Weekend Reading, watching the world change before our eyes
Some interesting news stories you might have missed during the Thanksgiving rush.
- “Transformation 101“, Kevin Carey, Washington Monthly, Nov/Dec 2008 — “Technology is driving down the cost of teaching undergraduates. So why are tuition bills going up?”
- “The price of dissent on global warming“, David Bellamy, The Australian, 25 November 2008
Some tentative indications that the late 20th century warming cycle might have ended.
- “Bad weather was good for Alaska glaciers“, Anchorage Daily News, 13 October 2008 — “For decades, summer snow loss has exceeded winter snowfall.”
- “Glaciers in Norway growing again“, Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, 24 November 2008 — Translation provided by Anthony Watts (original source).
- “Global warming melts glaciers elsewhere, but not at Mount Shasta“, Chico News and Review, 9 October 2008
A reminder about drawing conclusions about global climate trends (either way) from isolated examples: “Global warming melts glaciers elsewhere, but not at Mount Shasta“, Chico News and Review, 9 October 2008
And — our weekly reminders of why the surface temperature network (a major pillar of the case for AGW) is not adequate for this purpose (no excerpts provided):
- “How not to measure temperature, part 76“, 26 November 2008 — Fairbury Nebraska.
- “How not to measure temperature, part 78“, 27 November 2008 — Ely, Nevada.
(a) “Transformation 101“, Kevin Carey, Washington Monthly, Nov/Dec 2008 — “Technology is driving down the cost of teaching undergraduates. So why are tuition bills going up?” Please read the full article; this is one of the more important long-term structural problems for America! Excerpt:
On August 6, 2008, the Washington Post reported that tuition and fees at public colleges in Virginia will increase by an average of 7.3 percent this year. The article was four sentences long and ran in the Metro section, below the fold, in space reserved for unremarkable news. The drumbeat of higher education price increases has become so steady in recent years that it barely merits attention. But the cumulative effect is enormous: the average price of attending a public university more than doubled over the last two decades, even after adjusting for inflation. The steepest increases came in the last five years.
And there’s nothing routine about the way college costs are weighing down lower- and middle-income families. Students are still going to college-in this day and age, what choice do they have? But some are getting priced out of the four-year sector into two-year colleges, while others are trying unsuccessfully to simultaneously hold down a full-time job and earn a degree. More students are going deeply into debt, narrowing their career options and risking catastrophic default. The lightly regulated private student loan market, which barely existed ten years ago, now controls about 20 percent of loan volume, burdening financially vulnerable undergraduates with high interest rates and few legal protections. State and federal governments have poured tens of billions of new taxpayer dollars into student aid programs, only to see them swallowed up by institutions with a seemingly unlimited appetite for funds.
For years colleges have insisted that rapidly rising prices are unavoidable because higher education is a labor-intensive business that cannot become more efficient. A forty-minute lecture takes just as long to deliver today as it did a hundred years ago, they say; a ten-page paper takes just as long to grade. Because efficiencies in other industries are driving up the overall cost of skilled labor, colleges have to offer salaries to match, which pushes productivity down. (Economists call this “Baumol’s cost disease,” after the New York University economist who first made the diagnosis.) Regrettable for students, of course, but what can be done?
In fact, this premise is false. Colleges are perfectly capable of becoming more efficient and productive, in the same way that countless other industries have: through technology. And increasingly, they are. One of the untold stories in higher education is that the cost of teaching is starting to decline, but virtually none of those savings are being passed along to students and parents in the form of lower prices. Instead, colleges are pocketing the difference, even as they continue to jack up tuition bills. …
(b) “The price of dissent on global warming“, David Bellamy, The Australian, 25 November 2008 — Excerpt:
WHEN I first stuck my head above the parapet to say I didn’t believe what we were being told about global warming, I had no idea what the consequences would be. I am a scientist and I have to follow the directions of science, but when I see that the truth is being covered up I have to voice my opinions.
According to official data, in every year since 1998, world temperatures have been getting colder, and in 2002 Arctic ice actually increased. Why, then, do we not hear about that? The sad fact is that since I said I didn’t believe human beings caused global warming, I’ve not been allowed to make a television program.
My absence has been noticed, because wherever I go I meet people who say: “I grew up with you on the television, where are you now?”
It was in 1996 that I criticised wind farms while appearing on children’s program Blue Peter, and I also had an article published in which I described global warming as poppycock. The truth is, I didn’t think wind farms were an effective means of alternative energy, so I said so. Back then, at the BBC you had to toe the line, and I wasn’t doing that.
At that point, I was still making loads of TV programs and I was enjoying it greatly. Then I suddenly found I was sending in ideas for TV shows and they weren’t getting taken up. I’ve asked around about why I’ve been ignored, but I found that people didn’t get back to me. At the beginning of this year there was a BBC show with four experts saying: “This is going to be the end of all the ice in the Arctic,” and hypothesising that it was going to be the hottest summer ever. Was it hell! It was very cold and very wet and now we’ve seen evidence that the glaciers in Alaska have started growing rapidly, and they have not grown for a long time.
… The thing that annoys me most is that there are genuine environmental problems that desperately require attention. I’m still an environmentalist, I’m still a Green and I’m still campaigning to stop the destruction of the biodiversity of the world. But money will be wasted on trying to solve this global warming “problem” that I would much rather was used for looking after the people of the world. Being ignored by the likes of the BBC does not really bother me, not when there are bigger problems at stake.
I might not be on TV any more but I still go around the world campaigning about these important issues. For example, we must stop the destruction of tropical rainforests, something I’ve been saying for 35 years.
Mother nature will balance things out, but not if we interfere by destroying rainforests and overfishing the seas. That is where the real environmental catastrophe could occur.
David Bellamy is a botanist, author of 35 books, and has presented 400 television programs. (Wikipedia bio)
1. “Bad weather was good for Alaska glaciers“, Anchorage Daily News, 13 October 2008 — “For decades, summer snow loss has exceeded winter snowfall.” Excerpt:
Two hundred years of glacial shrinkage in Alaska, and then came the winter and summer of 2007-2008. Unusually large amounts of winter snow were followed by unusually chill temperatures in June, July and August.
Scandinavian nation reverses trend, mirrors results in Alaska, elsewhere. After years of decline, glaciers in Norway are again growing, reports the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE). The actual magnitude of the growth, which appears to have begun over the last two years, has not yet been quantified, says NVE Senior Engineer Hallgeir Elvehøy.
The flow rate of many glaciers has also declined. Glacier flow ultimately acts to reduce accumulation, as the ice moves to lower, warmer elevations.
The original trend had been fairly rapid decline since the year 2000.
3. “Global warming melts glaciers elsewhere, but not at Mount Shasta“, Chico News and Review, 9 October 2008. Excerpt:
First, the good news: Mount Shasta’s seven glaciers are on the grow. The largest, Whitney Glacier, has averaged a 60-foot-a-year growth spree for the past 50 years, according to Dr. Slawek Tulaczyk, a professor of earth sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
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