Who is the biggest climate villain in the land?

Well, we know who is the biggest, um, talker:

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From Tom Toles, of course, who follows up with a Denier’s Club of the usual misleaders. A deep post, adapted from his new book The Madhouse Effect with scientist Michael Mann, who originated the famous “hockey stick” graph that some folks very much do not want to see, and, having seen, want to forget.

The almost famous stick figure cartoonist XKCD came up with a wonderful and clever version of that graphic that’s just too darn big to post here, but is very much worth seeing.

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Tennessee Williams and the “basket of deplorables”

Hillary Clinton stepped in it over the weekend by throwing “about half” of Donald Trump’s supporters in a “basket of deplorables.” She said (to repeat her phrasing, a lumpy blend of awkward and wonky):

To just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

Sharp commentators like Jamelle Bouie at Slate have pointed out that there is a good data to back up the idea that half or more of Trump’s supporters exhibit racist attitudes in polling, such as believing against all evidence that Barack Obama is a Muslim, and was born perhaps in Kenya, or in any case outside the United States.

But Bouie bemoans the “theater criticism” of the remarks, saying that questions of how the remarks “might play with a broader audience” misses the point. He goes on to marshall an impressive array of numbers pointing to a truth that by now is not even controversial among the well-informed:

The Republican Party of the Obama years is an ethno-nationalist formation of white Americans. the ideological conservatism of its elites is less important than the raw resentment of its base.

Even if this is about as verifiable as data about “racial attitudes” will allow, it also misses the point of political speech. “How remarks play with a broad audience” — articulation, in a word — is the essence of political skill, and very much to the point of any candidate’s ability to bring together a coalition, especially a coalition of diverse peoples.

It’s also the essence of dramatic speech, and it so happens that one of this nation’s greatest playwrights — who had to suffer the ill effects of many of the attitudes deplored by Clinton — movingly dramatized the dangerousness of racism in a play that’s now running in a little theater in Hollywood.

Although the 1956 “Baby Doll” is famous for its sexual look, at the heart of its drama is a burning motivated by a Trumpian blend of xenophobia, racism, and resentment. The play includes a memorable passage on how this can happen. A bright young immigrant named Silvia (a dark-skinned Sicilian, as it happens) tries to explain to a poor but unbigoted white American why racist language is dangerous to the community and to the Republic:

“I believe in evil spirits,” the character of Silva begins. “…Spirits of violence — and cunning — malevolence — cruelty — treachery — destruction…”

“Oh, them’s just human characteristics,” responds Baby Doll practically.

“They’re evil spirits that haunt the human heart and take possession of it, and spread from one human heart to another the way that fire goes springing from leaf to leaf and branch to branch in a tree till a forest is all aflame with it,” says Silva. “The birds take flight — the wild things are suffocated…everything green and beautiful is destroyed…”

Baby Doll still isn’t having it.

“You have got fire on the brain,” she says, knowing that Silva suspects her husband Archie Lee of burning down Silva’s cotton gin the night before in a rage of resentment.

“I see it as more than it seems on the surface,” Silva replies. “I saw it last night as an explosion of those evil spirits that haunt the human heart — I fought it! I ran into it, beating it, stamping it, shouting the name of God at it! They dragged me out, suffocating. I was defeated! When I came to, lying on the ground — the fire had won the battle, and all around me was a ring of human figures. The fire lit their faces! And they were illuminated! Their eyes, their teeth were SHINING! SEE! LIKE THIS!

He twists his face into a grotesque grimace of pleasure. He thrusts his face at her. She springs back, frightened.

“Hey! Please!” says Baby Doll. “Don’t do that! Don’t scare me!”

“The faces I saw — were grinning!” he warns her, and holds her at the door, not letting her leave his presence. “Then I knew! I knew the fire was not accidental!”

“Not accidental?”

“No, it was not accidental! It was an expression, a manifestation of the human will to destroy.”

“I wouldn’t feel that way about it…” counters Baby Doll weakly.

“I do! I do!” replies the immigrant. “And so I say I believe in ghosts, in haunted places, places haunted by the people who occupy them with hearts overrun with hatred and destruction. I believe this place, this house is haunted…”

Williams, following Abraham Lincoln, more than once chose the metaphor of a house to stand in for the Republic. In the l950’s, arguably, that house was on fire with racism. Despite decades of assiduous effort on the part of many national leaders, including conservative Republicans such as George Bush, racism has not vanished but moved into the political arena. It’s now up those who would prevent those fires from destroying our union to find a way to keep these “evil spirits” from flaring up again.

Is it asking too much to expect Hillary to dispel evil spirits? To unhaunt this house of ours?

Perhaps — we can’t blame her when we see an elderly protester at a Trump rally smashed in the face for protesting. Josh Marshall at TPM describes what happened today:

Shirley is apparently a lifelong protester. She told local reporters she participated in Civil Rights and anti-war protests in the 1960s. And now Donald Trump is among her list of people she’s protested against. As she describes it, the early part of the protest was relatively good natured: Trumpers shouting, Trump, Trump, Trump; her crew would respond Dump, Dump, Dump.

Then this happened. I quote from Western NC’s WLOS 13

After the rally, Teeter experienced something she had never seen in all of her protests. Peace teetered over into something else.”I said you better learn to speak Russian, and I said the first two words are going to be, ha ha. He stopped in his tracks, and he turned around and just cold-cocked me,” Teter said.

She was punched in the face.

She says she fell on her oxygen tank and has sore ribs, a sore jaw, and cut her elbow. She later went to the hospital and is thankful she did not break any bones.

In case you’re keeping score at home, this is the same rally where a Trumper inside the arena assaulted three other protesters. Police have so far made five arrests during and after the rally, not including the man they plan to arrest for assaulting Teeter.

To expect Hillary to explain why racism is dangerous may be too much. But she might do better by taking a tip from Tennessee Williams. When talking about a difficult subject (racism) bait the audience with something else.

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The earthquake in Oklahoma in 2016 — and in Colorado in 1966

Oklahoma is now the most earthquake-prone state in the nation, considerably outdistancing California, according to the USGS. Yesterday morning a 5.6 in magnitude quake hit northcentral Oklahoma, with shaking felt as far away as Arizona and the Midwest. The record-settling quake has been linked to oilfield wastewater disposal, according to state regulators, who ordered a 500-square mile shutdown in disposal activity Saturday, according to the Washington Post.

Not so coincidentally, the discovery that disposal of liquid wastes underground causes seismicity was first discovered fifty years ago due to an earthquake measured at a very similar 5.3 in magnitude. How that happened was part of one of my favorite story leads a couple of years ago, so forgive me for reposting — it’s a really interesting story.

The U.S. Army had a problem, a big problem: 165,000 gallons of some of the deadliest war materials known to man, including napalm, chlorine gas, mustard gas and sarin, a nerve gas developed by the Nazis, tiny doses of which can kill in minutes. After stockpiling these weapons of destruction for decades in its Rocky Mountain Arsenal near Denver, the government decided the time had come to dispose of the hazardous wastes but didn’t know how.

The solution? In l961, authorities drilled a well 12,000 feet deep, far below any aquifer, and over the next five years pumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic wastes into a cavity in the rock miles beneath the surface.

One problem: Not long after the pumping began, Denver and nearby suburbs began to experience swarms of earthquakes. Most of them were quite small, less than 3 in magnitude, but in a region that rarely experiences earthquakes, 1,300 earthquakes in four years raised questions. Then, in August 1967, a significant earthquake — magnitude 5.3 — shook the city of Denver and the nearby suburb of Commerce, with damages that totaled over $1 million.

The Army stopped pumping the toxic wastes into the injection well. Geologists discovered the liquids had been pumped into an existing fault deep in the “basement” rock. The fault had begun to lose strength and slip, even after the pumping stopped

For city officials, this was alarming, but geologists were intrigued to discover it was possible to trigger earthquakes along existing fault lines, and a team of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey soon launched into an experiment in an oil field with known earthquake faults in Rangely, Colo. The goal? To learn what volume of fluid pressures were required to trigger earthquakes, and to see if seismic activity could be stimulated and then brought to a halt. The experiment worked, on a small scale, and encouraging results were reported in the journal Science in March of 1976.

“We may ultimately be able to control the timing and size of major earthquakes,” the team, led by C.B. Raleigh and J.H. Healy, speculated. They suggested drilling wells along the San Andreas Fault, and injecting water to release seismic pressures with little earthquakes. They hoped in this way to prevent the legendary “Big One,” an earthquake comparable to the massive and ruinous l906 San Francisco earthquake, which has a 3 percent to 30 percent chance of occurring in the next 30 years in California.

“They actually proposed this idea, to drill wells and pump in water and trigger small earthquakes along the San Andreas,” said William Bilodeau, who chairs the geology department at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. “And they got fairly far along in the planning process and then people began to say, ‘Wait a minute — what happens if we set off a really big earthquake? What’s the [legal] liability?’ ”

The rest of the story is about Ventura County in the present day, which (fortunately!) turns out for geological reasons not to be particularly vulnerable to this kind of oilfield waste disposals.

The county still has plenty of earthquake issues of its own, not to mention oilfield waste disposal problems.

Taylor Swift’s immortal line comes to mind re: Oklahoma —

Hey now we got problems
and I don’t think we can solve them

But Oklahoma, after years of denying any possible connection between oilfield waste disposal and seismicity, this weekend shut down disposal wells in a vast area — 725 square miles, according to the Tulsa World.

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the Lyell mountains and glacier chain

The high ridge on the upper right overlooking a north face still heavy with ice and snow is Mt Lyell, at 13.100 the highest peak in Yosemite National Park. In that whiteness a hundred and fifty years ago John Muir discovered the first “living glacier” in California.

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From a wonderful trip led by Pete Devine for the Yosemite Conservancy. Highly recommended.

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Trump + Mussolini: Trussolini?

Countless commentators, from a Congressman in Utah, to the President of Mexico, editors and Twitter wizards like Marlow Stern to famous comedians like Bill Mahrer to the most admired of our publications have pointed to the frighteningly fascistic tendencies of Donald Trump and specifically his alarming similarity to Benito Mussolini, in looks and in language.

But the intentionality, Trump’s part in this similarity, did not become fully evident to me until his horrific acceptance speech, in which he referred obliquely to the most famous promise of Mussolini, that he would make the trains run on time.

Trump said — although really it was more of a battle cry, in his customary language, broad to the point of meaninglessness.

We will fix TSA at the airport, which is a disaster.

To me this is a “tell” — another indication that he’s consciously playing the Fascist card.

Am I wrong? Over-reacting? Making stuff up?

You may call me alarmist, but I’m not the only one…

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PCT section L: Paradise Lake to Sierra City

Think this might be the shortest and possibly the easiest section on the entire 2663-mile PCT. That’s based on a personal knowledge of two-thirds of the trail in California. That’s all I know, admittedly, with some reading and searching, for instance such as Jeffrey Schaffer’s venerable and helpful set of guides on Wilderness Press.

Still. Turns out the section is but 38 miles long — something a experienced thruhiker can possibly do on a very good day or a day and a half, with fitness and luck. So says Schaffer and I agree (Birdman above was on that kind of schedule, having spent the night at the Sierra Club’s Peter Grubb hut, just five miles from Donner Pass).

Plus, it finishes in Sierra City, an altitude of about 5400 feet, well below the trail at the starting point of the section, at Donner Pass, which is about 7200. And the trail flows up from there to a high ridge of about 8,000 feet, following the crest as much as best as possible across the fields of so-called mules ears flowering out in the bright sunshine. Intoxicating with their beauty.

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Of course a true thruhiker will not deviate from the trail without a fight, but nonetheless a night at Paradise Lake about a mile or a mile and a half down Paradise Valle, proved hard to resist. Would have been great stay — and it’s super popular — except the mosquitoes were pretty fierce.

Why in the world, may I ask, have we no measure whatsoever of the mosquito menace? Drives me crazy. We have indexes for everything else, from solar radiation to flower displays — why not mosquitoes? Something we could do towards solving a problem.

But still Paradise Lake lived up to its moniker — would like to see this lake on a chilly morning before the pests hatch out, maybe in June, with a warm sun but some snow still too. Has such a quiet beauty. .

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That’ll give you some idea of the first day or two methinks — that and a mention of the fact that (at least around July 4th) this area is absolutely thronged with people. It’s still gorgeous, and it’s easy to find privacy, but know that you won’t be “alone alone” as we say today.

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People of the PCT: Birdman

Met Birdman a day or maybe two south of Sierra City, in Section L, north of Donner Pass. He’s a true thruhiker: “flip-flopped” the AT last year (meaning he went up and back down).

“And I’ll tell you, it’s a lot more dramatic finishing up at Mt. Katahdin than it is in Springer, Georgia!” he said. Think he has the right to say such a thing, given that he hails from Georgia.

Birdman (from Georgia)

Birdman (from Georgia)

 

Birdman was making what I would consider excellent time — 25+ miles a day — but complained of a knee that was giving him trouble, and was trying not to give up on the trail at the halfway point, just a few days ahead.

“Never quit on a bad day!”

 

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Forget Me Not PCT (from section M)

Back to the PCT, after seven months absence. These from section L, still very much in the Sierras, north of Donner Pass. Area is lower and less spectacular than Yosemite or the Minarets or comparable high mountain ranges, around 8,000 feet, but still has the beauty particular to these mountains, of granite, clear water, pines and snow — and in the summer, flowers, flower, flowers.

Here’s some forget-me-nots, if memory serves. Never seen so many as I have seen this summer on the trail.

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Stay on Trail: Jordan Fisher Smith on our Nat’l Parks Bday

Jordan Fisher Smith, who has an excellent new book out called Engineering Eden, (on the challenge of managing wild bears in places like Yellowstone and Yosemite), brings his experience as a naturalist, a ranger, and a writer to bear on the meaning of our parks in an essay in the author’s on-line magazine Signature Reads.

It’s fascinating. For one, for Smith’s grasp of the parks’ history, and its founders’ thoughtfulness.

In the early 1930’s the Park Service’s George M. Wright noted that it would have been far easier to operate national parks purely as nature reserves, without visitors. But, very presciently, Wright argued that in a time of growing human populations, it was far more interesting to try to meet the needs of people and wildlife in one place. Wright’s world had only two billion inhabitants. Today, with over three times that many, there is much to be learned from how millions of people and irreplaceable wild treasures have been accommodated shoulder-to-shoulder in national parks.

Second, Smith knows how the parks at times have struggled to balance the needs of wildlife versus the needs of its human visitors — but he also knows how much the park service has learned.

…the Park Service [has gotten] much better at managing relations between people and nature. The agency finished installation of animal-proof trash receptacles and food storage vaults at all of its campgrounds, and working with private companies, encouraged the development of portable bear-proof food canisters for backpackers to carry when they were away from fixed facilities. At Sequoia National Park the Park Service demolished hundreds of rental cabins and hotel facilities in the sequoia groves and began allowing natural wildfire to do its necessary work, much to the benefit of the redwoods. The rangers reintroduced missing animals like wolves to Yellowstone and California condors to Pinnacles National Monument. A multi-decade public relations effort promoted “no-trace” or “minimum-impact” camping, resulting in a near-total change in behavior among backpackers, canoeists, and whitewater boaters. In some areas today you can walk or float for miles without seeing so much as a chewing gum wrapper on a busy trail or campsite.

And he calls for a transfer of the leave-no-trace ethic we have learned — or are trying to learn — from the wilderness to the world at large.

The parks have been a teaching institution for a way of looking at our impact on nature. And in my opinion it’s time to take the “no-trace” ethic I taught campers when I worked as a park ranger – in which you endeavor to have the least possible impact on the places you roll out your sleeping bag – out of the campgrounds and into the rest of the world, where climate change and other factors that will ultimately determine the survival of the national parks come from. Are you, the visitor, loving parks to death? No! Go enjoy them. If the oldest, most famous ones are crowded this summer, learn to know and love the lesser-known sites. Take only memories and photographs, leave only footprints, and try to carry this way of studying your relationship with nature back into a world that sorely needs it now. Happy birthday, national parks!

President Obama will visit Yosemite this weekend to commemorate the centennial; may his visit be blessed wth vast appreciation for what Ken Burns aptly called “America’s Best Idea.

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Stephen Wilkes photo, made of hundreds of images taken over 24 hours. for National Geographic.

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Trump, Sanders Agree: Blame the Media

If there’s one thing that “outsiders” agree on in political life in America today, it’s that it’s the media’s fault.

Here’s Bernie:

“On Tuesday night, on the 7th, you’re going to hear from media saying that Hillary Clinton has received, whatever it is, 80 or 90 delegates, which she certainly will from New Jersey and other states,” Sanders said. “And they’ll say, the primary process is over, Secretary Clinton has won.”

When the crowd finishing booing, Sanders assured them that the media was “not factually correct” if it tried to declare Clinton a winner.

Of course not. Can’t trust “the corporate media” with anything, even the numbers of pledged delegates elected in state primaries and caucuses.

Here’s Donald, speaking about money he pledged to send to veterans groups back in February:

“It was very unfair that the press treated us so badly,”

Trump said this after a Washington Post story last week revealed that the candidate had not come through with the $6 million he had promised to veterans groups — and had not paid the $1 million he himself had promised.

In the words of reporter David Fahrenthold:

“Donald Trump gave $1 million,” he said then.

As recently as last week, Trump’s campaign manager had insisted that the mogul had already given that money away. But that was false: Trump had not.

In recent days, The Washington Post and other media outlets had pressed Trump and his campaign for details about how much the fundraiser had actually raised and whether Trump had given his portion.

The candidate refused to provide details. On Monday, a Post reporter used Twitter — Trump’s preferred social-media platform — to search publicly for any veterans groups that had received Trump’s money.

By Monday afternoon, The Post had found none. But it seems to have caught the candidate’s attention.

Today it was revealed that the missing money was paid last week — in checks dated the day of the Washington Post story.

Phone calls to all 41 of the groups by The Associated Press brought more than two-dozen responses Tuesday. About half reported checks from Trump within the past week, typically dated May 24, the day The Washington Post published a story questioning whether he had distributed all of the money.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, told reporters at a testy news conference in New York that the fundraiser, held at the same time as a Fox News GOP debate he was boycotting, raised $5.6 million. He previously had declined to disclose which charities had received the funds, and his campaign has gone back and forth about how much was raised.

“The money’s all been sent,” Trump said at the news conference at Trump Tower on Tuesday.

He repeatedly criticized the press for making the money an issue, saying reporters “should be ashamed of themselves” for asking where the money had gone.

The irony is that Hillary Clinton, who today in a great New York profile admitted she “hates” the media, has been the one remaining candidate this year who has not blamed the media for reporting news that gosh, she doesn’t want to hear, though she certainly has had to hear plenty.

She even mentioned that it was a reporter who forced Trump to pay up.

“He’s bragged for months about raising $6 million for veterans and donating a million dollars himself,” Clinton told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “But it took a reporter to shame him into actually making his contribution and getting the money to veterans. So look, I’m glad he finally did but I don’t know that he should get much credit for that.”

So maybe some credit should go to the Fahrenhold and the Washington Post?

I know, I know — radical concept. Crediting the media. What a nutty idea.

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