B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘climate_change’ tag

In Novel Tactic on Climate Change, Citizens Sue Their Governments

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Is this weird or what?

No One Knows What We Are Thinking Unless We Tell
No One Knows What We Are Thinking Unless We Tell

The governments of the world are dragging their feet, so good for these citizen activists. 

Global warming is already disrupting the planet’s weather. Now it is having an impact on the courts, as well, as adults and children around the world try to enlist the judiciary in their efforts to blunt climate change.

In the United States, an environmental law nonprofit is suing the federal government on behalf of 21 young plaintiffs. Individuals in Pakistan and New Zealand have sued to force their governments to take stronger action to fight climate change. A farmer in Peru has sued a giant German energy utility over its part in causing global warming.

And while the arguments can be unconventional and surprising, some of the suits are making progress.

Last month, a federal magistrate judge in Oregon startled many legal experts by allowing the lawsuit filed on behalf of 21 teenagers and children to go forward, despite motions from the Obama administration and fossil fuel companies to dismiss it; the suit would force the government to take more aggressive action against climate change. The ruling by the magistrate judge, Thomas M. Coffin, now goes to Federal District Court to be accepted or rejected.

(click here to continue reading In Novel Tactic on Climate Change, Citizens Sue Their Governments – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 11th, 2016 at 8:42 am

Clinton And West Virginia Clash Over Coal and Math

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While this topic is not strictly technology as defined by my editor, energy sources and methods are certainly technology related.

Everything If You Want Things
Everything If You Want Things

Anyway, this is the part of Hillary Clinton’s mind that irks me and many others who want to be able to vote for her in the general election. Rather than tell West Virginians the truth that coal is the energy source of the past, not the future, Ms. Clinton apologized for speaking the truth in front of a different audience.

Voters in Appalachian coal country will not soon forget that Democrat Hillary Clinton told an Ohio audience in March that she would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

“It was a devastating thing for her to say,” said Betty Dolan, whose diner in this mountain hamlet offers daily testament to the ravages that mining’s demise has visited upon families whose livelihood depends on coal.

Mine closures, bankruptcies and layoffs are staples of lunchtime conversation for those who have not fled town in search of work. Like many fellow Democrats in the region, Dolan, 73, favors Republican Donald Trump for president, however rude he might seem to the proprietor of a no-frills restaurant known for its graham cracker pie.

“I’m going to go for the person who wants coal,” she said.

(click here to continue reading Clash between Trump and Clinton over coal foreshadows a tough fight for her in battleground states – Chicago Tribune.)

and even went so far as to apologize! Come on…

front-running Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton in West Virginia, where a pledge the former U.S. secretary of state made two months ago to kill coal miners’ jobs in favor of renewable energy continues to haunt her.…She had added that she doesn’t intend to abandon workers “who did the best they could to produce the energy we relied on” and apologized directly last week to an out-of-work foreman who confronted her in Williamson, West Virginia, but the general sentiment hasn’t played well in coal country.

“That was really a devastating comment,” said Robert DiClerico, a professor emeritus of political science at West Virginia University. He said he believes Clinton’s remark more than any other factor has boosted Sanders.

(click here to continue reading Hillary Clinton faces primary challenge in West Virginia coal country – Chicago Tribune.)

Solar Panels - Chicago Center for Green Technology
Solar Panels – Chicago Center for Green Technology

Mining coal is not even that big of a part of the Appalachian economy! 5% or something close to that per Wikipedia – $3.5 billion / $63.34 billion = approximately 5.5%

[West Virginia] has a projected nominal GDP of $63.34 billion in 2009 according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis report of November 2010…Coal is one of the state’s primary economic resources, first discovered in the state in 1742. The industry employs 30,000 West Virginians directly, resulting in $2 billion in wages and a $3.5 billion economic impact

(click here to continue reading Economy of West Virginia – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

In other words, coal is not that big of a slice of West Virginia’s current economy, more important for intangible reasons, like “optics”, and “tradition”, and “tradition” and other empty words. Ms. Clinton shouldn’t worry about putting coal miners out of business, she ought to suggest re-education programs to train coal extraction employees to work in solar and wind and other alternative energy fields instead! They get to keep being productive members of the 21st Century, and we make advances towards ameliorating global climate change.

Instead, she said this:

The exchange during a visit to a health center in Williamson, West Virginia, highlighted the challenge Democrats will face in November winning over working-class voters in states where that have lost jobs in manufacturing and mining.

“I don’t mind anybody being upset or angry” about the struggles of the industry, its workers and their families, Clinton said. “That’s a perfect right for people to feel that way. I do feel a little bit sad and sorry that I gave folks the reason and the excuse to be so upset with me because that is not what I intended at all.”

“I don’t know how to explain it other than what I said was totally out of context from what I meant because I have been talking about helping coal country for a very long time,” she responded at the start of several minutes of back-and-forth with Copley. “I understand the anger and I understand the fear and I understand the disappointment that is being expressed.”

(click here to continue reading Clinton walks back coal remarks after confrontation in West Virginia – Chicago Tribune.)

and also, most maddening, Hillary Clinton’s pandering is not even necessary – West Virginia is not going to suddenly vote for a Democrat in the general election! They are a reliable Republican state!

David Myers, an out-of-work miner, echoed the profanity Trump has repeatedly used on Twitter to repudiate global warming. Like Trump, Myers and others in coal country say misguided plans to stop it are costing jobs.

“A man of my caliber should be able to get a job in a blink of an eye, but there’s no jobs to be had,” said Myers, 49, who wore miner coveralls to Trump’s rally.

Trump has dismissed global warming as a “canard,” “hoax” and “total con job,” citing cold weather snaps as evidence.

On the day of Obama’s 2012 reelection, Trump tweeted: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” In September, he told CNN, “I don’t believe in climate change.”

(click here to continue reading Clash between Trump and Clinton over coal foreshadows a tough fight for her in battleground states – Chicago Tribune.)

It's Not Just A Job. it's An Adventure. Navy.
It’s Not Just A Job. it’s An Adventure. Navy.

update: both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton already have retraining proposals, fwiw:

“We just don’t want to be forgotten,” said Betty Dolin, who co-owns a restaurant in Danville, about 20 miles southwest of Charleston, where customers tucked into hearty meals like meatloaf and country fried steak with gravy.

She pointed out the empty tables that would once have been filled. “We can’t have coal? Bring us something else,” she said. “And I don’t mean job training. A lot of these men are too old to train for another job.”

Presidential primaries tend to bring attention to local issues as candidates move from state to state, and as the candidates have come to West Virginia to campaign, coal has been no exception.

“These communities need help,” Mr. Sanders said last week at a food bank in McDowell County. “It is not the coal miners’ fault in terms of what’s happening in this world.”

In some ways, Mr. Sanders is not a natural candidate to be courting the votes of coal miners: He is outspoken on climate change and advocates moving away from fossil fuels. But his message of economic fairness has been embraced by white, working-class voters.

Mr. Sanders has proposed legislation that would provide $41 billion to help coal and other fossil fuel workers and their communities, offering support like financial assistance and job training.

Mrs. Clinton has her own $30 billion plan to help coal miners and their communities, including a program to provide funding to local school districts to help make up for lost revenue.

(click here to continue reading Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton Court West Virginians Hit Hard by Coal’s Decline – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 10th, 2016 at 7:29 am

Thursday Topic – Leftovers – Plate 1

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The editor of this humble blog couldn’t think of a good topic to fit the day, instead assigning a day of leftovers. Steaming pile of lukewarm tidbits, most of which you’ve already read on Twitter or in your local fish wrap. Drive-by’s, one-hitters, hot-takes, all basically the same thing. Copy-pasta is what the blogosphere was built with. Without further ado, here are some plates of copy-pasta for your general amusement…

 

Slight Return
Slight Return

First off: I enjoyed the hell out of this book review essay from Scott Alexander, responding to David Hackett Fischer’s book, Albion’s Seed, a history of early American migration patterns.1

90% of Puritan names were taken from the Bible. Some Puritans took pride in their learning by giving their children obscure Biblical names they would expect nobody else to have heard of, like Mahershalalhasbaz. Others chose random Biblical terms that might not have technically been intended as names; “the son of Bostonian Samuel Pond was named Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin Pond”. Still others chose Biblical words completely at random and named their children things like Maybe or Notwithstanding.

(click here to continue reading Book Review: Albion’s Seed | Slate Star Codex.)

and

These aristocrats didn’t want to do their own work, so they brought with them tens of thousands of indentured servants; more than 75% of all Virginian immigrants arrived in this position. Some of these people came willingly on a system where their master paid their passage over and they would be free after a certain number of years; others were sent by the courts as punishments; still others were just plain kidnapped. The gender ratio was 4:1 in favor of men, and there were entire English gangs dedicated to kidnapping women and sending them to Virginia, where they fetched a high price. Needless to say, these people came from a very different stratum than their masters or the Puritans.

People who came to Virginia mostly died. They died of malaria, typhoid fever, amoebiasis, and dysentery. Unlike in New England, where Europeans were better adapted to the cold climate than Africans, in Virginia it was Europeans who had the higher disease-related mortality rate. The whites who survived tended to become “sluggish and indolent”, according to the universal report of travellers and chroniclers, although I might be sluggish and indolent too if I had been kidnapped to go work on some rich person’s farm and sluggishness/indolence was an option.

The Virginians tried their best to oppress white people. Really, they did. The depths to which they sank in trying to oppress white people almost boggle the imagination. There was a rule that if a female indentured servant became pregnant, a few extra years were added on to their indenture, supposedly because they would be working less hard during their pregnancy and child-rearing so it wasn’t fair to the master. Virginian aristocrats would rape their own female servants, then add a penalty term on to their indenture for becoming pregnant. That is an impressive level of chutzpah. But despite these efforts, eventually all the white people either died, or became too sluggish to be useful, or worst of all just finished up their indentures and became legally free. The aristocrats started importing black slaves as per the model that had sprung up in the Caribbean, and so the stage was set for the antebellum South we read about in history classes.

(click here to continue reading Book Review: Albion’s Seed | Slate Star Codex.)

and my favorite as an inveterate map lover:

Borderer town-naming policy was very different from the Biblical names of the Puritans or the Ye Olde English names of the Virginians. Early Borderer settlements include – just to stick to the creek-related ones – Lousy Creek, Naked Creek, Shitbritches Creek, Cuckold’s Creek, Bloodrun Creek, Pinchgut Creek, Whipping Creek, and Hangover Creek. There were also Whiskey Springs, Hell’s Half Acre, Scream Ridge, Scuffletown, and Grabtown. The overall aesthetic honestly sounds a bit Orcish.

(click here to continue reading Book Review: Albion’s Seed | Slate Star Codex.)

Line Drawn In Space
Line Drawn In Space

Erick Erickson claims he’ll the flee the GOP. Doubtful, at best. I’m guessing 98% of Republicans will hold their noses and end up voting for Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton, despite what they say now. Maybe higher!

Prominent conservative talk radio host Erick Erickson said Tuesday night he will de-register as a member of the Republican Party if Donald Trump secures the presidential nomination.

“If Trump is the Republican Party nominee, I won’t be a Republican,” Erickson, who founded RedState, told the Daily Beast. “I’m not down with white supremacists.”

(click here to continue reading Erick Erickson Vows To De-Register As GOPer If Trump Is Party’s Nominee.)

The Earth Was Here
The Earth Was Here

Climate Disruption is going to disrupt the planet until it is stopped, or we perish…

In 2006, six years after his presidential bid, Al Gore launched the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The movie made headlines around the world, raising awareness of global warming and its predicted dire consequences for the planet and society.

The movie did more than this, though, as it also politicized global warming to an unprecedented level. It brought the spotlight to an issue that, as the title says, many investors and politicians find inconvenient. If nothing is done to curb the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, temperatures will rise, ice caps will melt, ocean levels will rise and weather patterns across the globe will be disrupted. This truth remains unchanged.

An article in Science News by Thomas Sumner does an excellent job summarizing what we’ve learned since the release of the movie, which predictions panned out and what was off the mark. Lonnie Thomson, the climate scientist whose studies of melting glaciers in the high Andes were featured in the documentary, says: “The physics and chemistry that we’ve known about for over 200 years is bearing out. We’ve learned so much in the last 10 years, but the fact that the unprecedented climate change of the last 40 years is being driven by increased carbon dioxide hasn’t changed.”

(click here to continue reading After 10 Years, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ Is Still Inconvenient : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR.)

43
43

Don’t know if this is positive news or negative news for Donald Trump:

Neither George HW nor George W Bush, the only two living former Republican presidents of the United States, will endorse Donald Trump.

In statements released to the Guardian on Wednesday evening, spokesmen for both former presidents said they would be sitting out the 2016 election. Freddy Ford, a spokesman for George W Bush, told the Guardian: “President George W Bush does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign.”

The statement by the 43rd president was echoed in one released by his father. Jim McGrath, a spokesman for George HW Bush, told the Guardian: “At age 91, President Bush is retired from politics.

(click here to continue reading Neither George W nor George HW Bush will endorse Donald Trump | US news | The Guardian.)

Donald Trump Is A Swine
Donald Trump Is A Swine

Speaking of idiots, Donald Trump has already began to flip-flop:

“I’ll be putting up money, but won’t be completely self-funding,” the presumptive Republican nominee said in an interview Wednesday. Mr. Trump, who had largely self-financed his successful primary run, added that he would create a “world-class finance organization.” The campaign will tap his expansive personal Rolodex and a new base of supporters who aren’t on party rolls, two Trump advisers said.

The new plan represents a shift for Mr. Trump, who has for months portrayed his Republican opponents as “puppets” for relying on super PACs and taking contributions from wealthy donors that he said came with strings attached.

(click here to continue reading Donald Trump Won’t Self-Fund General-Election Campaign – WSJ.)

Tribune Tower
Tribune Tower

and speaking of fish-wrappers:

Less than two weeks after the Gannett Company went public with an unsolicited bid to acquire Tribune Publishing Company, Tribune’s board formally responded with a firm answer: No.

On Wednesday, Tribune Publishing, which owns newspapers including The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, sent a letter to Gannett saying its board had unanimously rejected the $815 million takeover offer, which included debt and other liabilities and represented a significant premium above Tribune’s share price.

(click here to continue reading Tribune Publishing Says No to Gannett’s $815 Million Offer – The New York Times.)

Prince - A Singular, Meticulous Master of Pop
Prince – A Singular, Meticulous Master of Pop

This is just sad news: addiction is a real epidemic…

Prince Rogers Nelson had an unflinching reputation among those close to him for leading an assiduously clean lifestyle. He ate vegan and preferred to avoid the presence of meat entirely. He was known to eschew alcohol and marijuana, and no one who went on tour with him could indulge either.

But Prince appears to have shielded from even some of his closest friends that he had a problem with pain pills, one that grew so acute that his friends sought urgent medical help from Dr. Howard Kornfeld of California, who specializes in treating people addicted to pain medication.

Dr. Kornfeld, who runs a treatment center in Mill Valley, Calif., sent his son on an overnight flight to meet with Prince at his home to discuss a treatment plan, said William J. Mauzy, a lawyer for the Kornfeld family, during a news conference on Wednesday outside his Minneapolis office.

But he arrived too late.

(click here to continue reading Prince’s Addiction and an Intervention Too Late – The New York Times.)

Ted Cruz - National Enquirer
Ted Cruz – National Enquirer

On a lighter note, at least Ted “Calgary” Cruz has suspended his campaign. Though I suspect he’ll still try to cause disruption at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, at least enough to get his name in the news again.

Before confronting for the first time the innate chaos contained in the phrase, “Presumptive Presidential Nominee Donald Trump,” let us pause for a moment to bid farewell to Tailgunner Ted Cruz, who probably is not the Zodiac Killer, whose father probably did not drink hurricanes in the French Quarter with Lee Harvey Oswald, and who definitely is not the towering figure in our national history that he fancies himself to be. Nothing became his ego so much as the speech in which he decided that his campaign was, indeed, a dead fish

He brought Carly Fiorina in as a mock running mate. (For the record, she was Cruz’s “running mate” for less time than Tom Eagleton was for George McGovern.) It didn’t work. He played the Urinal Cooties card. It didn’t work. Instead, he probably lost badly on Tuesday night at least in part because Trump deftly played The Oswald Card when it would do the most damage.

That was a bit of mock punditry there on my part, but the fact that Cruz couldn’t resist rising to that idiotic clickbait on the day of the primary is measure enough of the self-delusion that was his greatest weakness against a shameless and vulgar talking yam. It was Jeb (!) Bush who learned the second-worst thing for a candidate to be if he’s running against He, Trump—which is a humorless, privileged fop. The worst thing to be is what the Tailgunner was—a self-important dweeb with delusions of sacred grandeur. In both cases, you are a big bag of hot air in search of a needle. That is He, Trump’s only consistent political skill. No wonder Tom Brady loves him. Nobody is more skilled at deflating people than He, Trump.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz Drops Out of Race After Indiana – The Same Forces That Produced Trump Produced Cruz.)

Footnotes:
  1. more than just the Mayflower folks []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 5th, 2016 at 9:10 am

Apple Response To National Center for Public Policy Research Re Climate Change

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Apple Store with Tree
Apple Store with Tree

From Apple, Inc.’s 2015 Proxy Statement is this proposal from conservative think tank, The National Center for Public Policy Research. We’re quoting the proposal, and Apple’s response to it (which boils down to a long-winded no, are you crazy?, for many reasons). This think tank exists mostly for the task of “dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis”, and to publicly scold corporations that drop support for ALEC, so you can imagine why they are pressuring Apple. For the lolz, of course. And to support their corporate masters…

On page 62 of the Proxy Statement:

Proposal No. 5 – Shareholder Proposal The Company has been advised that The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Court, N.E., Suite 200, Washington, D.C 20002 (the “NCPPR”), which has indicated it is a beneficial owner of at least $2,000 in market value of the Company’s common stock, intends to submit the following proposal at the Annual Meeting: Risk Report

and the proposal:

WHEREAS, The Securities and Exchange Commission has recognized that climate change regulations, policy and legislation pose a business risk to companies. One risk is that federal, state and/or local government policies, adopted in whole or in part due to climate change concerns, that subsidize renewable energy and upon which company business plans rely may be repealed or altered. These changes in policy may be significant, and may come with little advance notice to the company.

RESOLVED: Shareholders request that the Board of Directors authorize the preparation of a report, to be issued by December 2015, at a reasonable cost and excluding proprietary information, disclosing the risk to the company posed by possible changes in federal, state or local government policies in the United States relating to climate change and/or renewable energy.

concluding with

Apple Inc. has made renewable energy a priority. The Wall Street Journal reported on September 17, 2013, “Apple Inc. now gets 16% of its electricity from solar panels and fuel cells that run on biogas.” One state in which Apple has significant renewable energy investments is North Carolina, which may soon repeal its law providing advantages for renewable energy production, following a report by two think-tanks concluding that this law will cost state consumers $1.845 billion between 2008 and 2021. Subsidies and policies favorable to renewable energy also are being challenged in other states and also at the federal level, where renewal of the approximately $12 billion wind production tax credit (PTC) is challenged annually and in the past has only been renewed at the very last minute, following closed-door negotiations by lawmakers. The PTC’s future is impossible to predict. 

Apple Logos
Apple Logos

Apple’s response:

The Company’s Statement in Opposition to Proposal No. 5 The Board recommends a vote AGAINST Proposal No. 5. This proposal would result in the production of a narrowly focused report that would yield an incomplete and therefore inaccurate analysis of the Company’s exposure to risks associated with changes in government policies with respect to climate change and renewable energy. In effect, the proponent is asking the Company to spend valuable time and limited resources analyzing hypothetical changes in U.S. federal, state or local governmental policies. The Company has already presented an analysis of the risks and opportunities associated with climate change on its website at www.apple.com/environment/climate- change and in its public filings with the SEC, as well as in a shareholder-requested and industry- recognized reporting tool, the CDP questionnaire.

and continues:

The additional report would therefore provide little to no additional value. As explained on its website, the Company believes climate change caused by emissions from burning fossil fuels is a real problem, and has committed to reducing the Company’s carbon footprint.

The Company also provides detailed information on its renewable energy and sustainability efforts in its annual Environmental Responsibility Report, available online at www.apple.com/environment/reports.
In 2014, the Company also provided detailed responses to the CDP questionnaire. Those responses, requested by shareholders, outline the Company’s views on the risks and opportunities of dealing with climate change. The report requested by the proponent would focus on one domestic aspect of climate change potential risk.

This approach distorts the global realities of climate change risk for the Company and its shareholders. The Company continually evaluates its reliance on both traditional and alternative energy sources and regularly makes decisions to mitigate the Company’s exposure to potential price increases, supply shortages and changes to federal, state and local government policies related to the environment. The Company’s public filings and reports already provide substantial disclosure regarding the Company’s approach to renewable energy and sustainability.

For example, with respect to regulatory risks, the Annual Report included a risk factor entitled “The Company is subject to laws and regulations worldwide, changes to which could increase the Company’s costs and individually or in the aggregate adversely affect the Company’s business.” This risk factor specifically addresses potential changes in laws and regulations, which could “make the Company’s products and services less attractive to the Company’s customers, delay the introduction of new products in one or more regions, or cause the Company to change or limit its business practices.”

The report requested by the proposal would not, in substance, provide any more meaningful detail than the Company’s existing disclosures nor would it justify the use of significant resources associated with preparing such a report. The Company believes that the fulsome disclosure already publicly available in the Company’s public filings and on the Company’s website are more than adequate to address the underlying issues outlined in the proposal. The Company also believes that producing the report requested by the proposal would not be an efficient use of Company resources nor an effective way to protect shareholder value.

Let’s hope this proposal fails. I voted against it1

Footnotes:
  1. I once bought 11 shares of Apple with some extra money I made, I only regret I didn’t purchase more, especially as these shares have risen dramatically in value, and then split seven-for-one in 2013. If I had bought more Apple shares when they were $85 instead of paying health insurance, for instance, maybe I could have some money in the bank… []

Written by Seth Anderson

January 28th, 2015 at 9:26 am

A Pacific Isle, Radioactive and Forgotten

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Marshall Islands On My Globe

The United States military and civilian government both really screwed over the Marshall Islands. Horrifying.

THERE is no consistent air service to the coral atoll of Enewetak in the Marshall Islands, where the United States tested 67 nuclear weapons between 1946 and 1958. On my first trip to the capital, Majuro, in 2010, to study the danger posed there by the rising ocean, I managed to get on a special flight taking dignitaries to Enewetak for the dedication of a school. From there, I boarded a small boat to visit a nuclear waste dump that the world had all but forgotten.

The Marshall Islands are only about six feet above sea level. Its survival and that of other island nations are on the minds of negotiators gathering this week in Lima, Peru, for a United Nations climate change conference.

This place stands out for its misfortunes: ravaged first by radioactivity from tests conducted after World War II and, now, by the rising seas that threaten to swallow it.

(click here to continue reading A Pacific Isle, Radioactive and Forgotten – NYTimes.com.)

All Your Dreams Won't Protect You
All Your Dreams Won’t Protect You

Detonated an insane amount of nuclear weaponry, then split the scene like a bad morning-after date…

Bikini was so radioactive that there was little hope of allowing its displaced population ever to return home. But the military studied how to clean up Enewetak so that at least some land could become habitable again. The Defense Department concluded that there was so much soil contaminated with cesium-137 and strontium-90 that the safest approach was to leave it alone and let it decay naturally. Both have half-lives of about 30 years.

But also left behind by the blasts was plutonium-239, which has a half-life of 24,000 years. With enough plutonium-239 in the right form, a bomb could be made. That is why the United States participated in a $150 million operation, completed in 2012, to secure and clean up the plutonium at a Soviet-era nuclear test site in Kazakhstan.

At Enewetak, the United States decided in the late 1970s to dump as much plutonium-contaminated soil as it could gather into a 33-foot-deep crater on Runit that had been carved out in 1958 by a bomb roughly the size of the one detonated over Hiroshima.

In addition to the contaminated soil, crews filled 437 plastic bags with plutonium chunks they had picked up from the ground, left behind when one bomb misfired. These also went into the crater, which was then covered with an 18-inch-thick concrete cap. Most of the rest of the radioactive waste, with too little plutonium to trouble with, was bulldozed into the lagoon, over the objections of the Environmental Protection Agency and the displaced people of Enewetak. American officials also chose to leave radiation on the land at levels far higher than would be allowed after a similar cleanup in the United States.

Northern Mariana Islands
Northern Mariana Islands

and with typical American nonchalance for the future, the US didn’t really plan for what would happen to the nuclear waste beyond a few years:

Longevity was not among the design criteria for the Runit dome (unlike Yucca Mountain in Nevada, where, until recently, the federal government planned to deposit its spent nuclear fuel deep underground in facilities designed to be safe for at least one million years). In fact the dome does not meet American standards for landfills for household trash.

A task force of the federal government’s National Research Council warned in 1982 that the dome might be breached by a severe typhoon. But a 2013 report sponsored by the Department of Energy saw no reason to worry. “Catastrophic failure of the concrete dome,” it said, “and instantaneous release of all its contents into the lagoon will not necessarily lead to any significant change in the radiation dose delivered to the local resident population.”

The reason, according to the report, was that the radiation inside the dome was “dwarfed” by the radiation in the sediments in the lagoon. Thus a leak from the dome would be no added threat because it is dirtier on the outside than the inside. Plutonium isotopes recently discovered in the South China Sea have been traced to the Marshall Islands, some 2,800 miles away.

An inspection last year found that the dome was deteriorating, and the radioactive groundwater below rises and falls with the tides. Storms wash sand onto the dome; vines grow in the cracks.

Oh, joy…

Wasted Youth - Guam 1998
Wasted Youth Wanna Make Fight – Guam 1998

You should click through and read the rest of Michael B. Gerrard’s article, you’ll be amazed and terrified. And as the Pacific Ocean rises, all of this nuclear waste is going to sent right into all of our food supplies. Guam may be a thousand miles away or so, but that’s too close for my comfort. We all still live on the same planet…

Written by Seth Anderson

December 7th, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Drought-hit Sao Paulo Has Sixty Days Of Water Left

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What Have We Done Wrong?
What Have We Done Wrong?

Wow, that’s crazy! Brazil is suffering through its worse drought in 80 years, but politics has impeded practical action being taken. Sound familiar? When are the water wars going to start getting violent in the US? Ten years? Five years? Twenty years?  

São Paulo, Brazil’s drought-hit megacity of 20 million, has about two months of guaranteed water supply remaining as it taps into the second of three emergency reserves, officials say.

The city began using its second so-called “technical reserve” 10 days ago to prevent a water crisis after reservoirs reached critically low levels last month.

This is the first time the state has resorted to using the reserves, experts say.

“If we take into account the same pattern of water extraction and rainfall that we’ve seen so far this month – and it’s been raining less than half of the average – we can say the (reserve) will last up to 60 days,” said Marussia Whately, a water resources specialist at environmental NGO Instituto Socioambiental.

But an expected increase in water usage during the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holidays could easily reduce the time the reserve will last, she added.

After that period, there is no certainty over the water supply available to Brazil’s wealthiest city and financial center, Whately said.

A presidential election in October, which pitted the governing Workers Party (PT) against the opposition Social Democracy Party (PSDB), led São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin of the PSDB to delay taking action on the water shortage – such as ordering mandatory rationing – for fear of losing votes during his reelection campaign, experts say.

 

(click here to continue reading Drought-hit Sao Paulo may ‘get water from mud’: TRFN | Reuters.)

I’ve been watching the planet’s upcoming water crisis for many years, even before this blog existed, and other than desalinization becoming cheaper, or the vast oil/gas pipeline network being repurposed to carry water, there haven’t been many solutions proferred.  The next century will be interesting, in the sense of the (pseudo) Chinese proverb, “May You  Live In Interesting Times1

Looking Down Katie's Well
Looking Down Katie’s Well.

Dom Phillips writes in the Washington Post:

But critics say the state government, which controls the water company, played down the crisis because of October’s elections, in which the state’s governor, Geraldo Alckmin, was reelected. Critics say SABESP has failed to keep the population properly informed and to introduce enough effective measures to reduce consumption.

“It is not just the lack of water, which is critical, it is also not knowing how to manage the crisis,” said Carlos de Oliveira of the Brazilian Consumer Defense Institute in São Paulo. The institute only recently received key maps outlining the worst-hit areas — but they did not feature streets, just gradients. “Instead of supplying information, SABESP blames the consumer,” he said.

The water company said there is no rationing or rotating of the water supply — just nightly reductions in pressure to cut losses. Nobody believes it.

“There is rationing,” said Paulo Santos, manager of the elegant Condomínio Louvre building in São Paulo’s center, which has 320 apartments and 45 shops. Water is cut off most nights, starting about 10 p.m., Santos said. He maintains supply by keeping a 12,000-gallon tank full and is installing tanks to capture rainfall on a roof. “The residents are worried. They keep asking about the water,” he said.

(click here to continue reading Taps run dry in São Paulo drought, but water company barely shrugs – The Washington Post.)

Can You Show Me A Dream That's Better Than Mine?
Can You Show Me A Dream That’s Better Than Mine?

And more details from Bloomberg:

Brazil’s Jaguari reservoir has fallen to its lowest level ever, laying bare measurement posts that jut from exposed earth like a line of dominoes. The nation’s two biggest cities are fighting for what little water is left.

Sao Paulo state leaders want to tap Jaguari, which feeds Rio de Janeiro’s main source. Rio state officials say they shouldn’t suffer for others’ mismanagement. Supreme Court judges have summoned the parties to Brasilia for a mediation session this week.

The standoff in a nation with more water resources than any other country in the world portends further conflicts as the planet grows increasingly urban. One in three of the world’s 100 biggest cities is under water stress, according to The Nature Conservancy, a U.S.-based nonprofit.

“It’s unusual in that it’s two very large cities facing what could be a new, permanent conflict over the allocation of water,” said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, a research organization in Oakland, California. “It’s a wake-up call that even places we think of as water-rich have to learn to do a better job of managing what’s ultimately a scarce resource. Nature doesn’t always cooperate with us.”

While Rio has so far remained mostly unaffected by the country’s worst drought in eight decades, that’s not the case for its neighbor to the south. More than half the Paulistas in a Datafolha poll last month said they had been without water at least once in the previous 30 days.

(click here to continue reading Water War Amid Brazil Drought Leads to Fight Over Puddles – Bloomberg.)

As The Evening Sky Grew Dark
As The Evening Sky Grew Dark…

Man-made destruction is at least partly to blame, of course

Antonio Nobre, a researcher at Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research and its National Institute for Amazonian Research, wrote in an e-mail that deforestation might be connected to the drought.

In October, Nobre published a scientific assessment report, which argued that clear-cutting has altered the Amazon forest’s climate — as evidenced by droughts in 2005 and 2010. The forest functions as a “biotic pump,” it said, channeling moisture down to São Paulo via “aerial rivers” that bounce off the Andes wall.

(click here to continue reading Taps run dry in São Paulo drought, but water company barely shrugs – The Washington Post.)

Footnotes:
  1. The nearest related Chinese expression is “宁为太平犬,莫做乱世人” (níng wéi tàipíng quǎn, mò zuò luànshì rén) which conveys the sense that it is “better to live as a dog in an era of peace than a man in times of war.” []

Written by Seth Anderson

November 30th, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Thank Global Warming for Freezing You Right Now

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Cold
Cold

Every time the weather turns cold, morons crawl out of the proverbial woodwork, and make lame jokes and snide comments about “Where’s your global warming now?” Well, the thing is, climate change is not so simple as all that, is it? The Earth’s weather patterns are complicated, and not even entirely understood. But extreme weather is certainly part of the pattern, including cold snaps. Weather is seasonal as well, which is why it is summer in Australia right now. And not a typical summer day, but extremely hot – in the neighborhood of 50ºC1

Eric Holthaus has a fairly clear explanation of why climate change leads to cold snaps:

This particularly aspect of climate change science is not yet definitive, but here’s what may be going on:

1) The Arctic rapidly warming: It’s always going to be colder at the North Pole than it is in Miami, but the difference in temperature between those two places may already be shrinking. The Arctic is quickly losing sea ice, which is being replaced by relatively warmer open ocean. Liquid water tends to trap heat more effectively than ice, which in turn discourages the future formation of ice. It’s a feedback loop that is not working in our favor, and as a result, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.

2) The jet stream is slowing down: The coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere is typically trapped in the far northern Arctic by the jet stream. However, with a little help from climate change, that barrier is starting to break down. As the temperature contrast between the warmer tropics decreases, the jet stream, whichexists due to that contrast, weakens and becomes more elongated and chaotic. Think of navigating a car through slow-moving traffic: it’s a lot less straightforward to find a quick route from point A to point B.

3) As a result, extreme weather ensures: With a slower, more chaotic jet stream, there’s a much greater likelihood of weather systems getting stuck on their paths around the planet. When weather systems stagnate, they have a tendency to intensify, sometimes breaking records for heat, cold, snow, and rain in the process. Also, when increasingly elongated paths are taken by jet stream winds, it’s easier for them to pull exceptionally cold air further southwards, which is exactly what’s happening this week.

(click here to continue reading Thank Global Warming for Freezing You Right Now – The Daily Beast.)

Siri Reports the Wind Chill is -38ºF
Siri Reports the Wind Chill is -38ºF

Footnotes:
  1. 122º F []

Written by Seth Anderson

January 6th, 2014 at 9:38 am

Climate Change and Cities

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99 in the Shade
99 in the Shade

I moved to Chicago in 1994, and the heat-wave of 1995 surprised me. I was used to living in extreme heat in Austin, several of my cheap apartments didn’t have air conditioning. But Chicago was not culturally or politically prepared to deal with the heat of that summer. This year’s heat-wave was taken a lot more seriously by city officials, as Eric Klinenberg reports:

the most visible human drama of climate change is happening in cities. Cities are not merely the population centers where dense concentrations of people are trapped and exposed during dangerous weather events. They are also “heat islands,” whose asphalt, brick, concrete and steel attract the heat while pollution from automobiles, factories and air-conditioners traps it. City dwellers experience elevated heat at all hours, but the difference matters most at night, when the failure of high temperatures to fall deprives them of natural relief. For the most vulnerable people, these “high lows” can be the difference between life and death.

Americans began to take urban heat seriously after 1995, when a record-breaking heat wave — three days of triple-digit heat — baked Chicago. Ordinarily, heat waves fail to produce the kind of spectacular imagery we see in other disasters, like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods. Heat doesn’t generate much property damage, nor does it reveal its force to the camera or naked eye. Heat waves are invisible killers of old, poor and other mostly invisible people. Until the summer of 1995, medical examiners and media outlets often neglected to report heat-related deaths altogether.

But the great Chicago heat wave changed things. It caused so much suffering that at one point nearly half the city’s emergency rooms closed their doors to new patients. Hospitals were not the only institutions stretched beyond capacity by the heat. Streets buckled. Trains derailed. The power grid failed. Water pressure diminished. Ambulances were delayed.

There were “water wars” in poor neighborhoods, where city workers cracked down on residents who opened fire hydrants for relief. There were surreal scenes at City Hall, where members of the mayor’s staff declined to declare a heat emergency, forgot to implement their extreme heat plan and refused to bring in additional ambulances and paramedics.

And there was Mayor Richard M. Daley, telling reporters: “It’s hot. It’s very hot. But let’s not blow it out of proportion,” while the morgue ran out of bays and the medical examiner had to call in a fleet of refrigerated trucks to handle the load. When the temperatures finally broke, 739 Chicagoans had died as a result of the heat wave.

Chicago learned from the disaster, and today it is a national leader in planning for the next acute heat emergency. The city compiles a list of old, isolated and vulnerable residents, and public workers contact them when dangerous weather arrives. City officials and community organizations promote awareness and encourage residents to check in on one another. The local news media treat heat waves as true public health hazards. Everyone knows how perilous the new climate can be.

Unfortunately, Chicago keeps getting reminders. In the early July heat wave, despite its improved emergency response system, Chicago reported more heat deaths than any other city or state. And this week the Union of Concerned Scientists released “Heat in the Heartland,(PDF)” a study that reports an increased incidence of dangerous hot weather throughout the Midwest in the past 60 years, including elevated evening temperatures and more heat waves lasting three days or longer. Along with Chicago, the report singles out St. Louis, Detroit, Minneapolis and Cincinnati as being at risk, but also cites public health research predicting more heat waves in towns and cities throughout the Midwest and Northeast.

(click here to continue reading Is It Hot Enough for Ya? – NYTimes.com.)

Help Me Make It Through The Night
Help Me Make It Through The Night

Rising temperatures are not just a concern for the future. Dangerously hot weather is already occurring more frequently in the Midwest than it did 60 years ago.

The report, Heat in the Heartland: 60 Years of Warming in the Midwest, presents an original analysis of weather data for five major urban areas — Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis, and St. Louis — as well as five smaller nearby cities.

The results from the analysis are clear: Hot summer weather and heat waves have been increasing in cities in the nation’s heartland over the last six decades on average. The report documents this trend, explores its health implications, and looks at what the largest cities are doing to adapt to these changes and protect their residents.

High temperatures can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and deadly heat stroke. Very hot weather can also aggravate existing medical conditions such as diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney disease, and heart disease.

Urban populations, the elderly, children, and people with impaired health and limited mobility are particularly susceptible to heat-related illness and death.

(click here to continue reading Heat in the Heartland: The Growing Health Risks of Heat Waves and Hot Summer Weather in the Midwest (2012) | Union of Concerned Scientists.)

Now if only someone could come up with a good (non-financial) reason for the Tea Party and other GOP factions to support a national policy dealing with climate change…

Written by Seth Anderson

August 5th, 2012 at 8:21 am

Record Heat Wave Grips US. But Is It Climate Change?

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Spring is Here
Spring is Here

Warm, indeed. Abnormally warm in fact, and not just in Chicago

Records are not only being broken across the country, they’re being broken in unusual ways. Chicago, for example, saw temperatures above 26.6°Celsius (80°Fahrenheit) every day between March 14-18, breaking records on all five days. For context, the National Weather Service noted that Chicago typically averages only one day in the eighties each in April. And only once in 140 years of weather observations has April produced as many 80°Fahrenheit days as this March.

Speaking at a high-dollar Chicago fundraiser hosted by Oprah Winfrey as the city basked in June-like weather last week, President Barack Obama admitted to being “a little nervous” about global warming: “We’ve had a good day,” Obama said. “It’s warm every place. It gets you a little nervous about what’s happening to global temperatures. But when it’s 75 degrees in Chicago in the beginning of March it gets you thinking … ” “Something’s wrong,” Oprah interjected. “Yeah,” Obama said. “On other hand we really have enjoyed the nice weather.”

(click here to continue reading Record Heat Wave Grips US. But Is It Climate Change? | Mother Jones.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 22nd, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Senator Bernie Sanders proposes to ax fossil-fuel subsidies

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Department of Energy and Climate Change
Department of Energy and Climate Change, Britain

Good for Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the few Senators who actually cares about the average citizen, and our planet…

Bernie Sanders used to be Congressman-at-large from Vermont. Now he’s Vermont’s junior Senator. In so many ways, however, he’s the nation’s Senator-at-large, showing the way when so many others in Congress have lost theirs.

While a good chunk of Congress, including a majority of the freshman class in the House, are climate-change deniers, Sanders has no illusions about where we need to be headed. That’s why he introduced the 10 Million Solar Rooftops bill last June. That bill, now with seven co-sponsors, was approved for a vote by the full Senate in December. It’s also why he introduced legislation to end oil and coal subsidies last year. That bill got just 35 votes in the Senate. But he vowed Tuesday not to give up.

“We’ve got to end all of the tax breaks for the oil companies and coal companies and I’m going to introduce legislation to do just that,” Sanders told demonstrators clad in black-and-white striped referee shirts who rallied to “blow the whistle” on members of Congress and Big Oil. Ending tax breaks and subsidies for oil and gas companies would reduce the deficit by more than $40 billion over the next 10 years. Sanders’ legislation will end those tax breaks and tens of billions of dollars in other special subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

Besides ignoring Sen. Sanders’s bill last year, and Obama’s budget proposal, Congress refused to go along with the proposal of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who wanted to cut some $2 billion in subsidies solely from the five big dogs in the oil business: BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron and Conoco Phillips.

Together over the past decade, those five have together put $1 trillion on their bottom lines. And yet some of them have had years in which they not only paid zero income taxes, they actually got rebates. Exxon Mobil paid $39 million in taxes on the $9.9 billion in U.S. profits it made for 2009-2010. Its effective tax rate? 0.4 percent. Outrageous, but perfectly legal.
Sanders told the 350.org crowd, “One of the absurdities that goes on right here in Washington, D.C., is that Congress keeps voting not for the interest of our children, not in the interest of our future, but for the profits of the huge oil and coal companies.”

There’s a good reason for this outcome. In 2011 alone, oil and gas companies spent more than $100 million lobbying Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics reports. Since 1990, they have collectively passed out $238.7 million to candidates and parties, three-fourths of it to Republicans. Exxon Mobil alone contributed $872,694 to candidates in 2010-2011. Sitting members of Congress received $12 million in contributions from oil and gas interests from July 2009 through July 2011, according to the non-partisan research group Maplight.

(click here to continue reading Daily Kos: Bernie Sanders proposes to ax fossil-fuel subsidies and add 10 million sun-powered rooftops.)

Standard Oil Co of Ind
Standard Oil Co of Indiana

Outrageous, really, that our tax dollars go to line the pockets of oil industry executives…

Written by Seth Anderson

January 27th, 2012 at 9:24 am

Damn You Global Climate Change

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Took for Granted
Took for Granted

Following up on my whine about not enough snow this winter, and too much rain, Tom Skilling writes:

Chicago received a hefty 3.84 inches of precipitation (water content) from Thanksgiving through January 2, almost all of it falling as rain. With temperatures around 30 degrees, the typical conversion from water equivalent precipitation to snow is about 10:1, so the 3.84 inches would convert to 36-40 inches of snow.

That is about as much as Chicago receives in an average winter. In a colder environment — with temperatures in the lower 20s — the water-to-snow ratio increases to about 15:1. That would theoretically yield between 55 and 60 inches of snow.

(click here to continue reading ASK TOM WHY: With all the rain we’ve had since Thanksgiving, what would the accumulation of snow have been if the temperature was around 30 degrees? – Chicago Weather Center.)

Now, four to five feet of snow would be enough snow that I’d be whining about summer instead…

West Loop snow flurry
West Loop snow flurry

Written by Seth Anderson

January 2nd, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Posted in Chicago-esque

Tagged with ,

No Snow In December

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Immense Activity of a Rain Puddle
Immense Activity of a Rain Puddle

It isn’t just my feeling this winter has been unusually mild, there are facts to support my contention:

Friday’s rain is just another of the meteorological oddities which have marked December 2011.  The month, now running a 7.4-degree surplus and ranked among the mildest 12 percent of all Decembers on record over the past 141 years, is also, along with cities all over the Midwest, in the midst of a snow drought here. The month, typically Chicago’s third snowiest with 8.5 inches of snow and just behind January’s 10.8 inches and February’s typical 9.1 inches, is marching toward a midnight Saturday night close with only 1.7 inches of snow to its credit. That’s an amount which is one fifth (20 percent) the so-called “normal” tally for the month and just 10 percent of last December’s 16.2-inch total.

Lakefront hits 50-degrees Thursday; O’Hare tops out way above normal at 48-degrees, marking the 18th day at or above 40 this December. Mild Pacific-origin air swept into the area Thursday, sending Wednesday’s arctic chill with its 31-degree high packing.  Readings Thursday afternoon surged 17-degrees higher, topping out at 48-degrees at O’Hare and Midway.  Northerly Island on Chicago’s lakefront managed a 50-degree high.     The reading was Chicago’s warmest in 10 days and marked the 18th time this month that temperatures have made it to 40-degrees.

(click here to continue reading Clocks tick toward December’s Saturday night close with just 8 percent of last year’s snow on the books – Chicago Weather Center.)

I’ve made a (mental) bargain with Chicago’s weather – I won’t complain about winter’s lack of sunlight, and general dreariness, if, and only if there is substantial snow for me to play in, and photograph. Despite Tom Skilling’s report of 1.7” of snow so far this winter, downtown Chicago has less than that. In fact, only once was any building dusted with a smidgen of snow, and it melted by the following day. Rain is difficult to photostroll in, at least with my current camera equipment.

Happy Just to Rain on You
Happy Just to Rain on You

Written by Seth Anderson

January 1st, 2012 at 11:08 am

Posted in Chicago-esque

Tagged with , ,

Greening the concrete jungle

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Green Alley, signed by Richard M Daley
Green Alley, signed by Richard M Daley

Baby steps, yet they should be celebrated because the alternative is sitting on our hands as the planet fries…

THERE are many places in Illinois where you expect to find a prairie. The roof of City Hall in Chicago is not among them. Yet there it is—20,000 square feet (almost half an acre) of shrubs, vines and small trees, 11 storeys above LaSalle Avenue. Planted in 2000, City Hall’s “green roof” reduces the amount of energy needed to cool the building in the summer; captures water during rainstorms, thus reducing the amount of water flowing into Chicago’s already overtaxed sewers; and combats the urban “heat island” effect, which makes cities warmer than nearby rural areas. On average, air temperatures above City Hall are 10-15°F degrees lower than those above the adjacent black-tar roof of the Cook County Building; on hot summer days the difference can be as great as 50°F.

Large as it is, City Hall’s roof accounts for a small proportion of Chicago’s total green-roof space. And those roofs are just one part of Chicago’s Climate Action Plan (CCAP), which was launched in September 2008 and was preceded by years of green initiatives during the tenure of Richard Daley, who from 1989 until earlier this year was mayor of Chicago. CCAP aims to reduce Chicago’s greenhouse-gas emissions to 75% of their 1990 levels by 2020, and to just 20% of their 1990 levels by 2050. In the two years after CCAP’s launch public-transport ridership rose, millions of gallons of water were conserved, hundreds of hybrid buses were added to Chicago’s fleet and over 13,000 housing units and nearly 400 commercial buildings were retrofitted for energy efficiency.

These achievements have come not through sweeping social engineering, or by making Chicagoans dine on tofu, sprouts and recycled rainwater while sitting in the dark, but by simple tweaks. City buses inevitably need replacing; so why not replace them with hybrid models that are not only 60% lower in carbon emissions than standard diesel buses, but also 30% more fuel-efficient and will save an estimated $7m a year in fuel and upkeep? Alleys—Chicago has 1,900 miles of them—will inevitably need repaving; why not repave them with permeable, light-coloured surfaces rather than asphalt to reduce water run-off into sewers and reflect rather than retain the sun’s light and heat?

(click here to continue reading Cities and climate change: Greening the concrete jungle | The Economist.)

There Is Only This Kind
There Is Only This Kind

Daley’s plan has been criticized because implementation has been slow, but at least something is happening, in Chicago, and nine other American metropolitan areas that are leading this effort:

Chicago and New York are just two of the ten American cities—the others are Austin, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle—who are members of the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group (mercifully renamed the C40), which now comprises 58 cities around the world. Roughly 297m people, less than 5% of the Earth’s total, live in the 40 charter-member C40 cities. But they account for 18% of the world’s GDP and 10% of its carbon emissions.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 5th, 2011 at 8:29 am

Burning Burning and Politicians Fiddling

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Tonatiuh Resplendent

Nero fiddled, I’d say Senators like Jim Inhofe are just playing their energy company-sponsored kazoo as the planet burns up.

Arizona is burning. Texas, too. New Mexico is next. If you need a grim reminder that an already arid West is burning up and blowing away, here it is. As I write this, more than 700 square miles of Arizona and more than 4,300 square miles of Texas have been swept by monster wildfires. Consider those massive columns of acrid smoke drifting eastward as a kind of smoke signal warning us that a globally warming world is not a matter of some future worst-case scenario. It’s happening right here, right now.

Air tankers have been dropping fire retardant on what is being called the Wallow fire in Arizona and firefighting crews have been mobilized from across the West, but the fire remained “zero contained” for most of last week and only 18% so early in the new week, too big to touch with mere human tools like hoses, shovels, saws, and bulldozers. Walls of flame 100 feet high rolled over the land like a tsunami from Hades. The heat from such a fire is so intense and immense that it can create small tornadoes of red embers that cannot be knocked down and smothered by water or chemicals. These are not your grandfather’s forest fires.

Because the burn area in eastern Arizona is sparsely populated, damage to property so far has been minimal compared to, say, wildfire destruction in California, where the interface of civilization and wilderness is growing ever more crowded. However, the devastation to life in the fire zone, from microbiotic communities that hold soil and crucial nutrients in place to more popular species like deer, elk, bear, fish, and birds—already hard-pressed to cope with the rapidity of climate change—will be catastrophic.

The vastness of the American West holds rainforests, deserts, and everything in between, so weather patterns and moisture vary. Nonetheless, we have been experiencing a historic drought for about a decade in significant parts of the region. As topsoil dries out, microbial dynamics change and native plants either die or move uphill toward cooler temperatures and more moisture. Wildlife that depends on the seeds, nuts, leaves, shade, and shelter follows the plants—if it can.

 

(click here to continue reading How the West Was Lost | Mother Jones.)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 16th, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Climate Scientist Sues Skeptic for Libel

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Sitting in the Clouds

Wonder if any interesting evidence will be unearthed during discovery? Like oil corporation involvement, or Koch Industry payments to Tim Ball? Curious to see what happens.

A prominent Canadian climate scientist is suing a leading climate skeptic for libel, arguing that an article published online in January contained false and malicious claims.

Andrew Weaver, a climate modeler at the University of Victoria, filed the lawsuit against Tim Ball, a former professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg and a vocal critic of the science linking man-made emissions to global warming, over an article published by the Canada Free Press, a conservative Web site.

The article described Dr. Weaver, who was lead author for the 2007 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as lacking a basic understanding of climate science and incorrectly stated that he would not take part in the next I.P.C.C. panel because of concerns about its credibility. Dr. Weaver is already involved in the preparation of the next report from the panel and has never said that he was ending his involvement with it.

Dr. Ball’s article has been removed from the Canada Free Press site, which published a long retraction and apology to Dr. Weaver after being contacted by the scientist’s lawyer.

The article contained “untrue and disparaging statements,” the site’s editors wrote, adding that the attacks on Dr. Weaver’s scientific credibility were unjustified. “We entirely accept that he has a well-deserved international reputation as a climate scientist and that Dr. Ball’s attack on his credentials is unjustified.”

 

(click here to continue reading Climate Scientist Sues Skeptic for Libel – NYTimes.com.)

As an internet wag said somewhere, this must mean that we can discredit all of the climate deniers now since they acknowledge committing an error, right?1

Footnotes:
  1.  Reached by phone, Dr. Ball acknowledged that he had made “one small mistake” with his statement that Dr. Weaver was bowing out of the I.P.C.C. process, []

Written by Seth Anderson

February 8th, 2011 at 9:20 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , ,