31/1/2011

Well, that’s enough to freak ya out…

Filed under: — Bravus @ 4:41 pm

Have a look at how much Cyclone Yasi – the one we’ll be saying hello to sometime this week – grows in just 5 hours in this satellite photo loop:

Western Pacific Satellite Loop

Read This Carefully

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:33 am

In the wake of the devastating flooding, Queensland now had a Category 2 cyclone last night that didn’t do a huge amount of damage but brought more wind and rain, and is staring down the barrel of a Category 4 cyclone later this week that could arrive almost anywhere on the east coast and deliver very significant rains. And there are probably still a couple of months of the rainy/cyclone season to go.

Now, I’m not saying ‘this is evidence of climate change’. It’s silly to do that about particular weather events, no matter how extreme. To put things in perspective, we got over 200 mm of rain in January, but the 1974 floods were due to over 600 mm in January. And that’s nearly 40 years of greenhouse gas emissions ago. There were even more serious and extreme floods in Brisbane in the 1890s, 120 years ago and very early in the climate change cycle. Extreme weather events are always with us. Climate change is a pattern overlying this normal variability.

What I am saying is that this is what life will increasingly be like in a climate-changed world. We have been living in an unprecedented epoch of stable, gentle climate on earth for about the past 11,000 years, with variations within that like the Medieval Warm Period. But more energy in the global climate system means more extreme weather events – weather is entirely driven by energy from the sun, and enhanced greenhouse gases mean earth stores more of that energy rather than radiating it back into space.

So those complaining about more snow and colder temperatures than usual in the Northern Hemisphere – I’m afraid global warming is the problem, not the solution. More energy in the weather system means more extreme weather, including extreme cold. It doesn’t mean just a gentle few degrees warmer than average year-round.

For us here in Queensland, it means more cyclones and floods in La Nina cycles, and deeper droughts in El Nino cycles. And it means having to face the next catastrophe while we’re still trying to recover from the last one.

19/1/2011

Dammit

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:13 pm

Conservative Christians tend not to believe in climate change. But they do believe extreme climate events are Signs of the End. Cannot freakin’ win with these people. THE WORLD can’t win. REALITY can’t win.

17/1/2011

The Panic Virus

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:56 am

…is an excellent new book about child vaccination, autism and all that goes with them. Here’s an interview with the author:

http://www.salon.com/news/autism/index.html?story=/mwt/feature/2011/01/16/seth_mnookin_panic_virus_autism

Update: On the same topic, this is an excellent short, graphic novel style primer on the issues and players: http://tallguywrites.livejournal.com/148012.html

Update 2: Here’s a quote from the article:

I do think that the media has more — we have more responsibility for this than really any other single entity. There are a number of reasons for that. One is this false sense of equivalence. If there’s a disagreement, then you need to present both sides as being equally valid. You saw with the coverage of the Birther movement; it’s preposterous that that was an actual topic of debate. The fact that Lou Dobbs addressed that on his show on CNN is an embarrassment. It’s not a subject for debate just because there are some people who said it was. I think you see that a lot in science and medicine, for a number of different reasons including the ways in which it can be hard to explain basic fundamental issues — so I think that is a huge, huge issue and that’s the huge issue that doesn’t come into play in the story. And I think it’s an absolute cop-out for reporters to say, “I’ve fulfilled my responsibility by presenting two sides.” Sometimes there aren’t two sides.

That’s not so much the main thrust of the article, but it caught my eye because it’s something I’ve written about here before.

Update 3: I thought I’d written about it, and searched for the post. Then I remembered that I let Dara O’Briain do it far better. As I said at the time, he does a fair bit of swearing on the way, but he does a fantastic job: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbY7GODI5Dw&feature=related

13/1/2011

An Eyeroll…

Filed under: — Bravus @ 3:46 pm

…is the least violent response I can summon.

Speaking about the Brisbane floods.

Quoth I: “The spirit has been excellent: footage of people in church halls and other evacuation centres shows them laughing and smiling and enjoying each others’ company. Plenty of stories of people saving others from the waters, and helping others evacuate.”

Quoth they: “Is that a time to be laughing and smiling? methinks it is a time to be praying like never before.”

Sigh.

10/1/2011

Incorrigibility1 of Religious Beliefs

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:55 pm

I’ve been participating in a looong (over 500 posts) discussion2 at a Seventh-day Adventist forum I sometimes frequent about the Bible’s attitude to moderate consumption of alcohol:

http://clubadventist.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/416138/Is_it_ok_to_drink_alcohol.html#Post416138

This blog post is not about that issue per se, but the bone of contention there was my claim that the Bible condemns drunkenness but is silent on moderate use. If you’re interested, the thread is both exhaustive and exhausting. 😉

But at the end, a forum denizen posted the following:

The Bible is plain on these things, just as it is on the Sabbath and the state of the dead, yet there are people who still want more evidence and even certain kinds of evidence, while the evidence of how God thinks about those things is staring them in the face.

Here are some verses that tell us the reason that some people decide one thing and some decide another. It is not because of worldly wisdom or information or education. It has everything to do with attitude, relationship with Christ, and dependence on the Holy Spirit:

John 7:17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.

Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit;

John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, [32] and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.

1 John 4:6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

John 10:26-27 …but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. [27] My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Daniel 12:10 Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.

So, paraphrased: “If you disagree with my interpretation of the Bible, it’s because I’m on God’s side and you’re not.”

Now, leave aside the fact that Seventh-day Adventists are out of step with many other Christians on the state of the dead and almost all other Christians on the Sabbath, so the implication is that the vast majority of Christians are not actually on God’s side.

Leave aside, too, the sheer breath-taking arrogance this attitude displays – and here I refer as much to the quoted verses themselves as to the poster, who will probably read this blog post.

My point is simpler than that: it’s that this view makes all the other views a person holds incorrigible. They cannot be challenged by other people to change their beliefs even on the basis of Scripture, because they have convinced themselves that their personal, existing interpretation of Scripture is the only one sanctioned by God, and that all the others are… not of God. (And, in their binary worldview, there’s only one other place it can be from…)

Such a faith cannot grow, since there is no source that can challenge existing views. It is inherently stagnant.

As always, counterpoints and other views on the issue are sought…

(And finally, a return: I used to footnote blog posts extensively in the past, but haven’t been doing it as often lately.)

  1. ‘Incorrigible’ is sometimes thought of as meaning ‘naughty’, but it basically means ‘uncorrectable’: unable to be corrected. Someone who is consistently naughty and whose behaviour can’t be corrected is incorrigible. But one could also be incorrigibly happy, positive or friendly – it’s not inherently a negative term.
  2. Yes, I’m a bit of a masochist and probably a fool.