Tuesday 30 November 2010

the birdwatcher's idea of heaven

Half a billion birds fly over Israel during the autumn migration.

A leading Israeli ornithologist tells the Today programme that Israel is at the junction of three continents: from the political point of view, it's a disaster (the airspace is crowded enough); from the ornithological point of view, it's heaven. more ...

Monday 29 November 2010


Roger Harrabin on what went wrong in Copenhagen

Margaret Atwood on how the world is this big, and we can't make it any bigger

Professor David Livingstone on cultures of climate

Ursula Goodenough on congressmen who quote the Bible on climate change

Joris Luyendijk on how to talk about sustainability more ...

from writer to activist

New York Times columnist David Brooks contrasts Tolstoy, the writer, with Tolstoy, the activist. What changed, Brooks argues, was Tolstoy's ability to see. more ...

Friday 26 November 2010

neuro narratives

State-of-the-art neuro-imaging and cognitive neuropsychology both uphold the idea that we create our "selves" through narrative. What happens when new narratives meet old brains? (Ht: A&L) more ...

leading climate blogger says it's time to modernise ibsen

In his Thanksgiving post, Joe Romm at ClimateProgress gives thanks for climate scientists.

They are like the hero of Henrik Ibsen’s classic 'An Enemy of the People' — which, come to think of it, someone should modernize into a climate science parable.

See also: Ibsen's Wild Duck first play to put a laboratory animal onstage. more ...

Thursday 18 November 2010

national theatre to stage documentary drama about climate change

The latest National Theatre press release says:

GREENLAND, a new play about uncertainty, confusion and the future of everything, by Moira Buffini, Matt Charman, Penelope Skinner and Jack Thorne, will open in the Lyttelton Theatre on 1 February. NT associate directors Bijan Sheibani and Ben Power are the director and dramaturg respectively; the production will be designed by Bunny Christie, with lighting by Jon Clark, video design by Finn Ross, sound and music by Dan Jones, and movement by Aline David. The cast includes Michael Gould, Isabella Laughland, Amanda Lawrence, Tunji Lucas, Lyndsey Marshal, Peter McDonald and Rhys Rusbatch.

Seeking to understand a subject of great complexity, the National Theatre has asked four of the most distinct and exciting playwrights in British theatre to collaborate on a new piece of documentary theatre. The team has spent six months interviewing key individuals from the worlds of science, politics, business and philosophy in an effort to understand our changing relationship with the planet.

GREENLAND combines the factual and the theatrical as several separate but connected narratives collide to form a provocative response to the most urgent questions of our time.

(GREENLAND, Lyttelton Theatre, previews from 25 January, press night 1 February, booking until 2 April, further dates to be announced.) more ...

Wednesday 17 November 2010

how he saw war

When propaganda meets art: Picasso's biographer, the art critic John Richardson, describes some of Picasso's works on peace as sentimental, kitsch, crude, simplistic and out-of-date. But not all.

'Jeux de Pages' depicts medieval page boys - their absurdly helmeted leader in spiky armor on a comically caparisoned horse - trying to look warlike. That was how he saw war, Picasso told a group of friends in March 1959: medieval children playing nasty, medieval games. more ...

Monday 15 November 2010

it's more than venice that's in peril

John F. Kennedy famously caught the spirit of the age in 1963 when he said, “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

Now may be the moment for Barack Obama to announce, “Sono un Veneziano.”

For we are all Venetians now. And not just the inhabitants of the coastal mega-cities—Mumbai, Lagos, Tokyo or Buenos Aires—or those in Bangladesh or on the Pacific islands of Kiribati or Tuvalu. I also mean the other diners at my local Pizza Express in west London.

If you look it up on the map the Environment Agency has devised, you will see it is in one of the areas most vulnerable to flooding. Water follows the natural contours of the land: go five miles farther east, and it’s not looking good for the Pizza Expresses closest to the homes of the Queen and the prime minister.

At Pizza Express you can order a pizza for 'Venice in Peril'. My Going Green column in IL argues we need a new pizza on the menu for the rest of us. more ...

Friday 12 November 2010

dumbing down

Kenneth Brower profiles the great physicist, Freeman Dyson (left), 'perhaps our most prominent global-warming skeptic'.

The question that phrases itself now, in the minds of many, is: how could someone as smart as Freeman Dyson be so dumb?

Brower surveys a number of theories from 'contrariness' and 'he doesn't really mean it' to 'educated fool' and 'old age'. The answer, Brower concludes, lies in Dyson's unshakeable faith in the technological fix.

The notion that science will save us is the chimera that allows the present generation to consume all the resources it wants, as if no generations will follow.

(H-t. AL) more ...

Tuesday 9 November 2010

brain drain

The Daily Dish reports that in good universities across the United States, students flee the Republican Party. The better the university, it appears, "the more drastic the trend".

Meanwhile, Republican climate deniers vie to run House Energy Committee more ...

Monday 8 November 2010

the little-me-against-the-world meme

The enduring ‘heretic’ meme – the plucky iconoclastic individual whose ideas are being repressed by the establishment – is never very far below the surface in almost all high-impact scientific profiles.

Gavin Schmidt on science, narrative and heresy
more ...

Tuesday 2 November 2010

tectonic shifts in public attitudes

"It may seem far-fetched to compare the resistance to action on climate change to the slow progress toward the abolition of slavery or the recognition of the fatal effects of smoking, but a University of Michigan researcher says in a new paper that it will take just such a tectonic shift in public attitudes for society to begin to accept the reality of global warming and do something about it."

(Hat-tip: CK) more ...