Yaaaaaaaaaayyyy!

August 28, 2014 - 4 Responses

The medics decided today that The Lion doesn’t have colon cancer. To hear the sound of a joyous world cheering, click here.

Thus, more time to rage, to enrage, to enlighten, to enheavy, to annoy. Poor world!

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Heat Rises? Not All The Time.

August 27, 2014 - 2 Responses

Where’d the heat go is what all the global warming deniers want to know. But of course it doesn’t matter that actual research shows where it went (and indicates that it will be coming back relatively soon), not to deniers. They have opinions. Their opinions are just like facts, except that they’re a lot easier to get to because the deniers don’t have to do any messy research and investigation and actual thinking. It’s true just because they say so. Yup. They’re real frigging geniuses.

Yeah. Tiresome, aren’t they, the jabberers?

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/oceans-hid-the-heat-and-slowed-pace-of-global-warming/

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The Birth of The Lion, Redux

July 26, 2014 - Leave a Response

I wrote this last year. But yesterday I saw in the obituaries of the Enterprise that my friend and mentor in those early days, Paul A., just died. He was 81 years old. Call this repeat publication a tribute to him and his influence on the course of my life.

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Writer? No, no way. When I was fifteen my life course was set. Bacteriology. Microscopes and petri dishes. After all, I’d spent my whole life messing with science stuff. Chemistry sets. Microscopes. Electronic gadgets. Yup, I was headed for the laboratories of Science. And nothing in the world was going to change my mind.

Not that I was a slouch in high school English composition. I was pretty good at it, probably because I read a lot, always had. But I never gave a thought to Writing as a career, as something to be sought, as a life path to follow. I just needed good grades.

One day my guidance counselor called me into his office. More trouble? Nope. Mr. T had a job offer. The local office of the regional daily newspaper, the Cape Cod Standard Times, needed a high school stringer, someone to report and write news from my high school. Apparently, glowing reports of my writing skills had turned Mr. T to my direction. And it’s not as if I weren’t familiar with the newspaper business: I’d been a paper boy for a couple of years for this very same paper – even won a trip to Italy for writing a contest submission to Parade’s Young Columbus project.

So I said yes, why not. I could make a few bucks, do something different for a while, hell, maybe even get my name in the paper as a writer. Couldn’t hurt when it came time to apply to college.

Yeah. Goodbye science, hello journalism! Oh my, take my breath away why don’t you!

I interviewed with the managing editor of the local office, Bill S. He seemed to like me and seemed to think that I could actually write decently, though not professionally, not yet. He hired me and put me under the wing of Paul A., who was about ten years older and a real, day-in day-out staff writer, a real news reporter. Paul was about six feet tall, immensely thin, and a little hunched over, as if he’d spent his entire life from babyhood bent over a hot typewriter. Paul was to be my mentor, trainer, confessor even, in matters of the typewriter. He introduced me to Bob E., the photographer, who would fill the same role in matters of the camera. Bob was a gentle man, all smiles and fun, and intensely competent.

I should note that this all happened back in the days when newspapering was about hot lead Linotype machines, big black office typewriters, rotary dial telephones, and the Internet of the time, the teletype machines, big noisy electric keyboard machines that sent the news out from our office to the main office and picked up the news from the AP, from UPI, from the New York Times, from the world out there. That was newspapering, old style, and it was wonderful. Sometimes, later on, I got to work in the main office down the Cape, and I can still hear the sound, at eleven every morning, of the big presses starting to roll on the other side of the building, starting off slow, and building quickly to a rumble and a roar as they took the copy I’d written an hour ago and thundered it into the day’s newspaper. God, the smell of newsprint was intoxicating! And now, fifty years on, my favorite writing program is called WriteMonkey, and I love it for two things – it’s plain black screen that holds only the words I type, like a page of newsprint copy paper, and the sound effect of old fashioned typewriter keys as I type.

But all that came later. In the beginning I was just the new kid. They gave me a desk in the back of the newsroom, with a big black Underwood typewriter. Paul explained how to write a news story, how to use the inverted pyramid style, and the basic questions a story had to answer: who, what, when, where, and why. He taught me what was news and what wasn’t news, and how to write it. Paul was always calm, always professional. He was a gentle man, self-effacing but by no means weak or retiring. He knew how to dig a story out of a recalcitrant world.

Bob, the photographer, taught me the secrets of the old Forties-style Graflex Graphic cameras with focal plane shutters, those with the big flash attachment. He showed me how to slide the plates into the back, plates that held two pieces of film. I’d take a picture, then have to flip the plate to get the other film in place. He showed me how to develop film in the basement darkroom and how to make prints. He taught me what made a good picture, and what made a poor picture.

After a while they sent me out on some assignments that weren’t for the high school news. Take a picture of a meeting. Get information on some little story. And come summer they hired me as a full-time staff writer for the summer. The real deal. One of the best moments came when Bill called me in to his office about a short business story I’d written. It was only a few paragraphs. ‘First rate,’ he said, handing me the piece he’d cut from the news page.

My last summer I started writing a feature a week for the Sunday paper. Long pieces. With my byline identifying me as a Staff Writer. But I knew better: I was a reporter.

I learned to write in that little office downtown. I learned to write fast, to deadline. I learned to write clean copy that got to the point. I learned to think a story through as I wrote it: there wasn’t time to agonize over words and phrases. The clock was ticking. The main office would roll that big press at eleven in the morning, no matter what.

I learned other things too. Bill died of a massive heart attack a few years later. He was 39. Bob took a job in upstate New York. The office moved, got modernized. The paper changed its name. All that happened after I left the paper, about a year after high school, after I had worked for about a year down Cape as a full time staffer. I never worked as a reporter again after that last stint: I was too restless, had too many paths to run. Paul, the guy who taught me how to write, how to write news, moved up to the main office in Hyannis and stayed with the paper for his whole career. A few years ago I ran into Paul again. He was at the local supermarket, bagging groceries for minimum wage. Trying to make ends meet, he told me.

Seeing Paul again reminded me that there was no better place to learn to write than in a small newspaper office, facing daily deadlines, working with competent writers. Seeing Paul calmly bagging groceries reminded me that there are no guarantees in life, especially in the writing life. The best we can do is to write honestly, to write with integrity, to write with care, but no matter how good we are at it, we are subject to the same vicissitudes of the universe as everyone else.

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Comcast Family Values

July 20, 2014 - Comments Off

This morning I received an email from Comcast Xfinity telling me about their program to pay a premium to current subscribers who bring in new subscribers.

Keep in mind that Comcast, already a huge and powerful corporation, is seeking to merge with Time-Warner to become a gigantic internet and entertainment provider, the largest in the United States, if I recall correctly.

I think it’s fair to assume that their advertising speaks to their mindset, to their values, to their morals. And I think we would do well to heed the thinking behind the slogan that headed the email. It said:

“The most valuable friends are the ones that make you money.”

Think on that.

Comcast already controls much of what you see and hear in the electronic media. They are seeking more control of more of that, as well as the destruction of  the internet neutrality that has up to now provided a fair shot to everyone who wants to use the Web.

“The most valuable friends are the ones that make you money.”

Is that the America you want?

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The Lie That Won’t Die, And The Latest Liar Lying

March 27, 2014 - Comments Off

 

Published on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 by Common Dreams

Anger, Disbelief as Obama Defends US Invasion of Iraq
‘In order to not appear hypocritical, Obama rewrites history around Iraq War while denouncing Russia’
- Jon Queally, staff writer

President Barack Obama delivers a speech Palais des Beaux-Arts (BOZAR) in Brussels. (Reuters)

President Obama is on the receiving end of scorn for remarks made during a high-profile speech in Brussels on Wednesday in which he defended the U.S. invasion of Iraq in an attempt to chastise Russia for recent developments in Crimea and Ukraine.

Speaking to the international community about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and fending off repeated accusations that the U.S. has lost its moral authority given the invasion of Iraq and other breaches of international law in recent years, Obama said:

    “Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. Now, it is true that the Iraq war was a subject of vigorous debate, not just around the world but in the United States, as well. I participated in that debate, and I opposed our military intervention there.

    “But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.”

But instead of tamping down accusations of hypocrisy, Obama inflamed it.

Responding to the speech on FireDogLake, DSWright shot back: "Worked within the international system? So if Russia had gone to the UN to get a resolution, failed, then annexed Crimea it would have been OK?"

Reaction on Twitter was swift—and among those with a seemingly better memory of the devastation caused by the U.S. invasion of Iraq than the president—fierce:

Ross Caputi and Matt Howard, members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, spoke with Common Dreams by phone and said that President Obama’s argument was both weak factually and morally. As it happens, both IVAW members were together in Washington, DC on Wednesday, organizing an evening event focused on the devastating impacts of the Iraq War—both for veterans like themselves and the Iraqi civilian population—when they heard news about what the president had said.

"What President Obama said is false," said Caputi. "The U.S. did not attempt to work within the international system. We acted unilaterally, without the approval of the UN Security Council."

Howard said the president’s narrative on the events that led up to the Iraq invasion, inside or outside the context of Ukraine, was simply "not grounded in reality."

"We went from one lie, which was weapons of mass destruction, to another lie which was liberation and freedom," said Howard. Citing the devastation cited by Iraqi civil society allies, especially women in the country, he continued, "This idea that Iraq is somehow better off or that the U.S. waged a so-called ‘Good War’ is ridiculous."

In addition, argued Caputi, the U.S. did make very real and successful attempts to gain access to Iraqi resources, namely through the writing of the new Iraqi Constitution and aspects of the so-called "Bremer Orders," referring to Paul Bremer who was the U.S.-appointed Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq during the aftermath of the 2003 invasion. Those efforts "privatived Iraq’s formally nationalized energy resources," paving the way for foreign oil companies, including those from U.S., to gain coveted access to Iraq oil and gas fields.

The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim also made note of this false assertion by Obama regarding Iraqi "resources," writing:

  • In fact, the U.S. forced Iraq to privatize its oil industry, which had previously been under the control of the state, and further required that it accept foreign ownership of the industry. The effort to transfer the resources to the control of multinational, largely U.S.-based oil companies has been hampered in part by the decade of violence unleashed by the invasion.

    Obama’s assertion also hinges on how broadly one construes the word "our." Taxpayers on the one hand are worse off, as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have added $2 trillion to the national debt, according to one study. But contractors reaped tremendous gains, and Halliburton — a company often associated with the invasion, of which former Vice President Dick Cheney served as CEO — saw its stock price surge from under $10 a share to over $50, before falling along with the rest of the market in 2008. (It has since recovered.)

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NB: The original article at CD contains a video of Obama’s speech.

“The laws of physics are non-negotiable.”

March 24, 2014 - Comments Off

That phrase should be ringing in everyone’s brain, all day, all night, 24/7.  It means you and the politicians can’t sit down at a big table across from the laws of physics and reach a sensible compromise. There’s no discussion, there’s no give-and-take, there’s no compromise possible. And given that humanity is doing, for all practical purposes, absolutely nothing to mitigate its role as primary contributor and cause of global disaster, you might as well consider yourself screwed, fucked, and the walking dead. If you have children or grandchildren you may rest assured they will die miserably and they will curse you and your generation for its greed and its stupidity and its arrogance.

Have a nice day.

Published on Monday, March 24, 2014 by Common Dreams

Most Extreme Weather ‘Virtually Impossible’ Without Man-Made Warming

13 of the 14 warmest years on record occured in 21st century

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Satellite image of Typhoon Haiyan prior to landfall (NOAA)

Extreme weather systems wreaking havoc across the world would have been "virtually impossible" without man-made climate change, says a report released Monday by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

This year’s report, released annually by the WMO, also states unequivocally that the world has warmed dramatically over the last one hundred years and continues to heat up.

According to the report, 13 of the 14 warmest years on record all occurred in the 21st century. 2013 was the sixth warmest year on record, in a tie with 2007. Over the last 30 years, each decade has been warmer than the last, "culminating with 2001-2010 as the warmest decade on record," said the WMO.

While natural disasters would occur regardless of climate change and have been historically exacerbated my natural changes in weather patterns, this human-induced warming is quickly magnifying those events and making them far worse than they would have been without anthropogenic causes, explained Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the WMO.

A primary example given by the scientists is the record hot Australian summer of 2012/13. "Comparing climate model simulations with and without human factors shows that the record hot Australian summer of 2012/13 was about five times as likely as a result of human-induced influence on climate and that the record hot calendar year of 2013 would have been virtually impossible without human contributions of heat-trapping gases, illustrating that some extreme events are becoming much more likely due to climate change,” the study concludes.

"Many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change," Jarraud said. "We saw heavier precipitation, more intense heat, and more damage from storm surges and coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise — as Typhoon Haiyan so tragically demonstrated in the Philippines."

Among the list of events ‘consistent’ with human-induced climate change, the scientists list:

  • Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), one of the strongest storms to ever make landfall, devastated parts of the central Philippines.
  • Surface air temperatures over land in the Southern Hemisphere were very warm, with widespread heat waves; Australia saw record warmth for the year, and Argentina its second warmest year and New Zealand its third warmest.
  • Frigid polar air plummeted into parts of Europe and the southeast United States.
  • Angola, Botswana and Namibia were gripped by severe drought.
  • Heavy monsoon rains led to severe floods on the India-Nepal border.
  • Heavy rains and floods impacted northeast China and the eastern Russian Federation.
  • Heavy rains and floods affected Sudan and Somalia.
  • Major drought affected southern China.
  • Northeastern Brazil experienced its worst drought in the past 50 years.
  • The widest tornado ever observed struck El Reno, Oklahoma in the United States.
  • Extreme precipitation led to severe floods in Europe’s Alpine region and in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland.
  • Israel, Jordan, and Syria were struck by unprecedented snowfall.
  • Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere reached record highs.
  • The global oceans reached new record high sea levels.
  • The Antarctic sea ice extent reached a record daily maximum.

Additionally, “there is no standstill in global warming,” said Jarraud, in response to claims that global warming has slowed down, or paused in recent years. "The warming of our oceans has accelerated, and at lower depths. More than 90 percent of the excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans. Levels of these greenhouse gases are at record levels, meaning that our atmosphere and oceans will continue to warm for centuries to come. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.”

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To clarify that last item on the list, from Scientific American: “Antarctica experienced its second-largest minimum sea-ice extent during the melt season in 2013 and, during the growth season, the largest sea-ice extent since records began in 1979.”

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda. Didn’t. Please Pay The Piper.

March 20, 2014 - Comments Off

 

Published on Thursday, March 20, 2014 by Common Dreams

40 Years On: ‘It’s Time We Start Listening’ to Global Warming Prediction

Paper written four decades ago warned of global warming, accurately predicted temperature rise

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

NOAA handout satellite image of Hurricane Sandy taken on October 27, 2012 (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce)

Citing a peer reviewed scientific paper written over 40 years ago that clearly demonstrated the dangers of human-made carbon pollution and accurately predicted it would create a future of global warming, Dana Nuccitelli at the Guardian points out Thursday that "perhaps it’s about time that we start listening" to climate scientists.

The paper, written by renowned British meteorologist John Stanley Sawyer and published in the journal Nature (pdf) in 1972, estimated that carbon dioxide levels would increase 25 percent by 2000 from 1850 levels and that global average surface temperatures would rise by 0.6°C.

Sawyer’s numbers were just about dead on, Nuccitelli reports.

The rise in human-made carbon pollution and increase in temperature were undeniably related, Sawyer warned, and would cause changes in weather and wind patterns around the world.

A recent reading from the he carbon dioxide monitoring program at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography showed atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide temporarily surpassed 400 parts per million two months earlier than last year. Ralph Keeling at the institute warned it is only a matter of time before the atmosphere permanently maintains those levels, which climate scientists have long said the earth cannot withstand without tipping the scales against human life once and for all.

Sawyer and his colleagues saw this coming four decades ago.

"Bolin has estimated that the concentration of carbon dioxide will be about 400 ppm by the year 2000," wrote Sawyer. "A recent conference put the figure somewhat lower (375 ppm)."

The year 2000 saw carbon around 370 ppm, which has gone up since, and, as Keeling warns, may soon permanently surpass the tipping point.

"Industrial development has recently been proceeding at an increasing rate so that the output of man-made carbon dioxide has been increasing more or less exponentially," wrote Sawyer. "So long as the carbon dioxide output continues to increase exponentially, it is reasonable to assume that about the same proportion as at present (about half) will remain in the atmosphere and about the same amount will go into the other reservoirs."

While half of the carbon adds to the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere, the rest is absorbed in the ocean and biosphere, Sawyer accurately noted. Hence, this relentless excess of carbon has also led to what scientists are now calling global warming’s "evil twin"—the acidification of the world’s oceans.

"All in all, Sawyer’s 1972 paper demonstrated a solid understanding of the fundamental workings of the global climate, and included a remarkably accurate prediction of global warming over the next 30 years," writes Nuccitelli. "Sawyer’s paper was followed by similarly accurate global warming predictions by Wallace Broecker in 1975 and James Hansen in 1981."

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Don’t You Love The Smell Of Carbon In The Morning?

March 18, 2014 - Comments Off

 

Published on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 by Common Dreams

400 PPM: ‘Just a Matter of Time’ Before We Cross Climate Threshold ‘Forever’

Fossil fuel burning increasing greenhouse gases to levels ‘not seen in human history’

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

The graph known as the Keeling Curve shows steady rise in carbon dioxide and seasonal variations (NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory/Scripps Institute of Oceanography)Climate scientists have long said that the earth cannot withstand more than 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for very long without tipping the scales against human life once and for all.

And according to Ralph Keeling, who runs the carbon dioxide monitoring program at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, that atmospheric concentration was recorded last week for the first time this year, two months earlier than last. Now, warns Keeling, it is only a matter of time before the atmosphere permanently maintains those levels.

"We’re already seeing values over 400. Probably we’ll see values dwelling over 400 in April and May. It’s just a matter of time before it stays over 400 forever,” said Keeling whose team at Scripps have taken daily measurements from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii since March 1958 when carbon was at 313 ppm.

The 400 parts per million threshold was first recorded during a brief moment in the month of May last year, notes Brian Kahn at Climate Central. It was the first time carbon levels had reached that high in human history.

But as Robert Monroe writes on Keeling’s blog, "Fossil fuel burning continues to increase concentrations of the greenhouse gas to levels not seen in human history and not in perhaps as many as 3 to 5 million years."

According to Monroe:

Instruments at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide greater than 400 parts per million on March 12, 2014 nearly two months earlier than the date on which the milestone was passed in 2013.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, reported a reading of 401.62 ppm on March 12 and a reading of 400.2 on March 13. Readings by instruments operated by NOAA also exceeded 400 ppm on those days.

In a related story on Tuesday, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) released a series of key messages and videos calling on Americans to wake up to the threat of climate change, which is likely to cause "abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible" changes to the world’s ecosystems and subsequently the lives of billions of people. Americans must act quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst case climate-change scenario, the scientists warn.

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Get Your Fresh Dead Scallops Here! With A Tasty Side Of Carbon!

March 18, 2014 - Comments Off

 

Published on Monday, March 17, 2014 by Common Dreams

Mass Scallop Die Off a ‘Red Flag’ for the World’s Oceans

Rise of carbon in the atmosphere raising acidity in oceans and causing ‘cascading effect’ at all levels of the food chain

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

(Flickr / thumeco / Creative Commons License)

An increase of acidity in the Pacific Ocean is quickly killing off one of the world’s most beloved shellfish, the scallop, according to a report by the British Columbia Shellfish Grower’s Association.

“By June of 2013, we lost almost 95 per cent of our crops,” Rob Saunders, CEO of Island Scallops in B.C. told Canada’s CTV News.

The cause of this increase in acidity, scientists say, is the exponential burning of fossil fuels for energy and its subsequent pollution. Oceans naturally absorb carbon dioxide, a byproduct of fossil fuel emissions, which causes acidity to rise.

An overdose of carbon in the atmosphere subsequently causes too much acidity in the world’s oceans, Chris Harley, a marine ecologist from the University of British Columbia, told CTV News. Overly acidic water is bad for shellfish, as it impairs them from developing rigid shells. Oyster hatcheries along the West Coast are also experiencing a steep decline, CTV News reports.

“This is a bit of a red flag,” said Harley.

And this red flag has a much bigger impact than one might imagine. “Whenever we see an impact at some level of the food chain, there is a cascading effect at other levels of the food chain,” said Peter Ross, an expert in ocean pollution science.

A recent study warned that ocean acidification is accelerating at a rate unparalleled in the life of the oceans—perhaps the fastest rate in the planet’s existence—which is degrading marine ecosystems on a mass scale.

"The current rate of change is likely to be more than 10 times faster than it has been in any of the evolutionary crises in the earth’s history," said German marine biologist Hans Poertner upon the release of a recent study published in the journal Nature.

Ocean acidification has been referred to as the "evil twin" of climate change.

Poertner says that if humanity’s industrial carbon emissions continue with a "business as usual" attitude, levels of acidity in the world’s oceans will be catastrophic.

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Not Global Catastrophe Or Politics. Just Kissing…

March 11, 2014 - Comments Off

Here’s a fun little bit from Digg. And stay for the credits.

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