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  • India's Parliament.

    India is one of the main targets for climate change. I wonder how the government is going to exercise control over its people in order to meet the challenge of controlling emissions.

    "Criminals see this as a business opportunity to make money and gain a foothold in politics, while parties depend on them to win elections."

    -- Himanshu Jha, coordinator of the rights organization Social Watch India, in an interview with Reuters, on estimates that nearly a fifth of 5,500 candidates in India's general election face criminal charges. In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, widely seen as one of India's most corrupt states run by near feudal leaders, regional strongman Mukhtar Ansari -- who has a dozen murder cases against him -- is contesting the election from his cell in a high security prison, where he is facing trial for murder. The Indian constitution allows politicians facing criminal cases to contest polls, and critics say mafia dons and corrupt regional bosses are using their money and power to garner votes. A quarter of India's 543 elected members in parliament already have criminal cases pending against them, according to Social Watch India. Experts say it reflects how corruption and politics have co-existed in India for decades, undermining transparency and efficiency in governance and implementation. The third phase of the five-phased Indian general elections is being held Thursday.

    (source: Global Development Briefing, www.devex.com)

    http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre53s2zq-us-india-election-criminals/
    "One is facing a murder charge, another arrested for abduction, while a third is fighting a robbery case. Welcome to India's general election, where nearly a fifth of 5,500 candidates face criminal charges."

  • Pilger: The New Rulers of the World.


  • Waving Goodbye to Consensus.

    Three things have happened recently in Metyu's world of global warming.

    I was fortunate enough to receive a visit from the author of Digital Diatribes, pointing out that his analysis of global temperatures showed a continuous warming trend since around mid-1800. The warming pattern forms a sine wave, almost as you'd expect from a natural system. Below is his graph, extrapolated out to 2050. Note that at no point does it go above 1degC of warming.

    Original: http://digitaldiatribes.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/hcdoublesinext.jpg
    hcdoublesinext-sm

    The next significant thing came from paying attention to Ward Engineering over at The Environment Site forums. In a nutshell, Ward is a civil engineer who has been following changes in the alignment of the planets for a few decades, and has noticed a correlation with weather, particularly in terms of earthquakes and volcanoes. Of particular interest recently is what he terms the Jupiter System of Force coming into alignment with the Moon System of Force on March 26. The force systems exert "pressure" on the Earth in such as way as to effect earthquake zones and volcanoes. Sure enough, recently we have seen some volcanic activity. This in itself was not enough to convince me of anything in particular. 

    However, watching the news the other night, I noticed that parts of south-eastern Africa have been experiencing significant floods in recent weeks. It caused me to wonder if the activity Ward spoke of was in any way related. So I did some googling, and turned up several things of interest, which I have also written about here, complete with pictures. Basically, I discovered the floods were related to warmer than usual temperatures in the south western Indian ocean - which itself is an earthquake zone! I am no expert in these matters, however this struck me as significant. Particularly when you look at a global map of CO2 emissions (see link above), which shows that the concentration of CO2 above this part of the Indian ocean to be lower than elsewhere on the planet.

    The third and final thing that I have come across is a study from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Wisconsin, which shows that recent warming of the Atlantic ocean may be due to a lack of dust:

    "They say that the Atlantic temperature trend has been warmer by approximately a quarter of a degree each decade since 1980: but that most of this is actually because more sunlight is reaching the sea due to reducing levels of dirt in the air above it."

    At the end of this year, governments from around the world meet to finalise proposals for an economic system to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, based on claims from scientists around the world that anthropogenic CO2 emissions could destabilise the planet's climate. Going on past experience of both economic systems and attempts to reduce CO2 emissions, I suggest that the latter is not possible, and the former is usually used to ensure the developing world remains developing. How much climate "aid" is going to be dished out in the form of high interest loans and incentives to buy our solar panels and wind turbines?

    One has to wonder if scientists around the world will have the guts to stand up to government pressure, and wave goodbye to the so-called "consensus" that threatens to limit the ability of developing countries to use their own resources to drag themselves out of poverty. The bottom line is, there is no probable threat from climate change that justifies constricting and controlling people's ability to use the very resources we ourselves used to develop. 

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/03/27/atlantic_dust_temp_hurricane_study/

  • Droughts in the UK.

    Two things to note: firstly, droughts are not currently measurably worse.

    Secondly, short-term summer droughts may become more severe. But long-term droughts will become less frequent and less severe.

    A sensible response is water management based on catchment areas, as we had for the majority of our history before politicians started messing with it.

    Changes in drought frequency, severity and duration for the British Isles projected by the PRUDENCE regional climate models

    Blenkinsop, S. & Fowler, H.J.
    2007
    Journal: Journal of Hydrology
    Issue: Vol.342
    Pages: 50-71

    Using a number of climate models in impacts assessment allows the uncertainty in the projections of change to be examined. Six regional climate models (RCMs) from the PRUDENCE project (Prediction of regional scenarios and uncertainties for defining European climate change risks and effects http://prudence.dmi.dk/) were assessed to i) determine the ability of the model to accurately reproduce the observed climate statistics for the 1961-90 period; ii) examine the range of uncertainty in future changes for the SRES A2 emissions scenario for the 2071-2100 period; and iii) assess the ability of RCMs to reproduce observed drought frequencies. Future drought frequencies are also discussed.
    It was found that the RCMs are able to re-produce the observed spatially averaged annual precipitation cycle over the British Isles but may have difficulty capturing important physical processes responsible for precipitation (such as regional variations within the UK). The RCMs were unable to simulate the observed frequency of drought events.

    The RCMs indicate that future projections of change in mean precipitation decrease during summer months and increase during winter months. Short-term summer drought is projected to increase in all areas except Scotland and Northern Ireland, although there is large uncertainty associated with such changes. Projected changes in long-term droughts are highly uncertain, although the longest droughts are projected to become much shorter and less severe. Differences between the model simulations are also discussed by the authors and it is noted that the choice of criteria for weighting models to produce probabilistic climate change scenarios is not easy.

    These results suggest under future climate change water companies may need to plan for more intense short-term droughts, but may experience fewer longer duration events.

    Major droughts in England and Wales, 1800 2006
    Marsh, T., Cole, G. and Wilby, R
    2007
    Journal: Weather
    Issue: Vol.62, No.4
    Pages: 87-93

    Marsh et al examined historical rainfall patterns (back to 1800) in the UK to determine whether more recent drought conditions (2004 to 2006) were exceptional. Data from a range of sources was used in the research, including the CET (Central England Temperature series), groundwater level data and historical and documentary evidence of drought impact.
    The results suggested that the more recent drought events where by no means exceptional in terms of the longer historical period considered by the research. The record displays many examples of multi-year droughts, with the most extreme examples being the 1798 to 1808 and 1890 to 1910 droughts. The 1890 1910 drought displayed a rainfall deficiency greater than that recorded in the 2004 to 2006 drought period.

    The authors conclude that society has been able to adapt to these times of water stress in the past, even with an increasing water demand through population increase. However, considering the rise in temperatures, water demand and future expectations of water users, any repeat of the rainfall patterns of the 19th century would present a very significant challenge to the water industry.

  • Sustainable Cities.

    Very good resource for urban planners and designers.

    Launched yesterday, this covers most of the issues that built environment professionals should be aware of when considering regeneration, new development or strategic incisions.

    Also worth a look if you're just curious!

    "This website gives expert advice on planning, designing and managing a sustainable place. It cuts through the complexity with clear priorities for action. And it shows which places are getting it right."

    http://www.sustainablecities.org.uk/

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