IBI Watch 10/20/13

20 10 2013

What Scotty Said //

If we live in a material world, governed by scientific laws, then surely something big must be happening – something changing in the system – as a consequence of the 90 million tons of carbon dioxide that we humans collectively pour daily into the atmosphere, 24/7/365. And, denialist assertions notwithstanding, the only thing really in doubt is how bad and how soon.

The recent IPCC finding – its fifth in a series – raised the probability that human activities are the cause of the already observed changes in atmosphere and ocean to at least 95%. That’s about as close to certain as it gets. The report is a formidable document, but this admirable 10-slide show constructed by Katherine Bagley and Zahra Hirji of Inside Climate News summarizes the key findings. Pay careful attention to the notion of a carbon budget. The IPCC clearly stated that, this being a material world, a vast but closed system, we have a choice – leave most of the world’s remaining carbon in the ground, or deal with the physical consequences. This is what activists Bill McKibben and James Hansen have been saying for years, but now this dire warning comes from a consensus-bound, conservative chorus of the world’s scientists.

The amount of carbon in the world is constant – what changes is its form and of course its effect on the climate system. For an accessible explanation, try this Mark Boslough piece on HuffPost.  And for a view of the scope of the pressure we are putting on this old planet, try to wrap your mind around this – we are adding the heat equivalent of four Hiroshima-size bombs to the atmosphere per second.

So we have some crucial choices – for instance, on Keystone XL. Are we smart enough to choose wisely? There is plenty of evidence for a dark view – as eloquently laid out in this recent Facebook post by Bodhi Paul Chefurka. Believers in the magic of technology assure us that techno-fixes – including geo-engineering – will save our bacon. (I like the subtitle for that piece – “7 far-out geoengineering ideas that could save the planet — or destroy it trying.”) In my book, there are potentially good geoengineering schemes – for instance, trying to engineer an artificial tree that sucks carbon out of the air – and awful schemes – basically anything that seeks to allow us to go ahead with business-as usual fossil fuel use. I put in that category all these space-based mirror schemes and especially trashing the upper atmosphere with soot.

The fact that such schemes are even being considered before we have done a fraction of what is possible by way of conservation and developing clean energy makes Bodhi Paul Chefurka’s case stronger. But the single best strategy, I believe, is making carbon pay its way. Using dramatically less of the stuff is the only hope we have going forward.

We really should have listened to the Enterprise’s engineer, more than four decades ago. That is, “ Ye cannae change the laws of physics.”

 

Theory and Practice

Whenever former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan appears in the media, I find it entertaining to hear him justify his not seeing the 2008 financial crisis coming. Now he is back – hawking his new book. To his credit, the longtime champion of deregulating the financial system now says he was wrong, and portrays himself as chastened when it comes to the theory of radical deregulation of markets. Listen to this NPR interview, in which the interviewer respectfully holds Greenspan’s feet to the fire. But you might say that the former Fed chief committed a big oversight during his years holding immense power – not listening to a wiser forecaster than he. The great Yogi Berra said, “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”

 

Seas of Heartbreak

If people pay attention to climate science at all, they look to the land. That’s where burgeoning intense weather events like the recent Boulder CO flooding disaster, the out-of-season South Dakota blizzard and the new and destructive Australian fire season wreak their havoc on humans and their environs. Sure, rising sea levels have their effect, and will they ever have an effect in the decades to come (wanna buy some “land” in Miami, cheap?), but ocean morphing is something out of sight for most of us.

Here are three stories about what we are doing to the oceans – which after all cover 71 percent of the planet. The first is probably not directly related to the effect of our greenhouse gas emissions, the second caused in large part by them and the third the direct feedback.

First – cetaceans – whales, dolphins and porpoises – pop up in the news periodically, mostly because of beaching. Read about massive whale stranding in Madagascar. Tut, tut, the beasts will just have to get used to the racket we raise under the sea with our oil explorations and war games. And now there is growing concern that a mulititude of factors – including climate change – seem to be assailing dolphins. Dolphin in the ocean is the new canary in the coal mine?

Second – So creatures most people see as desirable are taking it on the chin. But there are always winners and losers, right? Right indeed – the lionfish are coming, and so are the jellyfish, in untold armadas. Come on in, folks, the water’s fine.

Third – The ocean apparently isn’t acid enough, so we are taking care of that, in a hurry. Carbon dioxide may be flirting with 400 parts per million in the atmosphere, but that is nothing compared to the way we have altered the pH of the ocean, a truly massive undertaking that goes on as we drive and burn fossil fuels. This is the change in the ocean that will have the gravest long-term effects on seaborne and land-based life. Those of us who gravitate toward environmental stories know how much more often of late we see phrases like “much graver than had been thought” or “deteriorating more rapidly than predicted.”

We on the land can help. The World Wildlife Fund, the Ocean Conservancy and Greenpeace all work to preserve the world’s oceans. However, this massive challenge comes back to that familiar one – how to drastically cut use of fossil fuels.

 

One Day, One Massive Boost to Your Climate Knowledge

The Climate Reality Project ( an organization I represent) will launch on October 22-23 this year’s 24 Hours of Reality – a content-packed event featuring speakers and media highlighting the costs of carbon pollution and pointing to solutions that can change the course of our future. You can tune in on the Internet, live or via archives, to six one-hour presentations, organized by regions of the world:

  • North America: how carbon pollution and climate change have had a severe impact on our ways of life and livelihoods.
  • South America and the Caribbean: water as our lifeblood, and the threats of rapidly melting glaciers, rising sea levels and ocean acidification.
  • Europe: infrastructure losses that have resulted from climate-related hazards and extreme weather, as well as how infrastructure is being forced to change in a changing world.
  • Africa: how climate change is contributing to growing food insecurity, along with socio-economic and political insecurity.
  • Asia: how extreme weather and other carbon pollution impacts are resulting in displacement of people within their countries.
  • Australia: how human health threats are exacerbated by climate change.

I hope you will tune in – the event is a great way to get up to date on latest research and learn the ways you can help solve the climate crisis.

 

Gimme that Old Time Coalition

That might be the motto for an idea hatched by Nobel economist and commentator Paul Krugman. Of course, the settlement that got US government working again is really another short-term fix. Krugman recalls a time when southern Democrats worked with Republicans to support conservative causes (think of the still-elusive goal of universal health care). But more important for our time, he sees a novel spin on that old alliance, a new direction that could mean real progress. Could.

 

Science for the Masses

Climate denialists and other enemies of science push their ideas in various ways. Two of the most common are these – disparage scientists and their findings as slanted or concocted or part of a conspiracy to secure more funding; assert that science journalists and activists are not actually scientists, and therefore lack standing to promote and defend scientific research results and projections. Fortunately, some scientists – most notably James Hansen – are recognizing the need for them to get out of the lab and into the spotlight to fight the well-funded denialists.

And there are the most valuable popularizers. Two were recently highlighted in the media. First – there is Elise Andrew, who aims her efforts at a young demographic, and operates a wonderful site with an in-your-face name. And speaking of young demographics, that’s exactly the target that Bill Nye aimed at two decades ago, when his tremendously entertaining PBS show hooked thousands of youngsters (including my son) and their parents. Nye has a new science series, Why with Nye. I really enjoyed an interview Weekend Edition Sunday did with him, and you will too.

 

“I’ve recognized there is no such thing as cheap gas. Whether you’re paying $3.51 in San Francisco or 9 cents a gallon in Caracas, someone, somewhere, is always paying more dearly for the stuff. Now when I buy gas I see hidden pennies everywhere – from the health effects of air pollution to the social cost of human rights violations in oil-producing countries to the money used by the U.S. military to police oil shipping lanes.” – Lisa Margonelli (excerpted from Oil on the Brain)

 

Contributed links to this posting –Allyson Harper

 

Blogger – Michael Murphy, St. Paul MN

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IBI Watch 11/4/12

4 11 2012

Play Dumb or Act Smart – Time to Choose  //

This week’s latest monstrous weather disaster on the eastern seaboard is yet one more lesson from Mother Nature – who always bats last.  We have not heeded those warnings in the past.  Could Hurricane Sandy be the tipping point?  It would have been a lot ‘easier’ if we had listened to the smart people, i.e. the overwhelming majority of scientists who for the past few decades have warned of climate change.  But aside from a few positive steps – home energy efficiency incentives and recent increases in fuel economy requirements being two – we have largely continued with our ‘business as usual’ approach to fossil fuel-powered energy.  That means atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to accumulate, the planet continues to warm, and weather grows more extreme.  And, depending on Tuesday’s election outcome, we may jam down the accelerator even harder.  This will continue what I call our national energy policy – ‘Find lots more coal and oil, and burn it all up, fast!’

Some want to continue with playing dumb, or what I call ‘pignorance.’ (Pignorance = pretend ignorance.)  They look for uncertainty – including the fossil-fuel-tycoon-manufactured uncertainty reported last week by Frontline – and use it to block sustainable policy.  This comparison critiques this approach.  Let’s say you have heart disease.  You go to 100 doctors.  98 of them say you need bypass surgery.  Two say take two cheeseburgers and rest in your lounge chair.  The denialists want us to savor the cheeseburgers and hope for the best.  How about you?

Here is an example of what I am talking about – a comment I received on last week’s post.  “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.”

Do 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 confluence of factors – a late-season hurricane fueled by warmer-than-average ocean waters merging with a nor-easter and Arctic air, and pushed west by a blocking pattern over the warmer Arctic, is EXTREMELY unusual, and absolutely consistent with predictions by climate scientists.  And all that accelerating warming in the Arctic – if it is not our greenhouse gases, then it must be the sunspots, or a polar bear barbecue, or Santa opening more coal-powered sweatshops or something scientific like that.

But back to the Sandy question.  It is certainly a teachable moment, though it is sad that so many have to suffer so grievously for our collective pignorance.  The title of Bloomberg News’ cover story, written by Paul Barrett and reported here in Democracy Now! says it all.  Here, Chris Mathews takes on the continuing denialists (or ‘pigs’ as he calls them.  This AlterNet piece rightly points out that Sandy is a wake-up call if there ever was one.  And Seth Borenstein concisely covers all the issues here – Sandy’s weird path, documented sea rise that gives storm surges a vertical head start, and also mentions cutting-edge research that is hinting that unprecedented Arctic melting may be radically changing storm behavior in the Northern Hemisphere.  Heck, even Fox News offered a platform for climate scientist Michael Mann in Sandy’s wake.

So what is changing?  Well, for one thing, scientists (and mainstream journalists, we can only hope!) seem to be moving away from the reflexive caveat – the one about ‘no individual weather event can be tied to global warming, etc.’  See here for evidence of that change.  And here is a new attempt to explain a complex relationship – what we are doing to the atmosphere on the one hand and individual weather phenomena on the other.  George Lakoff and Chris Mooney took part in a panel discussion on Huffington Post that covered ‘systemic causation.’  Lakoff adds more detail here.

A new realization seems to be dawning as well that climate change is here and how and must be dealt with. Now that would be acting smart.  Aside from the madness of geoengineering (surveyed with concern here by Naomi Klein), this means two things. First – drastically cutting our greenhouse emissions.  The best idea I have seen on that front is ‘fee and dividend,’ as promoted by James Hansen.  Second – dealing with current and inevitable effects.  For threatened cities like New York, that means either ‘resilience’ or some kind of ocean barrier.  Neither is simple – or cheap.  Resilience means building up infrastructure, piece by piece.  Laborious, costly and extremely difficult – and beginning right now.  A more likely outcome in the long term – some kind of sea wall or barrier system.  Andrew Revkin covers the choices in this Dot Earth piece.  It looks expensive, but look at the long-term payback.   Probably the only thing that would cost more would be to do nothing – like North Carolina.

OK, I was going to leave Sandy for other topics and rants, but just before posting, I heard a Weekend Edition Sunday story that proves a couple of my points.  It is a story about the insurance industry and its exposure in the face of ever more extreme weather.  It includes some impressive statistics about the increase in extreme weather (and unrelated seismic) disasters that have hit North America in the last few years.  But it is not a very good story.  Why?  Though it is not a story about global warming per se, it has to include the old false equivalence that plagues such stories.  The reporter turns it into a story about how MANY hurricanes occur rather than the nature of such hurricanes.  And, since I like to give credit where it is due, I nominate one of the story’s sources for what I call the Poo-Poo Squad (an award I give to those public figures who, despite mounting evidence, continue to feed the Merchants of Doubt in their quest for business-as-usual, full-speed-ahead fossil fuel burning.).  Listen to how Karen Clark insists on playing dumb before a vast audience. “We’re not that smart,” she says.  Indeed.  Hardly any mention of  just what makes Sandy such an aberration – rising sea levels, storm track, width of wind field, slow storm progress, and on and on.  There’s another straw man.  A story like this does NOTHING for waking up the public to the need for rational, sustainable energy and climate policy.  That’s up to you and me, dear reader.  And if you want a graphical representation of Sandy, the frankenstorm for the ages (at least until the next one comes along in a few months or years), watch the short video of the week from Science Friday.  It’s a CAT scan of a monster.  Harder all the time to play dumb in the face of this evidence.  Hard, but alas, not impossible.

How to ‘Win’ an Election

Generally, you have to win more votes.  But there are other ways.  Remember 2004?  The current marathon, near its end, feels like that year to me.  Though Nate Silver of the 538 Blog continues to post a high probability of an Obama victory, I remain skeptical.  Remember, the GOP has the virtually all the big, Supreme-Court-blessed corporate money on its side, and so many more sophisticated tools at its disposal this cycle.  Investigative reporter Greg Palast has a new book that goes into all the demonically brilliant strategies – Billionaires and Ballot Bandits.  This ten-minute interview goes into all the ‘vote-culling’ tactics.  And even on the entirely legal side, there is always the odd sales pitch for Romney.  How about the one highlighted by Paul Krugman – elect Romney, or we will continue to obstruct Obama.  In other words, ‘Nice country you got here.  It’d be a shame if something bad happened to it.’

Of Civility and Thuggery

There has been much talk of civility – or its absence – in recent years.  This is no surprise, considering the creeping polarization of our national politics.  For commentator Bonnie Blodgett, it’s a distraction keeping us from dealing with the most important issues, and providing an opportunity for the power elite to concentrate their power.  Her Star Tribune column has a great punch line.  This same theme – in three parts – was the focus of this week’s This American Life.  Follow stories of friendships devastated by political disagreement, clandestine Democrats in red states, and an appalling display of in-your-face, take-no-prisoners politics in New Hampshire.  Listen to the whole one-hour program – Red State Blue State – right here.

Energy/Climate Progress – Two Stories

First – a good-news story from Denmark.  Second – despite the two presidential candidates falling all over themselves to tell us how much they love coal, there is some very good news on solar energy.

When the Going Gets Tough . . .

I have not been a big fan of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  But he is clearly the star of this Jon Stewart segment on ‘institutional competence.’  Do you think Willard and his team might be a little bit sorry he did not choose this guy for veep?  Watch for the segment from Fox News.  Priceless.

“The people who cast the votes don’t decide an election, the people who count the votes do.” – Joseph Stalin

Blogger – Michael Murphy, St. Paul MN

Contributed links to this posting – Allyson Harper





IBI Watch 10/21/12

21 10 2012

It’s a Pander Party . . .  //

. . . And we are all invited!  We listened in vain for ANY mention of environmental issues in the first two presidential debates and the veep matchup.  Yes, I know the economy is foremost in people’s minds, as usual, but in the long run there is nothing more important than clean air and water and a livable environment.  And without those, the economy won’t mean a hell of a lot.  Yes, President Obama was much more energized and on-message in the second debate, and Governor Romney continued his mythologizing.  But nothing annoyed me more than all the jaw-flapping on both sides about ‘energy independence’ and the notion that a president controls gas prices.  It seemed like an argument over who is more in support of what I call our long-term energy policy under both parties, i.e. ‘Find lots more oil and coal, and burn it all up – fast!’  And when Obama failed to pounce when Romney rhapsodized about his love for coal – the full exploitation of which is a death sentence for a livable planet – you could see pandering in full flower.  An insult to our intelligence – gas prices are more important than a whole range of important issues – energy choices, pollution and especially climate change.  Now all is not lost on this issue – Obama is right on to declare that Romney basically wants to let Big Oil and Big Coal run the whole energy policy.  But where is the open discussion about what our addiction to fossil fuels is doing to destabilize the climate?  And when Romney cherry-picks the failures among those trying to build alternative energy, what is his solution? You know it – “Drill, baby, drill!”

There is still time to demand better.  Sign this petition from the League of Conservation Voters.  Or you can act here with Climate Silence.  Better yet, do both.  And if you think the focus on international affairs precludes dealing with the environment in general and the climate crisis in particular, you are not paying attention.

Remember – the economy of a subsidiary of the environment, NOT the other way around.

Green Chained

There is one candidate who, if included in the debates, would make sure the environment is not neglected.  I speak of the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein.  As you might expect, her candidacy is all about sustainability.  IBI Watch readers who live in thoroughly blue or thoroughly red states might consider casting a vote her way.  Her ideas are so dangerous, though, to the powers that be and business as usual, that this happened on the night of the second presidential debate.  Democracy Now also covered the arrest of this dangerous radical.

This incident reminds me of two of my favorite causes – getting corporate money out of politics and allowing a truly level field for all candidates.  The two issues go hand in hand, and, you might say, are also shackled in today’s America.  But they don’t have to be.

Plutocracy Ascendant

In this blog and elsewhere, I have long followed the growth of plutocracy in America – a process we have built with increasing intensity since about 1980.  But I learned much – and you can, too – from a fine interview that Bill Moyers just did with two expert sources on the issue.  His two sources have a long track record of reporting on this phenomenon.  Matt Taibbi has reported on plutocracy with admirable, biting wit, in Rolling Stone.  Here is an example.  Chrystia Freeland is the author of a new book that headed right to my reading list – Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.  Moyers himself is so impressed that he has organized a book club around this first selection.

Taibbi and Freeland cover the whole gamut of issues here – wealth and income inequality, ‘too big to fail,’ the idea that America is on its way to being another Russia, Brazil or maybe a gigantic banana republic.  But what is new here for me is a term for something I have observed – ‘government capture,’ also known as cognitive capture.’  This is a way of describing how the super-wealthy have increasingly cemented their hold on the reins of power, but also gotten in the public consciousness that things should be this way, and really always should have been this way. And lest you think these two authors are the latest reincarnation of Marx and Lenin, note that Freeland especially presents a balanced view.  Yes, globalization has changed the world to foster some concentration of wealth and power – but US government policy is also a major driving force.

This discussion about what is happening in American society is also explored in a historical way by the same Chrystia Freeland.  She recently covered a work comparing modern America with the Venice of the 1400s.  Not an example we should seek to follow, thank you very much.

This story of Venice’s rise and fall is told by the scholars Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, in their book “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty,” as an illustration of their thesis that what separates successful states from failed ones is whether their governing institutions are inclusive or extractive. Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness.  Sound familiar?

Vote This Way, or You Will Pay

One of the demons released by the infamous Citizens United Supreme Court decision is this – employers feel emboldened to ‘persuade’ their indentured servants, er, uh, employees that is, to support the Big Boss’s political issues and candidates.  If you are say, Robert Murray, or David Siegel, or one of the Koch Brothers, guess which side you will be pushing?  As Moyers notes in his commentary, these guys are pushing their power right to its legal limits.  Concern is growing over this persuasion, which you might call employment bullying.  Soon, more and more of us may be able to truthfully sing that final line from the iconic Merle Travis song – ‘I owe my soul . . . to the company store!’  That song of course is ‘Sixteen Tons’ – performed here by Tennessee Ernie Ford (‘cheered on’ by some well-heeled fans).

Do-It-Yourself Geoengineering

Why reduce greenhouse gases?  Technology will save us from climate chaos – Rex Tillerson told us so, recently.  And so what if those snail-paced, hypercautious governments are too sclerotic to be bold, be brave, be Randian?  Take the iron into your own hands, and go dump it into the ocean, may all those nervous nellies be damned.  Edward Teller must be rejoicing at the bold, visionary action taken by this pioneer.  Oy.

Calling Tar Sands Oil Out

When I am feeling discouraged about the massive government inaction on climate change, I seek out stories of activists taking bold steps.  Such is this story about a group that punked a ‘climate conference’ that was organized and paid for by the marauders themselves.  This story reminded me of notable heroes in this regard.  If you have never heard about the Yes Men, you need to watch that linked video.

But back on the serious side, here is why scientists are in an uproar about further exploitation of tar sands oil.  If there ever was a lose, lose, lose proposition for the climate, ecosystems and the very planet, it has to be tar sands oil.  Also protested here, as covered by Democracy Now!

Empathy?  Nah.

Maybe it is just the old FDR Democrat in me, but somehow, I think these two stories go together.  Meet Paul Ryan in the soup kitchen, and Paul Krugman in full critique mode regarding the Romney approach to health care.

Human Nature and Society – Assumptions Reconsidered

Before you dismiss these links as ponderous, heady, even – God forbid – boring, think again.  Radiolab ran a terrific program this week on change.  The most compelling segment for me was this one.  It is an amazing piece of accidental research that calls into question – from afar in the primate kingdom anyway whether we will always fight wars and kill one another because it is simply ‘human nature.’ I find a strange affinity with this segment from This American Life.  It chronicles a quixotic (and possibly ethically questionable) campaign by a legislator on behalf of early childhood education.  You just won’t believe which state we are talking about here.

Binders Unbound

OK, I could not resist.  Cheers!

‘The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one’s country deep enough to call her to a higher plain.’

-George McGovern

Blogger – Michael Murphy, St. Paul MN

Contributed links to this posting – Mark Goldberg, Allyson Harper





IBI Watch 10/7/12

7 10 2012

Destroying the Climate in Order to ‘Save’ it  //

In June, Rex Tillerson – CEO of Exxon Mobil – raised eyebrows with his dismissal of the climate crisis as an ‘engineering problem.’  That sort of thinking – the planet as machine that can be controlled by us all-powerful humans and our techno prowess – is nothing new.  Edward Teller – the brilliant but misguided physicist often assumed to be the model for Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove – laid out a plan for managing the planet’s thermostat late in his long career.  Here is a recent link to articles on the topic offered by those fun-loving Freakonomics guys.

As it becomes clearer by the day just how seriously our fossil fuel emissions have harmed the planet’s climate – and how the future looks more threatened all the time – expect the talk of ‘engineering’ solutions to rise, and even translate into crazy action.  The most popular ideas – science fiction madness applied in the real world, every one – include mirrors launched into space to reflect sunlight, artificial volcanoes that spew sulfur into the stratosphere  (creating deliberate pollution that also reflects solar energy), and seeding the oceans with iron to stimulate plankton growth.  The consequences of such global tinkering cannot be predicted except to say this – expect the unexpected, and the unexpected will almost certainly be nightmarish.  And the sad, tragic, exasperating fact is that we will even contemplate this hubristic Russian roulette while not having taken more than a small fraction of the steps that have no consequence other than short-term investment costs – regulating carbon emissions  and rapidly harnessing renewable energy.

Geoengineering is just the latest, most audacious attempt to insure our continued fossil-fuel orgy.  In other words, its purveyors believe it is wiser to play God with the planet’s regulatory systems so that we can push ahead with business as usual, rather than start respecting the natural systems we depend on.  I was thinking about how this is the ultimate greed-driven willful ignorance, when a friend sent an insightful and inspiring link.

This presentation by Katherine Dean Moore, a philosophy and ecology professor at Oregon State University, brought a standing ovation at the Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. This year’s topic was “The Global Oceans,” and her talk was titled “Red Sky at Morning: Ethics and the Oceanic Crisis.”  She issues an urgent call for a ‘planetary ethic,’ to end our ‘moral monstrosity on a cosmic scale.  Her main point is this – more information is not going to persuade enough of us to create a critical mass for sustainable, respectful policies.  We have to tap into values, and understand that it is just plain wrong to harm the future.  This one is well worth your time, friends – including the panel at the end.  Just beware (or skip) the seemingly endless introduction.  If you watch through to the panel, look for Carl Safina – author of several important books about protecting the oceans.

Some Good Reasons to Act on the Climate Crisis

Yes, these stories fall short of the ethic demanded by Katherine Dean Moore, but they provide some valuable motivation, and potentially protect the future.  And hey – the last one is extremely funny.  First – a Huffington Post article on the island impact of ocean rise.  Next, a Common Dreams piece on the accelerating Arctic ice melt.  Here is an AlterNet piece on the immediate health gains of a cut in pollution overall.  And here, Stephen Leahy writes on how cutting soot pollution can slow ice melt.  This article in particular is useful, as it gets into clear, easy-to-understand effects of ice melt, and feedbacks.  But wait – I promised some comic relief.  Yes, the rogue weather girl – the one who tells the truth like no mainstream media weather forecaster – is back for round 2. Did you wonder how her sidekick got that neck brace?  (It happened in round 1.)

One Week, Three Debates

Did you hear there was a debate this week?  I’ll get to that one – briefly – in a moment.  But first – this NPR story is the kind of debate we NEED to hear.  Concise, courteous, on-issue, no grandstanding.  Needless to say, it involves neither major party.  No, this is an All Things Considered debate between the Green Party’s Jill Stein and the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson.  I wish we could vote for these people and not worry about helping the major party we oppose in the process.  How to do that?  Easy, sort of.  Ranked-choice voting.  And how can we get that?  Even ‘easier.’  Get the big corporate money out of politics.  And then there was a mock debate held Saturday evening, featuring two media heavyweights from opposite corners – Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly.  Here’s the video.  Who won that debate?  That is, who is now the Mayor of BS Mountain?  And oh yes, President Obama and Governor Romney took turns walking all over Jim Lehrer this week, and in between had something like a debate.  President Obama seemed detached, and Governor Romney shall we say, molded the truth.  He did admit that number 26 was not true.

Suppressing the Vote Suppressors

There is good news on the voter fraud scam.  First, Pennsylvania Republicans will have to try to cull the herd of voters again after the November electionOops.  Second, the exclusion syndicate is under investigation.

New Deal or Gilded Age?  Choose Wisely

Paul Krugman’s commentary describes the actual referendum we will have in just a few weeks.

“No action is without its side effects.”

-Barry Commoner

Blogger – Michael Murphy, St. Paul MN

Contributed links to this posting – Bonnie Blodgett, Jeff Carlson, Tess Galati, Allyson Harper