Friday, March 28, 2008

Why nature shouldn't be worshipped.

Don't get me wrong, the natural world is an amazing place. Full of, as Darwin so eloquently said, "...endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful..."

But it is not a place for the squeamish. There is nothing sentimental about nature, as I observed from the front of my house just yesterday evening.

A small hawk was flying purposefully towards the house from the park across the road, and on a downward trajectory. You could see that it meant business and I was sure it had a target. And indeed, a few minutes later it flew back over the house and close by me with a dove hanging from its talons and into a nearby tree, where it proceeded to pluck its victim. Well, until the magpies started to harry it and I think it eventually dropped the dead or dying dove onto the ground and couldn't recover it.

Such is nature. Tenneson I think overstated his case in describing it as "red in tooth and claw." It's much more complicated than that. I still remember the amazing footage some years ago of a small antelope that had been grabbed by a crocodile at a water hole in Africa.

A hippo charged out and drove the crocodile away.

Now, no real surprises there. Hippos don't like crocs. So the plight of the antelope maybe had nothing to do with driving the croc away. But what happened next jaw-droppingly amazing and very moving.

The hippo gently took the antelope into its gaping jaws and was clearly trying to help it and get it back up on its feet. There was no other possible way of viewing its actions.

So there's kindness and altruism as well as terrible killing. It's hard watching killer whales play with their seal pup victims.

But anyway, here's a very funny little video that reminds us of the "absurdity of the nature worship in today's world."

Note though, because of all the effing in it, it isn't work safe. Thanks to
Climate Resistance for the hat tip to this video, which marked its 100th post:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Getting ready for the Hour of Power

UPDATE: I've had a small win with the Sunday Times. I doubt they are going to publish my letter pointing out Towie's mistake, but they did remove reference to 25 million tonnes of CO2 from the online version of the article today.

Two things today. Firstly, and somewhat surprisingly, a sceptical treatment of Earth Hour from the lefty Proving that the old Left tradition of appealing to reason and letting evidence, not emotion, lead isn't completely dead and that they haven't all become naive tree-hugging idiots.

And then a special feature on plans for the big hour. Personally, I plan to catapult flaming dolphins into the next suburb. It's only Balga, so who cares? If a big enough fire results I can reach my goal of getting enough carbon credits to achieve the footprint of a small third world country. You can but dream.

Actually, I'll also be reading next weekend's Sunday Times to see if they'll correct Narelle Towie's hilarious howler in her soft regurgitation of WWF promotional material masquerading as a newspaper article from last weekend.

Certainly she didn't bother it by any research. Though even her mistake wasn't exactly original, other than in its scale.

The Sydney Morning Herald in its report on Earth Hour last year took the WWF's claimed saving in CO2, the stupendous figure of 25 tonnes and got it wrong by only a factor of 1,000, ie making it 25,000 tonnes.

But Narelle, unimpressed even by that exaggeration multiplied the Herald's figure by another 1,000 and said that 25,000,000 tonnes of CO2 had been saved,21598,23318227-5016596,00.html .

But this kind of credulous naivety is all too typical of the "quality" of scientific reporting in the mainstream media, especially about the environment and climate change.

6 . Earth Hour just another innocent fad
Michael Pascoe writes:

Hula hoops, yo-yos, wide lapels on polyester body shirts – fads and fashions inevitably go global for a while. And so it is with Earth Hour, the fantastically successful promotion for the World Wide Fund for Nature, right down to the $29.95
WWF t-shirt (“What better way to cool the earth than to wear a really cool Earth Hour t-shirt?”).

From its dubious launch in Sydney last year, WWF is taking the stunt to the world this Saturday night, getting the organisation’s name up in anti-lights, perhaps making some individuals feel good about being part of a group bigger than their MySpace friends list, and providing a marvellous opportunity for massive corporate hypocrisy.

What better symbol for Earth Hour than its AGL-sponsored WWF-logoed
hot air balloon furiously burning gas over state capitals. That’s AGL the energy company – the one incinerating countless tonnes of gas and coal and, presumably, part of the electricity lobby pushing the federal government for discounts on the eventual carbon credits.

The conclusion to the Crikey junior science class’s first term assignment reads: An average one hour balloon flight over Melbourne uses approximately 180-200 litres of propane, which burns to form water and carbon dioxide; in addition to the fuel used by the balloon's ground retrieval crew. We have estimated that the activity to launch and retrieve one hot air balloon uses the equivalent of 378.1 kilograms of greenhouse gas (or 7,562 black balloons). (with apologies to
Sustainability Victoria)

Multiply that by the number of sorties the AGL-WWF giant light bulb is making over four state capitals and you get a lot of black balloons – and if you don’t know what a black balloon is, you haven’t seen how Steve Bracks
spends his taxpayers’ money on whitegoods greenhouse awareness.

But it’s all good fun as long as it makes people feel good, people like Richard Branson who’s jumped on the bandwagon with all the force of Virgin Atlantic’s 38-strong fleet of jumbo jets. Think about that for a moment. 'Nuff said.

WWF is using the opportunity to seek
donations and lean on corporations to join the circus: “In support of Earth Hour, more than 3,500 businesses across Australia and internationally have so far signed up and will be doing their part and turning off their lights. McDonald's Australia has committed to turning off its Golden Arches nationally. David Jones will turn off the lights in its 36 department stores.”

In the process, WWF and its fellow travellers continue to push their misleading claims of recording a drop in electricity production during the Sydney event last year – the electricity generators recorded a statistically negligible 1.7% variation for NSW and there’s no accounting for extra greenhouse gas production before and by the event.

The strain for WWF will be if the novelty has already worn off in Sydney just as it exports the fad to the world; we do have a rather short attention span in Sin City.

Like the hula hoop, Earth Hour doesn’t do much harm, just a little deception here, a touch of hypocrisy there, a general warm feeling for tokenism overall, while allegedly delivering “a powerful message about the need for action on global warming”. And if it’s good enough for Charles Windsor to reportedly dim the lights in Highgrove House, well, um, I don’t know really.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

“We have to start somewhere,” writes illumination activist Jay Currie. “I am starting with keeping my lights on at 8PM March 29. All of them.”

Yes! Also celebrating Saturday night’s Hour of Power are Jason Soon and Tim Bennett, who emails:

In honour of Earth Hour, my friends and I will be hosting the first annual Carbon Party. To mark this solemn occasion, we will be running the space heaters and air conditioning simultaneously, while putting loads of clothing through the dryer and turning all the incandescent lights on. Dinner will be grain-fed beef cooked over a wood fire (none of that clean LPG barbecue gas), served with imported vegetables shipped in from overseas (whether or not they can be found at the local farmers’ market). Bog rolls for the evening will be of softest five-ply tissue paper.

That’s the spirit! Evil Pundit suggests an investment in 5000 watts of earth-destroying lighthouse bulb, but you can easily join in the fun using common household appliances, as Samantha Burns - “Earth Hour stupidity, and all it represents, must end” - explains:

Possible items you may want to switch ON:

-all household lights
-air conditioner
-automobiles (your ride)
-automobile headlights
-put on oven’s self
-cleaning cycle
-any/all kitchen appliances
-television -dvd player
-game system

And don’t forget computers, which you may use to track the SMH’s hilarious Earth Hour trickery. Compared to the Hour of Power, that other hour is an absolute crock of dark:

Instead of cooking a soufflé, choke down a couple of raw beaten egg

Instead of taking a hot shower, try dying.

No, no, no! There’ll be no encouragement of death during the Hour of Power, an officially life-affirming event. And, unlike certain other hours, there is no hint of sparky coercion:

Since Malaysians aren’t gonna voluntarily switch off their lights, how about if they’re forced to go without electricity just for that one hour between 2000 and 2100?

How about if you’re forced to shut the hell up? Already indicating support for the Hour of Power are Habib, bovious, DrewB, Huck Foley, Dave S., John Enright, eeniemeenie, Irobot, Mike Laz, Hong Kong, Pogria, SwinishCapitalist, wronwright, MarkL, Jeff S., The Leadster, Tungsten Monk, rinardman, satisfiedmind16 and ProWomanProLife. They’ll join billions of others worldwide whose lights will be on at 8pm on the 29th (all lit houses are considered to be Hour of Power participants). By contrast, Earth Hour is practically friendless:

"As of 1pm 26.03.08 only 2 people from Apollo Bay have signed up to Earth Hour."

Hour of Power updates to follow. Commence photographic preparations - Saturday night will be an all-in festival of light.

UPDATE. The Age’s Catherine Deveny seems almost on the verge of joining our sacred hour:

Is it just me or does anyone else wonder why they’re busting their balls to make a piss-weak contribution to saving the environment ... ?

Don’t worry, I’m going to keep doing it, and so should you, but it does
shit me at times because it seems so futile.
She’s sure giving that mirror of hers a workout lately. Sensitive Andrew must be aghast.

UPDATE II. Some Byron Bay residents have no choice but to observe Earth Hour:

“We will be turning off the lights in the 35 units which we manage at Byron Central Apartments for the hour. We will be advising our holiday makers that this will be happening.”

Nice of them.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The IPCC On The Run At Last

UN climate body in panic mode as satellite temperatures and ocean sensors turn down and a hard winter lashes both hemispheres.

read more | digg story