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To: Nicholas Thompson who wrote (290)1/19/2012 1:11:57 AM
From: average joe
   of 358
 
Rex Murphy: Thou must not question Big Environment Rex Murphy Jan 14, 2012 – 9:02 AM ET | Last Updated: Jan 13, 2012 5:06 PM ET



Like the Pope speaking ex cathedra, Greenpeace can never be wrong

The environmental movement has enjoyed smooth, mostly untroubled progress since its beginnings in the 1960s, when its activists romped around the northern sea floes off the coast of Labrador. The enviros migrated with almost the same punctuality as the seals: Every spring, you could treat yourself to the sight of them bobbing up and down on the ice-pans, high-bosomed starlets stroking the pelts of large-eyed newsmen and seals alike, whole platoons of photographers aiming for the perfect cute shot, and a kite tail of various enthusiasts and camp followers to give a sense of noise and drama. Labrador is more or less quiet these days: Those Who Care have decamped to the oil sands and other pastures.

Robert Redford, when he can tear himself away from the general dorkiness of the Sundance Festival, is big on saving the planet these days. James Cameron can generally be found rustling the vines somewhere in the Amazon rain forest. Leonardo DiCaprio is always good for a Vanity Fair cover as long as its backlit and there’s a polar bear somewhere. Mixing it up with the environmental crusaders is good PR for Hollywood one-percenters — takes the heat off their monstrous paydays, their jets and, for that matter, most of their silly movies.

Some enviro groups have grown corporate in size, techniques and attitude. Greenpeace is now to the environmental world what GM used to be to the automobile world. The various Sierra Clubs dot the world like McDonald’s. As the example of Canada’s own Northern Gateway pipeline shows, modern environmental protestors have refined a basic set of skills to near perfection: deploying legal challenges to stall a project, taking advantage of hearings to protract and delay, signing on huge numbers of groups and individuals to take part in such hearings. They are expert at singling out one activity and applying all their focus and energy toward stopping it.

The big-name environmental groups are routinely excellent communicators — faster, clearer and quicker with the message than governments or industry. I credit them for this, incidentally. Good for them that they have tuned themselves so finely, learned the game. Businesses and politicians have always been way behind in the new world of publicity and protest, and it is their own fault — half-laziness and half arrogance — that they are.

The greatest advantage the greens have had is the relative absence of scrutiny from the press. Generally speaking, it’s thought to be bad manners to question self-appointed environmentalists. Their good cause, at least in the early days, was enough of a warrant in itself. And when it was your aunt protesting the incinerator just outside town, well that was enough. But when it’s some vast congregation of 20,000 at an international conference, or thousands lining up to present briefs protesting a pipeline, well, let’s just say this is not your aunt’s protest movement anymore.

There is no such thing as investigative environmental reporting — or rather very precious little of it in the established media. Environmental reporters rarely question the big environmental outfits with anything like the fury they will bring to questioning politicians or businesspeople. Advocacy and reportage are sometimes close as twins.

And so the great thing I see about Resource Minister Joe Oliver’s little rant against Northern Gateway pipeline opponents a few days ago — asking whether some groups are receiving “outside money” or if they are proxies for other interests — is not so much the rant itself, but rather the fact that at last some scrutiny, some questions are being asked of these major players. Big environment, however feebly, is being asked to present its bona fides. And that’s a good thing: The same rigor we bring to industry and government, in looking to their motives, their swift dealing, must also apply to crusading greens.

Where does their money come from? What are their interests in such and such a hearing? What other associations do they have? Are they a cat’s paw for other interests? Do they have political affiliations that would impugn their testimony? In hearings as important as the ones over the Northern Gateway pipeline, with the jobs and industry that are potentially at stake, the call to monitor who is participating in those hearings is a sound and rational one.

No one should be excluded from those hearings — at least, no one who has a solid and honest objection to the project. But some amount of transparency from all those environmental groups that demand “transparency” from everyone else is a reasonable ambition as well. Let us have some vetting of the vetters. To that degree, I applaud the Minister.

National Post

Rex Murphy offers commentary weekly on CBC TV’s The National and is host of CBC Radio’s Cross Country Checkup.

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To: average joe who wrote (293)1/27/2012 10:53:19 PM
From: Nicholas Thompson
   of 358
 
Gee, 2011 and early this year have been quite warm. That is weather, but soon it will be climate ;looks like the USDA just adjusted the growing season bands, moving them northwards. The Maldives is going all carbon free, but it may be too late for that small island country which is , on average, about 5 ft above sea level , and losing ground rapidly.

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To: Nicholas Thompson who wrote (294)1/27/2012 11:33:09 PM
From: average joe
   of 358
 
Religious intolerance sees Maldives drop to 73rd in Press Freedom Index

By JJ Robinson | January 25th, 2012 | Category: Politics | 25 comments



The Maldives has fallen 21 places on Reporters Without Borders (RSF)’s press freedom index between 2010 and 2011.

The country is now ranked 73, level with the Seychelles and below Sierra Leone but still well above many countries in both the region and the Middle East countries, including Qatar, Oman and the UAE.

The Maldives took a giant leap in 2009 to 51 following the introduction of multiparty democracy – in 2008 it had been ranked 104.

RSF has however recently expressed concern at the rising climate of religious intolerance in the Maldives and its impact on freedom of expression.

“A climate of religious intolerance prevailed in the Maldives, where media organisations were subjected to threats by the authorities and had to deal with an Islamic Affairs Ministry bent on imposing Sharia to the detriment of free expression,” RSF stated.

In November 2011 the organisation reacted to the Islamic Ministry’s order to block the website of controversial blogger Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed, stating that “the increase in acts of religious intolerance is a threat to the Maldives’ young democracy”.

“Incidents involving media workers are rare but that is only because most of them prefer to censor themselves and stay away from subjects relating to Islam. The government should not give in to the fanatical minority but must do all it can to ensure the media are free to tackle any subjects they choose,” the organisation said.

Rasheed was subsequently arrested on the evening of December 14 for his involvement in a “silent protest” calling for religious tolerance, held on Human Rights Day. The protesters had been attacked and Rasheed hospitalised after being struck with a stone.

On his release without charge three weeks later, Rasheed expressed concern for his safety.

“The majority of Maldivians are not violent people. But I am concerned about a few psychotic elements who believe they will go to heaven if they kill me – people who don’t care if they go to jail for it. Those people I am afraid of, and I will not provoke the country in the future,” he told Minivan News.

In September 2011 the government published new ‘religious unity’ regulations enforcing parliament’s religious unity act of 1994, with a penalty of 2-5 years imprisonment for violation.

Under the regulations, the media is banned from producing or publicising programs, talking about or disseminating audio deemed to “humiliate Allah or his prophets or the holy Quran or the Sunnah of the Prophet (Mohamed) or the Islamic faith.”

More recently several journalists with the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) were beaten, threatened and tasered after protesters from the opposition and ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) clashed outside the station. Both sides blamed each other for the attacks, while MNBC said it would no longer cover the ongoing protests on scene.

The government meanwhile claimed that its commitment to media freedom is “absolute and unwavering.”

“President Nasheed’s administration never has and never will do anything to undermine the independence, integrity or professionalism of the media,” said President Mohamed Nasheed’s Press Secretary, Mohamed Zuhair.

Zuhair’s comments followed allegations that Communications Minister Adhil Saleem had intimidated journalists by threatening to withdraw broadcasting licenses, which Zuhair claimed was “merely” a reaction to “certain TV news channels acting unprofessionally when airing footage of recent protests.”

Despite the fall, the Maldives was still ranked significantly higher than many other countries in the region.

Sri Lanka fell to 163, continuing a steady decline over the last decade (it was ranked 51 in 2002).

“The stranglehold of the Rajapakse clan [has] forced the last few opposition journalists to flee the country,” RSF said in a statement on the release of the 2011 Index.

“Any that stayed behind were regularly subjected to harassment and threats. Attacks were less common but impunity and official censorship of independent news sites put an end to pluralism and contributed more than ever to self-censorship by almost all media outlets.”

Bangladesh fared poorly (129) – “despite genuine media pluralism, the law allows the government to maintain excessive control over the media and the Internet” – while Nepal (109) showed modest improvement with a drop off in violence between the government and Maoist rebels.

India’s position fell (131) after the government unveiled the “Information Technology Rules 2011, which have dangerous implications for online freedom of expression. Foreign reporters saw their visa requests turned down or were pressured to provide positive coverage.”

Pakistan (151st) meanwhile remained the world’s deadliest country for journalists for the second year running.

Finland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland were ranked as having the greatest press freedom, while North Korea and Eritrea fared the worst.

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To: average joe who wrote (295)1/28/2012 10:45:08 AM
From: longnshort
   of 358
 

total BS group, they say the US fell to 47 with all the journalists being arrested at the OWS sites. What journalists were arrested

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From: average joe1/28/2012 12:38:14 PM
   of 358
 
Obama Mimics Al Gore, Claims Credit for Others Work

Posted on January 26, 2012 at 6:27 am by William O'Keefe in Politics and Policy

Al Gore’s self-aggrandizing claim that he “took the initiative in creating the Internet” has haunted him since he first uttered it during a 1999 CNN interview. It makes sense. In a society where people expect to be rewarded for their hard work and good ideas, the public generally abhors those who take credit where it’s not due.

For those reasons and others, politicians—especially those seeking reelection—should avoid engaging in unwarranted swagger. President Obama did not.

During his State of the Union address, he applauded his administration for the recent boom in U.S. oil and gas production. Yet as the Institute for Energy Research demonstrates, this growth happened in spite of his policies, not because of them:

The increase in production is occurring on private and state lands, the use of which is much harder for the President to restrict (at least in the short term). Meanwhile, production on federal lands is decreasing significantly … [His] administration did not hold a single offshore lease sale in fiscal year 2011.

President Obama didn’t stop there. He also claimed that it was the federal government via “public research dollars” that was responsible for inventing hydraulic fracturing and the horizontal drilling techniques which are enabling us to extract previously inaccessible oil and gas from shale, coal seams, and other hard to reach areas. He’s angling for part of the credit for America’s current gas boom. (Note: Fracking has been around since 1947—14 years before the President was even born.)

Read more: nation.foxnews.com

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To: Nicholas Thompson who wrote (294)1/28/2012 2:00:34 PM
From: average joe
   of 358
 
Oil and gas industry the "gorilla in the room" for Canada's environmental policies: Environment Canada

By Mike De Souza, Postmedia News January 28, 2012 10:37 AM

A senior official with Environment Canada has told his superiors that oil and gas are the "gorilla in the room" when it comes to Canada's greenhouse gas emissions.

OTTAWA - The oil and gas industry's greenhouse gas emissions are the "gorilla in the room" for Canada's environmental policies, a senior Environment Canada official has told his superiors in newly-released correspondence.

The observations were made by Mike Beale, an associate assistant deputy minister, in an email sent to Deputy Minister Paul Boothe and other senior officials regarding a conference being organized jointly last year by the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based environmental group, and a major oil and gas company.

After being called by an official from Royal Dutch Shell regarding the April 2011 conference in Banff, Alta., that was to focus on "less controversial" aspects of the climate-change debate, such as energy efficiency and transportation demand management, Beale felt compelled to state what was missing.

"I had to point out - nicely - that the initiative seems to sidestep the gorilla in the room of emission reductions from O&G (oil and gas), but that otherwise, it seems like a great idea," wrote Beale in the Jan. 20, 2011 email, released to Postmedia News through access to information legislation.

Ed Whittingham, the executive director of the Pembina Institute, praised Beale for raising questions about the event, but noted that it was only one aspect of his own group's efforts to engage with businesses on climate change.

"We were looking for 'no regrets' recommendations. And by no regrets, (it means) it's actionable by government, it doesn't have a huge price tag, and it's something that both companies and environmental groups can agree is important," Whittingham said in an interview. "It's good for Environment Canada to look at these things with a critical eye. I don't fault them for doing that."

Whittingham noted that it's more difficult to get environmental groups and oil companies in the same room to agree on a path forward to address impacts from oilsands development on land, air, water and the climate.

"So, in a practical and pragmatic way, we said: 'Let's just put that one aside and let's focus on areas where we think we can find agreement (such as improving energy efficiency) and then let's see if that will give politicians room to move because you've got this wonderful combination of big companies and national environmental groups asking for the same thing.'"

Successive federal governments have repeatedly pledged to crack down on pollution from the oilsands, considered by Environment Canada to be the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, but have failed to introduce a legally-binding plan.

Shell Canada spokesman Stephen Doolan told Postmedia News in an email that the company has supported national regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and maintains an open dialogue to engage with a variety of interested parties, including Pembina, government representatives and First Nations.

About a dozen groups were invited to last year's conference from the environmental community and the business world, including Environmental Defence, Forest Ethics, Suncor, RioTinto and GE Canada.

Although they did not reach an agreement, Whittingham said he believed the environmental groups and industry are making progress on their dialogue and should soon be able to submit a joint proposal for all levels of government to consider implementing.

mdesouza@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/mikedesouza

canada.com

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To: average joe who wrote (295)1/29/2012 1:28:35 AM
From: Nicholas Thompson
   of 358
 
MALDIVES :maybe they are getting nervous about the rising sea level. Still while not good compared to Western europe or N. america their record IS not bad compared to nearby countries such as India or Sri Lanka.

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To: Nicholas Thompson who wrote (299)1/31/2012 5:17:27 AM
From: average joe
   of 358
 
Volcanic activity behind Little Ice Age

Discharge from eruptions triggered massive plant die-off, research suggests

By Randy Boswell, Postmedia News January 30, 2012

Melting icefields on Baffin Island, one of the clearest signs of climate change on Earth, have yielded the strongest evidence yet for the timing and cause of another major climate event from the planet's past: the so-called Little Ice Age, a sudden and mysterious cooling of the globe that began about 700 years ago.

Recently exposed remains of plants that had been buried under Baffin Island ice for centuries provided the crucial clue that has led an international team of researchers to conclude the Little Ice Age was triggered by volcanic eruptions between 1275 and 1300 and was sustained by changes in Arctic sea-ice cover that lasted several centuries.

Writing in the latest issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the team of 13 scientists from the U.S., Iceland and Britain notes that, "there is no clear consensus on the timing, duration, or controlling mechanisms" of the Little Ice Age, which has been attributed by some experts to the onset of a period of reduced heat from the sun.

Without fully discounting the influence of the solar radiation cycle on the medieval cooling trend, the researchers found, however, clear indications on Baffin Island that mosses and other plants that had thrived in the centuries before AD 1300 were suddenly killed during a time marked by cataclysmic discharges from volcanoes erupting in the Southern Hemisphere.

A similar series of tropical volcanic eruptions around 1450, which initially blocked sunlight but also extended Arctic ice cover and increased ice-berg production in the North Atlantic, coincided with another pulse of ice-field growth and the flash-freeze killing of plants at different locations on the Nunavut island.

Significantly, the authors note, the "entombed vegetation" found at sites along a 1,000-km stretch of Baffin Island has only become apparent in recent years as "rapidly melting ice caps" in Arctic Canada began to reveal plant material unseen since the Middle Ages.

"From both the Canadian evidence [many sites became ice-covered in the late 13th Century and remained so until the past decade] and Icelandic evidence . we can conclude that multi-decadal average summer temperatures never returned to those of Medieval times until the 20th century," the scientists state in the journal article.

"This is the first time anyone has clearly identified the specific onset of the cold times marking the start of the Little Ice Age," Gifford Miller, a geology professor at the University of Colorado, said in a summary of the study.

"We also have provided an understandable climate feedback system that explains how this cold period could be sustained for a long period of time," he added, pointing to evidence that greater discharges of Arctic ice-bergs into the North Atlantic led to cooler surface waters and ocean circulation patterns that promoted further sea-ice expansion.

"The dominant way scientists have defined the little Ice Age is by the expansion of big valley glaciers in the Alps and in Norway.

But the time in which European glaciers advanced far enough to demolish villages would have been long after the onset of the cold period," Miller stated.

However, he noted, the team's Baffin Island study shows "if the climate sys-tem is hit again and again by cold conditions over a relatively short period - in this case, from volcanic eruptions - there appears to be a cumulative cooling effect."

vancouversun.com

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To: Nicholas Thompson who wrote (299)2/5/2012 2:27:51 PM
From: average joe
   of 358
 
Natural tilts in earth's axis cause ice ages, says Harvard scientist - and their cycles could help predict the next one
By Rob Waugh

Last updated at 7:15 PM on 2nd February 2012


Meltwater from a Norwegian glacier: A Harvard geophysicist says that the cycle of ice ages and deglaciation is caused by slight tilts in Earth's axis

The idea that slight shifts in Earth's axis might have been enough to trigger the ice ages is a century old.

But a Harvard earth sciences Professor Peter Huybers has finally proved it, using computer models to test competing ideas - and finding that earth's tilting axis is the only one that works.

The finding could have profound implications for our understanding of our planet's climate - and could, its author says, be crucial to 'predicting long-term changes in future climate.'

Two 'cycles' in the way Earth's axis spins have an effect on the cycle - one lasting 10,000 years and one lasting roughly 40,000 years.

When they align correctly, ice melts. At the other extreme, glaciers advance.

The idea that these could dictate the cycles of glaciation in Earth's climate was first proposed by Serbian geophysicist Milutin Milankovitch in the first half of the twentieth century.

'These periods of deglaciation saw massive climate changes,' Huybers said. 'Sea level increased by 130 meters, temperatures rose by about 5 degrees C, and atmospheric CO2 went from 180 to 280 parts per million.'

We ought to understand what caused these massive changes in past climate if we are to predict long-term changes in future climate with any confidence.'

'And at least now we know with greater than 99 percent confidence that shifts in earth's axis are among the factors that contribute to deglaciation.'

When both cycles align 'correctly', the glaciers retreat rapidly.

'When you get that alignment, the radiation that the Northern Hemisphere receives during summer increases by tens of watts per meter squared, and if large Northern ice sheets are present, they tend to disintegrate.'



Peter Huybers, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, is the author of a recent paper that found corrlations between aspects of Earth's orbit and periods of deglaciation

'These statistical findings agree exactly with what Milutin Milankovitch, a Serbian geophysicist, proposed in the first half of the 20th century.'

Huybers emphasises that these cycles are only one factor among many.

'It could also be that orbital forcing causes a rise is atmospheric CO2, and that it’s the increased CO2 that drives the loss of ice sheets,' he said.

'In all likelihood, both CO2 and increased summer radiation contribute to deglaciation. They’re both expected to push the climate system toward less ice.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2095571/Natural-tilts-earths-axis-alter-temperature-cause-ice-ages-says-Harvard-scientist.html#ixzz1lXNGwNpg

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To: Nicholas Thompson who wrote (299)2/5/2012 2:55:55 PM
From: average joe
   of 358
 
Europe cold snap death toll rises


The extreme weather has affected much of the continent

More deaths have been reported from the cold snap across Europe, which has already claimed more than 200 lives.

Ukraine continues to be hardest hit, with another nine deaths overnight. Officials say 131 have now died, most of them homeless people, and 1,800 people have been taken to hospital.

Eight people died in Poland overnight, police say, bringing the toll to 53.

Transport hubs have also been hit, with London's Heathrow airport expecting to run only 50% of services on Sunday.

At least four have died in France since the Arctic spell began and 43 departments in France have been put on alert for "exceptional" weather conditions.

The Italian capital Rome has seen its heaviest snowfall in more than 25 years, with runs on essential goods at supermarkets reported.

"The snow is beautiful, but let's hope spring comes soon,'' Pope Benedict XVI told the small number of pilgrims who braved the cold to go to St Peter's Square.

The Italian national rail operator is facing class action lawsuits after hundreds of people were trapped in trains due to the weather, AFP news agency reports.

Three helicopters were being used over eastern Bosnia on Sunday to deliver food and pick up people who needed evacuation.

A state of emergency is in force in the capital, Sarajevo, where snow has paralysed the city.

In neighbouring Serbia, 70,000 people remain cut off and 32 municipalities throughout the country have introduced emergency measures, according to senior emergency official Predrag Maric.

The Netherlands marked temperatures of -21.8C in the town of Lelystad on Saturday, the lowest recorded in the country for 27 years.

Do you live in one of the countries affected by the freezing weather? You can send your comments to the BBC using the form below:

Send your pictures and videos to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or text them to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (International). If you have a large file you can upload here.

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