31 July 2007

Odds and Ends

A pseudo-random selection of one-off type items gathered over the past few weeks.

Some quotes from the Pope from this news item from Reuters.

“We all see that today man can destroy the foundation of his existence, his Earth,”

"We cannot simply do what we want with this Earth of ours, with what has been entrusted to us,"

"This obedience to the voice of the Earth is more important for our future happiness ... than the desires of the moment. Our Earth is talking to us and we must listen to it and decipher its message if we want to survive,"

From the Careful What You Wish For category...

A senior Philippines weather forecaster says he hopes more typhoons will lash the country this year to ease a lengthening dry spell that has caused power outages and threatens agriculture.

I thought this essay was quite poignant in tone...

Consequently, it's not that easy to discern the changes in climate.

Not every hot summer day is proof of global warming; nor does one winter's heavy snowfall herald a new ice age. But the number of weather-related disasters has increased significantly, and the rise in temperature in Switzerland since the 1970s is double the average for the Northern Hemisphere.


A dangerous fatalism has spread among many Swiss. They are happy to see the water in the lakes getting warmer, and view the disappearance of the glaciers as a sad but not necessarily bad development. They blithely forget that the ice is also our reserve supply of drinking water, and make light of the fact that the ground is thawing along with the glaciers, sending mudslides into the valley. The tragic stories are rare, and they are reported on the daily news more as entertainment than admonition.

Most Swiss live in stable houses in the lowlands, far from the crashing slopes and the brooks swelling into raging rivers. Those who are affected bravely clear the debris. Then a feeling of solidarity courses through our country, and only spoilsports ask what is the cause and who is to blame. When catastrophe strikes, the TV does not call upon climate experts but instead interviews the men from the fire department, the heroes of the hour.

These posts are some of the last, if not the last, posts from Viridian Design. Bruce Sterling has been blogging on climate change impacts for some time, mostly from a 'sensibly alarmist' point of view, but often with a sarcastic edge. Here is a sample from the latest:

Serbia and the Flames...by Viridian guest star Jasmina Tesanovic.

Today was the hottest day in Serbia ever since the temperature has been measured, 45 C.

If we Serbs were truly interested in our survival as a nation, we'd be scrambling to get some modern hardware for dealing with ecological catastrophes. It's been ten years since Milosevic sold off our forest fire-fighting aircraft and pocketed the money.

We would talk together seriously about last year's massive floods throughout the Danube basin, about this year's deadly heat wave in Serbia and throughout the Balkans, about the state of emergency in our neighbor Greece, about the electricity shortages and blackouts throughout the region, about the woods of our homeland set on fire.

Even tidy Britain is being overwhelmed with their flood catastrophes, while here in Serbia we lack any organized emergency-response because the Serbian state is, by its nature, in an emergency situation all the time.

Instead, the Serbian Parliament spent this day discussing Kosovo: angling for Russian friendship to fend off the US demands, while dodging EU pressure to simply let go of that long-lost province. They have no air conditioning inside the Serbian Parliament, so delegates were comically fanning themselves with official papers while the presidents were sweating in their stuffy official suits.

Listen. Think. Be aware. Enjoy.

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