Daily Archives: December 9, 2011

The BBC and an inconvenient truth about climate change


Toeing the party line: Attenborough put across his apocalyptic climate change message forcefully in the final episode of Frozen Planet

dailymail.co.uk | Dec 8, 2011

by Christopher Booker

From its breathtaking footage of killer whales hunting in packs to the scenes of penguins swimming with balletic grace under the sea ice, Sir David Attenborough’s BBC series Frozen Planet has been acclaimed as perhaps the most riveting sequence of natural history programmes ever produced.

The sophistication of the photography, the extraordinary endeavour of the film crews to get the best shots  and Sir David’s breathily authoritative commentary have had viewers entranced in their millions.

Last night’s was the final part of this landmark series, and it set a very different tone from his usual celebration of the natural world. This was because Sir David and the BBC decided to use the last programme to put over a particular message that has become all too familiar from the Corporation in recent years.

Sir David used the awesome shots of the frozen polar wastes to hammer home his belief that the world is facing disaster from man-made global warming.

No one can doubt the  passion of his belief. But in putting across his apocalyptic  message so forcefully, too many important questions on this hugely important subject  were last night neither asked nor answered.
Distorted

In short, it was a deeply disappointing end to the series — for it was the latest one of countless examples of how, in recent years, the BBC has chosen to make its coverage of one of the most crucial issues of our time quite deliberately, even defiantly one-sided.

The BBC is committed by its charter to report with ‘accuracy and impartiality’. Yet on climate change, it has adopted a clear ‘party line’, which has run through almost every aspect of its broadcasting.

Earlier this year, when the Mail serialised the memoirs of the respected former BBC news reporter and anchorman Peter Sissons, his insider’s view explained how the BBC had become ‘a propaganda machine for climate-change zealots’.

So distorted has the BBC’s coverage become that I produced a detailed report on the subject for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the ‘sceptical’ think-tank run by former Chancellor Lord (Nigel) Lawson, which is published today.

My disturbing findings show that the problem began a few years ago when the alarm over global warming was at its height. Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth — a sensationalist documentary warning of the imminent destruction of our planet because of climate change — was packing in vast audiences and being circulated to our schools to show to children.

Tony Blair was putting global warming at the top of his government’s agenda. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) was producing its scariest report to date.

At a secret ‘high-level seminar’ in January 2006, 30 of the BBC’s most senior staff listened as a former president of the Royal Society, Lord May, told them that ‘the scientific debate over climate change’ was over, and that the BBC must ‘stop reporting the sceptics’.

As a result, the BBC adopted a new editorial policy line, throwing any obligation to impartiality to the winds.

The BBC’s journalists and producers were let off the leash — to line up with the more extreme environmental pressure groups, such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and Friends of the Earth, in pushing their global warming agenda for all it was worth.

This bias was soon evident across the whole of the BBC’s output. Not just in the news and current affairs coverage, but from children’s programmes such as Blue Peter —which titled one show Green Peter, with top tips to save the planet — to story-lines in The Archers, one of which involved a farmer planting trees to combat climate change.

Even producers of the BBC Proms got in on the act. In 2007 they commissioned a ‘music drama’ centred on a group of children who had lost their homes through floods caused by climate change.

Programme after programme promoted the climate change gospel, including a two-part documentary series by David Attenborough in 2006, which featured practically every scare story ever dreamed up.

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British Columbia in for one of the coldest winters in the past 20 years


The long-range Winter forecast from several weather agencies predicts a colder than normal winter for B.C. Most of the province will be drier than normal, but in southwest B.C. the cold winds, colder ocean temperatures and the normal moisture from the ocean will likely lead to lots of snow. Photograph by: Les Bazso, PNG File Photo

B.C. in for a colder, drier winter — but with plenty of snow in the southwest

The Province | Dec 7, 2011

By Elaine O’Connor

Don’t expect to feel superior to your family out east this year: winter in B.C. is going to be a bear.

This winter is expected to be one of the coldest in years and extra snowy in the Lower Mainland, according to US-based weather service AccuWeather.

Meteorologist Brett Anderson of AccuWeather predicts “this winter could be one of the top three coldest winters in the past 20 years for Vancouver and Victoria.”

Anderson expected temperatures about -1 to -2 degrees below normal in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, and from -2 to -4 degrees colder in the rest of B.C.

But there may be less snow in most parts of B.C. with a forecast of 40 per cent below normal along most of B.C.’s coast.

In southwestern B.C., colder temperatures plus rainy weather could bring normal or even above average snowfall, Anderson said.

SNOW PLANS

Snow road crews and emergency shelters are ramping up.

Township of Langley roads and drainage manager Terry Veer said he’s been preparing his crew of 50 staff to clear more than 400 kilometres of priority roadways.

“I wouldn’t say we plan for the worst, we plan for as much as we are capable of,” he said. “If it’s really bad, we’re going to struggle.”

TransLink’s Drew Snider said the transit service was alert to possible freezing on overhead trolley wires, and had already deployed de-icing spray trucks a half-dozen times.

Snider said the service also planned to run de-icing trains overnight on SkyTrain as needed.

“Some things you can’t prevent and the only thing you can do is mitigate what snow can do to the systems,” Snider said.

At the Gateway of Hope shelter in Langley city, Major James Hagglund said their emergency shelter system, which goes into effect when the weather dips below -2, has already opened at least three times so far this season.

The average is about 35 nights over the course of the winter, but this unusually cold winter could mean even more openings.

“The message we are getting out to the community is we don’t want anyone out in the cold during inclement weather,” he said.

SKIIERS DELIGHT

On the plus side, AccuWeather’s forecast of colder, drier weather in the central interior means that what snow does fall should last longer and be more powdery.

“Any snow is good snow,” said Jordan Petrovics of Kicking Horse Resort in Golden. “People are stoked for this winter season.”

Tourism Sun Peaks president Christopher Nicolson said he’s learned not to count on forecasts.

“People in the industry know that if there is one thing you can predict it’s that you can’t predict the weather,” Nicolson said.

SO LONG, SLUSH

Environment Canada’s John McIntyre also said the La Nina weather pattern will result in cooler, drier conditions.

“We’re working on a very dry December and it’s usually the second wettest month behind November,” he said.

November in Vancouver averages 181 millimetres of precipitation but this year there was only 125 mm. December normally averages 176 mm. The driest the December ever saw 53.6 mm in 1985. Normal December temperatures are a high of 6.8 degrees Celsius and a low of 0.8. The coldest-ever December day was Dec. 29, 1968 at -17.8 degrees.

Coldest start to summer in decades for eastern Australia

Coldest start to summer in decades

northern-district-times | Dec 8, 2011

It’s been the coldest start to summer in decades for eastern Australia.

The unseasonably low temperatures started over southern states during the weekend as a mass of cold air from the Southern Ocean pushed north behind a cold front.

The cold air then travelled north through NSW and southern Queensland on Monday and combined with cloud cover has kept temperatures as much as 17C below average.

Sydney had recorded seven consecutive days below 23C, the city’s coldest start to summer in 51 years, The Weather Channel senior meteorologist Tom Saunders said.

Canberra is yet to reach 25C this month, its coldest start to summer in 24 years. Brisbane has also failed to record a day with above average temperatures over the past week, its coldest start to summer in at least 12 years.

The chilly summer weather will continue with Sydney forecast to remain below average for at least another week.

If Sydney makes it to next Thursday, December 15, without reaching its December average of 25C it will be the coldest start to summer in 77 years.

If Canberra does not reach 25C by Wednesday it will be the capital’s coldest start to summer since records began in 1939, Mr Saunders said.

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a maximum of 21C with rain easing at times today, with showers forecast until Wednesday, December 14.

Brisbane on track to record its coldest December day in 123 years

Brisbane chills out through first week of summer

knoxweekly.com.au | Dec 7, 2011

by DAN NANCARROW

Brisbane is on track to record its coldest December day in 123 years as overcast conditions continue to put a dampener on the opening week of summer.

Cloud cover and cool winds have kept things chilly in the southeast with record temperatures recorded in Stanthorpe, which recorded its lowest ever December maximum of 13 degrees.

In Brisbane not a single day this month has crept above the long-term maximum average of 29.

According to meteorologists that run is unlikely to be broken today.

The Brisbane gauge was sitting at a cool 19.1 at 11.23am, just above the city’s coldest December maximum, 18.9, which was set in 1888. The lowest December maximum recorded since then was 19.5 in 1926, although a cool 19.4 was recorded at Archerfield in 2006.

Weatherzone meteorologist Alex Zadnik said there was a fair chance temperatures would stay below the mark of 19.5 degrees right up until 9am tomorrow.

“I guess the risk is we get a late break of sunshine today which bumps us up a little more,” he said.

“But if we stay below 19.5 by 9am tomorrow it will be the coldest December day in 123 years.”

Mr Zadnik said a combination of cloud cover and cool winds dragged up from south of the border had kept conditions comparatively cold with temperatures not expected to rise above the monthly average until the weekend.

The cold temperature won’t be the only meteorological issue Brisbane residents will have to face tomorrow, with heavy rainfall forecast. As much as 50 millimetres of rain could fall, Mr Zadnik said.

“We’ve got what’s called a complex low pressure system over southern and eastern Queensland at the moment but one of those low centres does have the potential to deepen near the southeast coast overnight and during Thursday morning,” he said.

“There is a risk that falls will become pretty heavy in the Brisbane region and the Gold and Sunshine coasts on Thursday.”

Temperatures are expected to rebound quickly on Friday, with a forecast maximum of 27, while the bureau has forecast Brisbane to hit 30 on Sunday.

Norway massacre: Immigrants gain popularity after Breivik


Norwegian border Photo: Hardo Müller/Flickr

theforeigner.no | Dec 5, 2011

by Ioana Dan

Norwegians have adopted a more positive attitude towards immigrants following Anders Behring Breivik’s attacks.

85 percent of Norwegians agreed with the statement that, “Most immigrants make an important contribution to Norwegian working life” as opposed to 73 percent before, according to Statistics Norway (SSB).

According to the poll, 82 percent also concurred that,”most immigrantsenrich the cultural life in Norway”, up 10 percent from before the 22 July attacks.

The largest change in opinions was regarding the assertion, “Most immigrants represent a source of insecurity in society”. Only 48 percent agreed before, but this increased to 70 percent after the mass murderer struck.

Related

Breivik psychiatric report brings uncertainty, criticism

Moreover, more people thought that, “Mostimmigrants abuse the social welfare system” compared with the results from 2010. Figures who this was 31 and 35 percent, respectively.

SSB says there were no other significant changes in their poll, otherwise. Nine out of ten Norwegians believed immigrants should have the same job opportunities as any Norwegian, and 70 percent think that non-Nordic labour migration has a positive impact on Norway’s economy.  45 percent think that it obtaining a residence permit should not be more difficult.

The results of the survey also show that women tend to think more positively towards immigrants than men. Older people between 67 and 79 are more skeptical when it comes to immigrants than people aged 16-44.

Where people live also contributes to these opinions. Urban residents are more generous towards immigration and immigrants than those who live in the country.

Statistics Norway’s annual survey on attitudes towards immigrants and immigration, conducted on behalf of the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, was carried out between 4 July and 13 August 2011.

Norway massacre: Breivik insanity conclusion receives more criticism

theforeigner.no | Dec 8, 2011

by John Price

Medical experts and researchers continue to question the validity of Anders Behring Breivik’s psychiatric report. They claim the court-appointed psychiatrists lack proper cultural understanding.

Disqualified and ignored

The Breivik report has received widespread criticism and angered several. Swedish psychiatry professor, Johan Cullberg, brands the court-appointed psychiatrists Torgeir Husby and Synne Sørheim’s report “unprofessional”. He believes their 36 hours of discussions with the mass murderer showed no indication he is criminally insane.

“I feel the need to discuss the conclusion the psychiatrists arrived at after having worked with psychosis problems, both clinically and research-wise, for several decades. Actually, the report either mostly or entirely contradicts the paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis,” Professor Cullberg wrote in his commentary published in Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter.

Breivik was told last week that he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and the court-appointed psychiatrists found him to be criminally insane, both of which he has denied.

Related

Breivik psychiatric report brings uncertainty, criticism

Claiming the terrorist shows no signs of either mental disorganisation or hallucinations, the professor declared, “On the contrary, he has been sharpened by and determined in his systematic efforts to create despair, fear and chaos through his acts of terror for several years. That is enough to disqualify the schizophrenia diagnosis in itself.”

“His megalomaniacal delusions are closely linked with his carefully weighed intent. The authors do not discuss this at all.”
Misinterpretation or reality?

Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) researcher, Tore Bjørgo, questions experts Torgeir Husby and Synne Sørheim’s methods.

He writes in his Aftenposten commentary, “as a social anthropologist, it strikes me that the psychiatrists’ evaluation of the Behring Breivik’s delusions are reminiscent of psychiatrists attempting to assess the perception of reality and accountability of individual tribal members in the New Guinea jungle – without having the necessary cultural understanding of what are normal ways of thinking in this particular culture.”

Mr Bjørgo admits he is “not competent to assess psychiatric diagnoses”. However, he believes 15 years research into Right-Extremist environments and subcultures qualifies him to express what their commonly agreed-upon perceptions of reality are.

He also says Breivik is one of thousands of like-minded people, even though the world he is part of may seem crazy looked at from the outside.

“Behring Breivik belongs to a Right-Extremist subculturethat is strongly influenced by conspiracy thinking about an external enemy (Muslims or Jews) assisted by an internal enemy composed of traitors (the entire political establishment and other opponents).”

The NUPI researcher continues, “Itmustbedifficult todeterminehow much of Behring Breivik’s particular perception of reality is caused by individual psychopathology, andhow much can beattributed tothe bizarreworld of ideasheshares withthe extremistsubcultureheispart of.”

Google Doodle celebrates the work of Marxist artist Diego Rivera

You know you’ve made it when Google decides to honor you with a Google Doodle.

LA Times | Dec 8, 2011

Of course artist and social activist Diego Rivera made it well before Thursday morning, but the Google Doodle honoring his 125th birthday spreads the word about the Mexican master to millions and millions. Google’s Doodle shows a mural replicating Diego’s distinct aesthetic, capturing his many depictions of industrialism and everyday life in Mexico.

“I’ve never believed in God, but I believe in Picasso,” Rivera once said.

Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, on Dec. 13, 1886. He began drawing at a young age, then later went on to study art in Europe before making his return to Mexico.

As one of the founders of the Mexican Mural Renaissance, Rivera painted fresco cycles for public buildings in Mexico in the 1920s. He was commissioned to paint numerous murals in the United States, including a piece at the American Stock Exchange Luncheon Club and for the California School of Fine Arts. His most controversial mural, the “Man at the Crossroads” at Rockefeller Center, was  commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller. A lifelong Marxist, Rivera depicted symbols of Communism in the mural, with portraits of Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin.

Rivera was known as much for his artwork as he was for his tumultuous love affairs. His most memorable relationship was with surrealist artist Frida Kahlo, whom he married in 1929, divorced, then remarried years later.

“I cannot speak of Diego as my husband because that term, when applied to him, is an absurdity,” said Kahlo of her husband. “He never has been, nor will he ever be, anybody’s husband.”

The Museum of Modern Art in New York is currently showing five of the eight frescoes Rivera created for an introspective for the museum in 1930. The works will be on display through May 14.