SINGING FOR THE PLANET — CANCELLED

The concert scheduled for tonight has had to be cancelled due to the ongoing Boston lockdown.

We may be able to reschedule…stay tuned.

Year 3, Month 1, Day 31: Just The Facts, Ma’am.

The Milford-Orange Bulletin (CT) runs an article detailing the work of a new group, http://forecastthefacts.org/ , which has called out a local TV weatherdude on his denialist stance:

As if broadcast meteorologists didn’t have enough pressure to get their forecasts right during the season of ice and snow, an advocacy group is slamming them for denying climate change. And one of the perceived offenders is Connecticut’s Geoff Fox of WTIC (Fox Connecticut), who in turn calls the people behind the group “zealots.”

{snip}

The group says that’s because the majority of meteorologists don’t believe in it. The online group (forecastthefacts.org) asks the public to sign on to the campaign to hold weathercasters accountable. It has a petition urging the American Meteorological Society to take a position on the facts of climate change and make it known to members.

Fox, a longtime forecaster in the Hartford-New Haven market who also does a science segment for WTIC, said Wednesday, “I’m not a denier, I’m a skeptic. The people who are advocating for global warming treat it like it’s a religion. So it’s like blasphemy (to question it).”

Good for forecastthefacts.org. This one was fun and easy to write. Sent January 25:

When it comes to climate change, there’s one absolutely sure bet: when someone says, “I’m not a denier, I’m a skeptic,” it means he’s a denier. Skepticism is a philosophical stance in which claims without verifiable evidence are rejected in favor of those which can be confirmed. Genuine climate skeptics are extremely rare, because the plethora of available evidence has convinced almost all of them that rising atmospheric CO2 levels are triggering a greenhouse effect, with potentially catastrophic consequences for human civilization. Climate deniers, by contrast, are a dime a dozen. They can be identified by their fondness for unsupported categorical statements, such as Geoff Fox’s, “the people who are advocating for global warming treat it like it’s a religion.”

The comparison is upside-down. Those who ignore the sound science of climate change are rejecting robust but disturbing evidence, in favor of debunked but comforting platitudes. In other words, deniers.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 12, Day 9: That’s Taghyir Al-manakh in Arabic

The New York Times delivers the ghastly news:

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by the largest amount on record last year, upending the notion that the brief decline during the recession might persist through the recovery.

Emissions rose 5.9 percent in 2010, according to an analysis released Sunday by the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists tracking the numbers. Scientists with the group said the increase, a half-billion extra tons of carbon pumped into the air, was almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, and the largest percentage increase since 2003.

I was only going to write to papers in the developing world while Durban was going on, but I just had to respond to this one. Sent December 5:

The inability of politics-as-usual to address the climate crisis is exemplified by the tired excuses for inaction on offer at the Durban climate conference. As the Global Carbon Project’s report makes clear, business-as-usual is well on the way to triggering a runaway greenhouse effect with consequences ranging from inconvenient to catastrophic.

Just over a decade ago, George Bush blithely disregarded a warning that Osama Bin Laden was planning attacks in the US, and on September eleventh, terrorists killed thousands and destroyed an architectural landmark. But failure to control greenhouse emissions will mean megadeaths; the loss of a building whose name evoked our global economy will pale into insignificance when that economy itself is shattered by the resource wars and political chaos sure to follow those rising temperatures. Even though they’ve been repeatedly warned of a real and terrifying threat, our politicians-as-usual can’t bring themselves to act.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 10, Day 5: Some Days These Letters Are No Damn Fun At All

The LA Times for September 30 reports on Rick Perry’s eagerness to embrace climate denial in all its forms:

At a New Hampshire town-hall style meeting, his first of the campaign, the Texas governor sparred Friday evening with a questioner who tried to pin him down on the issue. The man, whom Perry addressed as “Mike,” began by noting a 2011 report from a panel of experts chosen by the National Academy of Sciences, which concluded that climate change is occurring and “is very likely caused primarily by the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities.” The man noted that Perry had ducked—twice–when asked at the Reagan Library debate this month to name the scientists he found most credible on the subject.

Spending more than three seconds contemplating the vile opportunist that is Rick Perry is enough to send me screaming in search of a shower. Sent October 1:

Governor Perry’s rejection of climate change reflects the conservative base to which he must pander. In his public remarks on the subject, he’s frequently accused climate scientists of manipulating data in order to secure remunerative grants. Given the sordid history of Republican data-manipulation, this is projection at best, knowing hypocrisy at worst. Similarly, his readiness to accept the views of scientists when they bolster his preconceptions demonstrates that for Mr. Perry, like other GOP aspirants, ideology trumps reality.

Remember the Cheney doctrine that a miniscule chance of Iraqi WMDs was justification for an invasion? By all rules of logic, a similarly small probability that climate change is a genuine civilizational threat should galvanize us into action. However, since Republicans don’t “do” logic and are motivated only by nonexistent threats, the worldwide scientific consensus on climate change is sufficient only to trigger rhetorical posturing, and a grotesque rejection of genuine expertise.

Warren Senders

Year 2. Month 9, Day 8: Variations on a Theme (I)

The August 31 LA Times reports on the arrests of James Hansen and Darryl Hannah:

The arrest of actress Daryl Hannah at a protest this week outside the White House led to headlines. But it’s the detainment of NASA’s top scientist on climate change that’s generating talk.

James Hansen was arrested alongside Hannah and several other people at a sit-in to protest the Keystone XL project, a proposed $7-billion, 1,700-mile pipeline that would transport crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf Coast. Environmentalists fear the project will destroy pristine forests and pave the way for another devastating oil spill, but proponents say it will create jobs and reduce the nation’s reliance on oil from places such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

Hansen heads NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which examines such hot-button issues as climate change and humans’ effect on the planet. Before being taken away by authorities, Hansen used a microphone to urge President Obama to act “for the sake of your children and grandchildren” and stop the pipeline project, according to a Bloomberg report.

I want to shake Hansen’s hand. But this letter will have to do; it’s a variation on yesterday’s theme of “this ain’t no game.” Sent Sept. 3:

James Hansen’s assertion that burning the oil of the Canadian tar sands would mean “game over” for Earth’s climate is profoundly wrong.

Not because his science is faulty; if there’s anyone equipped to prognosticate about our planet’s future it’s the NASA climatologist, a man of enormous personal and intellectual integrity.

No — it’s because the future of Earthly life for the next million years is not “only a game.” There’s no replay button; we cannot shuffle and deal a second time. If anyone knows this, it’s Hansen; I’m sure he’s just trying to tell our political and media figures the scary truth in language that’s easier to grasp. While his words make the facts more accessible, they also deceive us into believing our species will get another chance to get it right. The scariest thing about this “game” is that humanity’s not going to get a mulligan: losing is forever.

Warren Senders

78 rpm Records of Indian Music: Kumar Birendra Narayan

Here is a beautiful pair of bansuri performances by Kumar Birendra Narayan, whom I gather was an important instrumentalist in Bengali light and film music, thanks to an en passant mention by Durbadal Chattopadhyay:

Since my father was a musician, many eminent personalities visited our place. He also had an orchestra of which I was the monitor. I started taking music lessons from several people in instruments like the banjo, piano and violin. Musicians like Kumar Birendra Narayan (flute), who accompanied SD Burman on numerous Bangla songs, AS Dubey and others were there. I learnt the violin from my father. Then I took lessons in classical music under the baton of Professor Robin Ghosh…
Link

He has beautiful classical chops; these are very attractive and lilting performances. Enjoy!

Raga “Pradeep” (Patdeep)

Thumri

Year 2, Month 6, Day 13: The Florida Land Bust

The Saint Petersburg Times has an excellent editorial citing Chicago’s greening programs as worthwhile models for Floridian cities. Governor Rick Scott, of course, is a typical denialist (and a crook, too!). Poor Florida — soon to be submerged:

As the New York Times recently reported, in 2006 then-Mayor Richard M. Daley embraced climatologist predictions the city was warming at such an alarming pace that by the end of this century Chicago could be facing as many as 72 days a year with temperatures in the 90s, along with increasing precipitation. So Chicago has embarked on a massive green initiative with increased tree plantings, environmentally sensitive building efforts and improved reclaimed water systems. And what of Florida, perhaps the most ecologically sensitive state in the union? For starters, there is Gov. Rick Scott, who doesn’t believe — despite proof to the contrary from the scientific community — that global warming even exists. As sea levels have risen, Tallahassee continues to whistle past the environmental graveyard, abolishing the Florida Energy and Climate Commission and even attempting to repeal the Florida Climate Protection Act on the dubious and misinformed logic it is no longer needed. While Chicago acknowledges global warming and develops forward-thinking strategies, Florida’s leaders ignore scientific reality even as the seas slowly and steadily erode the peninsula.

Good stuff. It’s always enjoyable to mock the twisted thinking of denialists. Too bad they’re for real. Sent May 30:

As the evidence for global climate change piles up ever higher, it would seem that conservative “skeptics” would eventually be won over to the side of science-based policy. To be sure, this does happen occasionally. But in general, this is not the way the denialist mind works. If past history is any guide, a far more likely response will be intensified advocacy of increasingly improbable and complex conspiracy theories. Al Gore heading an international cabal of climate scientists? Check. IPCC Director Rajendra Pachauri secretly planning a One-World Government, complete with mandatory re-education camps for SUV drivers? Check. The ninety-seven percent of the world’s climate experts who agree on the human causes of global warming and the terrifying threats it poses are, in the denialist mind, more likely to be avaricious hypocrites out to make a quick buck than conscientious scientists reporting their findings to the world. Projection, anyone?

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 5, Day 29: Happy Whatever.

Another response to the UK plan to reduce GG emissions 50% by 2027, this one going to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Sent May 17:

Britain’s plans for drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions show that at least one government in the industrialized West is taking the threat of climate change seriously — which implies that the UK’s political establishment is capable of thinking in the long term. America, however, is paralyzed — incapable of any meaningful response, let alone one that unleashes our country’s creative and adaptive potential. The climate-change denialists currently in controlling the House of Representatives have a pathological resistance to scientific evidence, a proven inability to think beyond the next electoral cycle, and fiscal ties to the fossil fuel industry — a deadly combination of ignorance, cupidity and shortsightedness that should be an immediate disqualification for any elected office in this country. With our country’s unique combination of expertise and imagination, we could handily outdo Great Britain in emissions reduction — if we can stop denying the existence of climate change.

Warren Senders

May 29 is my birthday. I’m 53.

Year 2, Month 4, Day 25: Speaking Of Good Examples

It’s always nice to see a whole nation do the right thing. Too bad it’s never the USA.

Developing countries taking the climate initiative
by Marwaan Macan-Markar
April 15, 2011

BANGKOK — Led by countries like Indonesia, 48 developing nations are rolling out a range of pledges to voluntarily cut their respective emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by 2020, the year climate scientists say the earth’s rising temperature should peak by if an environmental catastrophe is to be avoided.

Indonesian negotiators confirmed during a U.N. climate change conference here that Jakarta is prepared to cut its GHG emissions by 26 percent on its own accord. But that is not all: the world’s most populous Muslim country is prepared to increase emissions cuts to 41 percent if it receives development assistance that industrialised nations have committed to providing.

“It is a pledge that sends out an important message: Indonesia is prepared to do its share to shoulder the burden of reducing greenhouse gases,” says Shalimar Vitan, economic and justice campaigns coordinator for the East Asia office of Oxfam, the British humanitarian agency. “It also is informing the citizens of the country that Indonesia is eyeing a low carbon development agenda.”

This article was in the Madison Times (WI), and since Bill O’Reilly says Madison is full of “satan-worshipers” I guess I’m probably preaching to the choir in this letter, but what the heaven. Sent April 15:

Indonesia’s readiness to commit to drastic emissions reductions is an object lesson to the United States about the meaning of responsibility. Compared with the industrialized West, the island nation’s contribution to the climate crisis is quite small — but it will feel the effects sooner and more severely. If our nation suffered the effects of climate change proportionally to our contribution, we’d already be deep underwater. Climate-change deniers don’t want to face the environmental consequences of our fossil-fueled economic engine, and who can blame them? I wouldn’t want to face a future of increasingly severe weather, acidified oceans, devastated agriculture and crippled infrastructure either — but we oil- and coal-burning humans unwittingly started all those things. It’s time for Americans to face the reality of our national contribution to a global problem — and follow Indonesia’s lead in emissions reduction. Let’s be ethical citizens of the world — for a change.

Warren Senders