Saturday, January 31, 2009

New York Times: rain forest growing, not shrinking

While there are still grounds for concern about the destruction of areas of mature rain forest, especially in Asia and South America, this article from The New York Times gives the full picture of what is going on and thereby provides some needed context.

On one estimate, for every acre of forest lost there are 50 acres of regrowth or, as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation puts it in its "State of the World’s Forests Report," while 38 million acres of original forest was cut down in 2005, there was 2.1 billion acres of potential replacement forest growing, an area almost as large as the United States.

This actually gells with the available satellite data which over the last 30 years has shown the Earth getting greener.

All rather good news you would have thought, but then maybe you've never run into a greenie. Once you have you realise that there is no such thing as a happy greenie. There's always a dark lining to every silver cloud!

Somehow trees growing in different places are not as good as the ones from mature forests, or some such nonsense, even if the place was originally forest. I suspect that deep down there is a belief that such places have been "contaminated" by the presence of people.

But this story does undercut one of their most oft repeated tropes, that is, about how "fragile" nature is.

Fragile be buggered.

Life has had to fight tooth and tail to survive on this planet for at least three billion years, surviving calamities that we can only imagine (such as the Permian-Triassic mega-extinction event over 200 million years ago), and is anything but fragile.

It is resilient, tenacious and adaptive. It's had to be.

Give it an inch and it will take a mile.

So the next time you hear some dewy-eyed young thing look wistfully out on some pretty natural scene and rhapsodise about "this fragile environment," and let's face it, it's the knee-jerk cliche de jour for affluent white people from trendy inner-city environs, punch them in the face.

They're stupid and they deserve it. Plus, they haven't got a clue about nature and how it actually works. So punch them again. You'll find out who's fragile.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

UN now admits - Israel did not attack school

Toronto's Globe & Mail newspaper exposes another fake anti-Israel story, (remember the fake "Jenin Massacre," where 1,500 dead civilian Palestinians turned out to be 54, mostly Fatah fighters?), and the United Nations has some serious explaining to do.

Here is John Ging, UNRWA Director of Operations in Gaza
immediately after the incident in Jabalya:

“There’s nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized. These men, women and children are all seeking safety and there is no safety in Gaza at the moment, even in an UNRWA school. This is unacceptable.”


Speaking from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as the bodies were being brought in that night, an emotional Mr. Ging did say: "Those in the school were all families seeking refuge. ... There's nowhere safe in Gaza."

But now Mr Ging is denying he ever said that the mortar rounds landed in the school:

"Look at my statements," he said. "I never said anyone was killed in the school. Our officials never made any such allegation."

Except of course that he did and they did.

And others.

A World Health Organization report:

On 6 January, 42 people were killed following an attack on a UNRWA school ...

And a UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs weekly report:

Israeli shelling directly hit two UNRWA schools [including this one]...

Now none of this obviates the fact that 42 people were killed in this incident, including two Hamas terrorists.

But here's the background as given by the Associated Press at the time:

In a statement, the Israeli army said an initial investigation found that
“mortar shells were fired from within the school at IDF soldiers. The force responded with mortars at the source of fire. The Hamas cynically uses civilians as human shields.” The army said two Hamas militants — Imad Abu Askar and Hasan Abu Askar — were among the dead.

Two neighborhood residents confirmed the Israeli account, saying a group of militants fired mortars from a street near the school, then fled into a crowd of people in the streets. Israel then opened fire. The residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their safety, said the Abu Askar brothers were known low-level Hamas militants.

So, apart from the incorrect detail of the IDF saying they thought the fire had come from within the school, when it was from near the school, we yet again have an example of Hamas using their own people as human shields and causing a terrible tragedy.

Overall, there are now serious questions being asked about whether or not the total death toll in Gaza has been exaggerated according to Italian journalist Lorenzo Cremonesi, who works with the Corriere della serra newspaper.

An even more serious question is this - why do these kinds of stories critical of Israel, but based on false claims that any kind of reasonable and responsible fact checking would expose, routinely get sensational blanket coverage in the world's media? It was on display in Lebanon a couple of years ago where it was obvious to anyone with a pair of eyes and a brain behind them that the media was being manipulated by Hezbollah and led by the nose, apparently quite willingly.