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Global cataclysm, mass extinctions and ecosystem collapse

bringiton's picture

All coming soon, to a planet near you.

Twenty years ago, June of 1988, Jim Hansen of the Goddard Space Institute presented the first sound data showing human involvement in changing the Earth’s climate. Since then all of his predictions, from temperature rise to melting of the polar ice caps and the glaciers, have come true. With new data, a more comprehensive understanding of the feedback mechanisms and better modeling, he sees much worse to come: sea level rises that will displace hundreds of millions of people, floods and drought on a scope and scale far beyond anything known in human history, extinction of half or more of the species on the planet and collapse of entire ecosystems.

Not to worry, though; we still have twenty years before it all spirals hopelessly out of control.

Maybe.

Hansen spoke at the National Press Club yesterday, and the only term that can be used for his outlook is grim. The most current data show that we have been underestimating the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. A counterbalancing effect called “global dimming” has been masking the full impact of gaseous insulation. Global dimming results from atmospherically suspended particulates – soot and other aerosols – which reflect sunlight and reduce the amount of energy absorbed by the planet. This effect has acted as a counterbalance to the raising of surface temperatures from gasses, leading earlier models to over estimate the gasses effect.

With real increases being at the low end or below what the models predicted, skeptics (and liars) have claimed that the models are inaccurate and there is nothing to worry about. We now know that as the gaseous insulation effects begin to outstrip the reflective effects of soot there will be a sharp increase in global warming. If atmospheric CO2 levels are not reduced to 350 ppm or less, the warming process will engage more and more feedback loops that will accelerate the process beyond any hope of human influence. As a species, we will survive; as a civilized, decent society, however, we will be doomed.

From Hansen’s speech, emphasis added:

What is at stake? Warming so far, about two degrees Fahrenheit over land areas, seems almost innocuous, being less than day-to-day weather fluctuations. But more warming is already “in-the-pipeline”, delayed only by the great inertia of the world ocean. And climate is nearing dangerous tipping points. Elements of a “perfect storm”, a global cataclysm, are assembled.

Climate can reach points such that amplifying feedbacks spur large rapid changes. Arctic sea ice is a current example. Global warming initiated sea ice melt, exposing darker ocean that absorbs more sunlight, melting more ice. As a result, without any additional greenhouse gases, the Arctic soon will be ice-free in the summer.

More ominous tipping points loom. West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are vulnerable to even small additional warming. These two-mile-thick behemoths respond slowly at first, but if disintegration gets well underway it will become unstoppable.

Debate among scientists is only about how much sea level would rise by a given date. In my opinion, if emissions follow a business-as-usual scenario, sea level rise of at least two meters is likely this century. Hundreds of millions of people would become refugees. No stable shoreline would be reestablished in any time frame that humanity can conceive.

Animal and plant species are already stressed by climate change. Polar and alpine species will be pushed off the planet, if warming continues. Other species attempt to migrate, but as some are extinguished their interdependencies can cause ecosystem collapse. Mass extinctions, of more than half the species on the planet, have occurred several times when the Earth warmed as much as expected if greenhouse gases continue to increase. Biodiversity recovered, but it required hundreds of thousands of years.

The disturbing conclusion, documented in a paper I have written with several of the world’s leading climate experts, is that the safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is no more than 350 ppm (parts per million) and it may be less. Carbon dioxide amount is already 385 ppm and rising about 2 ppm per year.

Stunning corollary: the oft-stated goal to keep global warming less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is a recipe for global disaster, not salvation.

And what is the probability of this disaster unfolding as predicted? Hansen again:

…I can assert that these conclusions have a certainty exceeding 99 percent.

That will be p < 0.01 for the statisticians among you. What it means in plain English is that there is no doubt; we are on the verge of drowning our seacoasts, destroying the food chain and killing off most of the species on the planet. The few remaining naysayers and skeptics may be ignorant, ill-informed, delusional or lying, but they are certainly wrong.

Hansen has some ideas about how to deal with the worst of them:

Special interests have blocked transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link. Methods are sophisticated, including funding to help shape school textbook discussions of global warming.

CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.

He has a list of other necessary objectives, including an immediate halt to the use of coal, the conversion of vehicles to non-fossil fuel and the construction of a national interstate electrical grid based on buried high-voltage DC transmission. Like it or not, we will have to go now to non-fossil fuels including nuclear or we will – literally – drown in our own wastes. To keep ourselves, and our children, from disaster we will have to begin seizing control of the process now. There is no more time left to wait. If ever there was a call to arms for the whole of humankind, this is it.

Citizens in the UK have begun protests, including incitement of arrest, to stop the building of new coal-fired plants without CO2 mitigation. More, larger protests are planned beginning in August. The goal is to stop construction of any more new unmitigated coal-fired power plants. Meanwhile here in the US, as well as in the rest of the world, plans to build new coal-fired power plants by the hundreds continue, accelerating the speed of global warming and hastening doom.

The Republican intransigence on environmental destruction is the major roadblock to change, and they have been relentless in their lies and deceits. Five years ago, billing himself falsely again as environmentally concerned, Bush touted a new initiative to design and build “clean” coal-fired power plants. Last February, with little fanfare, the entire program was scrapped as unworkable and no functional alternative approach has been implemented.

This failure was no surprise to anyone willing to give a cursory look. The plan, the only plan, was to build new coal-burning power plants with the capacity to move the CO2 into geological formations where the gas would be absorbed. Never mind the Pollyanna hopefulness in that regard, since even the absorption part of the process is unproven; the plain fact is that capturing and storing only 10% of the harmful gaseous emissions generated from just today’s existing power plant capacity would require moving volumes of compressed carbon dioxide larger than the total annual world-wide flow of oil. That none of the steps in the approach has ever been proven is not the problem – if everything worked as planned on a technical basis, the scale alone makes it impossible to execute. That this plan could ever work was, from the beginning, a bald-faced lie.

Meanwhile, through obfuscation and deceit and misdirection and outright lies, the real objectives of the Plutocracy have been achieved; rising gasoline and heating fuel prices, extending dependence on dwindling and uncertain oil supplies, increasing drought, food shortages, environmental degradation, and continual war are all part of the plan. In the panic to come, attempts to sustain the unsustainable by drill, drill, drill here at home and the conquest of new oil lands abroad will create increasing levels of fear and deprivation, leading citizens to yield more and more civil rights. If you think the current attempts at undermining the Constitution are threatening, wait until you see what people are willing to give up when they are dying in the dark of thirst and starvation.

Those at the top of the economic ladder envision a future where 1% of the human race controls 90% of the capital and all the means of production. The rest of humanity, those who survive, will be kept in an economic, social and political subjugation teetering at all times at the margin of physical survival. The systematic destruction of our education system, growing lack of healthcare, obstruction of environmental concerns in the face of rising pollution levels, blocking of any attempts at conservation of resources, increasing militancy and systematically institutionalized under-and-un-employment are not random products of general incompetence or misguided philosophical differences. They are all part of a sophisticated plan of destruction that if it works will leave only the wealthy elite in comfort while the rest of the world’s population sinks into a medieval netherworld of hand-to-mouth survival distracted by the hijinks of Paris and Britney and lulled by reassurances that all is well from Plutocrat-owned politicians and MSM talking heads.

This is not a secret conspiracy; it is being done right out in the open, and with the willing complicity of near to 20% of the American populace (more than 33% now of registered Republicans) who believe that the end of the world is nigh and their God will arrive just in time to save them. (Fully a third of America's young believe the world will end with a Christian Armageddon.) They also believe that the rest of humankind, those who are not saved, is doomed to suffer the torments of hell here on earth – and they rejoice in that prospect. The merger of doomsday religion and government is exactly what they desire, and global destruction is what they relish. Continued penetration of religious fanatics into governance, lately the norm here in America under Republican administrations, cannot be further tolerated by the majority who recognize this suicidal nonsense for what it is.

The Republican-Plutocrat criminal conspiracy studied 1984 just like the rest of us, but for them it is not a caution – it is a plan. Unless they are stopped, unless the citizens of today are willing to put their freedom and if necessary their lives on the line to put an end to this madness now, there will be no future worth preserving.

Hansen’s latest speech is here [pdf]. Read it and weep.

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Submitted by lambert on

... takes on added significance. Eh?

And I guess I'll have to "cling to" my gun. If I had one. NOLA's a blueprint, eh?

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

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Submitted by bringiton on

and learn how to reload. Even a taser would help with grabbing a squirrel or two - or that annoying neighborhood tomcat.

Submitted by lambert on

But, yes, I was indeed thinking back to our earlier discussion of this matter...

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by gob on

Exactly why am I working on single-payer health care, now?

By the time it becomes politically possible, the sea level will have risen how many meters?

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

and you can come at any of them, full-force and focused, with my blessing and best wishes.

That said, exclusive focus on just one item will not get the job done in time to matter - for anything.

The Plutocrats have about run this operation right into the ground; a lot of things need to be fixed, IMHO chief among them is citizen laxness. You keep on fighting, gob, for as much as you can, as hard as you can, as long as you can; no one could ask for more.

While you're doing that, though, you might also want to scout around for the nearest patch of high ground.

Submitted by gob on

and Pittsburgh's pretty good high ground, with plenty of water, and hills to deflect the tornadoes. There's cheap rental housing behind my little house, with room for cultivating veggies, if any Correntians want to flee this way.

I just harvested my first succulent, spicy nasturtium blossoms for salad. Yum! The earth may become uninhabitable in my lifetime; still, the body insists on its simple pleasures.

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Submitted by bringiton on

I have for as long as I can remember (no cracks please) always eaten the first nasturtium to open right there on the spot; never makes it into the house, never gets shared.

PGH, eh? Y'uns have the humidity set in yet? I'm a California boy; between the heat and humidity and the sleet and the snow, I can exist in PA for about two weeks in the spring and maybe three in the fall. Any longer than that and I start to corrode, like the bridges.

Submitted by gob on

and I've had the air conditioner on exactly twice this year. Global warming, local cooling?

I do admit, we had the most tiresomely sleety five weeks I've ever been through this past winter. What with the freeze-thaw cycle and the organized crime, the potholes turned the roads into a phenomenally tricky obstacle course.

I never share the first nastie flower either.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Unbelievable, isn't it? I lived for years in Utah and Colorado, temperature swings just as big as in Pgh, and never saw anything close to the number of potholes. It is criminal.

Absolute truth, driving down Forbes in Squirrel Hill one winter I saw a VW creep into a pothole so big and deep it couldn't get out. Stuck right there, driver tried rocking back and forth, no go. Took me ten minutes to creep around in the slush and traffic, the Bug was still sitting there when it disappeared in my rearview mirror.

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Submitted by BoGardiner on

I was just reading Hansen's HuffingtonPost article posted yesterday.

Still shockable, I was startled to see a third to a fourth of the commenters are challenging Hansen with the usual global warming deniers' talking points. The whole discussion is nothing but the tiredest of and most depressing of rehashings as to whether global warming is real.

How fascinating that Hansen would post there, and how sad that he clearly expected a brilliant netroots discussion on where we go from here that is not to be. He's probably reading these comments as we "speak," and wondering what the hell else he is required to do to get our attention.

My environmental activist days were long and must now be on hold. My faith in the young? Well, they seem to have taken all their hopes and dreams and placed them in Barack Obama. That's a lot of damned eggs in one rather thin basket.

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Submitted by bringiton on

PuffHo (sorry, that was sexist, wasn't it?) HuffPo isn't a place I go regularly, so I didn't know Hansen had posted there. It is the same text as his Press Club speech, so by clicking on my link (last line of my post) we can all avoid feeding Arianna's overflowing Hillary-hate coffers with any more filthy lucre.

Your physical activist days may be done, but you appear to still be actively engaged. Take a page from Obama; use your considerable reasoning and writing skills to motivate others to go out and put their bodies on the line in your stead.

A whole lot of people are going to be disappointed in young Barack; when they have their eyes opened, they will be looking for somewhere to redirect that frustration and energy. If the progressive slice of America is half as clever as we like to think we are, we'll be there with programs and slogans and placards and march routes already outlined, ready and waiting for them.

Submitted by gob on

there may be lemonade to be made from the lemon that is the Obama "movement" (to use a rather detestable cliche). But how do we position ourselves to catch those falling young 'uns?

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Submitted by bringiton on

Don't have all the answers, but a few thoughts were ventured here and as soon as bleeding from lashings in the comment section stops I'll have at it again. Any thoughts are more than welcome.

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Submitted by BoGardiner on

I appreciate you're using this site to egg us on, BIO.

My "physical activist days" are nowhere near done, though, just on hold. Work deadlines, new house, massive landscaping project, too many hobbies.

All of which is a bit of rationalization, as I'm a bit of an eco-burnout. Have done much environment research and built momentum under Democratic administrations, that was then silenced and stilled by subsequent Republican ones. Next public advocacy and lobbying which brought the rightwing attacks upclose, personal and scary. Won many battles as a public cheerleader while privately fending of the awareness we're probably losing the war.

It's energizing and it's draining. My dang slavedriving "save the world" inner demon finally gave me permission to leave government and nonprofits for awhile to a nice low-drama consulting job, and battle deer in my garden instead.

As for taking a page from Obama, I'd prefer he take one from me. Which is, I suppose, why I write here. Silly, but it feels better somehow.

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Submitted by bringiton on

The smallest conversations matter, more than we think. Sometimes the person affected isn't someone you've noticed, just a person who hears what you're saying to another, or sees what you are doing and changes their own life as a result, and then the lives of others. It is impossible to know how far the ripples extend, but I am convinced they go for a very long ways - essentially forever.

Hope you're landscaping with local natives. Otherwise, you are merely a food source for the deer. Wife#2 wanted to live in the woods, and grow roses. No amount of talking would do, and in went oh I never did know for sure thousands of dollars in rosebushes. The deer loved them. Then I was supposed to fence the property, two acres, with deer-proof 20-foot chain-link so she could buy more roses. Took weeks to convince her that even with a fence the deer would figure out how to use the driveway.

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Submitted by BoGardiner on

I'm a lecturer on native landscaping for wildlife, and have learned over the years that judgementalism and purity drive more people away than they persuade. So I've come to recommend a zone approach, where the largest, outer zone is natives and natural area, connecting with neighbors' natural areas, to provide larger natural patches. Up close to the house, a small area can be watered with minimal or no fertilizer, where deer are less likely to approach. It works pretty well, actually. I suggest it's fine to have no-spray roses and other non-natives they love as long as they're not invasive. Moderation's the key.

Submitted by lambert on

I love this metaphor!

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

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Submitted by BoGardiner on

military?

Where the outer zone is the DMZ, where we agree not to do battle with the ecosystem?

Submitted by lambert on

.... is ecological, building on the comment above.

Although I'm sure a military metaphor could be built on top of the ecological ones.

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

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Submitted by bringiton on

That’s never happened before.

Not much on demanding purity either, since I come up so short in so many areas myself. It was just very frustrating having to wrestle with a determination to buy deer food at $20 per plant. Perhaps that came through in my tone, although I can’t see it.

The deer in Colorado, who were hunted, wouldn’t come near the house and would bolt if they saw a human. The deer in Marin County, CA, where they aren’t hunted and haven’t been for more than 50 years, would come right up on the back deck to nibble flowers including stuff I thought they would never touch. They’d look up if the door was opened, and just amble off if I stepped outside. Pretty cheeky.

I am big on natives, so many of ours out here in CA have been squeezed to near extinction by invasive species. The climate is so friendly we have plants from all over now, imported grasses, scotch broom and eucalyptus are everywhere, huge fire hazard and the less competitive natives, especially the grasses, are fast disappearing. Of course with global warming it appears now that 80% of California plants that were established pre-Conquista will be gone in a century or less, unable to move fast enough to keep up. Perhaps the whole notion of “native” will have to be re-examined.

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Submitted by BoGardiner on

I lived in soCal for a bit and traveled a bit in the northern part, so have some sense how frightening the ecosystem changes are for you there.

It's a pretty desperate situation in the East as well. A walk in many forests here often produces all alien species and bird silence, with hills and sky shrouded in a gray smog, or "haze," as it's euphemistically called here. The grasses are a big issue here as well: fescue has replaced warm-season grasses, so bobwhites and numerous other grassland species are rarely heard anymore. Tree species after species, like our hemlocks, are disappearing to exotic insects. The biggest problem? Unless you know the plants, know birdsong and such, and know it's a lie that haze here is natural and "just humidity," you just don't know you're looking at an ugly, friggin' biological desert. So you vote wrong out of ignorance. Ignorance in the midst of the Information Age.

In my opinion, "biopollution" is as serious a threat to biodiversity as climate change and habitat conversion by humans, and is worse than all chemical pollutions other than greenhouse gases.

Humans are proving adaptable enough to globalize themselves, but it's abundantly clear the plants and critters are not. It has been one of the outrages of my life that this issue has never truly been taken seriously. My state could have fended off much of this with a stronger belief in science and just a little more will and resources.

Unfortunately for my peace of mind, each species feels like family.

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Submitted by bringiton on

Creeping substitution has corrupted so much of our lives, and even the most aware among us tend to underestimate the magnitude of what we've lost.

In my short lifetime I've watched them pave Paradise, literally; Silicone Valley, our most recent monument to the Janus-head of hubris and hope, was built by pouring asphault and concrete and steel overtop of the most productive agricultural land in the state, probably in the entire planet.

We could have built it elsewhere, or more wisely; having done it thus, we have lost not just the finest fruits and vegetables ever grown but with them the meadowlark and the quail and the marsh creatures that had adapted to our commercial forests but could not manage to live on polluted air and parking lots. Ninty percent of the people who live here now remember what was, and so they feel no loss.

Our wild lands are big in scale and so, like your zone plantings in reverse the heart of them still holds nature as it evolved, in balance, in harmony. Around the edges, though, creeping farther inward every year, come the invaders and every visitor that drags in a seed helps spread the devastation. Invasive species used to be my biggest worry; now, if Hansen is right and it appears he is, all those native species are doomed anyway. They cannot translocate themselves fast enough to keep ahead of the temperature and rainfall changes. What a world.

It would be wonderful if you would write here, about the things you know and what you believe. A life of passion should be recorded, knowledege should be shared. You have within you the power to change the lives of others - you know that already - and a gift for teaching; come share with us, up on the front page, a little at a time, won't you please?

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Submitted by BoGardiner on

Lambert has cause to be somewhat put out by me, so I'm kinda laying low. Meanwhile, I'll see what the muses in my head have to say about it. Thanks.

My main block is the perennial problem of finding the proper mix of doom and gloom, outrage, optimism, cheerleading and humor. In the past, I've carefully tailored that to the audience's temperament, but I'm flying blind here. Who ARE you people, anyway?! :-)

Submitted by lambert on

Whatever you're thinking, BoG, I can't even remember why I'm supposed to be put out. Don't worry about it, whatever it is.

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

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Submitted by bringiton on

Lambert has mildew, so IIRC he won't be in his right mind until he gets that under control plus he's been sniffing paint fumes for weeks. Whatever, let it slide.

Unlike a live audience where there is some immediacy to the feedback, here in Left Blogistan the natives all sit around stone-faced until you're done and then pounce on the slightest grammatical or sytactic error with flashing knives - expect no less. All very friendly, to be sure, and every once in a while your main point actually gets discussed; when that happens, the pain is made well worth while.

Here's what I do, which may or may not be a good approach. I assume I'm dealing with the smartest, best-informed, cleverest audience I've ever presented to; keep the level at 12th grade or higher, expect them to do some digging into your links, set the pace and demand that they keep up, and force yourself to try to be the best-informed person in the conversation. Easy-peasy.

On native plant husbandry (and maybe other things as well?) you are already the latter, so picturing the rest of us as intelligent and well-informed is your biggest challenge. (I know, but pretend.) Just lay out what you think; no need to be any more complicated than that.

C'mon, you know you want to; the first time is always the most awkward, after that it gets to be kinda fun.

Submitted by hipparchia on

and the proper mix thereof... just write about the stuff you care about, and forget about the audience's temperament. the corrente audience seems to be a particularly non-monolithic one, and blogging is anyways a much more flexible medium than the more traditional written forms, so hitting all the right notes from the get-go is less necessary.

i'd especially like to hear about native plants, but don't let that sway your choice of topics. :)

and lambert really is a teddy bear, very possibly one of the least likely persons to hold a grudge of anyone i've ever met on the intertubez.

Submitted by lambert on

... he could guest post here ;-)

Anyone know how to contact him?

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

I'm a broken record on this subject.

This is beyond any one country to change, even a country as influential (in every sense) as the US.

Which is not to say we aren't required to do every single damn thing possible to reverse our impact.

Likelihood of disaster, too high to think about.

-----------------------------

Around these parts we call cucumber slices circle bites

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Submitted by bringiton on

Cold comfort, but you won't be a lonely voice for much longer. This is one topic that will have to be dealt with, and sooner than later.

The stark lesson of Kyoto is that without US involvement there will be no progress. Not at all egotistical to call on American exceptionalism and say that without US leadership nothing useful will be accomplished in anywhere near time enough to avert total disaster.

The Plutocrats will ultimately fail, they always do, but on the way they will create so much pain for everyone else if we let them. As a step in the right direction, we could stop electing Republicans.

Now.

With so few years left to avoid utter disaster, what sense does it make to piss away four of them on John McCain?

Submitted by hipparchia on

in 3 years of trying to counter various denialists around the web, and they abound, i think i've won over maybe one fence-sitter, no matter what kind of proof i offer.

in several more years of talking about this in person with the various folks i live amongst, i don't think i've managed to budge even one single soul. they are starting to buy smaller cars, and even going hybrid in some cases [yay!], because of the high gas prices.

i'm all for the higher gas prices as behavior modifiers, in principle, but they ultimately just fatten the coffers of the robber barons while further flattening the poorest of us.

*headdesk*

funny pictures

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Submitted by bringiton on

Soon. ish.

Charismatic megafauna make for nice posters, but they may not work any longer for persuasion. Ask any business titan if they'd rather save the polar bears or open the Arctic for shipping and it is bye-bye Ursus. Even the usually rational Canadians are torn over what to do, and the Russians are jumping for joy at the prospect of warmer winters.

Personally I expect the threat of Texans escaping the new Dust Bowl and invading decent towns to be the tipping point; if that doesn't mobilize the rest of America, nothing will.

(Hi, Sarah; not talking about you. Your neighbors, though....)

Submitted by brucedixon on

Wish I still lived in Chicago. And that I could construct a reasonable likeness of a polar bear. Imagine a styrofoam ice floe floating up the Chicago River at high noon, under the downtown bridges where thousands of pedestrians pass every minute. A dead polar bear on his back with legs straight up in the air on the ice floe.
That would get some attention.

Bruce Dixon
www.blackagendareport.com

BoGardiner's picture
Submitted by BoGardiner on

The Nature Conservancy had a great poster a long time ago with a photo of freshwater mussels, federally endangered by water pollution. In huge print over the photo were the words (approximately),

IF THEY WERE SOFT, WARM AND FUZZY...
THEN WOULD YOU CARE?

(Your post reminded me of a Bill Maher satirical corporate promo. The narrator starts out smarmy and uplifting, with something like: "We at Acme are creating a brighter tomorrow," but gets increasingly honest: "Who really cares about polar bears and penguins? Besides, penguins are dicks. They can't even fly. Fuck you, penguins!!!"

For some reason, I find the phrase, "Fuck you, penguins!" hilarious.)

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Submitted by bringiton on

plus plant passion. Hmmm, yes, you must put up a front page post.

(That is phrased in the imperative, in case you were in doubt.)

BoGardiner's picture
Submitted by BoGardiner on

Online debaters will rarely reverse themselves publicly, but many may read your comments and be influenced. So you may have changed many minds, Hipparchia.

This blogging, commenting, debating, letters to editors... it's such a black box into which I've been pouring some energy. If anyone has any data or sense or whether it's truly helpful, I'd like to hear it.

It was obvious the mainstream media got their primary talking points from the A-list blogs to an unprecedented degree that shaped and possibly determined the primary. Corrente, TalkLeft, Digby, FireDogLake, Anglachel, Shakesville, the Confluence, etc., deemed too light on the lucrative young-white-male-techie market demographic, are never mentioned. Yet surely we gave, and continue to give, aid and comfort to the few dissenting voices. Surely?

Submitted by gob on

Those who are so full of piss and vinegar as never to need aid and comfort, all honor to them, are few. The so-called-left-blogosphere kept me, as a lurking reader, going politically for years. When it went mad for Obama, following the links out to Corrente and similar places was a way to let light and air into the outraged soliloquy going on in the dark places of my skull. (Yeah, I know it was in a sense always mad, but let that go for now....)

Shorter me: thanx, but no data.

Submitted by lambert on

What do you mean, "no data"?

See here for maps....

According to the legends, everything white goes underwater if the ocean rise is over three meters. Like, say, all of Long Island. Most of the map area is white....

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by gob on

I was responding to this, of BoGardiner's

If anyone has any data or sense or whether it’s truly helpful, I’d like to hear it.

I meant, I have a sense that blogging is helpful in maintaining my political commitment, but no data on how big that effect is in the population.

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Submitted by BoGardiner on

"Those who are so full of piss and vinegar as never to need aid and comfort, all honor to them, are few."

This is so very true, Gob. The rich, the powerful, the popular, the loud... they're all just human. And you just know, on sleepless nights, they surf the Net in search of validation like anyone else.

Submitted by lambert on

See here.

I'm not sure what the point of talking about public transportation in Philly is, if you think a 3-metre rise is coming....

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by gob on

Who's talking about public transportation in Philly?

If you mean me, I apologize for polluting the thread with chit-chat about Pittsburgh and potholes.

Submitted by lambert on

... on some other blogs far more well known than this one. Not saying public tranportation isn't great, it is, but (a) priorities, and (b) if the rich have already moved to higher ground, and you know they have, they won't want to spend any money on it.

Same as UHC, actually, with the difference that the human body is a lot more portable than rails.

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Public transport, reduced emissions, lowered dependence on oil. Cheaper than moving Manhatten, and 30-foot dikes built by the same contractors that brought you the New Orleans levees does not seem like a viable alternative.

Drowning Florida, however, has some appeal....

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Had 'em in the first draft but pulled them out along with a lot of other stuff, editing is a ruthless business. When I write here I do so with a little CD angel sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear...

Tooo looong...
Tooo maaany wooords....

Good thing, plus she also makes me smile.

Salmo's picture
Submitted by Salmo on

At my campground, I get to talk with a wide variety of people. The common element is that they have some interest in the natural world. About 25% of those are open global warming deniers, which is a little higher than I expect. I am reasonably sure that my arguments have reinforced those who already agree a global catastrophe is underway and silenced those whose ideology blinds them. I suspect that this is the best we can do because it moves the mass in the direction of corrective action.

What is most interesting to me is the general assumption that plutocrats cannot or will not act in concert to advance their short term interests. The idea that a conspiracy is out of the question seems to me to be a key impediment to taking effective collective action. My campers think that it is a bit paranoid to believe that those who hold power, particularly those whose power is not merit based, will cooperate to cruelly exploit the rest of us. I have known and worked in circles where exactly that happens, but there is really no way to make that case convincingly where contacts are superficial.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

and expend a great deal of effort and energy pitting us against each other. White vs black vs brown all complaining that the other guy is getting the best of the really crappy jobs, meanwhile public schools are falling apart and the water is rising and sooner than we think scavanging will be quite a respectable occupation. "My Dad brought home six rats!" "So what? My Mom brought home eight rats and a dead raccoon!"

There are many more of us than them, if we could only - cough, cough, nudge, nudge - stop ripping each other's throats out quite so much. (Not directed at you, Salmo - others know who I mean.)

Where's your camp located? (Not completely being nosy; I love the outdoors, and am badly in need of an upbeat topic and vicarious delight.)

Salmo's picture
Submitted by Salmo on

Well, it isn't all glory. But, the scenery is absolutely beautiful and I thoroughly enjoy almost all of my campers. I am looking across the river at the eastern edge of the White Mountains as I type. I get a couple of opportunities to check the web every day because I check my email every couple of hours now. I need to give timely responses to camper inquiries.

Campgrounds are a funny business, and mine is unusually unrestrictive. I got into it because I love the outdoors and I enjoy providing and promoting outdoor recreation. Physically, we offer a series of beaches and uplands along the Saco River, in Maine. While we can have as many as 1400 campers on a weekend night, we have about 7 miles of river frontage along which to distribute them.

It's a pretty wild place. A couple of weeks ago, I had a group of boy scouts whose leader complained that someone was throwing rocks into the river from the other side. He was frightened and it was well into the evening. We own the other side too, and there was no one over there. Instead, I explained, there was spinner fall of red quill mayflies and the smallmouth bass were feeding on them. Some of the larger ones were also feeding on the smaller fish that were rising to the mayflies. It was still quite noisy, but the fear was replaced by wonder. I also got to explain that the erie sounds one group was hearing were the hunting cries of a pair of great horned owls. When the occasion arises, I get to listen to and talk about the coyotes singing, and less frequently we get to talk about how that differs from the answering howls from the wolves we hear off a small mountain a little further downstream. On clear nights, we can see the whole milky way - there is just no light pollution. Turtles laying their eggs, raccoons and their babies, nature puts on quite a show.

This is also a very social scene. A lot of people party and miss the aspects that I am describing in this response. However, high school reunions and annual outings among friends, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and similar events building and sustaining relationships are important too.

It's important, I think, to provide an area where our largely urban clientele can get an understanding of our natural world. It is not a theme park. There is a lot of freedom, and with that comes dangers. Dealing with that is the biggest challenge I face.

For purposes of your post, all this frequently leads to a discussion of how current political issues and trends effect the river and the wild animals all around us. I'm old and opinionated, and I don't suffer fools like I used to. So, I have a lot of fun and I might even be doing some good.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Nothing so rewarding as the outdoors, and if you love to teach then yours is the best of all worlds. Nothing more humbling I think than to be in the woods alone at night, all the stars on out to infinity. Puts my little problems in perspective.

Coyotes; a lot of trouble they are. We've got a terrible drought this year, the prey species are scarce so the coyotes are coming down out of the hills and into towns. Up and down CA we've had three or maybe four little kids snatched from their yards already, and the worst is yet to come. Bold little buggers. I've run off a lot of bears and even once a cougar but I've had coyotes stand their ground, fangs bared and growling, until I got right on top of them and swung a stick.

Not to give out assignments or to speak for the blog, but if you have the chance to put up photos, or have a website for the campground with some, that would be from my viewpoint very nice indeed.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

I wrote this food for thought at my own blog.

My belief is that global climate change is job one for every single environmental group and NGO on the planet. Literally every environmental goal is intertwinned with preventing that cataclysm. When the stakes are mass-extinction, what other purpose does the environmental movement serve anyway?

FWIW, I DO think the US has a lead role and I DO think that grass-roots action has REAL impact.

I also currently see scant difference between Mr. "Clean Coal" and Mr. "$300M Battery Award".

But YMMV.

-----------------------------

Around these parts we call cucumber slices circle bites

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

But a difference still, and I've survived enough close calls in my life to appreciate the value of being on the safe side of a small margin. The choice isn't between Obama and McCain, it is between Republicans and Democrats; 2/3 of Democrats are corrupt and venal, compared to 100% of Republicans being corrupt and venal. Whatever chance we have of pulling this thing out rests with the other third of the Democrats; with the Republicans, all of them are trying to kill us.

Thanks for the link, Herb, good post and exactly so; the only path that works in the short term is conservation, reducing demand, more efficient utilization. Drill drill drill for more oil is just stupid, no other word for it, and yet here we are again with the ANWR idiocy. Republicans, Herb; Republicans.

Waste and overuse is not just a problem with oil. Here in CA we took water from the mountains and spread it all over the state, turning arid land into the most productive agricultural enterprise on the planet. The systems we built, however, were fine when we had much more water than we needed but are not so attractive today. Our open-transport and application processes allow 50% of ag irrigation water to be lost to evaporation. Simple and fairly inexpensive conservation methods would cut that in half, giving us a 10%+ surplus in short order instead of the hairs-breadth margin we have now. (Agriculture consumes 45% of CA distributed freshwater. Reducing evaporative loss from 50% to 25% yields a marginal availability increase of about 11% of total consumable freshwater.)

Our Ahnold, another asinine Republican, wants to build more dams instead. Apparently there are still some fish that need killing. Obama the Democrat is no prize, but McCain the Republican will be much, much worse.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

Bringiton writes:

The Plutocrats will ultimately fail, they always do

One way or another. Hopefully not the Easter Island way.

I'm currently re-reading Jared Diamond's Collapse. It's even more relevant now than it was when I first read it in 2004. If there's any interest, I'll write a long-form piece on it.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Read Guns, Germs and Steel right after finishing Laurie Garrett's The Coming Plague; that was a jolly sequence.

Now that European technology is heating up the planet and facilitating travel, the bugs are crawling out of the jungle and coming to eat us. Circle of Life kind of thing, but without the happy ending.

Those old Norse villages in Greenland are starting to look awfully appealing - must remember to build 35 feet above the shoreline.

BoGardiner's picture
Submitted by BoGardiner on

And by hearing him speak last year.

Please do post on Diamond when you've finished Collapse, Cenobite.

I understand he's controversial in some circles, but I attribute a lot of that to some elite scholars' unwarranted disdain for science popularizers.

FrenchDoc's picture
Submitted by FrenchDoc on

especially from the anthropologists circles who accuse him of ethnocentrism / ignoring culture / biological/environmental determinism.

This is nonsense but he cannot write something or speak somewhere without something like that popping up.

Like I said, it's nonsense. Diamond is very careful NOT to claim to have found the ultimate explanation for the rise and fall of societies. He always qualifies his environmental argument with the idea that this is ONE explanation among many since human behavior is so complex.

He does not dismiss culture, politics, economics or other social factors.

Submitted by lambert on

When I read about the Greenlanders starving to death, after eating their belts, shoes, and the hooves of their horses, all while surrounded by the richest fishing grounds in the world, because we aren't the kind of people who eat fish, I thought, Hmmm, this reminds me of something....

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

A few folks would like to use the water system to make a fitting memorial to Dubya.

The George W Bush Sewage Plant

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

a worthwhile effort, although still more than he deserves. I'd be for keeping the structure's name the same, and naming the contents for Bush.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

I know, friends don't let friends vote Republican, and trust me, I'm not going to, but....

I know this isn't easy to digest, but this is bigger than Dem/Rep. That is the painful part of it, we NEED this the response to GCC to be bipartisan if there is any hope of accomplishing meaningful change.

So what does that mean? I think it means we actually have to applaud Republicans when they do the right thing, as Ahnold is trying with greenhouse gas emissions. We also have to applaud McCain for addressing the need for action on alternative energy technology (even if his idea IS insipid, at least it is an idea) and if someone on our side is trying to sell "Clean Coal" that is fucking RIGHT OUT! No matter how pretty they may otherwise talk about alternative energy. Obama has MUCH MORE TO DO to convince me he is any better than McCain on this issue. Seriously.

I hear you when you talk about slight differences, I mostly agree, but in difficult situations (and I've survived my share) I have always found it better to keep an open mind and think out of the box, rather than be locked into a doctrinaire approach. Then, act boldly.

-----------------------------

Around these parts we call cucumber slices circle bites

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

I know, it is bad vs worse for President and that's the best that can be said about it. You're more of an optimist than I am, don't believe there will ever be enough support for anything worthwhile from today's republicans. The Goldwater and Nixon regard for the value of the environment is all gone now, ended with the Reagan Gang; all this new crowd sees is opportunity for exploitation.

Don't trust Ahnold, all political posturing for his Senate run. The narcissistic bastard doesn't care a lick about anybody or anything but himself, terrible on women's and children's issues, etc etc don't get me started.

"Clean Coal" wins the oxymoron of the year award, doesn't it? Next, "Dry Water" followed by "Soft Rocks." By all means, beat on our own when they need it. Vote R though? Can't have it, just can't have it.

Submitted by hipparchia on

[comment in wrong place; delete function, in need of]