BBC BLOGS - Richard Black's Earth Watch
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
« Previous | Main | Next »

CITES: Murky waters for marine conservation

Richard Black | 17:33 UK time, Thursday, 25 March 2010

So, the once-every-three-years Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting has come to an end; and rather like the last time, conservationists are coming away with hands empty, apart from a few scrappy morsels of succour.

I haven't been at the meeting in Doha, but I have been talking regularly to people there; those who arrived thinking it might produce something to halt unsustainable fish catches, in particular, are not happy bunnies.

It's a safe bet that those Qatari bars that aren't dry will see plenty of sorrow-drowning before delegates take their leave.

HammerheadNot only did the bid for a trade ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna fall - it fell spectacularly, not coming remotely close to securing a majority.

(This is the species, you may recall, believed by scientists to be below 15% of its abundance in the days before industrial fishing began.)

Proposals to restrict trade in four shark species - hammerhead, porbeagle, oceanic white-tip and spiny dogfish - also fell, as did a bid on the red and pink corals used in jewellery.

This made it a virtual clean sweep for countries that do not want to see trade restrictions used to conserve marine creatures of commercial interest - even if, like the scalloped hammerhead and porbeagle, they reside on the Red List of Threatened Species.

Sue Lieberman of the Pew Environment Group, who has longer experience than most of CITES, observed archly:

"CITES has always been a treaty that restricts trade for conservation. Now it restricts conservation for the sake of trade."

There were agreements to strengthen measures on trade in tiger products and rhino horn, but these really add up to implementing promises already made - nothing more.

And the elephant ivory discussions ended up reinforcing the status quo, with no new legal ivory sales sanctioned, but equally with no agreement on a long-term ban on future sales.

Shark finsThis is the second CITES meeting running at which people seeking greater protection on sea life have - if you'll pardon the expression - got their collective butts kicked; and there seems no reason to believe things will be any different next time.

The forces ranged against this conservation initiative are several. There are countries that traditionally eat a lot of fish and are determined to preserve their right to catch and to buy - a phalanx headed by Japan, but with Iceland, among others, in the vanguard.

Others, such as China, are traditionally opposed to international regulation - or interference, as it may be construed - in matters seen as being of national interest.

Others, such as Libya, are relatively new entrants into the business of commercial fisheries; and part of their argument is that as they did nothing to destroy a species (Atlantic bluefin, in this case), why should they be punished now?

(You may have noticed that this parallels the reasoning traditionally used by developing countries when arguing against curbs on their carbon emissions.)

Though it's hard to argue against it on the basis of simple equity, it falls at the logical imperative of ecology. If tuna are dangerously depleted, they're dangerously depleted; it doesn't matter whether they are now fished by Libyan or Spanish boats, the consequences will be the same.

(The author Mark Lynas makes the same point regarding carbon emissions; arguing that only the rich must cut, he says, is the logic of mutually assured destruction.)

Power stationBy the time the next CITES meeting comes around, the Atlantic bluefin may have reached commercial extinction.

It depends on whether countries inside the organisation charged with regulating the fishery, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (Iccat), crack down as they have pledged on illegal fishing and on the "oversights" by their national fleets that carry them over their allocated quotas.

(Often Iccat itself is criticised for mismanagement - but what is Iccat except the countries in it? As the independent performance review commissioned on the organisation two years ago made clear, it's nation states that are behind the failures.)

It also depends on luck. Will the fish have a couple of highly successful spawning seasons that will see stocks replenish, or a couple of relatively barren ones?

It's worth recalling that the countries and campaign groups arguing for bans on tuna and shark trading through CITES were doing so only because Iccat and its fellows have so signally failed to live up to their mandates of conserving the stocks, year after year.

And having lost here, the question is begged: what else is there?

It is not a particularly good time to be asking the question, however.

Any agreement to curb fishing on these species has to be international, because the fish certainly don't recognise boundaries between national waters.

But the overwhelming message from the biggest and loudest environment summit of our time - Copenhagen - is that major governments are becoming more reluctant to deal with environmental issues on a multilateral basis, if multilateralism means being prepared to move your national position to meet the concerns of your neighbours.

Some people of much longer experience than me are asking whether it would be possible to pass a treaty such as CITES now, in the current climate.

So "what next?" is an important question. Consumer power? International law? The linking of overseas aid to support for conservation?

If you have an answer, please post below; an army of tired and frustrated conservationists in Doha is thirsty for your ideas, as well as for a drink or 10.

Comments

or register to comment.

  • 1. At 7:07pm on 25 Mar 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Neither creativity nor intelligence is required to be elected or appointed in government. Kow-towing to business interests is. After the bankers were successful with the greatest theft of personal wealth in history the governments have been reeling from lost revenues. They will not do anything that they think may have a negative impact on business and tax collections. The mentality today is to survive and the business community understands the weakness of the governments and are pushing every advantage possible. The fishing industry will continue to consoldiate and the small fishing villages will disappear and in those countries the inability for the coastal regions to remain self-supporting will create political unrest. Reduced food production, reduced water supplies and reduced ocean resources is a formula for social unrest. Countries with high fish/ocean product diets will face political and economic problems. The governments are only concerned with maintaining tax revenues in the current financial climate and as always they elect to support the status quo rather than change. Of course this is all good for military budgets which will certainly rise as national confrontations over resources will rise. Change is on the horizon, what change is still in question.

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 7:51pm on 25 Mar 2010, Tom wrote:

    I think this is largely down to the widely recognised problem with almost any political system (even China's quasi-communism!), that politicians act for short term goals. I really thing the best solution is for issues which are largely of a scientific basis to be handed over to scientific committees to deliberate on. The question is how to persuade governments to relinquish some power to unelected, but highly qualified people. Even in the UK, traditionally a country that holds science in high esteem, we have seen a lack of respect for scientific advisers (think of the David Nutt affair) recently.

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 8:08pm on 25 Mar 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    I have just been watching the House of Lords(GB) debate on constitutional change, then took a look here. Two things attracted my attention in the HL debate. The first thing was the extraordinary and unnecessary cost of transport that certain members of the Royal Family incur. The second, the extraordinary relaxation of rules on the introduction of foreign oyster species into waterways in GB. Merging these two thoughts with my reaction to what is written here, and this is what I think.

    The process of change has to come from the hierarchy, perhaps with pressure from below. Admittedly, one person on their own cannot make any difference. However, a world population of ordinary people striving to redress the imbalance of centuries of thoughtless actions, could, with sufficient disapproval, gradually change the attitudes of those who should know better.

    We ordinary people can collectively make changes occur, by refusing to buy products that have connotations with depleting finite or rare resources. If we do not buy these items, the trade will gradually die away because there will be insufficient income to maintain such thoughtless trade. Big business relies on the masses to buy products. If the masses are not buying, big business has change what it is selling to maintain high share values.

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 8:12pm on 25 Mar 2010, Lehy wrote:

    If this pattern continues and CITES does not review its voting policies etc (eg. strict provisions for "soliciting" votes that countries like Japan in are specialists in doing), then probably it is a joke.

    So what? If the right-thinking nations of this world can't depend on CITES ... whats the next option? I cannot blame pirates in Somalia for pushing off the real pirates that pilfer the oceans of this world like they own it.

    Can we eat money and trade? Education can make wise men look foolish indeed ! I say this boldly because regional fisheries management bodies such as ICCAT have already been "purchased" with Japan's money and are grossly undependable. They can no longer secure the interests of States in the region.

    Let's see if this "victory" will see more sustainable practices such as seasonal moratoriums and more ecologically friendly fishing practices by the Japanese and the likes.

    This is clearly a case of social injustice at its heights. The Japanese and other countries have made millions of billions off the tuna trade - marine ecosystems in our oceans SUFFER for it - from biodiversity levels to subsistence farming due to by-catch.

    Oh ! What a shame.

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 10:17pm on 25 Mar 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    Clearly, in the absence of control through the conservation agencies, nation states, or (better), groups of nation states such as the EU, might bring economic pressure to bear by linking conventional trade product agreements to conventional conservation agreements.

    As long as the loss value of conventional trade exceeds the value to the exploiting nation (eg. Japan) of the conservation protected species (eg. Blue Fin Tuna), there exists the potential for a change of exploitative policy & practice.

    Japanese car production in EU countries might be asked to relocate to (eg) China, and there might be concomitant loss of jobs in those EU countries, but I firmly believe that the threat of trade-block action would break the CITES kiss-off.

    Power-plays and hard ball are the only way to play against rapacious national self-interest that is prepared to kill its way to species extinction.

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 11:38pm on 25 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    Ghostofsichuan #1:

    "Of course this is all good for military budgets which will certainly rise as national confrontations over resources will rise. Change is on the horizon, what change is still in question."
    ================

    Hello again Ghost!

    I have been seeing an increase in the number of books at the popular bookstores on the 'war over diminishing resources.'

    Producing these books is now almost a cottage industry. But I have glanced over a few, and read one, and the authors are credible.

    I think we may be seeing a rapidly developing fortress mentality," what James Lovelock talked about in "The Vanishing Face of Gaia," a "lifeboat strategy."

    It is the job of the military to protect its citizens, and what could be more natural than to prepare for resource war?

    Make no mistake, there are no skeptics in the large military establishments of global warming or of biodiversity loss. These are practical and intelligent people with the heaviest of responsibilities on their shoulders.

    And all the while 'business as usual' consolidates wealth and supports the military, for they have money that needs protecting.

    An unholy and repugnant state of affairs.

    As you have mentioned previously, power will have to be taken from those now in charge - they will never give it up willingly. The changes on the horizon might then be a newly reorganized United Nations - or revolution, or more likely, revolutions.

    The nation state is outmoded, as are our corporations.

    I'm afraid I am relaxing more and more these days Ghost. Even here at the university, academics are set in their ways - the "eternal smugness of the professional academician" is how Robert Pirsig put it in "Zen and the Art of Mororcycle Maintenance."

    I have seen no reason to doubt his scathing characterization.

    On a more positive note, just this mornng on my bus ride to work, I was reading John and Katherine Imbrie's "Ice Ages - Solving the Mystery," and I was taken again by the humanity of the giants of science involved in this act of discovery and imagination.

    Almost without exception they were so far ahead of their contemporaries, and by this I mean their fellow scientists, that they were virtually alone in their labors. No concensus, no committees, just the individual human being, possessed of a soaring imagination and tenacity, with a devotion to something bigger than himself.

    A true study in human nature. James Croll, the tee-totalling dour Scotsman, Joseph Alphonse Adhemar, the Parisian mathematician, Milutin Milankovitch, drinking himself into a 30 year project with his good friend - a poet, and on and on.

    It is always like this, in all walks of life. To have a great gift separates one from the main.

    We have been trying too hard to convince the unconvinceable.

    We need a leader, pure and simple.

    All the best Ghost, as China recovers from that duststorm,

    Manysummits


    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 11:46pm on 25 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    To sensiblegranne:

    I wish it were so - gradual change by the people.

    But gradual is now a form of assured destruction, and as for the people - well - let me just say that I am heartened that a few do see the light, and have in addition the courage to change themselves. But I think we mistake if we think more than few will do this.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, we live in an increasingly complex world, and failures are a sure thing. It's why they always build redundant systems in manned space vehicles.

    \\\ But we have only one Starship - its name is Earth - Gaia. ///

    From my wife Underacanoe - to me - to you:

    ('I believe art is heroic. I believe that it deals with issues of what it's like to be a human on the most compelling and highest level.' Eric Fischl)

    - Manysummits -

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 04:26am on 26 Mar 2010, lburt wrote:

    At this point we just have to hope that levels necessary for commercial extinction are not levels necessary for ACTUAL extinction. Thankfully this is usually the case.

    On the bright side! There is some hope for some farming of bluefin
    http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/farm-raised-bluefin-tuna-spawn-controversy#

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 08:32am on 26 Mar 2010, Marion FF wrote:

    We have a problem of the interests of the individual vs. the interests of the international community. An individual wants to take the fish while its still there and make as much money as possible - this is understandable, we all need as much income as we generate to feed ourselves and our families. At the international level, the future becomes important and the necessity to keep stocks afloat so they can continue to be used beyond the lifetime of the individual.
    I believe we will see change when fish stocks become low enough to threaten the livelihood of the individual. Hopefully when this time comes, in the near future, it will not be too late.

    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 09:51am on 26 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    I see in the BBC headlines this morning that two of the papers are going to begin charging for internet access.

    I would imagine the BBC is considering doing the same?

    That would be a mistake. But then, we can't even agree to keep the Tuna from collapse.

    I wonder though what will be the real outcome as access to information comes with a price? Right now I feel like the BBC is a priceless gift, but soon, perhaps it will become like all the others. Then the libraries will be 'too expensive,' and we begin the long slide into darkness - yet again.

    The internet in its present configuration is a dream, wild and free, like we are meant to be. Now the suits will come in.

    - Manysummits -

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 11:08am on 26 Mar 2010, Fishy-T wrote:

    Richard Black's article provides a good overview of the outcome of the attempt to place Atlantic Bluefin Tuna on Appendix 1 of CITES. However, the article in no way attempts to explain why the move failed to achieve a majority. It could be equally understood that a number of states do indeed wish to curb fishing of blufin tuna but that this was not the appropriate arena in which to deal most effectively with the issue. Many argue that the problem can be more effectively dealt with in ICCAT. This was the real story here and I'm dissapointed to see that Richard Black did not provide more analysis and commentary on this crucial matter.

    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 11:47am on 26 Mar 2010, davblo wrote:

    manysummits #10: "I would imagine the BBC is considering doing the same?"

    I wouldn't worry.

    See... How the licence fee is spent

    "Online
    The licence fee pays for the BBC website, one of the most trusted and popular sites in the UK, ..."

    All the best; davblo

    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 12:26pm on 26 Mar 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Manysummits:

    The governments have backed themselves into a corner with the imbalance of influence by big business and fossil fuel industries. They are incapable of change and maintaining the status quo will only cause a continued slide toward resource depletion. If they want to create a more robust economy they must adopt alternative fuels and the conversion will create many jobs and income. The strangle hold of vested interest on the political systems will be the cause of most unrest. Governments have become disassociated with progress for the overall betterment of citizens and this disconnect is manifested in new angry politics. The anger,for the most part,is misplaced but that is because big business is financing the distortions and paying to point the finger elsewhere. I am always cautious about leaders. I think it is the societies that need to require the changes and in time they will. The air in the industrial areas of China is almost unbreathable and parents are parents everywhere and pressures are being applied to move toward alternative fuels. As China grows and becomes more dependent on oil resources, a diminishing resource, things will become more interesting. As you may know, water from the major rivers is being diverted to meet the demands in the North. The only positive in all this is that the depletion of natural resources can not be covered by lies, people see, what people see. Larger nations tend to ignore the signs being seen in the less developed countries because it does'nt effect them, but that is just a matter of time. The law of causality is unforgiving.

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 1:50pm on 26 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    ICCAT as currently constituted, and to a lesser extent CITES, are buck passing machines. They allow those who exploit vulnerable species to say "it's not our job to look after them".

    ICCAT should be downgraded. It cannot begin to enforce tuna regulation. It can only advise those who can, such as Mitsubishi.

    CITES can still help conservation by flagging up species in trouble and by safeguarding uncontroversial species.

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 2:05pm on 26 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    Meanwhile there seems to be a plank in my eye. And I hear the accusation from the bluefin industry - "Hypocrite!"

    I hear the same shout from those who use tiger parts in Asian folk medicine and those who enjoy shark fin soup.

    Most of the chocolate Easter eggs in the shops were made with the labour of child slaves in Ghana. Half my groceries have palm oil from plantations that replaced forest and Orang-utan apes.

    The potential loss of bluefin tuna or tigers is dwarfed by child kidnap and slavery in West Africa, or the deaths of Orang-utan apes.

    How dare we criticise others for lesser crimes.

    Perhaps the best hope for bluefin, tigers, and the rest is for us Britons to look at getting our own house in order. Once we have fixed this plank, which will not be easy, we might have the knowledge to advise on the motes in the eyes of others.

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 4:26pm on 26 Mar 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke at post 15

    I hear what you are saying and agree. However, many of us do not know, what in the products we buy, constitute a welfare or environmental issue. It should be a constitutional rule, that we are genuinely informed about the nature of products we buy, where they come from and what conditions the products are made in. Eggs are classified as 'barn' eggs, 'free range' etc. Why can't this level of classification be applied to other products involving human labour and land use. I say this a bit tongue in cheek because free range and barn have different connotations for us, compared with the reality of what these euphemisms mean.

    On a different point. The House of Lords debated constitutional changes in the legal process of actions against the press etc. in cases of libel. I believe this debate should be opened up here so that we can be clear in our minds, that what we say here, is monitored and censored sufficiently to protect us from mistakes, but allowing enough freedom to allow us to speak our minds.

    The blog is unique in its ability to draw voices from across continents and bring them together is an open forum. The blog has become a trusted place for people to voice opinions and have those opinions argued against or defended as appropriate. I believe this site brings us closer together, rather than distancing such as the case in 'otherness' brought about by secrecy and fear of speaking one's mind.

    I hope some of you respond to this anxiety of mine.

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 5:40pm on 26 Mar 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    “We’ve seen all of the problems associated with farm-raising salmon, and there’s no question in my mind that the problems with bluefin tuna are just as large,” says Michael Hirshfield, chief scientist at Oceana. Especially worrisome, says Hirschfield, is the practice of catching other small fish to feed to captive bluefin tuna. “Those fish are no longer available to other predators—seabirds, marine mammals, whales,” he says. “We’re essentially robbing the ocean ecosystem of key food items for other species and diverting them to bluefin tuna.”
    Wild exploitation depletes whole ecosystem foodwebs – the balance of species is maximally disturbed by eliminating a top-predator.
    Farming Blue Fins in marine cages requires huge amounts of tuna food. This disturbs the balance of species by selectively catching the easiest and least costly species to feed direct or to mince to pellet-form. The common ratio of ten tons of food for every 1 ton of tuna rapidly depletes the food-species-of-choice. We know that the fish-meal industry in the North Sea has decimated marine and bird populations and permanently damaged and changed ecosystems.
    Commercial feedback control may stop wild exploitation (and ranch replenishment) before the last Blue Fin is captured, but Recruitment Overfishing and Growth Overfishing significantly precede Total Extinction. Nonetheless, total extinction is the outcome.
    So, we kill off the commercial species of choice, we kill off the food species, we kill off associated species within the marine and adjacent land ecosystems, etc, etc, …. For what?
    So sushi-eaters can have a little slice of high-priced raw flesh wrapped up in sticky rice.
    The story holds for many other species, some identified in postings above. But to raise some species above other in conservation hierarchy is to miss the point (see Posting 16), and to try and link the demise of the Blue Fin Tuna to child slavery is ridiculous in the extreme (16).
    I am sad that this Conservation blog has resulted in such a paucity of quality in subsequent postings – surely there are some knowledgeable, involved and caring people out there willing to enter this debate. I tried to tempt the commercial community to respond (posting 5), but to no effect. Is the whole world so full of uncaring, heartless, self-centred members of this pinnacle of evolution that we call the human race?

    Complain about this comment

  • 18. At 7:07pm on 26 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @sensibleoldgrannie #16

    "However, many of us do not know, what in the products we buy, constitute a welfare or environmental issue. It should be a constitutional rule, that we are genuinely informed about the nature of products we buy, where they come from and what conditions the products are made in. Eggs are classified as 'barn' eggs, 'free range' etc. Why can't this level of classification be applied to other products involving human labour and land use. I say this a bit tongue in cheek because free range and barn have different connotations for us, compared with the reality of what these euphemisms mean."

    This is why I said if we could get our own house in order we might have the knowledge to advise others. Most of us are either unhappy with the situation with chocolate and palm oil, or ignorant of it. If we could get straightforward systems in place to help fix the chocolate and palm oil problems then we could recommend them to the bluefin industry.

    Of course it simplifies things with chocolate and palm oil that the problem behaviour is already illegal, all it needs is the resources to enforce the law.

    Complain about this comment

  • 19. At 7:43pm on 26 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @GeoffWard #17

    You seem to have made a typo.

    Your complaint does not really affect #16, any problem part of which was a reply to my #15. The post you should be complaining about was my #15.

    There are strong parallels between Japan's attitude to bluefin and the British attitude to chocolate, and strong parallels in the lack of resources for enforcement of existing rules and law.

    Meanwhile the Japanese have made several complaints about Western criticism of Japan being hypocritical and imperialist. I do not believe continued negative criticism of Japan helps the bluefin.

    Complain about this comment

  • 20. At 7:52pm on 26 Mar 2010, molamola wrote:

    Geoffward wrote "Is the whole world so full of uncaring, heartless, self-centred members of this pinnacle of evolution that we call the human race?"
    I don't think so. The vast majority of people just doesn't have these issues very high on their agendas if they are on their agendas at all.
    To most people a fish is a fish and there are plenty more in the sea.
    I love the natural world and am getting more depressed and pessimistic each day (reading these blogs doesn't help much either).
    Bluefin tuna (any tuna and any shark) are beautiful animals and it's difficult to understand how the world could say goodbye to them.
    I think if national fishing boundaries, maybe back to the 200mile limit were reintroduced, perhaps we might see at a national level at least, some better marine caretaking. Certainly, at international levels it appears to be a lost cause.
    We need someone like Richard Branson to take up the cause. It sounds silly but the oceans need someone to champion them who has money, fame and commercial expertise.
    Sorry I can't come up with anything brilliant Geoffward.

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 9:14pm on 26 Mar 2010, xtragrumpymike2 wrote:

    To my way of thinking, the main issue is the decision making process. Ghost talks about the influence of "big business", and this is undoubtedly true.

    But "big business" influence is effective via contributing to political parties and in return expect to have an input on significant issues. Whenever there is an election in whatever democratic country of the world, there are big contributions donated to the various political parties. The end result is that the elected government actually just becomes a "puppet".


    But "big business" can only effectively influence a political "PARTY". If the constitution were somehow changed to disallow "political parties" and every elected member were an "Independent" it would be very much more difficult for "big business" to have such an influence.

    In that way, individual people would have more influence over their elected representative who today is more influenced by "party" policy once he/she becomes "elected".

    How many people really vote for "who" they expect to represent them only to find that their so-called elected representative subsequently ignores them entirely and votes on issues according to how they are instructed by the "party".

    Next time, when you get the chance, vote for an "Independent". If enough get elected, and form a "government", then "big business" will have a serious problem influencing them all!

    Complain about this comment

  • 22. At 9:48pm on 26 Mar 2010, xtragrumpymike2 wrote:

    Some time ago on a previous blog, Mannysummits wrote:-

    "The more I think about the current state of affairs all inclusively, the more I think our corporations, all of them, need to be restructured by an act of democracy.

    They have outlived their usefullness in their present configuration."

    May I suggest that it is NOT the corporations that need to be changed, they are duty bound to honour their shareholders' financial stake.
    What needs to be changed is their ability to influence the democratic decision making process!

    Maybe the Westminster Parliamentary System is long past it's "Use By" date.

    Complain about this comment

  • 23. At 10:06pm on 26 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    To davblo @12:

    Thanks for the information - I didn't know that.

    - Manysummits -

    Complain about this comment

  • 24. At 10:27pm on 26 Mar 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    hello xtragrumpymike2 at post 22, hope you are well.

    Your idea sounds interesting. It would be very hard to target a multitude of independents working for the common good.

    Complain about this comment

  • 25. At 10:43pm on 26 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    To extragrumpymike2 @ 22:

    Exactly - they are 'duty bound to honour their shareholders' financial stake.'

    And that is part of the problem. By law, the modern publicly held corporation is mandated to maximize shareholder value. A CEO who doesn't do this will be replaced.

    Legally the corporation is viewed as a person, but this 'person' is by legal construct psychopathic, as the corporate 'person' is not obligated to exercise conscience. Thus a facility in say the UK can summarily have all its employees laid off and the plant closed if another country can produce the same product for less. Shareholders ostensibly have the right to vote, but in fact most either don't, or are concerned with only one thing, their return at the bottom line.

    Try "The Corporation," by Professor of Law Joel Bakan for a complete treatment.

    I was a stockbroker for a year, and so had an inside look at how things are done. Joel Bakan is right on in his assessment, as is Michael Moore in his movie "Capitalism - A Love Story," and I could go on and on. Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and innumerale others have decried the power and lack of responsibility to the community as a whole - the commons, and that is going back over two hundred years.

    Today the situation is appaling. As Ghost pointed out in a previous post of his - ' Banks have no national interest.'

    This applies to a great number of big corporate entities.

    They should have their legal status changed in some way. Either the 'legal person' needs to be dropped, or obligations to the commons stated unequivocally.

    Christopher Stone made the case for the environment over thirty years ago in "Should Trees Have Standing," but I notice trees still have no standing.

    How much harder to change Monsanto, or British Petroleum, etc...

    The first step is to educate oneself - and see just what a monstrosity we have created.

    While we're at this task, we might consider seriously that the Tuna is being driven to collapse by the most highly civilized nations and peoples in the world.

    Perhaps civilized is a word which requires further definition?

    Right now it means barbarians living in cities.

    Think of it, if the new START Treaty is signed into law in April, we will have two superpowers with only 1500 nuclear weapons apiece.

    Since one hundred small ones (15 kilotons) are enough to effectively return the world to the stone age overnight, we can do this fifteen times in a row! Better yet, why not test the theory of nuclear winter, just for our model skeptics, to get a true reading with a full nuclear exchange, thermonuclear blockbusters to the fore!

    No Mike - you have money invested in publicly traded companies I imagine, and your view is skewed.

    Remember thatadage - Keep it Simple? How many of us do that?

    - Manysummits -

    Complain about this comment

  • 26. At 10:57pm on 26 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    To GeoffWard:

    I'm not sure what to say?

    Nothing is working. We have words and agreements to make us feel better, but we continue to pillage and plunder - like the civilized people we are.

    Why don't we all drop the pretense, and look in the mirror.

    Next time you fuel up even your highly efficient hybrid car, why don't we realize the price of the fuel is perhaps one quarter what it should be. It costs considerable to maintain Diego Garcia, and drones, and spy satellites, and to train and equip a modern military. We are not doing this to prevent immigrants from coming ashore - we are doing it to secure fuel - and it is subsidized - by us. Either we don't realize this, or we do. Neither option leaves us looking very bright, or very ethical - take your pick.

    - Manysummits -

    Complain about this comment

  • 27. At 00:38am on 27 Mar 2010, b5happy wrote:


    History teaches us that the following three reasons
    are generally considered to be the cause for the
    demise of a great city or civilization:

    1. Conquered by aliens (barbarians, governments, corporations, banks).
    2. Change of weather (extreme drought).
    3. Used local resources to the degree that it is no longer
    practical or possible to continue living in the same location.

    It seems to me that we currently have all three factors in
    play, globally.

    Jacques Cousteau told us 40 years ago that when the oceans
    die... we die.

    A house of cards is a house of cards...

    Life is really quite simple.

    Complain about this comment

  • 28. At 01:47am on 27 Mar 2010, xtragrumpymike2 wrote:

    No, Manysummits, I don't have a single cent invested anywhere.
    I have witnessed intervention by "big business" as we term it, I just sincerely believe that it is far easier for them to influence the PARTY in power than it would be to influence a whole bunch of individuals.

    If you are really interested in my philosophy on ethical business, look up the co-operative enterprises in Mondragon. Very different to the style of business than big corporations, yet some of these enterprises have employed up to 2000 people and also there are co-operative banks to lend the capital.


    Cheers

    Complain about this comment

  • 29. At 01:48am on 27 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @sensibleoldgrannie #16

    As to your question about libel, I don't think you personally are in any danger of running afoul of it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_defamation_law

    But my #15 needs a retraction and an apology.

    Dear Easter Egg traders

    I apologise for my Easter Egg statement in #15 above.

    I have no evidence that most Easter eggs are affected by the child slave trade in West African cocoa farms. I should not have made the statement.

    Complain about this comment

  • 30. At 10:18am on 27 Mar 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    The Harken Engel Protocol looks like a benchmark type of thing to do, found at don'ttradelives. Could the same kind of strategies could be used to protect rare species on the point of extinction? Thanks Jane.

    Complain about this comment

  • 31. At 12:41pm on 27 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    To b5happy @27:

    That's an interesting threesome, and I agree with each point.

    Well put!

    Why is it that we can so admire Jacques Cousteau, and yet be so heedless of his words?

    I don't understand the dis-connect that seems so common in the commons.

    There is something I have been searching for all my life as regards this, and I still haven't found it.

    - Manysummits -

    Complain about this comment

  • 32. At 12:45pm on 27 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    To extragrumpymike2:

    Thanks for that!

    Is this the Mondragon you speak of?

    http://www.ownershipassociates.com/mcc-intro.shtm
    ==============

    Why didn't you tell us about this before?

    Are you still involved?

    I never heard of this organization before!

    - Manysummits -

    Complain about this comment

  • 33. At 1:09pm on 27 Mar 2010, callisto wrote:

    The answer, I fear, is for National Governments to introduce no-go zones restricting quotas, as far as they are able, of threatened species in those waters. For International waters, there is nothing that can be done. The pirates will clear the seas of fish then die out.
    We have put stockpiles of flora in storage. We cannot do that in fauna, but we can do everything we can to protect and promote the well-being of species, so that, after the market has died out for whales/sharks/tuna/ dolphin/tigers/orang-utan etc, they can be re-introduced and protected legally, without 'business' destroying them again.
    Is there a response from business in this argument?

    Complain about this comment

  • 34. At 3:12pm on 27 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @sensibleoldgrannie #30

    Didn't immediately recognise the name. But when I did a search I found this

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocoa_Protocol

    which was covered on Wednesday's Panorama.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_8583000/8583499.stm

    [Harkin-Engel section starts at 28 min 25 sec]
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00rqm4n/Panorama_Chocolate_The_Bitter_Truth/?t=28m25s

    [Related section starts at 48 min 59 sec]
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00rqm4n/Panorama_Chocolate_The_Bitter_Truth/?t=48m59s

    Paul Kenyon's approach of a "child labour" warning label on chocolate bars would certainly go a long way towards addressing some the problems with Harkin-Engel.

    Complain about this comment

  • 35. At 3:32pm on 27 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @manysummits #25
    @xtragrumpymike2 #28

    Most of the general public have money invested in publically traded companies. If you have a savings account, you will have money invested in publically traded companies. If you have a pension (other than a government run pension) you will have money invested in publically traded companies.

    This creates ethical problems and scope for conflicts of interest. And any attempts to fix it have the potential to make things far worse, as "doing the right thing" always depends on your politics.

    The BBC got caught by this Catch 22 when the Sunday Express ran a front page exposé on what most BBC employees would have regarded as "just a pension".
    http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/156703/-8bn-BBC-eco-bias-

    Subsequent BBC news articles reflect an appropriate response to the Sunday Express revelations as much as they reflect awareness of a shift in the result of opinion polls.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8511670.stm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8579929.stm

    Meanwhile for us nobodies, "ethical" pensions can be the way to go. Although there is the problem that some of them can impose a "one size fits all" morality, so if you want to avoid companies actively supporting oppressive regimes, you may also have to avoid condom manufacturers, "lad mags" publishers, and French vineyards.

    Complain about this comment

  • 36. At 4:10pm on 27 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    After my messy #15 and resultant #29 I wish to clarify some of my recent comments.

    With bluefin tuna, current criticisms of the Japanese can be doubly unhelpful.

    Firstly apart from calling us hypocrites, their response is likely to be to eat more of this fish in defiance of being singled out for this criticism.

    Secondly there is no working example for them to copy to fix the problem. This is why chocolate's links with the child slave trade in West African cocoa farms is a good parallel.

    Disclaimer - not "most Easter Eggs", but "more Easter Eggs than most people involved would like".

    There are significant similarities

    1. Chocolate has a big part in our culture, especially Easter Eggs.

    2. No one has made a conscious decision to create the child slave trade. It happened due to both farmers and policemen being under-resourced.

    3. The child slave trade is something most people either want to fix, or would want to fix if they knew about it. This includes most of the farmers and chocolate traders. ("Personally we do [care about whether there was child labour involved in the beans]. But on a business standpoint of view, no.")

    4. Those whose official job it is to police matters do not have the resources to do so. This is despite the sheer amount of money washing around in this industry.

    There are similar parallels between palm oil (affects Orang-utan apes) and bluefin.

    Disclaimer - palm oil can be sustainable, using palm oil does not automatically lead to further losses of forest and Orang-utan apes.

    I believe that fixing these two problems is far more important than fixing the bluefin problem.

    Sensibleoldgrannie has flagged up Harkin-Engel, which, with some tweaks and political will, could be the approach to take. I would like to flag up both Fairtrade and the Rainforest Alliance as examples that a fix is feasible without breaking the bank.

    I also believe that fixing these problems, which will not be easy, will create examples that could be used to help save other threatened species such as the bluefin from extinction. We will then be able to offer constructive criticism rather than just scapegoating the bluefin industry.

    Complain about this comment

  • 37. At 4:40pm on 27 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    To Jane... @35:

    Entirely true!

    It is why I continually say - "look in the mirror."

    I do not necessarily advocate investing in 'ethical companies.' In fact, I try and refrain from any and all advice, believing that advice is criticism in disguise.

    I am not always true to this, though I try.

    We are all fallible humans, and stories seem to me the most revealing and informative, no matter the subject.

    Take Milutin Milankovitch for example, as I happen to be re-reading "Ice Ages" by Imbrie and Imbrie (1979).

    Here is a man, a mathematician by profession ostensibly, who can drink with his good friend the poet in the year 1911, and at that table conceive of a project which would consume the next thirty years of his life, despite the intervention of both World Wars and his incarceration in prison for a time.

    And in between, contact the general public in Carl Sagan fashion by publication of a series of very popular articles providing "an informal introduction to astronomy and historical climatology," later compiled under the title "Through Distant Worlds and Times: Letters from a Wayfarer in the Universe," which were conceived as correspondence between himself and a quasi-fictional woman desirous of scientific knowledge.

    I wrote a paper in university on cycles in geology, and Milankovitch struck me then, and even more so now, as a prodigious talent and human being.

    Yet, despite a long and continuous series of such prodigious talents, we have in the past and continue in the present to 'visit a desolation upon the world' (Farley Mowat).

    You mention "for us nobodies" in your last paragraph, and I think this is the problem.

    Sensiblegrannie says the same thing often, in other ways.

    Yet Sensiblegrannie, and Jane - you are both extra-ordinary people, in the truest sense of the word.

    And are we not all special - in another sense? "They also serve who only stand and wait," etc...

    We are all on the same road, and are we not all ice age hunters in body and soul, trapped in a Ronald Wright "progress trap" of our own making?

    Have we not the wisdom, and the instinct, to see this and change our ways in a manner more consistent with our true natures?

    The natural world is I think our most trustworthy sounding board.

    In one of my favorite films, "The Mountain Men" with Charlton Heston and Brian Keith, there is one scene in which a question is posed to Brian Keith, in the fastness of a winter world of white: "Are you lost?"

    And Brian answers: "Not lost - just powerful confused."

    I think and hope that is where we are now - powerful confused.

    But as the Chinese Mandarin says in another film:

    "Confusion is a sign of growth." (Inn of the Sixth Happiness)

    - Manysummits -

    Complain about this comment

  • 38. At 6:02pm on 27 Mar 2010, xtragrumpymike2 wrote:

    Re:-
    32. At 12:45pm on 27 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    To extragrumpymike2:

    Thanks for that!

    Is this the Mondragon you speak of?

    http://www.ownershipassociates.com/mcc-intro.shtm

    That is the group of Co-Ops that I first came across in the mid 1980's from a UK documentary called "The Mondragon Experiment". I gather this video tape is still shown and I heard of an occasion not many years ago of a showing in Canada. I asked where I could get a replacement copy of the tape (I lost mine) but received no reply.

    I found the concept fascinating and tried to promote it locally but with little success.

    Now it's just a powerful memory to me, a memory of what could be.

    And just to let Jane know about pensions, I am also only on a government pension, my previous company scheme was treated somewhat badly by the then CEO.

    Cheers

    Complain about this comment

  • 39. At 8:57pm on 27 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    # manysummits/davblo

    the bbc will come under increasing pressure to charge for its website once all the mainstream press has followed murdoch and charge for theirs. the cry of 'unfair advantage' has already started.

    Complain about this comment

  • 40. At 9:03pm on 27 Mar 2010, sailingk8 wrote:

    Talk to anyone who has been in the oceans for the past ten years and they will tell you there are LESS shark about. Unlike tigers and wolves, most of the large shark can't be reproduced in captivity. Most large shark can't even be kept in captivity for long periods of time, the oceans are they're only hope of survival. Hammerheads are becoming scarce because when cooked in hot water their fins break down into a nice noodley consistency. Are we really all prepared to stand by and watch as the last of the Hammerheads are cooked? I'm not. I will keep on talking about it, telling people shark fin soup is dishonorable.

    Complain about this comment

  • 41. At 9:07pm on 27 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #3 sensiblegrannie

    i have a new word in my vocabulary after watching philip glass' superb opera last night - satyagraha. gandhi coined the term and i'm told the best trasnlation is 'truth force'. i always considered gandhi a pacifist but his philosophy was much more proactive......but non-violent.

    we certainly need some leaders to emerge who will force the current govts to see and act on the truth........the recent revelations of ex-ministers 'boasting' about their 'cvs' are disgusting (the fact that hoon was a senior minister trusted with defence is incredible) and suggest to me that they are mostly self-serving and care nothing for their people or the environment.

    with incredible irony, i spotted a story today about a woman who 'boasted' about 'a' levels on her cv......and got 6 months in prison. our (uk) politics is becoming a total farce.

    Complain about this comment

  • 42. At 9:20pm on 27 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #25 manysummits

    i would add chomsky to the list, to paraphrase "corporations are totalitarian institutions". he draws interesting parallels between corporations and communist states and i must say i don;t feel there's much in the way of democratic decision making going on in most modern corporations.

    does anyone else remember the craze for 'employee empowerment' back in the 80s. the only power i seem to have these days is the power to increase my hours and reduce my rates to compete with 'offshore' competition. mind you the real competition today is from what is strangely called 'landed' resource i.e. resource flown in to do the work but being paid rates appropriate for, and paying tax in, their country of origin

    Complain about this comment

  • 43. At 9:33pm on 27 Mar 2010, xtragrumpymike2 wrote:

    I see there's more animated discussion on the Greece bailout than there is on here. Wonder what that tells us?

    Complain about this comment

  • 44. At 9:33pm on 27 Mar 2010, xtragrumpymike2 wrote:

    Answer to my last comment.

    Money talks!

    Complain about this comment

  • 45. At 11:35pm on 27 Mar 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    43. At 9:33pm on 27 Mar 2010, xtragrumpymike2 wrote:
    I see there's more animated discussion on the Greece bailout than there is on here. Wonder what that tells us?
    44. At 9:33pm on 27 Mar 2010, xtragrumpymike2 wrote:
    Money talks!

    No Japanese money talking on this topic, or indeed on the topic of `Whaling for research purposes only´.

    The silence is deafening !

    Complain about this comment

  • 46. At 02:05am on 28 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    Rossglory @42: (Chomsky)

    Sorry to hear about the pressure on you at work.

    It's everywhere, but manifests in different ways depending on the place.

    Yes, Chomsky is one of those brilliant individuals who seem to function more as an escape valve for our frustrations than as a means to change.

    I just spent some time near Coyote Point, which looks out over the mountains to our west, and the reserve of a First Nation nearby.

    I was thinking about a comment I made earlier, about us being ice age hunters trapped in the Holocene inter-glacial, victims of our own technological success.

    Necessity dictates that we reduce our numbers and learn once again to live within our means.

    Necessity works!

    I came across a most interesting poll in this morning's newspaper:

    \\\ Leger Marketing Poll - March 1 to 4, 2010 - 1519 Canadian adults ///

    50 per cent: "I believe our climate is being substantially threatened - and mankind is largely to blame."

    29 per cent: "I believe environmental disaster claims are over blown or, if there are dramatic changes, it's largely a natural cycle of our planet."

    21 per cent: I have no idea what to believe anymore."
    ===================

    That is encouraging!

    1) Five in ten are on-side, despite the hype.

    2) Three in ten are skeptical.

    3) And an additional two in ten are very confused.

    I don't think there is a problem with the public which cannot be solved with a definitive statement from the investigative body looking into the IPCC, or from The Interacademy Panel on International Issues.

    Interesting that the investigative body is actually an abbreviated version of the Interacademy Panel!

    The idea of compexity in our world fascinates. I think we will see additional massive failures in unexpected quarters. The Sun is again active, following a one hundred year solar minimum. Perhaps a massive solar flare and a coronal mass ejection on an intercept with Earth's very fancy communications systems will alert the world to our leveraged state.

    Most likely it will be something else - something out of the blue.

    President Obama is back on track - and the new START Treaty will hopefully be signed into law in April, promising nuclear arsenal reductions.

    James Lovelock mentions several times in "The Vanishing Face of Gaia" that you can recycle CO2 into fuel, such as gasoline! I missed that on the first read. Wally Trees pulling CO2 out of the air, and converting it back into fuel for mobile transport, etc... Just one idea - CO2 can apparently be used to synthesize food.

    These are all stop-gaps, hopefully.

    I would like to see so many things happen, but in narrowing the list, corporate reforms and giving the environment legal rights stand high.

    President Obama could do this - he really could - he's a lawyer.

    Some place up ahead is a voyageur's high point of land - a watershed. Once we do the heavy lifting to portage our things and ourselves there, it's downhill, and then back into the canoe and a new stretch of river, with the current! There are rapids and waterfalls, to be sure, and pesky mosquitoes, but with a song on our lips and a good paddle in our hands - all will be well.

    One has to believe this.

    My ancestors were actually voyageurs Ross - I checked - and they really did sing their way across Canada. They were not intellectuals, most of them anyway, but they could say at the end of a life of hardship and toil on the splendid waterways of Canada (The Village),

    \\\ "Huzza Huzza por le pays sauvauge" ///

    ( Hooray for the wild country )

    - Manysummits - feeling jubilant -

    Complain about this comment

  • 47. At 08:48am on 28 Mar 2010, MangoChutney wrote:

    @Manysummits #46

    \\\ Leger Marketing Poll - March 1 to 4, 2010 - 1519 Canadian adults ///

    50 per cent: "I believe our climate is being substantially threatened - and mankind is largely to blame."

    29 per cent: "I believe environmental disaster claims are over blown or, if there are dramatic changes, it's largely a natural cycle of our planet."

    21 per cent: I have no idea what to believe anymore."


    The poll fails to mention that in 2009 the number of Canadians who believed previously was two thirds:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/climate-change-seen-as-planets-defining-crisis/article1382640/

    Oh, and it seems Canadians are following the rest of the world. Germany has seen a reduction in the number of believers and the UK is the same

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/27/belief-in-climate-change-tumbles-in-germany/

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8500443.stm

    But what do the polls know?

    /Mango

    Complain about this comment

  • 48. At 09:22am on 28 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #47 mango
    "a reduction in the number of believers" - i thought banging on with the 'agw is a religious viewpoint' nonsense would be below you mango. i took you for a man of intellect......but i could have been mistaken!

    Complain about this comment

  • 49. At 09:24am on 28 Mar 2010, lburt wrote:

    @manysummits #46 who wrote...
    "James Lovelock mentions several times in "The Vanishing Face of Gaia" that you can recycle CO2 into fuel, such as gasoline! I missed that on the first read. Wally Trees pulling CO2 out of the air, and converting it back into fuel for mobile transport, etc... Just one idea - CO2 can apparently be used to synthesize food."

    I don't think you understand what you're saying here. These fuel technologies squander something like 75% (often more) of the energy. In reality all you're talking about is a sort of super-inefficient (but more convenient) battery technology. A cheaper and more efficient solution would be to go with electric cars that used standardized batteries, perhaps in small banks to deal with varying capacity needs. Such batteries need to be made from common materials (ie, not lithium) because the entire world's estimated lithium reserve works out to only 2 pounds per person...perhaps zinc-air batteries with supercapacitors for bursts of power and storing energy during regenerative breaking.

    On the CO2 sequestering front, its easier to deal with the CO2 at the source and gater CO2 as the carbon is burned. Or a better thing would be for me to ask a question I was just asking someone on another forum. Since the bulk of the energy movement across the troposphere is from convection and latent heat...how exactly is CO2 going to restrict that movement?

    Complain about this comment

  • 50. At 09:31am on 28 Mar 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    Thank you manysummits and JaneBasingstoke and rossglory for your encouraging words.

    Talking of ancestors. I want to be the very antithesis of one traceable ancestor. ;-) My more recent ancestors were modest, hard working people but, one generation further back....hmmm. Quite a few of my Poeton ancestors emigrated to America, to work in the new metal plating industry.

    President Obama is on the right course to reduce the Nuclear Arms Race. Tied up in your writing, I can see why. Not much point in saving sharks etc. if we toast the planet by accident. Did you watch the spam 'n ham movie Armageddon 10.5 where the magnetic poles reversed?

    Back to sharks and tuna. There is rather a lot of shark and tuna in the medicines we buy.

    (hooray for the sound of the dawn chorus this morning)
    sensibleoldgrannie - feeling young-

    Complain about this comment

  • 51. At 10:01am on 28 Mar 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    poitsplace at post 49

    What do you mean by small banks? Do you mean a group of batteries so aligned so that a small charge is emitted from each in alternation, so that as each battery gives a burst of output, then it continues to be charged up (possibly assisted by the motion of the vehicle generating further charge) ready for the next burst? Or do you mean something else? (I heard this idea from a taxi driver, years ago).

    Complain about this comment

  • 52. At 10:16am on 28 Mar 2010, MangoChutney wrote:

    @rossglory #48

    "a reduction in the number of believers" - i thought banging on with the 'agw is a religious viewpoint' nonsense would be below you mango. i took you for a man of intellect......but i could have been mistaken!

    the polls use the word "believe", so i continued in the same manner, but perhaps "believers" does give the wrong impression

    /Mango

    Complain about this comment

  • 53. At 10:23am on 28 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #49 poitsplace wrote:

    "the entire world's estimated lithium reserve works out to only 2 pounds per person"

    I was under the impression that lithium was the 25th most abundant element!

    Complain about this comment

  • 54. At 10:41am on 28 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #48 rossglory wrote:

    "a reduction in the number of believers" - i thought banging on with the 'agw is a religious viewpoint' nonsense would be below you mango. i took you for a man of intellect......but i could have been mistaken!

    Do you have some other word (than 'belief') for being comitted to the truth of a claim?

    What's wrong with the word 'belief'?

    Complain about this comment

  • 55. At 11:00am on 28 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    Seriously, are there people out there who think the word 'belief' applies only to religious belief? And these people are engaged in a dispute with sceptics?

    What on Earth do they think we're discussing, if not belief in AGW? What do they think "scepticism" means if not the withholding of belief? What do they think 'think' means, if not believing something? If these people are trying to "save the planet", what planet are they on?

    Complain about this comment

  • 56. At 11:32am on 28 Mar 2010, lburt wrote:

    @sensibleoldgrannie #51 who wrote...
    >What do you mean by small banks?

    I meant "small" banks as in...relative to one giant, integrated bank that would be used to power a whole automobile. The only one-size-fits-all battery solution...is to use several batteries. More in larger vehicles, fewer in smaller ones. Each "bank" would hold several kilowatt hours of power. The point is to have on or two standard battery sizes so the "fuel" stations don't have to stock lots of different kinds of batteries.
    ============================

    @bowmanthebard #53 who wrote...
    "I was under the impression that lithium was the 25th most abundant element!"
    And aluminum is the third...but we don't consider most of it "ore" because it's too much of a pain to separate. For that matter, Deuterium is the most abundant substance in the universe...how much of THAT do you see around? Basically, being the 25th most abundant element means its overall concentration in the earth's crust is about 20 parts per million.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abundance_of_elements_in_Earth%27s_crust

    Other elements are far more abundant and...more importantly...are available in much more concentrated/easily separated forms. Zinc, nickel, iron, aluminum and several other metals are a far more suitable material for battery technology implemented on such a massive scale.

    Complain about this comment

  • 57. At 12:31pm on 28 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #56 poitsplace wrote:

    "Deuterium is the most abundant substance in the universe...how much of THAT do you see around?"

    No it isn't, but in any case, on starry nights, I see almost unimaginable quantities of the stuff, literally all around the place.

    Lithium may be relatively difficult to separate out from its compounds, but there's no shortage of lithium. If it became important or very profitable to have lots of it, new technologies would probably be developed to isolate it more cheaply.

    Complain about this comment

  • 58. At 12:47pm on 28 Mar 2010, lburt wrote:

    Oops, my bad.

    Complain about this comment

  • 59. At 12:49pm on 28 Mar 2010, TVGgirl wrote:

    Richard -- in answer to your question -- it all comes down to political will. Votes are the only thing that has ever really mattered to most of them. Until the public demands action from its politicians, and acts like it means it, trade will trump conservation. And what the British (or Australian, American, etc.) public thinks doesn't really matter to Japanese or Chinese politicians. In fact, Japan- and China-bashing from abroad nearly always backfires. So conservation organizations should support their counterparts in those countries, and listen to them when they suggest avoiding certain tactics which only serve to harm their efforts.
    In the meantime, we can all vote our conscience, including with our pocketbooks, and demand our own governments to do the right thing at international fora.

    Complain about this comment

  • 60. At 1:58pm on 28 Mar 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    poitsplace at post 56

    Useful info about raw material resources, thanks. The bank of smaller batteries sound a good idea in principle but the smaller the battery, the greater the surface area of finite metals used in the making. Someone good at maths should work out an optimum size battery, which does the job, fits all situations but uses the least amount of finite resource possible. There are too many personal transport requirements to make a mistake at such a basic level. What is the environmental impact of mining and processing the metals used for battery making on such a massive scale? Does some of the proposed metal extraction come from fragile ecosystems?

    Complain about this comment

  • 61. At 3:09pm on 28 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @poitsplace #49

    There are bits of AGW science that are relatively solid, that don't get attacked by the sceptics amongst the scientists.

    Chief amongst those is the basic mechanism of the planetary greenhouse. The two relevant heat exchanges are between the Sun and the Earth and between the Earth and space, both via "black body" radiation. Greenhouse gases affect the latter by changing the average height from which radiation can escape to space. As the atmosphere is cooler higher up (the lapse rate) this means less heat escapes until the whole planet warms up.

    Meanwhile the mechanisms that you mention, convection (weather) and latent heat (water ice <> liquid water <> water vapour) (weather again) help mix the extra heat in and affect the relative impact of greenhouse gases, i.e. the sensitivity of the climate to greenhouse gases.

    As MangoChutneyUKOK is forever reminding us, the debate is about the sensitivity of climate to greenhouse gases, not planetary greenhouses per se.

    Complain about this comment

  • 62. At 3:10pm on 28 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #53
    (@poitsplace)

    "I was under the impression that lithium was the 25th most abundant element!"

    There are only 90 elements deemed "naturally occurring". (Elements 1 to 92, except 43 and except 61.) And some of them are very rare. So "25th" is not impressive (also not sure that it is even that abundant).

    I would also like to point out that the graph in poitplace's link and similar graphs use a log scale for element abundances. This allows all "naturally occurring" elements to comfortably fit onto the graph, but camouflages the differences in abundance.

    I would also like to agree with both of you that the economics of extraction is likely to be involved in how much lithium is seen as "available".

    Complain about this comment

  • 63. At 3:12pm on 28 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #55
    (@rossglory)
    (@MangoChutneyUKOK)

    Personally I am wary of using the b-word when discussing AGW without careful attention to context. Otherwise some sceptics will go "oh, that's what you believe is it, you admit it, it's your religion".

    Complain about this comment

  • 64. At 3:14pm on 28 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @manysummits #46
    @MangoChutneyUKOK #47

    "50 per cent: "I believe our climate is being substantially threatened - and mankind is largely to blame.""

    The thing is, the wording is ambiguous.

    The poll question doesn't explicitly confine its reference to "threat" to greenhouse gases, and land use changes can also affect climate. These include tarmac (increased water runoff), increased water use (rivers and lakes being substantially drained), replacing forests by agriculture (affects albedo and soil erosion), fertiliser runoff (algal blooms), fences/hedges/terracing (soil erosion) etc etc, all of which can affect climate, possibly more than our greenhouse gases to date.

    So some of the people saying "yes" may be AGW sceptics and solely referring to climate changes caused by changes in land use.

    Conversely the question does imply that its reference to "threat" is about greenhouse gases.

    So some of the people saying "no" may be AGW sceptics who are concerned about the threat of changes in land use to climate, or who are concerned about some of the other problems associated with changes to land use.

    Personally I am concerned by both issues. I do not want to see arguments about climate change detract from tackling questions about land use, which are not confined to threats to climate, so I am a little disappointed that the poll has this ambiguity.

    Complain about this comment

  • 65. At 4:02pm on 28 Mar 2010, lburt wrote:

    @JaneBasingstoke #61 who wrote...
    "There are bits of AGW science that are relatively solid, that don't get attacked by the sceptics amongst the scientists.

    Chief amongst those is the basic mechanism of the planetary greenhouse. The two relevant heat exchanges are between the Sun and the Earth and between the Earth and space, both via "black body" radiation. Greenhouse gases affect the latter by changing the average height from which radiation can escape to space. As the atmosphere is cooler higher up (the lapse rate) this means less heat escapes until the whole planet warms up."


    For current and any future concentrations CO2 emits from the coldest part of the atmosphere...PERIOD. For CO2, this works out to the temperature of the tropopause...or about 220k
    http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/daly_spectra.gif

    It is no coincidence that the tropopause is the point at which weather stops, the lapse rate changes and the point which limits CO2 absorption. The bulk of the energy CO2 receives at this level is in fact from convection/latent heat. This is why the tropopause varies in altitude (by many miles) based on TEMPERATURE.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropopause

    The problem with the whole hypothesis of substantial anthropogenic global warming is that they never bothered to establish the ACTUAL forcing of CO2. In their own stupid charts, convection and latent heat account for the majority of all atmospheric energy transport and due to the way convection and latent heat work...their share of energy transport increases MUCH faster than CO2's absorption.

    Complain about this comment

  • 66. At 4:48pm on 28 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #63 JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    "Personally I am wary of using the b-word when discussing AGW without careful attention to context. Otherwise some sceptics will go "oh, that's what you believe is it, you admit it, it's your religion"."

    Well, they'd be very silly to do that, and the next time you see a sceptic doing that, report him to me, and I'll give him what for!

    The word 'belief' is absolutely central to our discussions about AGW. It means nothing more nor less than thinking something is true. Whenever we avoid the word 'belief', we have to adopt some loose synonym such as 'think' (e.g. "I think it's raining" = "I believe it's raining") but that carries with it the suggestion of the mental activity of "working something out" rather than simply being committed to something's being a fact.

    "Faith" is different again, as it usually means belief as a matter of "personal lifestyle choice" rather than evidence. Often people have faith in spite of evidence to the contrary.

    The word 'belief' is a perfectly good word. It's a lot clearer than any of the alternatives, and it doesn't carry any suggestion of activity or religion. Everyone should use it.

    The standard philosophical analysis of knowledge says that it consists of beliefs which are (1) true and (2) are sustained by reliable processes, so they're not just "true by accident".

    Complain about this comment

  • 67. At 5:48pm on 28 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    \\\ The Power of an Idea - "Should Trees Have Standing?" ///

    Eric Margolis, usually my window into politics and the Middle East/Asia, has an entire article today on the topic of this blog - Tuna & CITIES.

    "Because wildlife nas no political clout, nations around the world continue to destroy entire species until none are left. So much for enlightened humanity in the 21st century."

    - from "Dwindling food for thought," in Eric's syndicated Sunday comment column.
    ================

    Eric Margolis goes on to advocate personally boycotting shark fin soup, fois gras, veal etc...

    This is all well and good - Sensiblegrannie and JaneBasingstoke should be pleased!

    But I was most taken by Eric's thought on 'wildlife having no political clout.'

    This, to me, brings up Christopher Stone's "Should Trees Have Standing."

    I had a small epiphany of sorts this morning at coffee, perhaps explaining as well our addiction to this mind altering substance (coffee)?

    If the United Nations were to unilaterally declare 'rights for the ecosphere,' something the UN might be able to do, they would, in one fell swoop, so to speak, implicitly address my thinking on the need for reform of our big publicly held corporations, and the need for some new form of 'Full World - Steady State Sustainable Economics.'

    To Richard Black & the BBC's Management:

    How if the BBC were to find a way to make Christopher Stone's "Should Trees Have Standing?" Open Access???

    The quality of the article and its longevity attest to its enduring value, but it is still necessary, as far as I know, to buy it second hand, or buy a revised and updated edition.

    But I have never seen the original article approached in terms of impact and forthrightness - it stands alone - a monument to creative genius.

    Could the BBC not buy the rights to the original article outright, and as a public service to mankind make it open access????????????????

    - Manysummits -

    Complain about this comment

  • 68. At 6:38pm on 28 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @Poitsplace #65

    "For current and any future concentrations CO2 emits from the coldest part of the atmosphere...PERIOD."

    Erm, assuming you mean the bulk of infra red radiation that escapes from Earth to space, this might be true of Venus. Might.

    But it is certainly not true of Earth. The surface of the Earth and all depths of the atmosphere emit IR radiation according to their density and temperature. The IR that actually escapes to space depends on what proportion of that IR escapes absorption by greenhouse gases and reflection by clouds. This will be from different average depths of the atmosphere according to frequency of the IR radiation, which is consistent with your Climate Audit graph.

    And I would remind you that the bulk of the Earth's atmosphere is within the troposphere. I would also point out that without the greenhouse effect the surface temperature of the Earth would be about 255 K. The tropopause is therefore too cool to be the source of all of the Earth's IR emissions to space.

    I would also point out that if debunking the greenhouse was that easy Richard Lindzen, who works at MIT, would definitely have used it, rather than wasting time on difficult climate sensitivity work.

    Complain about this comment

  • 69. At 10:02pm on 28 Mar 2010, lburt wrote:

    @JaneBasingstoke #68 who wrote...
    "Erm, assuming you mean the bulk of infra red radiation that escapes from Earth to space, this might be true of Venus. Might."

    I meant the bulk of the radiation that escapes from earth to space...in CO2's spectrum.
    ==========================

    "But it is certainly not true of Earth. The surface of the Earth and all depths of the atmosphere emit IR radiation according to their density and temperature. The IR that actually escapes to space depends on what proportion of that IR escapes absorption by greenhouse gases"

    Now think through what you said...all emit based on their density and temperature. The spectrum of CO2 already bottoms out at about 220k, the temperature of the tropopause. Get the gears grinding on that.

    "I would also point out that without the greenhouse effect the surface temperature of the Earth would be about 255 K. The tropopause is therefore too cool to be the source of all of the Earth's IR emissions to space."

    I never said there wasn't a greenhouse effect. In many ways the greenhouse effect is actually more powerful than most assume...at first. It very quickly forces a temperature gradient. But as soon as the temperature gradient is higher than the adiabatic lapse rate, convection begins. From that point on...every tiny gradient change causes a far greater response by convection. It is an inherent negative feedback.

    So again, since I think I've already asked this on this blog...How is it we're supposed to see anywhere near the amount of forcing suggested by CO2 when in fact...the bulk of the energy movement through the troposphere is through latent heat and convection?

    Complain about this comment

  • 70. At 11:25pm on 28 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    There is a 2010 edition of Christopher Stone's groundbraking book:

    "Should Trees Have Standing?"

    http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Law/EnvironmentalLaw/?view=usa&ci=9780199736072

    The writeup on the link is worth a look.

    - Manysummits -

    Complain about this comment

  • 71. At 11:40pm on 28 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @poitsplace #69

    OK, misunderstood your quote about what was being emitted.

    However I think you are not allowing for what happens to the CO2 absorption spectrum when CO2 concentrations are increased. The absorption bands effectively get wider. In the extreme case of Venus there are only narrow bands of visibility where astronomers can see the surface in IR.

    This is when you should say - yes, but that's proportional to the logarithm of the concentration.

    And I say everybody knows that. Everybody agrees with that. Both sides of the debate agree with that. That is why climate sensitivity is expressed in terms of doubling of CO2.

    Complain about this comment

  • 72. At 03:04am on 29 Mar 2010, LarryKealey wrote:



    @poitspace
    @JaneBassingstoke

    @others


    Must it dissolve into a CO2 debate on every article? on every blog?

    This is an important issue - is it not worthy of discussion?

    Kindest

    Kealey

    Complain about this comment

  • 73. At 03:22am on 29 Mar 2010, lburt wrote:

    @JaneBasingstoke #71 who wrote...
    "However I think you are not allowing for what happens to the CO2 absorption spectrum when CO2 concentrations are increased"

    I am taking it into account. I'm just pointing out that energy movement through the troposphere by convection and latent heat will increase faster than CO2 forcing would increase. There is and never has been any reason to suspect it could have its full "forcing". Latent heat and convection carry over 50% of the energy now, they'd offset that much or more of any additional "forcing" by CO2.

    Complain about this comment

  • 74. At 05:07am on 29 Mar 2010, Robert Lucien wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 75. At 06:16am on 29 Mar 2010, ishkandar wrote:

    #5 >>Power-plays and hard ball are the only way to play against rapacious national self-interest that is prepared to kill its way to species extinction.

    What an excellent idea. Since *ALL* of Europe (including it outlying islands to the West) is the greatest destroyer of rainforests, with its rapacious demand for chocolate, beef and palm oil, perhaps something should be done to ban trade with Europe until they stop destroying those few remaining rainforests with their incessant demands for a good life !!

    And while we are at it, we can also look into their demands for raw materials for manufacturing that are destroying so many habitats in the name of progress.

    Oh, and the per capita CO2 emission in Europe is the second highest in the world, second only to the US !! Perhaps something should be done about a greedy few using up the resources of the many !!

    Meanwhile, selfish pet owners are using up good, commercial and edible food that other humans could benefit from.

    Complain about this comment

  • 76. At 08:20am on 29 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #74 Robert Lucien wrote:

    "As a scientist I can say that most scientists don't 'believe' in GW, its not a matter of belief, GW is a danger and a probability."

    Talking about belief while pretending not to. Making no effort to think about what the word 'belief' means. 0 out of 10 for intellectual honesty. 3 out of 10 for effort. Must do better.

    Complain about this comment

  • 77. At 09:57am on 29 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #54 bowman see #52 mango

    Complain about this comment

  • 78. At 10:27am on 29 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #77 rossglory wrote:

    "#54 bowman see #52 mango"

    What's that supposed to mean?

    Complain about this comment

  • 79. At 10:46am on 29 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    A sceptic is someone who does not believe something, for whatever reason. An anti-sceptic is someone who does believe it, for whatever reason.

    It is a monument to the honesty and intelligence of AGW believers (sic) that they are currently telling us they're not believers after all. "Belief doesn't sound scientific". Or something like that.

    How half-baked can you get? Pathetic.

    Complain about this comment

  • 80. At 11:51am on 29 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #79 bowman
    not sure where you're trying to go with this bowman. it's just the inferred meaning of 'believers in agw' (which mango graciously accepted) as a religious belief. no different to when i stopped using the word 'denier' because it seemed to upset some people and therefore detract from the points i was trying to make.

    you can gallop off on your hobby horse if you like but i don;t think you're adding anything to the debate by calling me or anyone else half-baked or pathetic.

    i'm with larry on this one now, disappearing fish stocks deserve a debate of their own.

    Complain about this comment

  • 81. At 11:56am on 29 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #79 bowman
    last point on this.

    "A sceptic is someone who does not believe something, for whatever reason. An anti-sceptic is someone who does believe it, for whatever reason."

    when you believe in something you also 'choose' not to believe in something else. you call yourself a sceptic because you don;t believe in agw, i call myself a sceptic because i don't believe that the science has been falsified.

    scepticism is nothing to do with what you accept/believe but everything to do with how you get to making that decision. so i've never called you a sceptic because i don't believe you've taken a sceptical approach (just saying, 'nah nah nah, i don;t believe it' is not scepticism imho).

    Complain about this comment

  • 82. At 12:27pm on 29 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #81 rossglory wrote:

    "last point on this."

    I can see why you'd like that, but I'm afraid you're out of luck!

    "when you believe in something you also 'choose' not to believe in something else. you call yourself a sceptic because you don;t believe in agw, i call myself a sceptic because i don't believe that the science has been falsified."

    That's not scepticism, because there's a huge difference in epistemic commitments between the two positions you've just called "scepticism". To believe X because you "don't believe X has been falsified" is both to believe X as well as to apparently believe anything that hasn't been falsified. This commits you to belief in vast swathes of unfalsified garbage.

    For example, you must believe there is a teapot in orbit around the Sun, because it hasn't been falsified. You must also believe there is a Ming vase buried at the Earth's core -- because it hasn't been falsified. And so on, ad infinitum.

    Why don't you just admit that you haven't really given belief or scepticism any real thought?

    Complain about this comment

  • 83. At 12:33pm on 29 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #80 rossglory wrote:

    "you can gallop off on your hobby horse"

    Excuse me, but the subject of the AGW debate is belief. You complained because someone else attributed a belief to you -- one that it would be utterly bizarre for you and anyone else who defends AGW not to acknowldge.

    Or is a "hobby horse" anything you aren't familiar with, yet feel qualified to pass comment on authoritatively?

    Complain about this comment

  • 84. At 1:29pm on 29 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @LarryKealey #72
    (@poitsplace)

    Sorry.

    I try and avoid bringing up AGW issues in non-AGW threads, except where very relevant. But in this instance the subject came up by accident and I got drawn in.

    Complain about this comment

  • 85. At 1:30pm on 29 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @poitsplace #73

    I would like to wrap up this discussion.

    Most of your current arguments are applicable to common oversimplifications by my side. But they are not applicable to the actual basic science of planetary greenhouses, as accepted by the scientists on both sides of the debate. And unfortunately out of context they are extremely misleading and help neither side of the debate.

    I don't even understand your outstanding point. The greenhouse gases effectively move the average position of a thermostat to a cooler part of the atmosphere. This changes equilibrium temperatures to warmer ones. The weather processes you mention mix in the extra energy, bringing the system to the warmer equilibrium in a shorter time. How can weather possibly interfere with a planetary greenhouse?

    I would remind you that my comments on this point are not trying to convert you to AGW.

    Complain about this comment

  • 86. At 1:32pm on 29 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #76
    (@Robert Lucien)

    Bowman, you've seen my comment about issues with the b-word at #63, you even sounded sympathetic in your #66.

    Perhaps I need to point out that despite the apparent common ground of English language, many people have subtly different interpretations of words. For some people "belief" always means "unthinking belief" or "religious belief" unless there is a clear reason to interpret otherwise.

    When other people on my side attempt to avoid the b-word by paraphrasing "reason based belief" or "experience based belief", please don't assume they are being intellectually dishonest.

    Complain about this comment

  • 87. At 2:03pm on 29 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @rossglory
    @bowmanthebard

    Bowman seems to spark lots of posts about the meanings of words. Well he is a fan of Wittgenstein.

    Words are allowed to have multiple definitions. I currently work with two different definitions of "sceptic". The older one of "questioning", the more recent of "AGW sceptic". And I would expect the latest version of the Oxford English Dictionary to reflect this.

    Obviously all AGW sceptics would claim that they are sceptic according to the older meaning. It is my experience that this is true of some but not all, because some AGW sceptics simply reject the whole concept of AGW out of hand. It is also my experience that some but not all pro-AGW debaters are sceptic according to the older meaning.

    Complain about this comment

  • 88. At 2:29pm on 29 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    If belief is involved, and in this discussion it is involved, avoiding the word 'belief' is either dishonest or stupid. Take your pick.

    Complain about this comment

  • 89. At 2:29pm on 29 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #82
    (@rossglory)

    "you must believe there is a teapot in orbit around the Sun, because it hasn't been falsified"

    I believe there is at least one teapot in orbit around the Sun. It's sitting in my cupboard, which is in a building on the surface of a planet in orbit around the Sun. I would have to wax exceedingly solipsist to start disbelieving in the existence of my teapot or of the Earth's orbit around the Sun.

    :-)

    By the way, nice to see you're reading Russell as well as Wittgenstein.

    ;-)

    Complain about this comment

  • 90. At 2:44pm on 29 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @ishkandar #75

    "Meanwhile, selfish pet owners are using up good, commercial and edible food that other humans could benefit from."

    Another interesting parallel with bluefin consumption.

    But there is a subtle difference. Pets stealing food from the mouths of the poor in distant countries only became an issue after biofuels reduced the amount of food available. Before biofuels the reason for hunger and malnutrition was basically down to the economics of distribution.

    I don't approve of biofuels except in the special cases where they don't threaten food supply or forest. But powerful economic forces mean that the biofuel industry is likely to impact food production further. Pet owners might need to consider this when thinking of acquiring a new pet.

    Complain about this comment

  • 91. At 3:15pm on 29 Mar 2010, lburt wrote:

    @JaneBasingstoke #85

    Look, I'm sorry to go on about this but the tropopause is already the coldest part. The restricting layers can't move up to a colder level because its actually warmer above...in the stratosphere. Look it up! The greenhouse effect is real but as soon as the gradient of the atmosphere pushes past that required for convection, convection and latent heat (from water vapor) takes over an ever increasing portion of the energy transfer...and the rate at which this process increases is far higher than the trivial forcing caused by CO2.

    Even if CO2 could magically drive up temperatures by the supposed 3.7 watts of forcing for a doubling...an anemic 1C temperature increase globally would completely offset the forcing. BUT CO2 only radiates about 1/6 of the energy from the atmosphere and radiative transfer across the troposphere only accounts for about 43% of the energy movement anyway.

    Complain about this comment

  • 92. At 3:35pm on 29 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #87 JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    "Bowman seems to spark lots of posts about the meanings of words. Well he is a fan of Wittgenstein."

    It isn't just that. Clarity of thought and clarity of expression are inextricably linked.

    "Words are allowed to have multiple definitions."

    But if someone says something that is flat wrong, it takes charity too far to constantly re-interpret what he said so that he is always right after all. For example, if Plimer says that the Sun is made out of iron, he's wrong. Should we charitably interpret what he said so that he's right after all, by taking 'iron' to mean "mostly hydrogen and helium"? No -- he's just wrong, that's all.

    Similarly, if someone says that people who defend the theory of AGW do not in fact believe the theory, he is just plain wrong. This is a discussion about belief, and about whether or not we should believe a theory. If someone says that AGW is "not a matter of belief" but instead "a danger and a probability" he is just talking through his hat, dishonestly trying to suggest that AGW is "beyond a mere theory" and belongs instead to the realm of unquestionable fact. Well, there is no such realm.

    "I currently work with two different definitions of "sceptic". The older one of "questioning""

    That's a new one to me!

    Complain about this comment

  • 93. At 3:38pm on 29 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @manysummits

    I can see where you are coming from with the "rights for trees" / "rights for the ecosphere". But it won't work.

    Political power represents a combination of ability to affect politics and the will to do so. You can use this formula to work to improve justice for people. You can also use this formula to work to protect some aspects of the environment and to protect some animals.

    But such protection is based on perceived worth (utilitarian and aesthetic). In the case of animals it is also based on empathy. When there are political clashes protection is limited by the relative political power of the people on either side of the debate, and the relative strength of their motivation.

    To refer to such protection as "rights" can sometimes help in designing the protection, particularly with captive chimpanzees and any other animals that pass the mirror self awareness test. But it ignores the reality of maintaining it, potentially making any legislation more susceptible to attack or harder to implement.

    Complain about this comment

  • 94. At 3:41pm on 29 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #88

    "If belief is involved, and in this discussion it is involved, avoiding the word 'belief' is either dishonest or stupid. Take your pick."

    I think it's stupid. But understandable.

    I also think that any attempt to paraphrase "reasonable belief" should be encouraged, as we all need to consider the meaning of the words we use.

    Complain about this comment

  • 95. At 4:31pm on 29 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #87 janebasingstoke

    "Bowman seems to spark lots of posts about the meanings of words." - ah, but only his definition is valid even when somedoby else uses it. you summed it up well in post 64 yet still he's banging on 20 posts later!

    not sure he's a wittgenstein fan either....wittgenstein is a really painful read and i've never met a fan....i get the impression bowman googles a lot to prove his point.

    Complain about this comment

  • 96. At 5:11pm on 29 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @poitsplace #91

    You are over-interpreting that Climate Audit graph.

    The Climate Audit graph represents the absorption spectrum for the atmosphere with particular concentrations of greenhouse gases at a specific altitude. And I suspect that altitude is close to sea level.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guam

    The absorption spectrum will be different at different altitudes. In particular the absorption bands will be narrower at higher altitudes as there are less greenhouse gases between high altitudes and space.

    The absorption spectrum will also be different if greenhouse gases are increased. The absorption bands become wider as well as deeper.

    The comparative warmth of the stratosphere is irrelevant if most of the IR is from between sea level and the tropopause.

    I also remind you that the lower levels of the stratosphere are still substantially cooler than sea level, the temperature gradient significantly shallower, and that the stratosphere is a lot less dense than the troposphere, all this reduces any negative feedback from the reversal of the temperature gradient.

    "Even if CO2 could magically drive up temperatures by the supposed 3.7 watts of forcing for a doubling...an anemic 1C temperature increase globally would completely offset the forcing."

    The CO2 component of warming is supposed to be 1 degree C for a doubling of CO2. The debate is over how this is damped or amplified by other factors such as ice albedo, water vapour and clouds. To say that it would offset the forcing is potentially confusing. It is the CO2 component of the result of that forcing.

    "CO2 only radiates about 1/6 of the energy from the atmosphere"

    So? This is just another way of saying that IR isn't completely saturated by CO2.

    "radiative transfer across the troposphere only accounts for about 43% of the energy movement"

    I am not familiar with this figure. Does the balance have anything to do with the ozone in the stratosphere, which heats the stratosphere and protects us from high energy UV?

    Complain about this comment

  • 97. At 5:20pm on 29 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #92

    "I currently work with two different definitions of "sceptic". The older one of "questioning"" [JaneBasingstoke #87]

    "That's a new one to me!" [bowmanthebard #92]

    "noun 1 a person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions. 2 a person who doubts the truth of Christianity and other religions; an atheist." Oxford English Dictionary

    http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/sceptic?view=uk

    Complain about this comment

  • 98. At 5:29pm on 29 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #92

    By the way, the "sceptic" that claimed the Sun was made of iron was Oliver Manuel.

    http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0609509

    although Ian Plimer has shown interest in Manuel's work

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/ian-plimer-heaven-and-earth/story-e6frg8no-1225710387147

    Complain about this comment

  • 99. At 5:45pm on 29 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #92

    Obviously this is partly a problem with precision of language. But I am struggling with how you get from

    "not a matter of belief, GW is a danger and a probability"

    to

    "trying to suggest that AGW is "beyond a mere theory" and belongs instead to the realm of unquestionable fact"

    Personally I interpreted Robert Lucien's

    "not a matter of belief, GW is a danger and a probability"

    as

    "not a matter of unquestioning religious belief but instead a dangerous possibility that I treat as serious [and/or probable]"

    which is definitely still theory and still open to reasonable questions. And I am struggling to see how you associate the phrase "a probability" with "unquestionable fact".

    Complain about this comment

  • 100. At 7:12pm on 29 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    99 JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    "I am struggling to see how you associate the phrase "a probability" with "unquestionable fact"."

    I guess I put it badly. Most people contrast "subjective" mental states such as beliefs with "objective" matters of fact such as atoms and molecules. Alas, they often include danger and probability in the same realm as atoms and molecules, as if science itself tells us about danger and probability. These people are confused about what danger and probability are. (The physicists who routinely misinterpret statistical claims as claims about degrees of certainty have a lot to answer for here!)

    What annoys me is the idea that no scientifically-minded person should talk about beliefs. It irritates me partly because our disagreements here nearly always revolve around belief -- how could anyone miss anything so obvious? We are obliged, nay, compelled to address these fuzzy questions. I'm also irritated by the pretense -- or gross error -- that scientific theories tell us how much they ought to be believed. In fact, a scientific theory never tells us how much it ought to be believed -- that's a question we all have to struggle with ourselves when we talk about science and try to make decisions. This is not something that can be "left to the experts"!

    Complain about this comment

  • 101. At 00:07am on 30 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @manysummits

    My #93 was a little too cynical. I need to clarify.

    Looking at the concept of "rights" will always enhance any legislation designed to protect the environment or animals. This is particularly true of animals that are clearly as sentient as the other great apes, but can still be helpful with other animals, other plants, and ecosystems.

    However to give the legislation teeth it is important to identify why the protection is wanted, why it is needed (want and need both need looking at) and who is affected. This makes it easier to implement and defend. And we shouldn't be scared of including aesthetics and empathy as reasons for these protections.

    Complain about this comment

  • 102. At 00:18am on 30 Mar 2010, Robert Lucien wrote:

    I meant probability in the way scientists generally always mean it, probability is a subject within mathematics, probability is based on statistics. More to the point when a layman says 'a probability' they generally mean something is likely to happen. When a scientist says the same thing they mean it is a possibility, specifically they mean a probability between 0 and 1.

    A good example to explain things. We might say that there is there is a probability a car will crash during its lifetime. The probability is pretty close to zero but the engineering maxim called the precautionary principle says that we should design it as if it will crash.
    Exactly the same rule can be applied to things like climate change. A version of the same thing is behind the fears of people like me about overpopulation. In both cases the probability can be close to zero but the danger is still immense.
    Scientists and engineers don't say 'X something has low probability so ignore it, generally we must assume that worst case scenarios will happen. Every time science forgets this rule it kills someone - think of the Challenger and Columbia disasters. Think of crashing in that 1950's optimistically designed car, solid steel dashboard, solid steel steering wheel, poor seatbelt, weak rigid frame, poor brakes - its a tomb on wheels.

    Complain about this comment

  • 103. At 01:21am on 30 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @Robert Lucien #102

    Oo, you've done it now. You've set him off. You'll get the full Monty on what probability actually means to the truly scientific.

    Anyway, before he descends I will add my own two pence worth. I see at least two layers, perhaps three, in which probability applies in climate science. There's the probability of a particular scientific approach or interpretation being true. There's any probability calculations for predictions associated with that science. Then there's the any statistics involving confidence intervals and margins of error.

    (Disclaimer. Some of the above "probabilities" do not meet some people's definition of true probability. Any probabilities presented as numbers could be fudged or misleading. Any probabilities presented as numbers can be over-interpreted due to the intimidating nature of numbers.)

    Complain about this comment

  • 104. At 05:40am on 30 Mar 2010, lburt wrote:

    @JaneBasingstoke #96 who wrote...
    "You are over-interpreting that Climate Audit graph. "

    The graph was merely to show that much of the notch for CO2 is already functionally saturated. The most any gas can absorb is down to the black body curve of the coldest part of the atmosphere...because that coldest part of the atmosphere determines the minimum emissions by the gas.

    "The CO2 component of warming is supposed to be 1 degree C for a doubling of CO2. The debate is over how this is damped or amplified by other factors such as ice albedo, water vapour and clouds. To say that it would offset the forcing is potentially confusing. It is the CO2 component of the result of that forcing."

    Here is their estimate for the energy balance (silly though it may be with its concept of "back radiation". Note convection moves 17watts/meter of the energy that the atmosphere emits, latent heat moves 80watts/meter
    http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200904/images/trenberth-fig1.gif

    Here's how fast the water vapor content of the atmosphere increases with temperature.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_vapor#Water_vapor_and_dry_air_density_calculations_at_0.C2.B0C

    And here you can see what the moist v/s dry adiabatic lapse rate is. Note how much more shallow the moist rate is
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapse_rate#Dry_adiabatic_lapse_rate

    After removing the non-radiative energy transfer component of the atmosphere...CO2's forcing can only be about 1/2 of the strength of the response by convection and latent heat. Latent heat and convection are extremely powerful negative feedbacks...and more than offset greenhouse gas forcing since their increases are exponential.

    Complain about this comment

  • 105. At 10:04am on 30 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #103 JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    "Oo, you've done it now. You've set him off. You'll get the full Monty on what probability actually means to the truly scientific.

    "Anyway, before he descends"

    What bad manners you have.

    Complain about this comment

  • 106. At 10:10am on 30 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #102 Robert Lucien wrote:

    "I meant probability in the way scientists generally always mean it, probability is a subject within mathematics, probability is based on statistics."

    In mathematics, probability just is statistics, it never goes beyond statistics -- is it not something else "based on" statistics.

    "when a layman says 'a probability' they generally mean something is likely to happen. When a scientist says the same thing they mean it is a possibility, specifically they mean a probability between 0 and 1."

    This is a completely empty claim -- you've explained nothing. Words such as 'likely' and 'possibility' are just synonyms for "probability". I suggest you look up Moliere and "dormative powers".

    Complain about this comment

  • 107. At 12:27pm on 30 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @Robert Lucien #102

    To go back to your original point in #74, perhaps you could answer the following question.


    You originally said

    "As a scientist I can say that most scientists don't 'believe' in GW, its not a matter of belief"

    There is a problem with this statement because you are ignoring a common definition of the words "believe" and "belief". You need to clarify

    1. Why you personally don't like the word "belief" used when discussing attitudes to science by scientists.

    2. If forced to use the words "believe" and "belief" to describe scientific attitudes to AGW, what adjectives (or short phrases) would you use to qualify the word "belief" so that you are understood. (Careful. See my note below about probability.)


    You also wrote

    "GW is a danger and a probability"

    There is a problem with this statement as well. Firstly there are different layers at which probability can apply to a science (see my #103). Secondly other people on this thread have issues with the use of the noble word "probability" in scientific contexts wherever the foul word "statistics" (foul as in "lies, d***ed lies, and statistics") might work instead. And any linking of probability to numbers or sums can count as statistics.

    So you need to clarify whether your "probability" meant "settled science + statistics" or "unsettled science (with or without statistics)".

    Complain about this comment

  • 108. At 12:50pm on 30 Mar 2010, MangoChutney wrote:

    @Manysummits #46

    it would seem it's not just the public that are becoming more sceptical about the case for AGW, the American Meteorological Society reports 63% of TV weather forecasters believe global warming to be mostly natural

    It's a pdf, so no link

    It still amazes me that AGWers are not sceptical - even i think we are partly to responsible, although not the CO2 as primary driver of climate bit

    /Mango

    Complain about this comment

  • 109. At 1:30pm on 30 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #105

    Sorry. Forgot you don' like being teased.

    Meanwhile here's some bad manners you might approve of.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6fQnTyEniM&feature=related

    :-)

    Complain about this comment

  • 110. At 2:08pm on 30 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #103 janebasingstoke
    "(Disclaimer. Some of the above "probabilities" do not meet some people's definition of true probability. Any probabilities presented as numbers could be fudged or misleading. Any probabilities presented as numbers can be over-interpreted due to the intimidating nature of numbers.)"

    :o)

    very good. we have these exchanges about semantics but imho they're just a distraction (all be it rather fun) from the actual debate. i remember a great book, 'confessions of a philosopher' by bryan magee who was a labour mp and part time philosopher (if such a thing exists). he hated modern western philosophy for its obsession with semantics with every text becoming almost entirely a definition of terms. it got to the stage that the biggest insult you could throw at an opponent was 'i don't understand' which obviously was meant to infer their semantic cross-reference was not good enough rather than you were too stupid. suffice to say that period of western philosophy created virtually nothing interesting.

    i think the debate here is about two hypotheses (afraid tuna lost out again). warming is caused primarily by anthropogenic ghgs and warming is primarily natural (or at least out of our control). you cannot claim to be sceptical about just one of them. scepticism, as i mentioned before, is the process not the outcome.

    Complain about this comment

  • 111. At 2:19pm on 30 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #janebasingstoke
    btw, i don't agree that it would be stupid to drop the word belief in the context of 'agw believer'. it's been tainted in this debate like the word 'agw denier'. i accept there is a spectrum of views that do not accept the reality of agw and the term was getting in the way of the debate imho because every time it was used there was a debate about whether it was a reference to tje jewish holocaust or not. so i stopped using it

    Complain about this comment

  • 112. At 2:24pm on 30 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #103 JaneBasingstoke wrote:


    "Some of the above "probabilities" do not meet some people's definition of true probability. Any probabilities presented as numbers could be fudged or misleading. Any probabilities presented as numbers can be over-interpreted due to the intimidating nature of numbers."

    That isn't the problem. The problem is that scientific claims only express statistical proportions -- such as "30% of the electrons will end up in fringe A" or "95% of people who get chicken pox only get it once". These claims do not express a measure of how much anything deserves to be believed. In fact no one has ever been able to make decent sense of the idea of a number expressing a "degree of credibility".

    Often the confusion can lead to gross injustice. For example, suppose someone dies of a condition that one in 100 million suffer from. Then in a group of 100 million people, we would expect about one person to suffer from the condition. Now suppose someone is found guilty of murder because his alleged victim "is very unlikely to have died from natural causes -- a likelihood of only one in 100 million."

    You can see the error there, can't you?

    Complain about this comment

  • 113. At 2:33pm on 30 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @MangoChutneyUKOK #108
    (@manysummits)

    I argue on the AGW side of the debate because I think that AGW represents the best understanding we have of the science. I do not regard that science as fully proved, although some aspects are pretty solid.

    I also think there is a false dichotomy in sceptic vs pro-AGW. It involves drawing a very artificial line between low and mainstream climate sensitivities. This downplays the genuine uncertainty about climate sensitivity in general, far more than the mainstream scientists themselves might naturally sign up for.

    Meanwhile the relative scepticism of meteorologists is not new, and is shared by petroleum geologists.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11654-climate-myths-many-leading-scientists-question-climate-change.html

    Complain about this comment

  • 114. At 2:34pm on 30 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #110 rossglory wrote:

    [Bryan Magee]

    ..."hated modern western philosophy for its obsession with semantics with every text becoming almost entirely a definition of terms."

    He disliked linguistic philosophy, as do most of us. But he was a fan of Wittgenstein (yes, they exist) and of Popper, and he loved philosophy enough to conduct well-known interviews with Isaiah Berlin, AJ Ayer, RM Hare and many others. By the way, if you want a good example of how "our intelligence is bewitched by means of manguage" you could do worse by reading AJ Ayer's article in Scientific American entitled "Chance". It explains the difference between statistical claims and claims of "credibility" rather well, I think.

    Complain about this comment

  • 115. At 3:00pm on 30 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #112

    I think you are conflating two different issues. And I covered the first in paragraph 2 of my #103.

    Meanwhile your miscarriage of justice example might work better like this.

    Consider a coroner investigating a death. The death was caused either by disease A or disease B. Disease A is responsible for 1 death in 100,000 (one hundred thousand).

    So you are thinking, it's Disease B wot dunnit, because Disease A is very rare. But hang on. What if disease B is responsible for 1 death in 100,000,000 (one hundred million).

    Changed your mind, haven't you. It's probably Disease A.

    Now if Disease B isn't actually a disease, but a sequence of events that led to cold blooded murder ...

    Complain about this comment

  • 116. At 3:35pm on 30 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #115 JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    "What if disease B is responsible for 1 death in 100,000,000 (one hundred million).

    "Changed your mind, haven't you. It's probably Disease A."

    If we have nothing whatever to guide us apart from relative frequencies, we have to be guided by relative frequencies. But the numbers that express these relative frequencies do not translate into numerical "degrees of credibility". It is a symptom of "mathematosis" (Quine's jokey name for the disease of being overly impressed by the apparent rigour of numbers) to think that suddenly and magically we have a measure of credibility.

    In the circumstances you describe, it is better to believe it is disease A than to believe it is disease B, because we know absolutely nothing else (such as the age, sex or lifestyle of the sufferer). But that likelihood is not something "attached" to the disease as most people think -- if anything it is attached to our own ignorance of any other factors.

    That is really the difference between relative frequency and credibility. The former is an objective feature of the world, but the latter is an subjective aspect of the mind -- or to be more exact, of "A" mind, as it differs from one individual to the next and from one moment to the next, depending on the other things the individual believes already.

    Complain about this comment

  • 117. At 3:52pm on 30 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #114 bowman

    "He disliked linguistic philosophy, as do most of us." - but that is exactly what you are all you are doing here. your search for the meaning of 'belief' shed no light on the exchange between mango and myself.

    "But he was a fan of Wittgenstein"

    magee adored philosophy and i enjoyed reading his books. however,
    i'm not sure where you got magee's take on wittgenstein from.

    from confessions..."the picture theory of meaning...,in truth profound, was all that was original in the tractatus... but i never subscribed to the picture theory as adumbrated by wittgenstein".

    also, tractatus was the only book wittgenstein published and according to magee wittgenstein came to believe it was fundamentally mistaken.

    doesn;t sound like a fan to me (actually i know his wasn;t from my reading of him).

    Complain about this comment

  • 118. At 4:00pm on 30 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #112 bowman

    "In fact no one has ever been able to make decent sense of the idea of a number expressing a "degree of credibility".

    i have a six chamber revolver, i stick a bullet in one of them. that's a credible threat imho.

    you start off these arguments with a grain of truth (statistics can be misleading) and end up with 'no statistics present any credibile evidence'. and all of this just to prop up your 'beliefs' about agw.

    "You can see the error there, can't you?" - i spotted your error, if that's what you mean.

    Complain about this comment

  • 119. At 4:08pm on 30 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #bowman

    in case you couldn;t spot your error, given the conditions in your example the statement "a likelihood of only one in 100 million." should read "a probability of only one in 100 million.". clarity of thought and all that.

    Complain about this comment

  • 120. At 4:27pm on 30 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    bowmanthebard: "In fact no one has ever been able to make decent sense of the idea of a number expressing a "degree of credibility".

    #118 rossglory: "i have a six chamber revolver, i stick a bullet in one of them. that's a credible threat imho."

    Not if you know already that the bullet is in a chamber that will not be struck by the hammer thing (whatever it's called). If you have no other information, you have to be guided by relative frequencies, but the gun will either fire or not fire, which isn't a "one sixth" type situation at all.

    I'm trying to draw your attention to what reason for belief is like. It isn't anything like "the amount of water passing through a hosepipe" or "amps passing through a wire" or anything of the sort we routinely and appropriately use numbers for.

    Something is worth believing if on the whole it fits in with what we already believe. "Fitting in" here is complicated, and multi-dimensional, and quite a "subjective" matter. A better image than water passing through a hosepipe would be how firmly a fly can get caught in a web, when it is more or less attached by more or less strong threads, some of which can break.

    "you start off these arguments with a grain of truth (statistics can be misleading) and end up with 'no statistics present any credibile evidence'."

    I never said that.

    Complain about this comment

  • 121. At 4:42pm on 30 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #117 rossglory wrote:

    "your search for the meaning of 'belief' shed no light on the exchange between mango and myself."

    That might be your fault!

    "magee adored philosophy and i enjoyed reading his books. however,
    i'm not sure where you got magee's take on wittgenstein from."

    He often spoke of Wittgenstein with great affection. By the way, Wittgenstein wheeled him into the operating theatre, when Wittgenstein was a hospital orderly (at Guy's as I recall) and Magee was a child about to have his tonsils out (again that's from memory, so it might not be quite right).

    "also, tractatus was the only book wittgenstein published and according to magee wittgenstein came to believe it was fundamentally mistaken."

    Wittgenstein underwent a change in his philosophical opinions in mid-life. He came to repudiate much of his earlier work, along with academic philosophy in general, and nowadays when people mention his name they usually mean "the later Wittgenstein". One of the reasons people have such affection for him is the fact that he used his own earlier
    ideas as an example of how to get things wrong, and as a source of examples of error. He was an unusual combination of arrogance and modesty.

    Magee's rejection of the "picture theory of meaning" is part of his going on the same journey as the later Wittgenstein, most of whose opinions he shared.

    By the way, Magee wasn't the sort of person who would need to agree with someone to have affection for the person of the person's writings. Wittgenstein had a famous argument with Popper in which a poker was waved threateningly (according to Popper). As far as I know, Magee was hugely influenced by both thinkers.

    Complain about this comment

  • 122. At 5:36pm on 30 Mar 2010, MangoChutney wrote:

    @JaneBasingstoke #103

    I agree with almost everything you say, Jane - the New Scientist article clearly shows that on this issue the NS is talking out of the wrong orifice, it really doesn't matter if there is 1 sceptical scientist or 100000 or how big the consensus may or may not be

    /Mango

    Complain about this comment

  • 123. At 6:52pm on 30 Mar 2010, MangoChutney wrote:

    what annoys me a little bit is the BBC's claim to be impartial and yet they haven't updated the Blog of Bloom (sceptical on AGW) in ages and they have now announced the Blog of Bloom will not be updated in the future

    just a rant

    /Mango

    Complain about this comment

  • 124. At 11:29pm on 30 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @MangoChutneyUKOK #123

    The BBC is drastically trimming its websites.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8544150.stm

    Also with Murdoch papers now putting up pay walls, and rival newspapers desperate to do the same, there are strong pressures on the BBC to slash their websites much further.

    So I really don't think that you can read anything into the lack of interest in reviving the Blog of Bloom.

    Complain about this comment

  • 125. At 00:23am on 31 Mar 2010, Robert Lucien wrote:

    Ummm sorry JaneBasingstoke and bowmanthebard et al, in science probability is related to statistics but it is not the same, the relationship is maybe similar to that between differential equations and ordinary calculus. Proper probability is actually one of the most complex subjects in maths, it can extract information from noise and is the basis of much of quantum mechanics. I spent half a semester doing probability but it was over 10 years ago and it was not a happy time - the word 'Gaussian' still causes a little fear. One thing I remember was our lecturer going on about the Lottery, a very interesting fact is that the probability of winning doesn't change significantly whether you buy a ticket or not.

    The truth is that probability is much misused even within science - (I am quoting New Scientist here) and I admit that some of that misuse is in biology and climate science. Probability equations are good at defining limits and producing results even where very poor data is all that exists. But that power comes with a price and there's often something of the conjurer's hat about it. Most people (scientists) use the term and the science without fully understanding what is inside it (and that includes myself).

    At the end of the day any probability is like a bet, in fact gambling as a science is all based on probability. BTW 'likely' means about 60 to 80% probable, 'probability' by itself is anywhere between 0 and 100% and 'possibility' simply means greater than 0%.

    For instance flying pigs are possible within the next twenty years at a probability of say 1%. That probability gets really complex where humans are involved though of course. If no-one tries to make a flying pig it falls to very near zero, if someone does try hard and throws resources into it the probability might rise to 5 or even 10%.
    ----

    I might say 'I believe' in climate change or global warming but its really terribly difficult to predict. The probability might be between 1% and 60% but in this case numbers alone are not enough because there is a complex curve. The peak probability might be around 5%, but of course at the end of the day any probability is like a bet, only a guess.

    The real question that worries scientists though is what happens IF climate change does occur.
    If climate change occurs and causes a runaway eco-web overload (a worst case scenario), its probability of wiping out humanity is between maybe 1 and 50%. It will wipe out most of nature and it will kill between 1 and 4 billion people. If it happens and governments take the wrong approach it could practically wipe out all life. One thing that tells us this is Biosphere Two, once a system goes out of balance enough the things that keep it alive begin to destroy it.

    A scientist doesn't look at all this as a pit of disaster or depression, they / we / most of us see things like climate change as a problem to solve. Ask yourself what George Bush and Tony Blair really got out of the Iraq war? I bet less than 1 in 100 people know - it was executive power. Well climate change and disaster is the same for science, it will put us back in charge of the world. (You see the number one rule in science is to be brutally honest even if the truth is not very pretty.)

    Complain about this comment

  • 126. At 08:14am on 31 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #125 Robert Lucien wrote:

    "BTW 'likely' means about 60 to 80% probable, 'probability' by itself is anywhere between 0 and 100% and 'possibility' simply means greater than 0%."

    I think you're missing an important point: that pure mathematics consists of formalisms that need not be applied to the real world at all.

    There is a branch of pure mathematics that we might call "the calculus of chances", which in its simplest form consists of working out permutations and combinations, and in its more complicated forms includs distributions of various kinds. This branch of pure mathematics can be applied to the real world, thereby becoming applied mathematics, by making some further statistical assumptions (such as that "each outcome is equally likely" or "there is a normal distribution among the various outcomes".)

    The fact remains that with or without this extra bit of mathematics, claims of probability remain split into two distinct kinds: statistical claims (which say what numerical proportion of a class have a property such as "50% of tosses are heads") and claims of credibility (which judge how much confidence we can have in believing something, such as "it is 70% likely that the Big Bang happened").

    No mathematical smoke screen can dissolve that very fundamental conceptual distinction. Alas, few mathematicians are well enough acquainted with it. That is because in contexts of near-total ignorance we say things like "we can believe with 50% confidence that the next coin toss will be heads" on the basis of statistical claims like the one above. But really all we are saying there is "I haven't a clue either way". When we say things like "we can believe with a confidence of one sixth that the next roll of a pair of dice will result in doubles", all we really mean is that "if I rolled these dice over and over again, the proportion of doubles would converge on one sixth in the long run", which is merely to re-state the statistical claim and add that it applies to these particular dice.

    Mathematics has some powerful applications, including the handling of statistics, but on its own it just doesn't tell us how much we are entitled to believe anything. Claims such as "'likely' means about 60 to 80% probable" are numerically arbitrary, they misunderstand the nature of evidence and muddly the distinction between belief applied to an individual event and mere numerical proportions of ensembles of events. They are more misleading than clarifying.

    Complain about this comment

  • 127. At 08:16am on 31 Mar 2010, MangoChutney wrote:

    @JaneBasingstoke #124

    actually Jane the Blog of Bloom hasn't been updated for almost a year, long before cuts

    /Mango

    Complain about this comment

  • 128. At 08:40am on 31 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #125 Robert Lucien wrote:

    "BTW 'likely' means about 60 to 80% probable, 'probability' by itself is anywhere between 0 and 100% and 'possibility' simply means greater than 0%."

    I wonder if you feel tempted to say this:

    0% = false
    100% = true?

    Complain about this comment

  • 129. At 10:54am on 31 Mar 2010, blunderbunny wrote:

    @Robert Lucien #125

    I was quite enjoying your post right up to the words "runaway eco-web overload" - I await the appearance of the aforementioned "flying pigs" with almost as much expectation, though, I don't relish the thought of scraping the ensuing mess off my poor little car's windshield ;-)





    Complain about this comment

  • 130. At 11:24am on 31 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @poitsplace #104

    You are over-interpreting and mis-interpreting that graph.

    The Climate Audit graph shows CO2 is no where near saturated. The fact that ozone and water vapour are even labelled, and that there are "windows" of very low absorption between them, is because CO2 is not saturated.

    http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/daly_spectra.gif

    That graph is only good at indicating IR absorption for a set amount of CO2, and it does so indirectly by showing radiance after absorption, hence the correlation with the swooping curves, and the fact that absorption is indicated by values being lower.

    I have found some graphs that tackle IR absorption by CO2 more directly. The graphs in this RealClimate link show absorption directly on a log scale. This means you can see that CO2 absorbs right across the spectrum, but in very tiny amounts for most of the spectrum for Earth levels of atmospheric CO2.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/a-saturated-gassy-argument-part-ii/

    Note, there is another difference between the two graphs, which contributes to their different look. For the RealClimate graph, the wavelength is shown directly in microns (one millionths of a metre), whereas your Climate Audit graph showed number of wavelengths per centimetre. So the RealClimate peak absorption at a wavelength of about 14.3 microns is consistent with the Climate Audit peak absorption at a wavelength where there are about 700 wavelengths per centimetre.

    Here is a very similar graph to your Climate Audit graph but showing wavelength along the top. This allows you to compare wavelengths between the different graph formats without resorting to a calculator.

    http://www.barrettbellamyclimate.com/userimages/Iraq2.jpg

    Meanwhile your comments about the effect of temperature on the ability of molecules to absorb energy suggest you aren't aware that a well mixed gas at a fixed temperature actually has molecules at different energies, with the average thermal energy giving the temperature.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell%E2%80%93Boltzmann_distribution

    Your point about lapse rates is irrelevant, and could be described as an accidental cherry pick. I did not say dry lapse rate, I just said lapse rate. In this case the lapse rate would be the global lapse rate, averaged by influence.

    Complain about this comment

  • 131. At 11:32am on 31 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @Robert Lucien #125

    I think I need to clarify my position on this, and your position when you debate with bowmanthebard.

    I had a similar discussion with bowmanthebard some weeks back. The debate was torpedoed by our constant misunderstandings of each other.

    Bowmanthebard is familiar with science but he has a philosophy background. This means that subtle differences in language between science and philosophy can cause misunderstandings when he debates with those whose position is the opposite.

    Take some advice from his hero Wittgenstein. Avoid the slippery ice of the pure abstract wherever possible. Try and use the rough ground of concrete examples instead.

    Complain about this comment

  • 132. At 12:39pm on 31 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #131 JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    "Bowmanthebard is familiar with science but he has a philosophy background."

    That's not strictly true. My family were much involved in zoology, and I was pretty much brought up with that. I went into engineering, with the intention of becoming an aeronautical engineer, strangely because that is what Wittgenstein did although I had never heard of him at the time. I got bored of engineering and switched to pure maths for my primary degree. It was only after that that I went into philosophy, partly because one of my text books said something like "probability 100% = true, probability 0% = false", which is an outrage against common sense and conceptual decency! (It's a common-or-garden confusion of truth and certainty.)

    If I use terms slightly differently from the way you're familiar with, that might sometimes be because I'm trying to avoid all-too-common conceptual confusions that arise within science.

    It's a tragedy that in the last 200 years "science" has become a separate discipline from "natural philosophy". It's bad for philosphy because people who study it are almost all "humanities people", sickeningly deferential to scientists, and it's bad for science because scientists are no lomnger having their terrible conceptual errors pointed out to them. The forelock-tugging deference thing again.

    Complain about this comment

  • 133. At 12:39pm on 31 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @MangoChutneyUKOK #127

    I was addressing the specific issue of why it wasn't being revived. Not why it was put on hold.

    However your theory that it was chopped for being too sceptic is not the only possibility. It may have been a pilot and deemed to have not drummed up sufficient interest from the licence fee paying public. It may have been the baby of a BBC employee who left. It may have been the victim of minor efficiency savings that never made the headlines. Perhaps to a BBC manager not spending a lot of time following either thought it looked too similar to the environment section of the news.

    However if it was chopped for being sceptic I can understand why. You sceptics are always demanding balance. Superficially the blog looks as if it is supposed to be internally balanced, rather than acting as a sceptic balance to pro-AGW material elsewhere in the BBC.

    This gives another potential reason - perhaps the Blog of Bloom was discontinued - perhaps the BBC wished to try a more integrated fix to balance, such as a more overtly sceptic blogger in the main site. The gap between the last Blog of Bloom entry and the first Paul Hudson entry is two months and eleven days, which included the holiday month of August.

    Blog of Bloom - last entry 29 July
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/climatechange/

    Paul Hudson's blog - first entry 9 October
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/paulhudson/paul_hudson_/

    Incidentally "almost a year" seems an exaggeration for eight months and two days.

    Complain about this comment

  • 134. At 12:49pm on 31 Mar 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @Robert Lucien #125
    @blunderbunny #129

    All these references to flying pigs - Pink Floyd aren't really my cup of tea, but ...

    http://blogs.artvoice.com/avdaily/2009/11/07/tonight-when-pigs-fly-nietzsches/

    :-)

    Complain about this comment

  • 135. At 1:08pm on 31 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #131 JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    "Take some advice from his hero Wittgenstein. Avoid the slippery ice of the pure abstract wherever possible. Try and use the rough ground of concrete examples instead."

    That's good advice, and it's made me forgive all your horrid cruel teasing yesterday. Back to the rough ground!

    Complain about this comment

  • 136. At 5:32pm on 31 Mar 2010, blunderbunny wrote:

    @JaneBasingstoke #134

    Okay Jane, it's a fair cop. Flying pigs are already here - Who knew?

    Well, obviously you did and the person/persons that made the balloon and the journalist that wrote the report and all those Pink Floyd fans and the members of Pink Floyd themselves, their wives, their wives tennis partners and anyone who just happened to be walking by or surfing the net looking for flying pigs, but apart from all of them, who knew?

    I'll try to pick my close to zero probability targets a bit more carefully in future ;-)

    Complain about this comment

  • 137. At 09:19am on 01 Apr 2010, Robert Lucien wrote:

    Now I understand things a little more, I think I understand why you dislike so much overuse of numbers bowman, its a complaint I have made myself. When I use those percentages I am not trying to reduce fuzz just to quantify it.

    My background was originally in Strong AI, so in a way you could see my work as trying to quantify 'the whole of reality'. AI can even codify God - though you cannot actually compute it, at least not without some kind of quantum cogitator.
    I've also veered into the realm of physics and the theory of pure computation... did you know how complex the relationship between abstract and non-abstract logic is ?
    Among the abstract ie non-real - speed, it is always a component of a vector.
    The past and future, they are merely components of the present. Humans create an imaginary realm called the past because it is in their memory - purely a component of the present. T is a constant far more absolute than c and in reality always T = 0 - point time. Within the point is a line probably somewhere between an Angstrom and a centimetre long, the actual size of time, the inner curve of the lightcone, the place where the dragons live - The quantum limit. Now that’s a precision of 1 in 10^7, an accuracy of 0.00001% but then its size is probably variable.


    Back to AI, AI has a lot to say about the nature of language and abstraction and logic and so on. Human logic is arbitrary, there is no universal right or wrong about anything only assertions. The ultimate rule in human logic is that 'the base is free' which means that it is programmable. We are only defined by the local programming of our own logic, most of which is learned. Language and maths are simply imprints on a symbolic logic underlayer.
    This means that there is no way to pin down (internal) reality arbitrarily. Pining down the outer logic space gives a phase space that is unimaginably big and within that human reason is a probe that is very small and very finite. From this we are dependent on sets of arbitrary rules to exist, and maths is just another set of rules. The computing core of sentience is totality, and totality is non-computable by normal logic - or maths. It can be computed using temporal superposition and other tricks of course.

    Its not off topic BTW because people, even climate scientists are driven by prediction and subliminal 'precognition' - and the problem is that both are equally unreliable.

    Complain about this comment

  • 138. At 12:17pm on 01 Apr 2010, Tim Vesty wrote:

    Hello all.

    I find it really sad to think of all the amazing creatures that our children and grand children are not going to see. These countries that say quotas are wrong because they say it is not their fault, punish the rich not them and just don't want to have rules forced on them are obviously ran by people that really just do not see any value in anything apart from a price and certainly do not think that any other species should have a right to exist. There are just as many people like them in the UK.

    This is obviously a worldwide problem that is going to ruin the world. The people with the power and wealth, got to be in that position by having attitudes and behaviours that are damaging to the planet.
    Yet again, selfishness and greed, that age old curse, is going to wreck everything for all the other species and us.

    I sometimes wonder if the price of oil sky rocketed, whether it would make it too expensive to go out fishing, they would then have to raise prices and then only the rich could eat fish. This would be better for the fish as there would not be as many consumers of fish.

    The only way to stop these people is to cost them money. It needs an eco super power to have a chance. If all the charities and countries who were bothered about the world joined forces, they could hopefully raise enough money to to be able to influence the share prices of companies that pillage the environment and cost the people that run them. They could also indirectly affect activities that damage the environment by making it cost more to do it and reduce the damage going on.

    Spending money on educating people won't work. The people who have power and money are already educated and they don't give a damn about anything. They will have to be made to pay or they will keep on doing it.

    If enough people/countries united against it, there might be a big enough financial lever to affect these people and companies. They would have to take account of us or we would be able to make there share price fall or make there activities too costly. Obviously there would not be enough money to take them all out but at least you would have a bargaining tool to give them a bit of fear.

    Affecting their share price is propbably not legal here but there are ways and means it could happen. The world is full of corruption, as you well know, that goes unchallenged. So why not conspire to bring down companies and people that are wrecking our world? After all they don't give a damn about you or any other species.

    Complain about this comment

  • 139. At 5:48pm on 01 Apr 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    "After all they don't give a damn about you or any other species."

    When using the pronoun 'you', do you mean to address an entire species, or some individuals who belong to a species, ? Normally, 'you' applies to individual sentient people. Species aren't sentient, so there are very sensible reasons for caring less about these mindless groups of individuals than sentient individuals who have minds.

    Complain about this comment

  • 140. At 2:29pm on 02 Apr 2010, Tim Vesty wrote:

    Hi Bowmanthebard

    Ha ha very funny. How many other species read this site apart from "you"?

    Complain about this comment

  • 141. At 10:34pm on 02 Apr 2010, Robert Lucien wrote:

    What about the 14 foot high lizards that run the world?

    Complain about this comment

  • 142. At 1:32pm on 03 Apr 2010, Tim Vesty wrote:

    Don't worry about them. They will soon get sick of banging their heads on our doorways and having to stoop in our pubs.

    Complain about this comment

  • 143. At 4:42pm on 03 Apr 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #140 Tim Vesty wrote:

    "How many other species read this site apart from "you"?"

    I'm not a non-sentient species, but a sentient member of a non-sentient species. There is a heck of a difference. The loss of a species is of little or no moral importance, and can often be a good thing.

    Suppose humans decided that they didn't want to have children any more, so they all used contraception. End of the human species. Is that bad? -- No, because every sentient individual got what they want, and no sentient individual got what they didn't want. That is all that is morally relevant.

    Complain about this comment

  • 144. At 11:28am on 05 Apr 2010, Robert Lucien wrote:

    Sorry bowman but that is simply something we will never see. A lot of scientists have known this for decades, intelligent people are the ultimate natural minority - one in ten at most. Most of the rest are no smarter than insects, they breed, their programmed to breed- its an instinct. We can't out-compete them, we can't out-breed them. The horrible rules of genetics mean that naturally intelligent people don't even produce intelligent children, intelligence is recessive. And yes I'm using 'intelligence' rather than 'sentience', but you generally need one for the other.

    Complain about this comment

  • 145. At 10:34am on 06 Apr 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard
    @Robert Lucien

    Oh that explains things. That's been my mistake. I've been talking to my betters and I don't even make the grade for basic sentience.

    :-p

    Complain about this comment

  • 146. At 4:00pm on 06 Apr 2010, Robert Lucien wrote:

    Sorry JaneBasingstoke but you are right (shamefaced), and you definitely make the grade for basic sentience. Around election time I always start despairing of human stupidity, people vote for anything sparkly.

    The truth and I should know it is that intelligence is not a mere inherited trait anyway, its a matter of application and diligence and self belief and above all training. (almost) Anyone can make themselves intelligent- like art its 90% perspiration. Sadly the AI modality shows that in personality most people really are little smarter than insects - we all follow our instincts.

    Complain about this comment

  • 147. At 10:42am on 08 Apr 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @Robert Lucien

    Actually I see a lot of intelligence.

    Very few voters swallow a party's political line whole, even active supporters will push hard to ensure their party has healthy internal debate. Most voters vote for the least worst option. And so much of our humour derives from recognising the flaws in politics and the weaknesses of many politicians.

    Complain about this comment

  • 148. At 10:58am on 08 Apr 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @Robert Lucien

    Actually I see a lot of intelligence.

    Very few voters swallow a party's political line whole, even active supporters will push hard to ensure their party has healthy internal debate. Most voters vote for the least worst option. And so much of our humour derives from recognising the flaws in politics and the weaknesses of many politicians.

    Complain about this comment

  • 149. At 12:38pm on 08 Apr 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    OK, sorry for repeats.

    Bug in system made it look as if my #147 had been lost.

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.