Something for the weekend

By Gareth Renowden 02/07/2010

Lazy blogging. Just links to a few things I think you might find interesting to read (and a performance to enjoy) while I get some work done. First up: Swiss Re, the giant reinsurance company, has published a handy new report called Climate sceptic arguments and their scientific background (pdf), written by Swiss scientist Urs Neu for ProClim. It deals with common sceptic arguments under three headings — global warming, forcing factors and carbon dioxide. Everything’s referenced back to the literature, the graphics are good, and if you thought my recent thoughts on rainfall extremes were mere speculation, you might find section A6 interesting.. ;-) (Hat tip to Mr Rabett).

Last week’s New Scientist had an excellent feature on CO2‘s role in the world’s climate history by Anil Ananthaswamy. This is the last paragraph:

So while many of the details have yet to be settled, the big picture emerging from studies of past climate couldn’t be clearer. Carbon dioxide is the most important of the many factors affecting the planet’s climate. And if we double the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, we can expect the temperature to rise around 3 °C in the short term and keep climbing over the following centuries.

The web version lacks the nice graphics you get in the magazine, but is still well worth reading. Also in that issue of New Scientist, Chris Mooney reviews Fred Pearce’s book on “climategate” and finds he fell for the sceptic framing.

Climategate is certainly a story for our science-politicising times. But so is our failure to zoom out – way, way out – and understand it.

Here’s a nice quote from a piece by Andrew Simms in the Guardian, 77 months and counting:

The thinker Zygmunt Bauman makes the point that the “the good society is the society that is convinced it is not good enough.” He calls gardeners, “obsessive compulsive utopians,” always trying to improve the world around them in a job that is never complete.

That explains where I’m likely to spend a lot of time over the next month, obsessively pruning vines and hunting truffles. Simms is making the “quality not quantity” argument rather well, I think.

In other news: Meridian’s plans for a wind farm up the road from me (between Greta Valley and Motunau) are attracting local opposition, Jim Hopkins in the Herald demonstrates his rare facility for looking foolish, Cryosat-2, the new European satellite that promises to provide important information about sea ice and ice sheets is performing really well, and the Arctic sea ice carries on melting. Have a good weekend.

[PS: I’ve been tweaking the blog recently, as the observant may have noticed. The most recent innovation is a caching system which is supposed to speed up page loads and general site responsiveness. It seems to be working fine at my end, but let me know if it causes any issues.]

[The Divine Comedy]