climate change

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Burning our future - part 1

Two years ago a made a short video about the incinetaror in the province of Verona with the voluntary group "Amici di Beppe Grillo di Verona". It was the first video I ever made, so don't expect great editing, but it came from a passionate group of people trying to get a point across: don't burn our future, think about your health, first.

The video is available on YouTube and Vimeo.

The video has no voiceovers, everything is written in Italian, and since I could not find the original Final Cut project, I uploaded the English substitles to YouTube (you can enable them on the bottom right corner of the video). Vimeo does not support closed captioning, so I'll post the video trascription instead.

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History is your teacher

I wanted to write about this since October 10, when I read Richard Black's BBC article
'Scary' climate message from past, then for some reason it slipped away. My interest came back after looking at Vitezslav' hilarious post 5000 ppm: What happens when CO2 levels are 20 times higher?. I say hilarious not a disrespectful way, but in true meaning: some of the phrases pronounced really made me laugh out loud.

How about the CO2 is green advertising-like catch-up spot?

Save the plants! Support more CO2 emissions! Maybe instead the 350.org campaign we should start some 3500.org campaign.

Or the even better false syllogisms (please forgive him, Aristotle), such as:

Life is based on carbon. Declaring carbon as a "pollutant" is the greatest insanity in history. It is like declaring life a pollutant.

I could not help but reading again Adela's excellent post on the subject Flashnews: CO2 is green and noticing how we seem to take a direction and follow that path without considering other people's work. Adela's made some very sensitive social remarks and presented unequivocal facts, which were mainly ignored and the questions remained unanswered.

So, what can we learn from the past? In the last few million years CO2 concentration cycled between 180ppm and 280ppm in rhythm with the sequence of ice ages and warmer interglacial periods.

Scientists have been able to map relatively well the last 800,000 years from ice cores drilled in Antarctica, but now a new research allows us to look back in time 20 million years, to the Miocene period.

Data came from samples brought up by
the drilling ship Joides Resolution (BBC)

At the start of the period, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere stood at about 400 parts per million (ppm) before beginning to decline about 14 million years ago - a trend that eventually led to formation of the Antarctic icecap and perennial sea ice cover in the Arctic.

"What we have shown is that in the last period when CO2 levels were sustained at levels close to where they are today, there was no icecap on Antarctica and sea levels were 25-40m higher," said research leader Aradhna Tripati from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

"At CO2 levels that are sustained at or near modern day values, you don't need to have a major change in CO2 levels to get major changes in ice sheets," she told BBC News.

This amount of CO2 on the air and sea levels were associated with temperatures about 3-6o C higher than today.

"This is yet another paper that makes the future look more scary than previously thought by many," said Jonathan Overpeck, who co-chaired the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) work on ancient climates for the organisation's last major report in 2007.

"If anyone still doubts the link between CO2 and climate, they should read this paper." I think they are referring to "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis". It's 996 pages long, and some of the best scientists in the World contributed to it. Before posting any more pro-CO2 propaganda, maybe you should take a look at it.

"We can say that we've identified past tipping points for ice sheet stability; the basic physics governing ice sheets that we've known from ice cores are extended further back, and... I think we should use our knowledge of the physics of climate change in the past to prepare for the future."

"But what this new work suggests is that... efforts to stabilise at 450ppm should avoid going up above that level prior to stabilisation - that is, some sort of 'overshoot' above 450ppm on the way to stabilisation could be playing with fire."

This concern is shared by other people and organisations alike. Low-lying countries such as The Maldives, Palau and Grenada, and of course 350.org, are pushing for adoption of the much lower figure of 350ppm.

Let's hope this position will be shared at the COP15 by the big five as well: China, India, US, Japan and Europe.

p.s. This article was crossposted on the TH!NK ABOUT IT - Climate Change blogging competition.

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Th!nk about it Journal - Day Zero

During the three days of the kick-off event I shot quite a lot of footage, thanks to my trusty Creative Vado, which I carry around all the time, and the Flip Mino HD that they gave us. I was finally able to put some of the pieces together, just before the deadline of the first part f the competition. I know some of you are expecting something great... sorry to disappoint you, it isn't anything special. I decided to make a series of three videos, one for each day of the competition: Part Zero is the arrival, Part 1 is Bella Centre, and Part 2 is the Dyssekilde Ecovillage.

Most of you guys from the Th!nk about it kick-off event are featured on the video, I hope you'll enjoy it!

Th!nk about it Journal - Day Zero from Federico Pistono on Vimeo.

p.s. This article was crossposted on the TH!NK ABOUT IT - Climate Change blogging competition, on Vimeo and on YouTube.

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Global warming just stopped: let’s all take a vacation!

Vitezslav Kremlik suggests that the temperatures over the last 10 years have actually stopped increasing, and that a cooling era is about to come. While I would very much like to agree with him and experience this phenomena (we could finally focus all of our attention on other issues, such as poverty, famine, AIDS, malaria, environmental pollution, waste management, fighting criminal organisations, soil degradation, biodiversity destruction, water shortage, et cetera), but sadly, the numbers I have are very different.

According to NASA and its "Global Temperature Trends: 2008 Annual Summation" from the "GISS Surface Temperature Analysis", 2008 is the ninth warmest year in the period of instrumental measurements, which extends back to 1880 (left panel of Fig. 1) and the ten warmest years all occur within the 12-year period 1997-2008.



Figure 1. Left: Annual-means of global-mean temperature anomaly Right: Global map of surface temperature anomalies, in degrees Celsius, for 2008. (Click for PDF.)

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Climate Change scepticism, science and reason

This is a post in response to Jodi's and Vitezslav's articles.

Jodi makes a valid point, that is, generally speaking. But I feel like she is missing something in the picture. While it is true that "continually re-examining the evidence can only ever strengthen our understanding of what we're dealing with", the reasons for being an outcast or a sceptic 30 years ago had profound scientific reasons.

The amount of data that we had was absolutely inadequate for the kind of research that we were trying to pursue. As more data comes in, you are more likely to reach a conclusion that is more likely to be true, or close enough. The kind of general relativism "We can all be wrong, you never know" and so on is partially true, but it fails to consider the actual evidence in face of a scientific and cultural revolution.

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