Copenhagen Climate Congress: John Ashton

Copenhagen, Denmark March 10, 2009

Repeatedly sounded was the ‘what we have here is a failure to communicate‘ theme. John Ashton addressed this concern at a press conference at the Climate Congress:

“Words mean different things. The word ‘uncertainty’ to a politician often means, come back and tell me when you know whether this a problem or not and that’s when I’ll look into it. Uncertainty to a scientist often mean there’s a signal, but there’s an error, an uncertainty in the amplitude of that signal. We don’t know quite how big that is, it may be four and it may be six, and there are plenty of people in the political world, who are quite happy to abuse the rigor that scientists bring to the ways in which they communicate, to serve political purposes which are not necessarily those which the communicators were intending to serve. Politics is a shark infested sea in that sense. My conclusion is, the more effort that people put into understanding not just what they are trying to say, but how it will be heard, how it might be manipulated and made mischief out of, the better the communication will be. Because in the end, we need a much better sense in our society of the urgency of this problem – we haven’t begun to close the gap between what the climate tells us we need to do and what we feel we’re capable of doing.”

See the full text of John Ashton’s plenary address.

Other speakers also contributed to the ‘failure to communicate theme’, including: Professor Lord Nicolas Stern, March 12, “One of the reasons they [the economists] got it wrong is because you [the scientists] didn’t tell them loudly and clearly enough”

Forging a Hot Link to the Farmer Who Grows the Food –

‘The maker of Stone-Buhr flour, a popular brand in the western United States, is encouraging its customers to reconnect with their lost agrarian past, from the comfort of their computer screens. Its Find the Farmer Web site and special labels on the packages let buyers learn about and even contact the farmers who produced the wheat that went into their bag of flour.

The underlying idea, broadly called traceability, is in fashion in many food circles these days. Makers of bananas, chocolates and other foods are also using the Internet to create relationships between consumers and farmers, mimicking the once-close ties that were broken long ago by industrialized food manufacturing.’

via Forging a Hot Link to the Farmer Who Grows the Food –

An Almost-Meatless Diet – Well Blog –

More on the meat issue:

‘A recent report from The Archives of Internal Medicine found that regular eaters of red meat had a modestly higher risk of dying during a 10-year study period than those who ate very little meat. And beyond personal health, many people are finding other reasons to eat less meat. Several reports now say meat consumption contributes to global warming, and regular reports about animal cruelty and the meat industry have caused many people to lose their appetite for meat.’

via An Almost-Meatless Diet – Well Blog –

Meat vs. Climate: The Debate Continues – Green Inc. Blog –

‘At least since a 2006 United Nations report asserted that livestock is responsible for a full 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions — a higher percentage than that caused by transportation — a debate over meat consumption and climate change has been cooking.

The latest round involves a recent editorial in the Archives of Internal Medicine by Barry M. Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina. In it, Mr. Popkin revisits several studies linking meat not just with heart disease and other health issues, but also with worldwide consumption of energy and water resources — and global warming.

Water use, Mr. Popkin writes, is two to five times greater worldwide for animal-source food than for basic crops such as legumes and grains. He further argues that livestock production accounts for 55 percent of the erosion process in the United States and is also responsible for one-third of the total discharge of nitrogen and phosphorous to surface water.’

via Meat vs. Climate: The Debate Continues – Green Inc. Blog –

Clearing the air in China | PRI’s The World

‘Australia has issued a health warning about air pollution for travelers to Hong Kong. Australians with pre-existing breathing conditions or heart problems should be careful visiting the city. Much of the bad air in Hong Kong blows in from Guangdong, China’s most important manufacturing province. But there is plenty of evidence many factories are closing and many workers have left because the international economic crisis has cut demand for Guangdong’s industrial goods. That should mean less air pollution.

…Trade associations had been pressuring the local government to ease up on enforcing environmental regulations on struggling factories. But Wu Hong Jie, who heads the Pollution Control Division in Guangdong’s Environmental Protection Department, says no one’s backing down on enforcement. He says, “Whatever happens, we should stick to the environmental standards. We can find other ways to help companies survive. We shouldn’t just let them pollute.” But economic growth has long come first in this region.’

via Clearing the air in China (3:30) | PRI’s The World.

Three Mile Island’s 30th Anniversary Sees Nuclear Renaissance

Caught between a rock and a hard place:

‘Three decades later, fears of an atomic catastrophe have been largely supplanted by fears about global warming, easing nuclear energy into the same sentence as wind and solar power. Dogged by price spikes and an environmental assault on carbon dioxide emissions, fossil fuels are the new clean-energy pariah.’

via Three Mile Island’s 30th Anniversary Sees Nuclear Renaissance.

Nuclear Power Timeline: Meltdowns And Build-Ups

‘_ 1955: A U.S. government reactor makes Arco, Idaho, the world’s first town electrified by nuclear power.

_ 1957: The U.S.’ first commercial nuclear power plant becomes operational in Shippingport, Pa. (Nuclear reactors were already in service in the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom). It was retired in 1982.

_ March 29, 1979: Three Mile Island Unit 2 in Middletown, Pa., melts down. No one was killed or seriously injured that day, but the public relations disaster sets back the industry for decades.

_ April 26, 1986: Chernobyl nuclear power plant explodes in Soviet Ukraine, killing thousands. A radioactive cloud floats over much of Europe and large areas of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus are contaminated.’


via Nuclear Power Timeline: Meltdowns And Build-Ups.

China launches vast water clean-up – SciDev.Net

‘[BEIJING] A project to improve water quality in China has been launched by the government, which says it is the largest expenditure on environmental protection since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.

The project, which has an estimated budget of more than 30 billion Chinese yuan (around 4.4 billion US dollars) over 12 years, aims to counter the deteriorating water quality affecting millions of Chinese people and their livelihoods.’

via China launches vast water clean-up – SciDev.Net.


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