Tag Archive: evolution

Nov 19 2014

Can the US political system deal with climate change?

The American “system” has been a bit tardy in its response to climate change. Experts tell us that the longer it takes to make needed changes, the more difficult it will be to make them.

As 350.org’s Bill McKibben puts it:

We’re talking about a fight between human beings and physics. And physics is entirely uninterested in human timetables. Physics couldn’t care less if precipitous action raises gas prices, or damages the coal industry in swing states. It could care less whether putting a price on carbon slowed the pace of development in China, or made agribusiness less profitable.

Physics doesn’t understand that rapid action on climate change threatens the most lucrative business on Earth, the fossil fuel industry. It’s implacable. It takes the carbon dioxide we produce and translates it into heat, which means into melting ice and rising oceans and gathering storms. And unlike other problems, the less you do, the worse it gets.  Do nothing and you soon have a nightmare on your hands.

We could postpone healthcare reform a decade, and the cost would be terrible — all the suffering not responded to over those 10 years. But when we returned to it, the problem would be about the same size. With climate change, unless we act fairly soon in response to the timetable set by physics, there’s not much reason to act at all.

Unless you understand these distinctions you don’t understand climate change — and it’s not at all clear that President Obama understands them.

There are lots of reasons why the response of the system has been so slow. There is significant resistance in the system to the sort of changes that need to be made. That resistance has manifested itself in a number of ways, from President Obama using the spies at the NSA to kill global agreements on climate change to the bipartisan popularity of climate change denial in Congress, the media and the public relations industry, despite virtually indisputable scientific evidence.

Resistance is created by a variety of groups based on their perceived interests. Enormously wealthy, powerful corporations and individuals who want to preserve their profits from fossil fuels and related industries, people who rely on jobs created or enabled by fossil fuel industries, people who fear economic chaos and the loss of their comforts due to actions to stop climate change, and politicians whose fortunes depend upon the money and other resources of the fossil fuel industry are some huge sources of systemic inertia.

Jun 16 2014

The End of Evolution, or What a Holy Shit Moment Looks Like

Big trouble in the Antarctic has been brewing for a long time

by David Spratt, June 15, 2014

“A game changer” is how climate scientist Dr Malte Meinshausen describes newly published research that West Antarctic glaciers have passed a tipping point much earlier than expected and their disintegration is now “unstoppable” at just the current level of global warming. The research findings have shocked the scientific community. “This Is What a Holy Shit Moment for Global Warming Looks Like,” ran a headline in Mother Jones magazine.

(cont’d below the fold)

Jun 04 2012

As Faust said: “When concepts fail, words arise.” by Don Mikulecky

The remainder of the title would not fit: “The destruction of language in politics”.  The series this is a part of has the labels:Anti-capitalist meet-up and anti-capitalism.  No better a way to introduce my topic.  Those are “buzz words” and have been around for a very long time.  What do they mean?  I would guess that the vast majority of the people who use these words along with “communism”, “socialism”, “democracy” , “freedom”, liberty”and many others have no real idea what they are talking about.  Political exchanges are the “good guys” and the “bad guys” just like in our Western movies.  But many of us are more sophisticated or at least we think we are.  Read the diaries here and you will be able to see what I am getting at.  Language is a very interesting thing.  We have dictionaries and now the Google and Wikipedia sources for word meanings.  The technology is racing ahead faster than we can comprehend.  Umberto Eco calls it the modern magic.  We use it like magic not really knowing how it works or where it originates.  This diary is meant to blow your mind.  It comes from the strange creature I am, a hybrid between scientist (but very unconventional), political activist (but very radical and unconventional) and citizen of the world rather than of a Nation.  Oh yes I am an American citizen because that’s the way things have to be at this point in time.  It will change, but I will be dead.  When I die I cease to exist. I am 76 now.  If I haven’t turned you off yet read on below.  I hope to shock you.

Jun 02 2012

Are You Too Dumb To Vote?

Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg thinks some people are too dumb to vote:

   Personally, I think the voting age should be much higher, not lower.  I think it was a mistake to lower it to 18, to be brutally honest.

   (…)

   It is a simple fact of science, that nothing correlates more with ignorance and stupidity than youth.

In some cases he may be right except that he wouldn’t agree. 46% of Americans believe the creationist view of human existence:

The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God’s guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process.

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Click On image to enlarge

Hmmm, why would that be? Could it be a failure of our schools? Scarecrow at FDL says:

assume these numbers reflect the effects of private religious schooling and the growing trend of devising various schemes to use public dollars to subsidize private/religious schools, as reported in the New York Times.

Every time I hear Arne Duncan go on about NCLB or his Race to the Top and how we ought to be promoting clever ways to give parents more choices outside the public school system in how they teach their children, so as to improve their children’s math and engineering scores, I have to wonder why he just doesn’t make moving the numbers on this chart in a more enlightened direction as a measure of what “success means.” That chart shouts “failure” when I look at.

Or could it be more that our country’s “youths”, as Chris Mooney points out in his new book The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science and Realityyou’re too misinformed to vote if you get your news from Fox News:

In June of last year, Jon Stewart went on air with Fox News’ Chris Wallace and started a major media controversy over the channel’s misinforming of its viewers. “Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers?” Stewart asked Wallace. “The most consistently misinformed? Fox, Fox viewers, consistently, every poll.”

Stewart’s statement was factually accurate, as we’ll see. The next day, however, the fact-checking site PolitiFact [weighed in http://www.politifact.com/trut… and rated it “false.” In claiming to check Stewart’s “facts,” PolitiFact ironically committed a serious error and later, doubly ironically, failed to correct it. How’s that for the power of fact checking?

There probably is a small group of media consumers out there somewhere in the world who are more misinformed, overall, than Fox News viewers. But if you only consider mainstream U.S. television news outlets with major audiences (e.g., numbering in the millions), it really is true that Fox viewers are the most misled based on all the available evidence-especially in areas of political controversy. This will come as little surprise to liberals, perhaps, but the evidence for it-evidence in Stewart’s favor-is pretty overwhelming.

I am fairly certain Jonah wasn’t pointing his pudgy conservative finger at the religious right or Fox News but if the shoe fits

Jun 09 2011

Altering the Space Time Continuum by the Far Right

More fun from the far right and re-inventing history. Sarah Palin’s ignorance about Paul Revere’s ride at least didn’t screw with the time line. The right wings favorite winger historian, Texan Evangelical, David Barton, whose theory is that America’s unique success in the world is divinely caused and due to its commitment to core Judeo-Christian principles, has his own version of history stating that the Founding Fathers rejected Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Small problem with that, Darwin hadn’t been born yet and Origin of the Species wasn’t published until 1859 but according to Barton “there is no need to debate the teaching of Creationism in public schools, because the Founding Fathers made clear that we needed to do so.”

From Mother Jones:

On Wednesday, Right Wing Watch flagged a recent interview Barton gave with an evangelcial talk show, in which he argues that the Founding Fathers had explicitly rejected Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Yes, that Darwin. The one whose seminal work, On the Origin of Species, wasn’t even published until 1859. Barton declared, “As far as the Founding Fathers were concerned, they’d already had the entire debate over creation and evolution, and you get Thomas Paine, who is the least religious Founding Father, saying you’ve got to teach Creation science in the classroom. Scientific method demands that!” Paine died in 1809, the same year Darwin was born. . . . .

It’s been said that James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were ahead of their times. But perhaps not that prescient.

In the same interview, Barton explains that one of the main reasons that the colonies wanted to break away from England was because it would then become easier to abolish slavery. Any who has studied the basics of the American Revolution knows that the issue of slavery was tabled in order to secure approval of the Declaration of Independence. (For the record, Britain abolished slavery in 1833-32 years before the United States.)

Also according to Baron, Jesus would have love Paul Ryan’s budget because Jesus was opposed to the progressive income tax and he was opposed the minimum wage. The Republican’s just love this guy:

Newt Gingrich is a fan. So’s Michele Bachmann. Mike Huckabee’s such a booster that he recently said that all Americans should be “forced at gunpoint” to listen to this guy.

The object of this high praise from Huckabee-and recent shout-outs from other potential GOP presidential contenders-is David Barton, a Republican activist and minister who founded WallBuilders, a for-profit evangelical outfit that works to inject religion into politics. Barton holds some pretty unconventional views, and in the past he has spoken alongside fringe figures like Holocaust deniers and white supremacists. Among other things, he claims that Jesus would oppose the capital gains tax and the minimum wage; that global warming is “self-correcting”; and that the nation’s homeland security apparatus has been infiltrated by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. He also contends that the separation of church and state is a perversion of the Founding Fathers’ intention to create a Christian nation.

Remember the Star Trek episode The City on the Edge of Forever, maybe Darwin popped through the portal to meet with the Founding Fathers to discuss evolution. I bet Ben Franklin would have been quite intrigued.

h/t John Aravosis at AMERICAblog

Nov 01 2010

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – Republican Thuggery on Full Display, Part I

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Docudharma



Rob Rogers, see reader comments in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Buy this cartoon

This election season has brought out some real ghouls, some, but not all, as a result of the Tea Party.  These monsters are great for cartoonists, but not so great for the voters.  The saddest part is, none of these characters offers a message of hope.  It is all about tearing the other guy down.  I know this kind of negative campaigning happens with every election.  It just seems more frightening this year.