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Some reading for the “anti-warmalists” and “climate-change deniers”

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Author Topic: Some reading for the “anti-warmalists” and “climate-change deniers”  (Read 37844 times)
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2009, 07:45:46 am »

I heard the replay of an interview in part between Leighton Smith and Prof. Bob Carter which I found very interesting.    His opinion is worthy of note in my view.     
http://www.nzcpr.com/guest92.htm   ( about Bob Carter)
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« Reply #26 on: May 02, 2009, 09:25:05 am »

KTJ - That bit about glaciers being sensitive indicators of climate change as above - Christ! Even in my lifetime the Franz Joseph and Fox have been up and down like a whore's drawers...

Ive been around a few years and none of the glaciers have retreated as far as they are now.
Ive never heard of gi-normous chunks of ice breaking off as they are regularly now.

I have no doubt there is climate change - as there has been numerous times in the past.  This time though things may be moving faster than in the past.
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Laughter is the best medicine, unless you've got a really nasty case of syphilis, in which case penicillin is your best bet.
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« Reply #27 on: May 02, 2009, 09:32:10 am »


Some interesting before and after shots on this site.
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Laughter is the best medicine, unless you've got a really nasty case of syphilis, in which case penicillin is your best bet.
« Reply #28 on: May 03, 2009, 07:56:21 pm »

Garath Morgan (a rabid capitalist and rightie) has got it when it comes to human-induced climate change....

What a pity the “anti-warmalists” and “climate-change deniers” haven't got it and still have their heads in the sand!
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« Reply #29 on: May 04, 2009, 09:48:20 am »

NZ glacier findings upset climate theory

Research by three New Zealand scientists may have solved the mystery of why glaciers behave differently in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Geologist David Barrell of GNS Science, Victoria University geomorphologist Andrew Mackintosh and glaciologist Trevor Chinn of the Alpine and Polar Processes Consultancy have helped provide definitive dating for changes in glacier behaviour.

They were part of a team of nine scientists, led by Joerg Schaefer of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York, who used an isotope-dating technique to get very precise ages for glacial deposits near Mt Cook.

They measured the build-up of beryllium-10 isotopes in surface rocks bombarded by cosmic rays to pinpoint dates when glaciers in the Southern Alps started to recede. The technology is expected to be widely applied to precisely date other glaciers around the world.

Glaciers are sensitive indicators of climate changes, usually advancing when it cools and retreating when it warms.


The first direct confirmation of differences in glacier behaviour between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the new work topples theories based on climate in the Northern Hemisphere changing in tandem with the climate in the Southern Hemisphere.

The research argues that at times the climate in both hemispheres evolved in sync and at other times it evolved differently in different parts of the world.

Dr Barrell said their research presented "new data of novel high precision", though the team has so far chosen not to roll out wider interpretations too quickly.

He said much of it reinforced work done 30 years ago by Canterbury University researcher Professor Colin Burrows, who used NZ glacier data to highlight some of the similarities and differences between northern and southern records over the past 12,000 years.

The paper published in Science magazine yesterday showed the Mt Cook glaciers advanced to their maximum length 6500 years ago, and have been smaller ever since.

But glaciers in the Swiss Alps advanced to their maximum only in the past 700 years - during the Northern Hemisphere's "Little Ice Age", which ended about 1860.

During some warm periods in Europe, glaciers were advancing in New Zealand. At other times, glaciers were well advanced in both areas.

In a commentary which accompanied the research, Greg Balco, from the Berkeley Geochronology Centre in California, said the conclusion that glacier advances in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres were not synchronised was "unexpected".

Dr Barrell said the paper presented only the first instalment of the dating work, and more would be revealed at an international workshop on past climates to be held at Te Papa on May 15.

"The New Zealand findings point to the importance of regional shifts in wind directions and sea surface temperatures," he said.

Regional weather patterns such as the El Nino Southern Oscillation were superimposed on the global climate trends reflected in the behaviour of glaciers.

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Laughter is the best medicine, unless you've got a really nasty case of syphilis, in which case penicillin is your best bet.
« Reply #30 on: May 04, 2009, 11:23:11 am »

Did Auntie Herald copy that story from the Dominion Post newspaper (owned by their rival company, Fairfax) and republish it? Because it seems almost word-for-word with the Dom-Post article as posted in Reply #22 and originally published by the Dom-Post last Friday (1st May). I note that Auntie Herald published the story the day after the Dominion Post published it.

Incidentally, I notice the NZ Herald has a photograph of the terminal of Fox Glacier accompanying the article. Here is a photograph showing the entire length of Fox Glacier, and a second photograph showing the upper icefall and glacier névé (and Horokoau/Mount Tasman), with both images captured by me almost two weeks ago....

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« Reply #31 on: May 06, 2009, 12:02:03 pm »

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Laughter is the best medicine, unless you've got a really nasty case of syphilis, in which case penicillin is your best bet.
« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2009, 12:45:11 pm »

Weathering the storm of Salinger sacking


The Dominion Post | Monday, 04 May 2009

Jim Salinger

TVNZ'S Jim Hickey: Hello. Is that Jim Salinger, part-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, president of a world meteorological commission, companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand and renowned science communicator?

Dr Salinger: Yes. That's me.

Jim Hickey: Can you tell us about the weather?

Dr Salinger: No! I can't comment.

Jim Hickey: What do you mean, you can't comment?

Dr Salinger: You've asked the wrong person. My boss says I'm not to talk to you. You must ask the communications manager at my place of work, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. She'll put you right. She might even put you in touch with me.

Jim Hickey: But we'd rather hear about the weather from the horse's mouth, as it were.

Dr Salinger: No. If I talk to you about the weather without permission I could get further up my boss's nose. That's more than my job's worth.

Jim Hickey: You must be joking!

No joke. Something like this must have happened to Dr Salinger. Niwa has given him the boot for publicly making unsanctioned remarks about the weather.

Scientists up and down the country are astonished and outraged at their colleague's sacking. The man has been fired for what he does best - making science intelligible to the public.

Dr Salinger's case opens a window on the inner workings of Niwa and is a telling example of the malaise that has enveloped New Zealand science in the past 17 years. The weather, the ocean, the air, lakes and rivers used to be researched by government scientific agencies until 1992, when Environment Minister Simon Upton closed them all down and rejigged them as commercial companies.

"Professional managers", not necessarily scientists, were appointed to run these companies for profit. Some of the new bosses may have successfully managed a brewery, a drug company or a football team but few understood what scientists do. The new men brought their business suits and ethics to their jobs and imposed these strange managerial protocols on their scientists.

Commercial and scientific enterprises have different motivations, methods and goals. A lot of commerce is competitive and secretive but scientists were not accustomed to that. They worked collaboratively and in the public eye. Now, managers worry that talkative scientists might embarrass their institutions or, worse, give away information that they might otherwise sell.

Scientists find it belittling and demeaning to ask their new masters' permission to speak about their science, as though they can't be trusted to comment diplomatically. Many scientists I know find themselves disempowered and their discipline degraded.

Dr Salinger's sacking would be understandable if serious commercial or political issues were at stake but his managers appear to have given him the elbow on trivial grounds. Goodness knows how many other petty in-house protocols stand in the way of publicising science.

Scientists see this as more than just an employment issue. His sacking overrides scientific conventions - not a good look for science or for the country.

Outlook: Stormy.

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« Reply #33 on: May 06, 2009, 01:04:40 pm »

Yes I believe in global warming, but I think it is part of a natural cycle which will eventually lead to a new ice age and there is very little we humans can do to change it, bar changing earth's orbit round the sun........what will be, will be.
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« Reply #34 on: May 14, 2009, 01:14:57 am »

Scientists warn on ocean acidification

NZPA | Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Bluff's oyster fisheries in Foveaux Strait may be at the top of a hit list of species vulnerable to increasing acidity levels in the oceans, New Zealand scientists say.

But the global phenomenon of ocean acidification may pose a threat not only to New Zealand's fisheries and aquaculture industries, but to marine ecosystems around the world, according to the national science academy, the Royal Society.

"Concerns exist over acidification and its potential, within decades, to severely affect marine organisms, food webs, biodiversity and fisheries," the society said in a paper released yesterday.

The oceans are becoming more acidic as they store more carbon dioxide from the rising levels in the Earth's atmosphere. Oceans store about 50 times more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere, and they have absorbed more than 30 percent of the carbon dioxide released by human activity.

The Royal Society is planning to hold a workshop on the issue in Wellington on September 9.

Carbon dioxide-saturated oceans pose a threat to New Zealand's corals, crustaceans and shellfish, because they may thin the calcium carbonate shells not only of the adult organisms, but their juvenile stages.

Acidification may also be threatening calcifying algae which cover 80 percent of the Otago coast and provide the habitat for larvae of species such as paua and kina. Mussels, Pacific and Bluff oysters, paua and scallops make up a $300 million industry.

A key form of calcium carbonate, aragonite, which is used by corals and other sea life may become less available before the middle of the century, according to Professor Keith Hunter, head of Otago University's chemistry department.

A National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) scientist at the university, Dr Philip Boyd, said kina, mussels, oysters, and paua were among important coastal species which could be affected.

In the open ocean micro-organisms such as some plankton at the base of global food webs may be left with weaker and thinner shells.

"We will see a significant 'tipping point' in terms of ocean chemistry by as early as 2030," said Dr Boyd. "We may see the shells of some of these 'calcifiers' dissolve".

Both scientists emphasised there were huge gaps in knowledge of how marine life and ecosystems would change, but said the only plausible way to slow down the changes was to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

Coastal organisms may have extra resilience because the conditions in which they live vary naturally, and corals in the southern fjords may also have some adaptions in place because of acidic tannins in bush run-off.

But Antarctic ecosystems will be very vulnerable, because colder water can take up more carbon dioxide, and many cold-water organisms such as corals are slow-growing.

Proposals for helping aquaculture adapt have included breeding species capable of tolerating acidity, reducing the acidity of water in which larval stages develop, and changing the species farmed.

Prof Hunter said Australian research had shown that Sydney rock oysters could be selectively bred to tolerate higher levels of acidity.

"There may be some future for the aquaculture industry to adapt," he said.

The September workshop has been planned to alert government and private sector agencies to the scientific and technical issues, and to inform scientists of the most important priorities in future research.


Spectre of seas without shells

By ABIGAIL SMITH - The Dominion Post | Wednesday, 13 May 2009

POISONED SEA: Abigail Smith says the oceans are becoming more acidic by the day, affecting the ability of shellfish and coral to create the shells and skeletons vital to their survival. — REUTERS.

POISONED SEA: Abigail Smith says the oceans are
becoming more acidic by the day, affecting the
ability of shellfish and coral to create the shells
and skeletons vital to their survival. — REUTERS.

Remember Silent Spring? It was in 1962 that Rachel Carson's book alerted the world to the problems of the insecticide DDT in the food chain. Birds of prey were particularly vulnerable, with their eggshells becoming so thin they could no longer contain growing embryos. The threat of springtime with no birdsong catapulted the world into a new awareness of ecology and conservation.

Forty-seven years on, a new threat is looming, this time in the sea. Once again the busy rhythm of people is causing an ecological crisis. Not as complicated as modelling global warming, not as simple as banning a pesticide, our newest planetary drama is called ocean acidification. It happens because of the connections between air, water, and shells.

We know that human activities, particularly the burning of coal, oil, petrol and wood, have for the past 200 years increased the amount of carbon dioxide, or CO2, in the atmosphere. While these molecules float around in the air, they act like a blanket keeping Earth warm and eventually changing the whole climate. The warming effects of CO2 have been less than they could have been, however, because about a third of CO2 from the air gets mopped up by the oceans.

What's good for global climate change, however, is bad for the sea. When you add CO2 to sea water, it becomes more acid. And that means that the carbonate ion, CO3, gets scarcer. That might seem like no big deal, but many marine plants and animals use carbonate, along with calcium, for constructing protection and structure.

Clams, snails, urchins, corals, some algae, and many plankton all use calcium carbonate (CaCO3) to build their shells.

Marine ecologists have only just begun to investigate the potential problems that a more acid ocean might pose to creatures in the sea. What they have found so far is alarming. Tiny plankton, zillions of which form part of the basis of the marine food chain, are usually protected by a robust and complex ball of carbonate.

But when you grow them in more acid conditions, these little shells become thinner and more frail. Even more alarming, experiments with corals show that under acid conditions, some do not make a skeleton. They sit there like a jelly glob with no sign of the complex architecture that makes coral reefs so diverse and so attractive to tourists - and to fish.

This isn't just a problem for squishy marine critters. Marine aquaculture and multimillion-dollar fisheries such as mussel farming are likely to be affected.

Tourism to coral reefs is another multimillion-dollar industry, and some economies are wholly reliant on it. There is even the suggestion that a more acid ocean could be more corrosive and thus affect shipping and ports.

The sea is growing more acid by the day. Early estimates suggested that acidity could go up 30 per cent by the end of this century. Now scientists are warning that, in the Southern Ocean, we could be seeing measurable changes within a few decades. The effects of what we have already pumped into the air are probably irreversible. There are no practical solutions or cures - no antacid for the sea's indigestion. The only thing we can do is to slow it down.

Luckily, we already want to reduce carbon emissions and know we need to stop the invisible clouds of CO2 rising into the air. We already have mechanisms in place to change how we live and travel. Ocean acidification provides another, and perhaps a more urgent, reason for continuing on this path as fast as possible.

We still have birds of prey. That is because people cared, listened and took action. Ordinary gardeners stopped using DDT, and eventually governments also responded. Now you can't buy DDT and you can't spray it around.

Geologists, who specialise in the long- term view, are beginning to call the present time period the anthropocene epoch.

They mean that the activities of humans are so pervasive that they will be the dominant signal in the geologic record of our time. So far it appears that the anthropocene will be renowned for its great extinction event - a period in which Earth became so unhealthy that hundreds of species of animals and plants ceased to be. Given that acidification is to be added to the effects of coastal pollution, ongoing development, sedimentation and over-fishing, it is not surprising that our coastal ecosystems are set to crash.

We can choose to make a difference. Just don't drive. Turn off the power. Think about all those millions of plankton making their complex and perfect skeletons. Think about that exhaust, puffing out the back of every car, each little bit of CO2 heading into the air, into the sea, a little drop of poison for our planet. Each of us can make small differences. Think about what you could do, today, to save just one plankton, just one coral. Because a sea without shells is like springtime without birds.

• Associate Professor Abigail M Smith is a geochemist in the Marine Science Department at the University of Otago.

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« Reply #35 on: May 30, 2009, 03:16:24 am »

Tip of the iceberg for wonder

By KATARINA FILIPE - The Timaru Herald | Friday, 29 May 2009

ADRIFT: Wintry conditions have blown icebergs down to the southern end of the Tasman Glacier terminal lake.

ADRIFT: Wintry conditions have blown icebergs down
to the southern end of the Tasman Glacier terminal lake.

Iceberg fans are in for a treat this winter.

More than 50 icebergs of all shapes and sizes have been blown down to the southern end of the Tasman Glacier terminal lake, giving people the chance for a close inspection.

Strong winds at Aoraki Mount Cook blew the icebergs down the lake and cold temperatures froze the waters around them, leaving them stuck in place.

Glacier Explorers operations manager Bede Ward said it was a "fitting finale to an absolutely bumper season".

"All the ice in the lake will be our iceberg ‘stock’ for next summer."

Glacier Explorers passengers have seen the largest iceberg calvings on the terminal lake since the season began last September.

In the most significant single calving in the lake's 25-year existence, a giant slab of ice about 250 metres long by 250m wide by 80m high plunged into the lake, causing a three-metre tidal wave on February 10.

A second iceberg about quarter of the size calved from the face soon afterwards.

The event followed a huge chunk of turquoise basal ice eight metres wide and 30m high calving from an iceberg into the lake on February 04.

Mr Ward said reports of the retreat of the two-million-year-old, 27-kilometre-long Tasman Glacier had been a great drawcard for business.

"We're getting more and more icebergs now so we're naming them in order to track and communicate changes," he said.

Since the terminal lake began forming in 1973, the Tasman Glacier's retreat had quickened because the lake was expanding all the time and causing a more rapid melt of the glacier face, Mr Ward said.

"From now on I think we may be looking at major calving from the terminal face as an annual event."

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« Reply #36 on: May 30, 2009, 06:48:00 am »

Iceberg fans are in for a treat this winter.

Are people these something like train spotters?
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« Reply #37 on: July 27, 2009, 02:27:12 pm »

Ice caps melting — astronaut

REUTERS | 12:52AM - Monday, 27 July 2009

EARTH BELOW: Space Shuttle Endeavour is seen docked to the International Space Station. A Canadian astronaut, returning to space after 12 years, says Earth's ice caps appear to be melting. — NASA.

EARTH BELOW: Space Shuttle Endeavour is seen docked
to the International Space Station. A Canadian astronaut,
returning to space after 12 years, says Earth's ice caps
appear to be melting. — NASA.

A Canadian astronaut aboard the International Space Station says it looks like Earth's ice caps have melted since he was last in orbit 12 years ago.

Bob Thirsk, who is two months into a planned six-month stay aboard the station, said he is mostly in awe when he looks out the window, particularly at the sliver of atmosphere wrapped around the planet.

"It's a very thin veil of atmosphere around the Earth that keeps us alive," Thirsk said during an in-flight news conference.

"Most of the time when I look out the window I'm in awe. But there are some effects of the human destruction of the Earth as well.

"This is probably just a perception, but I just have the feeling that the glaciers are melting, the snow capping the mountains is less than it was 12 years ago when I saw it last time," Thrisk said. "That saddens me a little bit."

If Thrisk needs a sympathetic ear, he has 12 crewmates with him, at least until Tuesday, when visiting shuttle Endeavour astronauts are scheduled to depart.

The astronauts delivered a Japanese-built experiment platform, installed new batteries for the station's solar power system and stashed spare parts to keep the station operational after shuttles are retired next year after seven more flights.

The $100 billion station, a project of 16 nations, is nearing completion after more than a decade of work.

Endeavour astronauts Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn are scheduled for a fifth spacewalk on Monday to rewire a station gyroscope, fix insulation on its Canadian-built robot and install television cameras needed to guide a Japanese cargo vessel into its docking port. The HTV cargo hauler is slated for its debut flight in September.

"All in all I think it's an extremely successful mission in spite of a lot of really interesting curveballs that have been thrown our way," Endeavour commander Mark Polansky told reporters.

The latest glitch occurred on Saturday when the station's US air-scrubber shut down, prompting NASA to call in extra flight controllers to oversee the device manually. The machine strips deadly carbon dioxide, a by-product of respiration, from the station's air.

"It's not something that we want to do long term, because (of) the number of commands we have to send from the ground. But in the short term, we've got the carbon dioxide removal system back up and running and operating at close to its normal capacity," Smith said.

A backup air-scrubber is due to be launched aboard NASA's next shuttle mission, targeted for launch in August.

Endeavour is due back at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on Friday.

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« Reply #38 on: July 28, 2009, 05:22:30 pm »

Maybe global warming has not come here yet its freezing cold,

I was expecting sunny days and my own beach  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #39 on: July 28, 2009, 05:46:11 pm »

I was expecting sunny days and my own beach  Roll Eyes

In Woodville?  Shocked  Roll Eyes

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« Reply #40 on: July 28, 2009, 05:58:35 pm »

I was in woodville once when the sun shone [well actually, I've been in Woodville often - just not usually when the sun was shining] - and I'm sure theres a beach somewhere near the bridge over the Manawatu....
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« Reply #41 on: July 28, 2009, 07:08:46 pm »

We do get realy hot days in the summer but its freezing cold right now and there is still no sign of my beach yet. Shocked
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« Reply #42 on: July 30, 2009, 06:41:08 pm »

Arctic tundra hotter, boosts global warming

REUTERS | 9:39AM - 30 July 2009

GETTING HOT IN HERE: Arctic tundra around the world are heating up rapidly and boosting the process of global warming. — REUTERS.

GETTING HOT IN HERE: Arctic tundra around
the world are heating up rapidly and boosting
the process of global warming. — REUTERS.

Regions of Arctic tundra around the world are heating up very rapidly, releasing more greenhouse gases than predicted and boosting the process of global warming, a leading expert said.

Professor Greg Henry of the University of British Columbia also said higher temperatures meant larger plants were starting to spread across the tundra, which is usually covered by small shrubs, grasses and lichen. The thicker plant cover means the region is getting darker and absorbing more heat.

He said tundra covers about 15 percent of the world's surface and makes up around 30 percent of Canadian territory.

Henry, who has been working in the Arctic since the early 1980s, said he had measured "a very substantial change" in the tundra over the last three decades, citing greater emissions and plant growth.

Since 1970, he said, temperatures in the tundra region had risen by one degree Celsius per decade — equal to the highest rates of warming found anywhere on the planet.

"We're finding that the tundra is actually giving off a lot more nitrous oxide and methane than anyone had thought before," Henry told reporters on a conference call from Resolute in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut.

"We're really trying to get a handle on this because if (further tests show) that's true, this actually changes the entire greenhouse gas budget for the North, and that has global implications," he said.

Scientists blame climate change on a surge in emissions of greenhouse gases. The effects in Canada's North and Arctic regions have been particularly notable.

Henry said his research station in Nunavut had recorded record high temperatures virtually every summer since the early 1990s. The warmer temperatures mean plants are growing bigger and faster, while larger species are spreading northward.

"The tundra is getting a lot weedier all the way around the globe. This has major implications," said Henry, who also chairs an international project studying tundra.

"You're changing the color of the surface of the earth by making it darker... so the consequence of that is increased warming again."

Some scientists also fear that as the permafrost in the Arctic melts, it will release vast amounts of carbon and methane into the atmosphere.

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« Reply #43 on: August 11, 2009, 01:51:54 pm »

Hotel collapses in Taiwan typhoon

Climate-change havoc

Stuff.co.nz with Associated Press | Monday, 10 August 2009

A six-story hotel in Chihpen, Taitung county, Taiwan collapses and plunges into a river after floodwaters eroded its base as typhoon Morakot passed through the area. The Typhoon caused the worst flooding in the area in 50 years.

The hotel on a lean before collapsing. — Associated Press/ETTV Television.

                      The hotel on a lean before collapsing. — Associated Press/ETTV Television.

The hotel begins to topple. — Associated Press/ETTV Television.

                            The hotel begins to topple. — Associated Press/ETTV Television.

The toppling hotel hits the water. — Associated Press/ETTV Television.

                        The toppling hotel hits the water. — Associated Press/ETTV Television.

The full weight of a six storey hotel creates an enormous splash. — Associated Press/ETTV Television.

         The full weight of a six storey hotel creates an enormous splash. — Associated Press/ETTV Television.

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« Reply #44 on: August 11, 2009, 01:58:19 pm »

Worst flooding in 50 years.  Wow!     

50 years is a just a speck in time.     
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« Reply #45 on: August 11, 2009, 02:57:11 pm »

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« Reply #46 on: September 02, 2009, 01:01:23 pm »

The NATs “do” enviroment stuff....

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Having fun in the hills!

« Reply #47 on: September 24, 2009, 08:52:04 pm »

Global Warning

Faced with one of the great questions of our time — whether the Earth’s current warming is caused by humans – economist Gareth Morgan did what only a philanthropist can do: hired some top scientists to give him the answer.

By JOANNE BLACK - The Listener | Vol.218 No.3600 - May 09-15, 2009

Riding her motorbike north through Alaska, or across the Sahara, Joanne Morgan would occasionally pause to point out something — desertification, perhaps, or dying forests — and say to her husband, “See that? That’s caused by global warming.”

“I got bloody sick of it, to be honest,” Gareth Morgan says now. “And finally I said to her, ‘Joanne, for God’s sake, you can’t possibly make such sweeping statements‘.” Her answer was that if he had read Tim Flannery’s climate-change book The Weather Makers, as she had, then he would understand.

So, he started reading it, but instead of being convinced that human activity — most notably the burning of fossil fuels — was causing global warming, Morgan finished each page with more questions than answers. He decided to hire some climate change policy researchers to investigate.

Early last year, he again read Flannery’s book, this time while heading to Antarctica, rolling around in an icebreaker in the Southern Ocean, accompanied by friend and writer John McCrystal, also a climate change sceptic.

“I was intrigued, but I wasn’t convinced by the arguments for anthropogenic [from human activity] global warming,” Morgan says in his company boardroom in a downtown office block overlooking Wellington Harbour. “I’m naturally sceptical about everything. God, I come from the financial sector and you get pretty sceptical about people’s behaviour there.”

His researchers returned with papers that were no use because they were about policy, “and I didn’t even know if climate change was true. I thought, isn’t it intriguing that countries are spending all this public policy money yet we don’t take the first step, which is to ask, ‘What is the problem we are trying to solve?’”

After speaking to Victoria University Professor of Geology Peter Barrett, Morgan decided to hire the best scientists in the world on both sides. The result is Morgan and McCrystal’s new book Poles Apart — Beyond the Shouting, Who’s Right About Climate Change?

Morgan likens the process to being on a jury: hearing all the evidence from both sides, but also subjecting the scientists to rigorous questioning and cross-examination before deciding which side has the most scientific credibility. Along the way, Morgan and McCrystal became deeply exasperated with what they considered the equal willingness of both camps to be activists for their cause, obscuring efforts to get at the science.

“People have very emotive, very predetermined views, and that typifies both sides,” says Morgan. “We’ve had some heated sessions with our alarmist scientists where they’ve been on the verge of walking out, saying, ‘How dare you question our conclusions?’ I had to keep saying, ‘Look, I have a completely open mind.’ But their fervour has caught the public, so they have found themselves – on the basis of partial knowledge – being rounded into either camp rather than simply being able to ask for some clarity and for someone to explain why it’s true and why it isn’t.

“If I had one message, it is, ‘For God’s sake, stay objective, don’t get wound up by either side’s polemics and emotion,’” says Morgan.

“It’s like people feel they must have a cause, and it turns reasonable people into nutters and they don’t see it. They only see it on the other side. I would say to the guys who helped me, ‘I don’t want to know about the other stuff, this is a scientific inquiry, for Christ’s sake’, and they’d get really offended. They might be professors and they’re not used to being spoken to like that; they are used to intimidating the public because the public is ignorant.”

Initially, Morgan says he and McCrystal were like weathervanes, persuaded by whatever they had just read. “You’d read a paper in the morning that said climate change was nonsense, and it would convince you, then in the afternoon you’d pick up a paper [that was] predicting hellfire and brimstone and us all being dead by dawn, and that would convince you.”

During their researching, both men learnt a lot of science. In doing so they have crystallised for themselves and their readers the core arguments of both sides of the climate change debate, and decided that anthropogenic global warming is the more credible argument.

“Are we satisfied as jurors that it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the cause of the warming is anthropogenic?” asks Morgan. “No, we’re not. But if we rephrase the question and ask, if, on the weight of the evidence presented, we think the cause of the warming is anthropogenic or natural, then we would say anthropogenic. But I would bear in mind that John Maynard Keynes quote with which we end the book, ‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?’ There could be some new development out tomorrow that makes us all look like chumps.”

Clearly, although they’re open to that possibility, the pair think it unlikely. Science, they explain, is on the side of global warming having human causes, notwithstanding huge variations in the world’s climate long before humans evolved.

Although there is endless argument about global temperatures in the past, the measurements since about 1900, and certainly more recently, are sufficiently reliable for there to be general agreement that in recent decades to 1998, the world’s temperature warmed, although temperatures have been stable in the past 10 years. But a decade does not mean much in the scale of climate change, and the trend is still for increasing warmth.

Even if the historical temperature statistics can be disputed (and they are), the pair say there is no argument that warmth causes ice to melt. And at the North Pole, ice is melting very quickly because Arctic temperatures have increased at almost twice the average global rate over the past 100 years. Poles Apart says that after the thaw of 2007, Arctic sea ice was at its lowest recorded level since satellite-borne microwave measurements began in 1978; the thaw of 2008 was the second lowest. Other studies, using the best estimates, suggest that in the mid-20th century the Arctic was the warmest it had been since records began in 1840, and it has continued to warm since then.

A similar level of thawing is not occurring in the Antarctic, but this, according to scientists, does not mean Arctic thawing can be shrugged off as a regional rather than a global-climate-related event. For a start, the Antarctic has a much denser thermal mass so can stay cooler longer. Further, the Arctic ice is thinner, so when it cracks apart it exposes the dark ocean water to the sun. Ice reflects heat back into space but the ocean absorbs that heat. Because of that, one of the concerns is that the Arctic risks entering a “vicious feedback loop”.

The Arctic picture is interesting, and possibly disturbing, depending on your point of view, but like many other observable changes — the expanding Gobi Desert, the devastation caused by pests in areas where cold would normally have killed them off, coral bleaching — evidence that the world is warming is not the same as evidence that human behaviour, such as burning fossil fuels, is the cause.

After all, as Morgan points out, in its history the Earth has been warmer than it is now. It has gone without ice for millions of years. And even knowing that ice-core data shows the speed of the current warming is without precedent in 2-5 millennia does not in itself mean this current period — which falls outside the cycle of warming caused by the rhythms of the sun — is man-made. It is unusual, yes; it is fast, yes, but are humans to blame?

Yes to that, too, Poles Apart concludes. The burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide in which the carbon isotopes occur in a different ratio to that of CO2 released in the pre-industrial era. Results from isotope ratio mass spectrometers can and do accurately reveal that the increased CO2 in the atmosphere comes from the combustion of fossil fuel, and CO2 is one of the gases that is creating an excessive greenhouse effect, partly by increasing the rate of evaporation, which means there is more water vapour in the atmosphere. The vapour is itself a greenhouse gas, trapping infrared radiation in the atmosphere and thus warming the Earth.

There is much, much more to the theory and science of global warming than this, including the latent heat already in the oceans (the heat stored in the top 3.2m of the ocean is equivalent to the amount of heat in the entire atmosphere, scientists conclude), which means even if humans stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, there is still at least another 50 years’ worth of “committed warming” to be experienced. And, plainly, humans will not stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which the two authors seem to conclude is as willing as any other participant in the debate to play politics, forecasts that if atmospheric CO2 doubles from its pre-industrial levels of 280 parts per million, and beyond the current 387ppm to 560ppm (which the IPCC considers a “low-emissions scenario”), the climate is likely to warm by about 3°. So far, it has warmed by about 0.8° over the past 150 years.

Actual numbers are hard to predict because there are a number of significant moderating effects on temperatures, in particular clouds, which are extremely difficult to factor into computer modelling of the climate. The IPCC’s “mid-range” scenario of emissions suggests concentrations of CO2 could reach 800ppm by 2100, which could mean an increase of 3.3° from present levels. And as Poles Apart points out, if 3° doesn’t sound like much, people should remember that in any 50-year period, the average temperature varies by usually no more than 0.2°, and there is no evidence Earth has ever been, on average, in the period of human habitation, more than 2° warmer than it is now. Nor is there evidence to suggest Homo sapiens have experienced higher atmospheric CO2 levels than currently exist.

“If we accept the theory of anthropogenic global warming, we must at least evaluate the prospect that we may soon be inhabiting a world whose climate is different to that to which our species has adapted,” Morgan and McCrystal say in Poles Apart. “After all, greenhouse-gas concentrations seem set to keep rising at the equivalent of 1.5ppm of CO2 per year.”

In the course of the research McCrystal has gone from being a sceptic to a believer (or an “alarmist”, to use the authors’ terminology) but, like Morgan, he says he is open to evidence that they may have got it wrong.

“At this stage it is important to keep open minds. It is still on a knife-edge for me, and it’s always possible something is about to come along that will tip me back the other way, but at the moment there is insufficient evidence to do that.”

“The position we reached is that the science of anthropogenic global warming is almost impossible to argue with. Sceptics are light on coherent propositions that stack up against the coherent proposition on the other side.”

But McCrystal says what gives the debate its urgency is that no one can wait for absolute certainty because the stakes are too high.

Indeed, because the book is devoted to exploring whether global warming is man-made, it ends just when it is getting interesting. If global warming is man-made, what can be done to stop it?

In Morgan’s assessment, the scenario is bleak. “If you ask by how much do we have to reduce emissions in order to [make a difference], I look at the numbers that are required and there’s not a show, not a shit-show of that happening. My first pass at it is, ‘You’ve got to be joking‘.”

“The IPCC gives a series of scenarios and says, ‘All is not lost.’ I struggle to believe them. I’m a natural pessimist anyway, but the cuts in emissions that are required make me think they’ve put the rose-tinted glasses on in order not to spook everybody. I’m a wee bit in the James Lovelock camp in the sense that I think, ‘Shit, it’s a tall order.’ You’ve got to hope the scientists are wrong about the whole bloody theory, but I don’t think they are.”

“But then, how many times in the past have we seen technology solve apparently insurmountable problems? The only thing that worries me about this one is the lag – the lagged effects like the ocean, and by the time we collectively, as a world, say, ‘Crisis! Crisis!’, well, sorry, mate, we should have done that 50 years ago.”

The uncertainty over whether global warming is anthropogenic, and then trying to calculate exactly what effect it will have, makes the whole issue a public-policy nightmare, Morgan says.

“The dilemma you have as a human being is that to reduce this problem and deal with your carbon footprint, you upset the livelihood of people in other places. Growing crops for biofuels was a classic example. It displaced food crops, which put up the price of food, which might not affect you and me, but in Africa that’s life or death. So, every policy course you take has costs, and every policy has only a probability of being right. It’s not certain, especially in this issue where you’re talking about such long time periods. That’s why it deserves the respect of the public having a reasonable view, rather than getting in camps shouting at each other.”

Morgan says the public policy dilemma is akin to former prime minister Robert Muldoon seeing the price of oil rise to $80 a barrel and thinking, “We can’t live with that”, so embarking on a huge programme of borrowing to build the Think Big projects, aimed at greater energy self-sufficiency, only to have the price of oil drop back to $20 a barrel while the country is saddled with debt.

“You must look at the counterfactual, which is, ‘What is the cost to society if you’re wrong?’”

McCrystal says the danger of saying global warming is already too advanced to stop is that people then say they might as well maintain their levels of consumption and drive their Hummers, “and that may well make the situation worse than it needs to be”.

“So, policies to mitigate the effect of global warming mean not only making adaptations to a warmer world, but also making the world the least warm it needs to be from the position we are in now. The bleaker end of the spectrum now seems to be: ‘We can’t stop this, but we still need to act now so the problem does not become even worse than it otherwise threatens to be’.”

The pair think any solution must be global, but New Zealand’s role is likely to be small.

McCrystal says, “New Zealand is such a tiny contributor to the whole problem, and most of what we do contribute is actually pretty difficult to tackle unless we mean to change everything about the way we live. Needless to say, we are a primary producer and it is our primary production that creates most of our most potent greenhouse gases, and what do we do otherwise? It doesn’t make any sense to cripple ourselves as a country in order to make such a slight difference to the overall problem.”

He says although it is not talked about much, global warming will bring benefits to some parts of the world, “and we just happen to be one of them”.

“Parts of New Zealand will be better off,” McCrystal says. “New Zealand could be in a position of being a lot more self-sustaining in terms of energy needs than ever before. We probably won’t get much warmer, but we probably will get windier, which, ironically, will make us capable of building wind farms in more locations. We’ll get wetter along the West Coast, which is great for the hydro lakes, and if it is a bit warmer there will be less demand on electricity.

“It will be disastrous for the East Coast,” he says. “We’ll get more droughts and pastoral farming will be a thing of the past in areas like Wairarapa, Marlborough and even parts of Canterbury, but there will be other benefits in other parts of the country.

“So, if you’re trying to convince New Zealanders that we need to act, and we need to radically change everything about our lives because of global warming, then you need to be asking them to save the planet, not save themselves. And how do you do that? It’s like trying to get Americans to care about the Third World while America is going along quite nicely, thank you. Why should they care? It goes to everything that is fundamental about political philosophy, which is what really excited me about the whole thing.”

Morgan says serious efforts to reduce emissions have to include China and India.

“There is no point shagging around trying to send an example to outermost Kenya of how they should reduce their carbon footprint. If you really want to have a material impact on carbon emissions, you’d say to China, ‘Stop building those bloody coal-fired power stations.’ Because if we’re looking on the scale of materiality, at the margin of where the next bit of CO2 is coming from, that’s where.

“If it’s a global problem, then the global solution is to say, ‘Yes, China, we’ll have free trade with you, but first please do this.’ And both sides will pay the price – some people will be out of work and goods won’t be as cheap. So, we have a deal, right, because we’re both losers. But at least we’re not going to fry.

“At the moment we’re on this thing where some are in Kyoto [the protocol] and some are not, and it’s like the World Trade Talks where a round of talks can go for years and then break down. But if global warming is true, we can’t afford that timelag. You can’t afford a GATT-round approach if you want to honour the chance of getting it right.”

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« Reply #48 on: November 11, 2009, 07:25:41 pm »

Ice shelf finding ‘debunks claims of sceptics’

By KIRAN CHUG - The Dominion Post | 5:00AM - Wednesday, 11 November 2009

DEEP FROZEN: A mooring line encased in platelet ice after being immersed in supercooled water from under the McMurdo Ice Shelf. Alex Gough of Otago University is in the background. — ANDREW MAHONEY.

DEEP FROZEN: A mooring line encased in platelet ice
after being immersed in supercooled water from under
the McMurdo Ice Shelf. Alex Gough of Otago University
is in the background. — ANDREW MAHONEY.

New Zealand scientists say massive ice shelves are protecting Antarctica from experiencing the same rapid decline in sea ice as the Arctic.

The research team says the discovery further debunks the claims of sceptics who have pointed to the continent's growth as evidence against global warming.

The team was led by Otago University physics researcher Andrew Mahoney, who said the eight-month study focused on a topic scientists understood little about.

Dr Mahoney said findings would help climate scientists make predictions about the future.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research oceanographer Mike Williams said the research explained why Antarctic sea ice was not decreasing at a similar rate to that of the Arctic.

Figures from America's National Snow and Ice Data Center show that Arctic sea ice shrank by about 4 per cent of 500,000 square kilometres each decade during the past 30 years. By contrast, Antarctic sea ice was not believed to have changed much in size and may have increased slightly.

However, Antarctic Research Centre director Tim Naish, who was not part of the research team, said the latest data issued in a report by Nasa indicated that the amount of Antarctic sea ice lost since 2003 could have doubled.

Dr Naish said the New Zealand team's findings were exciting as they would help scientists understand which parts of the continent would become vulnerable in the future.

Scientists already knew the hole in the ozone layer meant a mass of cold air was channelled over Antarctica, suppressing the effects of warming temperatures.

This study added another explanation to why the sea ice was not decreasing rapidly, and provided a more complete response to the questions of global warming sceptics, Dr Naish said.

"The simple answer is that the balance of evidence is completely overwhelming."

Although the ice shelves provided sea ice with a buffer against warming waters, that buffer would not last forever, he said.

Scientists needed now to understand why the ice shelves provided a better buffer in some areas, so as to predict how fast and how much sea levels could rise.

This was one of the most serious consequences of climate change, and Dr Naish said it was an area that would be central to discussions in Copenhagen for the United Nations climate change conference next month.

The more scientists could do to understand why and predict when sea ice would decrease, would help determine sea level rises, he said. Once the buffer of ice shelves was lost — and Dr Naish said it was unknown how stable they were – the Antarctic sea ice would be less protected from global warming.

That could lead to sea-level rises around New Zealand's coastline.

Dr Mahoney said the findings meant that in the future climate-change scientists would need to take into account how warm water would interact with ice shelves, and not just floating ice-sheets.

Dr Williams said understanding how sea ice would change would help scientists better predict how weather systems would change in the southern hemisphere.



  • Massive ice shelves make up half the Antarctic coastline;

  • Cold water melts from these ice shelves;

  • The melted water protects the ice sheets from the warming effects of climate change;

  • This causes ice sheets to grow in winter, although they still melt in summer;

  • This is why Antarctic sea ice has not declined as quickly as Arctic sea ice in response to global warming.

Arctic sea ice:

  • Is landlocked;

  • Covers about 15 million sq km in the winter;

  • Melts to cover about 7 million sq km in the summer;

  • Extends all the way to the North Pole.

Antarctic sea ice:

  • Floats freely in the ocean;

  • Covers about 18 million sq km in the winter;

  • Melts to cover about 3 million sq km in the summer;

  • Does not reach the South Pole.

Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, Colorado.

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« Reply #49 on: November 12, 2009, 07:12:01 am »

And if all else fails, you merely silence  [literally] thopse critics who disagree with the Global Warming Machine...

Outspoken journalist and author Ian Wishart has been put on mute at a climate science conference.

Wishart, whose book Air Con is sceptical about man-made global warming, was appalled to be shut out of a phone conference with New Zealand's top climate scientists yesterday.

Organisers admitted muting Wishart's phone for "time management" because there were 25 journalists trying to ask questions of the five assembled scientists in Wellington.

"What they were after was a carefully stage-managed presentation," Wishart told The Press. "In my view it was a propaganda stunt."

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