Monthly Archives: May 2015

May 31st, 1996 – Charlie Sheen is a rocket scientist. No, really.  #Climate dramedy film….

arrivalOn May 31st 1996 “The Arrival” is released.  Charlie Sheen plays a scientist (no, really) who stumbles on an interplanetary conspiracy.  Is it worth watching? Only for one amazing scene between him and his ex-boss, Ron Silver.  But to tell you it would spoil it.  Suffice to say, there’s a very convincing explanation of why we’ve done so little about carbon emissions. No, really.

Also on this day

1981 Barbara Ward dies
1994 Speech by R Oyela Estrada at Royal Geographical Society (see Agrawala article  on AGGG)  See “Frankenstein Syndrome” piece in New Scientist”)
2007 ‘Shergold Report’ released: The Prime Ministerial Task Group on Emissions Trading releases the ‘Shergold Report’ which recommends Australia develop an emissions trading scheme.

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May 30th 2007 Australian Labor Party promises big climate action. Oh dear.

“The Labor Party, led by Kevin Rudd, promised a more progressive approach. It pledged to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, establish a target of reducing Australia’s emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050 and create an emissions trading scheme by 2010.”

(Macintosh, 2008 :52)

  1. Rudd An Action Agenda for Climate Change, Annual Fraser Lecture, Belconnen Labor Club, Canberra, 30 May 2007 (Australian Labor Party, Canberra: 2007).

It all went very very wrong, of course.  See Chubb, (2014) for one account of how and why.

Also on this day

1990 Midnight Oil concert in New York, outside Exxon HQ
1995 Australian Mining Industry Council (soon to become the Minerals Council of Australia) shifts its posture, if not its actual position at its AGM, after getting Geoff Allen to do a review, which concluded they were on the nose… – see Davis, M. (1995) MINING COUNCIL DOES POST-MABO REVAMP BRW 29 May
1996 Flak letter about Ben Santer to IPCC chair Bert Bolin et al from the Global Climate Coalition(Bolin 2007, 130)

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May 29th, 2007 – Australian Prime Minister John Howard dismisses Stern Review because … it’s written by an Englishman

I am not making this up. I wish I were.

However, in a Parliamentary debate in May 2007, the Prime Minister suggested the [Stern] review was Eurocentric propaganda. He stated that the report of the Government’s Task Group on Emissions Trading:

… will not be a grab bag of proposals taken holus-bolus from a report written by an Englishman for European conditions and designed to promote the political objectives of the British government. That is what the Stern report is all about. Stern is not the biblical scholar of climate change that is posited by those who sit opposite. Stern has written from the perspective of an Englishman, from the European circumstance and from the European point of view.7 3

Commonwealth, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 29 May 2007, 48 (John Howard, Prime Minister).

(Macintosh, 2008: 66-7)

Macintosh, A 2008, ‘Domestic Influences on the Howard Government’s Climate Policy: Using the Past as a Guide to the Future’, Asia Pacific Journal of Environmental Law, vol. 11, no. 1 & 2, pp. 51-84.

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May 28th, 1956 – Time magazine article “One Big Greenhouse”

28 May 1956 Time magazine:

“Since the start of the industrial revolution, mankind has been burning fossil fuel (coal, oil, etc.) and adding its carbon to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. In 50 years or so this process, says Director Roger Revelle of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, may have a violent effect on the earth’s climate…

“Dr. Revelle has not reached the stage of warning against this catastrophe, but he and other geophysicists intend to keep watching and recording. During the International Geophysical Year (1957-58), teams of scientists will take inventory of the earth’s CO2 and observe how it shifts between air and sea. They will try to find out whether the CO2 blanket has been growing thicker, and what the effect has been. When all their data have been studied, they may be able to predict whether man’s factory chimneys and auto exhausts will eventually cause salt water to flow in the streets of New York and London.”
“One Big Greenhouse,” Time magazine, May 28, 1956.

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May 27th, 1962 – Centralia coal seam fire detected. Still burning today…

“The Centralia mine fire is a coal seam fire that has been burning underneath the borough of Centralia, Pennsylvania, United States since at least May 27, 1962. The cause of the fire is suspected to be from a trash burning that hit a coal strip in a cave. The fire burns in underground coal mines at depths of up to 300 feet over an eight-mile stretch of 3,700 acres.[1] As of 2014, the fire continues to burn. At its current rate, it could burn for over 250 more years.”

Er, Simpsons Tire Yard, much?

Also on this day

1919 – The NC-4 aircraft arrives in Lisbon after completing the first transatlantic flight.

1927 – The Ford Motor Company ceases manufacture of the Ford Model T and begins to retool plants to make the Ford Model A.

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May 26th, 2004 “The Day After Tomorrow” released

may262004dayaftertmrwBasically a re-tread of the 70s/80s -after a nuclear war disaster/who-will-survive flicks, TDAT was fun for its casting of a Dick Cheney lookalike as Vice President, but not much else.

According to the source of all reliable information (wikipedia)

“The film was inspired by The Coming Global Superstorm, a book co-authored by Coast to Coast AM talk radio host Art Bell and Whitley Strieber.[2] Strieber also wrote the film’s novelization. The book “The Sixth Winter” written by Douglas Orgill and John Gribbin and published in 1979, follows a similar theme. So does the novel Ice!, by Arnold Federbush, published in 1978.”

And this from the same article is fun –

“Paleoclimatologist William Hyde of Duke University was asked on Usenet whether he would be seeing the film; he responded that he would not unless someone were to offer him $100.[7] Other readers of the newsgroup took this as a challenge, and (despite Hyde’s protests) raised the necessary funds. Hyde’s review criticized the film’s portrayal of weather phenomena that stopped at national borders, and finished by saying that it was “to climate science as Frankenstein is to heart transplant surgery“, as quoted in New Scientist.”

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May 25th, 1990 – Margaret Thatcher opens the Hadley Centre

may251990“Many of us have been worried for some time now about the accumulating evidence of damage to the global environment and the consequences for life on Earth and for future generations. I spoke about this to the Royal Society in 1988 and to the United Nations General Assembly in November last year. Today, with the publication of the Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, we have an authoritative early warning system, an agreed assessment from some three hundred of the world’s leading scientists on what is happening to the world’s climate—all this under your distinguished chairmanship, Dr. Houghton. I congratulate you on getting three hundred distinguished scientists to agree on a single report—you must be quite a chairman! It is a triumph for you today, both the Report and the opening of the new Centre for which you have obviously been very eager.

Your Report confirms that greenhouse gases are increasing substantially as a result of Man’s activities; that this will warm the Earth’s surface, with serious consequences for us all, and that these consequences are capable of prediction. We want to predict them more accurately and that is why we are opening this Centre today…. ”

According to the archivist the speech has an importance ranking of “minor.”

“The task of analysing global warming was vested in a group of 170 scientists. The group, chaired by the Met Office’s Dr Houghton, came under the umbrella of the UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC). It published a 22-page ‘policymakers summary’ on May 25, the day on which Thatcher confirmed her belief in global warming and announced a British target for controlling emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.”
Thomas, D. (1990) The cracks in the greenhouse theory: Financial Times 3rd November

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