Saturday, January 29, 2011

Here, there and in-between.

First, this blogger has felt negligent of late when it comes to the blog, particularly to the comments. The reason is simple: I have been in a bit of pain of late due to a back problem which has severely limited mobility and requires I lie down periodically. That means all work is getting shunted aside and since some work is more important than other, such as that which pays the bills, it has to come first and blog comments are rather low on the list.

Those pesky Himalayan glaciers.

You may remember the rather humiliating incident where the InterGovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a 2007 false claim that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. Scientists in India refuted the claims and the head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, who has no credentials in a related field, attacked them quite publicly. It later turned out the 2035 was about as bogus as one could expect. Pachauri eventually admitted his error but made dire predictions.

The general retreat of glaciers began when the Little Ice Age ended, long before carbon emissions were an issue. So, in some ways predicting retreating glaciers is a pretty safe bet. They were retreating prior to the global warming scare and will most likely continue retreating, in general, after the scare is replaced by something else.

But glaciers are troublesome things, they don't always act to pattern or according to human predictions. So scientists from the University of California and the University of Potsdam have just finished a study of 286 glaciers in the Himalayas in order to find out precisely what is going on. They studied six regions of the Himalayas and found that the key factor regarding glacial retreat was debris such as rocks and mud strewn on the top of the glacier as a result of movement. In some areas this is common and other areas it is not. Where it is uncommon glaciers retreat.

In the Karakoram region the majority of glaciers are actually advancing, not retreating. The report of the scientists says, "there is no uniform response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change and highlights the importance of debris cover for understanding glacier retreat, an effects that has so far been neglected in predictions of future water availability or global sea level.." Dr. Bodo Bookhagen, one of the scientsits says "there is no stereotypical Himalayan glacier" and said the IPCC "lumps all Himalayan glaciers together."

The Hindustan Times, notes that officials and scientists from India, have long questioned the IPCC claims about glaciers in India. They write that this new report "support India's opposition to claims by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."

Writing Funny, Talking Funny

I periodically go through old posts on the blog catching typos I previously missed. One of the great problems I've noticed, and tried to correct, is an unsteady application of spelling. I often use the British spelling for a word though the blog is published in the United States. It wouldn't be so bad if I were able to apply one spelling consistently. But I confess, that I can't do so easily.

The main problem is that I have lived in the U.S., several nations of the British Commonwealth and a non-English speaking country as well. So I will often write labour, not labor, for instance. I periodically refer to the "boot" of the car and have to consciously stop and consider whether the front window of the car is a windscreen or a windshield. I continue to look for the "lift" to go to my room in hotels.

One humiliating incident took place at a restaurant that served pulled pork sandwiches. I asked for the sandwich with chips. The woman at the counter told me that they don't serve chips. I insisted that they did, I had them on my previous visit. She insisted I was wrong. How could I be wrong? I clearly remember sitting there and eating them on my last visit and several before that. Of course, I realized I meant to say fries, not chips. At least I didn't say: "Eine pommes bitte."

Issues get worse when it comes to what might be described as "slang" terms that are used. So I have slang from several different countries accumulated in my brain. I remember one incident where I used a word and was asked what it meant. I could define it rather easily but when asked where the term was from I couldn't remember. At least regionalism in the U.S. aren't so bad. I do get the "pop," "soda" thing here, which then gets compounded by the fact that overseas it was called a "cold drink." The later phrase seems to be the one I use most now. And I still tell friends I have to stop for petrol. But my "tomato" sounds particularly British unless I catch myself before hand and change the pronunciation.

It is my writing that is most problematic. And that is why I mention it here. In most of these countries I wrote for various publications. And that would mean I had to use the local spellings. Sometimes I rewrite an older piece I wrote and thus end up with different spellings for the same word. I might "subsidise" where I meant to "subsidize." I "went to hospital" instead of "to the hospital," or went to the theatre instead of the theater. Sometimes the boats were in harbour and sometimes in the harbor. There is Labor Day and Labour Day. And then there are the times I just can't remember if the word is US English or British English or slang. And each of the Commonwealth nations were multi-lingual as well, having other languages widely used. And many of those words cross over in English there.

The net result of all this is I often find myself using words from five different countries, at least seven languages, and with multiple spellings.

And to make it worse my computer is so confused by spelling in multiple ways it tends to spell-check in British English when I need American English. It's bloody useless in that sense.

Labels: , ,