Archive for Global Warming


Exxon Playing Dumb

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Great balls of foreboding

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With Hillary Clinton getting Swift Servered in the media for being, you know, Hillary Clinton, and with Bernie Sanders being used as a progressive effigy by Black Lives Matter, Washington-level Democrats are feeling a bit uneasy about their 2016 prospects this week. Opposed as they are by a Republican cornucopia of clowns, that’s saying something.

BuzzFeed News reported yesterday that, according to “a senior Democrat,” Al Gore supporters are “getting the old gang together” to explore the prospect of Gore entering 2016 presidential race:

“They’re figuring out if there’s a path financially and politically,” the Democrat said. “It feels more real than it has in the past months.”


A member of Gore’s inner circle asked to be quoted “pouring lukewarm water” — not, note, cold water — on the chatter.

“This is people talking to people, some of whom may or may not have talked to him,” the Gore adviser said.

It is not clear what the purpose is of floating this story to BuzzFeed, but it smacks of some foreboding about Clinton’s electability. A retired white woman I spoke with last week expressed dislike for Clinton, if that’s any indication. She had voted for Obama, and now is eager for Joe Biden to jump into the race. It’s not just about trust, but likeability.

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The 6-percenters

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An animated map of the progression of the historic 2012–2014 California drought, spanning from December 31, 2013, to July 29, 2014. The map highlights the rapid spread of Extreme and Exceptional Drought conditions across over 75% of California during 2014. This drought is officially the worst drought California has experienced in 1,200 years.
(Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.)

Hearing yesterday morning that the snowpack in the Sierras is six percent of average nearly drew a gasp. Records have been shattered:

The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which typically supplies nearly a third of California’s water, is showing the lowest water content on record: 6 percent of the long-term average for April 1. That doesn’t just set a new record, it shatters the old low-water mark of 25 percent, which happens to have been last year’s reading (tied with 1977).

Things are so bad that Governor Jerry Brown decided to slog into the field for the manual snow survey on Wednesday morning. He didn’t need snowshoes but he did bring along a first-ever executive order mandating statewide water reductions.

“We’re in a historic drought and that demands unprecedented action,” he told reporters who made it to the Sierra survey site off of Highway 50.

In the Central Valley, farmers would drill wells if they could stand the two-year wait, the half-million dollar cost, and if there was any point. California celebrates its gold rush history in the appellation, the 49ers. I’m wondering if the 6-Percenters might have a future in California lore.

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From the red wood forest to the xxxx xxxxxx waters

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I got yer trickle-down right here, pal. Those melty glaciers in the Antarctic and Greenland? Well:

The Gulf Stream that helps to keep Britain from freezing over in winter is slowing down faster now than at any time in the past millennium according to a study suggesting that major changes are taking place to the ocean currents of the North Atlantic.

Scientists believe that the huge volumes of freshwater flowing into the North Atlantic from the rapidly melting ice cap of Greenland have slowed down the ocean “engine” that drives the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean towards north-west Europe, bringing heat equivalent to the output of a million power stations.

Scientists say the change has largely taken place since 1970. According to Stefan Rahmstorf at Potsdam’s Institute for Climate Impact Research, this could be … bad:

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Climate change gets biblical

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[from yesterday]

Two stories this morning bookend the ongoing saga of climate change: sea level rise and drought. Biblical plagues almost.

Rolling Stone’s Jeff Goodell visits the Norfolk naval station to see the impact of sea level rise on naval operations. Large tides and heavy rains already leave some areas underwater. A storm had moved through the area the night before, leaving trucks at the main refueling depot axle-deep in seawater:

“Military readiness is already being impacted by sea-level rise,” says Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, who mentions that with all the flooding, it’s becoming difficult to sell a house in some parts of Norfolk. If the melting of Greenland and West Antarctica continues to accelerate at current rates, scientists say Norfolk could see more than seven feet of sea-level rise by 2100. In 25 years, operations at most of these bases are likely to be severely compromised. Within 50 years, most of them could be goners. If the region gets slammed by a big hurricane, the reckoning could come even sooner.”

Already, employees have a hard time getting to the base when the roads flood. The state of Virginia is in charge of 300 miles of flood-prone roads in the Norfolk area. However, addressing that threat is not a priority for climate deniers in the legislature.

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2015: Imagine greater

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“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.”
— Ursula Le Guin, accepting the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, 2014 National Book Awards

So much of what bloggers write about is serendipity. Sometimes focusing fiercely on a single topic and searching out components to flesh out an idea, or else grazing the Net at random for articles that spark one, or sometimes just happening upon ideas floating around that connect in ways that say something about the zeitgeist.

This morning I ran across this post on Raw Story featuring Ursula Le Guin’s speech at the National Book Awards ceremony in November:

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries — the realists of a larger reality. …

Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art — the art of words.

I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want — and should demand — our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.

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7.7 square miles and 70 mm IMAX

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(Yesterday was a bit busy. Just getting around to posting this.)

Interstellar, the new Christopher Nolan science-fiction film starring Matthew McConaughey, may come uncomfortably close to science fact:

McConaughey’s character, known only as Cooper, is a farmer in a world that has become desperately short of food. Human activity has degraded the soil so badly that they’re forced to live in a giant dustbowl and crops are all but impossible to grow.

Although soil degradation is nothing new, Interstellar is proving strangely prescient, as its release coincides with a new UN report showing the trend has reached alarming levels, with 7.7 square miles of agricultural land being lost every day because it has become too salty. Climate change is making the situation worse because warmer temperatures require more irrigation and increase the speed at which the water evaporates, the report warns.

Now if we could only get people to suspend their disbelief and think about climate change for 2h 49m outside a theater.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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But not a drop to drink?

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As the People’s Climate March begins in New York later today, California struggles with record drought. It’s not just the hippies worried about climate change, and not just here.

The UK must prepare for “the worst droughts in modern times” experts will warn this week at a major international conference to discuss the growing global water crisis.

Britain is looking at ways of reconfiguring its water infrastructure — expanding reservoirs, imposing tougher water extraction licenses, considering more desalination plants. “In the past we have planned for our water resources to cope with the worst situation on record but records are only 100 years long,” explains Trevor Bishop, the Environment Agency’s deputy director. “We may get a situation that is worse than that – with climate change that is perfectly possible.”

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Climate Change Fracking Our Beer

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In Three Ways Climate Change Is Going To Ruin Your Beer, Think Progress’ Ryan Koronowski looks at how brewers are trying to get ahead of water and ingredient shortages:

study from 2009 suggested that the quality of Saaz hops from the Czech Republic has been falling since 1954 due to warmer temperatures. This is true for hops-growing regionsacross Europe. “If you drink beer now, the issue of climate change is impacting you right now,” Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company sustainability director Jenn Orgolini said in 2011. “Craft brewers — the emphasis there is on craft. We make something, and it’s a deeply agricultural product.”

Koronowski cites efforts by brewers to reduce water consumption and carbon emissions as among other tactics brewers are using  to get ahead of the climate change curve even as their retromingent brethren deny climate change is real and demand the government do nothing to stop it.

That would not include North Carolina businesses such as wind-powered Outer Banks Brewing Station and Asheville’s New Belgium.

New Belgium Brewing Company last year was recognized by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council for putting in place systems that allow it to divert 99.8 percent of its waste from the landfill.

If climate change is a long-term threat to local brewers, what might fracking do in the near-term?

Independent scientists who have reviewed a water analysis conducted by state authorities of a Texas resident’s drinking well say the chemical signatures found in the water may provide “the nation’s first conclusive link” between fracking operations and aquifer contamination.

Corporate pirates? Drink up, me hearties.

“This is a textbook case of how corporations attempt to influence our democracy, election after election. No. Seriously. They have a textbook.”

If we can help Boulder succeed, whose town gets helped next?


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