Saturday, February 28, 2009

Some Distance Emerges

...between Harper and Iggy on Carbon Trading:

Ignatieff called for a common cap-and-trade system to be negotiated with the United States that would set a hard cap on emissions and define specific reduction targets.

Since the idea of a national carbon tax is dead, the only game in town is C&T. And the only halfway effective version of C&T calls for the setting of hard (rather than soft or intensity-based) caps. This statement a) places Iggy a bit left of Harper, who is still hemming and hawing over hard and soft caps and, b) moves him towards a popular, progressive American President.

Not an earth shattering bit of political positioning. Significant nevertheless.

Don't Look To The Music Industry

...for solutions to the newspaper industry's problems. A nifty discussion between Wells & Coyne re the troubles faced by CanWest and others. About half-way in, Coyne suggests that they look to the music business for a way out: invent some kind of nifty new way to read the news (like an IPOD), and move towards micro-payments (like the various on-line music services).

Well, lots of things to argue with here. For one thing, $1 a download is hardly "micro-payment" given the fact that you're buying a product with degraded sound (MP3 and other similar file types sound OK over headphones; you lose the bass when played over a real sound system).

But the larger point is that these new technologies helped stabilize an industry that was in decline on the upside of a business cycle. Now that times are tough, expect a bloodbath. The RIAA is hemorrhaging staff as struggling record companies withdraw support for a business strategy that involves suing your customers.

You can't learn to swim by watching a drowning man, in other words.

Incidentally, its interesting to point out that the P2P movement was in part at least an explicit attempt to, in the words of FreeNet creator Ian Clarke, implement "online socialism". Like many socialist endeavours, FreeNet didn't work very well and Clarke had to renounce these sentiments when he got older and found a real job, but the various Gnutella knockoffs inspired by Julien Frankel's original have done more to change the business landscape of the planet than Karl Marx ever did.

PS. Doesn't Coyne look better in casual wear? He should ditch the suits that make him look like an undertaker.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Free Speech Don't Feed The Bulldog, Part Duh

Wine and Cheese with Ezra Levant, a bold defender of our fundamental human rights, is our keynote speaker. A conservative publisher and current columnist, he played a large role in the formation of both the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties (pre-cursors to today's Conservative Party of Canada). He understands politics, people and change. He is committed to life-affirming actions and attitudes. Ezra now works as a lawyer in Calgary and is a sought-out speaker and advocate for life issues.

Apparently The Ez now lectures on "pro-life" issues and works for cheese.

Garry Breitkreuz: I Call Double Bullshit On You!

From the opening of his Op-Ed in today's National Post:

When the national long-gun registry was introduced 14 years ago, I believed it would help keep Canadians safe.

From Hansard Tuesday, June 13th, the day Bill C-68 (which established Canada's gun registry) became law:

This bill is going to be a horrendous cost. I wonder if the hon. member would rather spend the money on crisis centres or counselling for families at risk, rather than on this legislation? Would it not make more sense? We are running further and further into debt. I do not think we need more legislation like this.

The same government that is giving criminals more rights than victims is also bringing us legislation that will put a heavy burden on law-abiding gun owners rather than criminals. I cannot see how we can accept that.

...which is to say that the Op-Ed piece is lies from the word go.

Where Was Duffy?

Mr. Speaker, now that the Conservatives and the Liberals are in bed together, they have been teaching each other their tricks.

Harper, Iggy, a nice Mexican midget, and a feather duster for spanking with...

(This, by the way, was out of the mouth of Thomas Mulcair who, we are told, is some kind of intellectual.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Same Old Same Old, The Japanese Edition

The "Japanese scientists" who have "made a dramatic break with the UN and Western-backed hypothesis of climate change" are the same brand of local deniers and retired old farts from mostly-irrelevant fields that usually publish this kind of report, except they talk like this: 資源学会はエネルギーと特に関係の深い電気・機械・化学のみならず.

Iggy On The Tar Sands

Yes this kind of thing gives me a stomach ache, but the political point of it is clear and difficult to argue with. With grownups arriving in Washington, the environmental issues surrounding the Alberta tar sands have gone global. In a sense, this is a thing to be profoundly wished for: Alberta can't threaten to secede from the United States, and with the proposed pipe-lines out of the area stalled, maybe dead, they only have but the one customer. As Gwyn Dyer argued here, the notion of Calgary employing the "oil weapon" is pathetic, so the Obama administration has both the ability and the motivation to demand serious movement on this file (motivation because, after all, the tar sands are located in a foreign land and attacking them has very little in the way of a domestic downside).

In the end, we get an Alberta that doesn't resemble the ass-side of the moon, and all is well, though as Canadians we get our noses rubbed in the fact that it is probably more useful to lobby the U.S. rather than Canadian gov. over environmental issues.

But this does not mean, as one of Steve's commenters has suggested, that Iggy (or any Canadian politician) should try and get "on the good side" of the issue. By definition, the fact that the development of the tar-sands is largely out of the hands of Canadians means it doesn't matter what side of the issue he's on. So let him pander. Its harmless and might help win a seat or two out West (though not in Alberta). I thought it was 100% puke-worthy when Dalton McGuinty renamed the 401 the "Highway of Heros", but it went down well with the public and he won relection and now in fact he probably qualifies as the "greenest" premier in the land.

Moreover, if the Libs have any smarts, Kinsella's in the back room somewhere teaching Iggy how to eat pork rinds without a fork.

h/t TPB.

The Death Of The Opinion Columnist

Teeing off on George "He isn't even phoning it in" Will's recent column on global warming, which reiterated 17 year ago talking points, John Quiggin tells how the Internet has made obsolete the journalistic practice of recycling old columns:

Moreover, the switch from newsprint to digital publication has changed things in a couple of important ways. On the one hand, self-plagiarism is now much easier to detect. Anyone with Google can check you it. On the other hand, the justification for repetition is much more limited. When yesterdays brilliant insights lined today’s bird cage, you could be forgiven for repeating them a few months later, for readers who might have missed them the first time. But now that every column is preserved for ever, there’s much less need. And when your column consists largely of a string of tattered talking points that anyone who wants to can already find on the Internet, it has very little justification for existing.

Of course the very fact that we write on computers--that the "rough draft" as an actual physical document scratched up with red pen marks and then re-typed entirely using a manual/electric typewriter--doesn't really exist anymore, changes things too. I am old enough to remember the agony involved in discovering a typo in the last two lines of something that required the whole page be recopied.

In short, the process of composition has been accelerated by the existence of the PC and the word-check program, which really ought to free up the journalistic mind to think more, and think more deeply, about the content of their writing.

Or they can use these technological efficiencies to hack out the same old crap and hit the bar 2 hours earlier.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Steyn's Back

...and he's boring.

A hint, Mark: "ecopalypse" has nothing going for it. Try "Warmocaust", or "Warmageddon", and refer to environmentalists as "Green Shirts". That brings the yucks every time.

On the upside, there's nothing there that would trigger a questionable content complaint. Steyn and Maclean's get to keep their millions in free government stamps (their PAP subsidy) for another week.

Funky New Dinosaur Alert

When scientists talk about long-necked dinosaurs, it is natural to assume that they are referring to the Sauropods, animals such as Camarasaurus and Diplodocus, huge animals with long, necks and in many cases whip-like long tails. However, a recent discovery of a Stegosaur in Portugal demonstrates that when it came to long necks the Sauropods had one or two rivals. Along with the typical Stegosaur features of robust forelimbs, small head with a beak and the plates running along the back, this new Stegosaur genus had a much longer neck than any other Stegosaur known to science.

This new type of Stegosaur, named Miragaia longicollum (the long-necked creature from Miragaia - the village in Portugal where the fossilised bones were found), has nearly twice as many neck bones as some other members of the Stegosauridae.


This discovery will re-open the debate about bipedalism in Stegosaurs and may indicate an adaptation for browsing on taller vegetation compared to other Stegosaurs. Alternatively, a longer neck may have helped these animals reach into dense groves of cycads in order to feed.
Another relevant link is here, and the full paper is here.

National Post Fans Separatist Flames

Just when you thought Que. Separatism was dead, the Western Separatists at the National Post decide to call out their old pals for one last dance o' division.

And then the inevitable occurred.

Some advice for Jonathon Kay and the gang: literally, given your financial situation, treat every editorial as though it might be your last. Do you really want to end things on an ugly note?

Sun Staffers Lose Their Perks

From the Sun Family blog:

Sun Media employees who took advantage of free home delivery have been told that little bonus has been axed.

Instead, employees will be given free access to the e-edition of their newspaper.

From the comments:

At my unnamed Sun, when we asked for complimentary home delivery for newsroom staffers, we were told there are plenty of free copies in the newsroom. Back to rowing your slave ship and don't worry about reading!

Meanwhile, Paul Wells insists that the far right ideology behind CanWest's newspapers has nothing to do with their precipitous decline. As evidence, he cites the sorry state of a bunch of American publications, which seems of dubious relevance. Sure times are tough all over, but in Canada the further Right your newspaper, the further down the toilet its likely to have slid.

You listening, Kenneth Whyte?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Don't Like The Sounds Of This

The Canadian Nuclear Association is hosting a wing-ding on the dawn of the "nuclear Renaissance" and place is going to be chock-a-block with Conservative politicians, including Lisa Raitt, Brad Wall, and Hugh Seagal.

Even T-Rex is showing up to use a lotta 12 syllable words to insult environmentalists with.

Toronto Coyotes

I've actually seen one, about six or seven years ago, like a scrawny gray dog travelling parallel to the rail-tracks that cross Don Mills South of Ellesmere. All I've read indicates they are pretty much impossible to exterminate when you've got 'em. They're like roaches; if you've see one, that means there's more around (as today's TO Star story points out). They lair around warehouses and industrial buildings where there isn't a lot of human traffic, and come out to eat from dumpsters and other sources of human garbage. Sarnia has been having problems recently, and the West End has had coyote issues for over a decade now, with the occasional tabby becoming lunch.

This piece suggests that urban coyote populations may be underestimated by a factor of 10.

Do Tories Have The Votes To Repeal Gun Registry?

Saskatoon Tory Brad Trost has a shaky command of facts. Nevertheless, his assessment of the prospects of Bill C-301, which would amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act so as to eliminate the long gun registry, is troubling:

Getting Breitkreuz`s Private Members’ Bill passed into law will not be an easy fight. Repealing the gun registry will require 154 votes and the Conservatives have only 143 members. We need the votes of at least 11 Opposition MPs. Preliminary vote counts indicate that we have more than the 11 votes necessary. However, even if we get 154 votes in favour of Breitkreuz’s bill, there will be a fierce fight in committee and later in the Senate to have the legislation made into law.

So, can the Tories pass C-301? Well, Trost aside, the prospects don't look good.

For one thing, its a Private Member's Bill, which tend to go nowhere. The boys at WS think its just another one of those laws that the Tories have dangled over the base under the assumption that they will never become law:

The probability that a private member’s bill without official government support, which is what C-301 is, will be adopted by the House of Commons is small. If the House does not get to vote on the bill in third reading, no damage is done to the power of the state and the support of some gun owners will have been bought at a cheap political price.

They also don't think the votes are there in the 1st place:

If there is a vote, it is unlikely that the bill will gather a majority; Harper can then claim that he has no choice but to embrace the Liberals’ law.

Other bill supporters are equally sceptical.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Australian Climate Sceptics Launch World's 1st Denialist Political Party

The world's first up-front political party representing climate sceptics has been launched in Australia. Their president, Leon Ashby, is an Australian Dairy Farmer and Convenor of Landholders for the Environment, which looks to be me to a property owners/rural property rights organization masquerading as an environmental group.

I would love to know whether this is a one man show or if Mr. Ashby can attract a few bodies to his cause. I know nothing of Australian politics, but if something like this showed up in Canada I would probably categorize it as another right wing fringe party that might steal a few votes from the CPoC. Good news for Kevin Rudd?

Libs Absent On Pay Equity

Of all the measures contained in C-10, the changes to pay-equity legislation are probably the hardest to accept:

The choice of words in the new act is the most worrisome. The act emphasizes that "equitable compensation" be determined in large part by market forces—the same market forces that have long de-valued women's work of equal value and which led to the implementation of pay equity.

In the name of getting funds to all those "shovel ready" projects, I suppose something had to give. The Tories had to be allowed a few small bore, ideology based legislative items to show to their base. Nevertheless, the Ignatieff Liberals come out looking bad on this to anyone familiar enough and obsessed enough with the issue to think seriously about how the changes are likely to play out. I would like to think that there is a strategy out there through which the party plans to stop these changes from becoming law, or repeal them once in office, or some damn thing.

So far, though, there appears to be nothing. Very disappointing.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ontario PCs Vote To Maintain Communist Element Randy Hillier might put it.

On the other hand, you might say they voted to keep their youth wing.

CanWest Headlines NOT The Dumbest?

The Toronto Sun Family Blog has a few even dumber.

Scientists And Skeptics: We Got Lists

From Birdbrainscan--whose blog can be found here-- in the comments to an earlier post

I've been working on the Inhofe list in connection with my list of climate scientists which I sort by frequency of citation of their published works.

I add a link to an author's academic homepage, photo, and I've annotated who was on IPCC AR4 WG1, and which people signed any of a dozen public declarations either for or against prompt action to cut GHGs, such as the Leipzig Declaration, Bali Climate Declaration, Manhattan Declaration, etc.

The Inhofe list is cumbersome to work with, but I've found it largely recycles lists of signatories of the larger 'skeptics' declarations like the Manhattan.

Tracing a new unknown skeptic can be a headache; finding any real academic is a cinch, as their university homepage generally comes up tops in Google, or very close. By contrast, Joe Schmoe, climate denier, can be anybody and may or may not work at any university or have any published work. I use google scholar to trace published works (they even include Energy & Environment, so the *published* skeptics even turn up!) But for a common name, there are often several other scholars with the same initial(s) and last name, doing real published work on lots of other things. It takes time to establish if Dr (Mr?) Schmoe has ever done anything in print.

There is also good work going on to trace the skeptic at DeSmog Blog as you may know.

The most extensive project of its kind that I have seen, some of BBS' most interesting observations include:

- none of the 619 contributing authors to AR4 wg1 have signed any of the five public declarations of 'skepticism;'


- of the top 500 most cited authors in the larger list, just 18 (3.6%) have signed any climate skeptic declaration, while 179 (36%) -- nearly ten times as many -- have signed an 'activist' statement (aside from the IPCC reports themselves.)

BBs also lists the Canadian players. Terrific stuff.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

R Wee Andy Sematic Yeti?

Farber On CAF

I have concerns that Jason Kenny's threat to cut funding for the Canadian Arab Federation constitutes an ill-advised ministerial end-run around whatever legal requirements a group like CAF must meet in order to secure funding in the first place. Nevertheless, Bernie seems correct in arguing that current president Khaled Mouammar is using his position to pursue an occasionally unsavory "personal agenda".

Never mind the "Professional Whore" crack, Mouammar

...was linked by a Canadian Press story to the circulation by e-mail of a flyer during the 2006 Liberal leadership convention targeting candidate Bob Rae's wife for her involvement with CJC.

I would hope CAF would use its moment in the unfriendly glare of the media spot-light to look within its ranks for a new president, preferably someone more attentive to the organization's core mission and less bent on personal crusades.

Constitutional Right To Smoke The Herb?

On may 14th, 2008, the Montreal compassion center contacted the Quebec human rights commission asking 'if citizens using medical marijuana, with or without Health Canada permits, are entitled to protection under chapter 1.1, sec. 10 of the Quebec charter of rights and freedoms'.

On January 30th, the commission responded in a thorough 28 page written decision that they did indeed benefit from such protection. The implications of this decision on medical marijuana users, in Quebec as well as across Canada, are such that access to medical marijuana is on it's way to becoming a constitutional right.

Love to see how the fellows at Western Standard, who are pro-herb but anti-HRC, will deal with this one.

There's supposed to more information re. this letter at the norml website but, like, umm, there isn't. Maybe someone was supposed to post something but put on some Grateful Dead instead and got totally engrossed by all the lines on their hand.

Randy Hillier: Tory Youth Too Damn Liberal

Message from Randy Hillier MPP Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington

Constitutional Amendments: Fundamentals of Equality in Democracy
Are we a Party of Principles or Principals?

Recently, I’ve been asked why I have proposed amendments to the PC Party constitution: I would like to share with you some of my thoughts and reasons for these reforms.

Amendment 13 (disbanding the Ontario Youth Association) is part of a larger package of constitutional amendments that will reinvigorate the party membership, policy advisors, donors, and volunteers. Other amendments of this package include creating non-delegated (open to all members) conventions, and one member, one-vote Party elections.

As one can see there is a strong theme that connects these three reforms. That theme is the long held Canadian principles of:
• equality of opportunity without privilege,
• universal suffrage,
• unity through common/mutual objectives
These principles enshrine democracy’s supremacy within government and individual participation.

Politicians and governments have gradually trended away from these fundamental and timeless Canadian principles towards socialist schemes of:
• equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity,
• privileges of office over freedom & merit,
• identity politics,
• unity though division-rather than unity of purpose
These faulty policies are found throughout government: in our Human Rights Commissions and tribunals, language laws, affirmative action policies, afro-centric schools and many others.

Clearly, Party divisions based on age, gender or ethnicity is contrary to our heritage and culture, and detrimental. Can we ever challenge injustice within society if we embrace injustice within our Party? The answer is No- not without being hypocritical.

Political parties are successful when they embrace and encourage individuals to join, and party membership is the most accurate barometer of future electoral success. The PC Party has inadvertently built obstacles that limit an individual’s value and purpose to join and participate. These proposed reforms will tear down these socialist barriers.

Too damn Liberal and too many supported John Tory, according to the FD consensus.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tory MP Brad Trost On HRCs

Canada’s Human Rights Commissions do not protect the rights of most Canadians. I for one think if major reforms cannot be accomplished, we need to consider abolishing these parodies of justice.

I see this as being in line with other recent Tory tactics, for example the O Canada uproar. They've lost everybody but the base, and so they will pander to the base.

As to the particular situation Trost references:

For many years in Cornwall, letter carriers would greet each other with the expression: “Merci Seigneur pour la belle journee” (Thank you Lord for the beautiful day) –a friendly greeting reflecting the francophone culture of the region.

Now both Canada Post management and apparently, the postal workers union, have forbidden the greeting. Why was this greeting forbidden? Someone complained to the Human Rights Commission because others were Thanking the Lord before starting their rounds to deliver mail. Canada Post has cracked down on an innocent greeting.

1) The ban applies to two employees, not the whole lot, and this for the disrespectful manner in which the phrase was deployed. The rest can pray all they want.

2) It doesn't look like HRCs were involved in the first place. Most of the stories on the topic, for example this one, refer to it as an internal complaint worked out between union and management. Only this very early piece from the Standard Freeholder refers to an HRC. So, no matter what you think of the ban in the 1st place, it seems Mr. Trost has fingered the wrong culprit.

John Theon Deleted

In late January, John S. Theon began his swift ascent into the pantheon of Climate Change Deniers with the claim that he had once been James Hansen's "supervisor" and thought the guy was a crazy loose cannon even way back then.

I am proud to say that I helped put paid to such claims in this and in several other posts.

Well, you know your 15 minutes are over when they take away your Wiki entry, and Mr. Theon has lost his. The discussion can be found here, but in brief Mr. Theon was found to be "Non-notable".

Ah well, better to have had a wiki entry and have lost it, then to never have had a wiki entry at all. Some of us yearn for a wiki entry, but are never granted the honor. I, for example, yearn for a wiki entry, but have no wiki entry to show for my yearning.

h/t Stoat (the grumpy climate scientist)

Calgary Bus Wars: This Time Its Theological

Now that the city of Calgary has given the go-ahead for local buses to carry posters from the "atheist bus campaign", Syed Soharwardy of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada has decided to run a counter-campaign:

"People with atheist beliefs are coming forward aggressively and with force to promote their ideas, and it's important for them to know people of faith are united."
Soharwardy is calling on believers from all religions to help craft an appropriate response to the atheist message, "There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
He's collecting ideas for a pro-God slogan at, and plans to have the ads ready to run concurrently with the anti-God message.
Use this slogan generator to create pro-God poster of your own, and then send it to the Imam. Now, Mr. Soharwardy is a really sweet & holy guy, who recently finished a cross country multi-faith walk against violence, so if your poster is filthy enough, you might just be able to make him squeal.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The White Crow Of Niagara Peninsula

An albino crow sighted around Niagara Peninsula. Cool looking (see below for another one photographed in the same area), but unfortunately not terribly long-lived:

There are reasons why there are so few white crows, said McGowan. Standing out in a flock of crows -- known as a murder -- makes them easier to get picked out by predators such as hawks, he said. In addition, melanin doesn't just add colour to feathers -- the pigment also helps hold them together, he said.

Die Media Die

RAND On The Tar Sands

Since the 1st stages of Obama and Harper's climate-change treaty will involve a "clean-technology deal" that would boost the development of Carbon Sequestration (CS) techniques, I thought that finding out what the Rand Corporation thought about the concept of CS might be a useful exercise.

One of my formative teenage experiences was coming across a Rand Corp. report from the late 50's early 60's devoted to outlining various U.S./U.S.S.R. nuclear war scenarios. It cost me about $1.00 in a used book store that I frequented at the time. Several chapters were devoted to the possibility of a "limited exchange", wherein the U.S. might fire off a few ICBMs and, while they were in flight, negotiate a peace treaty dictating the number of ICBMs to be fired by the U.S.S.R in response. RAND explored the options and crunched the numbers in terms of cities lost and millions dead.

In short, these guys don't fuck around.

...which means their Unconventional Fossil-Based Fuels: Economic and Environmental Trade-Offs is likely to be as definitive a word on the state of the Alberta Tar Sands as you are likely to find. If you want to get a good idea of what's going on out there, I would read the whole thing.

In the meantime, here's a few highlights:

What's Canada Doing in the Way Of Carbon Sequestration Projects?

Geologic storage refers to technical approaches being developed and demonstrated worldwide that are directed at the long-term storage of CO2 in various types of geological formations, such as deep saline formations. In geologic storage, CO2 is injected at high pressure into appropriate formations. Three ongoing large-scale tests of geologic storage worldwide seek to store CO2 while gaining critical knowledge to be applied elsewhere, and others are planned (IPCC, 2005; NETL, 2007b). One, in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, uses CO2 delivered via pipeline from a coal-gasification facility in North Dakota for EOR. Recently, the Weyburn test has increased its injection rate of CO2 from an initial 1 million metric tons per year to more than 2 million metric tons per year. The Sleipner project, operated by Stat oil in the North Sea, injects approximately 1 million metric tons/year of CO2 separated from natural-gas processing into a saline formation. The In Salah project in Algeria injects CO2 to increase natural-gas recovery. A common aspect of the three projects is detailed monitoring of the migration of the injected CO2 over time so that risks associated with geologic storage can be better understood (IPCC, 2005). Each project has a final storage capacity of approximately 20 million metric tons, and all three projects currently are viewed as successes in the scientific and technical literature.

Just to emphasize the content of this last sentence: according to RAND, these pilot projects have successfully managed to sequester carbon. So the technology shows some promise.

What Are The Odds of Powering The Tar Sands Extraction Process Via Nuclear Fission (thus cutting down on CO2 emissions during)?

Using nuclear reactors to provide steam, electricity, or hydrogen for use in oil-sand projects
would reduce CO2 emissions in the extraction and upgrading of bitumen. NPC (2007, p. 48)
estimated that producing a nuclear-power plant fit for the purpose would likely not occur until 2020–2030. However, Alberta Energy has since announced plans to build a 2,200-megawatt (MW) nuclear facility in the Peace River area as early as 2017. As this would be the first nuclear plant to be built in the province, legal, regulatory, and public-opinion issues will need to be addressed prior to its realization.

This is something I have written about before here.

But Would Nukes Even Work

Nuclear power could be used to produce electricity, steam, and hydrogen for oil-sand
projects. However, in addition to concerns about radioactive-waste management and proliferation, there may be limitations on the use of nuclear power in the oil-sand industry. Oil-sand projects are generally dispersed, whereas nuclear plants generally provide a large amount of power at a single site. Piping steam over great distances would not be practical, 21 and electricity transmission would require significant infrastructure investments to reach many small, often remote oil-sand sites. H2 production via electrolysis today is expensive, and, again, there is no existing infrastructure for moving large amounts of H2 to remote oil-sand sites (NPC, 2007). At present, there is insufficient information to provide cost estimates if nuclear power were used in oil-sand projects

And What About Water Use?

Both mining and in situ extraction methods use a significant amount of water relative
to the extraction of conventional crude oil. For the mining operations, the Athabasca River is
the primary source of water, and oil-sand projects are by far the largest user of the Athabasca, at more than twice that of the city of Calgary (Woynillowicz, Severson-Baker, and Raynolds, 2005; Griffiths, Woynillowicz, and Taylor, 2006). Production of one bbl of SCO by mining requires between 2 and 4.5 bbl of water. As of June 2006, oil-sand projects had licenses to withdraw 2.3 billion bbl of water/year from the Athabasca, most of which ends up in tailing ponds. If all of the existing, approved, and planned projects were realized, this would result in licenses for about 4.3 billion bbl/year (NEB, 2006). The government of Alberta has addressed the issue with legislation limiting the maximum allowed total water withdrawal for all existing, approved, and planned uses, at most an annual withdrawal of 6.2 percent of the total annual volume of the minimum flow year on record (Alberta Environment, 2004). However, without an impact study, it is difficult to understand how this would affect the river basin. The Pembina Institute has expressed concern for the aquatic ecosystem of the river, as well as wetlands and peatlands across the region. In particular, the seasonal variability in the flow of the Athabasca River could be problematic; in winter months, the flow can drop to less than 15 percent of its average peak flow in July (Griffiths, Woynillowicz, and Taylor, 2006). NEB (2006) concluded, “the Athabasca River does not have sufficient flows to support the needs of all planned oil sands mining operations. Adequate river flows are necessary to ensure the ecological sustainability of the Athabasca River.”

So there you have it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The American Left Will Be In Power For A Long Time

...if the American Right gets up to nonsense like this.

Also, I share Steve M's view of street protests:

Demos and marches may have had a real effect on American politics a couple of generations ago (while also generating a nasty backlash), but now they influence no one and barely make the papers.

A facebook page with a couple dozen signatures gets as much coverage as a march with several thousand bodies in it. Nobody freezes or gets rained on, and you can control the wing-nuts simply by employing the delete key.

h/t VF.

Welcome Obama, About Those Tar Sands

This full-page ad appeared in USA Today on Tuesday, placed by the Mikisew Cree First Nation, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, and the environmental group Forest Ethics.

And it looks like the folks from Greenpeace have scaled Alexandra Bridge and hung a number of banners reading “Welcome President Obama” and “Climate Leaders Don’t Buy Tar Sands”. As of a couple of hours ago, they were still up. (PS. if anyone has a shot of them e-mail and I shall post)

Pity when the most effective target of your lobbying campaign are the citizens and leaders of a foreign country, but there you have it.

What Colour Is Frieda Pinto?

Pretty pale after Vanity Fair's blatant photoshop job.

Its long been a tradition for Chinese language papers to give everyone "oriental eyes" in their photos, which is a custom I've never understood either. But it seems that this is a relatively new phenomenon in "Western" publications. And while skin lighteners have always sold well among certain ethnic sub-populations, I always thought they were an internal hang-up, that they didn't matter to the larger "us".

By the way, the wife and I saw "Slumdog Millionaire" this weekend and it is a terrific piece of movie making. Hopefully, it cleans up on Oscar night. There probably ought to be a couple of acting nominations in there as well but, apparently, nobody in Hollywood can pronounce the names.

PS. The wife tells me that they argued over this shot on Entertainment Tonight, and that they are claiming its all the lighting angle. Of course, this begs the question: did Vanity Fair fiddle with the lighting to get that effect or is it just an accident? Hard to imagine the latter.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Predict A Controversy

BQ MP introduces Right To Die Bill:

February 17, 2009 ( - Last Thursday's parliamentary 'Notice Paper' shows that Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde has again introduced a private members bill, 'An Act to amend the Criminal Code (right to die with dignity).' The text of the bill is not yet available.

The 3rd in a line of bills that have gone nowhere but what the hell we all need something to argue about.

Kenney Cuts Funds To Arab Group For Noting His Professionalism!

Read outrageous story here!

Alberta Minister Hems And Haws Over Section 3

Some talk here from Alberta Minister of Culture and Community Spirit Lindsay Blackett re changing section 3 of the Alberta Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act, which is the local equivalent to Section 13 of the CHRA. His arguments against are the same old same old. Probably the most important part of the story is where Mr. Blackett's hints at a time-table:

His plans have not been taken to Tory MLAs for a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, but he is preparing and sounds confident.

"We haven't talked about it at caucus or cabinet yet, but I've already gone through a few steps. Generally there's support, the support to make a change and do something and not just sit back and say because it's a tough subject we should stay away from it.

In a province with a permanent Tory majority, they are preparing to prepare to discuss. Reform on the slow-track, obviously.

On the other hand, we can already see the effects of this kind of musing.

In any case, a higher priority for Blackett and new Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission Chief Commissioner Blair Mason seems to be writing sexual orientation explicitly into the act.

No Accuracy Please, We're The Montreal Gazette

From their editorial decrying the OHRC's call for a national press council:

If someone wants to start a rabidly partisan, scurrilous scandal sheet, that's fine with us...

Scurrilous Adj. Def.:

untrue or unfair, insulting, and designed to damage a person's reputation: scurrilous allegations [Latin scurra buffoon]

containing obscenities, abuse, or slander

containing abusive language or defamatory allegations

For The Gazette: free speech = freedom to speak falsely and to slander. And this is how professional journalists have succeeded in marginalizing themselves in Canada's great free speech debate.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Libs On Zytaruk

From Kady's blog:

The Conservatives behaviour in this matter is predictably disgraceful, given their attachment to gutter politics.

The Liberals behaviour in this matter is, surprisingly, even more disgraceful, given that there is absolutely nothing for them to gain by settling, beyond some vague “let’s put this Dion-related thing behind us” horseshit.

Someone please explain what the Libs are up to here. The only thing I can think of is that, Harper's sleazy legal maneuvers aside, the inference from his words on the tape to the accusation that he had "authorized a bribe" (made on the Libs website and not in the protected confines of the HOC) was maybe a legal bridge too far, as Kinsella seemed to think last May, and the Libs had a few losses of their own that they were willing to cut, Zytaruk be damned.

To The Right And Down The Tubes?

The Toronto Star is hiring an old Conrad Black crony, Michael Cooke:

Chicago Tribune media writer Phil Rosenthal reported on his blog yesterday that Cooke has resigned from the Chicago Sun-Times to rejoin his former colleague John Cruickshank, who is publisher of the Toronto Star.

Former Hollinger Inc. chief operating officer David Radler, who was recently released from jail, lured Cruickshank from the Globe and Mail to become the Vancouver Sun’s editor in the mid-1990s.
Radler, a former business partner of Conrad Black, also appointed Cooke as editor of the Province in the 1990s.

In the 1990s, the Province, a Vancouver tabloid, took an abrupt turn to the right under Cooke’s leadership.

The paper dumped its left-wing voices and populated the editorial page with a bunch of right wingers. Cooke also gave prominent coverage to the Fraser Institute's right-wing "research" reports.

Because, clearly, pandering to Canada's right-wing fringe has worked so well for so many other publications.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Journalists: Soft On Duff

While not surprising Duffy has an opinion (though you don’t see the other newly-appointed former journalist senator Pamela Wallin making crass comments,), I’m disappointed he isn’t being treated like any other authority figure by his media brethren. I’d bet if he weren’t a former member of the press, his colleagues would have ripped him apart on him until we were sick of hearing about it.

Duffy’s likely retained some protection under the unwritten code where journalists, even the retired, compete and criticize each other, but always defend each other for missteps that don’t result in blackening the industry. While a nice protection, it’s not right to extend it to Duffy strictly because of who he was while Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was severely criticized for his ‘death by a thousand cold cuts’ remarks during the listeriosis outbreak in September. Neither remark had class and the media should treat these men equally for not having the better sense to keep their mouths shut, the right to fair comment aside.

It takes a mere letter writer to apply the appropriate spanking. Although Rex Murphy pondering whether there should be a "cover charge" for attending a Mike Duffy speech was not bad either.

Say, Maybe A Carbon Tax ISN'T Politically Fatal

If an election were held tomorrow, 52 per cent of decided voters would choose the Liberals, 36 per cent NDP.

Of course, Gorden Campbell didn't run on the tax, and introduced it early enough into his term so that any backlash spent itself well before election day.

Smart move, that.

As an aside, I wonder if there is any upside for the federal Libs. in these numbers. I've been told that the B.C. and federal wing are entirely different animals, and that the provincial body has tried maintain a healthy distance from its Canada-wide counterpart, esp. during the Martin years. Still, this can't be bad news.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Whose Cleaning Up Shaidle's Wiki Page?

Somebody is removing all the "controversial" bits on the grounds that they contain "illegal copyright violations". For instance, she refers to Islam as "fucking retarded"; and then she doesn't.

Lets just get clear about this. A big issue yesterday with TVO was the poor vetting of guests. How would they allow anyone like Shaidle on a respectable, government funded station? Well, by playing around with her wiki entry, someone is making it harder for, oh I don't know a tv or radio show producer, to uncover her let us just call it "colourful" past as a blogger.

Someone therefore sees the appearance of such comments as being not career enhancing. And they realized this sometime yesterday afternoon.

PS. Am I not famous enough to have a wiki entry? What does it freakin' take anyway?

PPS. I've made a couple of screenshots, although I think wiki is is pretty good about maintaining a history of entries. Anyone else wants to take a few more, feel free.

PPPS. Shaidle does apparently have an "agent", so the changes aren't necessarily the work of a sock-puppet. But that might be demonstrable one way or another.

h/t ARC.

Every On-Line Garbologist Should Own One

Got a look at how an "anti-plagiarism" tool like this worked during the last election. Handy thing to have on hand if your PM might be, oh I don't know, copping material from other conservative writers. A steal at $100.

Reading Jay Hill

Tory Whip Jay Hill has always kept a tight hand his weekly column, to the point where almost nothing appears in it that is not 100% government line. So, presumably, the following is now part of the government line:

With the exception of the NDP, the opposition parties are cooperating with our Government to get the budget passed...

Given this, Mr. Hill's assessment is clearly false, so I wonder what is the point of singling out the NDP while giving the Bloc a pass? Another random Quebec friendly shift?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shaidle Will Appear

Spoke to The Agenda Executive producer Dan Dunsky on my lunch break, and was told that he was "aware" of the stuff "floating about" on-line. Ms. Shaidle will be on The Agenda this evening.

Your Money At Work

Five Feet of Far Right is on TVOs "The Agenda" this evening, because presumably they couldn't find someone non-crazy to duscuss "atheist bus posters". Kinsella amply illustrates why Ms. Shaidle's blithering isn't fit for a men's room wall, let alone a television show funded by Ontario tax-payers. I might also add that Shaidle has been published a couple of times in Vdare, a U.S. based "extremist anti-immigration Web site" (according to the NY Times).

Hopefully, WK will post contact information re the minister responsible for TVO. Meanwhile, it seems that "The Agenda" itself may be contactable through its blogs here. If don't to see your hard earned dough funding Hate Lit, or if alternatively the idea of denying the fat chick money appeals to you, you might want to drop Mr. Paiken a line.

Update: From wiki:

TVO is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, and supported by a network of Regional Councillors from across the province. TVO also reports to the Ontario legislature through the Minister of Education, in accordance with the Ontario Educational Communications Authority Act.

The Minister of Education is Kathleen Wynne, one of my faves, and she can be reached at:

Phone: (416) 425-6777
Fax: (416) 425-0350

Updater: That's Kathleen local office. Her ministry office number is (16) 325-2600.

Libertarian Gets All Knotted Up Over Concept Of Freedom

From Will Wilkinson, who looks like he might be a fairly decent read:

Whenever I say nice things about Canada, some people get annoyed. After all, they have socialized medicine and are more inclined to regulate certain kinds of speech. But these are anecdotes. If looks for anecdotes on the lack of freedom in the U.S., one becomes buried in them. If I look at actual indices that attempt, however imperfectly, to measure various freedoms, the U.S. and Canada come out pretty much identical on a classical liberal conception of freedom. And Canada comes out ahead on contemporary capabilities conceptions of positive liberty. To my mind, the evidence pretty strongly supports the conclusion that Canada is at least as free as the United States. Why is this a problem for some Americans?

And then this corker on why U.S. Libertarians don't want to move to Canada:

But My sense is that some American libertarians have a vague sense that if Canada really was more free, then they should want to move there. But they emphatically don’t want to move to Canada. My diagnosis is that many libertarians prefer to live in a place where it easy to find others who share their individualistic and libertarian values over living in a place where they would actually be more free, but would feel more culturally alienated.

...which rather seems as though he is saying that U.S. Libertarians would rather talk the freedom talk down there then come to the True North and actually walk the freedom walk because the ground up here is too thick with non-Libertarians. Or, alternatively, that Libertarians would prefer to feel free rather than be free. Or, even better, Libertarians prefer the ideological homogeneity you get when surrounded by other Libertarians.

Of course, the WS's Terrence Watson argues that, if you think Canada is more free than the States, you just haven't weighted your freedoms properly:

In any event, while in practice the U.S. and Canada may be similar in terms of liberty, they are not identical in terms of freedom of speech. And, since freedom of speech is an extremely important liberty, this suggests that Canada may be less free than the United States, in terms of the freedoms that matter the most.

Speaking of cultural conformity, incidentally (as a number of Wilkinson's commenters do), nothing beats hanging around a hot-bed of Libertarianism like small town Arizona (Yuma, specifically). Five radio stations playing either C&W or Rush Limbaugh, and every dept. store selling the same cheap American flags.

A whole herd of independent thinkers, down there.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Janke On Iggy And The Ukraine--My Anecdotal Mama Says He's Bullshitting

I've been told, anecdotally, that Borys Wrzesnewskyj's banishment to the backbenches is a big deal in the Ukrainian community, much more so that it would normally be because of Michael Ignatieff's family background (which he can't help) and his statements that seem to provide comfort to Russian neo-imperialists (which are entirely his fault).

My dear anecdotal mama's maiden name was Polowick, which apparently means "Great Bird", and her anecdotal mama's maiden name was "Hootzel" which apparently means "Great Owl" (Ukrainians maybe have a thing with birds??), and mama's been on the phone to some anecdotal friends in Northern Saskatchewan (Theodore, Sask.) and they don't know what Janke's talking about. So, since my anecdotals are at least as good as Janke's, we can consider this story officially refuted.

...which means the National Post will surely run with it.

No Standards Please, We're Journalists

Some unsurprising (negative) reactions to the OHRC's advocating a mandatory national press council.

Look, when a journo tells you that doom will follow if his profession is regulated, don't think of some hero out there protecting society from tyranny. I mean, maybe that applied in the old days, right?

These days, think of a pressure group like herring fishermen trouping to Ottawa when the feds attempt to limit their catch, and arguing that as go herring fishermen, so goes the world, and claiming societal collapse will follow if they can't fish for herring as free as their conscience commands them.

Press councils are an extremely weak vehicle and, I am told, never particularly eager to punish one of their own in the 1st place(the OPC adjudicates, on average, a little more than one complaint per month). This even though the punishment amounts to little more than a "naming and shaming" of the offending paper/journalist. Still, I imagine the profession's response to this initiative will undoubtedly be a knee-jerk rejection, and a to-the-barricades defense of their right to print crap without any sort of restriction.

(PS. Interesting that this should be the one recommendation from the Moon report that seems to have any chance of being enacted. Perhaps we owe Steyn and Levant some thanks after all.)

Stockwell Day Assumes The Missionary With Roomful Of Naughty Nurses

Probably as close to a double entendre as our Minister of International Trade is capable of. But, frankly, his column was far more exciting in the old days when he would, for example, fink our boys overseas out to the Taliban.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Taste The Pain

My wife has been predicting an economic collapse for ten years now, just on general principles, and she's sort of happy her predictions are finally coming true. Her favorite blog (I am apparently not even in the top 10) has recently become The Layoff List. Run by a fellow in New York State, its purpose is to

...highlight the ever deteriorating job picture and to list smaller layoff announcements that don’t get the attention of main stream media. There is a great deal of scattered job loss information, but I want to try and gather as much information as I can and present it in a manner that is concise, informative and somewhat easy to read.

The site traffics in both news and rumors, and these latter tend more often than not to be born out. For example, LL called Microsoft's last round of layoffs several weeks before they were confirmed in the MSM. Quite a bit of Canadian content as well.

Reminds me a bit of that great old website, F***ked Company, that narrated the collapse of the tech bubble in the late 1990s.

So give it a visit, because things are far, far worse then you think.

Comets Over Canada...Maybe Not!

Re. the Younger Dryas Impact theory.

H/T Jeff Hecht, who has a story on the impact theory in last week's New Scientist (from which I have copped, hopefully legally, the picture above-left).

Human Rights Bits And Bites

Re. yesterday's legislative hearing on the Ontario Human Rights Commission:

A friend who is a Legislative assistant sat in on the Hearings in the afternoon. Apparently Richard Moon testified via telephone and took huge chunks out of Ezra Levant and his fellow travellers. Called him (and you [BCF] by extension) a liar...

An assessment confirmed by today's National Post article by Joseph Brean:

Richard Moon, the University of Windsor law professor who last fall became a darling of right-wing free speech advocates when he recommended scrapping the federal human rights hate speech law, yesterday lashed out at his admirers.


Prof. Moon targeted Ezra Levant in particular, whose blog is a clearinghouse for skepticism of human rights law, and who claimed the day before Prof. Moon's report was released that it had been "redacted by Jennifer Lynch," the chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

"The claim was false," Prof. Moon told the all-party panel. "I was given complete independence, and when my report was released the following day and recommended the repeal of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the falsity of Levant's claim was obvious. He had just made it up. He thought he knew what I would say and he sought to discredit the report in advance by attacking me and the commission rather than the arguments I might make."

He accused them of launching a "smear campaign" against human rights commissions and "baseless personal attacks" against their staff.

Meanwhile, at the same hearing Mark "The Steynosaur" wanked it both handed. Read the transcript if you need a fleet enema.

Meanwhile, I am a bit unclear as to what happened at the Justice and Human Rights Committee, where a "review" of section 13 was supposedly up for discussion. From Kady's description:

Real Menard puts forward his brilliant notion of combining the review of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act with his motion to look at including social condition as a protected form of discrimination, and Storseth … … Drum roll … … … says that he’s actually not ready to bring *his* motion forward at this point, so he’ll be happy to discuss this with Menard in future.

Brian Storseth is the Tory MP who wanted to ask the committee to review section 13, and he is "not ready" to make this request--to discuss the possibility of discussing section 13, as it were. Given this, we can probably assume that nothing relevant happened at the committee. As Kady notes: Wow, that was anticlimactic.

Update: Buckets has more, and WK has partial transcripts of Moon's testimony.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Because Quebec Needs A Leader That Biker Chicks Think Is Hot

The adéquistes for Maxim Bernier as boss of the ADQ

The ADQ needs a boss with the experience. We need someone with a record to win elections. Former VP of the Economical Institute of Montreal, Maxim possesses the baggage intéllectuel that it is necessary to remake Quebec a place or economical prosperity returns to normalcy the ours. This is well with this experience that it is well equipped to defend the real values of the ADQ against its opponents.

In winning his second mandate as representative of Beauce with a majority crushing of 62%, it demontre a capacity impréssionante that the ideas basically adéquistes are well received. It is just necessary the boss for the goods to represent:

MAXIM BERNIER As next boss of l'ADQ...Comme next Prime Minister of the Quebec

The contact given is And Mark Buzan is presumably this guy. No idea how serious this might be, but I would assume not very.


The Stuff Leaks...

...and so the notion of Carbon Sequestration takes another hit:

"The fact that methane gas can escape from a thick shale seafloor may demonstrate that there needs to be more research done on the integrity of geologic seals in petroleum reservoirs earmarked for CO2 injection,” says [Federico] Krause who is a professor in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary. “It shows that under different geologic circumstances gases that are present in underground formations can indeed seep out, and all the effort expended in trying to remove CO2 from our atmosphere would be lost.”

CHRC Under Scrutiny...Again?

OTTAWA — The controversial section of the Canadian Human Rights Act governing hate speech comes under scrutiny today when federal politicians decide whether to debate the limits it places on freedom of expression.

Brian Storseth, a Conservative MP, has asked the Commons justice committee to review Section 13 of the act, which contains provisions that deal with hate messages. Mr. Storseth also wants the committee to review the mandate of the commission itself.

Except that the Liberals seem to have taken a stand on the matter:

Liberal MP Brian Murphy said his party is not in favour of removing Section 13 from the Canadian Human Rights Act. "It is a unique tool for people who are being discriminated against and it's an added protection," he said.

Good on Iggy. And the NDP don't sound too helpful either:

Joe Comartin, the NDP justice critic, said he opposes removing Section 13, but believes the act is a "blunt instrument" that requires significant amendments.

The mandate of the Canadian Human Rights Commission is not clear, Mr. Comartin said, and there must be better criteria for selecting commissioners to ensure that Section 13 is not used improperly. That would require an extensive review that could take some time, he said, and which would likely be postponed to allow the justice committee to deal with more pressing issues.

So, essentially, months more of flailing in the blogosphere, but no action likely. Shall we have one more dance, speechy warriors?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Globe And Mail In Trouble Too

Layoffs and price hikes.

Will An Economic Collapse Save Gaia, Part Whatever

The figure represents Moving 12-Month Total on All [U.S.] Highways until November 2008, but you can find all sorts of graphs telling the same story (including one I wanted to use showing how energy consumption has plunged in China over the past year, but which I can no longer find).

Energy consumption is down, miles driven are down...and this should be reflected in CO2 emissions numbers when such figures are released for 2008 and going forward.

PS. Where were gas prices in November? On their way down, I believe.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tory MP Dona Cadman, Cadman's Widow, Couldn't Be Reached For Comment

Speaking of people who owe Tom Zytaruk an apology, but probably will not offer one, Dona Cadman served as enabler at several crucial points in this whole story. She should be ashamed of herself.

Warren Kinsella Is The Liberals'...

...Shoofly pie *, and since your typical Conservative has the brain of a fly, they take the bait.

* Here in Tennessee I was told a pie like this was made on baking day from simple, super-sweet stuff and set on the windowsill to keep the flies away from the pies with dearer ingredients**.

WK Sans Guitar
** "Pies with dearer ingredients"= Michael Ignatieff. Must I spell it all out for you?

Another Status Quo Poll

The popularity gap between the government and the official opposition has narrowed once again, with 37 per cent of decided voters supporting Stephen Harper's Conservatives and 31 per cent behind Michael Ignatieff's Liberals, according to the results of the latest Ipsos Reid poll.

Yeah, narrowed to exactly where it was before it started to expand around Xmas. Be more glorious, Iggy! Be...More...Glorious!!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Peter Kent Distances Himself From JDL Leader

I admit, I didn't think Dawg's post outlining junior foreign minister Peter Kent's facebook relationship with Meir Weinstein, aka Meir Halevi, the Canadian Director of the Jewish Defense League, would amount to a whole lot. After all, facebook friends aren't like real friends, are they? They're just a tiny little picture stuck up on your personal web-page.

Maybe I was wrong, though, because Now Magazine has done a brief piece on the topic:

And, more importantly, it looks as though Kent himself is concerned enough about the apparent JDL link to have "defriended" Mr. Weinstein.

And after:

More evidence that the virtual world has become the real world, I guess.


Jesus, when we Liberals return to power there'll hardly be anything left to pillage.

Mind you, if you can keep your job during a Depression you can make out like a bandit. The wife and I are doing okay so far. In six months or so, if everything continues on an even keel, we might pick up a couple of slaves.

Giant Snakes And Global Warming...Together At Last!

Yesterday, I touched briefly on the subject of Titanoboa cerrejonensis, the 40+ foot fossil snake discovered recently in a Colombian coal mine. Interestingly enough, the discovery of such a huge snake has implications for the AGW theory. From Not Exactly Rocket Science:

The giant snake's measurements even tell us something about the climate of this ancient world. Snakes are cold-blooded. Their body temperature, and therefore their metabolism, depends on their surroundings, which slaps an upper limit onto the evolution of giants. At any given temperature, a snake can only become so large before its metabolic rate becomes too low to support its bulk. If Titanoboa was bigger than living species, its environment must have been much hotter.

Head estimated that the tropical rainforests where it lived must have had average yearly temperature of 32-33 degrees Celsius, far hotter than the equivalent temperatures for modern tropical forests. These estimates suggest that the forests of that period were experiencing greenhouse conditions. These conditions, part of the planet's history, have been written in stone, left for us to glean among the petrified bones of an ancient snake.

Now, so what if the tropics at the time were quite a bit warmer than today? Well, according to researchers like Lindzen and, more recently, Spencer, the Earth possesses an
...“adaptive infrared iris” that opens and closes to keep the earth’s temperature fairly steady even in light of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. It was proposed to work something like this—when the temperature in the tropical oceans begins to warm up, it causes in increase in the amount of low-level water clouds and an even greater decrease in total coverage of high-altitude ice clouds. Since ice clouds are net warmers (that is, they trap more outgoing longwave radiation (heat) than they reflect away incoming shortwave (solar) radiation) and water clouds are (generally) net coolers (reflecting back to space more incoming solar shortwave radiation than they absorb outgoing longwave radiation), more of the latter and a lot less of the former leads to a net cooling, and the temperatures of the tropical oceans decrease. However, cooler tropical ocean temperatures lead to less low-level (water) clouds and more high altitude ice clouds. This configuration tends to lead to a net radiation increase and to higher temperatures. And the cycle starts over again. Lindzen’s moniker “adaptive infrared iris” refers to the mechanism in which the tropical ice cloud cover opens and closes in response to tropical ocean temperatures to allow more heat to escape to space when the oceans are warm and less heat to escape to space when the oceans are relatively cool (much like the iris of an eye which opens and closes in response to varying light levels to try to maintain a constant level falling on the retina). Lindzen et al. proposed that the iris acts as a global thermostat that will keep the earth’s temperatures from rising very far even as atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases increase.
In other words, there are planetary feedback mechanisms that kick in whenever temperatures become too hot or too cold, and keep the global average temperature in essentially the same place (Gaia fights back! as it were).
...which is to say that a tropical temperature high enough to allow the existence of Titanoboa ought not to occur. If Jason Head and co. (the paper's authors) are correct, then Lindzen's Iris Theory, not in particularly good shape these days to start with, takes another hit.
Dot Earth's Andy Revkin also suggests that the discovery of Titanoboa challenges
...those using the specter of tropical warming — including the Amazon rain forest turning into a desert — as another reason to move swiftly to curb greenhouse gases.
...because clearly this much hotter tropical forest was a "steamy thriving" place.
Interesting stuff.
Oh, and read the dinosaur list archives for speculation on the answer to the most important question: In a Fight, who would win? Giant snake or T-Rex?

Theon Strikes Back

From comments here, a missive from John S. Theon to Marc Morano, regarding his position re James Hansen in the NASA hierarchy (which I wrote about originally here). I will post it without comment, other than to note that:

1) Hansen does not deny having met Theon, he simply claims to not recall meeting Theon. What this says about Mr. Hansen's memory is unclear. It sounds as though the two men would only have come into direct contact a couple of times a year on average, and it is quite possible that Theon played so little a role in Mr. Hansen's professional life that he was simply not memorable.

2) The concept of being "in effect" a person's supervisor comes into play again. I will just note that two men worked out of different cities and, again, Theon played no part in determining whether Mr. Hansen remained a NASA employee. Those people who have argued that you can "supervise" another under such circumstances tend to invoke the concept of "dotted line bosses" and reference the comic strip Dilbert. Not terribly convincing, as far as I am concerned.

3) Finally, Roy Spencer has been bitching how, way back when, Mr. Theon seemed a proper warmist while he (Spencer) was the guy getting oppressed by NASA for his skeptical views. Perhaps Mr. Theon can explain the evolution of his thinking from the 90s until today. Furthermore--since presumably if he was Hansen's supervisor he was Spencer's supervisor as well--perhaps he can explain who it was in the NASA hierarchy that was behind the "muzzling" of Dr. Spencer.


It is absurd that Hansen denies ever meeting me. We have met on numerous occasions. This just demonstrates that Hansen has a poor memory.

I worked with Hansen from about 1983 to 1994 during which time he was at GISS in NYC and I was at NASA HQ in Washington DC. I retired from NASA in 1995. I had completed 37 and 1/2 years of federal service (civilian Navy, USAF, and including 33 years with NASA.)

The money came through me. We were in the Earth Observations Program which later became the Mission to Planet Earth Program. I visited GISS at least once a year to review and evaluate the GISS work. When I visited NYC, to review the research that GISS was funded to do out of the program for which I was responsible, Hansen was most cordial. When I asked him to give a lecture in Japan, he complied.

It was what it was, and no amount of denial will change that.

I repeat what I wrote to you in January: “I was, in effect, Hansen's supervisor because I had to justify his funding, allocate his resources, and evaluate his results. I did not have the authority to give him his annual performance evaluation.”

Regarding some of the other attacks that have been aimed at me: I am truly appalled at the backbiting, vitriol that is sent by people who have nothing better to do than try to smear other people's reputations because they do not agree with their own thinking. To them, I recommend that they get a life.