Warm Fuzzy Forecast 4

I figure I may run a few of my favourite WFF and BaU2.0 comics as I’m sure a number of newer followers probably haven’t seen them. I wish I could work on some more as they’re a lot of fun to make, but I haven’t really had much time to think them up, let alone create them. I am, however, toying with an idea for a video presentation or two…

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A Warm Fuzzy Forecast: A Warm Cover-Up

There’s a lot going on, so click the image to see a bigger version of it.

And to save paper, here’s the folded version

However, for those who would like a printer friendly version, click here.

I might also add to my Aussie viewers, the day before election; Tony Abbott represents the folded version super-glued shut. Julia Gillard likewise – although she’s only pressing it shut with her finger. Bob Brown and the Greens have the full version not only in plain view, but are loud about it and asking how we can best plan our next steps as a productive and sustainable nation. Vote Green – because it might only take 3 years to vote out an idiot, but it could take thousands of years to repair their damage – The Greens will keep the idiots in check!

WFF: Baseless Legal Action

Click the image to see larger version.

*S2 made me aware of this article on Real Climate, in which Barry Bickmore addresses some of the flaws in Christopher’s presentation. I mention this because Monckton was upset that John Abraham did his excellent deconstruction of Christophers work without first discussing this with Monckton. Barry demonstrates that John had done as much, a number of months work would have probably turned into a year – without any added benefit.

Jelly Bean Junkies: Monckton screams Biofuel Propaganda

(I hope to produce the following in a video form when time permits)

Excusing for a second the vulgar name calling Monckton uses at the youth group in this video, I want to address his dominant view in this piece, which he has used as one of his leading arguments against taking sensible actions to shift our practices away from fossil fuels; that biofuels are killing millions through starvation.

Denialist such as Monckton demonstrate that evidence is irrelevant to them; it doesn’t matter what evidence you offer to such an individual, they’ll keep on denying (explored here and here) and as Prof Abraham showed, Monckton is one to ignore scientific rigor in his presentations, preferring instead to rely on slights of hands, blatant lies and PR skills to woo the crowd away from common sense. Thus refuting his claims will do nothing to address his errors. Instead, I want to turn the argument on its head and ask, “Just how much is our current practices in food production reliant on fossil fuels?”

At the farm

  • Not often talked about, most of our nitrogen fertilizers are made from natural gas. This requires energy to convert it into useful fertilizers and to transport the material to the farm.
  • A whole range of combustion engines prepare the land, plant, harvest and convert the raw material, which then requires energy to be packed and stored in constructed buildings on site.

On the high seas (something that is one of my pet-peeve… another time..)

  • Ships need a lot of fuel to travel the high seas (ever more so to travel further and further to find the few places with a fair amount of fish remaining); this is increased when you’ve got huge nets or rakes dragging along the bed to increase your resistance.
  • Once you’ve got the fish, it takes a lot of effort (much still done by hand) to prepare the fish, which is then put on ice to keep fresh (oh yeah, it takes a lot of effort to keep tons of fish cold).

The processing plants

  • From the storage silos, sheds and ports all this raw material is packed into trucks and trains which, believe it or not rely on their own personal internal combustion engines or use electric engines mostly running on fossil fuel turbines (then there’s the energy to construct these machines, but we don’t want to branch too much).
  • The raw food makes its way to processing plants, where it is generally made to look less and less like it did in nature. A basic rule of thumb would be that the less it resembles its natural state, the more it’s been processed and thus the more energy that was required. Often this will happen at a number of places (ie. sugar processes somewhere, maybe refined somewhere else, maybe not, it is then distributed, where it is processed and sent to somewhere else where it meets flour that had a similar chain, eggs that had an interesting trip as well, milk – don’t get me started, coco which somewhat more interesting, maybe colours, flavours and preservatives which all get mixed and made as muffins or cakes or something similar) and then the final product is then packaged which requires more energy and if the packaging is plastic, that went on a strange process to change from fossil oil to the shiny packaging.
  • This is all then packed in boxes (which need a fair amount of energy to get to its current state) and distributed by more trucks, trains, planes and ships…. phew…

The middle man

  • These boxes make it to warehouses – massive constructions that require a lot of energy to build, maintain and provide ambient conditions for the produce (just think about cool storage).
  • They will sit there until the order is put in from the supermarket. Then through both human effort and combustion effort, the item is distributed unpacked from its box and placed on show for the consumer.
  • Supermarkets are amazing places for energy usage. Think about the lighting, the number of closed registers with the screens glowing and computers humming. Think about the comfort of the ambient conditions; this requires heating and cooling. You could have the heaters blasting in the middle of winter, which fight the open refrigerated shelfs of milk and cheese. Think about the mindless overhead music. Think about the whole construction; the parking; the big lit signs outside, the trolleys, all the overnight cleaning equipment. Out back they’ll often have bailers, lifts, motored forklifts, huge refrigerators and freezers and rooms lit because someone went in there a week ago and forgot about or left lit because OHS&W say otherwise would be dangerous.

The consumer

  • So it takes energy to make the clothes we wear for public decency before we even leave the house (well, most of us – and DON’T get me started on cotton or plastics in clothing for that matter).
  • In most cases we use some form of transport to get from the construction in which we live to the supermarkets.
  • Once we’ve selected a whole bunch of food, we make use of the few open registers, where the stuff will be put into bags (plastics again in many cases = oil + energy!!) we then load it into the transport and take it home.
  • At our little space, we put a lot of it in the refrigerator or freezer (much of which is not really required to be cooled) which needs energy.
  • We then eventually get some of this together, heat it (energy!!!), put it on a plate half burnt, consume what can be eaten and then wash the eating equipment (hot water = energy – some use solar, but not all!!).

Just looking at food production, we use a lot of fossil fuels to eat.

To expand, per capita each one of us are becoming using more and more energy per year (eg. here). Cheap building and technology advancement help this use. On top of that, our world population is ever increasing. It’s therefore not a major leap to say that our use of fossil fuels is accelerating.

Fossil fuels are a finite supply. It would be difficult to say when this will run out, but, let’s say you’ve got a ton of jelly beans and ten children, the jelly beans would last a long time. Now let’s say that every 10mins you add another 2 children to the group and the more they eat the jelly beans, the more they crave them and the quicker the each consume them. I bet you anything that the supply of jelly beans decreases at an accelerated rate and what you end up with is a bunch of diabetic sugar junkies screaming when cold turkey slaps them in the face. I’d argue that within my life time the economic viability of fossil fuels will be lost and I’d prefer to avoid the sudden shock in the wake.

Now looking back at the heavily fossil fuel reliant food production process, I’d ask Monckton how would that industry handle the more or less sudden shift away from fossil fuels when we’re unable to keep the furnace burning? I wouldn’t be surprised if he had nothing meaningful to add to the conversation; things will really hit the fan beyond his life time. Unlike his biofuel propaganda, the subtraction of fossil fuels to our current practices will leave our primary food industry unable to meet the needs of our ever increasing population.

I don’t think of this as a “green concern”; even an economist with half a brain should be able to see that long term predictions would show that we’re setting ourselves up for a fall without attempting to develop proactive measures to ensure world food security to 2100 and beyond. It’s simply a moral obligation to those who will walk after us. You’d hope to give your children the best advice so that they have a successful life, why not ensure the industry is also able to feed them?

Biofuels will play a role in the future, however you’d have to be mad to think that they’ll replace fossil fuels. No, their part will only be small (food production before fuel production) and intelligent discussion over alternatives is essential to future planning.

This youth group obviously did not deserve such disgusting accusations. They are young enough to see just how quickly we’re consuming our jelly beans and are concerned by those, already lost on the sugar high, who insanely urge us to stay on our current path to nowhere.

On a sidestep, I’d also like to add that if we’re at a point where we’re removing the tops of mountains and drilling in deep waters, which led to this massive spill in the Mexican gulf and the difficulties in stopping it, are we not already passed the point of viable fossil fuels? To what point do we think that it’s too difficult to rip from the earth?

Avatar: A painful exploration away from our fading world

I tend to be the type of person who, when the hype of a new film gets too big, just loses all interest. This obviously occurred with Avatar when the fifth person asking if I’d seen it yet in 3D (before telling me how many times they had seen it in both 2D AND 3D). Eventually the whole world seemed to turn blue and I just lost it.

Now that everyone I know seems to have at least enough avatar DVD’s to use as coasters at their dinner parties and (endlessly) relentless with insisting that I see it (I’m sure to like it being an environment-type and all), I’ve finally got around to watching it on my own TV. I have to say that it didn’t fail to disappoint me, however it wasn’t all bad.

I doubt I’m the only one to find the dialogue uninteresting and cliché. Then there was some of the biological references and then there was the use of unobtainium… I know I over think it and in short, it was just supposed to be just entertainment.

Some bad points

However, what really bugged me about it more than all of these facts was that the movie was so aesthetically pleasing. I know it sounds silly, but I couldn’t help but watch this wonderful world unfold before me and suddenly realize that what was happening was like the first time my son’s mother gave him chocolate and he no longer liked the subtle taste of a banana. With very little effort I did a search of avatar news reports and found that the movie has left fans depressed “at the prospect of never being able to visit the mystical planet depicted in the movie“.

It’s disheartening that familiarity is quite clearly the disease of our planet. Bio-luminescence may not be so prevalent  on the surface of our humble little planet, but only a fool could ignore the dance of fireflies on dusk, the crackling alien world of Great Barrier Reef, the wonderful movement of carnivorous plants (eg. Drosera rotundifolia for instance), any number of wonderful waterfalls (ie. Angel Falls, Venezulela, Iguaçu Falls, Argentina,Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe etc etc etc), the chromatophore conversations between two cuttlefish… I could go on and on. The point is; if you want to visit a world even more beautiful than that depicted in that blasted movie, get up off your rear, take a train or get in your car and get the hell out of your place of residence and find a nice hiking trail. Save up for a flight to some quieter place and spend a week or more swimming over exotic reefs, exploring foreign forests, sinking into different cultures, trying different foods; basically absorbing another, less familiar, corner of this planet. You could also take some time out to do a biological course (anything from join a hobby group to a full academic course) and learn from others just how amazing life is around you!

We get ourselves in these little boxes of concrete and we believe that this is the real world – the only world. We venture back to more natural places, have to dig a hole instead of our typical comforts and sometimes get rained out; it becomes the quaint primitive other place. Yet this Avatar world is somehow a utopia – as though the problems we’ve found in ventures into our nature woul be magically rectified, and all the comforts of our modern societies would become unnecessary. It’s just wonderful here. I don’t want to harp on about the aesthetics of this movie, but the typical response of this movie just brings home to me just how little my appreciation of our world is shared; something that irritates me when hiking and mates laugh me off when I stop after finding a banjo frog or some unusual spider. Ours is an amazing world if you take the time to notice it.

On the plus side

There were two things I must grudgingly accept as good points to this movie. The first was that it was one of the few sci-fi’s that shows us in the correct light; the highly selfish and greedy invading force. A few others that I know of, show humanity going out to fight alien species and yet still the virtuous heroes; Starship Troopers was painful and pointless to say the least and Anvil of Stars saw and eye for an eye mentality and although I was told that it was a celebrated work of sci-fi, I just couldn’t finish it. (Sorry for mainly wikipedia links in this piece – I feel lazy and unenthusiastic thinking about Avatar). For once, what we’ve demonstrated on countless occasions in our history – that we are thoughtless when there is something someone else has that we want – was demonstrated in all its ugliness in a sci-fi film. We weren’t the heroes (although in a ridiculously confusing way we were, as well as doing a great job of trashing the place with big explosions at the same time ?!?!?!?!?!?).

The second good point that I found in this film was the sense of connection to the land. You don’t have to be a “tree hugger” to know that a sense of connection to ones particular landscape is essential to demonstrate genuine concern. Farmers are often the first to say that they’re not greenies, but are also the first to work with environmental scientists to better manage their lands (most recently tending to increase the biodiversity and health on their lands). It’s all about connection.

As I said above – if you want to see an amazing world, it’s disappearing outside your door. If more people actively took the effort to turn off their media technology, smell moist undergrowth, listen to the rustle of wind through the leaves and clear their heads by a big body of water, maybe they can get a sense of what an amazing world we have. Then and only then do I believe that we can make meaningful steps towards better management of our planet instead of mindless idolization of of glowing forests and twelve foot blue folk.

Watt’s here? Watt a waste of fuel.

Mike, over at “Watching the Deniers”, posted about Anthony Watts upcoming Australia tour. I couldn’t help but initially want to go to the event, however, I’ve since changed my mind; certainly not when it means paying this weather man my cash just to hear the spill first hand. Looking at the likes of him and Monckton it goes to show, if you want a nice world trip, make sure you can make soup from a stone – a stone that keeps business-as-usual on even keel and heading down a dead-end path.

One can’t help but write off these two and others like them, such as Jo Nova, Donna Laframboise, Tony Abbot, Andrew Bolt, John Shimkus and a handful of others, as nothing more than denialists. As Michael Shermer correctly states in Living with Denial: When a sceptic isn’t a sceptic, “no matter how much evidence is laid out before them they continue to deny the claim.”

That goes for anyone who still refers to Climategate as evidence of wrong-doing on the climate scientists behalf after two investigations have been carried out and acquitted the involved scientist of unethical practices. To continue to harp on about the stolen emails as anything more than theft of personal information is refuting the evidence and thus a case of denial. As for the science and what the studies are finding, well that is left to debate among the appropriate scientists who will continue to do their research and nut it out in a professional matter, the rest of us are not the authority; the vast amount of bloggers and media discussing the issue demonstrate a lack of scientific understanding and a far too egotistical to merit any interest.

Climate is changing and we are involved; the science is pointing to these facts and the scientists doing the research have proven themselves professional in their field. As I like to do, I’ll again make the point that climate change is only one issue of a whole host that require urgent attention (see here and here for example) all of which lead us away from fossil fuels sooner rather than later. By all means, debate the political ramifications, for that is far from a clear path at this point. The science is good, making the vast amount of this discussion pointless: aim it towards arguing over the changes to policies that are needed.

However;

Relying on Anthony Watts for your climate science is like asking a dentist for a second opinion when a neurologist tells you that they’ve found a brain tumour.

Trusting Monckton’s fears of a nazi world government plot instead of the voice of multi-generational farmers who have watched their lands change is like buying up home security equipment from a door-to-door salesman whose sale pitch relies on him once being abducted by aliens because his house wasn’t properly locked.

There’s no point finding a metaphor for the others mentioned above;

Jo’s site lets all forms of absurdity float through that one can only conclude that when she refers to herself as a science communicator, she really means science fiction communicator. I’d like to point out that, although she illustrates clever use of the English language, Arthur C. Clark was more so and he also used tid-bits of scientific understanding and imagination to elaborate ideas and construct his work. Although his work of this nature was placed under the heading of fiction; he never illustrated such illusions of truth. Mike makes a great point about Jo here).

Donna needs no real mention; she cannot even tell the difference between weather and climate and so should be ignored (and I wouldn’t be surprised if she largely is outside of the FOX audience base).

Tony Abbot said the other day that he doesn’t always tell the truth (well he is a politician after all, so no real surprise) and has told school students that it was warmer when Jesus was alive… I don’t think I need to go too far into this.

Andrew quotes Watts often… all I need to say is that he’s found a reference that agrees with his beliefs and not beliefs based on critical evaluation of the evidence. As Shermer states in his piece; it’s a clear indication of denial.

What troubles me the most about this blatant attack on reason by these people is that while the bulk of us discuss all this, we ignore the ever increasing CO2 concentration, the decreasing pH of our oceans, continuing species loss from a wide range of human impacts (one of which is climate change), continuously degradation of agricultural lands, a slow but steady increase in the costs of food (especially fresh food), power and clean water, and the inevitable depletion of our primary power source with little sensible progress aimed at providing alternative high grade sources (BraveNewClimate is one of the few sources aimed at discussing this).

Some of the people discussed above were among those screaming for the heads of the involved scientists following the release of the stolen emails. With all the media released on “Climategate” where have been the corrections? Which of these people can prove that they are not denialists by changing their views following the findings of the investigations?

Nothing has changed (in many cases many people still think Climategate exists and the investigations were corrupt).

I believe these people should be held accountable for the propaganda that they spread which ensures inaction remains as long as possible. Still, Anthony hopes on a plane to visit Australia, following a long tradition of denial that we as a population seem slow to catch on to.