A few days ago we looked at Julia Slingo's climate change paper, which she circulated in the wake of Climategate. A reader recently pointed me to this article in the journal Science and Public Affairs - a publication of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (as the BSA was called at that time). It's by William Waldegrave, a science minister in the last Conservative government in the UK, and is entitled "When scientists advise politicians - how to avoid the pitfalls".
Here's another set of proposals being made under the green banner that might give decent liberal-minded people a few sleepless nights: a new crime of "ecocide".
Among the ideas currently gaining currency is adding a crime of ecocide to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). If this idea is accepted, ecocide would join war crimes, aggression, crimes against humanity and genocide as a fifth crime against peace.
The rationale behind the campaign for a crime of ecocide is similar to that of other ecological legal initiatives; namely, that addressing environmental imperatives requires a seismic shift in attitudes, practices and culture, in both the corporate and political spheres. Catastrophes such as Deepwater Horizon highlight the failure of existing mechanisms to ensure that the commercial world’s financial and economic prowess is matched by a duty of care for the planet on which it operates, and the rights of both its current inhabitants and those yet to come.
I think we can safely file 1 Crown Office Row Chambers under "rent-seekers".
Earlier today I tweeted a link to my Peter Phelps story:
#phelps right to warn of dangers of scientific influence. Doesn't make scientists bad people though.
And received this reply from Bob Ward.
Spreading more hatred of climate scientists, I see!
Updated on Jun 2, 2011 by Bishop Hill
Updated on Jun 2, 2011 by Bishop Hill
Australian politician Peter Phelps has, in that quiet underspoken way that Australian politicians have, compared climatologists to scientists working for the Nazis.
At the heart of many scientists—but not all scientists—lies the heart of a totalitarian planner. One can see them now, beavering away, alone, unknown, in their laboratories. And now, through the great global warming swindle they can influence policy, they can set agendas, they can reach into everyone's lives; they can, like Lenin, proclaim "what must be done". While the humanities had a sort of warm-hearted, muddle-headed leftism, the sciences carry with them no such feeling for humanity. And it is not a new phenomenon. We should not forget that some of the strongest supporters of totalitarian regimes in the last century have been scientists and, in return, the State lavishes praise, money and respectability on them.
Commenters on unthreaded have been pointing to a story this morning about fracking operations near Liverpool Blackpool being halted because of a possible link to earth tremors.
A brief Googling suggests that this is possible, but the implications are not exactly scary.
Earthquakes induced by human activity have been documented in a few locations in the United States, Japan, and Canada. The cause was injection of fluids into deep wells for waste disposal and secondary recovery of oil, and the filling of large reservoirs for water supplies. Most of these earthquakes were minor. Deep mining can cause small to moderate quakes and nuclear testing has caused small earthquakes in the immediate area surrounding the test site, but other human activities have not been shown to trigger subsequent earthquakes. Earthquakes are part of a global tectonic process that generally occurs well beyond the influence or control of humans. The focus (point of origin) of an earthquake is typically tens to hundreds of miles underground, and the scale and force necessary to produce earthquakes are well beyond our daily lives.
Chris Mooney has posted up a article about the forthcoming release of Michael Mann's emails - it now appears likely that these will be disclosed to the public at the end of the day. Mooney looks to me as if he is trying to get his retaliation in first, spinning a story that a scandal we be found in the emails no matter what.
Those who went seeking went in with a theory--that wrongdoing has been done. They all believe "ClimateGate," shown by multiple investigations to be a fake scandal, was actually a real one. So that is their premise.
The EU has exempted a number of "green" technologies from its hazardous chemicals regulations.
The solar industry was celebrating last week after the EU confirmed late on Friday that it would exempt solar panels from new chemicals regulations that had threatened to effectively ban certain thin-film solar technologies.
The revised directive on hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, which was ratified into law last week, imposes a general ban on six hazardous substances, including cadmium, which is commonly used in cadmium telluride thin-film solar technologies.
So it appears that in the EU, at least, poisoning the environment is perfectly alright so long as you are an environmentalist. The end justifies the means.
A mini-edition of climate cuttings while I'm up to my neck in other things:
George Monbiot is singing the praises of wind power. I'm intrigued to know the sources for his figures.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, the momentum of the shale gas is looking unstoppable.
Climate Realists takes a look at an old paper by, among others, Mann and Schmidt on the subject of the solar influence on climate.
"Sceptics" was deemed too polite, so "deniers" was introduced. "Cranks" enjoys favour from time to time. Now, the epithet-du-jour from the climate PR people is climate "truthers". I can't imagine what it's like to spend your whole career thinking up rude names for people.
And lastly, a fascinating article looking at the similarities, or not, between the proxies in one of Mann's temperature reconstructions.
Apparently the actress Cate Blanchett has come out in favour of a carbon tax in her native Australia, a move that has attracted some pointed criticism form political commentators down under.
Readers of this blog may be amused to see Ms Blanchett's modest bungalow in Brighton, her residence when she lived in the UK a couple of years back.
(After that little lurch into the world of celebrity gossip, we expect normal, slightly grumpy service to be resumed shortly.)
If I remember what I have been told correctly, the scientific community is united in its belief that global warming is a real and present danger. So pressing is the crisis that it demands dramatic cutbacks in carbon emissions; rising fuel prices are therefore pretty much a given. There is only a handful of swivel-eyed "deniers" who say otherwise.
Or so the story goes.
If I actually believed this then I would find it hard not to feel just the tiniest hint of satisfaction at yesterday's article in the Guardian:
Here's a body I came across recently - The Council for Science and Technology, which advises government on scientific issues cutting across departmental boundaries.
Several familiar names crop up, again and again and again.