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The Royal Whee

U.K. greens grin as climate bill unveiled in annual "queen's speech" We thought wigs and rowdiness were the most delightful customs in the British Parliament, but it turns out there's another: the annual "queen's speech." This opening-day tradition offers a chance to boast about the things Parliament will accomplish in the coming session. And this week, greens got all atwitter when Queen Elizabeth's promises included a climate-change bill. (The speech also noted such modest ambitions as reforming welfare, modernizing health care, and pursuing peace in the Middle East, but who are we to quibble with the queen?) The climate bill …

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‘Peiser refuted Oreskes’–In a poor piece of work that has been retracted by its author

(Part of the How to Talk to a Global Warming Skeptic guide) Objection: Sure, Oreskes found no one bucking the consensus, but her paper was refuted by Benny Peiser, who did the exact same survey and found very different results. Answer: True, Benny Peiser did attempt a similar study and submitted it as a letter to Science responding to the Oreskes study. But for very good reasons, it was not published. Peiser claimed to find 34 articles in his "reject or doubt the consensus view" category. That's 3 percent of the total, so even taken at face value it doesn't …

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What’s the real cost of climate change, and where do all those numbers come from?

As serious governments shift the climate-change debate from whether the phenomenon exists to the best means to combat it, one of the first things officials want to know is how much economic damage it will cause -- and how much measures to fight it might cost. It is the trillion-dollar question, and figures are flying everywhere. But what do these numbers really mean? And how can people who space out at the sight of so many zeroes make any sense of them? It's hard to make sense of climate estimates. Photo: iStockphoto The dwindling do-nothing crowd likes to cite the …

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Taking It From All Sides

Bush faces climate criticism from greens, U.S. mayors, entire world You know how, when you're making a bad choice, your friends try to tell you, but you can't see it? Listen up, Bush administration. In a speech yesterday, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan cited a "frightening lack of leadership" on climate change. He later said he wasn't pointing at the U.S., but you wouldn't know it from the response of Paula Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs. "We think the United States has been leading in its groundbreaking initiatives," she said, before asking that all mirrors be …

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‘Consensus is collusion’–Is climate science maturing, or should we reach for our tinfoil hats?

(Part of the How to Talk to a Global Warming Skeptic guide) Objection: More and more, climate models share all the same assumptions -- so of course they all agree! And every year, fewer scientists dare speak out against the findings of the IPCC, thanks to the pressure to conform. Answer: The growing confluence of model results and the increasingly similar physical representations of the climate system from model to model may well look like sharing code or tweaking 'til things look alike. But it is also perfectly consistent with better and better understanding of the underlying problem, an understanding …

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Very short stories

33 writers. 5 designers. 6-word science fiction

I was reading the November issue of Wired this morning on the bus and read this clever series of 6-word science fiction stories. I thought you'd enjoy these: Epitaph: Foolish humans, never escaped Earth.- Vernor Vinge We went solar; sun went nova.- Ken MacLeod TIME MACHINE REACHES FUTURE!!! ... nobody there ...- Harry Harrison Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?- Eileen Gunn And here's one that didn't make the print edition: Dinosaurs return. Want their oil back.- David Brin Feel free to add your own in comments.

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Carbon reductions or poverty reduction?

Poor countries can’t afford to tackle climate change

I know, I know, this is a false choice that skeptics use to stall action on climate change. Or is it? Check out this article from Reason. It makes some interesting points. Here's a quick summary: Developing countries do not have the funds to tackle climate change, period. This then requires a massive investment on the part of rich countries. It also requires massive emissions reductions in rich countries, which will be costly in the short to medium run. Poor people, by and large, are much more concerned with getting electricity and food than with global warming -- the action …

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Rank and Vile

U.S. ranks low on climate-change list topped by European countries Two groups have ranked the climate-change successes of the 56 countries responsible for 90 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and concluded that they all suck. "We don't have any winners, we only have countries that are better compared to others," says Matthias Duwe of the Climate Action Network. "We don't have big shining stars." Among the least shiny was the United States, which ranked fourth from the bottom, just above China, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia. China's third-to-suckiest rating was a prodigious drop; on last year's list, it ranked 29th. …

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Is today's warming man-made?

Here’s why the scientific community thinks so

This is a "greatest hit" from my previous blog. It's a topic that comes up all the time, so I think it's worth a reprise. ----- As George Bush said at a recent press conference: "the globe is warming. The fundamental debate: Is it manmade or natural?" Why does the scientific community think humans are significantly contributing to today's warming? To understand why, first recognize that whenever the climate shifts, there's a reason for it. It does not wander around like a drunken sailor. Based on decades of research, we can identify the factors that have influenced climate in the …

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'Position statements hide debate'

‘Position statements hide debate’–True enough, but that is not the whole picture

(Part of the How to Talk to a Global Warming Skeptic guide) Objection: All those institutional position statements are fine, but by their very nature they paper over debate and obscure the variety of individual positions. The real debate is in the scientific journals. Answer: This is a fair point. Group position statements are designed to present a united front. The best indicator of what individual scientists think is in the current scientific literature, where new and different is the paramount value and scientists are free to express their own ideas, as long as they're supported by data and logic. …

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