Wednesday, January 26, 2011

BBC Horizon with Sir Paul Nurse on climate change and communicating the science

UPDATE: Here is a link to the complete program, with improved definition:

Thanks to a post on ClimateProgress, I was able to watch this recent BBC Horizon program via six links on youtube: Note: no longer available - you can watch it on the BBC.

Some messages:

Humans are causing the climate to change at such a rapid rate that it is threatening life as we know it today.

Denier blogger, Delingpole, is brazen (and foolish) enough to say to a Nobel prize winning President of the Royal Society that science is nonsense and peer review doesn't work, at the same time admitting that he, Delingpole, doesn't read scientific papers because he, Delingpole, cannot understand them. (Check out his body language while he is holding forth on his 'opinions' - folded arms, hand over mouth, eye movements etc)

GM radicals are against genetically modified foods because they believe eating food with genes in it is bad. (Apparently some members of the public are not aware that all plants and animals contain genes, which are essential to ongoing life, growth and reproduction.)

We live in a world where 'point of view not peer review holds sway'. Scientists have a responsibility to argue the scientific case. Newspapers report the same news items, one reporting a completely opposite account (of the same event) to the other.

Sir Paul Nurse is a very good ambassador for science. It was a good move made by the Royal Society, to elect him as President.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

GOMMs - ideas for helping out after the Queensland floods

GOMMs = grumpy old maids and men.
There have been hundreds of thousands of people affected and thousands of people showing strength and courage beyond bravery. This post is primarily inspired by two such people, Linda Weston and Robert Wilkin from Grantham who were interviewed on the ABC. Click here to watch the video. (Has anyone got a link to the clip itself?) As Linda Weston said - just a bit of extra help will go a long way:
This is a strong community, it really is. And a lot of people will support each other like they're doing now. But we're just going to need more help with cleaning up and that's basically what it's going to be all about. And if everyone stays strong with what's happening now we'll be fine. Just a bit of extra help will go a long way....We had no rain two years ago. It was that dry we had dust. Now we've got too much rain. What do you do? It's feast or famine. So, you've got to be strong and just keep going. That's the Australian way.
The aim is to seek some ideas on how we can best help Queenslanders without getting in their way. The mandatory constraints will include: working with the organised relief effort not going off half-cocked; and helping affected people get back on their feet, not taking over from them.

Disaster plans have different major components, including rescue, relief and recovery. The rescue stage is all hands on deck in a coordinated fashion, doing what can be done as the disaster is happening. The relief stage is getting funds to people who need it, and providing food, clothing and shelter as well as counselling and other services to those in need. Please donate what you can here.

The recovery stage is huge. It will include rebuilding all the roads that have been washed away. Rebuilding the railway tracks and the airports and the ports. Rebuilding government offices and businesses and homes that have been damaged or totally destroyed.

The scale of the devastation is unprecedented in Australia's recent history (of the last 200 years).

Along with the huge large scale efforts just to rebuild basic infrastructure, individual households and small businesses will be wanting to get back on their feet. People will be suffering shock and many will continue to be suffering from the trauma for many months and years. It's hard to be at your most efficient for extended periods under such circumstances. The entire populations of many towns and cities will need help and support, much of which they will get from working together. Maybe a bit of help from outside will get them back on their feet sooner.

I thought I'd kick off this post with a couple of ideas that would particularly suit the GOMMS, who have more time than cash and who are fit and healthy:

Recovery working bees: After the 1974 floods, relief weekend working bees were organised to help households clean up. Maybe a few GOMMs (grumpy old maids and men) would be able to give their time to work alongside those getting back on their feet. It would be dirty work but you might make some new friends along the way. There are many grey nomads who will undoubtedly help. This could be a way to find out if the life of the grey nomad is for you :)

UPDATE: Here is where to volunteer to help out in Queensland:

Respite: Maybe Queenslanders will eventually be ready for some respite. Maybe some GOMMs can open their homes and holiday homes so that those who've been worn out can take a breather in an environment where they are not facing the effects of the disaster every day.

Would love to hear other suggestions or refinements to the above. If there are a few people who want to band together to do something down the line, post comments here. In a few weeks this disaster may drop off the media radar but the recovery process will have only just begun.

Please donate to help those in desperate need after the Queensland floods.

UPDATE: Don't forget those in northern New South Wales who are now being inundated by flood water. Nor those in Western Australia who are trying to recover from record floods in December 2010.

David Karoly Speaks on Queensland Floods and Climate Change

Professor David Karoly, a world-renowned climate change expert from The University of Melbourne, is on ABC News 24 at the moment. He is describing the effect of the very strong La Nina on Queensland, combined with the record high sea surface temperatures. According to Prof Karoly, conditions now are similar to the conditions in 1974, except the oceans are warmer because of global warming. That is why the floods of 2010-2011 are worse than the floods of 1974.

This is only the second time I've seen this strong message on television, explaining the unprecedented flooding in Queensland. The first time was David Karoly as well. Given his experience - he is very brave and I have the utmost admiration for him speaking out so clearly with such strong messaging.

Let us hope that more and more people get the message.

Frog weirdness

For the third night in a row a frog has jumped on me in bed. To get here they had to either climb on the verandah and jump through the window or come in the back door and find their way through several other rooms.

The first time it was a middle sized frog that jumped on my head, the past two nights the frogs have been tiny little things. The one tonight really seemed like it wanted to stay - it kept jumping back on me and looking at me.

Too strange. Why are they visiting me in my bedroom, and why are they jumping on me?

Maybe before putting them out in the garden I should have kissed them to see if a handsome prince emerges.

(I know this isn't a climate post - or maybe it is. The weather is breaking new records this summer - for rain and rain intensity for a change, not heat. Hence the frogs, I guess!)

UPDATE: After finding the third tiny frog last night I did a quick walk around the house and found another tiny frog sitting on the top of the skirting board in the kitchen, and another on the floor in the bedroom. This afternoon I found another frog in a bowl under the tap in the front yard. The bowl had filled with water because of the recent rain and the frog was nestled under some grass clippings that had blown into the bowl. It looks as if the recent rain, while causing floods in Victoria in south-eastern Australia, has been good for frogs. (Our floods have not been a patch on those further north, as discussed in other posts.)