Monday, January 21, 2013

Boris Johnson

Off hand I can't think of a (male) American  politician I like and admire more than London Mayor (liberal conservative) Boris Johnson.  I only know him via his appearances on Top Gear, where he spars with Jeremy Clarkson, who is, if we're honest, a friend and constituent) when Johnson was an MP). So, today, as his direct opposite  in scope of intellect, likability, and documented past,  Vows action on 'climate change, Boris takes pen in hand' to say something sensible.

"The Sun is god!” cried JMW Turner as he died, and plenty of other people have thought there was much in his analysis. The Aztecs agreed, and so did the pharaohs of Egypt. We are an arrogant lot these days, and we tend to underestimate the importance of our governor and creator.

We forget that we were once just a clod of cooled-down solar dust; we forget that without the Sun there would have been no photosynthesis, no hydrocarbons — and that it was the great celestial orb that effectively called life into being on Earth. In so far as we are able to heat our homes or turn on our computers or drive to work it is thanks to the unlocking of energy from the Sun.

As a species, we human beings have become so blind with conceit and self-love that we genuinely believe that the fate of the planet is in our hands — when the reality is that everything, or almost everything, depends on the behaviour and caprice of the gigantic thermonuclear fireball around which we revolve.

I say all this because I am sitting here staring through the window at the flowerpot and the bashed-up barbecue, and I am starting to think this series of winters is not a coincidence. The snow on the flowerpot, since I have been staring, has got about an inch thicker. The barbecue is all but invisible. By my calculations, this is now the fifth year in a row that we have had an unusual amount of snow; and by unusual I mean snow of a kind that I don’t remember from my childhood: snow that comes one day, and then sticks around for a couple of days, followed by more.

I remember snow that used to come and settle for just long enough for a single decent snowball fight before turning to slush; I don’t remember winters like this. Two days ago I was cycling through Trafalgar Square and saw icicles on the traffic lights; and though I am sure plenty of readers will say I am just unobservant, I don’t think I have seen that before. I am all for theories about climate change, and would not for a moment dispute the wisdom or good intentions of the vast majority of scientists. (Continued)


Esteve said...

I read it through at the link and if he is being honest then he is indeed a rare bird. A politician with an open mind.

TimO said...

We're really very very very lucky that our Sun is a stable as it is (it varies its output only about 0.1%). A lot of our galactic neighbors vary a lot more and there's no telling if we could even survive if the Sun burped more than it does.

The big problem is we only have a few hundred to a thousand years of reasonable observations and we've only got hints as to what it might do over the long run.

Anonymous said...

Well I remember just the opposite-we had huge snowfalls 45 years ago when I moved to CO-even as short a time ago as in the mid 90s, blizzards were normal-the skiing and than boarding was fantastic and fantastic as early as mid Oct(sometimes)

Now? Phffft. I moved close to Monarch because it's a small, locals ski area-I've boarded and skied it for over 20 years. In the last 1 1/2 years, there's been a couple good week day times to go. And this year? Rocks baby.

People here in Canon tell me that they remember playing in huge snow drifts most of the winter. Now? HA! Last winter was the mildest winter in my life and last summer was freaking scorching hot(weeks above 110)

I could walk across the Arkansas, it was ankle deep! And it's one of the premier rafting rivers on the continent.

So you tell me WTF?

Anonymous said...

I recall reading an article years ago that noted the surface temperatures of Mars and Venus fluctuated in synch with the Earth's temperature changes.

How did all that ozone, or CO2, or whatever we were generating, make it to those planets to make those changes?

Anonymous said...

I grew up skiing Monarch, best powder skiing in CO.

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