Daily Archives: March 24, 2010

UN: By 2050, 70% of world population to be crammed into poor, overcrowded, polluted urban corridors comprising a tiny fraction of habitable land

The State Of The World Cities report claims that urbanisation is ‘unstoppable’.

World’s largest cities are morphing into overcrowded ‘mega regions’ defined by poverty and pollution, UN report warns

Daily Mail | Mar 24, 2010

The world’s largest cities are merging into vast ‘mega regions’ which will be characterised by overcrowding, poverty and pollution, a new report warns.

The continuing growth of urban areas is likely to be one of the most significant factors affecting society over the next 50 years, a United Nations agency said.

Such mega regions will stretch hundreds of miles across countries and will be home to more than 100million people. Last year it was confirmed for the first time that over half the world’s population lives in cities.

The State Of The World’s Cities report claims that urbanisation is ‘unstoppable’.

A mega region, which is often two or more cities becoming connected as increasing numbers of towns and ghettos spring up between them, has already been established in the Hong Kong-Shenhzen-Guangzhou region of China where 120million people live.

Eduardo Lopez Moreno, the report’s author, said: ‘The top 25 cities in the world account for more than half of the world’s wealth, and the five largest cities in India and China now account for 50 per cent of those countries’ wealth.’

However, he claims an explosion of mega regions will not necessarily be a bad thing despite warning of ‘further patterns of social and economic exclusion’.

‘They, rather than countries, are now driving wealth,’ Mr Moreno added.

“Research shows that the world’s largest 40 mega regions cover only a tiny fraction of the habitable surface of our planet and are home to fewer than 18 per cent of the world’s population yet account for 66 per cent of all economic activity and about 85 per cent of technological and scientific innovation.’

Anna Tibaijuka, director of UN-Habitat, said: ‘Just over half the world now lives in cities but by 2050, over 70 per cent of the world will be urban dwellers.

‘By then, only 14 per cent of people in rich countries will live outside cities, and 33 per cent in poor countries.’

Related Links

UN Habitat

State Of The World’s Cities

El Nino Alone Illustrates Why IPCC Science Is Wrong

canadafreepress.com | Mar 22, 2010

By Dr. Tim Ball

Figure 1: Sea-level height data of El Nino, red streak at Equator. Source: NASA/JPL Ocean Surface Topography Team

IPCC Reports claim with certainty that increases in global temperature since the 19th century are due to human addition of CO2. There are a multitude of problems with the claim not least the omission or lack of understanding of major temperature altering mechanisms. We are in the middle of an El Nino event, more commonly called El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) that is modifying temperatures beyond human effect (Figure 1).

As Happ notes, “The gorilla in the climate change closet is ENSO. Until the mechanism responsible for the fluctuation in tropical temperatures that feeds into global temperatures is described and the resulting contribution to global temperature is quantified we have no hope of quantifying the temperature change that is due to ‘anthropogenic’ causes.”

Global warming advocates made much of the warm temperatures and lack of snow for parts of the recent Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Skeptics pointed to the cold and snow on the east side of the continent. The pattern was created by the waves in the Polar Front separating cold polar air from warm tropical air pushing north on the west side and south on the east side.

El Nino in the Pacific enhanced the situation. Everything about the winter was normal but that is not what alarmists claim.
Historical El Nino

Many incorrectly think El Nino is a new phenomenon resulting from global warming. Scientific awareness and its influence on global climate are new, but people who sailed the Pacific like the Inca knew it well. Spanish sailors knew and named it after the little Christ child because it occurred near Christmas. The opposite pattern, La Nina, means a little girl.

Inca priests went high in the Andes in the spring to study the Pleiades star formation. They used the difference between a clear or shimmering cluster for a rainfall prediction and when to plant potatoes. Atmospheric conditions vary between unstable and stable conditions as the Pacific Ocean switches between El Nino and La Nina. These determine the precipitation pattern Quinn and Neal produced a detailed record of El Nino events from 1522 to 1987 in a publication ironically edited by Raymond Bradley and Phil Jones of CRU notoriety.

Sir Francis Drake was a first class navigator but needed someone who knew the Pacific currents when he rounded Cape Horn in 1579. He captured a Spanish vessel and used the navigator de Moreno to avoid the El Nino currents and reach the west coast of Canada. De Moreno became ill near Oregon and was put ashore to increase his chances of survival. He promptly walked to Mexico and reported his story to Spanish authorities.

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Russia’s top weatherman’s blow to climate change lobby as he says winter in Siberia may be COLDEST on record

Russia’s top weatherman today announced that the winter now drawing to a close in Siberia may turn out to be the coldest on record

Daily Mail | Mar 24, 2010

By Will Stewart

In a new blow to the climate change lobby, Russia’s top weatherman today announced that the winter now drawing to a close in Siberia may turn out to be the coldest on record.

‘The winter of 2009-10 was one of the most severe in European part of Russia for more than 30 years, and in Siberia it was perhaps the record breaking coldest ever,’ said Dr Alexander Frolov, head of state meteorological service Rosgidromet.

Statistics are still being analysed in detail, but it is known that in western Siberia the mean temperature was minus 23.2C, with more colder days than in previous years.

Some 63 days were colder than minus 25C and 39 days below minus 30C.

For this part of Siberia, this represents the coldest conditions in 40 years and the second harshest winter in 110 years.

Equivalent statistics for colder eastern Siberia have not been issued yet.

The coldest recorded temperature in the recent winter is believed to have been minus 57.4C degrees in Oymyakon on 20 January.

The remote town in eastern Siberia is the coldest inhabited community in the world.

‘When we say that this winter in Siberia was record breaking, we are aware that temperatures on some days of other years may have gone lower, but in the most recent winter the substantial cold was staying longer than usual and over larger regions than usual,’ said Dmitry Kiktev, deputy head of Rosgidromet.

‘There were periods of so-called “monotonous cold” when the weather was less diverse, and the cold remained strong and stable to record levels.’

Mr Frolov also offered bad news for Russians hoping for a speedy respite from the long winter.

‘We can officially say that beginning of the spring in Russia is postponed for another seven to 10 days,’ he warned.

Beryozovka, Russia: The beginning of the spring in Russia has been postponed for another seven to 10 days, according to a Russian weatherman

The Urals and Siberia would continue to face ‘winter-like temperatures’ well into April, while European Russia would be below average, he said.

Climate change adherents say the planet is warming due to man-made factors but Russian expert Professor Arkady Tishkov said yesterday that Siberia and the world are in fact getting colder.

‘From a scientific point of view, talk about increasing average temperatures on earth of several degrees are absurd,’ he said.

‘Of course we can’t say that global warming is a myth and falsification. In many regions of planet the temperature is higher than expected because of human impact.

‘But the climate system of the planet is changing according to different cycles – from several years to thousand of years.

‘From the scientific point of view, in terms of large scale climate cycles, we are in a period of cooling.

‘The last three years of low temperatures in Siberia, the Arctic and number of Russia mountainous regions prove that, as does the recovery of ice in the Arctic Ocean and the absence of warming signs in Siberia.’

Mr Tishkov, deputy head of the Geography Institute at Russian Academy of Science, said: ‘What we have been watching recently is comparatively fast changes of climate to warming, but within the framework of an overall long-term period of cooling. This is a proven scientific fact.

‘The recent warming – and we are talking tenths of a degree at most – is caused by human activity, like forest elimination, the changing of landscapes.

‘The greenhouse gases so much discussed now do not in fact play big role. We have to remember that all the impact of industrial enterprises in Russia cannot be compared with one volcano eruption on our planet.’

On the latest Siberian statistics, Mr Kiktev said: ‘This winter does not prove that global warming is a myth, just as recent warm winters do not prove it does exist.

‘These are just small peaks in the climate process. What they show, if anything, we will be able to judge in tens of years from now.’

German nuns investigated for sex abuse

Two German nuns are under investigation for the alleged sexual abuse of children in the Pope’s native Bavaria, as a Vatican expert warned that the abuse scandal rocking the Church is likely to drag on for years.

Telegraph | Mar 22, 2010

By Nick Squires in Rome

The two sisters, along with four priests, are at the centre of fresh allegations of the abuse of minors in the diocese of Regensburg in southern Germany.

The new investigation was announced by a spokesman for the diocese, although there were no further details of when and where the abuse took place or how many children were involved.

The diocese is acting on some of the 300 claims of sexual or physical abuse at institutions run by the Church which have flooded in since Germany was swept up in a scandal which has also caused shock and anger in Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and Brazil.

“The work of the last 14 days has shown us that serious wrongdoing was committed by spiritual leaders and members of the church,” said the spokesman, Clemens Neck.

“We deeply regret what the spiritual leaders and church members did to these children and youths, and we ask for forgiveness on their behalf.”

He said most of allegations dated back to the 1970s and had therefore expired under Germany’s statute of limitations, but they would still be referred to the public prosecutors’ office.

They concern the Etterzhausen school just outside Regensburg – a feeder school for the Domspatzen boys choir, which was led from 1964 to 1994 by the Pope’s older brother, Georg Ratzinger, 86.

He has admitted that on occasion he slapped pupils in order to discipline them, but was not aware of any sexual abuse.

A leading Vatican expert, who observed the Catholic Church in the United States as it become embroiled in sex abuse scandals from 2002 onwards, warned that the scandal in Europe will only worsen.

“Based on our experience in the US, the Catholic Church will have to be ready for victims of abuse to be coming forward in growing numbers over roughly the next three years,” Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University and the author of ‘Inside the Vatican’, told The Daily Telegraph.

“Every time there is a new story of abuse, it empowers victims and encourages them to stand up and say ‘this happened to me too’.

“I think in Europe over the next few years you are going to see hundreds, if not thousands, of victims coming forward every week.”

Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, expressed his support for a letter the Pope issued to the Catholic Church in Ireland at the weekend in which the German-born pontiff expressed his “shame and remorse” for decades of “sinful and criminal acts”.

It was an “extraordinarily effective response” to the sex abuse crisis, which Mr Berlusconi said was being used to discredit the Catholic Church by its enemies.

“Green” shoppers more likely to lie, cheat and steal

Exposed: green consumers’ dirty little secrets

New Scientist | Mar 22, 2010

by Peter Aldhous

The glow of green virtue (Image: Nicola Tree/Photodisc/Getty)

Green consumers sometimes take the moral high ground – but it’s all too easy to slide back down. New research suggests that those who make “green” purchases are subsequently more likely to behave selfishly, cheat and steal.

“Another way to think about it is that you’re off the hook – you’ve done your good deed,” explains Benoît Monin, a psychologist at Stanford University in California who studies the phenomenon, called “moral self-licensing”.

Moral self-licensing has been shown elsewhere, too. In the run-up to the 2008 US presidential election, for instance, Monin found that people who expressed their support for Barack Obama, thereby winning credit as non-racists, were more likely to later declare that whites would be better suited than blacks for a hypothetical job vacancy in a police department (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol 45, p 590).

To find out if green consumerism gives people a similar licence to behave badly, Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong of the University of Toronto in Canada set up experiments in which students were presented with simulated online stores.

Good shop, bad shop

Students were asked to fill their online shopping baskets with up to $25-worth of items, and half were presented with a store stocked mostly with “green” products – compact fluorescent instead of incandescent light bulbs, for instance – to make it more likely that they would shop green. The other half were given a store stocked with a majority of conventional products.

After their online shopping spree, the students were asked to carry out one of two tasks.

One group was told to allocate $6 between themselves and another participant. Mazar and Zhong found that green shoppers in this group kept more for themselves than the others did.

The most striking results, however, came from the group that carried out the second task. Students were shown a pattern of dots and asked to say whether more fell to the left or the right of a diagonal line. They were told they would get half a cent each time they said more dots were on the left, but 5¢ each time they said more were on the right – providing a clear incentive to lie about the results to earn more money.

Those who played the game both accurately and truthfully would make $2.07. The winnings of those who had shopped in the conventional store did not differ significantly from this sum. The green shoppers, however, earned on average 36¢ more, showing that they had lied to boost their income.

Light green fingers

Finally, the volunteers in the second group were shown on screen how much they had won and told to take the right amount of cash from an envelope. Both groups took more than their due, but the green shoppers on average stole 48¢ more than those who had shopped in the conventional store. “It’s a very impressive paper,” says Monin.

It remains unclear how far the moral glow of green consumerism makes people feel they have licence to cheat and steal in the real world. Douglas Medin, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, says that more work must be done to see whether the same thing happens in different situations and cultures.

But moral self-licensing could explain the counterproductive results of some attempts to reduce environmental footprints, such as the recent finding that people in the UK who have made their homes more energy-efficient are more likely to turn up their heating or keep it on for longer.