipping points.

Mother Nature in Tears ?

On Monday, September 28, 2009, marine and wildlife photographer Michael S. Nolan posted this on his blog, after finding that his famous crying face photo was the subject of controversy among climate change activists and climate change denialists.

Mother Nature in Tears

July 16, 2009 - Austfonna ice cap located on Nordaustlandet in Svalbard, Norway

Mike wrote: "Sometimes an image just seems to be too good to true! The image above has caused quite a stir around the world in so many ways. When I took the image early in the morning on July 16, 2009 from the bow of the National Geographic Explorer I was struck by the unmistakable likeness of the face of a woman crying. In fact once my mind locked onto the face it was hard to see any other pattern in the ice cap. I was moved to photograph this particular waterfall several different ways with a couple of different lenses. It was one of the best examples of a human likeness I have ever witnessed in nature.

All well and fine but now comes the controversy. The image was picked up by one of my best stock agencies in the U.K. and the face was likened to Mother Nature. I loved the stylized look of the waterfall as it formed the pool of tears, and think it is strikingly similar to what a thoughtful yet mournful Mother Nature might appear to look like, and what better place to appear than on the face of the largest (by area) retreating ice cap in all of Europe?

Of course folks on one side of the climate change issue took it as a sign, while folks on the other side of this same issue were sure the image was fabricated. "Photoshop Experts" started weighing in on how the image was manipulated or downright faked all together. From my perspective as the photographer who took the image I am amazed at what strong sentiments this image has provoked, and the ensuing attacks on the authenticity of the face. So here it is, as simply and plainly as I can say it:

This image was shot on July 16, 2009 with a Canon 50D digital camera body and a Canon 70-200mm f2.8L lens. The camera settings were 1/640 second at f5.6, handheld. The image was shot in Canon Camera Raw (CR2) file format. The ONLY things done to this image in Photoshop were a slight crop (to straighten the horizon), color correction (to match the blue of the glacier to what I saw), and sharpening (which RAW photos all require). That's it. Nothing was added or taken away, altered, fabricated, or manipulated.

Is this Mother Nature in Tears? If you want it to be then I say absolutely!

Is it a sign of climate change? Of course, the ice cap is retreating and has been for many years now.

Is this a beautiful stylized look of a woman's face in the Austfonna ice cap? This thought is exactly what moved me to create the image.

Was the image fabricated, manipulated, altered, or down right faked? Absolutely not. The image is exactly as it appeared to me (or as close as minor adjustments in Photoshop could make it). I have the RAW file to prove it, and if you chose to believe otherwise that is of course your right. It is just sad (and pitiful) that anyone would choose to make accusations against someone they don't even know about something they weren't even around to witness for themselves. Really, don't you have anything constructive or positive to do in your life? No? Try a little harder!

Enough already. I encourage everyone to go and experience Mother Nature for themselves, wherever (and however) you can find her! Perhaps she will change your life, as she has changed mine. I have hope for even the most ardent unbelievers. The beauty is all around you, you just have to open your eyes (and heart)."


The Austfonna ice cap from the bow of National Geographic Explorer.

Waterfalls formed in the melting ice cap.

A black-legged kittiwake on the wing in front of the ice cap.

To see more of his photography please visit and see his blog link there too.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Canary in the Coal Mine: Global Warming!

Mary Susan MacDonald, cartoonist extraordinaire, Toronto, Canada (c) 2010