Rather than writing, the biggest thing a journalist seems to do is read (at least that seems to be the case for me). There’s lot of great environment reading that I do during the week that I don’t get a chance to write about, so I’ve decided a weekly Rooted Reading List is a good way of sharing these articles. So check back every Friday arvo for it and feel free to add in your own top reading picks from around the web in comments.
First up a fascinating article in the University of St Thomas magazine about its professor Dr John Abraham, who garnered international attention in 2010 when he put together a 73 minute presentation that forensically pulls apart an entire speech made by well-known climate sceptic Christopher Monckton. This article examines the whole media fallout:
“Dr. John Abraham and his wife, Molly, packed up their kids and headed to Disneyland in July 2010 for the family’s first real vacation. Four-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Lilith fell in love with Disney’s dazzling King Arthur Carousel. They didn’t ride it once or twice, they went on it seven times.
While his kids were having the time of their lives, the St. Thomas associate professor of mechanical engineering unfortunately had other things on his mind. Between carousel rides, Abraham kept checking his cell phone for messages. Headlines like this one – not only in the United States but in Europe, Australia and New Zealand – explain why: “The Monckton Files: Bombshell!!! John Abraham to be Sued!!!”
Abraham had tangled with Scotland’s Christopher Monckton, one of the world’s most prominent global-warming sceptics and a sought-after speaker by the kind of organisations that share his scepticism.”
“Sigh. I knew it was going to happen eventually. It is a shame that the science deniers are much better organized than the rational people. As of 8 AM this morning, Dr. Michael E. Mann’s latest book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines had 15 reviews, all of which were 5 stars. My review (posted below) had 58 out of 59 votes for being helpful.
Enter climate science denier Anthony Watts whose blog has never missed an opportunity to smear a climate scientist. This morning, Watts posted about Mike Mann’s new book and within hours the Amazon reviews turned ugly. Of course, Watts tells his readers “While I realize that many people don’t want to buy this book, please don’t pull a Peter Gleick and do reviews apparently in absentia.” referring to his false claim that National Academy of Sciences member Dr. Peter Gleick posted a 1 star review of Donna Laframboise’s book without reading it. I also read that book and it deserved the 1 star. Watts has a history of doing this.
As of 7 PM EST tonight there are now eleven 1 star reviews and all of the 5 star reviews are being sabotaged by vote downs and negative comments.”
America has too many McMansions, according to developers and planners. As Roger Showley reports in UT San Diego:
Relying on developers’ surveys, Chris Nelson, who heads the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah, said 43 percent of Americans prefer traditional big, suburban homes but the rest don’t.
“That means we are out of balance in terms of where the market is right now, let alone trending toward the future,” he said.
He estimated that this demand suggests a need for 10 million more attached homes and 30 million more small homes on 4,000-square-foot lots or less. By contrast, demand for large-lot homes is 40 million less than currently available…
… Factors include a desire for shorter commutes, walkable neighbourhoods, economic considerations and, in the case of Generations X and Y, born between 1965 and 2000, they want the non-car mobility they did not get as youngsters.
The mining boom may be saving the Australian economy — but at what cost? asks Sarah-Jane Collins at recently-launched Global Mail. She examines the lack of regulation in the mining industry in a very in-depth report:
“How the system is regulated is a patchwork of state and federal rules imposed by myriad authorities. The federal government weighs in on treaty issues, world environmental obligations and threats to endangered species. What is does not do is regulate the entire system.
But with such rapid growth, communities and environmental groups have begun to ask more questions about the strength of the current regulatory framework. A key concern, raised over and over again to The Global Mail, is whether government has allowed the politics of the mining boom, and the rhetoric of jobs and national economic needs to overshadow key environmental issues such as water contamination and climate change. They argue not enough is being done to ensure we are not sacrificing the quality of our arable land, air and water for the benefit of an industry that has created, in their disputed view, a mythology that ties Australia’s economic success to its continued expansion and development.
Community advocates, former government regulators and academics in the field all have raised questions about a lack of crucial oversight and what they dub a state of ‘regulatory capture’ where public servants tick boxes without critical analysis — that has lead to environmental problems across a range of mining ventures and a number of states. The recent hearings of the Queensland floods inquiry show there can be flexibility in how regulations are determined and enforced by those monitoring mining sites.”
Have the Himalayas lost no ice at all in the last decade? That’s what a new Nature study into the world’s glaciers and ice caps has found. But is that news as positive as it sounds? In this great piece for The Guardian Leo Hickman examines the Nature report and talks to a variety of experts to understand it better:
“The Nature study has inevitably attracted plenty of attention because it deals, in part, with the still-controversial subject of Himalayan glaciers. Climate sceptics were delighted in 2010 when the IPCC had to correct a silly mistake in one of its landmark reports in which it had used “grey literature” to mistakenly make the claim that the region’s glaciers would melt by 2035, rather than 2350, if current warming trends continued.
The surprising finding, reported in this new study, that satellite evidence shows that there wasn’t any loss in ice mass between 2003 and 2010 in the wider Himalayan region has, again, been welcomed with much delight by climate sceptics. However, the headline finding distracts somewhat from the rest of the data presented in the paper. It shows clear evidence that other regions, most notably Greenland and Antarctica, recorded a significant loss in ice mass over this same period. But, because this was largely expected, it didn’t become the headline.”