A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Friday, December 31, 2004

What is really happening in Myanmar (Burma) following the tsunami....?

There is a deeply worrying gap in the dreadful casualty statistics from the Indian Ocean tsunami - Myanmar (Burma). The official casualty figure of 90 is just not credible. Myanmar shares a long peninsula with Thailand, and the Burmese coast would have been directly exposed to the spreading wave.

A number of other sources are also starting to question the situation in Myanmar:

'Support group concerned about tsunami situation in Burma' (Ireland Online, December 30): "However, Burma Action Ireland spokesman Hugh Baxter said this may not be true. 'The Burmese government has a track record of under-reporting casualties in natural disasters, so it's difficult to know, he said."

'Is Burma hiding something?' (Rajanr Blog, December 31).

Burma is precisely the kind of state where obtaining accurate casualty figures is going to be immensely difficult and where persuading the authorities to establish a proper international and local warning system extremely fraught.

The UN and the non-governmental agencies should be doing their very best to establish the facts about villages along the Burmese peninsula and coast. Satellite imaging may help.

Philip, concerned about the role of non-democratic states in dealing with extreme disasters.
In 2005: let's work hard to cut those carbon claptrap emissions.....

I end the year with a splendidly uncompromising letter from the physicist, Gerald E. Marsh, published in The Financial Times (December 29): 'CO2 cannot be called a pollutant':

"Carbon dioxide is a minor greenhouse gas that occurs naturally in the atmosphere and helps to maintain the earth at a temperature suitable for life - the principal greenhouse gas is water vapour. Carbon dioxide is essential to the growth of all plants. Without it plants could not grow and all animal life would die. In no way is this gas a pollutant. To call it one is misleading.

Calling carbon dioxide a pollutant is a political statement, not a scientific one. Behind the politics is the claim that the small observed global warming trend is due to the burning of fossil fuels rather than being of natural origin....."

".....The uncertainties are so great that the claim by the IPCC that 'most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations' is 'likely' to be unfounded. We do not yet understand the earth's climate well enough to be able to assess the long-term effect of the carbon dioxide that comes from burning fossil fuels.

The earth has been warming erratically for 10,000 years. That has been good, up to now, because it is what made the non-equatorial latitudes habitable. We can expect that warming trend to continue, no matter what we do about carbon dioxide."

And my own New Year's Resolution: to fight the current PC carbon claptrap on 'global warming' with increasing vigour, especially in the light of Mr. Blair's G8 ambitions. We really must put an end to the nonsensical and dangerous emissions claiming that we can manage climate change predictably by fiddling at the margins with just one politically-selected variable out of the millions involved. Climate changes: that is what it does. The idea of a 'stable climate' is the oxymoron of a self-deluding 'Age of Ecochondria'.

Last, but far more importantly, I again repeat the Disasters Emergency Committee's (DEC's) 'Tsunami Earthquake Appeal' details for all who would like to help in this most genuine and most terrible of tragedies:

DEC Website: www.dec.org.uk
Donation telephone: 0870 60 60 900
Address: DEC Tsunami Earthquake Appeal, PO Box 999, London EC3A 3AA, UK.

Philip, wishing everyone an ecohype-free New Year (some hope!). Now where is that peaty malt?

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The raw facts of Nature's awesome power.....

Highest magnitude reading on the Richter Scale: 9.2 - the 3rd/4th most powerful earthquake during the last 100 years;

Energy released equivalent to 9,500 Hiroshima bombs or 190 million tons of TNT;

Number of aftershocks to date: more than 90, ranging between magnitudes of 4.4 and 7.1;

Jolt in the Earth's rotation slowing each day by 3 microseconds;

Sumatra and nearby islands physically moved by up to 36m (120 ft);

West coast of Sumatra has sunk by up to 2m; the regional capital, Banda Aceh, may now be below sea-level;

The resultant tsunami, and its remnants, have been recorded travelling around the world 3 times;

Major tsunami impacts suffered up to 7,000 km (4,000 miles) away from the epicentre;

Tsunami speeds between 100 and 800 mph;

Likely death toll: c.150,000 [see 'Ocean disaster toll hits 114,000' (BBC World News, December 30)];

1 man lost over 200 relatives;

Likely number of people displaced or homeless: unknown, but in many millions;

Aid requirements in the order of 8 billion dollars, and rising.


Here I repeat again the Disasters Emergency Committee's (DEC's) 'Tsunami Earthquake Appeal' details for all who would like to help:

DEC Website: www.dec.org.uk
Donation telephone: 0870 60 60 900
Address: DEC Tsunami Earthquake Appeal, PO Box 999, London EC3A 3AA, UK.

Philip, not surprised that, for once, the media initially underhyped this awesome catastrophe, this - in the words of Rachel Campbell-Johnston of The Times - "twitch"...in our "tectonic skin".
Boris the Bold tells it as it is .....

A truly glorious piece from our very own Boris the Bold. This is Boris Johnson at his best, blending his Etonian classical education with wit and some surprisingly down-to-earth sense about the Indian Ocean catastrophe: 'We futilely yearn for someone to blame' (The Daily Telegraph, December 30):

"In this largely godless age, we have a more subtle interpretation of the relation between human excess and natural disaster. Our new high priests are the environmentalists and, when the icebergs calve early or the swallows fly the wrong way, it is they who cry woe and say that it is a judgment on us all, and our wicked ways; and that is why, in the case of a colossal undersea earthquake, you can sense the silent frustration of the told-you-so scientists.

Whatever you say about the slipping of tectonic plates on the sea-bed off Sumatra, it had nothing to do with global warming. It was not caused by decadent use of Right Guard, or George W Bush, or the flouting of the Kyoto Protocol, or inadequate enforcement of the Windows and Doors Regulation of April 2002..."

Boris is so correct. The deliberate abuse and mis-use of serious natural events and phenomena over the last twenty or so years by environmentalists has been one of the most morally distasteful aspects of our age. If you hear anyone trying to link 'global warming' with the current terrible, and largely unavoidable, tragedy, then let them know just what you think of them. I find such blatant opportunism abhorrent.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The geopolitics of a disaster.....

Here is my 'Comment' in today's The Times (29 December) on the catastrophe in the Indian Ocean: 'It is man-made failings that allow natural disasters to wreak havoc'.

Here are the Disasters Emergency Committee's (DEC's) 'Tsunami Earthquake Appeal' details:

DEC Website: www.dec.org.uk
Donation telephone: 0870 60 60 900
Address: DEC Tsunami Earthquake Appeal, PO Box 999, London EC3A 3AA, UK.

Here is CNN's List of Aid Organisations accepting donations for tsunami relief.

Here is The Times 'Online Appeal' Charity Site.

Please help if you can. Thank you.


Monday, December 27, 2004

Our deepest condolences.....

EnviroSpin extends its deepest sympathies to the people of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and East Africa over the devastation and terrible losses following the impact of the dreadful tsunami yesterday. Such a powerful force humbles us all, and, for those of us who are so lucky to live away from the world's major fault lines, we can only guess at the true horror of these events. Our thoughts are with you in this dark hour.


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