Year 2, Month 3, Day 1: We Need More Like This

The Aurora Sentinel (Aurora, CO) addresses the problem directly, in a very well-done and strongly-worded editorial.

How much more proof is needed to persuade skeptics that humans are warming the planet to dangerously high temperatures?

Scientists released not one, but two reports on Wednesday showing definitively that human-caused temperature hikes in Earth’s atmosphere are producing increasingly harsh, wet storms across the globe.

The studies should counter arguments by skeptics that climate change is a “victimless crime,” said Myles Allen of the University of Oxford, one of two authors of a study associating flooding and climate change in Britain. “Extreme weather is what actually hurts people.”

Can’t wait to see the comments in a couple of days…

Sent 2/21:

Your editorial hits the nail squarely on the head. The current inability of our major media outlets to address global warming without false equivalency would be hilarious if it were not tragic. By equating the expertise of thousands of climatologists with a few paid shills from the oil companies, the true nature of the climate crisis is disguised, and millions of people are lulled into a false sense of security. Add to that the constant stream of virulent anti-environment rhetoric from right-wing talk radio and you have a recipe for disaster — since we can’t deal with the problem without recognizing its existence. Not only is America the planet’s largest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases, its media pollute the public discourse with some of the most egregious and irresponsible mendacity the world has ever seen. And don’t even get me started on Republican politicians, who are appallingly ready to sacrifice the long-term future of their constituents on the altar of short-term political exigencies of the most cynical and willfully ignorant sort.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 28: How Do You Handle A Hungry Man?

The Victoria Advocate (TX) runs an article on Joe Read,the loony in Montana who’s introduced a bill declaring global warming beneficial.

Imagine reading a few decades ago that a lawmaker had introduced a bill which not only designated tobacco as a foodstuff, but also defined lung cancer and emphysema as signs of overall health. It’d be pretty clear that the politician in question had either been paid off by the big tobacco firms, or had been fooled by them; looking back with the benefit of hindsight, we would have to choose: what motivated him — cupidity or stupidity? A few decades from now, exactly the same question will be asked about Rep. Joe Read, whose attempt to renegotiate the facts of climate change shows a similar unwillingness to remove ideological filters. A few seconds’ research on the phrase “mountain pine beetle” will demonstrate one of the many dangers posed to Montana by global warming. But perhaps Rep. Read is too busy eating a cigarette sandwich to care. Mmmmmm. Yummy.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 27: Some Days These Letters Are No Damned Fun At All

I’ve never written to the National Geographic before. Strange, since that magazine was an important part of my childhood and the general growth of my environmental awareness. They ran an article on the Zwiers study which triggered this letter. In addition, I mention the NSIDC report on melting permafrost, which you should not read if you want a good night’s sleep; this is about as bad a piece of news as we’ve had in quite a while, which is really saying something.

Mailed Feb. 18:

The Zwiers study confirms the link between global warming and extreme weather events worldwide, but this is unlikely to change many minds among the climate-change deniers, who are now so ideologically wedded to their position that no amount of evidence will suffice. Especially in light of the recent reports from the National Ice and Snow Data Center indicating rapid and irreversible melting of a majority of the Earth’s permafrost (with consequent release of massive amounts of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere), such a failure of understanding is a tragedy. The next centuries will witness unimaginable disruption of ecosystems, agriculture, and infrastructure; to deny reality at this moment is to lose our last chance of mitigating some of the damage before it overwhelms us. Once, our nation honored scientific achievement and inquiry. Now, it seems, we enshrine delusion and magical thinking, to the detriment of the lives of future generations.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 26: SunSpots..

The Sun (UK) reports on the Oxford studies establishing a definite link between England’s severe flooding and climate change.

Sent February 17:

The results of the Oxford studies are unsurprising to those who’ve been paying attention to the threat of global warming; climatologists have predicted almost exactly these results for several decades, with greater and greater precision as their computer modeling tools became more sophisticated and the data they were analysing became more extensive and precise. And yet it is precisely the nature of the research tool that now has climate-change denialists sputtering and fuming. “Why,” they ask, “should we trust computer models of something as complicated as the earth’s climate?” At first blush, the question seems valid, but there are many reasons for using these tools — the first being, simply, that if we wait until the Earth itself displays incontrovertible evidence, it will be far too late to do anything about the problem. The second reason is that we trust these same technologies in countless other areas of our lives; apparently computer modeling is invalid only when it will negatively impact the profit margins of the world’s biggest oil companies.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 25: If They’ll Say “You Told Us So,” We Promise Not To Say “We Told You So.”

USA Today recognizes two new studies that offer even more robust correlation between global warming and extreme weather events.

John Fogerty once crooned “Who’ll stop the rain?” Not humanity, apparently, as new research shows that human-caused climate change has significantly increased the chances of extreme rain- and snowfall around the world, along with the deadly floods that follow.

This is according to two new studies published Wednesday in the British journal Nature.

While other studies have suggested that global warming may be partly responsible for an increase in heavy precipitation, what’s new in this study is the formal finding that human influence has “likely made intense precipitation stronger, on average, over the second half of the 20th century,” says study co-author Francis Zwiers of the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

“The observed change cannot be explained by natural fluctuations of the climate system alone,” he says.

Leaving aside the question of whether John Fogerty was/is capable of crooning, the rest of the article is pretty straightforward.

Read the comments for a hearty helping of stupid.

Sent February 16:

The two newly published studies serve to confirm what many people have been positing for years: the greenhouse effect causes global warming, and global warming is causally linked to extreme weather events. But even a brief glance at online comments on this subject shows that there is essentially no evidence that will serve to convince the climate-change deniers. Some cling to the notion that there was an equally robust scientific consensus in the 1970s predicting global cooling (no, there wasn’t). Some maintain that errors in the 3000-page IPCC report invalidate its conclusions (in which case a typo anywhere in this issue of USA Today would mean the whole newspaper was untrustworthy). Some conflate “climate” with “weather” and insist that global warming isn’t happening — because it’s snowing outside their windows. Some base their arguments on religion, claiming that “God won’t let humans change the planet’s atmosphere” (although He’s apparently got no objection to hydrogen bombs, a Texas-sized garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, or regional aquifers so contaminated by LNG extraction that tap water is flammable). The evidence is mounting, while the denialists have their fingers in their ears. Good luck to us all. We’ll need it.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 24: Baked Alaska

The Anchorage Daily News notes that climate change is going to affect Alaska’s National Parks. So far the comments haven’t accumulated much in the way of stupidity. I wonder how long that’ll last.

Sent February 15:

It is ironic that Alaska owes much of its income stream to the same corporate forces that bankroll climate-change denialism. It’s ironic that Alaska owes much of its income stream to the same corporate forces that bankroll climate-change denialism. Rising global temperatures will devastate Alaska’s National Parks — retreating glaciers, vanishing sea ice, habitat losses and vitiated local ecosystems being just a few examples of what we can expect in the years to come. Once the evidence is too strong to ignore or discount, governments and corporations will have to move to mitigate the damage. Sadly, rapid recovery from environmental destruction on a planetary scale is impossible; scientific assessments of the long-term scope of global warming suggest that we may well be dealing with rising temperatures for centuries to come. With gradual changes of the sort found in the long-term historical record, there has been time for populations and ecosystems to adapt; the transformations effected by the greenhouse effect, however, are the environmental equivalent of driving into a wall at 100 mph. Climate-change denialists, meanwhile, are telling us we don’t even need to fasten our seat belts.

Warren Senders

Two Signs, Four Messages

Pictures of me at yesterday’s rally at the State House in support of the people of Wisconsin in their struggle against crazy governor Scott Walker are courtesy of Strategy And Pizza.



It was great to see hippies and hardhats on the same side of the issue.

Year 2, Month 2, Day 23: Teach Your Children Well…

The San Francisco Chronicle describes the work of the Alliance for Climate Education, as they do workshops and assemblies for high-school students. It’s all a part of welcoming them to the reality-based community, you know, which is why the Republicans are so agin it.

The 200 engrossed students at Oakland Unity High School kept their eyes glued to the projector screen and hardly uttered a sound during the 45-minute presentation – the most striking exception coming at the part of the special school assembly that featured cow farts.

It turns out bovine flatulence contributes to greenhouse gases. That was just one of several topics covered in the assembly, which was offered by the Alliance for Climate Education, an Oakland nonprofit that is trying to educate students about climate change one school at a time.

Since fall 2009, Alliance for Climate Education has visited 1,100 high schools in the United States, putting on assemblies for nearly 700,000 teens.

This was sent on Valentine’s Day, with Love to the Alliance For Climate Education!

Despite the frenzied conspiracy theorizing of denialists obsessing over an imaginary Socialist New World Order, climate change is a very real and significant danger — not just to Americans, but to all the world’s people. A secondary danger is that the anti-science veriphobes in the Republican party will succeed in convincing the American public that this threat (one perhaps greater than anything humans have yet faced) isn’t real. In 2004, an anonymous Bush administration official told Ron Suskind that “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” By opposing any meaningful climate policy, the GOP is attempting to create its own reality — based not on verifiable facts, but on superstition, hubris and ignorance. Unfortunately for us all, even the most powerful empire cannot defeat the laws of physics. Which is why the work of the Alliance for Climate Education is so essential.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 22: The Terrible Threat of تغير المناخ

The Newberg Graphic (OR) has a guest editorial with a good strong statement in favor of the EPA’s authority, and a good chastisement of the Republicans’ behavior.

I figured it would be a good idea to provide some additional moral support. This letter’s not as coherent as some; I’m just too damn tired. Sent Feb 13:

The intersection of coal and petroleum money with the electoral process has produced a breed of politicians far more cognizant of the short-term requirements of their cash suppliers than of the long-term well-being of their constituents. While West Virginia’s Jay Rockefeller is a Democratic case in point, the majority of anti-environmental voices in Congress belong to Republicans. Less than two months into the 112th Congress, these GOP stalwarts have rejected decades of scientific evidence and publicly insulted EPA Chief Lisa Jackson. The coming decades of climate chaos will bring enormous disruptions to our agriculture, infrastructure, public health and political stability; when we face a threat far greater than any terrorist organization, we need thoughtful preparation and mitigation, not the GOP’s kindergarten-level squabbling. It’s too bad climate change wasn’t represented by a scary dictator and the possibility of an expensive war; the Republican caucus would have been beside themselves with enthusiasm.

Warren Senders