February 5, 2012

The Science Show

ABC Radio National

Matt Smith:
The World Health Organisation estimates that air pollution causes at least 6.5 million premature deaths a year worldwide, and a study released by the International Energy Agency states one-third of those deaths occur in China.
(Tackling air pollution in China, 3 December 2016)

Tony Abbott:
Coal is good for humanity.
Coal is good for prosperity.
Coal is an essential part of our economic future, here in Australia, and right around the world.
(The March of Coal, 27 August 2016)

Robyn Williams:
[According to] the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation [Australia is currently] fifth from last in the league of governments supporting science-based innovation [ie 52nd out of 56 countries.]
(9 April 2016)

Ernest Gellner (1925–1995):
A society that lives by growth must needs pay a certain price.
The price of growth is eternal innovation.
Innovation in turn presupposes unceasing occupational mobility …
(Nationalism and the Two Forms of Cohesion in Complex Societies, in Culture, Identity, and Politics, Cambridge University Press, 1987, p 15)

Maurice Newman (1938) [Business Advisor to Prime Minister Abbott]:
The CSIRO … has 27 scientists dedicated to climate change.
It, and the weather bureau, continue to propagate the myth of [anthropogenic] climate change, and are likely to be background critics of the Coalition's Direct Action policy.
(Fran Kelly, Climate Commission axed — Climate Change Authority next, Breakfast, ABC Radio National, 20 September 2013)

Larry Marshall


CSIRO CEO, Venture Capitalist and Physicist

We're reducing our labour in [climate] modelling and measurement by about half [ie by 100-110 FTE.]
[We're] not the only people doing measurement …
(CSIRO boss Larry Marshall sorry for saying politics of climate 'more like religion than science', ABC News, 12 February 2016)

[What would it take to change my mind?]
For that to happen, someone's going to have to convince me that measuring and modelling is far more important than mitigation …
(CSIRO boss defends shake-up, says politics of climate 'more like religion than science', ABC News, 11 February 2016)

Our climate models are among the best in the world and our measurements honed those models to prove global climate change.
That question has been answered, and the new question is what do we do about it, and how can we find solutions for the climate we will be living with? …

However, as our business unit leaders [aka senior scientists] work through the process of realigning their teams for the new strategy it is inevitable that there will be job losses. …
Our headcount is projected to be unchanged at the end of a two year period, but it is anticipated there could be up to 175 less CSIRO people per year during this two year transition.
There will be reductions in headcount in Data61, Oceans & Atmosphere, Land & Water and Manufacturing, but other business units will also be impacted in that changes in capabilities are required and there will also be some transfer of personnel. …
[This] is something that we must do to renew our business.
(All Staff Email, 4 February 2016)

[The good side of low staff turnover is] that means people love working for CSIRO; but on the bad side most companies have much higher turnover than we do …
The good thing about turnover is it creates a career path for junior scientists to aspire to …
(Climate science on chopping block as CSIRO braces for shake-up, ABC News, 4 February 2016)

… innovation …
… innovation, … innovation. …
… innovation … innovation …
(Correcting the Public Record on Changes at CSIRO, 8 February 2016)

Would you like to know more?


Australian National Outlook 2015


Decisions we make as a society matter — and will shape Australia’s future more than decisions we make as businesses or individuals.
(p 18)

Across all scenarios analysed, we found that those scenarios where Australia and the world take stronger action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions show higher long-term economic growth and better environmental outcomes compared to scenarios that continue current trends. …
Synthetic solar gas and other zero-carbon energy [could] underpin Australia’s future energy and energy-intensive exports …
We find the additional benefits of stronger global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could outweigh the additional costs before 2050, due to projected shifts in national competitiveness rather than reduced physical climate impacts (which would largely occur after 2050). …
In our analysis, only the very strong global action scenarios limit the increase in global average temperature to 2°C. …
(p 26)

[While weaker action on climate change] is projected to result in better near-term economic performance, [it] risks damaging the natural assets and life-support systems on which our long-term wellbeing and economic security depend.
At this stage, our modelling does not fully account for the economic impacts of climate variability and extreme events — including droughts, floods, and storms — and so is likely to
  • understate the economic performance of scenarios involving very strong action, and
  • overstate the economic performance of scenarios with weaker action,
relative to existing trends.
(p 27, emphasis added)

[Furthermore,] we do not yet fully understand the potential cascading impacts of future climate change and extreme events on farms, sectors, and regions.

(CSIRO, October 2015, p 11)


Contents


Nice Guys and Bad Boys

Fasting and Longevity

Attitudes to Climate Change

The Only Planet We've Got

Wind Turbine Apocalypse

Rising Temperatures Across Australia

Measuring and Accounting for Sea-level Rise

The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality

Benefits of National Broadband: First Results to Come From Tasmania

How Plants React to Elevated Carbon Dioxide

Plastics Found in Sea Birds and Filter Feeders

How Plants Respond to Increasing Carbon Dioxide

Passive Infanticide

Reasons to be Hopeful

The Deficit Model

Spencer and Christy Mislead the World


Science Show


Robyn Williams (1944)

  • WA traditional sites lose protection, 31 August 2013.
  • Assessing water resources, 17 August 2013.
    Caroline Sullivan: Associate Professor of Environmental Economics and Policy, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
  • The jellyfish threat to salmon farms. And the human threat to all oceans., 3 August 2013.
    Lisa-ann Gershwin: Marine and Atmospheric Research, CSIRO.
  • How commentators and the blogosphere treat climate sceptics, 3 August 2013.
    Graham Readfearn.
  • Food chains at risk as krill threatened by heat and higher acidity 20 July 2013.
    Rob King: Marine Research Facility Specialist, Australian Antarctic Division.
  • Rising seas to push out 500 million, 20 July 2013.
    Johannes Luetz: PhD candidate, Institute of Environmental Studies, University of New South Wales.
  • What we look for when we choose a mate, 20 July 2013.
    Rob Brooks: Evolutionary Biologist, University of New South Wales.

    [For] women, how tall man is, how smart he is, how funny he is, how kind he is are all important.
    Then it boils down to more idiosyncratic things about what he believes and his approach to life and stuff, and those are often more compatibility issues than basic attraction issues. …

    For men, usually it's about youth still …
    There are body shape preferences that … are quite strong …

    [Both] men and women are hung up on women's looks.
    [Looks] are not only a way in which women attract men, there also a way in which they compete with other women. …

    [For women] the essential dilemma of choosing a man … is …
    • do I choose a man who's got great genes and who's great at competing with other men and who's going to really thrive and provide?
    • Or do I choose a man who's going to be a nice guy and I'm going to be able to get along with him and he's going to be a good dad?
    And good dads are much easier to get along with, they tend to be men with more feminised faces. …

    The bad boy … can be incredibly attractive, and yet at the same time are you safe with the bad boy?
    If he's bad with other people, is he going to be bad with me? …
    The ideal thing is to get men to mature, to cure them somehow into great dads and great partners.
    But does a leopard change his spots?
    There's [some] evidence that he does because nearly all men, once they settle down and once they become fathers their testosterone tends to go down, and so that's probably them settling into fatherhood, becoming a good dad, not being as keen on the argy-bargy that settles the business of who gets to mate. …

    For guys … you've just got to play the hand that is dealt you. …
    You can't fake it, you can't pretend to be a badder boy than you really are because you will be found out and you will be punished. …

    [In emerging] economies — where there is a lot of inequality and particularly where healthcare is bad [—] women tend to prefer men who are more masculine.
    So places like the Russian Federation, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico where there is still plenty of violence and there is still plenty of inequality that fuels that violence, that's where testosterone-heavy men are at a premium, whereas places like Australia and Western Europe where things are a little bit safer, we tend to go more for a metrosexualised male.

  • New telescope launched in remote Western Australia, 13 July 2013.
    Steven Tingay: Director, Murchison Widefield Array.
  • The Science Show goes to hell, 13 July 2013.
    Rowan Atkinson.
  • Taiji: Japan’s town for the slaughter of dolphins, 6 July 2013.
    Alastair Lucas: Animal Welfare Advocate, Melbourne.
  • The coming crisis for the oceans, 27 June 2013.
    Callum Roberts: Marine Conservation Biologist, Environment Department, University of York.
  • Climate science: beyond party politics, 8 June 2013.
  • Eat, Fast and Live Longer, 27 April 2013.
    Michael Mosley: Medical journalist.

    [Rats that on a] calorie restricted diet [live] up to 50% longer …
    [This finding has been replicated] in almost every animal species that has been tested.
    [Calorie] restriction is the only thing that has ever been shown to significantly extend life in mammals [— including among people during Great Depression. …]

    [Valter Longo (University of Southern California) says that after about 12 hours of fasting your body switches on around] 200 or 300 repair genes …
    It's during those periods [the mitochondria] get refurbished.
    The old ones get chucked out, new ones come along.
    So this sort of spring cleaning takes place but only when you're not eating …

  • Solar lanterns replace kerosene killers in Africa, 6 April 2013.
    Jeremy Leggett: Solar Aid, UK.
  • Attitudes to climate change, 24 November 2012.
    Stephan Lewandowsky: Winthrop Professor in Psychology, University of Western Australia.

    … I became interested in scepticism generally a couple of years ago in the context of the Iraq War, and I discovered people who were sceptical of the reasons underlying the war processed information more accurately. …
    [In] 2009 when there was this eruption of so-called scepticism with regard to climate change I thought, well, let's look at this and see if these people are really sceptics.
    And [when I looked] at the scientific literature and at what these so-called sceptics were saying, and I discovered that [they] weren't sceptical at all …
    [They] were rejecting the science [not] on the basis [of the] evidence [but because of] some other factor.

    [The] motivating factor behind the rejection of climate science is people's ideology or personal worldview …
    [Their] fundamental attitudes towards how a society should be structured. …
    [We found that those who endorse] an extreme version of free-market fundamentalism are likely to reject
    • climate science …
    • the link between smoking and lung cancer
    • [and] the link between HIV and AIDS.
    [There] seems to be something about an extremist free-market ideology that prevents people from accepting scientific evidence.

    I've been doing some research for the past year or so chasing people on the left side of politics who are rejecting scientific findings, and it turns out that that search has been extremely difficult.
    I've [also tried to do research on] people on the left side of politics who are rejecting scientific findings …
    [That] search has been extremely difficult.
    I've done a number of studies, including one most recently that involved a representative sample of Americans, a very large sample, and I looked at attitudes towards GM foods and towards vaccinations.
    [Statistically] you cannot detect much of an effect from the political left. …

    [If] you're driven by ideology rather than evidence then by an act of projection you have to accuse scientists of being religious in order to justify your own denial …

    [One] of the intriguing results is that neither education nor intelligence is overcoming the influence of ideology.
    [Among] Republicans the greater their level of education, the more likely they are to reject climate science.
    [In] other words, educating Republicans drives them more towards denial, whereas if you educate Democrats … you find that the more educated they are, the more they accept the scientific findings. …
    [Furthermore,] if you ask [conservatives] about their rated self-professed knowledge of climate science … the more they think they understand the science, the more they will reject it. …

    [Roughly] 97% of climate scientists agree on the fundamentals …
    [Indeed,] if you [show] people … a graph that shows 97 people who agree on one thing and then there are three who don't, that consensus information does shift people's attitudes.
    [That] shift in attitudes is particularly pronounced among people who would otherwise reject climate science based on their personal ideology. …

    [There] have been a lot of analyses [demonstrating that] certain publications out of the Murdoch empire are systematically misrepresenting the science, distorting it, representing things that are simply not true.
    That happens over and over again and is difficult to explain by any sort of random process.
    There must be something else going on there.
    And … one of the consequences is that this fringe opinion has taken hold in public discourse.

    [About] 40% to 45% of the people will acknowledge the fact that the globe is warming, but [will claim] it's all natural fluctuation.
    [Yet, if you then] ask them who was responsible for global warming [—] even the people who just said it was all natural [will] pick 'polluting corporations', 'large industrialised countries' [etc — out of a list of possible causes.]
    That tells us that these people actually know who is responsible.
    [Their] 'denial' is … a tool [that allows then to exercise] wishful thinking [and to avoid having to change their behavior.]

    So what we have to [do is reframe] climate change and a way that [underscores]
    • the [business] opportunities [presented by] clean energy [etc, and]
    • that the problem is solvable [— albeit] with considerable effort and money …

    Would you like to know more?

  • Extreme weather: the records which are being broken, 10 November 2012.
    Kevin Trenberth: Distinguished Senior Scientist, Climate Analysis Section, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder Colorado USA.

    [The] ratio of the [warm records to cold records broken] {in the US …}
    • in the 1950s it was about 1 to 1 …
    • {in the '60 and '70s} the cold records were actually exceeding the warm records [ie the warm:cold ratio was less than 1 to 1]
    • in the '80s it was edging up more to more warm records …
    • [in] the '90s it was about 1.4 to 1 …
    • by the 2000s it was about 2 to 1 …
    • 2010 it's about 2.3 to 1,
    • 2011 it was 2.7 to 1, and
    • for the first six months [of 2012] it was running at a ratio of 9 to 1. …
    We are breaking records on the high side …
    [This] is not something that would occur in an unchanging climate.

    [On] on 7 February [2009, 'Black Saturday'], Melbourne got up to 46.4°C [or 117°F].
    There was drought for about two months.
    Prior to this there were intense heatwaves [and] very strong winds …
    [There] were bushfires … and over a million acres were burnt …
    [There] were 173 deaths, and 2,030 houses were destroyed. …

    [In] August 2010 [the Russian heat wave led to] 56,000 deaths, $15 billion in damages estimated, over 2,000 buildings destroyed [by wildfires], there were major crop failures, especially wheat. …
    [At] the same time … there was flooding in [China, India and Pakistan which displaced] something like 300,000 people …

    [From April to May,] 2011 there was tremendous flooding along the Mississippi River [—] the third '500-year flood' in the last 20 years. …

    [In 2012] there was the so-called Waldo Canyon fire where there were 346 homes lost, and … the High Park fire near Fort Collins, 259 houses lost. …
    The average temperature was over 35°C in many regions. …
    [We] broke most of the records that occurred back in the 1930s [during] the so-called dustbowl era …

    [How much of this] is this due to global warming? …
    {[Most is due to] natural variability, the weather.}
    [But superimposed on this natural variability is] a global warming component [which is] in the neighbourhood of 5% to 10% …
    [That's] the kind of number you get in an extended drought.

    [It's] highly likely that these events would not have occurred without global warming.
    [And just] remember, this is the only planet we've got. …

  • Curious distribution for wind turbine sickness, 20 October 2012.
    Simon Chapman: School of Public Health, University of Sydney.

    New technology has long attracted concerns about modern health worries.
    {Australian hysteria about mobile telephone towers had its heyday in the late 1990s …
    There are now [19 reviews] of the evidence on harm [all of] which are consistent [with] insignificant risk.}
    [And yet, in] 35 years in public health I have never encountered anything remotely as apocalyptic [as WTS]. …

    There are several reasons to suspect the unrecognised entity of wind turbine syndrome is psychogenic, a communicated disease spread by anti-wind interest groups, sometimes with connections to fossil fuel interests.

    Wind farms first appeared about 20 years ago in the USA and have rapidly proliferated.
    There are now just shy of 200,000 turbines around the world …
    [The] first recorded claims about diseases occurred a decade later when two rural doctors in Wales and Victoria made widely repeated claims that have never been published in any research journal. …
    {[They include] health problems [commonly] found in all communities, whether they have wind turbines or not … greying hair, energy loss, concentration lapses, weight gain and loss, and all the problems of ageing …}
    Turbines are said to cause both chronic conditions [—] lung and skin cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis [— and] acute symptoms.
    According to … Sarah Laurie, an unregistered [Australian] doctor, these can commence within 20 minutes of exposure. …
    Why [then] do citizens [with] community owned turbines in … Germany and Denmark rarely complain?
    [And, why] are complaints unknown in Western Australia where wind farms have operated for many years? …}

    {[It seems that problems only occur] in particular regions and around certain farms and involve a small fraction of residents.}
    Many wind farms have operated for years and never received a single complaint. …
    Opponents … concede that only a [susceptible] minority of those exposed report being ill …
    [But this does not explain how] whole regions and indeed nations [appear to] have no susceptible residents …

    The key factor seems to be the presence … of anti-wind activists …
    Farms with years of community acceptance can erupt with complaints when anti-wind activists arrive in town …
    Prominent among these … are wealthy conservative landowners, appalled by [visibility of wind turbines owned by their less well-off neighbors who need to generate] extra income from their often hilly, poorer quality land. …

    Health complaints are rare among turbine hosts and from those financially benefiting from communal ownership arrangements.
    In Australia … a turbine can earn a host between $7,000 and $18,000 a year.
    Hosts speak of drought proofing their farms when several turbines are hosted. …

    In rural Australia, residential buyouts from mining companies are common. …
    So when a cashed up company appears in the district, it is understandable that some see their ticket out via protracted complaints.

    A recent Canadian case collapsed when [complainants refused to] provide their medical records going back 10 years [ostensibly because it was] too difficult to obtain … documentation that every doctor routinely keeps.

    Opponents claimed that turbine hosts are gagged by confidentiality clauses …
    I've seen several contracts [none of which required hosts to waive] their common-law rights to claims of negligence. …

    Would you like to know more?

  • The Origins of Morality, 23 June 2012.
    Frans De Waal: Professor of Primate Behaviour, Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta.
  • The Turing Machine, 2 June 2012.
    Charles Petzold: Computer Programmer.
  • Rising temperatures across Australia, 26 May 2012.
    Joelle Gergis: Postdoctoral Climate Research Fellow, University of Melbourne.

    [Based on our study of 27 climate proxies recently published in the Journal Of Climate, the] post-1950 temperatures in the Australasian region are the warmest of the last 1,000 years. …

    [We] didn't see a really distinct warming period [corresponding to the Medieval Warming Period] described in different parts of the northern hemisphere …

    [We] looked at the influence of natural factors [— volcanic eruptions, solar activity, atmosphere ocean circulation patterns — and] found that the observed changes that we saw in the post-1950 period in our reconstruction could not be explained by natural factors alone.
    The only way that we could reproduce the warming that we see in the late 20th century is when we [included] the influence of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. …

    This study is Australasia's contribution to the Past Climate section of the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. …

    Instead of just developing a single reconstruction … we did our reconstruction 3,000 times, which allows us to get a sense of how unusual some of these extreme temperatures are in a longer-term context.
    [We found] that in 95% of the 3,000 reconstructions, the post-1950 period is the warmest in the last 1,000 years. …

    Would you like to know more?

  • Empathy used to understand behaviour of others, 28 April 2012.
    Kimberly Schonert-Reichl: Associate Professor, Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology and Special Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
  • Understanding animal behaviour, 28 April 2012.
    John Endler.
  • Measuring and accounting for sea-level rise, 31 March 2012.
    John Church: CSIRO Fellow, Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart.

    The current rate of rise as measured by satellite altimeter is about 3.1 mm per year since the start of 1993 …
    [With] tide gauges we get … just fractionally less than 3 mm per year …
    But both of these measurements are significantly larger than what we have for the 20th century alone which is about 1.7 mm per year. …
    Whether this is a sustained acceleration or a sustained increase in the rate of rise or just some natural variability is as yet unclear.

    The Greenland ice sheet contains about seven metres of sea-level equivalent …
    We could commit to that happening within the century, but it won't actually occur for many centuries….
    [If] we want to actually avoid those large rises, it's something that we can work towards now, but it means now.
    We can't postpone this decision until the end of the century.
    Once we get to 3°C it will be too late.

  • The Republican Brain, 31 March 2012.
    Chris Mooney: Author, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science — and Reality.

    Chris Mooney:
    There's a continuum in terms of the psychology of ideology.
    [You] have a middle and you have extremes.
    US politics is totally responsive to the extremes right now …

    The mobilisation of the modern American conservative movement [was] set in motion at the time of Nixon …
    [It] created various institutions, from media institutions to think tanks.
    [A] certain kind of right-wing personality was activated … by culture war issues in the '60s and '70s.
    [Rigid,] hierarchical [people who] view the world in black and white …
    Christian conservatives [who] used to be southern Democrats …
    [The] Republican Party moved all these people over, and [this has] produced a kind of politics that is polarised.

    Robyn Williams:
    There [seem to be] some parts of the American polity that want … revenge for the '60s …
    [To] go back to the kinds of things that happened before in terms of values …
    [They] want to turn back the clock of history …

    Chris Mooney:
    They [also] view politics as kind of a zero-sum conflict; only one side can win, and it has to be us …
    [This] is one of the [most] consistent distinguishers between the psychology of the left and right. …

    [Some] people aren't [exploratory — they have a] need for closure …
    [Something] that you can be sure about and that you don't have to change …
    [Then] you can engage in seizing and freezing …
    [You] seize on information and then you freeze because you've got enough [and] you don't have to find any more …
    [The] Tea Party on global warming … are more wrong about it than even non-Tea Party Republicans in terms of denying the science …
    [They] are more sure [both that they're right, and] that they don't need any more information. …
    [The Republicans have] an electoral [edge] because they are more consistent, they stick to their team and they stay on course. …

    [There] is still a large swathe of 'independents' [who] range from the people who just don't know anything about politics and don't pay enough attention to know what they think, and [ideological] libertarians who are … mixed, social, liberal, fiscal [conservatives.] …

    … Obama is always trying to compromise [but the] House Republicans are just at war with him, unwilling to compromise …

    Robyn Williams:
    [It's] almost impossible to believe [that you have had], for three years, a budget that has not been confirmed. …

    Chris Mooney:
    [It's because] politics in the United States has become like war …
    You saw the debt ceiling debate …
    [We] almost crashed the ship for no reason except intransigence. …

    [It's] not easy to think of what the solution is because we're polarised in part by media. …
    My argument to science is to … do the research on communication [—] what fails and what doesn't …
    [Conservatives] will reject information [if] it is framed in a [way that] upsets their values …
    [Scientists] are exploratory, they're tentative in their beliefs, they're interested in learning new things and gathering new information.
    [They] have to realise that not everybody is like [them], not everybody digs this whole enlightenment thing, which is ultimately what divides us.

  • Is monogamy unnatural?  21 January 2012.
    Dr Christopher Ryan: Psychologist.
  • Benefits of national broadband: first results to come from Tasmania, 18 February 2012.
    Peter Rathjen: Vice-Chancellor, University of Tasmania, Hobart Tasmania.

    Peter Rathjen:
    People think about the NBN and they think about high-speed downloads, better videos and the like.
    The other side to the NBN is ubiquitous connectivity;
    everyone can talk to everyone else all the time.
    You can therefore distribute sensors right the way across a city or in our case right the way across an island, measure all aspects of activity, energy flow, carbon flow, water flow, population flow, transport flow.
    You can accumulate those data through the broadband network and you can sit it in data centres where you can interrogate the data, make meaningful deductions from the data, and then deliver solutions which can change the way that the island or the society operates. …

    [We] have some very large international corporations involved, and they see that by bringing their skills in data management and in planning, in looking at problems that will confront us, water use, infrastructure upgrades in our cities, logistics flows around the nation and so on and so forth, that there are large markets which commercial bodies will access.
    The universities at the same time see interesting research projects and social benefit. …

    [For example,] we think we can massively reduce the amount of water that is required in irrigated farming practices, and that should be quite quick to show.
    [What] we would be doing is to make Tasmania far more competitive in an economic sense.
    We would be then designing benefits that could be rolled out across the rest of Australia;
    if you solve water use down here, it's just as useful in the Murray Darling basin.
    If you can control logistics movement through the ports and across the roads, that works for mining communities elsewhere in Australia, but so too you should be delivering commercial solutions that could be sold overseas.

    Robyn Williams:
    The example that you've got here already of planning for weather and climate changes on a very, very narrow local basis … down to the square 10 kilometres …

    Peter Rathjen:
    That's right … across Australia and in Tasmania we have historical data that tells us, for example, about microclimates.
    What we can do now is feed into that real-time data that can tell us what is coming in the next short term.
    Farmers can therefore change irrigation practices or start to think about what diseases might be about to happen.
    Floods might be able to be predictable, or other kinds of natural disasters might be able to be managed [more effectively.]

    Robyn Williams:
    And maybe that initiative will help change Australia's image as a weak performer in innovation …
    [We] are only 16th out of the top 30 countries in a survey published this week.

  • Denial Tango, 17 December 2011.
    Men With Day Jobs.
  • Big changes in carbon output being achieved, 1 October, 2011.
    David King: Director, Smith School Enterprise and the Environment, Oxford.
  • Putting a Smile on Climate, 20 August 2011.
    Patrick Cook and Rod Quantock: Comedians.
  • Climate changes for Tasmania, 30 July 2011.
    Nathan Bindoff: Project leader, Climate Futures for Tasmania, Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  • How plants react to elevated carbon dioxide, 27 August 2011.
    Mark Hovenden: Associate Professor in Plant ecology, School of Plant Science, University of Tasmania.

    [We] found is that there's almost no stimulation in any year ever of growth at the higher carbon dioxide concentration and that's because … across Australia, it's not the concentration of carbon that is limiting these plants' growth, [it's] nutrients and … water. …

    Some … experiments in other parts of the world have shown … a 10 to 15 percent increase in growth on average [and] an increase in sequestration [eg in the] aspen forests in North America and in clover-rye grass type of pastures in Europe.

    [However, the] terrestrial biosphere does not have the capacity to absorb the extra carbon that is being emitted.
    Even if all land clearing was halted and much of the cleared land was reconverted to vegetation and to forests, … there is still not the [capacity for] the terrestrial biosphere to absorb all of this carbon. …
    The natural processes of decomposition and respiration that occur in all living organisms releases a huge volume of carbon dioxide and the biosphere is already flat out absorbing all of that.

  • Plastics found in sea birds and filter feeders, 27 August 2011.
    Jennifer Lavers: Zoologist, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

    [We] removed 276 pieces of plastic from a single mutton bird [a small seabird or a shearwater].
    … 15 per cent of that bird's body mass was made up by plastic, so that's you or I ingesting somewhere between 10 and 12 kilograms worth of plastic …

    There have been studies done that have shown that the toxicity of the surface of the plastic is more than 100 times the level found in the surrounding ocean water.
    [The] plastic is like a little toxic bullet and when it gets swallowed by the bird or the dolphin or turtle and gets taken into the body, those toxins leach off the surface of the plastic and into the bloodstream of the animal and are incorporated into the tissues. …
    [The] average flesh footed shearwater on Lord Howe Island contains 11,000 parts per million [of mercury].
    [One] individual had 33,000 parts per million of mercury.
    [That] is 6,000 times what we know to be toxic to birds.
    [We're] very unsure as to how these individuals are even alive. …

    Plastic doesn't actually biodegrade.
    [When] exposed to wind and wave and cold and UV, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces
    [What] we're finding is that things like mussels and clams and sea cucumbers, and anything really that lives in the ocean and filters the ocean water, has these micro particles of plastic inside of them and indeed, those micro particles are still very toxic.

  • Reasons to be hopeful, 1 January 2011.
    Tim Flannery: Professor of Environmental Science, Macquarie University, Sydney.

    We've seen the IPCC projections are now ground truthed against real world change, and we see that we're tracking the worst case scenario, which is 6° of warming. …

    [In] 2001, the IPCC produced these projections and they indicated that if we double CO2 above pre-industrial levels there's a 60% chance that the result will be a 2° or 3° rise in temperature, a 10% chance of a 1° rise and 10% rise of a 6° rise.
    Because those projections were done ten years ago, scientists are now going back and looking at the real world data and saying were the projections right or not?
    It turns out that they were wrong.
    They were too conservative, at least for the early part of the projection curve.
    We're seeing the worst case scenario unfold. …

    So to a question about new technologies and how they could make a difference. …
    One of the more interesting examples [is] a plunger-like device with a filter in it, that you can put basically into sewerage and suck on it and you'll get drinkable water out of the top. …
    It will just do away with so much disease and give people an opportunity to really do something.
    … I'm a bit involved with [the Tata group], but 76% of the profit they make goes to charities.

    The head of the Tata Group of Companies [is] Naval Ratan Tata.
    When this idea was brought forward to him about this plunger to clean water out, he said this is a very good idea but there's one thing wrong with it, he said, we're making too much profit from it.
    He asked the people to go back and trim the profit margins to bring it more readily available to the poorest Indians. …

    The UN earlier this year finished its 8th or 10th biennial census of population across the world. …
    The projections … say that we could get away with as few as eight billion people on the earth by 2050, if we invest in the education of women and in bettering their economic lot, in the poorest women on the planet.

  • Lessons from East Anglia, 25 September 2010.
    Mike Hulme
  • Sceptics' publishing record on climate, 2 October 2010.
    Stephen Schneider.
  • How plants respond to increasing carbon dioxide, 3 July 2010.
    Ross Gleadow: Associate Professor in Plant ecology, School of Plant Science, University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay.

    [Plants] increase in efficiency when you grow them at high carbon dioxide [allocating] more resources for defence against pests …
    [It's] the ratio of protein to cyanide that is the crucial factor. …
    [Cyanide tolerance depends on] how much protein you also eat. …

    [With clover] the cyanide per mass of leaf didn't change but the protein decreased … by 40%.
    That study was done in a glasshouse under certain controlled conditions, and we're repeating [it] as part of … AGFACE, the Free Air CO2 Experiment in western Victoria … in about two or three weeks time. …

    The preliminary tests we did on cassava [showed] that they grew worse under twice the current atmospheric level of carbon dioxide.

    So if wheat is going to have 20% less protein … you would need to eat more wheat or rice … to get your protein content. …

    [However, doubling] the output of food with half the inputs by 2050 is not easy if you're dealing with increasing aridity, decreasing arable land due to urbanisation [and] decreasing availability of fertilisers [ie] peak phosphate in 2030 [and an] increased cost of nitrogen.

  • Scientists respond to climate change doubts, 3 July 2010.
  • Climate Change Scepticism: Its Sources and Strategies, AAAS Forum, 3 April 2010.
  • Public trust in science, AAAS Forum, 6 March 2010.
    Ralph Cicerone, James McCarthy and Martin Rees.

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