One of my favorite persons on Twitter is making a vow:
One month of enforced twitter silence imminent. (other than tweeting about new shit on my blog.)
— Robert Wilson (@CountCarbon) May 10, 2013
There are a couple of ways to interpret the story about a revoked ordinance in San Francisco that, as Reuters reports,
would have been the first in the United States to require [cell phone] retailers to warn consumers about potentially dangerous radiation levels.
Before it was reversed it was known as–get ready for it–the “right to know” ordinance. Sound familiar?
Here’s some reaction from a disappointed SF resident:
“This is just a terrible blow to public health,” Ellen Marks, an advocate for the measure, said outside the [city] supervisors’ chambers. She said her husband suffers from a brain tumor on the same side of his head to which he most often held his mobile phone.
Now, we could interpret this news as a victory for Big Cell Phone, since they fought against the proposal to warn consumers about the potential lethality of cell phones. Big Cell Phone doesn’t want you to know about a virtually non-existent risk to your health. Imagine that!
But wait a minute, about midway through the Reuters story, this line appears: Read More
The Guardian reports that Prince Charles is standing up for climate science and criticizing the forces of climate change denial.
If you know about the Prince’s GMO fear-mongering and falsehoods about GM crops and his dangerous promotion of alternative medicine (such as homeopathy), then you know he is not the best emissary for science. Indeed, one well-respected scientist has called him a “snake-oil salesman.” Read More
Sometimes you have to sit back and marvel when the Wall Street Journal and the loony internet fringe are indistinguishable. Last month, Mike Adams, whose special brand of crazy can be found at Natural News, wrote an article that was sufficiently whacked for it to be reproduced by Alex Jones’ Infowars.com. It starts off:
If you talk to the global warming crowd, carbon dioxide — CO2 — is the enemy of mankind. Any and all creation of CO2 is bad for the planet, we’re told, and its production must be strictly limited in order to save the world.
But what if that wasn’t true? What if CO2 were actually a planet-saving nutrient that could multiply food production rates and feed the world more nutritious, healthy plants?
I think you can see where that piece is going. Now let’s head over to a new op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, by Harrison Schmidt, a former astronaut and William Happer, a Princeton physicist. It starts off: Read More
If your concern is climate change, and you believe that slowing or preventing it is your fundamental priority, then nuclear power should be high up on the list for energy-production.
He was responding to a reader who castigated liberals for their dogmatic stance on nuclear power, fracking and genetically modified crops.
The exchange reminded me of Chris Mooney’s recent argument that conservatives are way more hostile to science than liberals. Mooney, being the author of a book called The Republican War on Science, is not exactly an impartial observer of this debate. Nor has his argument gone unchallenged. Read More
Kangaroo Scrotums are the New Victims of Global Warming
While reading this new piece from Vice magazine, I thought it was an Onion-like gag. I mean, really?
Climate change is a huge concern for many, many reasons: the ice caps are melting, droughts are sweeping the world, and mega-hurricanes are striking cities that have never before had to weather such storms. But it’s only recently that climate change has threatened Australia’s hilarious but substantial kangaroo nutsack trade. The hopping marsupials’ scrotums, which are crafted into souvenir bottle-openers and key rings, have made manufacturer John Kreuger, hereby known (by me) as the King of Ballsacks, hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Who would buy such a thing?! But there really seems to be a market and an actual “King of Ballsacks.” Read More
A long time ago, in the pre-blog era, I watched a TV debate on CNN between a newly minted U.S. Vice President and a quirky Texas businessman who, at one point during his extended 15 minutes of fame, was considered a serious presidential candidate.
In the span of 90 minutes, Al Gore sold wavering Americans on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and snuffed out Ross Perot’s political star. This was a major event 20 years ago. Weeks after the November debate in 1993, Congress ratified NAFTA and Perot, who by then was getting kookier by the day, never regained his footing, though he still won 8 percent of the popular vote when he ran for President again in 1996.
This is ancient history, especially when we consider all that has transpired since then. But the Gore/Perot debate spectacle yielded notable moments, including this one-liner from Gore that a UK correspondent picked up on: Read More
As it becomes increasingly evident that a switch from coal to natural gas is reducing energy-related carbon emissions in the United States–which is a net plus if you care about climate change– opponents of fracking find themselves being asked to choose between the lesser of two evils. That is a debate in of itself worth having.
Renewable energy can run the whole world. We know we have enough wind in the world to power the world five to ten times over. We have a technological solution for this.
We do? Which incantation do I recite to make this magical world appear? Read More
By now it has become clear, as British environmental writer Mark Lynas said in a speech this week at Cornell University, that controversy over GMOs
represents one of the greatest science communications failures of the past half-century. Millions, possibly billions, of people have come to believe what is essentially a conspiracy theory, generating fear and misunderstanding about a whole class of technologies on an unprecedentedly global scale.
What’s been most disconcerting to me is that smart environmentalists, food writers, and scholars perpetuate this fear and misunderstanding. Some of them are finally getting called out for this irresponsibility.
It is this group of media influentials, such as Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, and Marion Nestle, who I hope take the time to read Nature’s special issue on genetically modified (GM) crops, which, as the introduction puts it, “explores the messy middle ground.” Read More
Guest post by Ramez Naam.
Keith Kloor has graciously given me the opportunity to guest post here again. So let me cut to the chase:
I support GMOs. And we should label them. We should label them because that is the very best thing we can do for public acceptance of agricultural biotech. And we should label them because there’s absolutely nothing to hide.
Let me explain. First, so you don’t mistake me for a GMO-basher, let me introduce myself. I’m a computer scientist by training. I’m also the author of three books, all of which endorse the use of biotechnology to improve the human condition.
In the most recent of these, The Infinite Resource, I talk about the power of innovation to save the world. In between chapters on climate change and fresh water depletion, solar power and desalination, I make a forceful argument that genetically engineered crops and animals can help us grow more food, with better nutrition, and less impact on the planet.
I believe that. In the last two weeks I’ve written about the scientific consensus that GMOs are safe and the many reasons that advocates of organic food should love GMOs. And recently I went on MSNBC to make that case on national television.
In short, I believe in science, and I believe that science tells us that our currently approved GMOs are safe for humans and good for the planet, and that next generation GMOs will be even better.
So why label them?
The short answer is this: by fighting labeling, we’re feeding energy to the opponents of GMOs. We’re inducing more fear and paranoia of the technology, rather than less. We’re persuading those who might otherwise have no opinion on GMOs that there must be something to hide, otherwise, why would we fight so hard to avoid labeling? Read More