Archive for 2012 August

Jobs versus extinction: Romney and Calvin and Hobbes

Romney's remark on climate change last night has occasioned a great deal of commentary.

Here's Kate Sheppard, reporting on the moment for Mother Jones

"If you didn't catch Mitt Romney's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night, you really missed an amazing snapshot of how he'll treat environmental issues as president: as a laugh line.

Here's the line from his speech last night. The stage directions are mine:

President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans … (Pause for effect, look of mild, mocking amusement on your face. Audience will chuckle here.)

And heal the planet. (Another pause for comedic effect.)

My promise (Pause) is to help you and your family. (Cheers.)"

She adds: 

Did you get the joke? It's hilarious that President Obama cares about climate change and promised to do something about it. Mitt Romney will totally not give a crap about that at all, aren't you glad?

And here's a wonderful old Calvin and Hobbes on the same conflict between short-term economic gain and long-term sustainability, with of course a twist. (Click to enlarge):


Brings to mind a line from an old folk song: When will we ever learn? 

Via Aguanomics

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Obama and Romney on warming this week in campaign

Romney [from convention speech to be delivered]: "Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.

Obama [from speech to college students]: Denying climate change won't make it stop

According to Ben Domenech of RedState, Romney's crack is the single best line in his speech.

True, probably. Politicians are notorious for promising too much, and it's a lot easier to believe a candidate could give a short-term gain than long-term sustainability. 

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Big Oil backs Romney campaign: USA Today

USA Today runs the SuperPac numbers: 


Mitt Romney's
campaign and a super PAC backing him have received more than $15
million from oil, coal and other energy interests, many of which would
benefit from the energy plan Romney unveiled Thursday.

At least 35 people who "bundle" donations for the
Romney campaign are from the same industries, a USA TODAY analysis
shows. The amount of money they raised for the campaign is unknown,
because the Romney campaign does not release its bundlers or the amounts
they raised. President Obama and the past two Republican presidential candidates released data on their major bundlers.

In one week this month, Romney raised about $10 million from energy interests in fundraisers in Houston and Little Rock. Wow.

Meanwhile NPR looked at the campaigns in the MidWest, and saw Romney and the coal industry, working as one, and, of course, rigorously avoiding any mention of coal and climate:

MITT ROMNEY: We have 250 years of coal. Why in the heck wouldn't we use it?

HORSLEY: Romney was speaking at a Beallsville, Ohio, coal mine owned by Murray Energy, a company with a history of flouting government regulations. A Murray subsidiary was fined half-a-million dollars after the deadly, 2007 collapse of a Utah mine that killed nine people.CEO Bob Murray blames regulatory moves by the Obama administration, for the closure of an Ohio mine this year – a criticism that Romney picked up yesterday.

Toles finds the emotion in the picture. 

Wish we could be that happy with this news. 

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Hurricane Issac on track for New Orleans

Oh boy


Landfall expected Wednesday, seven years after Hurricane Katrina

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Larry McMurtry on selling 300,000 books

Besides being a great writer, Larry McMurtry is a great bookseller. 

The story of The Last Book Sale is a moderately long but fully fascinating: McMurtry wrote it up for the NYRB blog. Suffice to say that in August, McMurtry sold off the contents of several of his bookstores, to make sure he didn't burden his heirs. About 300,000 books he sold. But he's still in business, and still has plenty of books for sale — at least 100,000. He grumbled: 

Everything sold but the fiction. Everyone who deals in fiction has plenty, and more is spilling onto the market from the sale of the Serendipity Books stock now being dispersed on the West Coast. Many people asked me if I was sad to see so many books go. I wasn’t—mainly I was irritated to discover that I still had 30,000 novels to sell. 

Great pic, too, of the writer, who has become as curmudgeonly as some of his characters. Wish I could have gone to the sale. Would like to see him at his store in Archer City someday. If the fates smile. 


"I have seen a lot of various levels of book-dealing and am hard to surprise."

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Wishing to get away from it all: Dusy Basin

From the great Tom Killion, one of his latest:

Killion often goes for bold, almost surreal colors in his woodcut art, but for the Sierras, espeically at night, likes deep blue tones. Love the contrast between the austere mountains and the warm little human shelter. So true.  

The Dusy basin is a gorgeous bowl of granite, tundra, streams and lakes at about 11,000 feet, half-circled by the high Palisades. It's just over Bishop Pass, near South Lake, and Bishop. Print makes me wish I was there.

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Study: Warming brings more precip to VC, less to NorCal

Kim Lamb Gregory for the Ventura County Star reports on a new study based on an almost unimaginably vast dataset that looks at precipitation records from around the continental U.S. over the last sixty years. It's called When It Rains It Pours: Global Warming and the Increase in Extreme Precipitation from l948-2011. Lamb writes that it finds global warming is now bringing more and wetter storms to most of the country, especially New England, and most definitely including Ventura County. She talked to Bernadette del Chiaro, who speaks for the state's climate change research and policy center':

Heavy downpours that used to happen once every 12 months on average now happen every 10.7 months statewide, Del Chiaro said.

The snowstorm that closed the Grapevine in 2011, the La Conchita
mudslide in 2005 and the numerous floods and uprooted trees in Ventura
County can be linked to global warming, Del Chiaro said.

The story then goes into solutions and politics, but there's more to the science that isn't much discussed in the story, and actually not so much in the study either. Fortunately, the study includes some interesting graphs and tables.

That large increase in the lower central coast area must be the Santa Barbara/La Conchita/Ventura County region the spokesperson mentioned. The study also graphs the increase in precip against a statistical control without global warming:

And perhaps most interesting of all, if not especially visual, it puts the results in table form, and reveals that Northern California and especially Oregon have seen a striking decrease in precipitation. 

This comes as a surprise. Would like to figure out why that might be. 

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Charts of the week: Decline of Arctic Sea Ice

Via NatureClimate's feed, a great GIF-animated graph showing the diminshing Arctic sea ice in summer, heading towards zero in late summer perhaps as early as the 2020's. Some bloggers say even earlier. 

Above chart works best if you click to enlarge. Chart below needs no enlargement.


Via RealClimate. They link to a blogger from New Zealand who offers a painfully funny forecast of the likely reaction to this among the close minded climate change minimizer crowd.

From Hot Topic:

When Arctic sea ice area sets a new record low in the next couple of weeks, the usual suspects1 will say: “You can’t trust area, sea ice extent is the only valid metric“.

When Arctic sea ice extent sets a new record low in September, the following arguments will be run in parallel:

  • There will be a frantic search for a definition of extent in which a new record was not set
  • There will be a complaint that the satellite record has been blighted by the failure of a sensor and the calibrations needed to get a new sensor in operation have corrupted the record2
  • It will be claimed that it was all caused by the major Arctic storm that hit in August, and thus can’t be attributed to global warming3
  • It’s cyclical — it’s all happened before, in the 1930s4, and is therefore nothing unusual
  • That it’s irrelevant, because it’s not global and not happening where anyone lives so can’t possibly matter.

When the sea ice extent and area anomalies blow out to record levels in early October because of the delayed freeze-up, there will be silence.

When the re-freeze starts, and the Arctic basin is covered in ice once more (early December), Anthony Watts will report on the record rate of ice formation, calling it a “stunning recovery“.

So true. Have to check back to see how well Watts fulfills the projection. 

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What if Mars sent a rover to Earth?

Jim Morin has an idea…

Via McClatchey for 8/12/12.

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Pussy Riot: a post-modern band imprisoned for attitude

Speaking of rebellious rockers…it's generally agreed, by both fans and skeptics, that rock and roll is all about attitude, so in these post-modern, post-truth times, it's only natural and proper that Pussy Riot, a Russian group that has never released a record, has become the biggest punk rock band in the world. More famous, with more famous friends (from Daft Punk to Paul McCartney) than any other punk band. 

Not on the basis of their music, which is unexceptional, but on the basis of their self-described "impudence." Being outrageous in an Orthodox church, for instance. Shouting at the tyrant Putin, miming playing guitars, but with no sound, for thirty seconds. The perfect post-modern performance.

For which they were sentenced to two years in prison yesterday, a sentence that rewards their "impudence" with preposterous over-punishment. 

This has occasioned much commentary, but none more telling than from Irish novelist Roddy Doyle, who on his Facebook page recounts a conversation (of his creation, we presume) at a pub, in his usual profane, sly, beguiling style: 

-Pussy Riot.
-That’s just middle-age. It’ll sort itself ou’.
-No. The Russian young ones. The group, like.
-What abou’ them?
-I can’t get me head around it. Hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. What the fuck is tha’?
-It’s just the excuse.

-It’s nothin’ to do with religion. They’re in jail cos Putin doesn’t like them.
-Is that all?
-Listen. Remember punk – back in the day, like?
-The Sex Pistols. God Save the Queen an’ tha’.
-I wasn’t mad about it meself. But annyway. It blew the other music away.
-Glam rock.
-Putin loves it.
-Glam rock.
-Fuck off.
-Serious. He’s mad into Gary Glitter.
-Tha’ makes sense. They prob’ly like the same videos.
-Ah now. Anyway. Fuckin’ Putin an’ the other cunts in the politburo all have platforms an’ silver suits, an’ he mimes along to I’m The Leader of the Gang an’ Do Yeh Wanna Touch Me.
-Ah, fuck off.
-I’m telling yeh. He’s been doin’ it for years. He fuckin’ hates punk.
-An’ that’s why those young ones are in jail?
-The Pistols made Gary Glitter look ridiculous an’ those three young ones make Putin look even more ridiculous.


Irony alert: Important to note that Gary Glitter was once a huge star in the UK, with many hit songs, including the (nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey hey, good bye) anthem often heard in sports arenas. Also important to note that he was convincted of possession of child pornography in the UK, and then, after fleeing charges on his yacht, traveling the world, and being booted out of Cambodia, again allegedly for sexual abuse of children, was arrested and convicted of child molestation in Vietnam.

Though in his 60's, Glitter served time — about two and a half years. 

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