Tag Archive: Global Warming

Sep 29 2014

TBC: Morning Musing 9.29.14

So, I posted this short rant on my Facebook wall yesterday and I thought it might be a decent discussion piece:

only humans could be arrogant enough to think that we could destroy or damage large parts of earth’s ecosystems and natural defenses and not manage to change the earth detrimentally. we have paved over, removed, and added things to the land, air, and water, which, even when naturally occurring, do not occur at the rates and levels we have contributed to them.

the earth may have had natural rhythms and periods of warming and cooling, but that’s when left alone with what earth had on its own. what we’ve done to it over the past couple centuries in the name of making our lives easier and some of us richer, cannot – absolutely cannot – have not had any effect. i don’t need any friggin graphs, charts, or studies to tell me that. i just need to not be stupid to know it.

only humans could be arrogant and stupid enough to believe that all we’ve done to it would not make a detrimental difference in the earth’s well being. arrogant and stupid, that about sums us up.


Sep 22 2014

TBC: Morning Musing 9.22.14

So, in honor of the worldwide marches yesterday, I give you a few of my weekend reading on Climate Change.

First, a WaPo editorial urging action:

A climate for change: America should not wait while the world warms

FOR MORE than a century, scientists have understood the basic physics of the greenhouse effect. For decades, they’ve realized humans can affect the climate by burning coal, oil and gas. But the country’s leaders remain divided on the need to curb greenhouse emissions, let alone how to do it.

Among mainstream scientists, this paralysis is mind-boggling.


Aug 26 2014

TBC: Morning Musing 8.26.14

I was thinking about The Breakfast Club this past weekend, mulling over the format (for the editions I author), mulling over how interesting it may or may not be to readers and had some interesting ideas. Let’s face it, we all get our news 20 ways til Sunday from a million different places, and by the time you read TBC, you’ve probably heard most of it anyway. So it really is kind of just another news feed in a world of 24 hour news feeds.

So I was thinking, instead of doing just a bunch of short news stories and blog clips for The Breakfast Club, I would do something shorter and more narrow, whatever it was that intrigued me, moved me, surprised me, made me laugh, or pissed me off that day. So from now on on the days that I author, I’m going to do something different.

Without further adieu, here is poli’s Morning Musing…


That there are Climate Change deniers drives me absolutely batty. I’m the kid who loved weather. The first book I ever bought was on storms when I was all of 7 years old. I grew up in SoCal, where there really was no weather other than endless sunshine, so I remember most of the very rare storms that we experienced. I would make my friends sit by the window if we were out somewhere, just so I could see. To this day, if there’s an awesome storm, I, and if I’m with family, then either my ma or my sister cuz they’re both kind of weather freaks too, will get a good vantage point just to watch. Hell – one of the draws of the south for me was storms.

(Go ahead! Jump!)

Nov 19 2012

The Numbers Racket Could Kill Us All

From Rolling Stone:

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

By Bill McKibben

…here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.


The minus 99 above is a factorial in scientific number notation.  Mr. McKibben hasn’t shared any basis of the math with us that would allow anyone to verify the figure but I am not in the denial business.  I assume that Mr. McKibben is simply accepting the math done by geophysicists.

Rather surprisingly, one of the denialists is the new math superstar, Nate Silver.

Thereby hangs a tale showing that survival of the human species and maybe all species on earth is threatened as much by Mr. McKibben as by the Koch Brothers, Exxon and any number of bad guys.

The math is quite easy. You need not be a Tennessee inbred with extra digits giving him higher mathematical powers to see the problem.

To people like Mr. McKibben the primary answer is solar, the ultra-expensive energy source that gobbles up scarce resources in money, materials and labor and fails when it is most needed because the sun goes out every night.  It is not the only intermittent (sometime) power source that the new environmentalists push and they even give a call out to the greatest power source on earth, geothermal, but only that which requires cutting edge technology that has been pursued going on a century or so with the most meager results to date.  They fiercely attack thermal biomass that could save the forests and eliminate waste that pollutes land, air and water without any addition to carbon above ground while destroying far more potent greenhouse gases than CO2.

Here’s your math.  You will need only two fingers or two toes or whatever pair you have available, even two heads that the Bill McKibbens of the world fear you will get from eating GMO’s.

Experts looking at the energy supply figure that solar and wind can supply 20% of the power needed by humans to maintain civilization, 40% at most.  Let us call it 50%.

For the rest you need baseload renewables to replace fossil fuels.

Take away one of your two fingers or toes or heads or whatever and the remainder can end human life and perhaps all life on the planet.

Then Mother Earth, a most bounteous lady who can turn into a mass killer beyond compare (and has) when her simple rules are disobeyed, can try again to evolve an intelligent species if she is still up to it.  She has obviously failed this time.

Best,  Terry

Nov 17 2012

Pull Up A Rock And Let Me Tell You How It Really Was

It was a time of gaiety and dancing and singing and fighting and drinking and – well not so much the naughty because Mother Church frowned on such goings on except with the scarlet ladies beyond the pale that my father told me about in Ireland.

A typical household consisted of a straw hut, a mother, father, passel of kids and a pig.  Not only was furniture rare (rocks sufficed for chairs) but so were utensils and dinnerware.  Just outside the front entrance was a pile of pig shit.  If you never smelled pig shit, count yourself blessed.

An Irish peasant with much more than the usual amount of land allowed the Irish peasantry by the English overlords for growing potatoes sadly noted that he had to hire a maid because his wife got so lonely for the gaiety of the commons.

This is part of the beginning of a book on the Irish Potato Famine told largely through drab documents and letters and other tedious products of deep research that puts a lie to the usual apocryphal notions of the famine.  It is a horror far beyond the artistry of even the master of horror, Edgar Allan Poe. It is some hard reading and I will probably never finish the book.

The problem was not so much the hatred and contempt for the Irish by the English, though there is no shortage of that and vice versa to this day, but a misunderstanding of the genius of Adam Smith along with a benevolence that often did more harm than good.  Who can top the widely circulated pamphlet on how to cook rotten potatoes?  The Irish were already and are the only people on earth with worse cuisine than the English.

One has to be insensate not to notice the relief, even among Republican stalwarts, that Romney, who is now revealing himself plainly for what he always was, did not attain the reins of power.  Instead, says Cornell West, we got Romney in blackface.  You don’t have to agree fully even if you can get past the – ahh, umm – insensitivity of Mr. West but how to explain glowing promises that the U.S. will be pumping more oil out of the ground in the near future by a fine fellow who says he accepts the science of global warming which decrees Sandy is just a red-haired stepchild of what is to come?

Contrary to crazed popular notions, America was not founded on Christian-Judaic doctrine (whatever that is supposed to be) but on contempt for the hatred espoused by religions, including atheism.  George Washington and, I think, Adams were Deists.  Deists decreed that God created the world but God takes care of God and man can damn well take care of himself.  Man isn’t doing so hot at the task.

Jefferson was a Unitarian, which is little different but far more elaborate and colorful.  Kinda funny that Jefferson would go for the pomp and circumstance.  But he, like all the others with the usual human failings, wanted real change and respected science and learning.

That was then.  This is now.  Hope there is a tomorrow for the kids and grandkids.

Best,  Terry

Oct 01 2012

Sunday Train: Trains and Not Destroying Civilization

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

crossposted from Voices on the Square

When one first thinks about it, one  would think the politics of not destroying civilization should be simple. It seems that “Not destroy civilization, Yes/No” would get a very high “Yes” vote.

In the immediate future in US political, however, its far more complicated than that, given that one party’s position is “No”, and the other party’s position is “Maybe, a little bit of not destroying civilization, if its not too inconvenient”.

So, how would we go about not destroying civilization, why is the politics of not destroying civilization so messy, and what in the hell can we do about it?

Sep 10 2012

Frackonomics, or, Why we can’t have anything nice

I was recently asked by a friend to contribute to a sort of compact reference on fracking (you can see the product here). As I was working on the section on the economics of fracking, it struck me that what is wrong with the economics of fracking is what is wrong with our whole energy economy; the incentives are set up to create a perverse outcome.

Because the environmental costs of fracking (and pretty much all extractive energy industries) are externalized, or perhaps “socialized” would be an easier term here, and the profits are privatized, the appearance of a very profitable industry is based upon false economic information.  The creation of these incentives to extract fossil energy with little regard to the environmental consequences (and sometimes even common sense) has vested enormous economic power in the hands of people who use that money to purchase political power.  They then perpetuate those same incentives over the objections of those who for years, Cassandra-like, point out that their continued activity is rendering our environment inhospitable to human life.  As an article in the Independent from 2006 “Disappearing world: Global warming claims tropical island,” chronicles:

Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India’s part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.

As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations, from the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities.

Aug 01 2012

Humans Did It

A skeptical physicist ends up confirming climate data

by Brad Plumer

Back in 2010, Richard Muller, a Berkeley physicist and self-proclaimed climate skeptic, decided to launch the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project to review the temperature data that underpinned global-warming claims. Remember, this was not long after the Climategate affair had erupted, at a time when skeptics were griping that climatologists had based their claims on faulty temperature data.

Muller’s stated aims were simple. He and his team would scour and re-analyze the climate data, putting all their calculations and methods online. Skeptics cheered the effort. “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong,” wrote Anthony Watts, a blogger who has criticized the quality of the weather stations in the United Statse that provide temperature data. The Charles G. Koch Foundation even gave Muller’s project $150,000 – and the Koch brothers, recall, are hardly fans of mainstream climate science.

So what are the end results? Muller’s team appears to have confirmed the basic tenets of climate science. Back in March, Muller told the House Science and Technology Committee that, contrary to what he expected, the existing temperature data was “excellent.” He went on: “We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.” And, today, the BEST team has released a flurry of new papers that confirm that the planet is getting hotter. As the team’s two-page summary flatly concludes, “Global warming is real“.

While Prof Muller admitted that global warming was very real, he was still a skeptic as to its cause. Until now:

The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic

by Richard A. Muller

CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.

(Richard A.) Muller’s research was intended to prove the opposite. The physicist and his team even took the most common arguments raised by climate deniers, putting them to the test to see if skeptics’ claims had merit. It’s why the Kochs got out their checkbook in the first place.

But Muller is now telling his benefactors what they don’t want to hear (a.k.a., the truth): the climate crisis is real and it’s caused by human activity. Whether humanity chooses to deal with the reality of the crisis remains to be seen, but we can’t say we weren’t warned.

Jul 22 2012

“Corn sex is complicated”

crossposted at Voices on the Square

Elizabeth Kolbert addresses the effect the current drought is having on crops in The Big Heat.

It is now corn-sex season across the Midwest, and everything is not going well. High commodity prices spurred farmers to sow more acres this year, and unseasonable warmth in March prompted many to plant corn early. Just a few months ago, the United States Department of Agriculture was projecting a record corn crop of 14.79 billion bushels. But then, in June and July, came broilingly high temperatures, combined with a persistent drought across much of the midsection of the country.

Jul 17 2012

About that Hoax

U.S. drought biggest since 1956, climate agency says

The National Climatic Data Center is reporting that over 70% of the country are experiencing “abnormally dry or worse conditions”.

That’s double one year ago, according to agency statistics.

The hot, dry weather has taken its toll on agriculture, with 30% of the corn planted in the leading 18-corn producing states reported in poor or very poor conditions as of last week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Even while flat earthers scream foul, statistics and evidence continue to mount that we are experiencing a warming pattern and extreme weather conditions that can’t be explained away by wishful thinking.

More below.  

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