Archive for the ‘Science and politics’ Category

If crops fail in the field, will anyone notice?

May 10, 2011 Leave a comment

If global warming is reducing yields of important food crops in other parts of the world, but not in North America, does that help explain climate-change denialism in the U.S.?

According to a new study, the U.S., Canada and Mexico have largely escaped the negative effects global warming seems to be having on world wheat and corn production.

Outside of North America, however, most major producing countries were found to have experienced some decline in wheat and corn (or maize) yields related to rising global temperatures.

Read more…


Canadian govt muzzles scientists, too

April 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Borrowing a trick from the Bush 43 regime, the (Conservative) Canadian government leadership is refusing media access to scientists employed by the government, in the apparent belief that news it doesn’t like can be made to disappear if experts are not permitted to share their findings and interpretation with the public.

According to CBC News, the Canadian Science Writers Association sent an open letter to the government, saying

“We urge you to free the scientists to speak. Take off the muzzles and eliminate the script writers and allow scientists — they do have PhDs after all — to speak for themselves.”

In one instance, the govt denied access to an expert at the Dept of Fisheries and Oceans who had been lead author of an article about salmon mortality that was published in Science in January. Recently, Health Canada refused access to data from Canadian radiation monitors following the Japanese power plant failure.

Paul Raeburn at Knight Science Journalism Tracker comments: “Here’s a story American science writers might want to match. Then again–why worry? This could never happen in the U.S., right?

Oh, that’s right, it already did.

When the “truth” is found to be lies

April 4, 2011 Leave a comment

The global-warming deniers don’t hesitate to paint truth as lies, and vice versa, even when it’s pretty easy to catch them at it.

Case in point: physicist Richard Muller, whose research is funded in part by pollution advocate Charles Koch, used an anecdote in order to portray Al Gore and An Inconvenient Truth as alarmist and extremist and a liar. During a Berkeley lecture, Muller related a conversation between Gore and Dr. Ralph Cicerone of the National Academy of Sciences.  According to Muller,

Ralph Cicerone, head of the National Academy, said there are lots of things wrong in his movie, and Al Gore asked him to come and explain this to him, and he did come. And he said, “Well, what’s wrong with my movie?” [Cicerone:] “Well, lots of things, like the polar bears. We track polar bears. Not a single polar bear has died because of retreating ice.” And Al Gore turned to his movie producer and said, “So, why did we put that in?” The movie producer said, “Well, it really gets people emotionally involved.”

See, this is what politicians do. They put in things that they consider a real danger that represents what they consider to be reality. Doesn’t matter if it’s technically true or not.

Only one problem: the meeting and conversation between Gore and Cicerone NEVER HAPPENED. It’s fictional. A lie being told as truth. Muller made it up. (Or heard it from someone who made it up and didn’t check if it was true.)

More: Cicerone’s actual findings and statements about the effect of climate change on polar bears agree with Gore’s, according to Congressional testimony he gave before An Inconvenient Truth was released.

Bill Sez: Muller claims to be concerned about global warming, which he says is real, but criticizes most media coverage as wrong or exaggerated. And he wasn’t happy when Berkeley economist Brad DeLong called him a liar. But isn’t that the right word for people who tell lies?

Climate: money doesn’t talk, it swears

March 10, 2011 Leave a comment

On the same day the Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee held “hearings” to justify blocking the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, the American Geophysical Union released a report that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting even faster than expected. According to the AGU study, sea level rise during this century is likely to reach…or exceed…the top end of the most recent forecasts.

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