Making It Happen!

The Beauty of Khyal — A Recital of Night Ragas

I’m as happy with this recording as I’ve ever been. The recording session we did on August 16 of this year was wonderfully productive, and this CD represents the first installment of the raga performances Milind Pote, Chaitanya Kunte, and I laid down that night.

Please pitch in. You’ll love this music.

Year 4, Month 11, Day 30: Yep Rack, Doodli-doo-dah!

The Seattle Times is one of many papers reporting on Christiana Figueres’ words to coal producers:

WARSAW, Poland — In a speech Monday in Warsaw, the United Nations’ top officer on climate change warned coal-industry executives that much of the world’s coal will need to be left in the ground if international climate goals are to be met.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, spoke to industry leaders at the World Coal Summit, which the Polish government called somewhat incongruously to run at the same time as an important U.N. climate conference led by Figueres.

Poland relies on coal for nearly 90 percent of its electricity, and the government has upset the European mainstream by spurning efforts to slow the use of the fuel.

Figueres told the coal executives that they were putting the global climate and their shareholders at a “business continuation risk” by failing to support the search for alternative methods of producing energy.

So I dug out the “oldest thing in the world” letter, gave it a few tweaks, and sent it on its merry way. November 19:

For a moment, ignore the terrifying mathematics of climate change, and contemplate the mind-bending miracle manifested in the fossil fuels we burn so casually. Every therm from these sources is long-preserved sunlight from eons before humans emerged on Earth. Half a billion years ago, the Carboniferous era’s trees grew tall on the the sun’s light before they fell to the slowly accumulating forest floor, where over millions of years they gradually turned into oil and coal.

People everywhere regard the very old with reverence. Ancient documents, buildings hallowed by the passage of centuries, or songs transmitted through countless human generations — all these are rightly understood as reminders of our species’ long and inspiring saga. So how can we justify the casual consumption of sunlight a thousand times older than humanity?

Irresponsibly burning coal is not just an environmental catastrophe. It’s a grave insult to the antiquity of our planet.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 11, Day 29: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ……

Sheldon Whitehouse, mensch:

In the annals of congressional oratory, it didn’t rival Sen. Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster in March over drone policy. But last Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse marked a major milestone of his own — and one welcomed by environmentalists — when he delivered his 50th weekly address on climate change from the Senate floor.

Whitehouse gave his first “Time to Wake Up” address in April 2012. He has returned to the floor every week the Senate is in session to stand before C-Span cameras and shine the spotlight on an issue he says has been alarmingly neglected.

“I am here for the 50th time to urge my colleagues to wake up to what carbon pollution is doing to our atmosphere and our oceans,” he said at the outset of his speech. “Why do I do this? First because it’s real, it’s very real, it’s happening.”

He then turned to charts at his side to present evidence of increases in Earth’s surface temperatures.

In an interview before his speech, Whitehouse explained what motivated him a year and a half ago to launch the approximately 15-minute climate talks.

“I wanted to raise the profile of climate change. We had basically stopped talking about it and the climate-change deniers’ point of view really doesn’t last very well in the daylight,” he said. “It shrivels up under scrutiny. It does better in the dark and we were, I thought, cooperating by allowing the dark to shroud the issue.

Versions of this letter have had remarkable success over the past year or so. November 18:

Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago the Minutemen woke to a midnight alarm and became part of our nation’s history. Responding to the calls of Paul Revere, these patriots helped usher in a new nation, conceived in liberty — while powerfully demonstrating the usefulness of early-alert systems. Now, in the face of a craven political establishment and a lazy media, even more urgent warnings are coming from the world’s climatologists — and from a few unbought politicians like Sheldon Whitehouse.

The accelerating greenhouse effect, if unchecked, will bring incredible damage to our civilization: disrupted agriculture, rising sea levels, huge loss of biodiversity, and extreme storms like Haiyan (Filipinos don’t need reminders of the dangers of climate change).

While the public’s attention is diverted by phony scandals and nubile starlets, a latter-day Revere tries to wake us. Will we listen to Senator Whitehouse — or punch the snooze button once again?

Warren Senders


Year 4, Month 11, Day 28: God Loves Poor People, Huh?

The New York Times addresses the festering rhinoceros in the room: the economic inequities that are exacerbated by climate change:

WARSAW — Following a devastating typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, a routine international climate change conference here turned into an emotional forum, with developing countries demanding compensation from the worst polluting countries for damage they say they are already suffering.

Calling the climate crisis “madness,” the Philippines representative vowed to fast for the duration of the talks. Malia Talakai, a negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, a group that includes her tiny South Pacific homeland, Nauru, said that without urgent action to stem rising sea levels, “some of our members won’t be around.”

From the time a scientific consensus emerged that human activity was changing the climate, it has been understood that the nations that contributed least to the problem would be hurt the most. Now, even as the possible consequences of climate change have surged — from the typhoons that have raked the Philippines and India this year to the droughts in Africa, to rising sea levels that threaten to submerge entire island nations — no consensus has emerged over how to rectify what many call “climate injustice.”

Makes me wanna holler — hold up both my hands…November 17:

Global warning’s cruel irony is that the greenhouse emissions triggering the crisis are an unanticipated consequence of industrial and technological changes which have benefited the world’s most privileged, while it is the economically and politically disenfranchised billions who have already begun to feel the consequences, losing their lands, their hopes, and their lives.

In comparison to that of the developed nations, the carbon output of the Philippines is statistically insignificant, yet its citizens are now facing massive devastation from a tropical storm of unprecedented magnitude — just the sort of extreme weather event which climatologists have been predicting for years as a consequence of the intensifying greenhouse effect.

Unlike earlier genocides carried out under the aegis of economic expansion and colonialism, climate change’s impact on the world’s poorest people wasn’t planned. But this does not absolve the developed world of responsibility for the havoc wreaked and the damage wrought.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 11, Day 27: Dove Beneath My Floating Home

The San Francisco Chronicle offers a grim prognosis on the planet’s oceans:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Greenhouse gases are making the world’s oceans hot, sour and breathless, and the way those changes work together is creating a grimmer outlook for global waters, according to a new report Wednesday from 540 international scientists.

The world’s oceans are getting more acidic at an unprecedented rate, faster than at any time in the past 300 million years, the report said. But it’s how this interacts with other global warming impacts to waters that scientists say is getting them even more worried.

Scientists already had calculated how the oceans had become 26 percent more acidic since the 1880s because of the increased carbon in the water. They also previously had measured how the world’s oceans had warmed because of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas. And they’ve observed that at different depths the oceans were moving less oxygen around because of the increased heat.

But together “they actually amplify each other,” said report co-author Ulf Riebesell, a biochemist at the Geomar Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Germany. He said scientists are increasingly referring to the ocean’s future prospects as “hot, sour and breathless.”

But hey, Al Gore is fat. And Miley Cyrus! November 16:

Industrial civilization’s CO2 emissions are making the oceans which gave us life into deserts. Surely this is more important than the latest scandal du jour? If oceanic acidification was a nubile starlet shaking her fanny on national television, we’d be discussing it full-time, mulling over the implications for our culture, our values, and our civilization. If the accelerating greenhouse effect was a royal baby, we’d be reading about it in every checkout line in the nation. Our celebrity-obsessed mass media has helped us become an ADD nation, distracted from genuine challenges by faux news, factoids, and infotainment.

If humanity is to survive the consequences of our profligacy and wastefulness, we must start by acknowledging the threat’s reality, and the fact that meaningful action on the climate crisis involves us all. And our media must fulfill their responsibilities: to the once-revered ideals of journalism, and to our species’ survival.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 11, Day 26: All A Friend Can Say Is “Ain’t It A Shame.”

The Financial Times gives Jeffrey Sachs a podium:

…Unlike other cases of policy delay, the costs of delay on climate change are not just lost time but also lost opportunity. As the world talks the atmosphere fills with greenhouse gases. The chances of meeting a 2C target will disappear imminently unless a strategy is put in place. This makes the lobbying by the fossil fuel industries against control measures even more understandable. They are not just buying time; they are trying to burn through the targets.

It’s a good article. I recycled the letter that went to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer a few days ago. November 16:

It is a powerful irony that business and financial communities frequently assert that actions to mitigate climate change and prepare for its inevitable impacts would cause economic damage, while ridiculing environmentalists as “unrealistic.” This demonstrates only that some of the world’s most powerful economic actors are unable to conceive of time spans beyond the next financial quarter.

There’s nothing “unrealistic” about reinforcing infrastructure, updating our power grid, moving the global energy economy away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels, and rewarding waste-free manufacturing. These practices are ways to invest in the future, to minimize damage and preserve the best that our society has to offer. Climate scientists are unambiguous in their warnings to the world: there are rough times ahead, and Typhoon Haiyan is an example of what we can expect as the greenhouse effect continues to intensify. If you know a storm is coming, preparing for it is pure common sense. The corporate sector needs to learn ways of thinking that are focused not on immediate profit, but on the long-term survival of our civilization — and our species.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 11, Day 25: It Ain’t Necessarily So

The Christian Post gives column space to Pastor Darren Ferguson, who wants his flock to start facing the facts:

Whenever talking heads and political pundits start debating climate change, I honestly wish that I could turn the clock back one year and a few days to when Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast. Rush Limbaugh and other climate change deniers would likely be saying drastically different things if they had spent a few days here with us in Far Rockaway, NY. They would have trouble explaining the fact that in this New York City peninsula where I live and pastor a church, the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica Bay had not met in over 50 years, but that is exactly what they did on October 29th, 2012.

I would invite them to read climatologist Dr. Kevin Trenberth’s article, Hurricane Sandy mixes super-storm conditions with climate change, in which he says that “the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change” is “the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be.” I would invite them to listen as I advocate within my church and community for environmental stewardship, which, in my opinion, means that we have to be faithful with the earth that God has given us. Finally, I would invite them to walk through my “hood” to see homes still abandoned one year later, families still displaced one year later; a community devastated and families still fragmented one year later. These are the human and communal costs of our continued faithlessness – the effects of what Christians call sin – to our inattention to, and destruction of, our environment and planet.

I know it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be published in the Christian Post, but I didn’t mention my atheism in this letter. Let’s see. November 15:

Darren Ferguson’s plea for evangelical Christians to recognize the reality of global climate change is a welcome embrace of science-based public policy in the United States — something which communities of faith too often reject. Make no mistake: the accelerating greenhouse effect is a scientific fact — predicted over a hundred years ago, confirmed by experiment and observation, and strongly correlated with industrialized civilization’s CO2 emissions. By the way, the language of researchers is always measured and precise; phrases like “strongly correlated” are how scientists shout.

It bodes ill for our nation and the world that the undisciplined and vociferous voices of climate-change denial are still louder than the soft and careful words of the scientific community — and it reflects poorly on the faithful that those voices are overwhelmingly those of religious fundamentalists.

The “historian” David Barton, a prominent public face of evangelical Christianity, recently stated that global warming is real, but claimed it’s Divine punishment for abortions rather than the result of accumulated greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere. Such absurd assertions (does Mr. Barton really believe that if we outlawed abortion, God would re-freeze the Arctic?) do a grave disservice to the faith of people like Pastor Ferguson — a man who’s faced the climate crisis personally and is in no doubt about the dangers it poses.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 11, Day 24: They’re Selling Postcards Of The Hanging

The Greenville News (SC) discusses climatic impacts on the dear old Southland:

Dow said higher temperatures could have a variety of impacts on the region and South Carolina, ranging from more diseases in fish to making air quality worse in the Columbia area as smog-forming pollutants rise. Rising temperatures and drought will make crops thirstier. That will make it harder to grow crops without irrigation, the study said.

Even so, state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley was skeptical about the consequences for South Carolina.

“If you’re talking about (rising temperatures) causing disease and famine, and so forth, that’s simply not the case,” he said. “All you have to do is look to other states with a slightly warmer climate.”

“There’s a reason why a lot of people move to Florida.”

If I lived in South Carolina, I’d move anywhere else in the world, just to get the fuck away from Larry Grooms. November 14:

South Carolina and the rest of America’s South aren’t alone in facing the disastrous impacts of global climate change. All over the planet, from deserts to mountains, people are finally grappling with the facts of steadily more unpredictable and extreme weather, increasingly disrupted agricultural schedules, and reduced crop yields.

There is one place, however, which is well-protected from the consequences of a runaway greenhouse effect. The offices and conference rooms of the Republican Party are insulated from the outside world by vast quantities of corporate money. To these folks, climate change can be a liberal conspiracy, a plot for one-world government, a running joke about Al Gore, a chance for anti-taxation demagoguery — anything but a grave danger to our civilization and our survival as a species.

After another few decades of rising temperatures, Senator Larry Grooms’ quip about people moving to Florida probably won’t seem so funny. Politicians who deny the realities of climate science are ensuring catastrophic outcomes for their constituents — and the rest of the world.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 11, Day 23: But They Are Always Right In The Beginning

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer (OH) tries to make some sort of point:

There is no question Typhoon Haiyan was devastating — some declared it one of the most powerful storms in recorded history. It reportedly had sustained winds near 150 mph and a storm surge of 20 feet. (Some reports say wind gusts exceeded 200 mph.) Initial reports predicting up to 10,000 dead have been scaled back to 2,000 to 2,500 by President Benigno Aquino III. The storm still wiped out large sections of cities and towns, displacing thousands, and has led to an urgent call for aid for survivors.

It also has climate watchers wondering if Haiyan is just the beginning. Like Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Haiyan’s strength and destructive impact is bringing warnings of even more powerful storms in the future because of changes in the climate.

Yeb Sano, the head of the Philippines delegation at the United Nations climate talks currently under way in Warsaw, made it clear where he stands. In a speech Monday, Sano said he will stop eating until “meaningful” progress is made on climate change. From the BBC:

“In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this Cop, until a meaningful outcome is in sight. What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness, the climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness right here in Warsaw.”

Bruce McQuain, writing for the website, offers sympathy to Sano and the people suffering in the Philippines. But he also says Sano is wrong about the UN taking action on climate change and says it’s not necessary. McQuain warns that proposed measures to reduce carbon emissions would “ruin” economies and bring only marginal results…

Because a conservative douchebag writing on has so much credibility it’s just awesome. November 13:

Self-styled fiscal conservatives who loudly proclaim that meaningful actions to address climate change would hurt economies simply demonstrate their own inability to think in timespans longer than the next quarterly report. Strategies like strengthening infrastructure, decentralizing our power grid, shifting the global energy economy to renewable sources, and developing less wasteful manufacturing practices are all sound investments in a longer-term future; they are the large-scale equivalent of preparing for flooding by reinforcing levees and stockpiling sandbags, steps which deficit hawks would no doubt deride as too costly or economically damaging.

The science is unequivocal, despite the natterings of denialists. There is no more uncertainty about the human causes of climate change — and the dangers it presents to our civilization — than there is about the causal link between smoking and cancer. Anticipating the damage from a climate-transformed world, and working proactively to minimize its extent, is fiscal common sense. Even more important, it’s the right thing to do for the posterity of our species.

Warren Senders


Year 4, Month 11, Day 22: The Only Thing Gonna Make ’em Mad is I Got The Gang They Wish They Had

The New Zealand Herald News reports on doings in their parliament in response to Typhoon Haiyan:

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman has used a motion of support for the typhoon-ravaged Philippines to argue that climate change is responsible for the massive storm.

Prime Minister John Key proposed this afternoon that the House express its support and solidarity for the Philippines government and population in the aftermath of the devastating Typhoon Hiyain, which has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

In his speech, Dr Norman said that the best way to acknowledge the deaths in the region was to read a statement from one of the country’s officials, the head of the Philippines climate change delegation at United Nations talks in Poland.

The statement by delegate Yeb Sano, which was made this morning in Warsaw, said: “What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness, the climate crisis is madness.”

Dr Norman said science had shown that warmer global temperatures would generate more intense and more frequent tropical storms.

National MPs cried “shame” and claimed that the Greens co-leader was making a political speech.

I sure wish we had a viable green party here in the US. October 12:

Scientists will never attribute typhoon Haiyan unequivocally to climate change, because science doesn’t work that way. Climatologists have proven the causal connection between human CO2 emissions and the rapidly accelerating greenhouse effect to a very high degree of confidence (approximately the same level of certainty links smoking with lung cancer and emphysema), and they’ve demonstrated that this same greenhouse effect is essentially “loading the dice” for more, and more severe, storms. But they can’t unambiguously tell us that the devastation in the Philippines is the fault of global heating.

When the overwhelming majority of the world’s experts on climate tell us we need to drastically reduce our greenhouse emissions, using normal statistical uncertainty to justify inaction is as absurd as rejecting an oncologist’s advice in the wake of a diagnosed malignancy because she can’t tell us with absolute confidence that a particular tumor was triggered by a particular cigarette.

Warren Senders