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Warming up for climate change reporting

So after two days of intense frustration, having schlepped my laptop all the way to the WakeUp Copenhagen Hotel and finding that the Wi-Fi was f*cked, this evening – by some miraculously inspired configuration – I managed to get online.* I have no idea what I did, but that doesn’t matter because now I don’t have to go down to the lobby and either a) mud wrestle someone for access to the hotel computers or b) go borrow a cable from the front desk to connect my laptop manually, which as everyone knows is just too degrading. Instead I get to surf from the comfort of my own room!

[I am indeed aware that this is a luxury problem, especially having been immersed in the grave issue of climate change over the past two days. So yes, I am an ungrateful little gnome who just likes to hear herself complain, I admit it.]

It’s been a very intense couple of days – a packed day yesterday at the Bella Centre conference venue, which is where the Global Climate Change Summit will be held in December. [You could call this a mini-climate-change-summit. A warmup, if you will if you shall if you must.] We had presentations and seminars, some with just a tad too many figures to keep anyone’s attention, some that were just great [like the lecture about Samsø that I mentioned yesterday – thanks to those who set me straight on that one]. Søren Hermansen, who Time Magazine named one of its “Heroes of the Environment 2008” gave an excellent and very funny presentation about how the islanders decided to become self-sustaining in terms of energy and pitched in to buy their first wind turbine. There are only 4,000 people on the island, and a wind turbine is not exactly picked up for what you have in your change jar – however, the investment paid for itself in ten years. They now have several wind turbines [eight I believe] and exceed their own needs in terms of capacity, so they actually export energy to the mainland. Very cool. [The New Yorker has a very good, succinct report on Samsø here – thanks to JB – and Eamonn – for the link.]

I had the pleasure of sitting at a table with Søren and his wife prior to the lecture and so got an idea of just how busy they are with speaking engagements, giving tours of the island, and so forth. However, Søren said he had agreed to give a talk for this particular event because he realized that the exposure potential was great, since he’d be preaching to a large group of bloggers. Which is also very cool as far as I’m concerned – the fact that blogs are becoming recognized as a very real alternative to the traditional media – and even preferable, in some cases.

At any rate, I expect I shall be focusing a fair bit on how climate change is manifesting in Iceland and what our government is doing about it over the next three months or so, while this TH!NK initiative is running. Not doubt I’ll still be ranting about politics and the economy, though – just with that added component. You have been warned!

WEATHER IN NICELAND
No idea. Any of my Iceland-based readers care to pitch in?

[PS today we spent the day at an eco village called Dyssekilde north of Copenhagen, and it was AMAZING. I plan to write about that as soon as I’ve uploaded the pictures I took of their wind turbine and willow cleansing system and wee hobbit houses. So great!]

* Which MAY have something to do with them having had an “Internet guy” here today to work on fixing the issue. Although when I tried it earlier this evening it wasn’t working. Not until I did my miracle configuration.

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  • elín September 22, 2009, 11:04 pm

    … “the fact that blogs are becoming recognized as a very real alternative to the traditional media – and even preferable, in some cases.”
    A-men!

  • WiseWoman September 22, 2009, 11:05 pm

    The “Internet guy” probably just power cycled the access point and charged 200 DKK for his services.

  • Morten Lange September 23, 2009, 2:56 am

    Hi, Alda !

    Nice that you will blog from Copenhagen and are taking part in the initiative/contest.
    About what the Icelandic government is doing : Take a look at these announcements :
    http://www.umhverfisraduneyti.is/frettir/nr/1468

    http://www.umhverfisraduneyti.is/frettir/nr/1442

    One thing that precious few have noticed, and no newspaper ( being funded in part by car-dealers adverts ?) will report on, it seems, is the realisatin by the Env. Ministry committee report that that increased walking and cycling (partly replacing car trips) is one of the best ways to reduce emissions, both short term and long term.

    It would also save society lots of money, even if the huge savings in health care becuase of better fitness are not included. A win-win-win situation. Those solutions that provide co-benefits, the low hanging and very nourishing fruits, should of course be the first that societies embark on ! In contrast, electrifying the car fleet or building the hydrogen economy, would be quite costly, especially until prices of these vehicles come down in some 10 – 30 (?) years. See graph at

    Miklir möguleikar á að draga úr losun gróðurhúsalofttegunda

    Except in Icelandic :
    “Kostnaður við mótvægisaðgerðir er mismikill en ljóst er að ódýrar aðgerðir geta skilað umtalsverðum árangri. Kostnaðurinn spannar allt frá aðgerðum sem gefa hreinan fjárhagslegan ávinning svo sem aukin áhersla á göngu og hjólreiðar, eða aukin notkun sparneytnari bifreiða, til mótvægisaðgerða sem eru fremur dýrar, t.d. raf- eða vetnisvæðing samgangna.”

    My rough translation :
    “Costs of mitigation actions ( should say emission reduction) are varied, but it is clear that inexpensive actions can produce significant results. The cost range from those that produce an upfront economic benefit, like increased emphasis on cycling and walking, or the use of less thirsty cars, to remedies that are quite expensive like electrification or hydrogen-converting of transport.”
    ( And that in a country that produces electricity with very, very low
    CO2 emissions )

    Best Regards,
    Morten
    MSc from 1989 in Climate Change and Chairman of the Icelandic Cyclists Federation, LHM.

    BTW
    There is a fresh website on the subject of climate change, in case you missed it : http://www.loftslag.is

  • maja September 23, 2009, 3:34 am

    Great story about the island that bought their own wind turbine! What a cool conference.

  • James September 23, 2009, 8:18 am

    I wonder if they’re also discussing “politically incorrect” climate change topics, for example:
    – Do the actual temperature measurements really support the “global warming” hypothesis? For example, there are murmurings about the lengthening plethora of adjustments (resulting from newer climate models) necessary to make the empirical data fit the hypothesis, the acceptance that the upper atmosphere (stratosphere) is actually cooling, and the temperature measurements (both surface and lower atmosphere, and even after the data is heavily adjusted) from the tropical regions still not fitting any current “global warming” models.
    – Is the current “global warming” trend merely a statistical artefact? For example, climatologists reported global average temperatures dropping from the 1940s to the 1970s, leading to warnings about global cooling such as this well-intentioned article in Newsweek: http://www.denisdutton.com/newsweek_coolingworld.pdf
    – What about peer-reviewed scientific counter-analyses? For example, this assessment of the impact of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide: http://www.petitionproject.org/gw_article/GWReview_OISM600.pdf
    – Etc.

  • Nik September 23, 2009, 9:39 am

    Well the weather in Akureyri is getting colder and we’ve now got snow on the mountains again.

    Great reading – enjoy yourself!

  • Morten Lange September 23, 2009, 10:17 am

    @James,

    This discussion is constantly going on within the IPCC, and in the peer-reviewed journals, rest assured. I would be surprised if in fact the sceptics get far too much “airtime” also in Copenhagen. That the stratosphere ( high atmosphere) is cooling is in fact as expected when the troposphere (the weather part below roughly 10 000 m altitude) captures more of the heat radiation from the surface.

    It is a pity however that very tainted climate sceptics, clearly supported by big oil, or clearly not knowing what they are talking about, has heightened the inbuilt emotional defence against climate-sceptics amongst IPCC members, those others that have really studied the issues, and government officials , etc .

    As counter arguments to yours, one could bring up loads of issues, like the acidification of the oceans, melting ice caps, etc, but unfortunately for us humans and our fellow species, we might be put to a test the next few years, if natural variability masks part of global warming for that interim period.

    See here : http://climatechange.thinkaboutit.eu/think2/featured/sceptics_seize_on_climate_cooling_model/

    Also see the recent posts at http://www.monbiot.com about the attempt of George Monbiot to get into a meaningful dialogue with a “featured” climate sceptic.


    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2009/09/14/answers-come-there-none/

    But even if the warming should be exaggerated, there are so many things we can do to reduce emissions that have strong co-benefits.
    That will improve health, and save us money on fuel etc. There is also the slight issue of cheap oil running out in the next decades, that also prompts action compatible with greenhouse action.

    Not least : We can afford to take slight chances with the economy of the OECD and even of the world, but we can not afford to take chances on perturbing our life-support system, the biosphere.

    I am not planning to debate the issue further here. please go to realclimate.org for instance with your discussion. They can answer your particular questions if you are really interested, and not a troll 🙂

    If you were really only interested in whether the sceptic voices are heard in the TH!NK initiative for bloggers, you could have confined your question to just that 🙂

    Best Regards,
    Morten Lange

  • Holli September 23, 2009, 6:35 pm

    Hi There – my first visit to your site! Great. I’ve been reading and reading. I got turned on to Iceland just this week by a new blogger friend, Guy, whose cool blog My Deadly Truths (http://www.9uy.info/) started my fascination.

    I’m going to write a guestpost there and just wanted a bunch of info. on Iceland. You are an excellent resource!! Thanks for sharing all that you do!

    Cheers

    Holli in Ghana

  • Ljósmynd DE September 23, 2009, 7:16 pm

    “…the fact that blogs are becoming recognized as a very real alternative to the traditional media…”

    I guess, blogs are going to be the sole reliable source of information, should the rumors become reality, that Davið Oddsson will be hired as chief editor of Morgunblaðið. I expect this would provide this paper with the kiss of death, concerning journalistic integrity.

    The Samsø-story sounds pretty impressive, even though, I wouldn’t like to live close to some wind turbine. In many parts of Germany they are plastering the landscape with wind turbines. Apart from this becoming pretty ugly, many people complain about the high pitched whistling noise and the ever moving silhouettes, which drives them crazy. I guess, every means of producing energy has its ugly downside and the best approach should be saving energy.

    Hotel Wi-Fis are a frequent cause for discontent. Often it helps to have them just reboot their system. But 92 bloggers trying to connect might just as well be overkill for every Wi-Fi.

  • Maria September 23, 2009, 11:21 pm

    James, why do we need any scientific proof of “global warming”? It does not matter if we ( humans ) cause it or not, it is just UNETHICAL, irresponsible, selfish and plain stupid to pollute our world like we do!

  • James September 24, 2009, 6:49 am

    Morten: I was just wondering whether these kinds of climate change meetings also discuss the “politically incorrect” topics – mainly because bloggers usually venture into less conservative ideas more readily than the mainstream media. European media and politicians currently have so many of their “climate change” ducks lined-up neatly that it’s starting to feel like groupthink. So, apologies to you for the earlier list of examples (they were merely illustrative); climate change is evidently a subject with some very “politically incorrect” topics 😉

  • James September 24, 2009, 3:15 pm

    “James, why do we need any scientific proof of “global warming”? It does not matter if we ( humans ) cause it or not, it is just UNETHICAL, irresponsible, selfish and plain stupid to pollute our world like we do!”

    Yes, of course it is “UNETHICAL, irresponsible, selfish and plain stupid to pollute our world like we do!” However, knowing the role that humans, solar cycles, etc play (and to what degree) in the current global warming is important for many environmental reasons, eg it allows limited resources to be allocated more efficiently between local and global environmental issues (such as whether to spend limited funds on fitting vehicle filters to reduce particulate pollution in large cities or buying carbon offsetting derivatives that may be spent on retooling an inefficient factory in China). Also, remember that the potential consequences of man-made global warming are being used (or abused, depending on your perspective) to, for example, promote the building of more (or increase capacity of existing) nuclear power plants.

  • Silvia Planchett September 25, 2009, 9:49 pm

    Insofar that China recently overtook the U.S. regarding carbon contribution and the fact that they are building 2 coal fired power plants per week leaves little doubt as to their direction. Throw in India, Brazil and a few others and we have the making of the perfect storm. We can´t throw in the towel but the real possibility exists that we are pissing into the wind no matter what we do at this stage. The seasons as we knew them may not be with us very long so enjoy them while they last.