Archive for 2009 June

“She Smoked Like a Coal-Fired Power Plant…”

For the last couple of weeks, I've been mentioning the newly-released report on global warming in our country from the US Global Change Research Program. I've been reading reports from various scientific agencies, including the IPCC, for some time now, and I have never read one this dire.

But even among my tough-minded readers, this raises hackles. How can we talk casually about a future climate so much worse than today's?

On the other hand, how can we not talk about it?

If this future were a human being, we would want to lock him up and try him — or worse.

So let's give some credit to the imagination of Miriam Goldstein, who turns the science into a film noir — and a few other genres. Anything to get folks to pay attention. Way to go, Miriam!

Climate change prediction: The U.S. will be seven degrees hotter.

The moment she walked into my office, the temperature got two
degrees hotter. She smoked like a coal-fired power plant and had a
carbon footprint that went all the way to 850 molecules of CO2 for
every million molecules of atmosphere. That was more than double the
carbon in the atmosphere now, and more carbon than I really wanted to
handle. This dame was hot—and I mean seven degrees of global
temperature increase hot. And she wasn’t even the worse-case scenario.
Even her smart cousin, who stabilized climate change at a mere four
degrees of global temperature rise, looked like she could kill some
penguins before breakfast and wash them down with torrential flooding.
I poured myself a shot of ice water. I was going to need it.


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Politics as Usual Betrays the Planet

Paul Krugman, throwing down the gauntlet. Seems unfair that this guy writes better on climate than nearly any other lefty commentator around — and it's not even his field.

Is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason? Isn’t it politics as usual?

Yes, it is — and that’s why it’s unforgivable.

you remember the days when Bush administration officials claimed that
terrorism posed an “existential threat” to America, a threat in whose
face normal rules no longer applied? That was hyperbole — but the
existential threat from climate change is all too real.

Yet the
deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future
generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their
political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If
that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.

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On Hypocritical Philandering Right-Wing Politicians

Such as Nevada senator John Ensign; well, I'm with Matt Taibbi.

 [pic of the Senator with Miss Nevada USA for 2006, Tiffany, from 2006 Nevada Queens]


He had an affair with a campaign aide, not Tiffany, but as Taibbi said:

I am going to really enjoy the inevitable media fragging Senator John
Ensign is going to take because of his holier-than-thou attitude during
the Lewinsky scandal, when he called on Clinton to resign for having an
affair. What’s especially delicious about this is that Ensign back then
and during the Larry Craig scandal played the “Because of these bad
apples, even God-fearing, recreational-sex-disdaining politicians like
me are now going to be called sexual deviants” card. He’s sold that
angle hard on a number of occasions (”There’s too many people that
paint with a broad brush that we’re all corrupt, all amoral,” he once
said).  He said a lot of stuff, and it’s all going to be dragged back
out now and shoved in his defeated, suddenly elderly face.

Or as my old pal Jack Vacek used to say: "These Republicans, they like to pretend they don't have dicks."

Okay, time to draw the curtains…yours truly is off to Big Sur for an anniversary with the missus. Back Monday. See you then (virtually)…

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, near Big Sur

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Wilco (the show) (at the Wiltern)(on Tuesday 6/23)

Wilco has a new record out at the end of this month, called Wilco (the album) which includes Wilco (the song). In their show at the Wiltern Theater last night in Los Angeles, lead singer Jeff Tweedy aggressively hawked "the merch booth," and especially the "awesome program."

Couldn't tell if he was being ironic or had totally sold himself out.

But this much is for sure — the show was loud, and the set-list was almost completely different from the night before, albeit with a few classic hits ("Jesus, Etc.", "California Stars," "Heavy Metal Drummer") mixed in with some familiar white-noise guitar freak-outs "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" "Bull Black Nova" to knock the crowd a step back.

Impressive show, if not especially emotional, with the exception of a heartfelt "Reservations," which was enough to make yours truly cry a little. Band played only two or three songs from the new record, but "One Wing" proved to be very effective live — another heartbreaker.

Tweedy bantered with the crowd as I never have seen do before, and even brought his guitar down to the pit so a fan could strum out a song as he (Tweedy) played the chords. Maybe that's an old showbiz stunt, but I've never that one, either. He genuinely seemed to like the crowd, which he got clapping and singing with ease. He told us:

You can't stereotype people in L.A. Yeah, some of them are uptight, but some of them are really really laid back.

Appreciate that, Jeff. Thank You. Here's a fuller review, and right on the mark, from Darryl Morden. Here's a pic from fanpop:


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An Army of Clouds — Janisse Ray on Global Warming in Georgia

Janisse Ray, a wonderful writer from the South, has a story about an experience she had with climate change in a gorgeous new interactive book just released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, called Thoreau's Legacy: American Stories about Global Warming. Well worth a look…

I never saw a spring so stormy. Spring is supposed to be a time of fragrant wisteria and five blue-green eggs the size of jellybeans in a nest box. Spring is mild, emergent, translucent.
    It's March. I wake to rain, an army of clouds that darken and lower by the hour. By midmorning the weather radio pops on with an alert: Tornado watch in surrounding counties. Outside there's lightning, long and brilliant and vicious, accompanied by its sidekick, thunder, rolling in great booms—bowling balls across an alley. I call my mother, who tells me that she and Daddy will get under the stairs if there's a tornado.
    "I have never seen daylight this dark," I say. "This is like night."
    Rain is falling so hard the ground has long since given up absorbing it. The water is two inches deep in places. The alert radio alarms: a tornado has touched down in Dublin. Prepare to take shelter immediately.
    I live in a tinderbox. The house, about eighty years old, is made of heart pine, which is very flammable. Some of the windows come out in your hands when you raise them. In the yard, thirty feet from the back door, an old-growth longleaf pine leans toward the house.
    My dad calls back. He wants me to get into the ditch out by the road.
    "What if I get sucked up?"
"Get in the culvert," he says.
    "And if it floods?"
    We hang up because I want to listen for a roar like a train. It's hailing, ice chunks so big you could bag and sell them. The weather radio is calling out all the places where tornadoes have been spotted. Take cover! Should a tornado touch down you will not have time.
    I put blankets on the floor of the small hallway, next to the freezer. I close all the doors leading to the hall.
    Growing up in south Georgia, I never heard of tornadoes in spring. They came in summer and fall. Scientists say that warmer temperatures will favor the severe thunderstorms that give birth to tornadoes, and it's possible that the tornado season could shift to what used to be the colder months. This looks like the climate crisis to me.
    I wait a long time, thinking: We are being taken by storm. But after a while the sky lightens, and finally the weather robot says that the storms are beyond us, farther east and our county is no longer under a warning. I can come out.

Here's a TV graphic of a tornado that hit Georgia this year. According to the info posted with the picture, an F2 tornado hit Atlanta for the first time this year.


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Republican Nonsense in Climate Protection Debate

The US Global Change Research Program, which has been studying climate change since the early 1990's, issued an unusually blunt, cogent report this week, with numerous alarming points, such as:

1. Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.
2. Climate changes are underway in the United States and are projected to grow.
3. Widespread climate-related impacts are occurring now and are expected to increase.
4. Climate change will stress water resources.
5. Crop and livestock production will be increasingly challenged.
6. Coastal areas are at increasing risk from sea-level rise and storm surge.

The response from the GOP? Near as I can tell, it's 100% denial:

"That the Federal bureaucracy in Washington has produced yet another alarmist report on global warming is nothing new." James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma.

"They like to call it [the climate change Waxman-Markey bill] ACES [American Clean Energy and Security Act] but I call it C.R.A.P. — continue ruining America's Prosperity," Joe Barton, R-Texas

"In Missouri when we go from winter to spring, that's a good climate change. I don't want to stop that climate change you know. Who in the world would want to put politicians in charge of the weather anyhow?" Todd Akin, R-Missouri

"There isn't even one study that can be produced to show that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas. There isn't one such study because carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas, it's a harmless gas. Carbon dioxide is natural. It is not harmful. It is part of Earth's life cycle." Michelle Bachmann, R-Minnesota

Perhaps this is what Toles was thinking, earlier this week:


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From the Latest US Global Climate Research Report

Hmmmmm…don't like the look of this.


h/p:    The stunningly great new site for the once-torpid US Global Change Research Program. Plus, you can find the full report here, or the executive summary here.

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Everything Is Either Enlightening or Toxic

At the recent Festival of Books in Los Angeles, the world-class essayist Rebecca Solnit, chairing a panel on sustainable living, mused out loud on "the organic movement," and had a Great Thought. She said:

The organic movement has created a picture of a black or white world: You eat it [something organic] and you see Buddha; or you might as well be eating Agent Orange. Everything is either enlightening or toxic.

At Whole Foods, I can almost hear what they're thinking: Yeah, and so? That's our business model!

[here's Solnit, via Scott Sommerdorf and the Chronicle]


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Paper vs. Plastic: The Wall St. Journal Weighs In

All my readers probably know this already, but kudos to the WSJ for taking the question seriously:


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Hell is the Truth Understood Too Late

The decision we as a species face on climate is so overwhelming it's understandable that we cannot seem to open our eyes to it. But for the same overwhelming reasons, we must.

Here's a quote that might help us see. The late Israeli reporter and writer Amos Elon warned his people in l967 that they would regret their unthinking decision to occupy Palestine, no matter how good it felt in the moment. In a superb recounting by Marlene Nadle (in the Los Angeles Times op-ed section for 6/7/09, in a piece called "Amos Elon and the Death of Hope") Nadle quotes Elon as saying:


Let me put it in context (because the Los Angeles Times search function is hopelessly unable to find this first-rate piece, no matter how many clues you give it, I'm sorry to say). Nadle wrote:

Elon had been one of the few at time [in l967] to write that the occupation would be a disaster. That night in New York, explaining to his countrymen, he said that the emotions of religious nationalism blinded them and caused them to miscalculate, and them assume the Palestinians weren't a military threat and wouldn't be in the future. "Hell is the truth understood too late," Elon concluded, surveying the burning landscape of suicide bombers and vengeful tanks.

Need I explain the relevance of this quote to climate preservation? I expect not…here's Elon:


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