Year 4, Month 9, Day 29: Daisy, Daisy, Give Me Your Answer, Do…

The same Cal Thomas column, this time in the Winona Daily News (MN):

Yet the climate change cultists continue to focus on melting polar ice caps and “displaced” polar bears as part of their emotional appeal for government to “fix” the problem. Now comes a report in the UK Daily Mail that “eminent scientists” have observed a record return of the Arctic ice cap as it grows by 60 percent in a year, covering with ice almost 1 million more square miles of ocean than in 2012.

Recycling yesterday’s letter, and making it better, too. September 21:

Ignorance may be bliss, but in today’s information-rich world, it’s no longer excusable, especially when the issue is as fraught with consequences as global climate change. As a representative of the professionally ignorant whose work demands that they remain uninformed, Cal Thomas is an exemplar of intellectual and ethical bankruptcy. His discussion of the increase in polar ice coverage since 2012 is a perfect example, for if Mr. Thomas really cared about it, he could have learned a great deal with a few minutes of research. Unfortunately for his readers, and for the broader national discussion of this important issue, he chose to remain ignorant.

When discussing how Arctic ice expands and contracts over time, there are two things to keep in mind. First, while the surface area with ice cover has indeed increased, it’s much, much thinner than ever before — not by any imaginings a good sign. And second, while year-to-year numbers may fluctuate, the trend over decades has been an accelerating decrease. If a terminal patient gains a couple of pounds, that’s a good day, not a remission.

Mr. Thomas’ simplistic misrepresentation of a planetary crisis does us all a disservice.

Warren Senders


Year 4, Month 9, Day 28: If You Lived Here, You’d Be An Idiot

Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas is a moron, and he does it for a living. Here’s his column printed in the Clarksville, TN Leaf-Chronicle:

Most bad weather – from hurricanes, which have been few this season, to tornadoes – are unwelcome by those in their paths, but these weather phenomena have existed for centuries. Both sides seem to agree that CO2 levels are elevated, but they don’t agree on whether that will cause dangerous climate change, including rising temperatures and turbulent weather. The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) argues, “The human effect is likely to be small relative to natural variability, and whatever small warming is likely to occur will produce benefits as well as costs.”

Yet the climate change cultists continue to focus on melting polar ice caps and “displaced” polar bears as part of their emotional appeal for government to “fix” the problem. Now comes a report in the UK Daily Mail that “eminent scientists” have observed a record return of the Arctic ice cap as it grows by 60 percent in a year, covering with ice almost 1 million more square miles of ocean than in 2012.

In 2007, the BBC reported that by 2013, global warming would leave the Arctic “ice free.” Oops!

Useless. The present-day commentariat is useless. September 20:

Ignorance is excusable, for it can always be corrected. But professional ignorance — deliberately choosing to stay uninformed for purely financial reasons — is both intellectually and morally beyond the pale. Cal Thomas’ attempt to discredit climate scientists by citing an increase in polar ice coverage over last year is a perfect example of the latter; if Mr. Thomas was really interested in understanding the mechanisms by which Arctic ice expands and contracts over time, he could have informed himself with a few minutes’ research — but he’s well-paid to remain ignorant, and we are all the losers thereby.

Two simple points need to be made about polar ice. First, while the surface area covered by ice has indeed grown since last year, the overall trend has been steadily downward. A cancer patient who’s losing weight may gain a few pounds occasionally on a good day, but that doesn’t mean the disease is cured. Second, that expanded surface area is much, much thinner than it’s ever been; like ice cream on a hot sidewalk, it spreads out over a wide area.

Mr. Thomas does his readers a disservice with a simplistic misrepresentation of a genuinely dangerous planetary reality.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 9, Day 27: As He Gives It To Her She Begins To Sing

Meet Rep. David McKinley, who made an idiot of himself at the recent hearing on climate change, as reported in the Charleston Gazette (WV):

McKinley cited data showing that there is now 60 percent more ice in the Arctic than there was at this time last year, when ice levels hit a record low.

However, levels of Arctic ice are still substantially below historical averages. As of this week, there were about 1.5 million square kilometers less Arctic ice than there has been, on average, for the past 30 years, according to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, a research center at the University of Colorado.

McKinley and others pointed to a recent slowdown in temperature rises over the past several years as evidence that man-made greenhouse gas emissions might not be contributing to climate change.

Moniz pointed to a study in the journal “Nature,” published in August, showing the slowdown to be a product of short-term weather trends.

“Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La Niña-like decadal cooling,” that study concluded. “The multi-decadal warming trend is very likely to continue with greenhouse gas increase.”

No shortage of these asshats, unfortunately. Sept. 19:

In a single remark during the recent House hearing on climate change, Representative David McKinley demonstrated that (along with most of his GOP colleagues) he does not know the difference between short-term phenomena and long-term trends. McKinley’s claim of a sixty percent increase in Arctic ice coverage from last year is a grotesque misrepresentation of the data, which show that despite brief interludes of accumulation, the overall level of Arctic ice has been dwindling for at least a decade.

Let’s clarify with an analogy: if a stage four cancer sufferer steadily loses weight over many months, a few days of slight gain may be a brief and welcome respite from the terminal decline, but it doesn’t mean the disease has disappeared. A doctor who asserted otherwise would be guilty of medical malpractice, no matter how happy it makes the patient’s family. If his misunderstanding of Arctic ice decline is deliberate, Rep. McKinley’s intentionally misleading his colleagues and his constituents; if it arises from ignorance, he’s incompetent.

Climate science is absolutely unambiguous. Whether through stupidity or cupidity, politicians like David McKinley are endangering all of us by blocking responsible action to address the threat while there is still time.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 8, Day 24: They Don’t Suffer; They Can Hardly Speak English!

The New York Daily News notes the US’ first likely climate refugees:

The northwestern Alaskan village of Kivalina is perched on a remote and narrow strip of sand next to the frigid waters of the Chukchi sea. Its 400 residents are the descendants of an Iñupiat tribe.

And in just 10 years, these folk might just be America’s first climate change refugees.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts that Kivalina will be completely uninhabitable by 2025, a victim of melting ice, coastal erosion and rising sea levels.

Until the shopping malls are covered, ain’t nobody gonna give a damn. July 31:

That an obscure town in the middle of nowhere will probably fall victim to planetary climatic transformations does not at first seem like particularly significant news, for the world is full of tragedies. But Kivalina’s plight merits closer attention. Its 400 residents have contributed next to nothing to the greenhouse emissions which may well seal the fate of their ancestral homes. The melting Arctic ice and rising seas are triggered by industrialized civilization’s essentially instantaneous introduction of hundreds of millions of years’ worth of fossilized carbon into the atmosphere.

These villagers will become climate refugees, with luck moving on to other towns, other lands, other lives, other hopes. Kivalina holds a lesson and a warning for the rest of us. We all live together on an obscure planet in an unremarkable corner of a nondescript galaxy — which we are rapidly rendering uninhabitable. Where shall we send seven billion climate refugees?

Warren Senders


Year 4, Month 3, Day 11: A Monde Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

BREAKING: Idiot half-term governor’s hand-picked replacement is also an idiot:

Before being picked as John McCain’s running mate in 2008, Governor Sarah Palin seemed a true believer in climate change. In September 2007, responding to requests for urgent action, Palin established the Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet to develop and implement a comprehensive Alaska Climate Change Strategy.

But we’ve just learned that, after Palin resigned in summer 2009 and Sean Parnell (a former ConocoPhillips executive) replaced her as governor, the new governor essentially terminated the Climate Cabinet, without informing the Alaska public. Evidently, Gov. Parnell does not think the risk of climate change in Alaska serious enough to continue the Climate Cabinet, or perhaps he fears it may compromise his “drill-baby-drill” economic plan. Either way, this is spectacularly irresponsible.

In establishing the Climate Cabinet, Palin correctly stated that: “Climate change is not just an environmental issue. It is also a social, cultural, and economic issue important to all Alaskans. As a result of this warming, coastal erosion, thawing permafrost, retreating sea ice, record forest fires, and other changes are affecting, and will continue to affect, the lifestyles and livelihoods of Alaskans. Alaska needs a strategy to identify and mitigate potential impacts of climate change and to guide its efforts in evaluating and addressing known or suspected causes of climate change.”

The changer things get, the samer they stay. March 2:

The distance between “should” and “will” is vivdly evident in the cavalier dismissal of Alaska’s climate change sub-cabinet by Governor Parnell. The readiness of self-styled “conservatives” to do anything but conserve would be astonishing if it weren’t so predictable.

Under climbing Arctic temperatures, huge swaths of land will become unrecognizable; ecosystems which developed to fit Alaska’s unique conditions will struggle to adapt to an environment changing too fast for evolution to keep up. Climatologists’ predictions of the impact of an increasingly hotter world have, if anything, underestimated the speed, severity, and complexity of the damage; to willfully ignore science because its findings are inconvenient or uncomfortable is to live in a dream world.

Conservative climate-change deniers in American politics need to visit the real world — a place where superstorms, droughts, heat waves and drastic ecological transformations are already underway. Governor Parnell needs to wake up and smell the permafrost.

Warren Senders


Year 3, Month 12, Day 24: Give Peace A Chance

The Vancouver Star anticipates problems:

METRO VANCOUVER – The combination of a king tide and a surging storm that pummelled parts of Vancouver’s iconic seawall Monday are symptomatic of what climate change and rising sea levels could mean for the region, according to an expert.

Oceanographer Susan Allen said that in coming years, the flooding seen in parts of Metro Vancouver’s waterfront could occur outside a “coincidence” like Monday’s heavy wind and rain that combined with the so-called king tides, which are nearing the end of their month-long peak in British Columbia.

“In the future we won’t have to have quite so high a tide at the time of a storm surge to get exactly what we had today because the water will be a little higher,” Allen said. “The important thing is “and.”

“If you get global warming and a big tide and a storm surge then we (have) problems.”

No argument there. Sent December 18:

As Arctic ice continues to melt, the world’s coastlines are going to be dramatically transformed. And with these changes will come a new assortment of dangers, exemplified in such recent weather disasters as Superstorm Sandy and Typhoon Bopha. Cities up and down the coastline of North America will need to start planning for such events with the certainty of “when,” not the ambiguity of “if.”

This means that a great many things will have to change. Urban planners can no longer assume a business-as-usual model when it comes to the impact of a transformed climate on major population centers. To avoid tragedies of Brobdingnagian proportions during the coming centuries, the world’s nations must prepare carefully and cooperatively. Infrastructure must be strengthened, emergency response mechanisms augmented, and worst-case scenarios prepared for; all these are expensive propositions, until you consider the alternative: gigadeaths on a scale dwarfing all of humanity’s wars combined.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 9, Day 10: Don’t Do That Anymore. Please. Do You Hear Me?

The Gainesville Sun’s John L. Ward is shrill:

The alarm expressed in the Sun editorial of August 26 over the record-breaking Arctic sea ice melt is deserved.

Even before this year’s stunning loss, a study published in the journal Nature last November, based on historical records, ice cores, tree rings, and lake sediments, concluded that “both the duration and magnitude of the current decline in sea ice seem to be unprecedented for the past 1,450 years” and that human activity “stands out as a very plausible cause.” The record melt not only confirms that the world is warming, it speeds the change. Since everyone, including the yet unborn, will be affected, we should all grasp the significance of the event and the response it requires.

The white surface of ice limits warming by reflecting more of the sun’s rays back into space; darker water absorbs the heat. A feedback loop is created so that the warmed water melts even more ice, and the increased area of dark water warms the water even more.

The warmer Arctic water also warms the air, which increases the melting of glaciers and other land ice. Scientists were startled this summer to find that nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland deposited the previous winter had melted, an event unprecedented since satellite observations began 33 years ago. This ice loss contributes to sea level rise worldwide.

Cue the parade of ignorance. Sent September 3:

Yes, Arctic ice is melting rapidly, but the climate-change denial machinery is already working hard to spin away the most recent set of horrifying numbers. We saw it at the RNC, and we see it daily in the irresponsible pontifications of media figures dutifully repeating the talking points they receive from their petroleum-industry sponsors.

Apparently expertise is no longer persuasive, or we’d consult teachers (not corporations) when it comes to education reform, economists (not corporations) when it comes to economic reform, and doctors (not corporations) when it comes to health-care reform. Since McCarthyite Republicans purged the State Department of China experts (thereby setting the stage for our Vietnam debacle), the GOP has rejected people who actually know something about a subject in favor of those who reinforce their ideological biases. Climate change is one of many such examples — albeit the one upon which our species’ collective future hinges.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 4, Day 26: If I Make My Lips Go B-B-B-B-B-B, I Can Pretend To Be A Motorcycle

More on the military plans for a transformed climate, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Russia, Canada and the United States have the biggest stakes in the Arctic. With its military budget stretched thin by Iraq, Afghanistan and more pressing issues elsewhere, the United States has been something of a reluctant northern power, though its nuclear-powered submarine fleet, which can navigate for months underwater and below the ice cap, remains second to none.

Russia — one-third of which lies within the Arctic Circle — has been the most aggressive in establishing itself as the emerging region’s superpower.

Rob Huebert, an associate political science professor at the University of Calgary in Canada, said Russia has recovered enough from its economic troubles of the 1990s to significantly rebuild its Arctic military capabilities, which were a key to the overall Cold War strategy of the Soviet Union, and has increased its bomber patrols and submarine activity.

He said that has in turn led other Arctic countries — Norway, Denmark and Canada — to resume regional military exercises that they had abandoned or cut back on after the Soviet collapse. Even non-Arctic nations such as France have expressed interest in deploying their militaries to the Arctic.

Don’t ask me to explain the headline of this post. Sent April 17:

It was a mantra for Republicans when discussing proposals to end America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan: the only authorities worth consulting were the “generals in the field.” But conservatives don’t always revere military opinion. Those same lawmakers will certainly do their best to ignore the fact that our armed forces are hard at work, planning for a geopolitical future transformed by climate change.

Because, of course, it’s another conservative mantra: climate change isn’t real (if it is real, it’s a socialist conspiracy; scientists want to raise our taxes!). Given that the loudest voices rejecting the science of global warming belong to the senators and representatives who once vociferously touted the ultimate authority of our military leaders, how can these legislators possibly recognize the existence of the U.S. Navy’s task force on climate change?

Wouldn’t it be nice if environmental policy was based on scientific reality instead of political ideology?

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 2, Day 14: What Are You Going To Believe? Me — Or Your Own Lying Eyes?

The Christian Science Monitor reports sorta kinda not really very good news:

U.S. scientists using satellite data have established a more accurate figure of the amount of annual sea level rise from melting glaciers and ice caps which should aid studies on how quickly coastal areas may flood as global warming gathers pace.

John Wahr of the University of Colorado in Boulder and colleagues, in a study published on Thursday, found that thinning glaciers and icecaps were pushing up sea levels by 1.5 millmetres (0.06 inches) a year, in line with a 1.2 to 1.8 mm range from other studies, some of which forecast sea levels could rise as much as 2 metres (2.2 yards) by 2100.

Sea levels have already risen on average about 18 centimetres since 1900 and rapid global warming will accelerate the pace of the increase, scientists say, threatening coastlines from Vietnam to Florida and forcing low-lying megacities to build costly sea defences.

Have another beer. Sent February 9:

The climate prognosis is bleak; while glaciers aren’t melting quite as fast as predicted, our planet’s polar regions are severely weakened.  It’s unlikely that they will recover in our lifetimes or those of our children, for the damage they’ve sustained from the burgeoning greenhouse effect is very severe.

Unfortunately, it’s very likely that the talking heads populating our airwaves and news outlets will seize on this news, brandishing a decontextualized nugget of information (“The glaciers are going to be fine!”), extrapolating incorrectly from it (“All the doom-sayers were wrong!”), confusing the discussion (“You can’t trust scientists — they’re often mistaken!”) and advocating for inaction (“Don’t worry, be happy — and keep buying gas!”).

The news that her tumors are metastasizing more slowly than expected is good news for a lung cancer patient, but it does not change the severity of the diagnosis — or provide an excuse to resume smoking.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 10, Day 8: “Consumption” Used To Be A Name For Tuberculosis, Remember

The Montreal Gazette notes NASA’s just-released figures on the decline in Arctic ice:

MONTREAL — Sea ice in the Arctic declined last month to the second-lowest level ever recorded, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration said Tuesday.

Satellite data showed the summertime sea ice coverage in the north narrowly missed the all-time record low, which was attained in 2007, NASA said in a statement.

The Arctic sea ice recedes every summer as the sun’s rays reach higher into the northern hemisphere and sea ice reaches its annual minimum each year in September.

Joey Comiso, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said the sustained low minimum sea ice levels are part of a large-scale decline over the past three decades.

I’m taking a break from chastising idiots; I can’t do it every day without a few minutes of relief. Sent Oct. 4:

NASA’s report on the Arctic’s dwindling sea ice offers us an all-too-visible reminder of the damage wrought by our civilization’s exuberant fossil-fuel consumption. If humanity is to survive and prosper in the coming centuries, we can no longer operate under the ignorant assumption that our consumption-based lifestyles can be sustained indefinitely. While the world’s poorest nations have negligible carbon footprints, their futures in a warming world are far more precarious.

When contemplating a future without fossil fuels, the question is not “if,” but “when” and “how.” The sooner we stop burning our planet’s stored carbon reserves, the more likely we are to avoid triggering irreversible climatic tipping points; we can make the transition willingly and thoughtfully, or have it forced on us by the catastrophic consequences of a runaway greenhouse effect. The choice is ours, and NASA’s news makes it clear that there is no time to waste.

Warren Senders