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Thu, 2010-11-04 14:29Richard Littlemore
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Environment Minister Prentice Quits for CIBC Job

Jim Prentice, whose been kicked around on this blog for most of his term as federal Environment Minister, has announced he is quitting politics for a job at one of Canada’s big banks. I fear we’re going to miss him.

Prentice stepped into the Environment Minister’s job in 2008, just in time to offer up a disappointing performance at the Poznan climate change conference a couple of months later. That was a shame, because after the more-obnoxious turns of predecessors John Baird and Rona Ambrose, we’d been optimistic that Prentice might be an improvement.

Now, practicing hindsight, it’s clear that he was. Sure, he continued as Stephen Harper’s mouthpiece, inevitably having to take responsibility for the actions of a governing party that thinks climate change is a good thing (it gets makes it easier to get to Arctic gas and oil). But at least Prentice had the decency to look like he was embarrassed by the role. And, as the Globe and Mail reports in its parting feature, the last few decisions that Prentice has made were both surprising and reassuring from an environmental perspective.

Prentice has often been identified as a potential successor to the perennial minority Prime Minister Stephen Harper - a man who will never win the trust of enough Canadians to lead his government into majority territory. Maybe this is Prentice’s “John Turner moment,” a detour to Bay Street where he can wait in greater comfort and less humiliation for the PM’s job to open up.

We hope. We always hope.

Wed, 2010-11-03 10:16Richard Littlemore
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Arctic Sea Ice Trends: Down, Down Down

Two graphs, inluding the brand new one to the left, show two (mutually affirming) analyses of the trajectory of Arctic sea ice over the last 30 years.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center graph (left) shows Average Monthly Sea Ice Extent. The figure below shows a Polar Science Center model-generated calculation of Sea Ice Volume. Notwithstanding that NSIDC reports Arctic temperatures in October were 4 to 6 degrees Celsius (7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal, there is something chilling in the similarity of the two graphs. 

PIOMAS Ice Volume Anomaly

Tue, 2010-11-02 17:04Richard Littlemore
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Prop 23: Watch this while you wait for the vote

Check out this documentary by filmmaker and University of British Columbia journalism professor Dan McKinney:

Tue, 2010-10-26 12:23Richard Littlemore
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UnScientific American: In Lionizing Curry, a Lion Loses its Way

Update: Curry Responds to SciAm article - Link below

An unreasonably puffy Scientific American profile of the climate confusionist Judith Curry is sowing fresh outrage in the climate science community - and creating sincere concern that new management is inserting a political slant into one of the bastions of serious science journalism.

The Curry piece, like Curry’s own position on this issue, is just silly. It falls into a complex on-the-one-hand/on-the-other hand narrative, promoting climate science as so full of uncertainty - and so badly reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - that we could all reasonably throw up our hands in confusion.

At no point does the article appear to address actual science. Rather, it wallows in the politics that, on this issue especially, have infected the scientific conversation. It’s the kind of article that you might reasonably have expected in Newsweek.

That may be no surprise. SciAm’s new Executive Editor Fred Guterl is a Newsweek alumni with a history of promoting both Curry and climate confusion. (Joe Romm at Climate Progress has commented on his Newsweek work here and you can read for yourself the familiar looking Curry puffery in a Discover mag profile here).

Mon, 2010-10-25 15:19Richard Littlemore
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A Debate: And Dick Lindzen takes a Beating

Debate enthusiasts will love this long, but worthy video showing Texas A&M atmospheric scientist Andy Dessler mopping the floor with his increasingly out-of-touch colleague from MIT, Dick Lindzen.

The fact of Dessler’s victory is a value judgment that you may not trust without watching the video yourself. But speaking of value judgments, Dessler got off a great shot during his rebuttal, in which he commented on how often Lindzen had said that climate change presents “no cause for alarm.”

That, Dessler pointed out, is also a value judgment - not a scientific finding, adding:

“Before the lecture, he (Prof. Lindzen) was smoking. That’s a risk. He’s decided that’s a risk he’s willing to take. But not everybody would take that risk, so when he says there’s no cause for concern, he’s giving you his value judgment.”

Proceeding beyond the degree to which Lindzen has bad breath - as well as bad judgment - the lecture hosts at the University of Virginia School of Law jumped in with two policy presenters, Jonathan Cannon, making all kinds of sense, and Jason Johnston bending over backwards to argue that because economists can’t accurately put a cost on the coming climate armageddon, we shouldn’t bother taking out any insurance to prevent it. (Pass that man a pack of Camels. It’ll make it easier for him to blow smoke in the future.)

Fri, 2010-10-22 15:56Richard Littlemore
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A debate: "and since the topic is science, the non-scientists don't get a vote"

A fabulous Bill Maher explanation of why Global Warming is NOT a debate.

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