IBI Watch 7/21/13

21 07 2013

Playing Dumb //

A certain formula pervades so many media stories on extreme weather. Take this one about the current heat wave for example. Just consider that headline about how the heat wave is “somehow stuck in reverse.” Somehow. We just can’t figure it out, we are told in such stories. And, true to formula, we dutifully find some expert with a title, in this case the National Weather Service’s Jon Gottschalk, to discount any possible connection to the ongoing out-of-control experiment known as manmade climate change. This particular example of the formula is especially discouraging because its author, Seth Borenstein, is a top-level journalist who writes many well-informed science journalism columns.

But let’s consider Gottschalk’s calming “there, there, folks” comment. A retrograde-motion heat wave that takes that backwards turn without warning? It could not possibly be related to this phenomenon, increasingly common and well described by Rutgers University’s Jennifer Francis, now, could it? No, of course not. And those jet stream perturbations, recorded and analyzed, well, let’s just throw up our hands, folks. We just can’t figure those out. They could not possibly be connected to this, now could they? No, it’s just a bunch of research-money-lusting scientists making that stuff up. But wait, what about all that warming up in the Arctic? A mysterious, unsolved natural phenomenon?

And all of this warming, and melting, and acidifying the oceans, and the extreme weather, all of that? Could it possibly be connected to the 90 million tons of carbon dioxide that our industry, transport and agriculture pump into the sky every single day? Didn’t think so.

Any day now, we will discover the real cause of the increased floods, droughts, heat waves, out-or-season weather events – all of this climate weirding. This will play out in much the same way that the young-earthers will prove that all those fossils are a beguiling trick, Monsanto will discover the real cause of colony collapse disorder, and OJ, as soon as he gets out of prison, will discover the real killer of his ex-wife.

My point here – we can keep up the pignorance (pretend ignorance), aided by oily media, or we can get serious about solving this monstrous and growing crisis. And the hour is getting late.

 

Would-be Bee Savers

First, some good news. Bees in small numbers have been visiting our native gardens lately. Nothing like usual, mind you, but an improvement over the virtual boycott we have seen this summer. (Still no butterflies, however.) And here is a story about recovery of a particular bumblebee species.

Just as that story mentioned a large loss of bees in Oregon recently, so I wrote about a needless extermination of bees in downtown St. Paul (and a local resident who took a decidedly more hopeful approach). And here is another would-be helpful approach, if only authorities would explore something other than fear-driven punch-outs in cases of bee swarms. Tess Galati is a St. Paul-based beekeeper who wrote this for IBI Watch:

“Beekeepers around here lost about a third of their colonies due to extraordinary spring weather in California, Georgia and Minnesota. Climate destabilization, dontcha know. And the insecticides, of course. And starvation now that Round-Up and chemical fertilizers have replaced clover between the rows. True to form, I lost one if my three colonies despite huge efforts. I would have given my eye teeth to gather the swarm that landed in the trees in our inhospitable St Paul. I could have gotten to the site with empty box in hand in less than five minutes.

Here’s what people fearing stings need to know: Bees sting to protect their hive–their home. When they are swarming, they’re looking for a home, so they have nothing to protect. They don’t sting when they are swarming. No. Not. Nada. So there’s nothing to fear.

Contact me if you see a swarm I can reach. It will save me the heartache of an empty hive in my yard. And if you want to explore a beehive, I’d be happy to share that experience with you. I have enough protective gear to accommodate two bee guests at a time, and it’s great fun!”

Well said. Twin Cities IBI Watch readers – check with me for Tess’s phone number.

 

Google’s Destructive “Balance”

Can’t Google come up with better ways to spend its millions? I am not the only activist alarmed to see that, in the interest of being unbiased, this supposedly forward-looking organization decided to oil the machines of the prince of pignorance. Makes me want to drop my gmail account.

 

Captive Cetaceans: Two Views

A new documentary, Blackfish, covers the tragic killing of a trainer by a captive orca. Based on the trailer and an interview by NPR, this one has hit my viewing list. How about yours? This one reminds me of a terrific documentary that travels similar waters, The Cove. I have seen that one, and highly recommend it, though it is not for the squeamish. With the feel of the best Mission Impossible episodes, it details the work of Ric O’Barry, (former trainer of Flipper) and his team, who went undercover in Japan to document an atrocious practice – the annual herding of hundreds of dolphins, of which a few are captured for the world’s performance pools, and most are slaughtered for Japan’s seafood markets. It’s a good time to check in on the work of activists struggling to stop the practice.

 

Stand Your Ground, says ALEC

Except in the most extreme right-wing circles, President Obama garnered much praise for his comments on race in the wake of the Zimmerman acquittal in the Trayvon Martin killing. I was especially gratified to hear both him and Attorney General Eric Holder make the Stand Your Ground connection. These laws, in Florida and states across the country, make it easier for someone who feels threatened to use deadly force rather than de-escalate or flee. These laws, among others, have been promoted in state legislatures across the country by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. If you care about democracy, and do not know about ALEC, you really need to educate yourself about its wide influence and its “model legislation.”  Meanwhile, could this be a sign of a long-overdue wake-up call? We can only hope.

 

Embrace the Apocalypse

Robert Jensen’s new book is a clarion call for a return to rationality. Once upon a time, that is what I thought conservatives stood for – reasons, facts. But ever since we embraced corporatist propaganda as the currency of the land – along about the “morning in American” era of 1980, we seem less and less interested in talking about what really matters, i.e. the carrying capacity of the planet we call home. Jensen so rightly points out that even those of us who “get it,” who understand that what we are doing in our technology- and perpetual-growth-driven society is unsustainable, are unwilling to talk about it.

He points out three dodges – the sociopathic explanation (“species come and go, so who cares”), technological fundamentalism (technological innovation will save our sorry keisters) and the third one – which I can really relate to – that “people just can’t take the news.” I agree with the author that it is high time we wake up and deal with the planet emergency. Read more about the book, and watch a fine presentation by the author.

We could make this a better place, seems to me, if we really were “all apocalyptic now.”

 

Do They Make it in Green?

The punch line never arrived when I read this piece. Did I miss something?

 

“To change our laws and culture, the green movement must attract and include the majority of all people, not just the majority of affluent people.” – Van Jones

 

Contributed links or content to this posting – Tess Galati, Allyson Harper, Julie Johnston (who blogs at greenhearted.org)

 

Blogger – Michael Murphy, St. Paul MN

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