<i>Illustration: Simon Letch</i>Sydney Morning Herald, Opinion, July 15 2012.

EVERY so often a discovery is made which piques the public’s interest in science once more. A single proof captures the imagination by the significance and the scale of the advance. This week’s news that physicists had proved with near certainty the existence of the Higgs boson is such a point in the history of science.

The scale of the experiment matches the scale of the intellectual leap achieved. A huge apparatus, 27 kilometres in circumference, buried 100 metres below the French-Swiss border near Geneva, accelerated particles in a near-perfect vacuum to speeds just below that of light and measured the effect of their collisions. Minute variations in energy released prove the existence of the Higgs boson, which had been postulated in theory by Peter Higgs in 1964 to explain the mass of elementary particles.

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From the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (June 2012).

After reaching near-average levels in late April, sea ice extent declined rapidly during the early part of May. The rest of the month saw a slower rate of decline. Ice extent in the Bering Sea remained above average throughout the month.


Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland

I must say, that’s quite a quote from the new Queensland Premier.  Premier Newman was responding to the UNESCO report which has brought the spotlight on the coastal Queensland and Australia’s management of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.  I guess what we had all been suspecting is now true.  Queensland equals coal not coral!

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Contact: Katy Human, 303-497-4747

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Barrow, Alaska, reached 400 parts per million (ppm) this spring, according to NOAA measurements, the first time a monthly average measurement for the greenhouse gas attained the 400 ppm mark in a remote location.

Carbon dioxide (CO2), emitted by fossil fuel combustion and other human activities, is the most significant greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.


“The northern sites in our monitoring network tell us what is coming soon to the globe as a whole,” said Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist with NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo. “We will likely see global average CO2 concentrations reach 400 ppm about 2016.”

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Peter Sinclair   May 17, 2012

Peter Sinclair’s monthly Yale Forum video uses historical footage to debunk an assertion that the most well-known climate change ‘advocates’ are … ‘murderers, tyrants, and madmen.’

A great video – watch it now.


UPDATE – Heartland Institute removes billboards (details from the Washington Post).

In amongst the dishonest activities of the Heartland Foundation is this.  The comparison of people like you and me (people who trust the sceince on climate change) to villains and criminals.  This is a new low for a front group bent on deviously distributing misinformation about climate change.  Perhaps now people like Bob Carter from James Cook University will admit to the dishonest and deceitful nature of the Heartland Institute and will decline further funding.  Not to do this would be to endorse these deceitful anti-science tactics.

Gareth, Hot Topic:  May 4 2012

The Heartland Institute, the Chicago-based right wing think tank notorious for its coordination, organisation and funding of climate denial around the world (including New Zealand), has set new standards for bad taste by launching an advertising campaign for its upcoming climate “conference” that compares those who want action on climate change to terrorists, murderers and tyrants.

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Here is a bit of plain speaking on the post below from Matt England on the ABC.

MATTHEW CARNEY: So in your view, is it hard empirical evidence that CO2 was the driver and today is the driver of global warming?

MATTHEW ENGLAND: It is absolutely clear evidence that carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases are required to explain the de-glaciation, absolutely. You cannot explain the Ice Age cycles without the warming capacity of greenhouse gases so this is very clear evidence of their role in our climate and of course for today’s increasing greenhouse gases, very clear evidence that they do affect our climate on massive scales.

MATTHEW CARNEY: So what does it mean for today’s debate?

MATTHEW ENGLAND: Oh, there is no debate in terms of the role of greenhouse gases in climate. If anybody says there is a debate they are either unaware of simple facts of physics or they are outright lying so it is another piece of evidence.




Ice coreHave a look at this nice peice of work from Nature … corrects a piece of evidence that didn’t quite add up.


Carbon dioxide was the big driver that ended the last Ice Age, according to a new study of ice core data from around the world.

About 10,000-20,000 years ago, Earth started to emerge from a quarter million years of deep freeze as the terrestrial ice sheet rolled back and warmer temperatures prevailed.

What caused the end of this age, known as the Pleistocene, has long been debated.

Until now, the main evidence has come from ice cores drilled in Antarctica whose air bubbles are a tiny time capsule of our climate past.

Traces of CO2 in Antarctic ice show that carbon concentrations in the atmosphere rose after temperatures were on the rise.

This timing has been used by sceptics as proof that man-made carbon gases either do not cause global warming or at least do not make it as bad as mainstream scientists say.

But the new study, published in Nature , indicates that the Antarctic record doesn’t reflect global temperature rise.

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UPDATE:  in response to the misinformation that mining geologist Ian Plimer has been distributing, the Australian Department of Climate Change has reviewed his book and found it to be factually wrong, dishonest and misleading.   Read their assessment of Ian Plimer’s 101 climate questions here.

Matthew Knott, 5 April 2012, Power Index

Scientists and teachers have accused free market think tank The Institute of Public Affairs of spreading disinformation by sending copies of Ian Plimer’s latest book to hundreds of schools around the country.

Plimer’s tome, How to Get Expelled from School: a guide to climate change for pupils, parents and punters, argues that the theory of man-made global warming is a scientific and financial scam.

Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute, described the IPA’s bid to influence science teaching as a “dangerous development”.

“They’re an advocacy group; they’re putting forward the position of vested interests,” he said. “This can happen in the political sphere; it shouldn’t happen in the educational sphere.

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