Archive for January, 2005

Oil firms fund climate change ‘denial’

January 27th, 2005

Lobby groups funded by the US oil industry are targeting Britain in a bid to play down the threat of climate change and derail action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, leading scientists have warned.

Bob May, president of the Royal Society, says that “a lobby of professional sceptics who opposed action to tackle climate change” is turning its attention to Britain because of its high profile in the debate.

Full article on the Guardian Website

Monster Planes

January 24th, 2005

To say that there is a stark contrast between what the UK government claims is needed in order to combat climate change, and what they are actually doing is something of an understatement. This hypocrisy was highlighted for me last week by the unveiling of a new ‘Super Jumbo’ – a new plane designed to carry up to 555 passengers. Lets cut through the greenwash about more passengers per flight, and realise that in order to deal with climate change we need drastic cuts in our CO2 emissions. Is a new class of super planes going to achieve that? I don’t think so.

As is usual for the Guardian, they edited my letter about the launch of the new plane almost to death, but at least they put in the link to the Airport Pledge – getting the site in there was my main aim.

Here’s the unedited version:

Tony Blair’s pride at the unveiling of the new monster-plane (Airbus unveils ‘superjumbo’, January 18) is typical of the UK government’s hypocrisy on climate change, on one hand claiming to lead the world in CO2 reductions, and at the same time promoting air travel, the single most environmentally damaging form of transport. If Tony really wants to “change the way we travel” he should start by calling a halt to all new airport development in the UK, personally signing the Pledge Against Airport Expansion at and putting into place efficient, affordable, clean public transport.

Matthew Carroll

Scrapping with the Climate Skeptics

January 19th, 2005

This was published this morning in the Guelph Mercury, the local paper where I’m living. It is nice to get the last word in a scrap with the climate skeptics. Ross McKitrick is a nasty economics professor at the University here, and a climate change denier.

Professor argues the evidence isn’t there that greenhouse gases affect climate


GUELPH (Jan 19, 2005)

As the federal government considers relaxing the Kyoto accord’s strict emissions-cutting targets for large industrial producers, a local expert says Canada should think about abandoning the agreement altogether.

“I don’t think they can tweak the agenda and make minor changes at this point. They need to sit back and re-think the whole thing from the beginning,” Ross McKitrick, associate professor of economics at the University of Guelph, said yesterday.

“It just doesn’t make sense having everyone sign onto an agreement that no one has kept.”

The Department of Natural Resources is considering a proposal to ease requirements on large industrial polluters to cut emissions under Canada’s climate change plan, The Canadian Press reported yesterday.

But critics say the change would make it difficult to meet Canada’s targets under the Kyoto accord, which calls for a six per cent decrease in emissions from 1990 levels by 2010.

“That view is part of the problem with the Canadian approach,” said McKitrick, who co-authored a book that rebuts the view that we know the cause of climate change and how it can be controlled.

“The questions are complex and the evidence just isn’t there that greenhouse gases have an effect on climate change,” he said.

U.S. President George W. Bush pulled out of the Kyoto accord in 2001, saying it set unrealistic goals that could damage the American economy.

Ben Bradshaw, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Guelph, said Canada needs to recognize the difficulty with fostering economic growth and reaching greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Bradshaw said he believes the goals set under Kyoto can be reached, but only if Canada finds efficiency gains significant enough to counteract the pollution increase caused by economic growth.

“Our economy is required to expand on a yearly basis,” Bradshaw said.

“You will never hear a Canadian politician say, ‘If I am elected I will reduce the size of the Canadian economy.’ It just doesn’t happen.”

But as the economy expands, we pollute more and use more resources, Bradshaw said.

“Three and a half per cent growth sounds fairly modest. But at three and a half per cent growth, our economy will double in size in 20 years.

“If we make cars emit half as much greenhouse gas per unit and then double the number of cars on the road, the overall effect is moot.”

But McKitrick questioned the value of striving for those targets since the global community would need to take much more drastic measures to make any difference in the atmosphere.

There’s already 150 gigatons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, that naturally circulates between the land, ocean and atmosphere, McKitrick said.

“Humans add about six or seven to that,” he said.

“So you would need to have every country signing on for a reduction of 50 per cent to make a difference. If we did that, we would start to see changes in our atmospheric (carbon dioxide) data in 10 to 20 years.

“Kyoto is big from Canada’s perspective but from the global perspective, it’s really a drop in the ocean. It’s a symbolic gesture.”

Canada’s goals under Kyoto are within reach and if anything, they should be made stronger, said Matthew Carroll, a member of the energy action coalition, a North American youth network that’s active on climate change and environmental justice issues.

There’s no way the government should be loosening emission requirements on large industrial polluters, Carroll said.

“That’s irresponsible both in terms of local air quality here and it’s irresponsible looking at Canada’s role as a global citizen,” he said.

He said the view that human-produced emissions don’t damage the atmosphere is simply wrong.

“It’s really sad that some people are still making their careers on the skepticism about global warming. They do an immense amount of harm,” Carroll said.

“The debate about climate change is over. It’s real, it’s happening and we need to deal with it.”

xhtml Script Tag in Internet Explorer

January 17th, 2005

This one caused me a headache for a bit, trying to figure out what was wrong. Don’t use something like this in internet explorer…

<script type="text/javascript" src="script.js" />

For some reason, ie doesn’t understand the xhtml tag properly, and up goes your page in a puff of smoke – the source looks fine, and validates, but explorer renders a blank page. For xhtml compliance, just use:

<script type="text/javascript" src="script.js"></script>

…and it works fine.

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