Daily Archives: April 5, 2012

Climate change is already harshing the weather | Grist

5 April 2012

Climate change is already harshing the weather | Grist.

Things are getting weird around here. (Photo by Zach Frailey.)

In a sane world, a 2011 filled with spectacularly bizarre weather followed by a winter and spring that are record-shatteringly hot – out of control hotBiblical hot – would have everyone in the U.S. freaking the f*ck out about climate change.

We never quite get there, though. We don’t seem to be grappling with the fact that this kind of volatility is rapidly becoming the new normal — or that we are totally unprepared.

If the public does tune in to what little media coverage there is of the climate-weather connection, they end up wading through technical discussions about attribution. Take this piece from Andrew Freedman at Climate Central. It is an excellent piece of reporting, thorough and judicious, but it is occupied almost exclusively with pinning down exactly what portion of this particular heat wave can be attributed to climate change. Some scientists say only a small portion. Some say it wouldn’t have happened without climate. Freedman’s lede says the heat wave “bears some of the hallmarks of global warming.” It’s not exactly galvanizing stuff.

Brad Plumer follows up with a similar piece. At the end, he asks:

So why does any of this matter? Isn’t it enough to know that the planet is warming and that unseasonably sweaty conditions are the sort of thing we’re likely to see more and more frequently if we continue belching greenhouse gases into the air?

Um … yes! It is enough! As Brad notes, there may be some legal issues down the road that hinge on precise attribution for individual events, but it’s hard to see how it has much bearing on policy or public sentiment.

The recently released IPCC report on extreme weather isn’t much better at clearly conveying the big picture. As Joe Romm notes, it’s a bland, least-common-denominator document:

Unfortunately, the IPCC continues to conflate uncertainty in future emissions of greenhouse gases with uncertainty in the climate’s sensitivity to those emissions.  This means they present a very large range of possible overall impacts — and that allows the deniers to trumpet the low range with their powerful fossil-fuel-funded megaphone and induces the media to provide “balance” in their stories between the mid-range and the low range.

The net effect is that an accurate picture of the current range of scientific opinion does not reach readers. Michael Tobis sketched out this graph to try to represent the skewed nature of public discussion:

Anyway, getting back to weather: What the public needs to know is that volatility like we’ve seen recently is on the rise because of climate change. Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases tomorrow, global average temperature would continue rising for a good half-century just in response to past GHG emissions. Rising temperature will drive more and more extreme weather. This will create all sorts of health, agricultural, energy, and economic issues for which we are grossly unprepared.

That’s it. Why can’t that simple message seem to capture the popular imagination? How much freaky weather does it take?


Cross-sector approach to capitalise on archaeology in Scotland

5 April 2012

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Cross posted via WordPress “Press This” app from http://www.bajrfed.co.uk/showthread.php?5367-Cross-sector-approach-to-capitalise-on-archaeology-in-Scotland.  Visit site for discussions and more information. 

The way Historic Scotland supports and funds archaeology projects across the country is to be strengthened.

The heritage agency has completed a review of the scope of the archaeology work it commissions and how it supports external projects across the country.

The recommendations will position Historic Scotland to take on an increased role in leading the archaeology sector and will see the creation of a dedicated forum to represent the sector as a whole and influence related policy.

Director of Policy Andrew Fleming. said: “Archaeology offers us such huge potential to interest people in our past. It is so much more than excavations and this review will help Historic Scotland fully recognise the excellent work already being carried out and develop better ways of supporting archaeology and research across Scotland.

“We are really fortunate as Scotland has an outstanding legacy of physical remains of our past. We are constantly learning more and revising our opinions about how our ancestors lived. Having a tangible link to life thousands of years ago is an incredible resource that we need to appreciate and celebrate.

“The expertise we have access to is astonishing an I hope that in taking forward plans for greater partnership working and the setting up of a forum specifically looking at archaeology we can ensure we are able to identify where investment can be most effective and what further work is needed.

“Last week the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop unveiled the remains of an ancient stringed instrument which had been found on the island of Skye. That project has uncovered a wealth of fascinating information but it is also a wonderful example of a great many people and organisations coming together to advise, fund and generally support the excavation and post excavation research. By working together we are changing the way that people regard their history and celebrating our shared history.”

Holding a review was a key performance target for 2011-12 and involved interviews with colleagues in Historic Scotland, as well as a number of partner organisations and has produced 11 key recommendations have been put forward.

Eila McQueen, Director of Archaeology Scotland, said:

“Archaeology Scotland welcome the review. We have a positive relationship with HS that we want to continue. There are exciting and challenging times ahead and I welcome the developing role of leadership from Historic Scotland and believe that we should all get behind that.”

Archaeology Review recommendations

  1. Archaeology in Scotland has enormous potential. Many, many talented and committed people are involved in different ways. A great deal of innovative work is taking place.
  2. The sector would benefit from input from Historic Scotland to provide more co-ordinated leadership, real partnerships and effective policy. There is a need for a long-term strategy for archaeological resources within Scotland involving all stakeholders that is aligned with the overall desired outcomes and vision for the historic environment.
  3. This long-term strategy should, in the first instance, be developed by Historic Scotland, on behalf of Scottish Ministers, working closely with stakeholders and partners within the sector as well as those who ‘consume’ archaeology. Historic Scotland is ideally placed to carry out this leadership role because their staff possess the depth of knowledge, experience and specific archaeological skills required.
  4. The long-term strategy should be developed in the context of the wider review of Historic Environment policy and the outlook for public expenditure.
  5. In developing a long-term overall strategy HS should:

    a) With relevant stakeholders, identify future priorities, in particular how the output from archaeology can be made accessible even more readily and quickly for the purposes of education and interpretation and public display as well as for academic consumption.

    b) Build a clearer picture of the size of the archaeology sector in Scotland and who is involved including as much information as possible about numbers, skills, qualifications, experience, purpose and demand and consider future scenarios for its sustainable development.

    c) Identify options for measuring the impact of the voluntary sector in supporting and providing community archaeology, and the relationship between the public and voluntary sectors in this area.

    d) Consult local government, the development industry and private sector archaeology companies about the operation of developer-led archaeology and its place in the wider strategy and consider the need for any changes in the framework, e.g. legislation, within which they operate.

    e) Ensure all the various funding streams for Scottish field archaeology are identified and co-ordinated as far as possible so that all funders, including HS, are clear about funding priorities, the potential funding leverage and their criteria in line with the overall strategy so that the sector gets the maximum value from all the funding available.

    f) Work with Higher Education institutions, the careers service and the Institute for Archaeologists on a long-term strategy for attracting and training recruits to the profession, in particular at post graduate level, and preparing them for relevant employment in the sector in line with HS strategy and Scottish archaeology requirements such as SCARF run by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and other mainstream projects.

    g) Examine the scope for better marketing of Scottish archaeology to domestic and international audiences, working with VisitScotland and other agencies, and communicating achievements and potential.

    h) Examine the scope for generating more economic value from Scottish archaeology, including from commercial activity on HS sites.

    i) Ensure that innovation, particularly in using new technology, is supported and good practice shared and adopted.

  6. HS should establish an Archaeology Forum for Scotland to provide advice in the development and implementation of the strategy and on funding priorities. A key ongoing task for the forum could be to ensure that the strategy is kept live by keeping up-to-date with latest research in Scotland and elsewhere. The forum could be committee in format and size.
  7. As part of the drive to secure maximum value from and raise the profile of Scottish archaeology, HS, in its leadership role, should support the work of the committee currently being led by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Archaeology Scotland to make 2015 a Year of celebration of Scottish archaeology and the work of the University of Glasgow and others in hosting the major European Archaeology Association conference in the same year.
  8. In order to develop the overall strategy HS should appoint a senior leader with an appropriate mix of skills to a new role of Head of Archaeology Strategy. At the same time HS should consider how the wealth of archaeological expertise within the organisation could be used most effectively and the scope for a rolling programme of secondments to and from the organisation.
  9. HS should look at the scope for more synergy, in relation to its own estate, between its collection and conservation work and its archaeology function.
  10. HS has a key role to play in investing in the whole of the historic environment, including archaeology. HS should consider aligning the management of the archaeology investment programme with its other investment programmes and the estate and properties in care of Scottish Ministers.
  11. HS should, over the course of the next 12 months, pursue the completion of all outstanding publications of HS funded works.
Current Mood: (chipper) chipper

Filipino Catholics observe Lent with gory rituals – Yahoo! News

5 April 2012

MABALACAT, Philippines (Reuters) – Hundreds of barefoot Filipinos marched on roads, carrying heavy wooden crosses and whipping their backs until they bled on Thursday in an annual gory religious ritual as the mainly Catholic Philippines observed near the end of theLenten season.

Many Filipino devotees perform religious penance during the week leading up to Easter Sunday as a form of worship and supplication, a practice discouraged by Catholic bishops, but widely believed by devotees to cleanse sins, cure illness and even grant wishes.

“I do this penance out of my free will because I believe that God will help relieve my sickness,” Corazon Cabigting, a domestic helper and the only woman in a group of about 50 men carrying wooden crosses on their backs.

Like the men, Cabigting wore a maroon robe and covered her face with a veil, held on her head by a crown of stainless wire, dragging a 30-kg (66-lb) wooden cross and stopping every 500 meters (546 yards) in makeshift roadside chapels.

Elderly women chant the passion of Jesus Christ at some of the chapels, while the penitents, with their hands tied to the cross, are beaten by sticks and hemp.

“Priests often tell us that we should not be doing this,” Melvin Pangilinan, an organizer of the annual Lenten ritual who carried cross in his younger days, told Reuters. “But, it has been our tradition for decades and we have to honor it.”

In nearby Angeles City, bloody gashes from repeated strikes of whips could be seen on the backs of devotees as they walked barefoot along the streets, believing that their sacrifice would somehow grant salvation for their sins.

Devotees, begin the ritual by tying a rope around their arms and legs and inflicting wounds on their backs with a blade marching for about four to five hours under a scorching sun.

Carlito Santos, a pastor at a local Methodist Church, said the practice cannot be easily relinquished as it has already been embedded in the local culture.

“It is easy to change these religious practices by asking these devotees to refrain from practicing it, but, because of culture and tradition, it does not always work,” he said.

Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, spokesman for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said the Church has discouraged the practices, describing them as “inappropriate”.

“What happens here is that we want God to grant us what we wish for,” Quitorio told Reuters, saying it is enough for true Catholics to pray, fast and give alms during the Lenten season.

Over 80 percent of Filipinos practice the Catholic religion.

(Reporting By Roli Ng, Peter Blaza, Krystine Antonio and Camille Elvina; Writing by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Ed Lane)