Sunday 28 February 2010

the clash

The clash between political realism and scientific realism will be at the center of climate policy for many years to come. 

Bill McKibben on 'Heavy Weather in Copenhagen' (behind paywall) more ...

Thursday 25 February 2010

the salmon's tale

Richard Hamblyn on how the life stages of the salmon are marked by words unchanged since Chaucer's time:

Born in a ‘redd’, a shallow, gravel-covered depression dug by the female in the days before spawning, newly hatched salmon begin life as ‘alevins’, tiny, buoyant creatures with their yolk sacs still attached. Once the yolk has been absorbed, the fast-growing fish, now known as ‘fry’, are able to feed for themselves, turning instinctively to face the current in order to graze on drifting insect larvae. Some months later, the juvenile salmon, now known as ‘parr’, move downstream to deeper water ... more ...

Wednesday 24 February 2010

new low carbon arts

Tomorrow this blog is attending a conference at the National Theatre - unimaginable five years ago - titled: A Low Carbon Future for the Arts?

The speakers are:

Dame Liz Forgan, Chair Arts Council England
Nick Starr, Executive Director National Theatre
Prof. Chris Rapley CBE, Director Science Museum
Alison Tickell, Director, Julie's Bicycle
Dr Jennifer Cleary, Head of Creative Learning, Manchester International Festival
Steve Tompkins, Howarth Tompkins Architects
Lucy Neal, OBE, Independent Arts Producer

Each participant has been asked to consider these questions:

1. Could your organisation commit to the principles of staff engagement, measurement, reduction and disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions, as developed within the Industry Green Framework? What steps might be needed to gain your commitment and what, if any, support might you need?

2. Is there a meaningful collaborative position on climate change that the arts sector could share publicly? If so, what is it and who should be involved? more ...

Tuesday 23 February 2010

perfect weirdness

Early on in Sebastian Junger's bestseller The Perfect Storm, one of the fishermen in Gloucester, Massachusetts, describes the beauty of his work and how he gets to see things other people don't get to see: whales breaching, porpoises following the boat.

I've caught shit they don't even have in books - really weird shit, monstrous-looking things.

The sorts of barely imagined things, probably, that have also been captured on one of this blog's favourite blogs.

pic: John Hawkes, Mark Wahlberg, Allen Payne and William Fichter in 'The Perfect Storm' (2000)  more ...

Monday 22 February 2010

happening people

In our view, climate change sceptics are not sceptics. A sceptic looks at the available evidence and makes a decision ... the sceptical position on climate change is that it is happening.

Michael Marshall more ...

Friday 19 February 2010

awkward fit

Science may share some ideals with democracy (such as progress through the collision of contradictory ideas), but the scientific community has steep barriers to entry.

Participation in everyday politics does not require a Ph.D.

In this respect, argues Gary Rosen, scientific discourse makes an awkward fit with social democracy. more ...

Thursday 18 February 2010

nearly here

Sightings of swallows in Southern Spain and swifts in the Levant. Spring is on its way.

(See spring forward and spring arrives at three times the speed.) more ...

Wednesday 17 February 2010

rapid rebuttal unit

An iPhone app currently has rebuttals to 90 sceptic "arguments".   more ...

Tuesday 16 February 2010

only asking

RealClimate corrects some of the many errors, distortions and flagrant misrepresentations in the mainstream media about the work of the IPCC and asks

isn’t it the responsibility of the media to actually investigate whether allegations have any merit before they decide to repeat them?
more ...

Monday 15 February 2010

after wolves, mrs becks

Playwright Samantha Ellis, who wrote a journal for us on researching her play The Last Wolf In Scotland, has a new play opening tonight at the Birmingham Rep. Her new play, Cling To Me Like Ivy was inspired by :

a chance remark by Victoria Beckham in 2004 which sparked a crisis within the Orthodox Jewish community about the wigs worn by married women. more ...

Thursday 11 February 2010

rack the value

Pavan Sukhdev argues that the economic invisibility of nature in our dominant economic model is both a symptom and a root cause of the rapid decline in biodiversity and ecosystems. We value, he says, what we price.

If Shakespeare is right, though, whatever price we put on nature now, we'll have been prepared to have put an even higher price when it's gone. As the Friar points out (a little sententiously) in Much Ado About Nothing:

what we have we prize not to the worth
Whiles we enjoy it; but being lacked and lost,
Why, then we rack the value.
more ...

Wednesday 10 February 2010

lights out

A letter in the Daily Telegraph argues for more natural darkness:

Churches, empty car parks and gardens don’t need night lighting. more ...

Tuesday 9 February 2010

signs of hopey-changey stuff

Sarah Palin looked as if she might have drawn some blood during her Tea Party speech when she teased Obama by asking:

How's that hope-y, change-y stuff workin' out for you?

We might be in danger of forgetting just how bad things were before Obama took office. This blog has been stepping back in time by reading Kim Stanley Robinson's novel Forty Signs of Rain (2004), which captures the mix of politics and science in Washington during the Bush era.

One of the central characters, Charlie, goes to see Dr Zacharius Strengloft, the Government's Chief Scientific Advisor. The novel describes Strengloft as:

a pompous academic of the worst kind, hauled out of the depths of a second-rate conservative think tank when the administration's first science advisor had been sent packing for suggesting that global warming might be real and not only that, amenable to human mitigations. That went too far for this administration.

In other words, he's no Steve Chu. In that respect, at least, the hopey-changey stuff is doing great. No way was Dr Zacharius Strengloft a Nobel prize-winning physicist. more ...

Monday 8 February 2010

timely indictment

When the National's artistic director Nicholas Hytner announced the latest season, he said that playwright Mike Bartlett's new play Earthquakes was:

a timely indictment from a writer who is genuinely of the young generation at the generation older than him who he accuses - I’d say with some justification - of a form of debauchery. more ...

Friday 5 February 2010

attitude problem

What we know: climate change is happening, and human activity is driving it. As someone somewhere else has said, you can be intelligent and deny that, and you can honest and deny that, but you cannot be both.

But in the last few months the media has devoted huge attention to highlighting some mistakes in the vast amount of data that has appeared and in publicising some blatant misrepresentations of the science.

Now the media reports that there's been a shift in public attitudes about climate science. (And this, the hottest January on record.) There's a surprise. more ...

Wednesday 3 February 2010

this land is ... liked more

On Radio 4's Thinking Allowed, Laurie Taylor spoke to analyst and diplomatic advisor Simon Anholt about the changing perceptions of nations and the way he ranks 50 countries in terms of their reputations.

It turns out that in the last year, among the many people interviewed, not only has American foreign policy made America remarkably more popular in the listing of the 50 nations, but people's feelings about the American landscape have improved significantly. more ...