Monday, January 06, 2020


You flash this filthy flower, this red pustule
with foul black winding sheet that is your final word.

This is your moment of fulfilment,
your argument that cannot be denied,

since everyone who sees this rose of death
is forced to feel the hate that tortures you.

It echoes on and on in desolate triumph
a set of images    caught    in facing mirrors

trapped in a split infinity : hate,  hurt,
hurt, hate,    irrational regress, endless,

your wasted world, where nothing grows,
no bird sings, only a lacerating hate

that stains your too-committed consciousness,
the perfect canvas of your world, with blood of babes,

and us, the bystanders,   no longer innocent,
spattered with hate.

We feel a surge of hate for you, and so it goes
over and even until death,    which does not part us,

until the pity that we feel for your split victims
can grow and blossom into a piteous love that swells

to cover the whole world until it swallows even you,
you pitiful child-leader, engulfing you in

pain-struck, hate-contaminated love,
the leader     who in some way      we have allowed

through lifetimes of inattention, to speak and act for us,
to mouth these  foul excrescences, these blasphemies

against the Life that bears us,
to speak these bombs on our behalf .

We powerless to pity you enough, rightly to pity your pain,
condemned to heal or share your nightmare   

until we die.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Forest fires destroy about 10% of the world's forests every decade

Australia is suffering horribly from an intense heatwave and bush fires.

Are these fires caused directly by global warming? No.

Are these heatwaves and fires made more frequent, more intense by global warming? Yes.

Like all climatic events, the fires and heatwaves are multi-factorial. The Indian Ocean Dipole  (an oscillation like the El Nino/La Nina phenomenon) is in a strong positive phase at present, creating a warm sea surface and extensive flooding in East Africa (unreported in our media) and drought in Indonesia and Australia.

Australia has of course always been subject to intense heatwaves, and a conservative tweeter reports on such an event in 1790, the implication being "This is just a natural cycle".

Only it is not just a natural cycle, because the temperature of the planet is rising inexorably, which means that heat waves must necessarily become more frequent.

The conservative also shows this figure:

Wow! The area of forest fires burned is decreasing while Earth temperature T is increasing.
So fires cannot be related to climate change can they?

Let's have a closer look. The burned area columns are from Spatial and temporal patterns of global burned area in response to anthropogenic and environmental factors: Reconstructing global fire history for the 20th and early 21st centuries by Yang et al 2014, a serious piece of work. They found the area being burned is indeed decreasing in the tropics and the extra-tropics, although there was no trend in the temperate forests. Human activity was responsible for the trends in the tropics, and climate variation relates to the variations in temperate fires, with more fires in warm years. Rising temperatures and increased drought is expected to increase wildfires in many regions.

Globally, in the 1900s, forest fires destroyed 5 million sq km of forest,
and in the 2000s, they only destroyed only 3.6 million sq km.

Forest cover in 2006 is estimated at 39  million sq km, so the area burned was about 9.2% of the total.

What was global forest cover in the 1900s? We have a figure for estimated deforestation here. About 10.5 million sq km of forest (tropical + temperate) have been lost since 1900. Therefore the area under forest globally in the 1900s was
39 + 10.5 = 49.5 million sq km.

In that decade, the area burned was 5 million sq km, so the area burned was 10% of the total.

The proportion of forest burned over the last century has been remarkably constant.

In recent decades we have many effective ways of forestry management - with techniques like creating firebreaks, cleaning up forest litter (that is, the sticks and leaves that gather and when dry, create a fire risk), and of course, our ability to drop water on forest fires from the sky and from fire engines on the ground, which was not an option 100 years ago. These have hopefully reduced the extent of damage caused by forest fires, but something has stopped the effort translating into a reduction in the proportion of forest burned. That something may be global warming, with increased temperatures and perturbed precipitation patterns.

The improved fire-control techniques that we now have are offset by the increased global temperatures, and the intent of global warming deniers to show that global warming is unrelated to forest fires is another of their failures.

We need to put far more effort into helping the Australians to contain their fires.
Generally, we need early warning of fires so that they can be identified and put out when they are starting (drones and balloons might be useful here) and we need to put more effort into creating firebreaks an clearing litter.  Controlled burning, when fires are set a short time before expected rain, is good because fire is part of the natural cycle.

Forestry management needs to be part of the Green New Deal

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Complaint against Nick Robinson on the Today Programme for Negligence

I've just filed a complaint against Nick Robinson for negligence. You can too. Here

On 28/12/2019, at around 0840hr, Nick Robinson on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme interviewed Matt Ridley who was trying to resurrect the debate about the extent of the threat to humanity from man-made climate change.

Nick Robinson did not raise the fact that Matt Ridley was chairman of Northern Rock at the time that the bank experienced a run. Neither did he raise the fact that he owns land that has an open cast coal mine on its surface.

This is nothing but negligence on the part of Nick Robinson, whose researchers could have picked up these facts on the simplest of searches, if indeed he did not know them already.

They are germane to the interview, since the first fact calls Matt Ridley's judgment about risk into question, and the second establishes a conflict of interest, since Ridley's underlying argument is that it is possible to continue to burn coal and other fossil fuels without causing serious problems for present and future generations of human beings and other species.

An intelligent interview would also have challenged Ridley's "lukewarmism" approach to climate change, since it is clear that lukewarmism is simply arguing that seriously damaging climate change may happen a few decades later than the overwhelming body of climate science expects it to happen.

This is a serious failure on the part of the Today programme, and I ask that next week the facts of Ridley's responsibility for the Northern Rock failure and his hosting of a coal mine should be made clear.

Saturday, December 21, 2019


Sun disc pale and white
At the low point of the year.
Day gives way to night
and the wet branch drips    a tear_

that holds a falling world
compressing all we see
into a tiny liquid globe
hung on a silent tree.

While Roman steel is hurting
and their armies make us bow,
From Mary’s belly bursting out
a child infused with power.

We listen for a while
to universal love;
he conjures up a spell
changed the eagle   to a dove.

But   the dove   grew talons
and his song became a scream:
a Church bore down upon us
where the Roman boot had been.

So we traded Church for Market
and the donkey for a Ford
but there’s nowhere we could park it
and the children soon got bored

and the banks that gave possessions
are calling in their loans;
their smiles hide their aggression:
they want everything we own.

But the sun will rise beyond this death
And next year we shall find
Another  way to shield the Earth
From the Roman soldiers’ mind.

© Richard Lawson       December 2006