Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Night Stuff

Here's a perfect example of how climate change serves as a proxy for larger issues of contention, as Mike Hulme writes in Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Tidewater Virginia residents who oppose their town planners' efforts to prepare for sea-level rise, in one of the most vulnerable parts of the US to the problem. Ostensibly they disagree with climate change science, but, if you read closely, their concerns are really about distant and unelected technocrats who they think are making rules for their property and their town's. Sure, maybe they have misinterpreted the UN's "Agenda 21" -- but then, what do any of us know about what the UN is really up to, and what could you do about it anyhow? Or, for that matter, the town planners of small towns, who have certainly been known to pull a few shenanigans. So I don't think you can dismiss these kind of things as just more denialist tea partiers.


A tidy example of a negative climate feedback(*): In the face of a record breaking climate event Texas farmers have reduced the number of cows raised by 600,000, or about 12%. That's like taking 750,000 cars off the road, if this article is correct -- a reduction of 2 million metric tons of CO2 this year. Less cows, less GHGs, less warming, less drought -- negative feedback.

(*) admittedly glossing over all details of attribution.


I missed this last month, but the WMO-GAW GHG Monitoring Network released their annual report last month. Global atmospheric methane levels are indeed rising again: up 5 ppb in 2010, continuing the increase that resumed in 2006. (Past reports here.) Nobody seems to really know why.


Last week the NIH said it would no longer fund research on chimpanzees. This is a very good thing. This picture immediately sprang to my mind when I heard about this ban:


Don't tell me these animals don't deserve the same consideration as humans, unless you are OK with being caged, exploited, and butchered if and when a higher intelligence shows up (or is developed) here.


John Fleck said...

Your town planning sea level example applies to drought planning in the arid southwest. If people think climate change is bunk, will they be less willing to build the resilience they will need anyway, climate change or not?

David Appell said...

Perhaps (people will be less willing...), but people have a right to be stupid, right? But I think Hulme's point is that people who are distrustful of distant power (like the UN) are going to act out that distrust on the climate issue--that issue is large and wide enough that you can find in it whatever monsters you wish to fight. Personally I'm wary of distant powers telling us how to live too -- I'd prefer power be based as close to me as possible -- much closer even than Wash DC even. Anyway....