April 2, 2013
Climate scientists are under attack by science deniers, who try to downplay the dangers of global warming. Often these deniers pose as “sceptics”, i.e. pretend they are questioning new findings in a constructive way.
How are the rest of us, non-scientists, to pick our way through these controversies? And for socialists who hope that the majority (“the 99%”) will change the world by taking matters into its own hands – as opposed to trusting “policymakers” and surrendering power to elites – what difference do the climate science controversies make to our efforts to overcome exploitation, poverty and hardship?
Heavy stuff, I know, but in my view it’s the best way to think about global warming. In a previous article I asserted that climate science deniers are “fundamentalist and dogmatic”. In the comments section, Robin Guenier questioned this and advanced a supposedly “sceptical” argument. This is my response Read the rest of this entry »
March 24, 2013
A study of world temperature since the last Ice Age, published this month, shows we are in the midst of a dramatic U-turn: gradual cooling ended in the early 20th century and turned to relatively rapid warming.
The climate scientists who wrote the study say it provides further evidence that warming is caused mainly by carbon dioxide emissions since the industrial revolution, and not naturally.
The study, led by Shaun Marcott of Oregon State University and published in Science magazine, reconstructs temperature changes over the past 11,300 years. It is based on 73 sets of climate data, mostly built up from analysis of the fossils of pollen, plankton and other marine micro-organisms.
Previously, continuous temperature reconstructions only went back 2000 Read the rest of this entry »
January 14, 2013
Between 30% and 50% of all food produced – 1.2-2 billion tonnes/year – is wasted or lost, a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) says. It argues that the waste is caused mainly by marketing techniques in rich countries, along with poor practice and/or insufficient investment in harvesting, storage and transportation.
The report, published last week, highlights the vast amounts of farmland, energy, fertilisers and water swallowed up by the production of food that is thrown away or left to rot.
In my view the report points to an important conclusion: it is the way food is produced and sold for profit, in a process controlled by agri-industrial giants and supermarkets – rather than food consumption or human population growth as such – that pushes at the earth’s natural limits.
The IME says that in poor countries, “wastage tends to occur Read the rest of this entry »