Year 4, Month 2, Day 28: Right Now, Over Me…

The Loveland Reporter-Herald (CO) runs a thoughtful op-ed by a smart young man named Reid Maynard. He’s in high school:

Before opening our discussion, let us leave some baggage behind. Let us release prejudices regarding media misinformation, sensationalism and hypocritical vice presidents.

With minds unhindered, let us approach the table and discuss climate change. Much passionate argument emerges in this debate with logic and demagoguery on both sides, but it presents high stakes and sacrifices for all generations: adult, youth and child. Therefore, we must carefully consider the subject without the stain of bias.

The existence of climate change is no longer a debate. Simply observe modern evidence, such as the fact that nations now dispute maritime boundaries in the Arctic as shipping routes emerge where ice once reigned. Today, politicians and pundits argue about causes. Most researchers agree that human activity exacerbates this phenomenon, accelerating change beyond natural pace. Others dispute anthropogenic change and insist that mitigation creates unacceptable costs. Throw in lobbyists, profiteers and screaming extremists and we have painful gridlock.

I could have done without the dig at Al Gore. But rahne do, he’s a good kid. We need more like him. Feb 19:

When it comes to the long-term future of our species, we ignore the voices of the young at our peril. Even as the market-driven consumer economy encourages us to adopt the short-term mindset of immediate gratification, thoughtful young people cannot ignore the damage this is doing to the planet and the environment upon which all of us depend. They see, all too clearly, that a lifestyle based on continuous consumption will end by consuming us all; as Reid Maynard demonstrates in his op-ed column, they understand that there are no easy options.

And what of us, their parents and grandparents? If we are prepared to accept the facts of global heating — no matter how uncomfortable, disquieting, or inconvenient — then we can collaborate with our children in solving the problems of survival and prosperity in a transformed world. On the other hand, if we reject the science of climate change because it conflicts with our preconceptions and ideologies, we are no longer partners, but adversaries.

It’s up to us.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 2, Day 27: I Don’t Like You…

The Detroit Free Press reports on February 17th’s climate rally in DC:

WASHINGTON — In what was billed as the largest climate rally in U.S. history, thousands of people marched past the White House on Sunday to urge President Obama to reject a controversial pipeline and take other steps to fight climate change.

Organizers, including the Sierra Club, estimated that more than 35,000 people from 30-plus states — some dressed as polar bears — endured frigid temperatures to join the “Forward on Climate” rally, although the crowd size could not be confirmed. Their immediate target is Obama’s final decision, expected soon, on the Keystone XL oil pipeline that would carry tar sands from Canada through several U.S. states.

“This movement’s been building a long time. One of the things that’s built it is everybody’s desire to give the president the support he needs to block this Keystone pipeline,” Bill McKibben, founder of the environmental activist group,, said as protesters gathered on the National Mall.

Read the comments on the article to get your stomach churning. February 18:

In the aftermath of America’s largest-ever demonstration for environmental causes, it’s worth remembering what we were doing ten years ago.

In the run-up to the Iraq war, politicians and media outlets hammered relentlessly on the potential for a global conflagration ignited by Saddam’s WMDs, and the expression of doubt was considered a moral failing. Lost in the hullabaloo was the fact that credible intelligence about the purported threat was nonexistent; now that a decade has passed, we’re eager to forget our national credulity.

Climate change offers precisely the inverse situation. Here is a genuinely civilizational threat, backed up by mountains of credible intelligence from thousands of different sources. If our politicians and media cared about a real danger as much as they did about a spurious one, we’d see an entirely different set of stories on the daily news, and an entirely different set of policy responses from Capitol Hill.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 2, Day 26: Trying To Make A Dovetail Joint…

Enjoy Mount Hood skiing and snowboarding while you can — your children and grandchildren may not get the same chance.

Oregon’s winter tourism industry is imperiled by climate change and diminishing snowfall patterns, according to a recent study.

It could be that within 50 years, only the upper ski areas of Mt. Hood will be available for snow sports, says Angus Duncan, chairman of the Oregon Global Warming Commission. “If you look at some of the time-series photos of the glaciers on Mount Hood in the last 50 years, you can see where the glaciers are melting away,” Duncan says.

In the past decade, 38 states have suffered a cumulative $1 billion loss and 37,000 fewer jobs as a result of diminishing snowfall, according to a Dec. 6 report by advocacy groups Protect Our Winters and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The study was conducted by University of New Hampshire researchers Elizabeth Burakowski and Matthew Magnusson. They wanted to help policy makers understand the ski and snowmobile industry’s economic importance and the potential economic impacts of climate change.

Skiing and snowboarding had a $482 million economic impact in Oregon in 2010-11— accounting for 6,772 jobs — according to a new report by the University of Oregon.

I’m refurbishing the “(insert state) isn’t alone” letter over and over; trying to build up a backlog so when I go to India later this year I can take a few weeks off and not fall behind. Feb 17:

When it comes to feeling the increased impact of global heating, Oregon’s got plenty of company. Whether it’s vanishing snowpacks, crippling droughts, unseasonal monsoons in Asia, or invasive insect infestations, the consequences of the accelerating greenhouse effect are getting harder to ignore. While a few communities and regions may see temporary benefits, the long-term struggle to cope with a radically transformed climate offers some of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced.

If there is a positive aspect to the metastasizing climate crisis, it’s that we humans may finally be forced to recognize that what we do today in our own neighborhoods can — and will — affect the lives of others, even if they’re distant in space and time. To ensure happiness and prosperity for our descendants, we must recognize that in the face of the gathering storm, political boundaries and cultural differences are irrelevant.

Warren Senders


Year 4, Month 2, Day 25: A Donkey And A Ditch

The Times-Record-News of Wichita Falls, TX is reporting on drought conditions in Oklahoma – and the fact that the state’s recent minor snowfall isn’t going to help a whole heck of a lot:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Recent snowfall of 5 to 6 inches in parts of western Oklahoma and lighter amounts in the remainder of the state did little to alleviate ongoing drought conditions, according to a state climatologist.

Still, any moisture is giving hope to wheat farmers as the crop emerges in advance of a harvest that typically begins in June.

“We do have some improvement, both from the rain and the snow,” said David Gammill, who has about 1,300 acres of wheat planted near Grandfield in southwestern Oklahoma, one of the areas hardest hit by drought. “There was from a half inch to .9 rain in the area. It has perked the wheat up considerably in the area.”

Cattlemen, however, “are still in dire need of water” for dry ponds, Gammill said.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows 87 percent of Oklahoma in extreme or exceptional drought, the two most severe categories, with exceptional drought continuing in the western third of the state and across the northern tier of counties, an area making up nearly 40 percent of Oklahoma. Counties along the far eastern border were in severe drought, the drought monitor reported.

James Inhofe! Feb. 17:

If the parched Oklahoma earth could only watch television, it would have a chance to hear Senator Inhofe’s reassurances that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by world-government environmentalists out to confiscate all our SUVs. If herds of cattle seeking water could only read the news, they’d feel reassured that the ongoing drought that has dessicated huge swaths of American farmland is all a fabrication of the liberal media. If wheatfields slowly baking in the heat only knew “the truth” about global warming…

Of course, wheat, corn, and cows already know that Earth is getting hotter. And as the temperature rises, we’ll experience droughts, heat waves, and extreme weather of all sorts — all of which are going to impact the agricultural sector in ways we’ve barely begun to imagine. The question is, can James Inhofe and other conservative climate-change denialists figure out what the Oklahoma ground is telling them — or are they, quite literally, dumber than dirt?

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 2, Day 24: Things Would Be Very Different If They Were Not As They Are

The UK Guardian reports on a scientist who’s not on my gift list this year:

America will only achieve the ambitious climate change goals outlined by President Barack Obama last week by encouraging wide-scale fracking for natural gas over the next few years. That is the advice of one of the nation’s senior scientists, Professor William Press, a member of the president’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Fracking – known officially as hydraulic fracturing – involves pumping high-pressure water through underground rocks to release natural gas trapped deep underground. It is believed that there are vast reserves of these subterranean gas fields across the US.

Thousands of wells have already been drilled in Texas, leading to a substantial rise in the use of natural gas in the US and a major decline in the burning of coal, a far more serious cause of carbon pollution. However, fracking is also controversial. Environmentalists say it can lead to the contamination of underground water reservoirs and the pollution of the surface with chemicals used to help to release subterranean gas stores. They also point out that burning natural gas releases carbon dioxide.

The concluding analogy leapt to my mind as I sat down to write. February 16:

Backers of natural gas as a tool in the fight against climate change have adopted an extractive technique that is wasteful, resource intensive, and environmentally hazardous. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has in only a few years’ time accumulated a troubling history of communities and ecosystems destroyed. A study released in Scientific American in early 2012 confirmed that hydrofracturing releases significant quantities of methane, and families living near fracking sites discover that their tap water is foul-smelling, discolored, and highly flammable, all strong indicators what was touted as a climate-friendly and ecologically benign process is anything but.

In 1895, morphine addiction was a serious social and medical problem, and the Bayer pharmaceutical company introduced a new drug as a “non-addictive” substitute — diacetylmorphine, marketed under the trade name of “Heroin.” Let’s remember how well that worked out for everybody before we unquestioningly accept the claims of William Press and other natural gas advocates.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 2, Day 23: Helplessly Hoping…

Another group of socialist hippie treehuggers heard from:

As climate change leads to more frequent and destructive natural disasters and threatens crop yields, bridges and other infrastructure, the federal government faces big financial risks that it is poorly positioned to address, auditors said Thursday.

These risks, along with the threat of gaps in critical weather forecasting satellites that could last years, topped a biennial list released Thursday of federal programs at high risk of waste, fraud, abuse or financial loss.

“The federal government is terribly exposed to this change,” Gene L. Dodaro, comptroller general and director of the Government Accountability Office, said in announcing why climate change made his agency’s high-risk list. “The government needs a much more strategic and centralized approach.”

Not that we’re gonna get one, of course. Feb 15:

If we needed yet another demonstration of how Congressional inaction is causing grave harm to our nation, we need look no further than the GAO report confirming that climate change is a financial disaster in progress. Damage to government infrastructure is only one part of the picture, but it’s a big part — and failure to address the problem in a timely fashion is going to cost taxpayers untold billions of dollars.

In fact, addressing climate change in a “timely fashion” would have required us to get started three decades ago, and the cold equations of a warming atmosphere now leave us no wiggle room. The irresponsible delay-and-deny tactics of conservative legislators beholden to the fossil fuel industry are pushing the price of governmental gridlock ever higher. If Congress can’t lead, they’ll have to follow; if they can’t do either, they’ll have to simply get out of the way. Immediately.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 2, Day 22: The Fire This Time

USA Today links the sensitive fee-fees of the god-botherers to the environmental crisis in a touching piece entitled, “God and Climate Change.”

Today, new prophets tell us that our modern sins will lead to rising seas, stronger hurricanes and longer droughts. If we don’t reform our sinful ways, global catastrophe on a biblical scale looms. Billy Graham could hardly have said it better.

Hearing God’s call

In traditional Christian theology, there are two direct ways to access the thinking of God: the “Book of the Bible” and the “Book of Nature.”

Until Charles Darwin, Christians believed that the earth was not much changed from its creation about 6,000 years ago, meaning the design of the natural world offered a glimpse into the mind of God. John Calvin would thus write that God “daily discloses himself in the whole workmanship of the universe.” The plant and animal kingdoms are “burning lamps” that “shine for us … the glory of its author.” To eliminate a species or damage the earth is to limit our knowledge of God.

In some ways, environmentalism should be seen as a secularized version of Calvinism, minus God. Obama has brought God back into the environmental conversation, even if his theological knowledge is incomplete.

Go ahead. Tell me I’m angry. Tell me something I don’t know. February 14:

To the extent that their creeds encourage them to act in the interests of our collective survival, religious believers are important participants in the struggle against devastating climate change. But the sword of faith cuts both ways; the fact is that most major world religions deny the reality and finality of the world, viewing it instead as an illusory prelude to a hypothetical afterlife. Whether in the extreme form of those eagerly anticipating the fiery Armageddon described in Revelations, or in the less apocalyptic thinking of religious liberals who simply wish that death wasn’t so, um, deadly, these eschatologies are ultimately incompatible with the idea of long-term sustainability.

Climate change is a global phenomenon unintentionally created by human behavior and detected by human perceptions; it won’t be solved by the prayers of the faithful but by the concerted work of billions of humans seeking to preserve their shared planetary heritage.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 2, Day 21: Hey-Ho, Make You Lose Your Mind…

Ann appears to be an online paper servicing (duh!) Ann Arbor, MI. They note big problems ahead with the state’s fruit growers:

As climate change takes hold, Michigan’s orchards may increasingly fall victim to the spring thaw-and-freeze pattern that devastated fruit crops last year, scientists said Tuesday.

The grim prognosis is part of a broader evaluation of the likely effects of a warming climate being developed by federal and university scientists. It predicts that more intense flooding, heat stress, drought and other extreme weather will take a toll on Midwestern agriculture.

“The trends we’re observing are a bit disturbing,” Jeff Andresen, Michigan’s state climatologist, said during a conference in Ann Arbor where he and other experts outlined the latest findings of the National Climate Assessment, which integrates the most recent scientific research on climate change and is updated every four years. A draft is being circulated for public review.

Temperatures soared into the 80s across much of the state last March, causing cherry, apple and other fruit trees to sprout blooms that were killed the next month during a series of frosts and freezes. Crop damage exceeded 90 percent in some areas. Michigan State University estimated losses to farmers at $223 million.

Same damn letter I’ve used before, with the serial numbers filed off. I’m tired and rushed today. Sent February 13:

Michigan’s got company. It’s not just fruit growers, but agriculturalists everywhere in the world who are facing hard evidence that climate change is no future-tense abstraction, but a present-tense fact. And it’s not just orchards and fields and plantations that are coming under threat from the accelerating greenhouse effect and its consequences. Extreme weather will inevitably damage or destroy parts of America’s vulnerable infrastructure — and crippled roads, bridges, and utility systems can hurt farmers just as much as a storm or drought.

However, there are a few places left where the climate crisis is making no impact whatsoever. Thanks to their fossil-fuel sponsors, the plush, air-conditioned chambers of Republican politicians are well-insulated against the facts. Anti-science conservatives may hail from all over America, but the state of Denial is grossly over-represented in our country’s politics. Michigan deserves better. All of us do.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 2, Day 20: I Am The Eggman! I Am The Walrus

The Cumberland County Daily Journal (NJ) notes that victims of Sandy are agitating for the President to address climate change in the SOTU (which will be long past, by the time this page appears on the site):

WASHINGTON — Congressional lawmakers from New Jersey want President Barack Obama to address a variety of issues, including the deficit, the sluggish economy, immigration reform, climate change and gun violence, in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

“Without a doubt the No. 1 issue confronting the nation is the state of the economy, and it’s not nearly as strong as any of us would like,” said GOP Rep. Leonard Lance. “I’d like to hear him focus on that.”

Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone named the economy as the top issue, but said he also wants the president to address immigration reform, gun violence and climate change.

Action on climate change is “important for the shore” and is a job-creator, he said.

Alyssa Durnien of Keansburg couldn’t agree more. She joined a group of Hurricane Sandy victims at a news conference in front of the White House on Monday to call on Obama to address climate change in his address before Congress.

“My message to Obama is, instead of flying over my community, put on a pair of boots and come see what it’s like,” she said. “I want him to see the devastation that is still there 98 days after the storm.”

We badly need to change how we think about economics, don’t we? Sent February 12:

Perhaps the single most pervasive misconception in our politics today is the notion that the interests of the environment and the economy are opposed. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, the consumer economy is predicated on the desirability of infinite expansion, but an obvious impossibility on a finite planet. The true measure of economic health is not continuous growth, but long-term sustainability — which is obviously aligned with the policy initiatives necessary to respond to the threat of climate change.

Those who lost their homes to Superstorm Sandy can testify that global warming is not an abstraction. The ramifications of the accelerating greenhouse effect are destroying agriculture, infrastructure, and ecosystems all over the world — and without these resources intact, our economic longevity can be measured in months. Earth needs people to preserve environmental “capital” for our descendants, not simply turning a quick profit, heedless of the consequences.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 2, Day 19: Can’t Do Nothin’ Without The Man.

The Boston Herald reports that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is arguing in favor of buried power lines. Given that the power lines currently have about 200 kg of ice on them, that’s not such a bad idea:

SCITUATE – Gov. Deval Patrick this morning called for a sweeping review of the cost to bury power lines underground as the weekend’s storm left 100,000 Bay Staters still without electricity and more than 1,000 still in shelters.

“I am personally very interested in seeing a real analysis done on the cost to bury utilities underground. I know it’s expensive, but I have to believe that with the cost of recovery, the disruption to personal and work lives over time and given the increased frequency of storms of this severity,” it’s worth a review, Patrick said.

Early Monday, an estimated 100,000 Bay Staters were still without power and approximately 1,500 storm-displaced people were still in shelters.

With fiercer weather events predicted, and the state’s history of long-lasting power outages, the governor said, “We need to start thinking long term about how we adjust. Meteorologists are telling us that we’re going to see more storms like this, and so we are going to have to start thinking, long term, about how we address this,” Patrick said from this hard-hit town’s high school, where more than 100 residents rode out Superstorm Nemo.

But since climate change isn’t real, this is going to cost too much. Sent February 11:

When Governor Patrick, arguing for underground power lines in the Commonwealth, says that “meteorologists are telling us that we’re going to see more storms like this,” what he’s really talking about, of course, is climate change. Rising sea levels and increased atmospheric humidity are going to make the next generation of hurricanes and snowstorms into massive events. The prospect of a Nemo-sized storm once or twice every winter is an excellent argument for putting as many electrical lines underground as possible — as fast as possible.

States on the frontline of the transforming climate will have to work rapidly to avert catastrophic consequences over the coming decades. But there is another strategy which has outlived its usefulness: the attempt by conservative politicians and media to deny the obvious facts of a rapidly transforming climate. Climate-change denialists are on the wrong side of science, and the wrong side of history.

Warren Senders