IBI Watch 10/28/12

28 10 2012

Superstorms, Paradox and Petrol Propaganda  //

Human-made climate change – arguably the most urgent environmental problem the world faces – is not simple.  The underlying science is simple enough and has been known for centuries – add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, increase the atmosphere’s ability to hold heat rather than radiate it to space.  But the specific consequences are not at all simple.  Sure, there is a general warming trend – which has accelerated dramatically in just the past few years, especially in the Arctic.  But other events – like the monster storm currently threatening America’s eastern seaboard, can and will be used as straw man arguments to confuse enough of the public into supporting ‘status quo’ energy and climate policies.  This is what Rush Limbaugh, James Inhofe, Fred Singer and the whole crowd of pignorant pundits and politicos do best.  A terrific new Frontline tells this sad story of manufactured doubt.

But here is the paradox – and the opening for the fossil fuel tycoons and their stooges.  For the near and mid-term future, extreme cold weather events will be part of the mix.  You can expect spinmeisters to state that the relatively early autumn cold fronts that complicate the Hurricane Sandy situation ‘disprove’ global warming.  They have done this many times during major snowstorms in recent years.  It’s big fun for these guys to ridicule Al Gore and climate scientists – but they are complicit in delaying meaningful action, and in the process jeopardizing the planet’s future as a place humans and so much of the natural world can thrive.  Here is an article from the Guardian that talks about climate consequences.

Note this quote from the Guardian article, because it is directly relevant to Hurricane Sandy:

Other new research suggests that the loss of ice could be could be affecting the path and speed of the jet streams, possibly explaining why extreme weather in the northern hemisphere is lasting longer.

“There is evidence of stronger and more intense north Atlantic storms and extreme weather, says NSIDC scientist Julienne Stroeve. “We are thinking we are entering a new climate state. Until we get the next push and reach a new equilibrium.

Equilibrium?  That’s hard to imagine, as we continue to add a couple of parts per million of CO2 (and rising) to the atmosphere each year from our tailpipes, smokestacks and farms.  When you read the forecasts (and after-the-fact) reports on Sandy and so many other storms, think of this – storms that come and stay for days, contrary to historical patterns.  Here is one more look at Sandy and the changing climate, from Joe Romm and Stephen Lacey at Climate Progress

Oh and one more favorite denialist canard – how ice is increasing in the Antarctic even as the Arctic melts.  That’s another one of those ‘Things are fine, so shut up you chicken littles’ kind of arguments.  You can read the actual baloney elsewhere, but here are two antidotes from Climate Crocks and Climate Central.  Seth Borenstein’s Associated Press piece also explains the counterintuitive phenomenon of more ice in parts of Antarctica being totally consistent with a warming world.  You might also consult the Australians – who have a contrary experience with a rapidly melting airstrip in Antarctica.  Take that, Fox News!

With all this melting and mayhem unfolding before our eyes, you would think that our leaders would be urgently planning how to deal with the crisis.  You would be wrong.  Here are NPR stories on the public stances of President Obama and Governor Romney.  My hope is that President Obama, given a second term and a Congress not completely in the thrall of Big Oil and Big Coal, would revert to the leader who talked seriously about climate action at the beginning of his first term.  If President Romney (!) were more like Governor Romney, I would not be so concerned.  But all his current Tea-Party-pleasing pronouncements tell us that he would not just ignore the crisis, but actually undo the limited positive steps the Obama Administration has managed to achieve.  Such is the power of petrol pignorance.

People-Powered Energy Policy

With the hydrocarbon-fueled inertia in our government, you have to look elsewhere for anything like progress.  Here is a new citizens’ lobby (what a concept!) that I just discovered.  Here is a recent story on some veterans fighting for wind energy – against serious fossil fuel opposition, of course.  An organization I represent – the Climate Reality Project – has an upcoming event to raise awareness and support for sustainable climate policy.  And this opinion piece presents an optimistic view of people’s power to generate momentum for sustainable policies.  If only . . .

Energy Independence and Other Fables

Next in line after Governor Romney’s repeated (again and again) assertions about what he knows how to do (‘I KNOW how to get this economy moving, I KNOW how to create jobs, etc.) would have to be this mantra – I will create energy independence for American.  This has to be one of the biggest lies of this campaign, and President Obama has not done enough to debunk it.  NPR’s Morning Edition ran two great stories on this notion this week – Thursday and Friday.  As for energy security – a real-world propaganda-free objective – reviving this narrowly missed opportunity would be a good start.

To the North! (Just Like Before)

I can remember, in the dark days of 2004, when President Bush gained a second term in a second tainted contest, joking with fellow progressives about escaping to Canada.  Now, it seems that some on the other end of the political spectrum are thinking the same thoughts.  But this AlterNet piece notes some surprises awaiting righty expats.  Here is another lighthearted look at abandonment threats.  And of course the exit that I would pay to see happen has met the same fate.  Yup, anytime now.

Pity This Busy Monster Manunkind Not – in Three Acts

With a nod to e.e. cummings, I think each of these three wildlife stories has a common theme.  They are from separate corners of the earth – Tanzania, Japan and Minnesota.  Sure, these are on vastly different scales, but they share a common thread – organized killing of highly intelligent animals for dubious purposes, using cruel methods.  This story would not be complete without links to activist organizations – elephants, dolphins, wolves.

Endorsement from Where?

The practice of newspapers endorsing candidates has always been problematic.  I just received a call from one of my local papers, the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  They have been sending me a Sunday paper, gratis, for the past few weeks.  Ah, but I have a long memory.  Back in October 2004, that paper endorsed President W for a second term, prompting me to cancel my subscription, forever.  I happily told the happy telesales rep my choice. OK, I was just looking for an excuse to tell that story.  But this endorsement of President Obama for a second term is surprising mainly because the state it comes from.  Let’s just say it is square-cornered and about as red as a state gets.  Oh, and it is the unofficial capital of a certain newsworthy religion.

All in a Name

Heard this on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.  Think before you change your name.

“The people of this country, not special interest big money, should be the source of all political power.”

― Paul Wellstone

Blogger – Michael Murphy, St. Paul MN

Contributed links to this posting – Elizabeth Bell, Allyson Harper, Edrichus Sykes

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2 responses

28 10 2012
Tazilon

Warming is accelerating? REALLY? Then why did the Met Office in Britain just state there has been zero net warming over the last 16 years? By the way, hurricanes in late October are not all that rare and are certainly not a sign of climate change. In fact, in our record of storms spanning 1851 – to present, October ranks 3rd in terms of months with both the most hurricanes/tropical storms and the number of landfalling hurricanes/tropical storms. Hardly rare. Hardly a harbinger of…anything. Please stop the propaganda – the SCIENTIFIC facts don’t back you up.

4 11 2012
IBI Watch 11/4/12 « IBI Watch

[…] you see the straw man?  Nowhere in last week’s post do I suggest that an October hurricane is unusual or by itself proof of climate change.  But the […]

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