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May 20, 2014


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I happened to watch the documentary: Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story last night. It was depressing despite Atwater's firecracker personality (the novelized version of that life would require Robert Penn Warren to do it justice). Atwater did some breathtaking work persuading a nation that one of the worst scandals in American history - Iran/Contra - was "old news" and "distracting us from real issues the American people care about". He then shepherded the criminally-tainted George HW Bush through the 1988 election by painting the hapless Michael Dukakis as the best friend of Scary Black Rapists. Afterwards, the Bush family acknowledged that American politics had changed forever. Son W took that message under Atwater's protégé Karl Rove to a new level of political cynicism. Republicans keep looking for the basement, and finding none, keep digging.

Atwater died in 1991 of a brain tumor. He apologized to those he had slandered, possibly because he was worried his Young Republican soul might be in jeopardy after his death. I suspect if he were dying today, there would neither be apologies nor shame. Charles Krauthammer and George Will would likely declare him a hero.

The Republican Party always had some Manichaean coloration. The party of Herbert Hoover, Charles Lindbergh, Father Coughlin, Fred Koch, Robert Welch, Barry Goldwater, Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon was steeped in the paranoia of the heartland where grievances and resentments festered. Even when it would elevate itself, as Nixon could do on occasion, it was never far removed from its primordial ooze. After the Reagan ascension, the mainstream itself collapsed
into the mud. Reagan's Hollywood veneer gave the party and human nature the cover it was looking for: make darkness, cruelty, and fear seem optimistic and happy. It was like looking at Pat Buchanan smile and chuckle his way through the crossfire of The McLaughlin Group. If that paleo-con and Nazi sympathizer could get mainstreamed, nothing was too extreme.

The Republican Party today is a cult based on white victimology and Randian eschatology. There's a lot of lip service paid to Jesus but he's mostly a projection of their own grievances - the misunderstood venture capitalist and hedge-fund manager. Otherwise, the cult is utterly uninterested in policy. It has its precepts and dogma, true, but they no longer relate to the world we live in. They're simply the rhetorical tropes of cosmic war. Think of Republicans as the winged warriors of our gated communities and meth-lab economies. They are the birdbrain defenders of right in a world gone hopelessly wrong. There isn't anything too stupid or outlandish for them to believe.

In the Atwater documentary, Michael Dukakis is shown scratching his head how he, the son of Greek immigrants, was protrayed by the scion of a Greenwich CT dynasty as an elitist. You don't have to wonder anymore. Barack Obama was raised by a single mom and his Republican opponents, well-connected men born into wealth and privilege, did the same thing to him. What is it about our country that can be so mind-boggling in its reality inversions? Figure that one out and maybe we can skip the Armageddon ending to this creepy fairy tale.

I just knew this post would elicit a response from the Oracle of Oregon.

What befuddles me is that when you take the 10% whackadoodles on the right and the 10% whackadoodles on the left, what item, agenda, speech, person, occurrence will finally succeed in gaining the attention and favor of the middle 80%. You never know what it will be. No one can predict it. If they claim they can, they are full of shit.

So, to continue that train of thought, it is a crap shoot for the whackadoodles to see what will move the masses against their natural tendency to be a captive of their normal inertia.

@ "what will move the masses against their natural tendency to be a captive of their normal inertia."

Man, that's some heavy stuff.

I feel like Petro-lite.

( If I were to be so bold as to compare that thought to Petro's great mind.)

Actually, I quite liked that sentence, Reb. I certainly did a double-take.

I'm going to modify your numbers a bit, though. I believe the whackadoodles on the Right count for 30%, and I'll give you 10% for the Left, so that's only 60% of sanity mixed with indifference... care to venture a guess on that split?

I'm going to be un-generous and call it at 10% sanity, and a full 50% of blissful bourgeois bumpkins.

'Til someone lights that match. This September. I'm running with that hopeful (and fearful) prediction until October 1st.

(Oh, and in this company, I think my mind is well-matched. Why I hang out.)

Hmmm, fascinating. And after reading this Mother Jones article: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/koch-brothers-family-history-sons-of-wichita?page=2
It is clear that Koch is going to spend liberally in this "war" on "socialism".

This is a useful primer for everyone who persists in believing the myth that "primaries!" hold the key to returning the GOP to the state it was in the mid-20th Century.

Uh, no. Republicans have already figured that one out. In swing states and districts, or any race a Dem could possibly win, they tend to make sure that the kook who ends up as the nominee is someone blandly affable enough to pass for "moderate" in the general election. They don't always do that but the times they don't, e.g. Todd Akin, fall into the "exception proves the rule" category.

Ultimately, and pay attention hard, Arizona, there is no "establishment Republican" cavalry riding to the rescue. The moderates who continue to vote Republican here are letting the comfort of white privilege and fear of minorities and hippies override their common sense and survival instinct.

jon and nadia left u a ? on snake blog

soleri is even knocking 'em out of the park at Mother Jones.

Dog, link please...

O/T for Reb, a word on climate change and the insurance industry. Thoughts?

If there's a climate-change conspiracy, this is it


The insurance industry and the reinsurance industry are up to our necks in climate change. We are past the "who caused it" or "who is adding to it."

We're very busy trying to adapt to it.

On a personal note, I have always been much more concerned about the tree ring record of the southwest. How authorities can ignore the actual record of past mega-droughts is beyond me. I'm quite fond of drinking water. I wouldn't want to wait 100 years between personal hydrations.

Well, Reuben, I'm glad you're already past what causes climate change since you're now free to adapt to it in ways that pretty much minimize the threat. I totally get that you and your fellow believers are smarter than the 97% of the world's relevant experts. That, I assume, must be quite heady. Not only so you know more than degreed professionals in a field you never studied, you're confident you will come up with solutions based on, well, whatever and I'll get back to you.

Science, as opposed to libertarian theology, can't be so sanguine. If pumping methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere destabilizes the climate, there's not simply a point where you wipe your hands of the cause and just deal with it. An oncologist wouldn't simply tell a lung cancer patient that we're not absolutely sure smoking causes cancer so there's no need to stop. The first action you take is to find ways to radically curtail the poisoning of the atmosphere. That's not something you blithely wave off as somehow ancillary to some imaginary real solution. It is the solution. It can't be dismissed as pie in the sky since the damage to that sky is cumulative.

This is a good thread to have this discussion. The Republican Party is a cult, anti-empirical, and utterly hostile to the public good. Indeed, it denies there is a public good, just individual success and prosperity. And this sociopathic attitude is pervasive, from climate science to health care to the idea of citizenship itself. Blowhards who only talk to each other can convince themselves of anything. It's not hard to understand why you savants would dispute science. What is hard to understand is how immune you are to common sense. Scientists tell you something is wrong. Oil company propagandists tell you completely different. Who do you believe? Not the scientists, just the shills. If you were the only person manifesting this strange tic, we could all laugh. But when tens of millions of Americans do this, it's a threat to the civilization's survival. I'm not blaming you personally since you're only .00000001% of the problem. But it's maddening to read the opinion nonetheless since it's based on absolutely nothing more than contempt for reason and empiricism.

Oak Creek Canyon blazes away, eight tornados in the Denver area yesterday, and the echoes of climate change deniers stomping their little feet, exclaiming "because I said so!" Ring throughout the land.

My neighbor was out target practicing today as he heard The Environmentalists are Coming.

I think there may be a disconnect between the consensus of scientists who agree that climate change is man-caused, and the rhetoric of activists who characterize the problem for the public. (Yes, some of these activists are also scientists, but not generally.)

The scientific consensus at this time involves small gradual changes. While there are some potentially catastrophic risks if the current models miss something big, there is no prediction for global catastrophe.

The question then becomes one of how much inconvenience, and to whom, not whether the nation or the species will survive.

If effective political solutions result in loss of global competitiveness, increased cost, and substantially slower economic growth, that is another type of inconvenience.

The real argument then shifts to which sort of inconvenience is worse, for the general public.

My own view is that the potential problems of ocean acidification are potentially so catastrophic that it is simply too dangerous to take chances, even though the current mainstream model does not predict these problems. That is not reflective of the scientific consensus, however.

Note also that in order for policy changes affecting the United States alone to have a substantial effect on climate change, the changes would have to be correspondingly large and disruptive.

I agree with Mr. Talton that the fact that China is by far the world's greatest carbon polluter, does not prevent the U.S. from unilateral action which could ameliorate the problem.

However, I think that over time an increase in the size of the Chinese economy together with the rise of China wanna-be nations like India, etc., are going to dwarf any changes the U.S. alone is likely to make.

Once China's own citizens complete a transition from peasant-workers to a consumer class rivaling the U.S., Chinese production (and pollution) will skyrocket, even by today's standards. Just the addition of new automobiles alone will be staggering, together with additional energy needs for electricity production, food production, etc.. The rise of other developing countries would just add to this.

If the problem is to be effectively addressed, it has to be through a forum of world governments; and if developing nations like China refuse to play ball, then Europe and the United States must be willing to take punitive actions to force compliance or else to reduce demand for Chinese goods to such an extent that its economy no longer threatens the global climate. Once China transitions from an export economy to a domestic consumer economy, however, it will be too late to brandish such a stick.

Given the gradual nature of scientific climate change predictions, there is reluctance to make policy changes based on current technology, when the hope for future technological developments in the field of renewable energy may render the issue of carbon pollution moot. Whether this is practical or pollyanic is something that will only become clear with time.

Side-note: three new comments on the missing Malaysian plane mystery, here:


There is NO scientific consensus that global warming is going to entail "small gradual changes". When you have the Arctic ice cap disappearing before our eyes, the last thing that comes to mind is gradual. http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/18301-climate-change-is-happening-faster-than-you-think

The massive ice sheet collapse in the Antarctic has been described as "unstoppable" and a "holy shit" moment: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/17/climate-change-antarctica-glaciers-melting-global-warming-nasa

As with every other aspect of climate change, ocean acidification is outstripping the forecasts, with catastrophic results forecast in the near to mid-term future: http://oceanacidification.net/

Yes, there are some areas of ambiguity. But those disagreements pale by comparison to the overwhelming consensus that climate change is happening much faster than predicted even a few years ago. The previous IPCC reports have all erred on the conservative side, not the sensationalist side of "activists", Hollywood celebrities, and Al Gore. There is no dearth of information here. There is a dearth of political will to tackle this unfolding catastrophe. To suggest we can take our time until we know absolutely everything there is to know about the science and the modeling is just another denialist strategy to protect fossil fuel polluters.

We who are not scientists are not qualified to debate this issue as science. We are qualified, however, to demand action from our political leaders. This activism is the only sane path before us. It may be fun playing contrarian on the internet. It's not particularly astute given that once the changes create their own positive feedback loops, any mitigation becomes all but impossible.

Well i know a guy
u know im just saying

The Ocean is a cesspool of plastic and garbage.
More rape of the planet: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/22/ecuador-drill-amazon_n_5376610.htmlhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/22/ecuador-drill-amazon_n_5376610.html">http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/22/ecuador-drill-amazon_n_5376610.html">http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/22/ecuador-drill-amazon_n_5376610.htmlhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/22/ecuador-drill-amazon_n_5376610.html
Maybe the Yasuni will blow pipe this enemy of the planet: Ecuador, President Rafael Correa
Closer to home: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/22/arizona-wildfire-flagstaff-sedona_n_5372189.html?utm_hp_ref=green

For years I have written to Arizona legislators to buy out Oak Creek Canyon from the Rim to the town of Sedona. Remove all human structures and close it down for at least 10 years. (The creek is polluted)
Sedona has become a town of New Age nut jobs and art for the Donald Sterlings of the world.
If you are not a New Age groupie or wealthy U can hang out with the Satanists in Camp Verde.
The great little upstairs Korean restaurant in Sedona closed. The owner told me it was much easier and she made more money telling fortunes and selling spiritual stuff in her down stairs store. Sedona a place where you can die in a no-Indian, no peyote, Elmer Gantry type sweat lodge.
It’s been 32 years since I hurt my back in Jerome climbing the fire escape ladder to the window where two women beckoned me to their room in the old rat infested Connor hotel above the “Spirit Room” Bar where most any nite about 11 PM you could watch the wanata be hippies and the plastic cowboys go at it. I just hate and I swore when I was young I would never say it but I cant help but do it.
I am glad I am old.

Jon, although many of us on this blog have been painted as "liberal, it may come to the point that U have to load and cock that Python.

And what happened to WKG in bham?

Didn't farting dinosaurs end the last ice age?

Well at least there is one scientist on the blog
Thanks Roger

Cities, Cant live without them?
At the very least read the last five sentences starting with
"We always kill"

Well at least there is one scientist on the blog Thanks Roger

OK, that was funny. :)

Soleri wrote:

"There is NO scientific consensus that global warming is going to entail small gradual changes."

According to NASA's Global Climate Change website, "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century."


Note that 10 degrees is an outside chance, not the likeliest prediction within this range. An increase in average global temperature of a few degrees Fahrenheit over the course of a century would fit most people's definition of "gradual" (i.e., involving incremental changes over periods of time exceeding the average human lifespan). It's also gradual within the context of public debate and governmental policy response.

Soleri wrote: "The massive ice sheet collapse in the Antarctic has been described as 'unstoppable' and a 'holy shit' moment.

Here's what the NASA scientist who runs the agency's program on polar ice and who oversaw one of the research teams in question had to say to the New York Times in May of this year:

"If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable in coming centuries."


The phrase "in coming centuries" gives a sense of timescale that, again, has to be considered "gradual" within the context of public policy debate. Note also the phrase "if the findings hold up". Scientific consensus does not result from a new study; it results from years of independent research by multiple sources and empirical confirmation of predictive models. One day the newspaper quotes a study saying that caffeine is bad for you. Next year it quotes one saying it isn't. I have reasonable confidence in the quality of the research in question, but it's important to remember this in the general case.

Note also that "unlike Arctic sea ice, a majority of Antarctic sea ice already melts away each summer, and has done so since at least 1979".


I don't want to soft-pedal this. The NYT article above indicates that by 2100 global sea level may rise "by as much as" 3 feet, and that other research suggests that a rise of "less than four feet" could inundate major U.S. coastal cities. But the phrase "by as much as" is a telltale which should inform the astute reader that this is the extreme range of prediction. Even under their worst case scenario, it will take at least 100 years before sea level rise even begins to seriously threaten major U.S. coastal cities. A maximum projected rise of 3 feet combined with a minimum figure of nearly 4 feet required to produce inundation, means that Miami probably won't be facing millenial floods for hundreds of years.

Soleri wrote: "When you have the Arctic ice cap disappearing before our eyes, the last thing that comes to mind is gradual."

By contrast, scientists write: "Even in the historical observations, it is clear that there are large variations in ice conditions from year to year. Thus the observations that we are seeing may be a period of rapid ice decline that models indicate will happen from time to time. And we may be due to experience a period of slow down. There is no certainty of this and scientists have been surprised by the dramatic record lows in 2007 and 2012. Nonetheless, given the complexity of the sea ice system, the large year-to-year variations observed, and potential negative feedbacks that can act to slow the ice loss, most scientists feel a conservative estimate of the future ice changes is probably warranted."


Assuming the worst case indicates that in a couple of decades SUMMERTIME arctic sea ice will decline to a volume less than 1 million square kilometers.

Regarding ocean acidification and mainstream views, a report was released in 2013, based on the findings from a September 2012 Symposium on the Ocean, at which 540 experts from 37 countries discussed research on ocean acidification and was updated with more recent research. The conclusions: "Within decades, large parts of the polar oceans will become corrosive to the unprotected shells of calcareous marine organisms," the report says, while in the tropics the growth of coral reefs may be hampered..." It notes that some organisms will be less able to survive, others will be unaffected, and some will thrive. "The shellfish aquaculture industry faces significant threats" says the report's Summary For Policymakers. "By 2100, it is estimated that 70% of cold-water corals will be exposed to corrosive waters, although some will experience undersaturated waters as early as 2020." There is a hyperlink to the report in this CNN article:


Bad stuff, for sure.

Of course, one can argue that scientific predictions have been too conservative to keep up with recent observations. Fair enough. But now you're arguing that one should disregard, rather than enshrine, "scientific consensus". You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Incidentally, for those like Ruben who question the consensus that climate change is caused by artificial processes, here's a brief, easy to read list of major scientific organizations and their views in a nutshell:


P.S. One million square kilometers is equal to 386,000 square miles. By comparison, the state of Texas is 269,000 square miles.

emil thanks for the data. however 100 to 200 years is not my definition of "gradual."

100 to 200 years is, in fact, an eyeblink in terms of geologic time. The Holocene period, in which human agriculture arose - and hence civilization - has been around for 10,000 years. We are now vandalizing its chief characteristic - a stable and moderate climate. For almost all of the Holocene Era, in which we live, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has been under 300 ppm. It's now 400 ppm, going inexorably higher, and unleashing feedback loops that may be unstoppable. Once methane is released from Siberian tundra, the rise in heat-trapping gases will be catastrophic. It's not a matter of if. It's when.

The reason we should care about these issues is not to bash one another about semantics or politics. It's simply one of moral clarity. Our species is knowingly and willingly destroying its habitat for no better reason than to protect the profits of fossil fuel companies. Granted, Asia is now emerging as the major carbon polluter, but the US could exercise global leadership if it chose to rise to the occasion. Europe is much further advanced in limiting its greenhouse gas emissions and would gladly join us in the global effort to curtail emissions. It won't be easy but we should be under no illusions about its necessity.

The scientific consensus here is stark, as the latest IPCC report states. I have yet to here any scientist outside a small cabal of the easily bribed (e.g., Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer) say we can afford to take our time. This is not simply a missing jetliner that requires endless sleuthing on the internet. This is a hair-on-fire imperative unlike any other issue in the world today. We who are not scientists may not be qualified to debate atmospheric physics but we are moral agents impelled by a stark choice either to act or to collapse our agency as responsible beings. This blog will not change many minds but if it shames even just one person out of denialism, it will have done its part.

@Cal: still checking every day or so. Sitting the last couple of posts our. Don't need any help from me on GOP smack-down.

Here is one for Jon. and wkg I think U might enjoy it.
Clyde Snow told rambling stories in his native West Texas drawl over Bombay martinis straight up with two olives.

Soleri wrote:

"Once methane is released from Siberian tundra, the rise in heat-trapping gases will be catastrophic. It's not a matter of if. It's when."

Interesting. It's hard to find recent coverage of this, but I did find what appears to be a well-crafted blog that seems to specialize in just this topic:


Incidentally, regarding arctic sea-bed releases of methane, it appears that these have been forming for thousands of years and are not the result of industrialization; also, most of this methane dissolves in the ocean and very little reaches the atmosphere:


Emil, thanks for those links. Here are a couple of sites that are fairly comprehensive. If you're interested, you could spend years delving into their archives. The comment sections, too, are fascinating.



One of the temptations with possessing only a modest amount of information as I do is wanting to argue with people who get predigested talking points from denialist media (e.g., Fox News). Not only have I struggled to stay current with the best science, I then waste time trying to rebut tendentious arguments that require its own research. I've stopped doing this for the most part. I make a partial exception on this site since I more or less claim this as my home address.

There are countless denialist arguments that really don't refute the basis of climate change theory. It would be more honest simply to describe them as "quibbles". Nonetheless, in the public mind, these register as doubts about the core theory, which is the hard science of atmospheric physics. You will notice that no denialist ever tries to dispute it. I don't think it is particularly difficult to understand this science but there is such a thing as "noise" in statistics that can be deliberately misinterpreted by outfits like The Heartland Institute. I recommend those links above for dispelling the aura of denialist credibility. The quibbles they tout may actually be correct but they're usually decontextualized for tendentious purposes.

Re climate and permafrost, I also invite you to the Climate/Energy/Water page on Rogue, full of good stuff.

Climate Central is also an excellent site:


Elizabeth Kolbert's 2006 "Field Notes From a Catastrophe" remains a meticulously reported but galvanizing book. The science has evolved in certain areas since then, but mainly in that things are getting worst faster. One of its many virtues: It is accessible to the layperson.

The article "A Call to Arms: An Invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change | Rolling Stone" on the front page symbolizes a big part of the problem. It could synonymously be called "An Invitation to Act by Demanding Action from Others". Political pressure and activism are all very necessary but that doesn't solve the fossil fuel dilemma. IMO it is likely that everything that can be burned will be burned.

The best scenario I can see is that the small flower of renewables will keep growing at double digit rates so that by mid-century punitive carbon pricing will become large-scale effective. It won't be enough to stay below 450 or get back to 350. But maybe enough to stay below 600 or 700. I wouldn't count on it.

AWinter, I read Bill McKibben's call to arms (or, at least, placards) in RS and was not persuaded either. He analogized to the demonstrations during the Vietnam era as somehow ending that war. But that war was relatively easy to end. Climate change is a completely different animal.

While I am a pessimist given the deep and abiding obliviousness of human beings (the comments you read on any online climate change story are a useful counterpoint to even cautious optimism), our few options shouldn't depress us into inaction. Chances are that screaming into the wind will not change anything, but in lieu of doing nothing, it might at least be therapeutic. I assume the best scenario is the kind of attention-grabbing catastrophe that is unmistakeable, terrifying, and limited. Say, Miami drowned by a hurricane or California's Central Valley turning into a new a dust bowl.

I've noted this before but I'll say it again: the right's economic strategy of stressing the middle class is making it doubly difficult to address their lies about climate science. When people are working two jobs, using credit cards to pay bills, and barely able to make their mortgage payments, the environment is obviously not going to be their most important concern. I'm not suggesting a conspiracy here but it is remarkable how well this dual positioning is working for them.

The right. The right. The right. The right. The right. The right. The right.

God, I sure wish finger pointing could be harnessed to produce electricity.

Ruben, I half want to apologize for being so hard on you. But this is a political blog in which we (i.e., most of us) are members of the reality-based community. You are part of the faith-based community. That is, faith in the shared identity of old-time culture, commerce-based "science", stupid ideas (the whole Ayn Rand cult), and the right's favorite obsession, it's own victimhood. What should we do? Pretend your point of view is well-grounded? It's mostly bullshit as I suspect even you realize now and then.

Still, I get that I'm not going to persuade you by bashing you. My own frustration with our civil war ("our" being between you and me personally and between reality and faith) is that I'm impelled to spit in the faces of decent people. Still, that's decent people voting for toxic ideas and irreparably damaging this nation and very possibly civilization itself. The cold civil war we're enduring was engineered by your puppetmasters at Fox News, Freedom Works, RNC, NRA, Club for Growth, Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation. Call it Puppetry of the Dickheads performing for no better reason than to protect concentrated wealth and power. You apparently don't mind being their stooge.

I protest vehemently and obnoxiously because it's the only leveler available to someone like myself. What would you prefer I do? Think these thoughts and not express them? It would be like asking you not to call liberal women "men", or Al Gore "fat".

We are not unique in our animosity. People defriend one another on Facebook, neighbors stop talking to one another, Thanksgiving dinners are minefields, and newspaper columnists are exiled. As old as I am, I've never seen anything quite like this although the late '60s and early '70s come very close. But the parties were still talking to each other then. Today, there's no real communication. Just mistrust and damaged relationships. We are part of history whether we like it or not and this blog is a microcosm of a great and ongoing historical event. Whose reality is it, anyway? We are finding out daily with every feeble protest and blog comment we make.

What I would prefer is that we put our fingers back in their holsters and we propose and talk about SOLUTIONS.

This is a smart blog. A very smart blog. Let's work on solutions.

If you only knew the battles I fight against the oil and gas industry, you might cut me some slack.

I am not republican. I am not a conservative. I have no hero's among that movement. I bad mouthed your liberal hero's, I have apologized and I apologize again. They are your hero's. I consider them my enemies.

My wife asked me the other day, "you hate conservatives and you hate liberals. Don't you feel lonely?"

Yes, I do. I feel very lonely.

All I want is solutions. Is that asking too much??

Ruben, I know you claim not to be a right-winger but this mad-as-hell-not-going-to-take-it-anymore pox-on-both-their-houses attitude does have an ideological flavor. It's called libertarian. And it's a flavor you find conspicuously displayed in the Republican Party. It's the flavor of the Koch brothers who are financing the hard-right counter-revolution in this nation. And its "solutions" are always "market-based". It believes quite a few things that are indistinguishable from the Randian fervor of teenage boys and suburban hipsters: no health care for the poor, no safety net period, no drug laws, no environmental laws, and, indeed, no government except to protect the property rights.

Your "solutions" are amply on display in such places like Somalia. All you need to do is own them forthrightly instead of playing Soccer Dad on the internet, thus giving yourself a patina of reasonableness you definitely don't deserve.

Unfricking believeable:



At least furriners know the power of collective action!

good links, cal

the consumption/emission graphs of Germany are pointing in the right direction though I don't know whether that's because of or in spite of the renewables strategy. It could be a result of offshoring of heavy industries, economic stagnation, etc.

another one:

Notice how fossil fuels are more practical in almost every way.
The long-term future will be solar. We probably won't like it very much but we'll make do. Currently, there is still this popular wish for everything to stay the same, just a bit 'cleaner and greener'. The true way forward will be the cal lash downsizing strategy.
If climate change mitigation is a personal priority then becoming a vegetarian, getting rid of the car, and reducing heating loads are the best ways to 'do something'.


a painful situation does not always produce painful long-term steps in the right direction. Most of us have had those episodes at the dentist. Aren't we already jaded? The first countries to be summarily screwed will be places like Bangladesh and island nations. The salt is already seeping higher there and empathy is inversely proportional to distance. If Miami turns to Atlantis after that, will we weep? No, not much, because we'll be in the middle of the adaption and suffering phase (and some of us have a cultural beef with Florida).
Then, to shore up the defenses of NYC, repair damages, and get our food we'll need lots of resources. For that we'll need an economy that generates lots of surpluses, and for that we'll need ... fossil fuels!? Just one more hit, please?

Soleri wrote:

"I have yet to hear any scientist outside a small cabal of the easily bribed (e.g., Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer) say we can afford to take our time...This is a hair-on-fire imperative unlike any other issue in the world today."

According to NASA's Global Climate Change website, global temperature has increased by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, which means that even over the last 20 years (when the process seems to have accelerated) the increase is considerably less than that.

Given the timescale over which global temperature changes occur, what are the odds that action now will produce a qualitatively different climate change outcome, compared to action taken decades from now?

True, there has been speculation in the scientific press about feedback loops and tipping points; but so far as I know, this has not been quantified to specify the occurence of anything irreversible within the next 20 years (or indeed, any particular period of time); much less anything approaching a scientific consensus on this point.

If you know of such evidence, please present it. This may be another indication of disconnect between activist views and those of the scientific mainstream.

I think that the most that can be argued is that IF irreversible, catastrophic climate change can be caused by industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, and IF it is possible for a feasible reduction in emissions to prevent this (by feasible I mean something that doesn't throw economies into a tailspin so that the major players can be convinced to sign on), and BECAUSE it is unknown if and when incremental increases in carbon emissions might cause such a hypothetical tipping point to be reached, THEN given the enormity of the potential consequences, it makes sense to act as soon as possible. Sort of a "Do you really want to chance it?" kind of thing.

It's important to document scientific consensus on these points. No less a scientist than Edward Teller argued against the development of nuclear fission on the basis that fission could cause a fusion reaction in atmospheric nitrogen that, if self-sustaining, could "ignite" the planet's atmosphere.

Incidentally, it strikes me as something of a contradiction to suggest that catastrophic climate change is unstoppable while simultaneously issuing a call for action to prevent it. "Let's kick the economy in the ass and pray for a miracle" isn't much of an organizing slogan. I have to wonder if there aren't two conflicting motives at work: on the one hand, doomsterism rubbing its hands together in ghoulish glee, and on the other, the desire to stick it to Big Energy.

Soleri wrote:

"This is not simply a missing jetliner that requires endless sleuthing on the internet."

The same might be said for the vast majority of topics discussed at Rogue Columnist (and elsewhere). Certainly downtown Phoenix rates somewhat lower on the scale of weighty subjects than climate change. Since you haven't complained about that, I'll have to assume that your comment about my recent guest-blog was motivated by something other than concern for the planet.


Emil, we who are not scientists should not play the quibble game. Climate change is widely regarded as a catastrophe among climate scientists. But there are others who disagree: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/mar/10/global-warming-optimism-unjustified-high-sensitivity. Still, I had no idea that there is some "mainstream" out there (who apparently agree with you) that we can take our time and ignore the "activists" because it's all so slow and gradual. Please watch this video:


The argument, frequently expressed by denialists, is that mitigation would be too expensive to undertake, and that it would hurt poor people the most. Game-show host Pat Sajak recently called people like me "unpatriotic racists". It's an interesting argument given that climate change will hurt poor people the most, even drowning poor countries like Bangla Desh in the coming decades. If climate change is much ado about nothing, this might be a valid concern. I think it's safe to look at the denial industry that espouses it, however, to see through their crocodile tears. These people don't care about other people much if at all, Bjorn Lomborg notwithstanding.

We who are not scientists can fix our antennae on media we trust. This, indeed, is one reason why I come to this blog. I share Rogue's concerns and interests, one of which is the overwhelming threat that climate change poses to the desert Southwest and the planet as a whole. That doesn't mean I think his other interests are impermissible or trivial. Do they pale in importance by comparison to climate change? Yes. But even during the worst catastrophes people would still talk about other things. We have to. We would go insane if we didn't.

Your ability to focus like a laser beam on a one-time event (the missing jetliner) is both admirable and frustrating. It's admirable in the sense you pored over the minutiae in order to understand it better. It's frustrating because it ultimately falls outside what is the general reader's interest level. I admit to passing interest in CNN-level journalism, e.g., missing blond women in the Caribbean. But I know when to let it go. This is what I mean when I suggest we general readers must behave with "necessary humility". We can't know everything. Democracy is composed of multiple buffers that - theoretically - allow our concerns to be known without demanding we understand every aspect of its complexity. An unemployed man, for example, is allowed to feel anger about his situation without knowing who John Maynard Keynes is. On the other hand, a community-college dropout like Rush Limbaugh should probably shut up about climate change being a hoax.

I welcome what I imagine is going to be an ongoing debate on this subject. We need to talk about this more than we have because it is the existential crisis of our era. But I warn you: I am not a scientist. And neither are you. Let's honor the real expertise that's there, not the imaginary expertise we as citizens think we have. I'm a wolverine on this subject only because I feel the denialists have an extraordinary propaganda operation that bewitches ordinary citizens. That's my concern, my anger, and my personal protest.

I think there's a big difference between mainstream science saying "act now" because the sooner we do, the faster we can mitigate, prevent, or even reverse the results of gradual climate change (e.g., hotter or colder weather than regions would otherwise experience, more flooding or drought, more or stronger hurricanes or tornados, etc.), and the inaccurate activist claim that if we don't act today scientists predict immediate cataclysmic events. In fact, science does not predict this in the coming decades, or indeed, over any particular period shorter or more definite than "the coming centuries".

To those like Ruben who might perceive contradictions (how can it be both hotter AND colder?), note that climate change can cause shifts in the jetstream and other changes in ecosystem dynamics which change one thing here and another thing there. So, some places will get more rain (maybe too much) and others not enough; some places will be hotter in summer and in the seasons surrounding it, and others experience colder weather more often in winter.

Another point worth considering is that predictions of temperature rise refer to global average temperature. Obviously, this is consistent with even larger temperature rises in some places combined with smaller rises in others, because what is measured is a global average. So in fact, local weather differences could be greater than might seem to be possible from the predicted global temperature rise.

Since Soleri insists on shifting the discussion from issues to persons, I'm going to respond in kind. I've separated this from the important, issue-oriented discussion of my previous comment.

Soleri, the mystery of the missing plane has occupied the world media for months now, often to the near exclusion of other stories for days or weeks at a stretch; public interest has been inflammed and obssessed by the topic. It doesn't compare in general importance to climate change, but it certainly has stimulated broader and more enthusiastic public interest.

What your comments boil down to is: you're not interested. Fine. Even you have acknowledged that discussions of topics other than climate change are both inevitable and desirable.

What you've demonstrated is your own psychological weakness in resorting to personal criticism whenever challenged or outwitted on unrelated topics. I make statements on some specific issue, whether climate change or local development, that you don't like but can't construct compelling arguments against, then you brood. Shortly thereafter, you post catty remarks, often in a completely different thread. You're insecure. You may not think this is obvious, but it is, and it doesn't reflect well.

I don't see anything humble in your attitudes here, either in political discussions, economic discussions, or climate change discussions. What I see is a strident individual who has deepset, nearly unmoveable biases and beliefs and who considers doing his homework too much to ask. Any discussion of substantive, fundamental points (not "minutiae") which challenges your beliefs results in complaints or evasions. Whether "we" are scientists or not, rational debate requires ascertaining the facts and getting in touch with the spirit if not the arcana of the experts.

When you say "let's honor the real expertise that's there, not the imaginary expertise we as citizens think we have" you're not bending one degree in your claims; you're remaining dogmatic while attempting to undermine my claims by casting aspersions on my expertise. In fact, as I've demonstrated, my views on the present topic are far better aligned with expert consensus than yours.

On topics where my opinion diverges from those of the authorities cited by the public media (not always the same thing as the experts), such as the search team looking for the missing plane, I give serious, specific reasons for disagreeing; I expect and deserve serious, specific, and responsive refutations of my views from those who disagree with me.

So far, whether on this issue, the Ukraine, climate change, or local issues, you've merely evaded or ignored my arguments and ultimately resorted to various kinds of ad hominem.

I have better uses for my time than this.

Ruben, I want to offer you a full apology. I disagree with your politics, but you are sane. For that I am grateful.

Thank you soleri.

I know I'm sane. My mother had me tested.

Well, let's see: the U.S. Navy has just issued an official position statement admitting that it is now "universally agreed" by members of the international search team looking for the missing Malaysian plane, that the so-called "black box pings" were nothing of the sort.

The Bluefin-21 has completed its search of the area, without results, and has been removed from service.

Despite a massive search and continuous publicity, not a single scrap of plane debris has been found on or beneath the water or washed up on any beach.

So far, then, my criticisms have proven correct.

When the plane is found to be crashed in a jungle not far from where it was last known to be flying, I'm going to list the institutions constituting the Working Group, whose experts demonstrated such exquisitely bad judgment in signing off on Inmarsat's fantasy; and I'll serve it up with a slice of Humble Pie for soleri.

The time to "let it go" is when the mystery has been cleared up beyond ambiguity. That hasn't happened yet.

The fact is, there are meta-issues you aren't aware of and don't understand, which make predicting the outcome far more interesting to me than climate change. The world isn't what it seems.


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