Monthly Archives: June 2015

June 29th, 1956 – US Highway Act passed. Ooh, here comes the great car economy…

According to Wikipedia, on this day in 1956, The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 is signed, officially creating the United States Interstate Highway System.

I need to track down that quote from Noam Chomsky’s World Orders, Old and New, which quotes Eisenhower as approving of the Highways system for putting a ‘nice floor under the economy’….  Yes, quite.

June 28, 2007 – Nature publishes article on Darfur and climate change

Experts criticize UN view of Sudan conflict

A United Nations (UN) report claiming that “climate change, land degradation and the resulting competition over scarce natural resources are among the root causes” of the Darfur conflict has been met with scepticism by experts on the region. Although these factors contributed, they say, the UN overstates the case.

See Thomas Homer-Dixon on this – Darfur’s climate roots challenged

June 27th, 1988 – Toronto Conference on ‘the Changing Atmosphere’ starts

Crucial ‘Changing Atmosphere’ conference begins in Toronto, the work of a few very dedicated scientists and policy wonks (I’ll write the full story for this time next hear).

From this came the ‘Toronto Target’ – a proposal that developed countries cut their emissions of greenhouse gas by  20% by 2005 (the NGOs had wanted a more radical reduction).

Here’s an article from 2013, looking back.

Also on this day

1997 Rio + 5 meeting in New York culminates. Everyone knew no progress was being made. The event is only remembered for the British taking the piss of the Australians…

June 26th, 1992 – integrating energy and transport policies seminar in Canberra

In the run up to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, there was significant business concern about what might be agreed, especially in the US and Australia.  In the event, the Bush (Snr) Administration’s threat not to turn up succeeded in watering down commitments. The Australian coal industry was so relaxed that their two top people who had been lobbying the Keating governmetn didn’t even need to go.

So seminars like this one, held in Canberra shortly after, didn’t matter…  And a generation later, we STILL don’t have integrated policies….

Diesendorf, M., Kinrade, P., 1992. Integrated greenhouse policies for energy and transport post-Rio. Institution of Engineers Australia seminar on Australia’s greenhouse policy, Canberra, 26 June 1992.

Australian Conservation Foundation, Melbourne.

Meanwhile, if you want to see the first 80 minutes of Mark Diesendorf’s talk in Adelaide in June 2015, try this

June 25th, 1996 – Wall Street Journal finally publishes Ben Santer’s letter

The second assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was released in 1995-6.  It was attacked by the denialists and the fossil-fuel lobby, in part because momentum was building for an international treaty to not just stabilise emissions, but reduce them.  The narrative that the denialists chose was that one scientist, Ben Santer, had somehow taken over the process and edited out all uncertainties.  This was nonsense of course, but nonsense that the Wall Street Journal was happy to print.  Santer tried to respond-

Santer immediately drafted a letter to the [Wall Street] Journal, which forty of the other IPCC lead authors signed. Santer explained what had happened, how he had been instructed by Houghton to make the changes, and why the changes were late in coming. At first the Journal wouldn’t publish it. After three tries, Santer finally got a call from the Journal’s letters editor and the letter was finally published on June 25. Santer’s reply had been heavily edited, and the names of the forty other cosigners deleted.

Oreskes and Conway, 2010 Page 208

The denialism continues down unto this day, almost 20 years later. There are some serious design flaws in the human species. Oh well.

Also on this day
The peak in articles in June 2008 is partly due to a Shell-sponsored CCS supplement in the Guardian on 25 June which contained 14-articles, all focusing on CCS.
Page 234 of Mander et al (2013)

Of eagles and geese – capitalising Aesop’s fables for capital accumulation

The word ‘natural’ is one of the busiest and slipperiest in the English language. One of its many shades of meaning is that something ‘natural’ is ‘right’ and ‘normal.’

Naturally (!), powerful actors hoping to become still more powerful will try to convince those who might constrain them that they are ‘natural’, and should be allowed to do whatever they like, free from ‘artificial’ (i.e. ‘unnatural’) regulation.

Two examples from the Australian mining industry (oh come on, you knew I was going there).

The first I only stumbled upon yesterday, in the State Library of South Australia. It is a 1992 publication by the Institute of Public Affairs, an extremely neo-liberal ‘think’ tank and policy mill based in Melbourne.

1992 clipping wings

The second is Rio Tinto’s submission to the 1998 Productivity Commission investigation of the Australian Coal Industry.


Bless you, Mr. Aesop.