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Archive for October, 2009

Climate change: New Orleans doomed?

Monday, October 26th, 2009

This is a follow-up to my previous post on climate change:

http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2009/10/14/coral-reefs-and-climate-change-close-to-catastrophic-collapse/

Storm threat to New Orleans out of our control, says general
• Flooding can’t be stopped, says chief of city defences
………….

Extracts of an article in the Guardian.

“New Orleans can no longer be protected from hurricane storm surges, according to the US army general in charge of the city’s defences.
General Robert Van Antwerp, chief of the US Army Corps of Engineers, said …………….
“If you ask can I protect the city, the answer is no. Can I reduce the risk? Yes.
“We can develop better early warning systems, better evacuation plans, better levees to hold back most of the water, but we cannot stop levees being overtopped and the city flooded.”

…………

“The vast Mississippi delta is sinking a centimetre a year. Sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate, and will be two metres higher by the year 2100. Much of the delta is less than a metre above sea level, so most communities will be submerged.
The oil and gas industry’s massive canal and pipeline network, which provides 35% of the country’s gas and oil, cuts through the state’s freshwater swamps and marshes, allowing vast quantities of sea water from the Gulf to wash into the delta and kill many of the trees and plants that protect the land from storm surges.”
………..

“We have broken the ecosystem. What we are doing to restore it is a drop in the ocean of what is needed,” Macaluso said.”

………

“Prof Gerald Galloway, from the department of civil engineering at the University of Maryland, said: “We are facing catastrophe. The challenge now is to see if anybody will do anything about it.”

………

“”There needs to be dramatic changes in policy and attitude, but time is running out.”

Full article here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/25/usa-natural-disasters

Google wave, an exciting new tool of science communication

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Google Knols have been available for over a year now and – although still in their infancy – have proven to be very useful.
Examples here: http://knol.google.com/k/klaus-rohde/klaus-rohde-knols-english/xk923bc3gp4/69#

An exiting new tool for science communication is now being developed. I thank my son Peter for sending me this. Links here:

http://wave.google.com.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7266/full/461881a.html

Coral reefs and climate change. Close to catastrophic collapse?

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Professor Alexandra Grutter, University of Queensland, sent me this:

The coral reef crisis: The critical importance of less than 350 ppm CO2

By Veron et al. 2009. Marine Pollution Bulletin 58, 1428-1436.

“Abstract
Temperature-induced mass coral bleaching causing mortality on a wide geographic scale started when atmospheric CO2 levels exceeded 320 ppm. When CO2 levels reached 340 ppm, sporadic but highly destructive mass bleaching occurred in most reefs world-wide, often associated with El Niño events. Recovery was dependent on the vulnerability of individual reef areas and on the reef’s previous history and resilience. At today’s level of 387 ppm, allowing a lag-time of 10 years for sea temperatures to respond, most reefs world-wide are committed to an irreversible decline. Mass bleaching will in future become annual, departing from the 4 to 7 years return-time of El Niño events. Bleaching will be exacerbated by the effects of degraded water-quality and increased severe weather events. In addition, the progressive onset of ocean acidification will cause reduction of coral growth and retardation of the growth of high magnesium calcite-secreting coralline algae. If CO2 levels are allowed to reach 450 ppm (due to occur by 2030–2040 at the current rates), reefs will be in rapid and terminal decline world-wide from multiple synergies arising from mass bleaching, ocean acidification, and other environmental impacts. Damage to shallow reef communities will become extensive with consequent reduction of biodiversity followed by extinctions. Reefs will cease to be large-scale nursery grounds for fish and will cease to have most of their current value to humanity. There will be knock-on effects to ecosystems associated with reefs, and to other pelagic and benthic ecosystems. Should CO2 levels reach 600 ppm reefs will be eroding geological structures with populations of surviving biota restricted to refuges. Domino effects will follow, affecting many other marine ecosystems. This is likely to have been the path of great mass extinctions of the past, adding to the case that anthropogenic CO2 emissions could trigger the Earth’s sixth mass extinction.”

Full report here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2009.09.009

See also: http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2009/09/16/if-obama-cant-defeat-the-republican-headbangers-our-planet-is-doomed/

Nobel Prize for Economics

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Two days ago I published a post referring to the fact that the
Nobel prize for Economics has been given largely to conventional economists with a “classical” neoliberal outlook. The prize therefore strengthened the belief that this branch of economics is “correct”. Politicians, as a consequence, were inclined to “privatize”, “outsource” etc. as a remedy for any problems. Anybody disagreeing was labelled an ignorant: out of touch with modern developments in economic theory. This year’s prize has now been given to two economists who have shown that “outsourcing” often is not the best way to go, and that community administered resources are often better distributed than privately owned ones. In other words, privatization and leaving everything to free markets are not always the best approach. – I arrived at the conclusion that free market economics has flaws, i.e. that each case in economy has to be treated individually, some time ago based on a comparison of ecological and economical principles. See my knol:
http://knol.google.com/k/klaus-rohde/free-markets-and-free-trade-ecology-and/xk923bc3gp4/86#

Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama. Why did he get it? Does he deserve it?

Monday, October 12th, 2009

There has been much discussion in the media about the Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s decision to award the prize to President Obama. Here is one view, by MJ Rosenberg, Senior Fellow Media Matters Action Network, October 11, 2009.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mj-rosenberg/nobel-prize-means-no-us-o_b_316939.html

Extracts:
Nobel Prize Means No US or Israeli Attack on Iran”

“And that pretty much means that the Iran nuclear issue is going to be resolved diplomatically. Either diplomacy will convince Iran to drop plans for a bomb — if it has such plans. Or else we will accept Iran’s right to a bomb under the same terms and restrictions as the other nuclear armed signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
President Obama was not inclined to attack Iran’s facilities or to allow Israel to do so before winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The early awarding of this prize will only strengthen him in that resolve. The “bomb Iran” option is off the table.”

See my earlier posts on Iran under the relevant categories (Iran/Iraq, Politics, Middle East)

“Nobel” Prize for Economics and Conservative Bible Project show us that Free Market Economy is right

Friday, October 9th, 2009

The “Nobel” Prize in Economics has been a very effective instrument in directing economics research into a certain direction, i.e. that of neoclassical free market economics. But, apparently, this is not sufficient. Why not, therefore ask for help from the Bible.

Nobel Prize for Economics

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/08/economics-nobel-women-bailout-stockmarket

“The Nobel prize for economics may need its own bailout
“Nobel prize has been a useful tool not only to proclaim the conceptual advances supposedly made by “the dismal science” but also to encourage certain types of economic analysis and research. So its power extends beyond public recognition, altering the very production of economic knowledge.”

“The political effect of the prize in the profession has been undeniable. There has been overwhelming domination of neoclassical economics, to the exclusion of alternative streams of thought, with only a few nods in the direction of broader and more socially embracing approaches. This has encouraged more conservative approaches in research and teaching.
Monetarist and free market approaches have been disproportionately rewarded, often at crucial times….”

The Bible

In a recent post I produced some funny quotes from Heinrich Heine. The Huffington Post, from time to time, produces equally funny ones. Have a look at this one:

From: The Huffington Post | Rachel Weiner
First Posted: 10- 5-09 02:26 PM | Updated: 10- 5-09 03:38 PM

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/05/conservative-bible-projec_n_310037.html

Some extracts (bold by me):

“Lo and behold, the Bible has gotten too liberal, according to a group of conservatives. And it needs a little editing.

That’s the inspiration behind the Conservative Bible Project, which seeks to take the text back to its supposed right-wing roots.

Yes, even scripture is not orthodox enough for the modern conservative. Not that it’s the fault of the author(s), exactly. The group cites a few reasons why the Bible is too progressive: “Lack of precision in the original language … lack of precision in modern language” and “translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one.”

So how can the Bible be conservatized? The group has proposed a Wikipedia-like group editing project. Some of the ideas would only bring the translation closer to the original. But others would fundamentally change the text.

1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias

3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level

4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.

6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.

7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning

Among the words to be eliminated: “government.” A conservative columnist at Beliefnet described the effort as “just crazy … like what you’d get if you crossed the Jesus Seminar with the College Republican chapter at a rural institution of Bible learnin’.”

Concerning the recommended Wikipedia style: I have commented on the serious flaws and biasses of Wikipedia in a knol:

http://knol.google.com/k/klaus-rohde/wikipedia-oder-knol-meinungsfreiheit/xk923bc3gp4/73#

Concerning the free market propaganda to be incorporated, is this blasphemous?