The UnAustralian

Thursday, February 20, 2003
Hashem Aghajari

Good news from Iran. The death sentence on Hashem Aghajari has been overturned. Unfortunately the case will be retried, but one can always hope that he will be acquitted. Link.

| 10:44 PM
Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Kanan Makiya

I find it easy to dismiss most pro-war arguments, as they generally consist of ad hominems or are just variations on follow the leader. However, when people argue from humanitarian reasons, it's a lot harder to just dismiss their argument. Kanan Makiya, is one such person. This salon interview describes him as a "radical humanist, Iraq hawk". If there is somebody who can convince me that a war against Iraq is needed, it is people like him.

However, now Makiya has launched a broadside at the Bush administrations plan for post war Iraq.

The plan reverses a decade-long moral and financial commitment by the US to the Iraqi opposition, and is guaranteed to turn that opposition from the close ally it has always been during the 1990s into an opponent of the United States on the streets of Baghdad the day after liberation.

Basically, post war Iraq will be run by very similar people to pre-war Iraq. All to keep the surrounding dictators happy. Or as Makiya says:

We Iraqis hoped and said to our Arab and Middle Eastern brethren, over and over again, that American mistakes of the past did not have to be repeated in the future. Were we wrong? Are the enemies of a democratic Iraq, the 'anti-imperialists' and 'anti-Zionists' of the Arab world, the supporters of 'armed struggle', and the upholders of the politics of blaming everything on the US who are dictating the agenda of the anti-war movement in Europe and the US, are all of these people to be proved right?

| 5:45 PM
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
The Skeptical Environmentalist

Since I'm looking through Nature I saw a news article ("Social scientists
call for abolition of dishonesty committee") that might be of interest to the blogging world. It concerns the recent investigation into Bjørn Lomborg and his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist. Apparently some social scientists (one is quoted in the article) feel that the criteria used to judge Lomborg shouldn't apply to the social sciences. Jørn Petersen is said to claimed that selection of information to develop a theory is an integral of part of some of the social sciences.

Personally I feel that Lomborg cherry picked his data, and that "scientifically dishonest" is a pretty good description of his book. As far as I can tell, his book was presented to the public as science. Consequently, I have very little sympathy for him.

On another level, I would be interested to know how many social sciences do selected data to support whatever theory is being put forward while ignoring data which doesn't support their theory. And is this seen, within the field, as a good thing.

Update: Opps. Here's the citation for the article: Social scientists call for abolition of dishonesty committee Nature, 2003, 421, 681.

| 11:04 PM
Costs of Kyoto

A recent (2001) paper in the journal Nature, has quite an interesting conclusion. It looks at the costs of the Kyoto protocol in Italy, and concludes that if local external costs are factored in, the Kyoto protocol will save Italy money.

The net effect of implementing Kyoto over business as usual is:

* a 17% reduction in greenhouses gases
* 1,068 million euros saved locally
* 761 million euros saved globally
* costs of 308 million euros

The authors note that one potential problem with these estimates, is the costs of Kyoto. They looked at the electricity sector, and assumed that other industries (which produce approx. 2/3 greenhouse gas emissions) will suffer similar costs to the electricity sector. If these sectors do cost significantly more, then expect the costs to rise by up-to 3 fold. However, even then Kyoto has a net benefit.

Source: Giulio A. De Leo, Luca Rizzi, Andrea Caizzi, and Marino Gatto. The Economic Benefits of the Kyoto Protocol Nature, 2001, 413, 478 - 479

| 10:40 PM
Global Warming Links

I find global warming to be quite a interesting topic, and in my many hours of searching found some interesting references. For those who share my interest, they may find the following interesting.

The following links are to IPCC reports. These are quite technical, but they do provide the best overview of the science behind global warming.
Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis
Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
Climate Change 2001: Mitigation
Climate Change 2001: Synthesis Report

Tom Rees has an interesting FAQ on global warming here.

Jim Norton has a great site about information pollution and global warming (part of a much bigger site).

Another informative site, is this one by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

That's about it for tonight, but I'll post some more in the future.

| 8:31 PM

Kia ora,

This is the first blog in what is hopefully a long and successful series. There is no real theme to these blogs, apart from stuff that interests me (mostly science and politics).

My name is Ken Miles, which is a pseudonym. Sorry to those who don?t like pseudonyms, but I prefer to have a bit of anonymity (not that I'm anyone famous) in my life. If you're really interested, I'm a uni student with too much time on my hands, currently doing a PhD.

The name of this blog is partially taken from the overused insult, it's also a partial dig at The Australian, but mostly because I'm a Kiwi living in Australia.

| 6:47 PM