Copenhagen Conference – no excuse for inaction.

The key messages from the Climate Change conference at the University of Copenhagen have now been issued. The statement says that the climate is changing “beyond the patterns of natural variability” and that the changes are a result of the “high rates of observed emissions”.

The most pertinent comment, IMHO, is this:

There is no excuse for inaction. We already have many tools and approaches ? economic, technological, behavioural, management ? to deal effectively with the climate change challenge. But they must be vigorously and widely implemented to achieve the societal transformation required to decarbonise economies. A wide range of benefits will flow from a concerted effort to alter our energy economy now, including sustainable energy job growth, reductions in the health and economic costs of climate change, and the restoration of ecosystems and revitalisation of ecosystem services.

If politicians will not act, then it is up to us, the public, to force them to act. How do we get them to act? Especially seeing that the ETS proposed by the Labor government looks like it will be rejected in the senate by the coalition and the independent senators.

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Sri Lankan Crisis Statement

The following is the Sri Lankan Crisis Statement. The organisers believe that “over 600 civilians may have died in the military offensive this week alone”. It has received minimal publicity in Australia. If you would like to sign it, please click the link and leave a comment:

We are Australian citizens who share a deep concern about the escalating civilian crisis in Sri Lanka.

We call on the Australian government to demand the Sri Lankan authorities and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam declare an immediate ceasefire.

We are deeply concerned about the lack of medical staff and aid agencies serving the estimated 250,000 civilians trapped in the conflict zone.

In September 2008, the Sri Lankan government evicted United Nations and international aid agencies from these areas. While the local Red Cross is still operating within the conflict area, their presence is threatened by the ongoing conflict.

The departure of international witnesses within the conflict area will remove accountability for all parties to the conflict.

The Sri Lankan government has also issued orders to doctors and other health staff to leave the conflict area immediately.

We demand the Sri Lankan government allow international monitoring and medical and aid agencies unrestricted access to the conflict zones immediately.

In direct violation of the Geneva Convention, civilian hospitals in the conflict zones have repeatedly come under aerial bombing and shelling. Furthermore, on 2 February 2009 the Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse stated that everything outside a government declared safety-zone is a military target and no exception will be given to medical facilities. We urge the Australian government to demand the Sri Lankan government stop the aerial bombing of hospitals and both parties cease placing civilians in direct cross fire in all areas.

Foreign and domestic media have been banned from entering the conflict zones since January 2008, when the government unilaterally withdrew from a cease-fire and commenced its military offensive. Without independent reporting, it is impossible to separate fact from propaganda by all parties to the conflict.

We call on the Australian government to pressure Sri Lankan officials to permit independent journalists unrestricted access to the conflict zones.

Furthermore, we recognise that the Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka have been subject to ethnic discrimination by successive Sri Lankan governments since Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948.

We acknowledge that all people, including the Tamils, have the right to self-determination and must freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

We acknowledge that a military solution to this conflict will not bring lasting peace to Sri Lanka. With the intention of ensuring long-term peace, we call on the Australian government to lead political negotiations that recognise the legitimate aspirations and protects the human rights of all Sri Lankans.

The hunt for the God particle.

We have discussed this before a little when the Large Hadron Collider started up last year, and how one of the prime objectives is to find the so called Higgs Boson. The Higgs Boson is a theoretical particle that scientists believe give the other particles mass. The best description I have read is that the Higgs Boson provides  the treacle that other particle have to move through.

Anyway – as we know the LHC was shut down soon after it started, but Fermilab in the US has just released details of some research that narrows down the possible mass of the Higgs Boson:

The Higgs particle, the last piece of the Standard Model of particle physics menagerie that has yet to be observed, is running out of places to hide—if, that is, it exists at all. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., today narrowed the range of mass where the Higgs might be found.

I love how the search for this particle is right at the limits of our knowledge of the universe. As the article says:

But what if the entire mass window were exhausted—if experiments showed that the Higgs, or something like it, didn’t exist at all? “That would basically mean we have a very deep and fundamental lack of understanding of what is going on in the Standard Model,” Blocker says. “If there’s not something like the Higgs or something similar giving masses to the W and Z, we have no clue as to how that’s happening.”