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Archive for December, 2006

New Year’s Eve

It’s 31st December 2006, a time for reflection and perhaps also New Year’s resolutions. This time last year I wrote: “A CNN/TIME survey of Asia-Pacific countries reports that avian flu is expected to be the biggest global issue in 2006, followed by economic slowdown and terrorism. What happened to global warming? Why didn’t it rate [...]


The Discoveries of Science: Comment from Steven Pinker

David Tribe sent me a link to a piece by Steven Pinker titled ‘Less Faith, More Reason’. Here’s an extract: “Missing from the report is a sensitivity to the ennobling nature of knowledge: to the inherent value, with consequences too far-reaching to enumerate, of understanding how the world works. For one thing, it is a [...]

Ice Shelf Becomes Sea Ice: Perhaps Good News for Polar Bears?

Two days ago the mainstream media was lamenting that polar bears should be listed as threatened with extinction because of disappearing sea ice all a consequence of global warming. Today the media is reporting that a giant ice shelf the size of 11,000 football fields has snapped free from Canada’s Arctic and has formed an [...]

Congratulations to whale and wildlife photographer, George McCallum. His revamped website is back online with a thousand or so images including of minke whales, humpback whales and killer whales: . The website includes albums on ‘European birds’, ‘oil platforms and rigs’, and also one entitled ‘weather and water’: For more information on George: [...]

Swimming with Whales: A Note from Libby

Hi Russell, Going back to your points about sentient beings and our perception of other life forms. As you say, there is debate about how intelligent certain species are, how to measure that intelligence, whether they can feel emotions, what this all means. Being human, although we may try to be objective in assessing the [...]

Techno-Fixes for Climate, Locally and Globally?

The Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, yesterday announced that $7.6 million will be provided over four years to evaluate the effectiveness of cloud seeding in increasing rainfall in Queensland, Australia. Mr Beattie said beginning next year (2007) a pilot project would be conducted in south-east Queensland using new “warm cloud” seeding processes. The pilot project will [...]

Holiday Reading, Christmas 2006

1. GM Files: Getting the Truth Out There By Glenn Tong December 20, 2006 … Worsening drought conditions around Australia have brought into sharp focus the need for new technologies to meet the challenge of global warming. The indisputable reality is that we cannot afford the indulgence of ignoring genetically modified (GM) crops amid this [...]

The Concept of ‘Passionate Agnosticism’ on Boxing Day 2006

I was at church yesterday on Christmas Day, and I was also at church on Christmas Eve. I am a protestant by upbringing and tribal affiliation, but like Richard Dawkins, an atheist by conviction. But unlike Dawkins I am not against religion. Richard Dawkins has just written a new book ‘The God Delusion’ and it [...]

Climate Conditions & The December 2006 Bushfires in Australia

Following is the text* from a ‘Special Climate Statement’ entitled ‘Climate conditions preceding the December 2006 southeast Australian bushfires’. The statement was issued on 19th December 2006 by the National Climate Centre. Introduction Southeast Australia has experienced highly unusual widespread bushfire activity in December 2006. These fires were preceded by exceptionally dry conditions, over both [...]

Beware the Global Surface Temperature Record: A Note from Vincent Gray

I received the following note* from Vincent Gray. He began by wishing us all “the compliments of the season” and then lauched into a discussion of mean global surface temperature records: The theory that “Climate Change” is caused by increases in carbon dioxide stands or falls on the reliability of the “mean global surface temperature [...]