Thursday 30 September 2010

type in water

Following yesterday's announcement that the topic for Blog Action Day on October 15 was 'water', here - as a starter - is the list of companies, plays and productions on our directory database that pops up when you type in 'water'. more ...

Wednesday 29 September 2010

blogging about the new oil

This blog is one of more than 900 that have signed up to join Blog Action Day.

On October 15 each blog will write about 'water'. Last year the topic was 'climate change' - 13,606 bloggers from 156 countries joined in the conversation.

Mary Robinson has said 'water is the oil of the 21st century, and waste is the gold.' So the topic, really, is the new oil. more ...

Monday 27 September 2010

new views on climate change

The National Theatre's New Views programme is entering its fourth year. From 9 October, 96 young people, three from each of the 32 London boroughs, will meet up with NT staff who they will track across the rest of the academic year. This year they will be following

the investigations, research and development of NT writers creating a new production which explores climate change and humanity's role in creating, avoiding or ameliorating it.  more ...

Sunday 26 September 2010

where do your interests end?

After Hillary Clinton's announcement last week of $50 million for clean cookstoves, one New York Times reader wrote on the Dot Earth blog (comment 6)that he didn't think Americans had a moral obligation towards people living in other countries.

Dot Earth's Andrew Revkin replied

This is one of the fundamental issues of our time: Figuring out where borders of various kinds end. When your pants are made in Bangladesh, your cellphone components require minerals from gorilla habitat in Congo, your next deadly flu threat comes from a poultry/pig farm in China and your (and China’s) emissions (slowly) influence the climate and coastal future around the world, where do your interests — and responsibilities — end?
more ...

Friday 24 September 2010

join 350.orgers for 10:10:10 at the arcola

more ...

Thursday 23 September 2010

autumn moon

September's full moon arrived on the same night as the autumnal equinox. This occurred at 03.09 this morning, marking the official start of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, as well as the start of spring in the South Hemisphere.

The last time a full moon occurred on the same night as the autumn equinox was 23 September 1991. It won't happen again until 2029.

All that, and - as if on cue- the weather outside this blogger's window went overnight from sunshine to persistent rain. more ...

Wednesday 22 September 2010

secret's out

Steve Waters, who wrote the first good play about climate change, has a new book out: The Secret Life of Plays. more ...

Tuesday 21 September 2010

is the pentagon caught up in far-left groupthink?

DougCooper points out, in a Guardian comments thread, that:

Yes, climate change is a swindle perpetrated by such far-left groupthinkers as: international insurance and reinsurance companies (eg, and eg); NASAthe Pentagon. more ...

Monday 20 September 2010

climate change art

In August 1883 the painter Edvard Munch witnessed an unusual blood-red sunset over Oslo. Shaken up by it, he wrote in his diary that he 'felt a great, unending scream piercing through nature'. The incident inspired him to create his most famous work, The Scream.

The sunset he saw that evening followed the eruption of Krakatoa off the coast of Java.
more ...

nonetheless ...

The legend is that when Galileo was forced to recant in front of the Inquisition in 1633 that the earth moves round the sun, he was heard to mutter eppur si muove or 'nonetheless, it moves'.

After a year in which climate scientists have been subjected to a tsunami of ignorant comment and abuse, it's worth recalling RealClimate's updated version of that line, eppure si riscalda, or 'and yet it still warms', which was accompanied by a link to this stark NASA graph above.

See Galileo links at Ashden Directory, and the Telegraph. more ...

summing up

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart explains the thinking behind his Million Moderate March, a rally in Washington, D.C., on October 30th that is meant to 'restore sanity' to public discourse in the USA

If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence... we couldn't. That's sort of the point.

(ht: A&L) more ...

Friday 17 September 2010

the labels don't fit

In her new blog Climate Etc., the American climatologist Judith Curry says she's through with labels. They don't help. In the last four months she's been called them all. So out with warmist, lukewarmist, sceptic, confusionist and denier. more ...

Thursday 16 September 2010

beyond a single currency

The World Bank's new clean energy czar Daniel Kammen tells the New York Times that one big hurdle is getting economists to recognise the value of externalities.

Our economy is fixated on one metric, money ... we need to put a value on the quality of our energy systems, the ability to preserve nature, to preserve the oceans and the rivers.

I sort of liken this to the invention of money. We now need to [move] beyond our single currency value to one where the social and environmental parts of the story are equally represented. That’s the next challenge.
more ...

Wednesday 15 September 2010

woody smells the coffee

When Woody Allen filmed a scene with Carla Bruni for his new movie Midnight in Paris, it didn't take 10 takes, and her husband showed up and was delighted. The press said Bruni had needed more than 30 takes and Sarkozy was furious. Allen told the New York Times:

the fabrications were so wild and so completely fake, and I wondered to myself, Is this what happens with Afghanistan and the economy and matters of real significance?

Well, with climate change ... YES. more ...

Tuesday 14 September 2010

the soundbite war

The running schedule for today's edition of the Today programme includes these two items:

The Chilcot Inquiry into the 2003 Iraq war will meet at Tidworth Garrison in Wiltshire today to hear the views of British veterans of the conflict. Veterans Colonel Tim Collins and Patrick Hennessy debate whether war was justified.
The sports news with Garry Richardson.

This very balanced, very BBC approach, where two people are given very little time to wrangle over something that's very complex, has been an especially unhelpful aspect of its coverage of climate change. more ...

Monday 13 September 2010

where to see a four degree world

At the first afternoon of the Tipping Point conference, Tom Burke gave a short briefing. In essence, he said (using Hadley figures) that we were now heading for a four degree world. If we wanted to know what a four degree world was like, he said, look at Pakistan.

Not everyone wants to. The University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole writes that the US press has completely failed to cover the events in Pakistan: The Great Pakistani Deluge Never Happened Don’t Tune In, It’s Not Important.

The great Pakistani deluge did not exist, it seems, because it was not on television, would not have delivered audiences to products, and was not all about us.

ClimateProgress runs the front covers of this week's Time magazine as it appears in the Europe, Asia, and South Pacific editions. All carry the story of the Pakistan floods (headlined 'Pakistan's Despair').

The American edition has a front cover story about US education, headlined 'What makes a school great?' (Well, learning about the world around you might be one answer.) more ...

Sunday 12 September 2010

the game-changer

What lies behind these four discussions on culture and climate change (the first of which takes place this morning) is the idea that there is something unique about climate change, and the artistic responses that it calls for.

The likely impacts of climate change present a challenge - philosophical and cultural - to some of the most basic assumptions about who we are and what kind of civilisation we want. In doing so, it repositions humanity and humanity's sense of what it is to be human. It is, in short, a game-changer.

If we accept that position, which this blog does, then we see that culture is not an add-on to the subject of climate change or simply a means of communicating more effectively about it. Culture is the process by which we come to understand, and live through, its wider implications. Historically, culture and the arts have been one of the main ways in which people have tried to understand significant shifts in human values.

This is not to suggest everyone has to rush out and paint pictures or write plays about climate change. It is more subtle than that. In the 19th century, the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species affected artists' work in many areas, both explicitly and implicitly. In the 21st century, the bleak news contained in the IPCC reports may have an influence as far-reaching.

T S Eliot wrote that Stendhal, Balzac and Flaubert were "analysts of the individual soul as it is found in a particular phase of society". The IPCC reports have introduced a new "particular phase of society".

It's encouraging that more and more artists, writers and performers are finding ways of responding to this development. And they are doing so in many different ways. But there's a sense that the critical framework, within which this work can be discussed, is largely absent. That's the area these four discussions hopes to address.

(The content of the four discussions largely emerged at a meeting in Cambridge in the summer. Joe Smith and I would like to thank Renata Tyszczuk, Benjamin Morris, Bradon Smith, Wallace Heim, Vicky Long and Kellie Payne for their contributions. The discussions will be recorded and made available on the Open University iTunesU.) more ...

Saturday 11 September 2010

caked in it

For this year's Feast on the Bridge, where Southwark Bridge is closed to traffic and long dining tables run either side of the road, the caterers Konditor and Cook created a giant cake that was an image of Southwark Bridge with all the people on it done in gingerbread. This photo was taken minutes before the cake made its stately progress across the bridge at 5pm.

(If you didn't fancy cake, of course, there was local, sustainably-produced pizzas and beer, storytelling and toasts, thatchers and bands, and much much else.)

More of FotB here. Last year's FotB here.

(pic. RB.) more ...

Friday 10 September 2010

tipping point launches first of four discussions

At this weekend's Tipping Point conference, there’ll be a panel discussion on the first morning at the Examination Schools, Oxford (pic), which will examine 'A History of Cultural Responses to Climate Change'.

The discussion is chaired by Quentin Cooper (presenter of Radio 4’s Material World) and the panel includes Diana Liverman, Nigel Clark, Siobhan Davies and Wallace Heim, the Ashden Directory co-editor, and guest blogger here.

This is the first of four discussions on culture and climate change, organised by Joe Smith and myself. The discussions will be recorded and made available on the Open University iTunesU.

This blog will be reporting on the panel discussion and, more widely, on the two days of the Tipping Point conference. more ...

Thursday 9 September 2010

taking question after question

The climate scientist Stephen Schneider, who died this summer, recorded a TV programme where he faced a roomful of climate sceptics and responded (with great patience) to many of the questions.

The programme was broadcast on Tuesday night in Australia. You can read the transcript here. (Ht: Skeptical Science ) Deltoid has more. more ...

Wednesday 8 September 2010

trip to the edge

Cape Farewell’s ninth Art & Science Arctic expedition departs for Spitsbergen tomorrow.

A team of 20 artists and scientists from Russia, USA, UK, Australia, Spain and Canada embark on a three-week expedition, sailing north of the 80th parallel to the ice edge from Spitsbergen and east towards Russia.

The team includes the theatre director, Deborah Warner, the Moscow playwright, Mikhail Durnekov, a member of the New Drama movement of young Russian playwrights, and Ruth Little, former literary manager of the Royal Court. more ...

Tuesday 7 September 2010

rhinos and economics

When President Theodore Roosevelt visited East Africa in 1909, there were about 300,000 rhinos in the area. Now, reports The Economist, there are perhaps 2,000.

The problem is not that the rhinos are half-blind, lumbering, and often infertile - which they are. It is economic ...

(Ht: The Browser) more ...

Monday 6 September 2010

the not-completely sures ... and the fairly sures

"Uncertainty is what science is about." 2nd and final part of Roger Harrabin's absorbing Radio 4 series on reporting climate science.

Oldest continuously living organisms includes the 2,000 year-old welwitschia miribilis.

The Russian public doesn't believe in climate change. But Russian scientists do.

Bill McKibben on David Letterman. Letterman gets it.

New book says that climate-changed Britain is going to fare better than Spain, half of which will become semi-desert. (But Spain's problems will be nothing compared to Bengal's.)

"Progressive parties are always in love with their own emotional impulses." (Tony Blair)

Future generations are likely to view Obama’s choice of health care over energy and climate legislation as a blunder of historic proportions. more ...

Friday 3 September 2010

tackling the range

When Athol Fugard attacked younger playwrights for not taking enough interest in politics, he could make an impressive claim:

In South Africa we had to work in small venues, but our dissident writers made a major contribution to the fact that dialogue eventually replaced bombs and bullets.

It would be hard for younger playwrights to rival that kind of impact. But no interest in politics? In the comments that followed, DaveSplendour suggested - with all due respect to a very distinguished playwright - that maybe Fugard hadn't been keeping up with the work of younger playwrights:

this doesn't even hold water even if you do look at plays which are more straightforwardly political – DC Moore, Lucy Kirkwood, Mike Bartlett, James Graham, Bola Agbaje, Lucy Prebble, and Matt Charman are all tackling a range of subject matters in their work including climate change, British foreign policy in the Middle East, the complicity of NGOs in African war crimes, sex traffic, as well as British domestic policy and social cohesion. more ...

Thursday 2 September 2010

be ironic, be non-committal

Playwright Emma Adams responds on the Guardian theatre blog to Athol Fugard's remarks on Monday that playwrights are avoiding the political and writing for attention spans of 10 minutes between adverts.

Emma Adams' new play Ugly is about climate change. Even admitting this, she writes, means she will be suspected of being "too intense, and not a good laugh".

I guess other writers may also sense the prevailing mood out there is: "Keep it light: if you must be informed, be ironic, and most importantly be non-committal about everything, other than the fact that paedophilia is evil." more ...

success is when it looks like nothing

The Daily Dish is running a series where people write in and explain one thing people don't understand about their jobs. Today it's a computer programmer who worked on Y2K.

On December 31, 1999, I along with programmers around the world sat apprehensively in front of my TV watching the date roll starting in the far east. As each hour passed, and cities still had power, I became more elated. We had done it!

To hear people refer dismissively to Y2K as a disaster that didn't happen is a misreading of the event. It's actually a case of people in thousands of companies and many countries working together to avert a potential disaster, and the fact that it looked like nothing happened means that we were successful, not that we were just saying "the sky is falling" when it wasn't! I hate seeing "Y2K" used as a synonym for unjustified hysteria.

What you get, then, is the opposite of a self-fulfilling prophecy: Y2K is often used by climate sceptics as an example of a scare story that didn't turn out to happen - another bit of alarmism, just like global warming. One reason it didn't happen, of course, is that sensible measures were taken.

Similarly climate sceptics sometimes say, oh there was this big scare about the ozone layer or bird flu and that didn't turn out to be worth worrying about. Well, that's because each time experts and politicians have gone and done something about it.

Follow this logic through: if we end up taking all the right actions over climate change, and thereby limit the threat, the climate sceptics will be able to say, see it didn't turn out to be such a big deal. more ...

tough one

The wonderfully combative Climate Progress is four years old. In a recent post Joe Romm explains why he blogs. One reason:

I do hope that the reporting and analysis in this blog, which evolves over time, will be of use to those trying to understand just how it is that, as Elizabeth Kolbert put it, “a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself."
more ...

Wednesday 1 September 2010

reader of history

Playwright Tony Kushner on Karl Marx

he was an absolutely astonishing reader of history, and of class. His analysis of capitalism is being proved in America every day. more ...

a very young science

I missed this very apposite seven-minute interview from earlier in the summer, with Brian Hoskins, head of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, on headlines and climate change.

It's a very young science and it's got a long way to go ... We have got to be able to highlight uncertainties and things we're not doing very well in order to say this is where we go next. more ...