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Cancun and News

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 2:12 AM GMT en Noviembre 11, 2010

Cancun and News

My recent blogs have been long analyses of climate change science and politics and communication and organization. I am delighted to have seen them propagate around, both publically and not – for example American Meteorology Society. It’s very gratifying to see others use and improve on what one does. This entry is going to be far simpler. A little about Cancun Conference of the Parties, Roger Pielke Jr.’s new book, Merapi volcano, and some news from Pakistan. OK, it’s news.

Cancun, Conference of the Parties - 16: A year ago, November 2009, I was planning a trip to the Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen. The Conference of the Parties (COP) are the annual meetings that are part of the governing body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Before Copenhagen there was great energy, with some notion that the Copenhagen meeting would lead to a breakthrough on international climate change agreements. Of course, that did not happen and while there was spin that the meeting was a success, most people that I know were not enthusiastic about the outcome. (The Copenhagen Accord) My take of the outcome was that there was symbolic political recognition that global warming needed to be addressed, but no substantive steps were taken to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. Plus, the political, economic and technological realities are that we will not see international agreement on reducing emissions anytime soon. It will be much longer before there is any real reduction of emissions. (Here are student blogs and my blogs from last year. UoM and Alma Students, Rood)

I am not going to Cancun. There is a group of students from Michigan and Alma going this year, and again, they will be blogging from the meeting on the Climate Blue website. This year my expectations are (even) lower than last year. The U.S. is further away from a national position than a year ago, and without the U.S. having a coherent voice, then there is no real way to be effective in the U.N. And, of course, there is no real international desire for a climate treaty. The press and the politicians are not playing up this meeting. There will still be thousands of people and lots of action on the ground; people will still look for opportunities and build towards the future.

The intractable nature of greenhouse gas emission reduction policy is one of the reasons that I advocate exposing and scaling up of local and commercial activities ( here).

Roger Pielke Jr: On October 25, 2010 Roger Pielke Jr spoke at the Ford School at the University of Michigan. ( Pielke Seminar) I was the commentator at the presentation. Roger was talking about material in his new book, The Climate Fix. Roger Pielke Jr. is a highly controversial, strongly stated political scientist who is expert in climate change. He is a prolific and early blogger. The gist of his talk was that what we are doing now to develop climate policy does not work, and it is time to consider the underlying reasons why and to do something different. There were those in audience who expected me to take exception to this message, but I did not. My experience over the past five years is that what we are doing on the international level to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is broken and that there are fundamental reasons why. At the center of reasons, we don’t really have any market-viable alternative energy sources and no technological ways to abate the emission of carbon dioxide. This, in combination with our imperatives for economic growth (read, energy use), makes the situation currently intractable. Combine that with the political realities, we do have to do something different. Pielke Jr. provides a more thorough, more quantitative, and controversial analysis of this situation (The Climate Fix).

Merapi Volcano: Some time ago I wrote a piece called Climate, Belief and the Volcano. In that piece I wrote about Mr. Marijan who was the spirit keeper of the volcano. In these recent eruptions Mr. Marijan died.

Pakistan: I am certain to maintain an interest in Pakistan far longer than the average disaster attention span. My youngest sister Elizabeth is Counsel General in Peshawar so I keep an eye on the news. I saw her this past week (a good thing), and it is a tough, tough place to be. Flood wise, there is progress in the Northwest, and there are efforts to plant winter wheat. Sindh, in the South, is still flooded. One thing Elizabeth pointed out to me that the flood had deposited 12 feet of silt in places, and amongst other things the land was now higher than the irrigation systems. UNICEF says they are running out of money, food, and vaccines, and a bad situation is likely to get worse. Attention to the Pakistan flood is moral imperative, a humanitarian imperative, and a security imperative. (Pakistan Flooding: A Climate Disaster, Yours truly on Chicago-based Radio Islam, Rood interview)

Here are some places that my sister has recommended for the humanitarian crisis in Pakistan. Organizations she sees.

Doctors Without Borders

The International Red Cross

MERLIN medical relief charity

U.S. State Department Recommended Charities

The mobile giving service mGive allows one to text the word "SWAT" to 50555. The text will result in a $10 donation to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Pakistan Flood Relief Effort.

Portlight Disaster Relief at Wunderground.com

UNICEF Donations

Figure 1. Despair of Pakistan’s forgotten flood victims: BBC coverage of continuing flood in Pakistan

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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Quoting cyclonebuster:
These students must watch to much FOX NEWS!

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(It looks like this is a stripped version of the full lecture and doesn't include the reverse arguments the professor used. But I'm going to treat the video as is and assume the professor adopted an aggressive attack campaign on the "deniers". I think this does happen sometimes and people become too narrow in focus. This leads to a situation where nobody learns and everyone is angry. That would not be conducive to learning.)

So... (ignoring that this is probably? a spin on the actual lecture...)

(also ignoring that this is an ASTRONOMY class?)

Classic example of a professor talking AT kids and not practicing what he was taught. Now those kids are going to walk out of that room remembering being talked AT, and they will not forget. The teacher had a lapse in judgement here. He has a few things to learn too.

The issue I see is one of time. You can't get someone to learn something like this by talking AT them. No matter how forceful your words are or how strongly you feel them it will not get through to them. All they will see is your anger and none of the science and reasoning will transmit. Lots of lots of time and learning will, but it's never easy.

That's why I think politics should stay out of education because it's too easy for people to get angry when something gets political. When they get angry they talk too forcefully and it ends up being a one way kind of thing where nobody learns anything. By separating his class like he did he was inviting those political leanings to enter into the scene and it was a mistake. Should have focused on the issues point by point and looked at where they could be wrong or where they need improvement. If you stick to singular things and examine them you don't open the discussion up to political things and broad incoherent attacks.

Science doesn't have enough room for politics or opinion. As it should be.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MichaelSTL:
I wonder what is happening here; look at the warming up around 50 mb, even as the lower atmosphere cools (seems like something weird happened around July/August; look around the 5 mb level)

Could that be from tropopause folds? There was some banter about concerning one of the typhoons causing a significant event...cannot remember which or when, exactly...
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting cyclonebuster:
Hundreds of polar bears were spotted on the west coast of Hudson Bay earlier this week, waiting for ice that is almost a month late forming.

But a fierce storm in the region Thursday has temperatures dropping and ice forming, which could be good news for the bears. "It's just howling," Luc Desjardins, of the Canadian Ice Service, says of the storm that could change the fortunes of the hungry bears.Until the storm hit, record-breaking conditions in the western Arctic this fall had kept the ice at bay. Temperatures up to 14 C above normal in one Arctic region in November prevented the formation of ice which was almost a month behind schedule as of Monday, says Desjardins. He says the ice cover was the lowest since 1971, covering just 1.5 per cent of the sea, compared to the average of 20 per cent by mid-November.

Polar bears need sea ice to hunt for seals and other marine mammals. And after slim pickings on land in the summer, they are ready to get back on the ice come fall.


Warmer temperatures increase the capacity to hold water and the rains in the Midwest -- Northfield flooded in September, the Minneapolis folks were shocked by 20 inches of snow last week -- yes, snow shocked Minnesotans! -- and the rains this summer in Iowa created such fertile mosquito breeding conditions that people couldn't go out to garden -- well, this is increase in rainfall is something to noodle!
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Dr. Ricky Rood's Climate Change Blog

About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.

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