Little Richard dies

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Little Richard, one of the original rock ‘n’ rollers, has died from bone cancer at age 87. Richard Wayne Penniman wasn’t that little at 177 cm or close to 5 feet 10 inches, but he was small and skinny as a kid and his family called him Lil’ Richard. He shot to fame in 1955 with ‘Tutti Fruitti’ around the same time as other rock singers became famous including Elvis Presley, Billy Haley and Chuck Berry. Then came ‘Long Tall Sally’ in 1956 and then 15 hit singles in under three years. Imagine that today!

He was perhaps the first in the modern era to have long hair, something copied by others such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones by the mid 1960s. He was also perhaps the first to wear plenty of make-up, another thing copied by many who followed him. And he was openly gay. The Beatles were the support band for some Little Richard concerts around 1962 and he taught them how to sing his songs. Many bands recorded Little Richard songs including the Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Jimi Hendrix played in Little Richard’s band in 1964 and 1965.

Little Richard left rock ‘n’ roll in late 1957 and decided to become religious while on tour in Australia. He felt that angels had been holding up his plane when it developed engine problems and he had seen a fireball in the sky after a concert (later confirmed to be Sputnik 1). Back in the US, he enrolled in a theology course and travelled across the country with his Little Richard Evangelistic Team in 1958. Next year he married Ernestine Harvin. He became a very good gospel singer and some of his songs charted in the US and the UK. He was persuaded to tour Europe in 1962 and got booed when he sang gospel songs. Next night he launched into ‘Long Tall Sally’ and the crowd went mad. Little Richard was back as a rock ‘n’ roll singer.

He didn’t do as well second time around as pop music had changed direction with the Beatles and the Mersey sound, and he experienced plenty of ups and downs. By 1972 Little Richard was on the rock ‘n’ roll revival circuit but he suffered voice problems and was an alcoholic and a drug addict. In 1977, he went back to evangelism.

Reemerging in 1984, he became a successful actor and had some more songs in the hit parade. He continued to be quite active on television and in films, and kept singing, including his old classics at concerts and some children’s songs by the 1990s. In the 2000s he did a lot of recording, including work on a number of tribute albums, and touring. He had a hip replacement but continued to tour, being on stage for an hour and a half in Florida in 2012 aged 79, and headlining in a rockabilly weekend in Las Vegas in 2013. He retired in September of that year but still made the odd appearance on stage and television and at functions until 2019.

Bob Dylan’s ambition in 1959 was to join Little Richard. Jimi Hendrix said in 1966, “I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice.” Michael Jackson said he had been a huge influence. Paul McCartney idolised him, as did James Brown and Otis Redding. Others to be heavily influenced were John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Elton John, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Cliff Richard, Rod Stewart, John Fogerty, Prince and many others. In 1969, Elvis Presley called him “the greatest”.

More on climate change

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Here’s some more stuff on climate change that I’ve posted to Facebook and Quora in my perhaps futile attempts to explain a few facts to the deniers …

For a start, it’s no good going with the raw, unaltered temperature data. The raw data needs to be adjusted. Weather stations move, usually from warm central urban areas (heat islands) to airports in cooler spots on the outskirts. Thus the older temperatures are adjusted down to eliminate the heat island effect. Also, changes in temperature measuring instruments and methods have generally resulted in lower and more accurate readings in more recent times. In the 19th century, instruments were typically attached to walls of buildings and protected from the sun by metal screens but this had the effect of pushing up temperatures. Sometimes, a thermometer was simply placed on the wall of a tin building, thus the very high temperatures often recorded in this period. A little later, instruments were often put in gardens away from buildings, but infrared radiation from the ground could push temperatures up on calm sunny days. The instruments used to measure temperature also change, such as from analogue to digital which is more accurate. Scientists need actual temperatures and actual changes in temperature rather than just looking at thermometers. All the adjusted data is there and so is the raw data for anyone to analyse and debate. This NASA graph shows how actual global temperatures have risen: https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/.

There are all sorts of deniers whether it’s anthropogenic global warming, round earth, vaccination, AIDS, smoking causing cancer, evolution, the Holocaust, man landing on the moon, various other historical events.

There are various controllers of climate. The sun is the most important one. Others include greenhouse gases, obliquity, albedo. Solar activity has been falling slightly since the 1950s. Obliquity is gradually decreasing as we head to another glacial period in several tens of thousands of years’ time. Albedo is probably having a slight cooling effect. In contrast, the increase in greenhouse gases is pushing temperatures up rapidly.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas (numerous experiments and observations have been conducted since the 19th century) and thus heats the earth. Without CO2, the earth’s surface would be at least 30 degrees Celsius cooler. The more of it, the warmer the surface. Vostok ice core data showed the swings in CO2 levels of about 180 ppm and 280 ppm between glacial and interglacial periods. And CO2 changes come first, then temperatures, contrary to what deniers would like to believe. After a glacial period, it is changes in earth’s orbit that initiate warming, not CO2. As the oceans warm, CO2 is released from there into the atmosphere. The increase in atmospheric CO2 (it rose from about 180 ppm to 280 ppm between glacial and interglacial periods) caused temperatures to increase as CO2 is a greenhouse gas. About 90% of the warming happened after the increase in atmospheric CO2. Also, a warmer climate means more evaporation and therefore more water vapour in the atmosphere. Water vapour is also a greenhouse gas.

Other factors such as solar activity and obliquity have been far more important determinants of climate throughout history. But it all happened naturally. Industrialisation has meant that CO2 has become by far the most important determinant. Yes, warmer is bad. What’s happening is that we are emitting about twice as much CO2 as the environment can absorb so it builds up in the atmosphere about 100 times faster than coming out of the last glacial period, pushing temperatures up at least 10 times faster than coming out of that period. Temperatures are up a degree since the 1970s (when many developing countries got going with industrialisation, adding their CO2 emissions to those of advanced economies) and temperatures are expected to rise another couple of degrees by 2100. The rapid climate change we’re seeing has brought about a steady increase in extreme weather all around the world: hot, cold, wet, dry, stormy, windy. The number of extreme weather events is up fourfold since 1980 and costs in real terms are also way up: https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-global-catastrophes. Climate change increases the risk of fires starting by lightning; see, for example: Climate change increasing risks of lightning-ignited fires. The bushfires this season in Australia are unprecedented and have been caused mainly by lightning. There are serious health issues and species vulnerability and other problems with rapid anthropogenic global warming. Also, there is accelerating ice melt and accelerating sea level rise. Temperatures rose by five degrees coming out of the last glacial period and sea levels rose by 400 feet. So if we get a temperature rise of three degrees, coastal cities and vast areas of farmland will go under at some stage. We’re not all going to die in 10 years’ time or 100 years or probably 1000 years. But it won’t be much fun being around in several hundred years’ time.

Virtually all climate scientists have concluded that we have global warming and that it’s our fault. No scientific organisation takes a contrary view, nor does hardly any government except the Trump regime and Brazil. The science is settled. For quite some time, climate scientists have been mainly researching the effects of this warming and what we can do to try and avoid the worst of it such as shifting to renewables (solar and wind are now cheaper than coal), rather than trying to show we have anthropogenic warming which has already been done.

Don’t listen to the deniers. They haven’t got a clue. Numerous experiments and observations since the 19th century show that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. What is happening is that we are releasing about twice as much CO2 emissions as the environment can absorb so it builds up in the atmosphere about 100 times faster than coming out of the last glacial period and this is pushing temperatures up at least 10 times faster than coming out of that period. There is nothing else that can be causing it. Solar activity has declined slightly since the 1950s. Volcanic activity is low and accounts for less than 1% of human emissions. Albedo is giving a long term cooling effect. Obliquity is decreasing and is also resulting in long term cooling.

Virtually all climate scientists agree with have serious anthropogenic climate change. No scientific organisation takes a contrary view. Luckily, most of the politicians around the world agree with the scientists and the scientific organisations and are taking action to help mitigate the problem such as the shift to renewables.

Who’s getting wealthy from climate science? Nearly all the scientists are employed by universities and by government organisations and are on fixed salaries. But I presume you’re referring to Al Gore. He made his money selling a TV network, from Apple shares, from being a politician and also some from his documentary. The serious money is in big oil, coal and gas which pay heaps of money to right wing think tanks and the like who then pay money to various climate deniers to produce rubbish papers, blogs, etc.

All I can do is give you the facts. If you choose to believe something else, that’s up to you. I am familiar with the science sites and the denier sites and it’s abundantly clear who is correct. If you don’t understand or accept the fact that a number of large surveys of the literature have found 96–98% agreement with anthropogenic global warming, try the polls of the climate scientists themselves and you’ll find a similar level of agreement that we are causing the warming.

These people spend years studying climate science and then make a career of it as they are interested in and good at science rather than to try and fudge results to get more money or something. No one is going to give anyone more money if their research finds that we have anthropogenic global warming. Besides, nearly all the research these days is into the effects of global warming and what we can do to alleviate it. Also, any errors will be found during the peer review process or by deniers, but on the rare occasion some denier has got stuck into a climate scientist, the denier has been found to be incorrect.

You present no case for the denier side, basically I suppose because there isn’t one. Denier stuff contains faulty science, selective data and information, and wrong conclusions. More than 90% of denier papers are from right wing think tanks funded by big oil, coal and gas and are rubbish. Deniers seem to be an endangered species with most remaining deniers being in the US. Even in the US, the latest Gallup poll shows that 66% of residents say the increase in temperatures over the last century is more due to us than natural causes. How about you put forward a case for the denier side and I’ll show you where it falls down.

Australia’s bushfires 2019-20

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We are having the worst bushfire or wildfire season ever here in Australia in 2019-20. The underlying cause is of course global warming. We’ve just had our hottest and driest year on record and when it’s hot and dry (and windy), the fires will be worse. But those on the political right are inventing other reasons such as Greens policies and arson.

The Greens have never been in government in Australia at federal or state level. There are about 100 Greens councillors in local government out of many thousands of councillors across about 540 councils in Australia. We have had a centre-right government at the federal level since 2013. The states are a mixture of left and right governments but New South Wales, which has been hit hardest by the fires, has had a centre-right government since 2011.

The right say that Greens policies have prevented fuel load reduction. But burning off has been ongoing for decades. Opportunities to reduce fuel load have become less with longer bushfire seasons and hot dry weather. Reducing fuel loads will work okay in normal weather but not in extreme weather like we’ve seen recently. Also, reducing fuel loads is less effective in thickly wooded areas.

The following article in The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/a-surprising-answer-to-a-hot…, states: “Our research has shown controlled burning was likely to have reduced the area later burnt by bushfires in only four of 30 regions examined in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT. Evidence from a range of studies demonstrates fuel loads can significantly modify fire behaviour under benign weather conditions. But reduced fuel loads do little for bushfire mitigation under extreme fire weather and in times of drought.”

Arson is certainly a factor in bushfires but it has been exaggerated in social media. Bots and trolls have been spreading misinformation about arson. The right grab this and retweet it and spread it around, including by Donald Trump Jr. There was a figure of 183 arrests for arson this bushfire season. But the figure is totally wrong as explained here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/08/police-contradict-claims-spread-online-exaggerating-arsons-role-in-australian-bushfires.

Some fires are deliberately lit, some accidentally lit and some happen naturally such as by lightning. Most of the deliberately lit fires are started by kids mucking around and also by adult males with depression, alcohol, drugs, relationship breakdown, job loss, etc problems. But as the Guardian article states: “‘There is currently no intelligence to indicate that the fires in East Gippsland and the North East have been caused by arson or any other suspicious behaviour,’ a Victoria police spokeswoman said.” When it’s hot, dry and windy, the fires are more likely to be larger and last longer.

Daylight saving time to end in Europe, UK?

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The European Union has voted to end daylight saving time and the twice a year clock change although the plan to end it has been extended from 2019 to 2021. Time could become quite messy as some countries want to stay with standard time and others want permanent summer time. The UK is looking at this too and I was asked by a House of Lords committee to put in a submission as to what the UK should do. I had written a 400 page book on daylight saving time, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy, available at Amazon and other outlets. The committee was also interested in the Queensland (where I am), Australia experience with daylight saving as the state doesn’t have it while most other Australian states do, so there’s a time difference for six months of the year. Here’s my submission to the committee (which I have permission via email of 17 October 2019 to publicise or publish as explained in a Call for Evidence attached to an email of 5 August):

Submission dated 6 September 2019 to the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee into the EC’s proposal to end seasonal changes in time, by Chris Pearce, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, author of the 400 page ebook The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy, covering the history of daylight saving time around the world.

1.      I think it would be better for the UK to align with its main Western European trading partners in terms of having or not having seasonal time changes. I live in the state of Queensland, Australia, which doesn’t have daylight saving. States to the south, including New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, have daylight saving. The result is that Queensland is on the same time as those other states for about half the year and an hour behind them for the other half of the year. Twice a year around changeover time, there are always TV segments, newspaper articles, blogs, posts, petitions to the government, etc in Queensland for and against daylight saving, involving a lot of bickering between the two groups.

2.      The time difference for half a year tends to cause a lot of inconvenience, particularly along the state boundary at the southern end of the Gold Coast, a city of over 500,000 people. Many people live on one side of the border and go to work or school or the shops on the other side (and families will often have different members on different times). They have to change their watches several times a day. People are often too early or late for their bus or train, appointments, meetings, church services, the shops, movies or shows, television programs, sporting events, etc. It’s inconvenient for tourists too as they might be too early or late for a plane flight, a coach tour or other tourism activity.

3.      This time difference also causes inconvenience for business and government as well as extra costs and lost sales for businesses. When times are an hour different between two adjacent states (or countries) on the same longitude, common operating hours are as little as four hours due to different start and finish times and a different lunch hour. This tends to restrict the time for phone calls, meetings and other business although it’s probably somewhat less of a problem these days with flexible working hours and so much business done electronically. Tourism operators in Queensland say they lose a lot of business as darkness falls quite early in summer at around 7pm compared with around 9pm in Victoria and Tasmania. Problems similar to some of these could emerge between Northern Ireland (and also Great Britain) and Ireland if they have different time schemes.

4.      The only study I’m aware of that estimated the costs of the time difference in terms of higher costs and lost sales between Queensland and the southern states was one done by the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland in 2013. It surveyed 2300 businesses across the state and concluded that the time difference for six months cost firms $4.35 billion a year. This was based on the sum of figures given by the businesses. However, this figure is derived from information given by only a little over a quarter of businesses, the proportion who said they were disadvantaged by the time difference. This fell to about a tenth of businesses in regional Queensland, which is almost all of the state geographically but only about a third of its population. Business groups are often asking the state government to do an in-depth study on the costs of the state not having daylight saving time, although there is no sign of the government wanting to spend the time and money on this.

5.      Basically, the populated south-east of the state (which includes Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast) wants daylight saving time and the regions don’t. Queensland is very large and daylight saving isn’t suitable in the tropical north and the west due to the heat, dark mornings, and the small difference between length of day and night through the year. Overall, the majority of the population wants it but neither major political party has daylight saving on its agenda as there would be a lot of votes and seats to lose in the regions and probably not much to be gained in the south-east of the state. Views against daylight saving tend to be very strong in the regional areas while views in favour of daylight saving in the south-east tend to be less strong. Daylight saving is also unsuitable in the Northern Territory and in much of Western Australia which has a large tropical area. There is little or no sign of the other states (New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory) wanting to abandon daylight saving, so the time differences over the summer months are likely to continue indefinitely. Australia is very large and has a number of time zones anyway. I think the country is quite used to this, so the different policies towards daylight saving time probably don’t add as much drama as they might in some other countries and regions of the world.

6.      Some of the disadvantages of a different time scheme in Queensland compared with other Australian states would probably be evident in the UK if it continued with daylight saving. Possible time confusion for international travellers comes to mind. Also, conducting business with offices or other outlets in several countries may be more difficult too.

7.      Daylight saving time does seem to be less useful now than decades past. Energy savings are minimal these days as people put on electric heating or air-conditioning in the morning, largely negating energy savings in early evening. Most of the benefit is perhaps in tourism, sporting events and other outdoor activities due to the lighter evenings. Health studies, however, often find negative impacts, and farming communities have never liked the change but work by the sun in any case.

8.      I think the UK should undertake consultation across the community and also conduct a representative sample survey to determine if people want to continue with daylight saving time and if not, whether they want to stay on summer time or winter (standard) time all year. The result of a 2019 government poll in France found that well over 80% of people wanted to abandon the twice yearly clock change while around 60% of people wanted daylight saving time all year. The 2018 EC poll found a similar percentage of people didn’t want the clock change. Neither poll was a sample survey (people with stronger views are more likely to participate, perhaps boosting the percentage who want no clock change) although people do seem fed up with the clock change. I’ll be surprised if many European countries go with permanent winter time although a few northern countries might.

9.      A 2018 sample survey in Ireland found that 67% of people wanted to stop changing the clocks (88% in EC poll) and that 81% would prefer year round summer time to winter or standard time. It would make little sense for the UK to be on a different time scheme to Ireland, especially for Northern Ireland. There will be disadvantages with permanent summer time of course, such as some very late winter mornings and in Scotland too, with children going to school in the dark and other negative issues.

10.    In summary, I think the UK will need to align as much as possible with time schemes in other European countries, especially with its major trading partners and with Ireland, and to do this regardless of Brexit. There will be enough problems with Brexit (if indeed it eventually goes ahead) without the UK being out of sync on the clock too (other than the one hour standard time difference between the UK and the Continent, as now). This might make summer time as the new standard time a necessity. As the EC 2018 directive on summer time notes (based on a 2014 ICF study), “asynchronous arrangements would generate higher costs, greater inconvenience and lower productivity in the internal market for goods and services”.

Climate deniers still at it

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I was in England, my birthplace, for three weeks and basically offline. It was good to see the place again before it goes down the Brexit gurgler. Meanwhile, climate deniers are still busily trying to deny reality: that we have serious anthropogenic global warming and it’s our doing. The kids have got it right with their marches even if the deniers haven’t.

A guy on a Facebook page here is Australia was going on about the ‘evil’ UN, all sorts of nonsense about CO2, and how our government is guilty of child abuse as our schools don’t teach climate denial. I fired off the following four replies to his rubbish.

–Climate change was natural until the industrial age. Now it’s main influence is our CO2 emissions. We are releasing twice as much CO2 as the natural environment can absorb, thus the build up of CO2 and rapid increase in temperatures, at least 10 times faster than coming out of the last glacial period. Yes, CO2 was much higher in the past such as 500 million years ago but solar activity was 4% lower. CO2 levels were falling due to carbon being sucked into the ocean and also due to mountain building and rock weathering. Because of this and the lower solar activity, the CO2 threshold for glaciation was about 3000 ppm.

–CO2 has a greater effect than water vapour on temperatures. Water vapour is in the atmosphere a short time. CO2 can last hundreds or even thousands of years. Also, the extra water vapour in the atmosphere is due to the extra warmth caused by more CO2. Temperatures peaked around 5000-10000 years ago after the glacial period and overall gradually fell after that, until last century. They have shot up with industrialisation. They are supposed to be still gradually decreasing as we head to the next glacial period in several tens of thousands of years time as earth’s obliquity gradually decreases.

–Your understanding of CO2 is lacking. Yes, CO2 absorbs virtually all the heat it can. It’s also true that extra CO2 won’t absorb too much more heat at the earth’s surface. But CO2 also radiates heat and does this in random directions including back to earth. Higher up, the atmosphere is much thinner and unsaturated although there is still plenty of CO2 up there but not much water vapour. This high altitude CO2 absorbs some of the heat that would otherwise have been heading for space and radiates some of it back to the surface. For a fuller explanation, see http://www.realclimate.org/…/a-saturated-gassy-argument/. Water vapour is also a greenhouse gas. Extra CO2 causes higher temperatures which means more evaporation, thus there is more water vapour in the air too. There is about 4% more water vapour than 40 years ago.

Solar activity has been falling since about 1960 and is not the cause of the higher temperatures we’ve seen in recent decades. Nor is volcanic activity which is low these days by historical standards. Besides, our emissions are currently about 100 times volcanic emissions over a year.

Yes, CO2 is essential and all that. Problem at the moment is, as I said before, we are releasing about twice as much CO2 as the environment can absorb naturally so it builds up in the atmosphere causing temperatures to increase.

–Virtually every country in the world is a member of the UN. Climate change is a small part of its work. Most of its work is in the areas of peace, security, human rights, aid and development. It became involved in environmental issues in 1972. It set up the IPCC in 1988 to monitor climate change research as many scientists had found plenty of evidence for anthropogenic global warming by then and AGW came to be regarded as a worldwide issue. From 1997, the IPCC set emissions reductions targets for each country. The IPCC doesn’t research or monitor climate change itself but assesses the literature. Thousands of scientists are involved in this. The scientists write and review reports and get consensus from governments of countries participating in this process, which is about 120 of them. It has nothing to do with the “rich and elite”. And no one is attacking kids although the kids (and the scientists) seem to know a lot more about climate science than deniers.

Climate change is real

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I’ve been sparring with a climate change denier on Quora but he is totally blind to reality and just dismisses all evidence of global warming out of hand. Here are some extracts from my latest couple of posts to him, which of course he dismisses.

We’re in unchartered territory with climate change. When temperatures are rising ten times faster than coming out of the last glacial period and the cause is clearly us, there are no precedents on which to base future temperatures, ice quantities and sea levels. We know that CO2 levels are increasing. I think even the deniers accept this. But you can’t have increases in CO2 levels without increases in temperatures for too long unless other factors are playing a major role, and they are not. Solar activity has declined slightly since the 1950s. Volcanic activity is low. The albedo effect, ocean currents, and earth’s axis tilt and orbit have all had little or no effect. Indeed, albedo, tilt and orbit all have only a long term effect which is currently one of cooling. Changes in ocean currents are more a result of climate change rather than a cause of it.

We are emitting an enormous amount of extra CO2 into the atmosphere. This causes temperatures to rise, which causes ice to melt, which causes sea levels to rise. All three of these things are happening; there is nothing surer. We just don’t know the extent of these things into the future. All three are accelerating now. Various projections have been made usually with a fairly wide range. We know that temperatures rose five degrees and sea levels over 400 feet coming out of the last glacial period. So sea level rises are hardly going to stop at a foot or two or three this time, given that temperatures are already up a degree or more and are accelerating and that ice melt is also accelerating. Most CO2 hangs around in the atmosphere for 20-200 years while some is there for up to several hundred thousand years. Therefore, rather than taking the risk, the world is doing something about it by shifting from fossil fuels to renewables albeit slowly.

Detailed global temperature records go back to about 1850. They get better and more detailed all the time and were quite reasonable by 1880. This is where NASA and others start their annual tracking of the adjusted temperature data (it has to be adjusted because weather stations move, usually from centre of town to airports in cooler green areas on the outskirts; and temperature measuring methods and instruments change). See https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/. Note the sharp increase from the 1970s onwards. This is when developing countries got going with industrialisation, adding their CO2 emissions to those of advanced economies.

We are not bereft of weather stations. Key aspects of the atmosphere, land and ocean surface, including temperatures, are recorded every day by more than 10,000 weather stations, 1000 upper air stations, 7000 ships, 1000 drifting and moored buoys, hundreds of weather radars, many weather satellites plus 3000 specially equipped commercial airplanes. Observations are quality controlled by the World Meteorological Organization.

We have good indicators of temperatures before 1850 through earlier readings such as daily UK temperature readings going back to 1772 and monthly back to 1659. Yes, we’ve had satellite data since the 1970s and although this doesn’t measure temperature directly, inferences show an upward temperature trend. Other indicators of temperature include tree growth rings, coral growth, borehole temperatures, sediment in oceans and lakes, cave deposits, fossils, glacier length, ice core samples, and others. From these, we can get pretty good records of temperatures going back 2000 years. This graph shows the results of 11 different scientific studies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_temperature_record#/media/File:2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png. Paleoclimatology uses most of these temperature indicators to go back much further. This graph is by Glen Fergus and uses various sources to go back 500 million years: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleoclimatology#/media/File:All_palaeotemps.svg. It is probably broadly accurate.

No one is exonerated from reducing carbon. Europe has done best over the last few decades while the US has reduced its too. They have increased in most other countries. After some years of little increase in world emissions, they went up quite a bit in 2018 by about 2-3%. US emissions rose 2.6%, China up 2.2%, India up 7.0% and the EU down 2.0%. But on a per capita basis, the US is way ahead with about 16.5 tons a year, China 7.5 tons, EU about 7 tons and India 1.7 tons. In terms of total CO2 emissions in 2016, China had 10.2 gigatons, US 5.3 gigatons, EU 3.5 gigatons and India 2.4 gigatons.

The negative effects of global warming far outweigh the positive effects. Here is a good summary: https://skepticalscience.com/global-warming-positives-negatives-basic.htm. Climate change is likely to disrupt agriculture due to worse flooding and drought. Deaths due to heatwaves are expected to be five times more than winter deaths prevented. Malaria and diseases from mosquitoes are expected to increase. Ice melt will increase resulting in loss of habitat and water for drinking and agriculture plus sea levels rises will affect food bowl areas and coastal cities. Acidification of oceans will affect the entire ocean food chain. Climate change may result in greener forests but negative effects include “further growth of oxygen poor ocean zones, contamination or exhaustion of fresh water, increased incidence of natural fires, extensive vegetation die-off due to droughts, increased risk of coral extinction, decline in global photoplankton, changes in migration patterns of birds and animals, changes in seasonal periodicity, disruption to food chains and species loss.” Also, we are releasing about twice as much CO2 as the environment can absorb naturally anyway (and would require many trillions of extra trees to fix), thus the build up of CO2 in the atmosphere and the higher temperatures. Climate change could also see mass migration of people (climate refugees) affected by low lying agricultural land and cities, as well as disruptions to global trade, transport, energy supplies, labour markets, banking, finance, investment and insurance. Developing countries could be fighting over water, energy and food, adding to their existing problems.

A number of large studies of the climate science literature plus large surveys of the scientists themselves have found 90-100% agreement (commonly around 97%) with anthropogenic global warming. Surveys of the general population find that a large majority of people agree with the science rather than the denier stuff and it’s not hard to see why. I have been through hundreds of denier sites, pages, articles over many years and have yet to find one that I couldn’t pull apart. People are pretty smart these days and have an abundance of information at their fingertips.

Ice is shrinking at an accelerating rate. Here’s an interesting graph from the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_sea_ice_decline?fbclid=IwAR0cuDqOLguA2ja9n1C2__oljoO8CH7Q1HvYlyA8rP_kKM7PZtTblDo5aT8#/media/File:Arctic-death-spiral.png. Peak Arctic ice volumes (April) have fallen steadily from about 33,000 cubic km in 1979 to 22,000 cubic km in 2017 or a fall of about a third. Minimum ice levels (September) have fallen more, from 17,000 cubic km to less than 5000 cubic km, or by more than 70%. And the decline in both winter and summer ice volumes is accelerating as the graph clearly shows. More on the Arctic: https://community.windy.com/topic/8382/animated-history-of-arctic-sea-ice-during-the-satellite-era. Note the satellite images showing decreases in ice. The Antarctic is losing about 250 billion tonnes of ice a year, up from 40 billion tonnes a year in the 1980s and the loss is accelerating. Greenland is losing about 200 cubic km of ice a year.

Sea levels rise due to ice melt and also because warmer water expands (see, for example: https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/) and they are accelerating. If we don’t reduce our CO2 emissions, sea levels could rise by eight feet by 2100 and fifty feet by 2300 according to this study: https://phys.org/news/2018-10-global-sea-meters.html which is typical of many studies. Under moderate emissions, we might contain sea level rises to a couple of feet by 2100 and ten feet by 2300.

Ascension Day

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Today, May 30, is Ascension Day in 2019. In Christianity, Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after his resurrection and this was witnessed by 11 apostles. Ascension Day is regarded as the fourth most important day on the Christian calendar. First is Christmas, celebrating Jesus’ birth, followed by Good Friday, remembering his death, then Easter Sunday, celebrating the resurrection, and then Ascension Day, commemorating his rise to heaven. Along with Christmas and Easter, the ascension is one of the three major feasts in Christianity and dates back to the fourth century.

Three thousand years ago, David, the second king of Israel, prophesied that Jesus would ascend to heaven and sit on the right-hand side of God. This is recorded in Psalm 110:1. Out of the 150 psalms, it is the one referred to most often in the New Testament. This alone suggests that the ascension is quite significant in Christianity. There are a number of other references to the ascension in the New Testament, attesting to the importance of the event.

One of the earliest mentions is in the Epistles, where Paul reports that Jesus is in heaven (Romans 10:6). Another early mention is in Acts (1:1-11), which states that Jesus presented himself to the apostles 40 days after the resurrection and was then taken up on a cloud and out of sight. Luke (24:31,50-53) believes Jesus was taken up on the same day as the resurrection. In Matthew (26:64), Jesus says he will be sitting next to God up in heaven. Mark 16:19 states that Jesus was received into heaven and sat beside God. John 14:12 and 20:17 refer to Jesus going back to his father. First Peter 3:21-22 declares that Jesus has gone to heaven and is with God. According to Ephesians 4:7-13, he rose above the heavens. 1 Timothy 3:16 has him “taken up in glory”. Stephen, in Acts 7:55-60, saw Jesus in heaven standing next to God.

The ascension is clearly referred to in the Nicene Creed put together by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE where about 300 bishops from throughout the Roman Empire discussed and agreed upon various christological issues. The original creed states that Jesus “ascended into heaven”. At the next ecumenical council, the First Council of Constantinople, in 381 CE, the wording was revised to read that he “ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father”. Modern accounts are essentially the same as the ancient versions.

These words are also contained in the Apostles’ Creed, a further indication of the significance of the ascension in Christianity. Line six of the original 12 line creed states in Latin that Jesus “ascendit ad caelos, sedet ad dexteram Patris omnipotentis”. Part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church includes this creed and says at line six: “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” The wording is virtually the same as that contained in the creeds of other Christian churches, including the Anglican Church’s Book of Common Prayer and also the Common Worship, the Presbyterian Church, the Lutheran Church and the United Methodist Church. Indeed, the ascension forms an important part of Christian liturgy, or regular pattern of worship, in all Christian churches, both eastern and western.

According to Christianity, the fact that Jesus ascended to heaven means he is Lord and has complete authority (Matthew 28:18 and Ephesians 1:20-23). At Pentecost, or the descent of the Holy Spirit, Peter talks about the ascension and that Israel should know that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:32-36). Further, Jesus was responsible for the Pentecost (Matthew 3:11 and Acts 1:5, 2:33). After the ascension, Jesus bestowed on his disciples the power to know God’s thoughts and to be able to make prophecies (Ephesians 4:10-11). Because the disciples saw Jesus physically ascend, they expect him to return as a visible being.

The ascension is important enough for many countries to declare Ascension Day a public holiday. These include many European countries, such as France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland, as well as Indonesia and Vanuatu. In Germany, Father’s Day is also celebrated on this day. Ascension Day is important in many countries where it is not a public holiday. In the United States, for example, special services are arranged on this day, often involving several churches. Cathedral choirs are sometimes combined for a Eucharist specific to the occasion.

(This is an edited version of an article I wrote called ‘The significance of Ascension Day in Christianity’ and posted to www.helium.com now gone.)

Why I tend to vote left of centre

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(originally published to Bubblews writing site, now gone)

In my view, political parties on the right or at centre right tend to support short term profits and other business objectives whereas the left or centre left supports the long term goals of a fair and prosperous society for all.

The struggles of ordinary people go back thousands of years. Protests over food prices and wages gathered momentum in the 18th century. The gatherings and marches were called riots by the authorities and of course trade unions of any sort were illegal.

During the industrial revolution, pay and conditions remained very poor. Businesses could basically do what they liked, with scant regard for the general population or environment. Education of children was put on hold while they worked long hours in factories and the general health of the population was poor.

Things gradually improved during the 19th century. Labour started to be allowed to organise. Pay and conditions improved, very slowly. This continued in the 20th century and the labour movement pushed for pensions etc. Various other improvements were made.

We even had labour governments. These seemed to move society forward rather than just looking after business. Today we have a complex system of government that includes extensive policies on education, health, transport, working conditions, social welfare, income support, safety, the environment, the arts, and so on.

It is unlikely many of these things would have happened anywhere near the extent that they have without pressure from ordinary people, often organising into trade unions. The outcome has been that society is a much wealthier and fairer place, enabling business to expand greatly, something that wouldn’t have happened in a society where the general population was downtrodden. They simply wouldn’t have had the money to buy the enormous range of goods and services produced by business today.

Parties to the left of centre are about the ongoing movement towards a better society for all and that includes business. They are often accused of spending too much money, but evidence suggests that economic conditions determine deficits and surpluses rather than whether the party in government is left or right of centre.

 

Getting ahead in the workforce

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After being on both sides of the interview table quite a number of times, I think the main determinant in getting ahead in the workforce is looking, sounding and acting the part. I’ve said a few times that if I spoke to a group of people in the workplace for a few minutes about some non-work related issue and then spoke to each one individually for a minute or two, I think I could figure out who was in charge in most cases. Maybe confidence comes into it sometimes and extrovert versus introvert, but overall I think it often comes down to judging a book by its cover.

Relevant experience and the amount of it often seems to be a distant second. As for qualifications, you can just about forget them in many or most cases, or that’s what I found in the public sector and real world; it might differ a bit in the university sector, or at least on the academic side.

The result, I think, is that you get some atrocious examples of people being pushed up the corporate ladder who really don’t have much idea. I have seen quite a few examples in both the real world and the public sector.

I think men have an advantage over women in that the former seem to have more leeway for being eccentric, unwavering in their views, showing anger, being a bit rough around the edges, and being unconventional. I don’t think women can get away with as much and seem to have to be more on the straight and narrow or risk getting offside with staff and colleagues and accused of being aggressive, unfair, strange, whatever. Maybe people expect women managers to fit into some sort of stereotype far more than they expect with men.

I think women are more likely to listen to other viewpoints. For men, it often seems okay to be a bull in a china shop. Somehow, I think this is often construed as men being more assertive, decisive, etc. and perhaps, rightly or wrongly, seen as the better manager.

(I wrote and posted this as a comment to an article, “Gap or trap? Confidence backlash is the real problem for women”, at theconversation.com here in Australia back in June 2014.)

 

The start of daylight saving time in the UK and Germany in WWI

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This extract from my book The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy is from the start of chapter 6 Wartime Imperatives …

While sport and other outdoor activities were often the reasons people put forward for wanting daylight saving time in the years before World War I, the potential for fuel savings in wartime became the overriding motive for a time change by the mid 1910s. In the House of Commons on 16 February 1916, Basil Peto, member for Devizes, Wiltshire, enquired of the need to conserve oil and gas for Britain’s war effort. More questions were asked about saving time and power a few weeks later on 7 March. Prime minister Herbert Asquith held firm in his objection to altering the clocks, pointing out that other policies to save energy were already in place:

“The joint effect of the darkening of the streets and the early closing of places where intoxicants are sold has probably contributed more towards shortening the interval between sunset and bedtime than would the adoption of Central European Time as the standard time during the summer.”[1]

While England continued to debate the issue, the German Empire was doing the same. In 1912, Henry Böttinger, industrialist and member of the Prussian House of Lords, proposed a daylight saving system where the working day would start and finish earlier reducing demand for artificial light. The Conference of Chambers of Commerce advocated daylight saving and a member of the Lords proposed a bill in 1913. The Enabling Act 1914 was put through the German parliament, the Bundestag, on 4 August, a week after the start of the war, and this Act allowed the government to implement various economic policies in wartime, such as food rationing, asset seizures and time changes.

A British blockade of Germany from 1914 cut off imports of all sorts of goods, including petroleum and paraffin. And local coal supplies were needed to produce electricity for weapons and other industries and gas for city lighting. The country suffered a fuel shortage by 1915. It knew that redirecting fuel from domestic and normal business use into war industries would be to its advantage and that the quickest and easiest way to do this was to reduce the use of artificial light. The German Federal Council decided on 6 April 1916 to implement summer time, or Sommerzeit, as a wartime economy measure. The government estimated that the scheme would result in energy savings over the summer of 900 million marks. Clocks were wound forward an hour on Sunday 30 April at 11 p.m. and were to be put back an hour on Sunday 1 October at 1 a.m. The new time applied across most of the empire and included Germany itself, most of Poland, part of what is now the Czech Republic, and Kaliningrad.

For the first day or two, many people turned up for work at the wrong time and traffic was busy. But there was no serious opposition to the move, with most people either agreeing with the change or perhaps too scared not to agree. The government warned it would crack down on any firms found not operating on summer time. Some clothing shops included the new time in their advertising, announcing to the public that summer fashions could be bought an hour earlier. In the city of Bremen, households and businesses used less electricity and gas, and thus coal, but energy providers complained of a reduction in revenue of 40,000 marks, which the city made up by increasing income tax.

… [details of the start of daylight saving time in various European countries on both sides of the war.]

Meanwhile, at home, food prices rose while Britain had only six weeks of wheat left, and bread was a staple. Coal too was in short supply, with many miners having enlisted to fight in the war. On 4 May 1916, the War Saving Committee stressed the need to economise. Home secretary Herbert Samuel said that the government favoured daylight saving to conserve fuel. Also, the railways were strongly in support of the measure.

On 8 May 1916, after much discussion, member for Blackburn, Henry Norman, an advocate of daylight saving throughout its long and bumpy ride in the British Parliament, asked that a bill for the scheme be brought into the House of Commons. The motion was carried 170 votes to 2. Samuel introduced a Summer Time Bill the next day and it was read a second time on 10 May. Unlike previous bills, debate concentrated on economic issues rather than recreational advantages. He spoke of the coal shortage and the need to reduce artificial lighting and save fuel. Owen Philipps pointed out that ship builders would be able to work an extra hour and increase the country’s shipping capacity without fear of the night-time attacks of the German Zeppelin airships that had resulted in the death of around 550 British civilians up to May 1916.

Apart from Herbert Asquith, who still wasn’t interested in daylight saving, one of the bill’s few other detractors came from the House of Lords, where Lord Balfour of Burleigh called the bill ridiculous and absurd. As an example of a disadvantage, he asked what would happen if on 1 October a twin was born just before summer time ended and the clocks went back before the other twin was born. The births might be 10 minutes apart but the second twin would be born 50 minutes earlier in the eyes of the law and be deemed the elder. This “might conceivably affect the property and titles in that house”, Balfour said. But there wasn’t much he or other lords could do, even if a majority had been against the bill, as the Asquith government had abolished the power of the House of Lords to reject legislation when it passed the Parliament Act 1911.

The bill was approved on 15 May 1916 and royal assent obtained on 17 May. After eight years of bills and parliamentary debate, daylight saving time had become law, just over a week after the latest bill had been introduced. The Summer Time Act 1916 came into effect three days before Empire Day, on Sunday 21 May at 2 a.m. when clocks were put forward an hour, and would end on Sunday 1 October at 3 a.m. when they would be wound back an hour. The Act was enforceable each year for the duration of the war and applied to all public institutions, railways, post offices, police stations, banks, shops and other businesses in Great Britain and Ireland. The only exceptions were astronomy and navigation, where Greenwich Mean Time would continue to apply. In the end, the main reasons for the Act were arguably to save coal and to increase the hours available for work. The British overseas territory of Gibraltar had daylight saving for the same period as the United Kingdom.

The first day of daylight saving time was bright and sunny in London and elsewhere in England and people took advantage of the extra hour of light. Parks of the Office of Works and the London County Council didn’t close until dusk although many people were turned away from Kew Gardens as they closed by the same clock time as before. Tennis courts and bowling greens were open late. Evening concerts were able to start in May rather than waiting until June. Folk were seen dashing to hotels for a drink before closing time, forgetting they were open for another hour as their legislation was based on standard time. Bradford and Nottingham reported reduced gas use.

… [Further details of daylight saving time in the UK and Europe during World War I]

[1] Parliament of the United Kingdom, Hansard, House of Commons, 7 March 1916, at http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1916/mar/07/daylight-saving-bill

The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy is available from Amazon, Kobo Books, Google and Apple.

DST book cover