Dot Earth

Fri, 2011-12-16 13:22Brendan DeMelle
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Andy Revkin Interviews Franke James On Dot Earth: Canada's Approach To Inconvenient Art

Andy Revkin has a great interview with Canadian artist Franke James on his Dot Earth blog at The New York Times.

DeSmogBlog previously covered the harrasment and censorship that Franke James says she experienced at the hands of the Harper government, which worked in strangely aggressive ways to block the 20-city European tour of a climate change art exhibit that included her work. Apparently the Harper government does not appreciate the fact that Franke's artwork over the years has been highly critical of the Canadian government's failure to address climate change.

Revkin's piece, Canada's Approach to Inconvenient Art, includes an interview with Franke that is definitely worth reading. Franke provides some updates about the results from her Freedom of Information requests to the Harper government, including the news that:

This week, the Green Party of Canada submitted a formal order question to Parliament. See number 380. The Canadian Government has 45 days to respond in writing.

Franke James explains to Revkin that: 

Jeremy Wallace, Deputy Director of Climate Change at DFAIT, deemed my artwork “not be consistent with our interests and approach … and [that it] would in fact run counter to Canada’s interests more broadly.”

In new ATIP [Access to Information and Privacy Act] documents received this week, one email from an Ambassador’s office is particularly interesting as it singles out my Fat Cat Canada essay as the reason my art show should not get Canadian government support. (This is an infringement of my charter right to freedom of expression.)

Sat, 2010-11-13 13:17Jim Hoggan
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Andy Revkin Reviews Bjorn Lomborg's New Film 'Cool It'

Andy Revkin has posted an initial review on his Dot Earth blog about Bjorn Lomborg’s new film ‘Cool It.’

Head over to Dot Earth to read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt of important points and observations from Revkin about the film:

In “Cool It,” Lomborg breezily ticks down a laundry list of high-tech ways to engineer the atmosphere, for example, but punts on the tougher questions related to such planet-scale enterprises — such as the inevitable diplomatic dispute over who sets the planetary thermostat and how blocking the sun does nothing to stem the buildup of carbon dioxide, much of which will stay in the atmosphere for many centuries.

He proposes spending tens of billions of dollars (a bargain, he insists, compared to the hundreds of billions that would be spent on a cap-and-trade style approach), but he doesn’t say how he’d convince the United States or China to adopt the necessary carbon tax.

And he doesn’t deal with the full pipeline for innovation that is required to take a promising technology from idea to breakthrough. A greatly intensified research effort is a vital, but insufficient, facet of any plan to foster progress without disrupting the climate.

Its chiding tone in places is unlikely to build the sense of consensus and excitement around an energy quest that Lomborg seems to desire.

Mon, 2010-09-20 17:30Jim Hoggan
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Climate Scientists React to Bizarre Climate Commentary by Robert Laughlin

Andy Revkin has posted several reactions from climate scientists to Nobel physicist Robert Laughlin’s essay in The American Scholar in which he asserts that the climate system is “beyond our power to control,” and humanity cannot and should not do anything to respond to climate change.  

Needless to say, Laughlin’s piece - and George Will’s Newsweek commentary about it - have drawn swift and severe criticism from scientists who specialize in studying climate change.

For example, Matthew Huber of Purdue University’s Climate Dynamics Prediction Laboratory takes Laughlin to task, suggesting that:

He needs to take some courses in paleoclimate — I suggest he start at the undergraduate level. I hear there might be something appropriate being taught on his campus. His know-nothing approach hearkens back to the pre-scientific era of the flat earth, vapors and phlogiston.”

Huber points out that the fundamentals of climate change are sound:

…raise greenhouse gases and the climate will warm substantially. There is no great mystery here, other than perhaps why a Nobel prize winner is either ignorant of the major results of the field of paleoclimatology over the past two decades or simply chooses to ignore the science for the sake of some sound bytes.

“Our understanding of the climate system is still rudimentary but ultimately we know what the big knobs are that turn up the heat and those are the same knobs we are cranking on right now. We know this absolutely and have known at least since Arrhenius and he got the Nobel (in 1903)!”

Check out the rest of the scientists’ reactions over at Revkin’s Dot Earth blog.
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