Tag Archives: climate change

Rally for Climate Action

3 Apr

Yesterday, a number of my friends and I went to the Rally for Climate Action at Belmore Park. It was a great event with some good speakers, in-particular Simon Sheikh from Get-Up.

I was however very disappointed there were no ALP representatives there. This is, after all, their policy that they are trying to sell and they should have representatives ready to speak to a crowd of supporters. It may be because they are scared of being labelled hypocrites by the Coalition if there are extreme leftists holding up anti-Abbott placards. Or it could be because the ALP are the party of Government, and in the eyes of some who would have been in attendance, they have made some questionable decisions regarding asylum seekers, banking, etc. etc. so there is always the prospect of anti-Government feeling, which would then become the story.

But within that audience, there was a good deal of respect for the Government for launching a pragmatic environmental policy that has led to negativity and even attacks from some on the right-wing. Essentially, the left is displaying our martyr worship again.

Anyway, below is an incredibly short video, just to show the size of the crowd.


January 2010 was globally the 4th hottest ever despite the cold snap

16 Feb

After the debacle that was Copenhagen, the stalling of vital emissions trading bills in both the US and Australia, the IPCC chaos, climate gate and the public’s cooling towards the man made climate change argument, there is plenty of sceptically suddenly appearing in regards to climate change.

On top of that, the UK, the USA and parts of Asia have had record low temperatures and record cold-snaps. This is has inevitably led to further questions about global warming. The answer to that question is two fold. Firstly, scientists have always suggested that climate change does what it says on the tin, changes climate. That includes record cold as well as record hot. Rush Limbaugh has been caught out stating that the record snows in the US North East are proof that climate change is bunk.

The table below from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the scientific arm of the US Department of Commerce shows the second answer to the question of “what global warming?” According to this info, Russia, the US North East and Northern Europe and the UK have had significantly below average temperatures, but clearly, the surface temperature almost everywhere else has suffered from significant above average heat. In fact from the data underneath the image shows that January was the 4th warmest January on record.

Basically, it shows that people such as Limbaugh have an incredibly localised viewpoint. While that is no surprise for people of his ilk, it is important that Governments highlight this to the wider population. Just because it is cold here, doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be abnormally hot somewhere else. Australia had record setting temperatures over the summer and it doesn’t take much to turn on the television and watch all of the warm weather that is severely hampering the Vancouver Winter Olympics at the moment.

Global Highlights

Worrying trends in public perception of climate change data

16 Feb

The data below comes from a BBC poll into the public perception of the causes of climate change. This was published on the 5th of February and has had reasonably extensive coverage, but what is extremely troubling is that it similar to a trend seen in Australia.

The BBC data shows a huge increase in the amount of confusion about the cause of climate change and this probably has a lot to do with the mess the IPCC seems to find itself in and the debacle of the leaked climate change emails.

This is a quote from Dennis Shanahan in the Australian Newspaper today, which shows that there is some scepticism occuring quickly in Australia also;

There has also been a fall in the percentage of people who believe in climate change. In July 2008, 84 per cent of those surveyed believed climate change was happening and only 12 per cent did not believe it existed at all. Last weekend, the number who believed climate change existed had dropped to 73 per cent, down 11 points, and those who did not believe in it rose 10 points to 22 per cent.

This is overall pretty worrying. Two nations who need to lower its carbon emissions will soon have governments running very low on political capital on the issue.

Campaign ads – the best and the worst. Part one – advocacy ads

11 Feb

In response to the Robin Hood Tax ad, which is one of the best campaigning ads I have seen for a while, I thought I would post some historically very effective political and advocacy ads. I’m also currently reading The Political Brain, by Drew Westen that looks at the role of emotions in political campaigning. It has been an eye-opening read, so this also gave me some inspiration for this post.

This list is by no means definitive and if anyone wants to send links to some campaigning ads, that would be great, I’d love to watch them.

This post will focus on a few advocacy ads, starting with the Robin Hood Tax ad that has been the focus of the media of late. It is a very simple ad, two voices, one face but plenty of emotion. Bill Nighy plays a leading banker who ends up squirming in response to the questioning about why a Tobin Tax shouldn’t be created. Squirming bankers is something that reverberates with a good portion of the public at the moment. This campaign plays to the slightly divergent emotions of good will and revenge brilliantly.

This next ad scares the heck out of me, although I’m not sure how effective it is. Shock ads, as I have written before, have the tendency to decline in effectiveness over time simply because of people being desensitized. I’m not sure anyone would be able to put themselves in this guys shoes, unless they have been in the same situation.

This shock ad from PlaneStupid, the organisation that focuses on climate change issues caused by the global aviation industry, is different from the previous one however. Shocking – yes. Disturbing – definitely. Effective – most certainly. Polar bears dropping from the sky crushing cars and smashing into buildings may seem like an odd choice, but it is actually very clever. The stance is that every person on a trans-Atlantic flight creates 400kg of carbon. Most people can’t conceptualize what that means however. A polar bear, which is also an icon of climate change devastation, is imaginable. Therefore this appeals to our sense of wanting to save these animals, horror at their gruesome deaths but it also puts our carbon footprint into a physical and understandable context. It was filmed in Canada, but it could be any city, again personalising the imagery.

The final ad is one that has screened on UK screens recently and was the subject of a number of complaints, but is far more subtle that the polar bear ad. Act on CO2 is a non-departmental government body that is the public face of the Government’s climate change policy. This ad simply shows a father telling a bed-time story to his child, but it is a story of the effects of climate change and includes drowning pets and other disturbing results of unabated climate change. But this ad is clever in the fact that it appeals on a personal level to adults and children. This ad scares children, hence the complaints, but it also contextualizes climate change for them ensuring they understand the potential of doing nothing. It also will frighten adults on a parental level – how can I let my child live in a world like this, what can I do to prevent it?

As I said, this isn’t a complete list, but it just a tester. I’d love your thoughts and if you want to send me other campaigns, feel free. I’ll post the political ad blog in the next couple of days.

Cross posted with Ruder finn Dot Comms.

Climate change debate is more akin to abortion debate, not the holocaust

29 Nov

Many journalists, generally the ones who fit into this category, complain about being called climate change denialists. It doesn’t help when denialists like Clive James tries to make the link as well. They complain that the choice of words links to offensive individuals that deny the Holocaust.  Whether or not the first person who used the term had this in mind is beside the point. I do think denialists are causing harm, but I don’t think they are necessarily going to cause a new holocaust. If anything does happen, we are all to blame because even if we did believe in man-made climate change, we haven’t swift and significant enough demanded action from our elected leaders.

But, after watching Melanie Phillips on Question Time and her horrendously arrogant display, I think the debate is more akin the pro-choice and pro-life abortion debate in the US.  Phillips complains that the climate change believers (which makes us sound like some kind of sect, such as the scientologists), are running some kind of totalitarian scam and swindle. But the fact is, she was quite happy to laugh, patronise and rudely dismiss the public and other panelists who believe in man-made climate change. Practice what you preach Ms Phillips.

To be fair though, climate change believers do dismiss the denialists just as badly. This is why I think the issue is similar to the abortion debate. No one will talk or listen to the other side and will never take each other seriously. In this particular debate,  I don’t think the eveidence will ever convince a sceptic or believer to cross sides.

However, what is definetly true is that while the denialists want to debate the issue, journalists like Philips give the denialists a bad name.

I think we are all guilty of refusing to listen to the other side. While I don’t agree with David Davis’s point of view, I was impressed with his point of view on Question Time; that while he is sure climate change is happening and is 80% that it is caused by human intervention, he still feels there is room for debate and it is important not to vilify each other.

Climate change believes say there is no time for debate. I disagree. There is enough action currently going on, to increase renewables, to decrease fossil fuel use, to create carbon sinks, that there is still room for debate but at the same time we can begin the process of saving the earth. Debates like COP15 aren’t going to stop and we will still make a huge effort to cut emmissions. Even in the worse case scenario, that we are wrong on climate change, it is never going to harm to lower energy costs, make the air less polluted and generally improve the health of the planet.

But refusing to listen to each other and complaining about it isn’t going to help.

Will Copenhagen be a failure?

15 Nov

Thoroughly depressing news to wake up to this morning. It looks like our feared about the Copenhagen climate change talks have come true. World leaders have admitted that there is likely to be no final resolution and that the Copenhagen talks are most likely to be a starting point to talks rather than an end point.

At the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum leaders including Barack Obama, Hu Jintao and Kevin Rudd, who have all drawn up significant plans for ETS deals and other environmental strategies in their own nations, appear to have given up on uniting world nations’ to come up with a meaningful deal.

This is disappointing, but not unexpected. There has been some intense expectation management over the last few weeks and it seemed almost inevitable that there was to be no lasting strategy to come out of this meeting. The EU has set out strategies to help nations meet their climate change targets,  but nothing has been set in stone, especially in regards to money being set-aside. Developing world nations have been consistently threatening to walk out of talks due to the lack of agreed funding from the developed world to help developing nations fund anti-climate change projects.

Personally, I never really had much faith in the COP15 meeting to come up with any large-scale meaningful treaty. The fact is though, Kyoto formally ends at the end of 2011, begining of 2012. This obviously leaves a couple of years to create a meaningful and effective post-Kyoto deal.

The significance of a no-deal result in Copenhagen, is the number of nations that have created emission reduction schemes that will only be meaningful if there is a result in Copenhagen, the EU is one of these nations. Currently the EU has committed to a 20% reduction in carbon emissions, but it would be 30% if a deal was met in COP15.

Therefore, not reaching a result in Copenhagen will obviously be a failure. Hopefully, world leaders have something up their sleeves and will be able to swoop in at the last-minute to come up with something. In my wildest dreams I can imagine Obama, Rudd or Brown flying in at the last moment and saving the day, but realistically, I think we will still be looking forward into 2010 before a post-Kyoto deal is reached.


Do we know what will be in the Queen’s Speech

10 Nov

It occurred to me that the Queen’s Speech is only a week away.  Personally the pomp and circumstance behind the event is all part of outdated tradition, but as parliamentary events go, it is incredibly important.

What particularly strikes me this year is that it has all been kept fairly well under-wraps. We know that there will be something about energy and climate change, Ed Miliband has said as much on Monday during his statement to
the House of Commons (see Hansard 9 Nov 2009 : Column 32). We also know that the Bill to allow the authorities to snoop our emails, Facebook, Twitter etc., won’t be included in the next parliament. Apparently, there will also be no electoral reform included, but Brown suggested that would go to a plebiscite in his Conference speech anyway.

Other than that, it is pretty quiet, we have a better idea of what is out than what is in.

What is interesting is, previously, we have a pretty good idea of its contents by now. Likewise with the budget, there is always information floating a good week and a half prior. Although, we also have the pre-budget report to give us significant hints.

Last year, we had the draft Queen’s Speech so very little was a surprise,  but there hasn’t been one in 2009.

So what’s going on? Has the government truly run out of ideas? Of course not. Policies and legislation come from focus groups, think tanks and other areas, also, that is why Ministers are shuffled, not just because they do a bad job.

I think the government probably has some very interesting policies and legislation up its sleeve that will give a bonanza of ideas designed to help get Labour reelected.

It is likely that a number of legislative options will come from Brown’s keynote speech at the Labour Party Conference, a speech I thought had a lot of really impressive policies in it, including legislating the 0.7% of GNP to developing world aid.

I think we can expect to begin to hear leaks from tomorrow at PMQs and increasing over the weekend.

I look forward to the speech and I just hope that it can help Labour get back on its feet.