IBI Watch 6/3/12

3 06 2012

Heat.  Reheat.  Repeat.   //

It’s a milestone, though not one to celebrate.  This week, NOAA posted an inevitable but nonetheless scary number.  Measures of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the Arctic – harbingers of what is coming this way, and soon – showed a new record high of 400 parts per million.  The NOAA article is good reading, and not just because it lacks the usual blather about ‘some scientists don’t think this is a problem’ or the like.  Here is another look at 400 and what it means, from the Climate Crocks site.  For the historical perspective, all you have to do is view this one-minute video animation documenting 800,000 years of atmospheric CO2.  You will understand the true meaning of ‘hockey stick.’

This makes all but committed denialists wonder, ‘How bad will this get, and how fast?’  Here are two views.  First, James Hansen is one scientist bold enough to tie our increasingly chaotic weather to our supercharging the atmosphere with carbon.  If you have not explored his concept of ‘climate dice,’ here is a good place to get a reading on that.

“Imagine dice with two sides red (for hot), two sides blue (for cold) and two sides white (average temperatures). If you roll the dice, you’re equally likely to get any result. With continued emissions of greenhouse gas, however, the authors predicted that by the early 21st century, four of the sides would be red.

‘The climate dice are loaded now, just as we said back in the 1980s that they would be,’ Hansen wrote to Time.com. ‘People should be able to recognize the change, especially the increasingly extreme events. Don’t be surprised if there are more examples this summer.’”

Here is another view, from Scientific American.  It’s actually an excerpt from Fred Guterl’s new book, The Fate of the Species: Why the Human Race May Cause Its Own Extinction and How We Can Stop ItThis excerpt walks through extremely plausible disaster scenarios posited by climate scientist Tim Lenton – tipping points that could flip key weather systems such as the Indian monsoon, Arctic sea ice, continental ice sheets and the Amazon rain forest to new states that have massive global consequences.


So, in the face of all this looming Armageddon, what are we doing besides drooling over Arctic oil deposits?  Sadly, not a hell of a lot.  Inertia is powerful, and serves the interests of those making a financial killing – mainly the big oil companies.

But it’s too early, way too early, to give up.  News arrived recently of what is being called an ‘inconvenient lawsuit.’  That would be a group of young people suing to stop global warming, based on the ‘public trust doctrine.’  These kids deserve support.  Here is the home page of the group’s leader, Alec Loorz – all of 15 years old.  And everyone has a duty to be informed.  This may be the best site I am aware of that documents all the fairy tales, lies and canards ever cooked up (so far anyway) by pignorant (pretend-ignorant) pundits.  Punchy, one-line (with links of course) scientific explanations debunk each denialist concoction – all 173 of them!


Conservatives Reject the Science that Explains Their Rejection of Science

Chris Mooney has written several books about a disturbing modern (mainly) American phenomenon.  That is, that conservatives increasingly reject the science that conflicts with their value system.  The most obvious example is climate change, though it’s not the only one.  Mooney got started on this several years back with The Republican War on Science.  Now, he claims that media coverage of his latest book, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science–and Reality, has been deliberately muted.  It doesn’t fit the corporate media’s modus operandi (also known as false equivalence), and so the large media outlets largely stay away.  He explains that view here.   Mooney has been criticized, attacked in some conservative circles, and seen his points badly mischaracterized.  One thing he is not saying is that conservatives are less intelligent.  And though science has been badly politicized in recent years, it’s important to acknowledge that Republican denial of science is far from monolithic.  One of my favorite examples is the brave stance taken by Star Tribune meteorologist Paul Douglas, who happens to be a Republican.  Here is an excerpt from a recent Douglas column, titled ‘Science Optional.’

“I speak out because I’m in touch with the world’s leading climate scientists.  They’re scared. 

Imagine 98 percent of cardiologists give you the same diagnosis, but two guys suggest you lower your blood pressure using magnets and duct tape.  Crazy, huh? 

But those two pseudo-scientists represent s trillion dollar industry.  They confuse the public, keep doubt alive and falsely accuse the other 98 percent.

Sounds like the tobacco ‘debate’ of the 70s, only it’s 100 times worse, with serious implications for the planet – and our grandkids.

This is about the blatant subversion of sconce and doing the right thing for future generations.  That’s why I speak out.”

Indeed.  Douglas’ blog is constantly updated, and a fine compendium of weather and climate information.  Always worth a look.


Billionaires Behaving Badly

It’s June 2.  Do you know where your ‘job creator’ is working his John Galtian magic?  No?  Shocking.  This article can help explain.  The overriding goal of the modern Republican Party is to continue to lower taxes on the wealthy, and gut regulations – ostensibly so the John Galts of the country can get on with the business of creating employment for us peons.  Well, it turns out that an increasing number of the wealthiest are pretty damned good at avoiding taxes in the first place.  Read about it here.  As budget deficits mount, do you think there could be any connection between this true growth industry – tax avoidance by high rollers – and the ocean of red ink?

This is also an indication of how times have changed.  In 1969, Congress was so upset about a mere 155 individuals who earned more than $200,000 and paid no income tax that it passed the Alternative Minimum Tax, which aims to prevent wealthy people from claiming too many tax exemptions and deductions.  Today, that tax-free country club of tycoons has grown from 155 to 21,000.  As Yakov Smirnoff used to say, ‘Amerika, what a country!’


Making Gains Permanent

While we are at it, here are two views of institutionalizing plutocracy.  First, a look at the methods that the wealthiest employ to maintain the system that serves them best.  And then there is Paul Krugman – who decries the push toward austerity at a time when it’s exactly what the economy does not need.  Here is a quote:  “So the austerity drive in Britain isn’t really about debt and deficits at all; it’s about using deficit panic as an excuse to dismantle social programs. And this is, of course, exactly the same thing that has been happening in America.”


Florida –Shenanigans Central

Governor Rick Scott has been making Katherine Harris look like an amateur.  Until now.  The state’s voter-suppression campaign – arguably the most blatant among all the states – was stopped in its tracks this week.  Read about the ‘program’ here, and watch video about the Justice Department’s halt here. Also, you can listen to an NPR story on the matter here.  The NPR story deserves special note. If you listen to the whole story (it is concise), you will hear the reporter at the end engage in a subtle example of false equivalence.  It’s a throwaway comment, but a telling one.  He basically dismisses Scott’s outrageous suppression of voters as just ‘the way the game is played – Democrats trying to get their vote out and Republicans doing the same.’  Say what?


Clean Energy in the Works

Here are two hopeful stories – an optimistic look at the potential for renewable energy; an exploration of one nation’s ambition to become the world’s battery powerhouse.


Birthers? Wifers!

With Donald Trump publicly resurrecting the Barack Obama birth certificate mania, it is only fitting that we visit Bill Maher for his take on the opposing candidate.  Pretty funny stuff.  I enjoyed that video segment so much that I offer a longer Maher take – a few new rules he promises to observe.


“To argue with a person who has renounced reason is like administering medicine to the dead.” – Thomas Paine


Blogger – Michael Murphy, St. Paul MN

Contributed links to this posting –Jeff Carlson, Mark Goldberg, Allyson Harper




2 responses

3 06 2012

Excellent stuff as always. Spread the word!

4 06 2012
Bonnie Blodgett

Wonderful but really scary, especially those false equivalences.

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