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Friday, December 15, 2006

Typical arguments about global warming

From time to time I get into conversation with people who have doubts about what is happening to our climate, usually based on their observations about the weather and what is happening in their garden. To come up with well thought out replies is not easy and so I've looked up such answers on the " How to talk to a Climate Sceptic Guide" blog and as an example I am copying one such answers here. If you wish to visit the blog you can use the link provided on this post or click here:

This is what you will find as a typical question and answer, using the statement: Climate change is just a natural cycle..

Thursday, February 23, 2006

This is Just a Natural Cycle

(Part of the How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic guide)


The current warming is just a natural cycle.

I always find this one a little amusing in the sense that you might as well call it "magic", because natural cycles do in fact have causes. So this is really just trying to insist that the climate science community is as ignorant as whoever it is writing this objection.


While it is undoubtedly true that there are some cycles and natural variations in global climate, anyone who wishes to insist that the current warming is purely or even just mostly natural has two challenges. Firstly, they need to identify just what this alleged natural mechanism is because absent a forcing of some sort, there will be no change in global energy balance. So natural or otherwise we should be able to find this mysterious cause. Secondly, a "natural cause" proponent needs to come up with some explanation for how a 30% increase in the second most important Greenhouse Gas does not itself affect the global temperature.

In other words, there is a well developed, internally consistent theory that predicts the effects we are observing, so where is the sceptic model, or theory whereby CO2 does not affect the temperature and where is the evidence of some other natural forcing?

There is a fine historical example of a very dramatic and very regular climate cycle that can be read in the ice core records taken both in Greenland and in the Antarctic. A naive reading of this cycle indicates we should be experiencing a cooling trend now, and indeed we were very gradually cooling over the length of the preindustrial Holocene, something around .5C averaged over 8000 years. It is informative to compare those fluctuations to today's changes. Leaving aside the descents into glaciation, which were much more gradual, the very sudden (geologically speaking) jumps up in temperature every ~100Kyrs actually represent a rate of change roughly ten times slower than the rate we are currently witnessing.

So could the current change be natural? Well, there is no identified natural cause (and they have been looked for), there is no theory of climate where CO2 does not drive the temperature and the natural cycle precedents do not show the same extreme reaction we are now witnessing.

(That would be a "No")

Other Guides, by Category

posted by coby @ 2/23/2006 01:07:00 PM

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Nature Reserve comments

The photo shows the peaceful scene as the upper reaches of the River Cary cross a farm track alongside the Babcary Reserve. A second photo shows the information board for the reserve which as noted below you can only see after finding your way down the lane to the ford. The entrance to the reserve is just before the river.

Three members have sent me comments partly in response to the questionaire on reserves , the subject of an earlier post, which I think are probably representative of the experience of members.

The first reflects the situation for many people who are not used to spending time in woods these days espcially if they live in an urban area. The Trust magazine by coincidence has a feature on urban wildlife!

I think the general public like being nannied, they like carparks,
information boards with map of the site ,defined paths and boundaries. They
are afraid of going off paths in case its not allowed or they might damage
something. I'm aware that we as a family don't get out enough and am intending
dragging the kids to some of the trusts reserves in the coming months. I
think organised events like the fungi hunt at Aller do encourage people to
return on their own. We were intending to get to the fungi hunt but
something else took priority, maybe get there next year.

The second I suggest links the need for people to become aware of the connection between the survival of wildlife and damage to the woods and fields,caused by human activity e.g. pollution.

On climate change, an important message to get over is the individual responsibility of us all. What can I do or change? Rather than/as well as ideas and policies. In answer to that today , I am helping to explore a Greenfest in June 07 in Taunton. In the light of Gordon Browns speech, find out what SCC is doing to adress the need to monitor/regulate energy use in our schools.

I've added some photos of Orchids in Great Breach Wood taken last year and an information board for two small reserves conected to it i.e. all on the same site.

As I have posted before I use The Great Breach Wood a lot as a place to walk and enjoy at all seasons of the year. Access to this, if you dont know how to get there, presents some problems. Particularly for access by car which unless you cycle is the only practical access.

The reserve its self is some way from a road 1/4 to 1/2 mile walk in the middle of a larger wooded area.
The reserve is signposted when you get into the part of the larger woodland where the reserve is located, but from the initial access points there are no indications where the reserve is.
Pathways are mown in the reserve in the autumn and judging purely from the degree that these become muddy and apparently used quite a lot, people find the reserve. Though it must be said that one doesnt often meet up with other visitors.
The other reserves that are near to me, Green Down and Babcary Meadows have similar access issues. Unless you are aware of their existance, finding them is not easy as there is no signposting for the reserve untill you are on the boarders. In the case of both these reserves, while the signposts for the pathways that you need to travel over are in place (South Somerset District Council are to be commended). There is no linkage between these and the Trust's reserves.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Attention to human rights is needed in tackling climate change

This report is on the BBC web site and seems to me to show a significant change in attitude to global climate change. The following is an extract from the news report.

Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 01:58 GMT

Rights focus sought over climate

Poor nations are said to be most at threat from climate change

More attention to human rights is needed in tackling climate change, former Irish President Mary Robinson will say in a lecture.

Her speech at Chatham House, a think-tank in London, will argue that climate change is now an issue of global injustice.

The ex-UN high commissioner for human rights will urge policymakers to adopt "a radically different approach".

She will also urge rich nations to meet their climate change obligations.

"We can no longer think of climate change as an issue where we the rich give charity to the poor to help them cope," she is expected to say.

"Climate change has already begun to affect the fulfilment of human rights and our shared human rights framework entitles and empowers developing countries and impoverished communities to claim protection of these rights."

Ms Robinson will argue for the revival of multilateral efforts that led to the global eradication of smallpox and the phasing out of CFC gases.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Change of format for blog in process

It may take a few days to sort out the layout for this blog now that I've changed to what they call the Beta Blogger . It should be possible eventually to improve the appearance and the ease of use for visitors.

With reports of tornados and floods and colder weather to come here in the UK I am including a photograph taken from the house of a friend living in South Africa. It looks a good place to be!

And here is a wild flower seen on a walking holiday last year in Croatia

Finally a typical meadow flower popular with butterflies in the summer just to cheer us all up. (greater knapweed)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Nature reserves

The Somerset Wildlife Trust recently asked members to complete a questionnair on the subject of: "Access to the Natural Environment for All, Prioritising Reserves for Improved Access."

I thought it might show something of the behind the scenes activity by the Trust to share my response on this blog. My comments,shown below, reflect the fact that we, as a new conservation group, have limited experience of the Trusts reserves but we are learning.

Here are some of the questions.

How many visitors use your reserves?
How are reserves used currently?
What are the main age groups of visitors?
What are the main benefits to the public of reserves?
What if any are the barriers to people visiting the reserves?
Are there any disadvantages of the public visiting the reserves?
Are there other users of the countryside that have caused problems in the past?

"My comments on the reserves are limited because neither I nor most of our committee have much awareness of our reserves. That's not very good I know but now we have the Heart of the Levels Group we are conscious that we need to rectify the situation. Last summer I tried to find out where our nearest reserves were and at least find the locations from the grid references. No small task I found.
You sent me four sheets. Aller and Beer Woods, Westhay Moor, Catcott Heath, Catcott Lows.
I have been to the first two, on two or three visits only.
I have no info on how many people visit the reserves.
I can only make general comments on the benefits of reserves and possible barriers to visits.
I also will attach my listing of reserves that are either in our area or nearby which includes the last three above. There are 20 reserves listed.
All the Westhay areas are out of our local area in any event. Beer and Aller Woods is probably our largest , most accessible and scenic local reserve. The list includes info I have been given about managers which I know is out of date now as David Reid has retired.
I have taken the opportunity of checking through the new booklet and comment on the entries there.

The booklet is very neat, handy size and well produced.
It took a little while to work out the way to use it though. I started by looking at the map, finding a reserve and noted the ref number.
I eventually realised that the ref number is not the page number and you need to go to the contents page which provides the page number but not the reserve ref number. Once I'd got that straight it is fine.Perhaps the contents page could say at the top left, page number and have on the right Reserve Map Ref Number.
I find the location map very useful but now it doesn't show the "other " reserves. Some of the others are our best sites i.e. Babcary Meadows and Dundon Beacon.
The individual maps are the same as for the old booklet. As I tried to find our reserves I found the maps too restricted in area and references to local roads. Hence it took a little effort to find them from grid references and the diagrams and to tie them down on OS maps.
Some don't have notice boards i.e.Fivehead Arable fields.
Despite the references to cycle and foot access many people will approach them by car and car parking arrangements are a bit limited in most cases so people really need to be forewarned with best, nearest, places to park. In some cases this is given.
Some reserves don't have diagrams at all, e.g. Beer and Aller Wood, Green Down.
I appreciate that it seems the intention to concentrate on a limited number of reserves which covers 8 of my list of 20. We could also include West Sedgemoor RSPB site and no doubt others. Then there are private reserves which we may try to identify and seek permission for visits.
Even with the new book I think we might be able to add detail for our local members to make it easier for them to get out to the reserves. Perhaps we will end up concentrating on a few.
If you ask me again in 12 months time I hope to be better informed.

What do we members get out of reserves?
The Westhay starlings display is out of this world on a good day! It really makes you realise how amazing the natural world is and its on our doorstep.
Seeing the herons nesting at West Sedgemoor is impressive.
Going on a fungus foray in Aller and Beer Woods in remarkable and fascinating.
"Clouds" of butterflies in a wild flower meadow can be quite startling for its unexpected beauty.
Places like Westhay even on a quiet day are so peaceful and natural with occasional sighting of birds getting on with their lives.
I must get to Green Down next summer on one of the visits to see the Large Blue butterfly.

What are the barriers?
All the points I mention above might help to reduce barriers.
Area Groups and Reserve Managers could perhaps cooperate more to get members to visit. Once they have had an escorted tour they will be much more likely to visit on their own initiative. This is our aim as far as possible.
It should help to be better informed about climate change issues and farming methods and management of the countryside.
I think Carymoor should be useful for us locally as an educational resource and I hope to visit soon. ( Dec 8th in fact).
School visits arranged by Area Groups might help.
As much information as possible about the best times to visit and what to look for must be important."