AAPG abandons delusionism

Until recently, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists was the only significant scientific organization with an official position rejecting anthropogenic global warming. Issued in 1999, it claimed that “Recently published research results do not support the supposition of an anthropogenic cause of global climate change”. AAPG has abandoned that position and issued a new position statement.

The new position statement is equivocal, beginning with the observation that “the AAPG membership is divided on the degree of influence that anthropogenic CO2 has on recent and potential global temperature increases”, and going on to say “Certain climate simulation models predict that the warming trend will continue, as reported through NAS, AGU, AAAS, and AMS. AAPG respects these scientific opinions but wants to add that the current climate warming projections could fall within well-documented natural variations in past climate and observed temperature data.”

Still, its a big advance on the embrace of delusionism that led to the 1999 statement and to the embarrassing decision in 2006 to give a science journalism award to Michael Crichton. Of course, this will have no effect on those who get their science from fiction writers, opinion columnists and rightwing thinktanks, but it’s encouraging nonetheless.

Socratic Forum

Long known as the Athens of the South for its vibrant intellectual life*, Brisbane is treating us to yet another feast for the mind, a Socratic Forum on the topic “That Canberra is taking too much power from the states”, which will be held at Parliament House (6-7:30 pm) tonight. I’ll be speaking along with Andrew Bartlett, Jim Soorley, George Brandis and others.

* A joke of course, but Brisbane is making up for lost time. There’s a lot more enthusiasm for events like this here than I’ve encountered in places where such things have been around for a long time. And that’s reflected in the frequency and range of these events – this is my third plug this week, and there’s plenty more happening.

Ozonomics in Brisbane

For any Brisbane readers who haven’t already made their plans for this evening, there’s a book event run by the Brisbane Institute at the Customs House tonight. Andrew Charlton will present a talk on the title “Inside the myth of Australia’s economic superheroes” based on his new book, Ozonomics Charlton is the co-author with Joseph Stiglitz, of Fair Trade for All. Of the new book, Stiglitz writes

Charlton makes a convincing case that Australia’s remarkable performance is not because of the Howard Government – indeed, it may be despite it.’

More details here

Total eclipse of the moon

It’s on tonight. After a week of welcome rain (floods where we didn’t need it, much lighter where we did, but that’s the way it goes) skies should be clear here in Queensland.

Also on science, last night’s Bris Science lecture on bees was fascinating. It seems bees use the apparent motion of the ground and nearby objects to perform feats like navigating through tight spots, landing smoothly and estimating distance travelled. This suggests some simple algorithms that can be used, for example, by automated vehicles on land and in the air. The PowerPoint presentation should be up at the BrisScience site soon.

Update I spoke too soon, especially considering my generally poor record with astronomical events. It was cloudy after all, though not so as to prevent a reasonable view of the moon going a copper-red colour as advertised.

In case you missed it

A website run by the neocon thinktank the Center for Security Policy (members include Frank Gaffney, Richard Perle and Doug Feith) has published (then removed) a piece calling for Bush to use his military powers to “the first permanent president of America” and “ruler of the world”. Along the way he suggests that the population of Iraq should have been wiped out. The website Family Security Matters also runs pieces by Newt Gingrich, Judy Miller and other luminaries.

The full piece is preserved here at Watching the Watchers. I found it via Wikipedia.

As someone would say (though maybe not in this case) “read the whole thing”. It’s impossible to tell if this is satire by someone who has cleverly infiltrated FSM over a lengthy period (quite a few other pieces by the same author, Philip Atkinson were also removed), a sudden outbreak of insanity, or the actual views of CSP/CFM, accidentally revealed and clumsily concealed.

As things stand, there’s a presumption in favor of the last of these views. The piece was published by CSP/FSM and constitutes, at present, their last word on the subject. If they repudiate Atkinson’s views they should say so openly, and live with the embarrassment of having published him.

Weekend reflections

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

Sensible federalism vs aspirational nationalism

I’ve been thoroughly underwhelmed by the undeclared election campaign over the last couple of months. Labor has been moving towards the kind of small target strategy that performed so well in 2001. Meanwhile, Howard’s complete conversion to pork-barrel politics has now acquired the label “aspirational nationalism”, which is appropriate enough given that the term “aspirational” appears to mean “a shallow person with no ethical values who splashes money about without any clear sense of priorities”.

So I’m pleased to see Rudd taking a step back towards sensible policy with his proposal for a complete Federal takeover of the public hospital sector to be implemented if co-operative Federalism fails to produce an agreed national reform plan. Unlike Howard’s various ad hoc grabs for power, this would actually lead to a more sensible alignment of political power and responsibilty.