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Why is it so Easy to Deceive People? The Strange Case of the Cooling Trend of the United States

Why is it so Easy to Deceive People? The Strange Case of the Cooling Trend of the United States

The figure above, showing a cooling trend in the United States, was posted by Steven Goddard (aka Tony Heller) on his blog with the remarkable title of “The Deplorable Climate Science Blog” (actually there is a slightly different one on the blog, right now, but it is simply a difference in the smoothing procedure).

The world is becoming more and more complicated. And the more complicated it is, the more difficult to understand it becomes. And there appear more and more opportunities to deceive people: we are all swamped by the news and have neither the competence nor the time to verify what the media serve to us.

So, this August, Mr. Tony Heller, writing under the pen name of Steven Goddard, published on his blog the graph you see above, showing a clear cooling trend in the United States. Make no mistake, these are real data, or so they are said to be. And they do show that summers have been cooling. But what about heat waves we are experiencing nowadays? Just an impression, apparently, because the data say otherwise. Then, what about global warming? An illusion, probably a fraud.

The graph is having a certain diffusion in the social media. An earlier version was even picked up by James Delingpole in his Breitbart news site. It quickly became a growing meme, scoffed or cheered depending on the attitude of the people commenting on it. As usual, the debate on climate on the social media is little more than a shouting match. It took some work by an expert, Tamino, on his “Open Mind” blog to dissect the story of this graph and show the tricks behind it. Tamino’s whole post is reproduced below.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Climate, politics and the narrow vision of futurists

Climate, politics and the narrow vision of futurists

Most people know the tale of the blind men and the elephant. Each describes a part of the elephant. The elephant is said to be like a pillar by the blind man touching the elephant’s leg. The one touching the elephant’s tail says the elephant is like a rope and so on.

Now, let’s substitute so-called futurists for blind men in this tale and you get something even less reliable. Futurists are the soothsayers of our age. Of course, futurists have eyes to see at least. But they, like the blind men, almost never see the whole picture.

And, in this case they are giving us a description of something that is not even there for them to examine. The future doesn’t exist. It’s a mere concept. Unlike the blind men, futurists aren’t really describing part of a whole.

Typically, they imagine the future as a more magical version of the past where all kinds of new powers are made available to the individual: the ability to transmit emotions and memories through a worldwide “brain-net,” 3D-printed human organs based on our own DNA that replace damaged or diseased ones, re-creations of loved ones who have passed away with which we can interact as we did when they were alive.

Naturally, some futurists put the first humans on Mars in the 2030s. NASA apparently has a contest for 3D-printed designs of habitats suitable for humans on Mars. The idea that colonizing Mars will enhance the chances that humans will survive well into the future is already part of the culture. (Wait a minute! You mean really bad stuff could happen on Earth in our benign technology-laden future. But I digress.)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Climate Change Bites Big Business

Climate Change Bites Big Business

“Electoral politics is not the solution to the Earth-threatening problems we face.”

– Jeffrey St. Clair, 10 August 2018, Counter Punch

There is now no non-violent way to reverse climate change. Even with morally unrestrained action, it is probable that there is now no physical possibility of reversing climate change. The time for action was 1973-1979, the time of the two oil embargoes (the post Israeli War – against Egypt and Syria – Arab Oil Embargo of 1973; and the related-to-the-Iranian-Revolution vengeful price gouge oil embargo of 1979). This was the period of the Watergate-climax finale of the Nixon Administration, the Ford Administration, and the Carter “energy crisis” Administration. Politically, the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 killed the possibility of US climate change action.

From Reagan through Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama to Trump, the mentioning of climate change – as one of government’s highest priorities, as one of corporate America’s foremost concerns (to be addressed, not suppressed), and as one of mainstream media’s primary and continuing focuses and leading stories – was minimized if not altogether absent. If anything, climate change denialism was heavily promoted by corporate and partisan (right wing) media, and by legions of corporate agents, flacks and factotums masquerading as elected representatives in federal and state governments. That has now changed.

Climate change is now all over the front pages of the newspapers and is the headline story of the mainstream mass media, primarily because of the massive fires in California whose smoke has even reached New York City. Why this new overt and blaring mainstream news attention to climate change, a subject that was officially hush-hush, trivial and fake news so recently in the past? Obviously because climate change has begun costing big money to major sectors of American capitalism.

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New study on the collapse of Mayan civilization should be climate wake-up call

New study on the collapse of Mayan civilization should be climate wake-up call

Under Trump’s policies, the megadrought that devastated the Mayans will become the new normal.

Mayan civilization ruins, Quintana Roo, Mexico, February 2016. CREDIT: DeAgostini/Getty Images
MAYAN CIVILIZATION RUINS, QUINTANA ROO, MEXICO, FEBRUARY 2016. CREDIT: DEAGOSTINI/GETTY IMAGES

A new study finds that it was a severe and long-lasting megadrought that destroyed the great Mayan civilization a thousand years ago.

But the research has ominous relevance for us today since America’s top scientists have warned us that President Trump’s climate policies will make such civilization destroying megadroughts commonplace in the coming decades.

The Mayans had one of the world’s first written languages, used advanced mathematics, measured timed with an accurate calendar, produced durable rubber three millennia ago, and figured out “how to grow corn, beans, squash and cassava in sometimes-inhospitable places.”

Yet after reaching its height in its “Classic” period (250 AD – 800 AD), the Mayan empire collapsed over the next two hundred years. While many theories have been offered — including environmental degradation, war, and drought — researchers from Cambridge’s Godwin Laboratory for Palaeoclimate Research have shown that the collapse “correlated with an extended period of extreme drought.”

In a recent study published in the journal Science, “Quantification of drought during the collapse of the classic Maya civilization,” the researchers calculated for the first time just how bad the drought was.

From 800 to 1000 AD, they found, “Annual rainfall must have fallen by around 50% on average and by up to 70% during peak drought conditions.” In addition, “relative humidity dropped by 2% to 7%” compared to today.

“The role of climate change in the collapse of Classic Maya civilization is somewhat controversial, partly because previous records are limited to qualitative reconstructions, for example whether conditions were wetter or drier,” explained lead author Nick Evans.

“Our study represents a substantial advance as it provides statistically robust estimates of rainfall and humidity levels during the Maya downfall.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Neoliberalism drives climate breakdown, not human nature

Neoliberalism drives climate breakdown, not human nature

Attempts by the New York Times to blame humanity as a whole for climate change let the real culprits off the hook.


Image: Quarrie Photography, some rights reserved.

Many zoos have an exhibit like this: a wall with a hatch, and under the hatch words like “Do you want to see the most dangerous animal in the world?”. Of course everyone does, and before they open the hatch they speculate as to what the animal behind the hatch will be. A lion? A crocodile? However, when you open the hatch there is a mirror, and you see yourself staring back. You are the most dangerous animal in the world.

Of course this is nonsense. Not everyone who opens that hatch and sees themselves looking back is equally dangerous. We are not all equally responsible for destruction of the world’s ecosystems. Some humans who open the hatch probably are responsible for a great deal of destruction. Other are not. Many people bear the brunt of someone else’s destruction.

The idea that all humanity is equally and collectively responsible for climate change – or any other environmental or social problem – is extremely weak. In a basic and easily calculable way, not everyone is responsible for the same quantity of greenhouse gasses. People in the world’s poorest countries produce roughly one hundredth of the emissions of the richest people in the richest countries. Through the chance of our births, and the lifestyle we choose we are not all equally responsible for climate change.

But we are not all equally responsible in a more fundamental way. Some people through the power they wield, have stood in the way of halting climate change. Not because they were stubborn or incompetent or failed to understand the seriousness.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Lasting Condition: Drought in Australia

The Lasting Condition: Drought in Australia

Humans are a funny species.  They create settlements along fault lines that, on moving, can create catastrophe, killing thousands.  They construct homes facing rivers that will, at some point, break their banks, carrying of their precious property.  Importantly, they return in the aftermath.  Existence continues.

The same follows certain settlements of parts of the planet where hostile, environmental conditions discourage rather than endorse a certain form of living.  Changes in weather have been vicious catalysts for the collapse of civilisations; extreme climactic variations prevent and retard stable and sustainable agriculture.

“The flourishing of human civilisation from about 10,000 years ago, and in particular from 7,000 years ago,” notes earth and paleo-climate scientist Andrew Glikson, “critically depended on stabilisation of climate conditions”.  This had its due results: planting and harvesting of seed; cultivation of crops; the growth of villages and towns.

Australia, the second driest continent on the planet, has never been exempt from such patterns of disruption, and those stubborn, pluckily foolish farmers who persist in the notion that they can make a living in parts of it risk going the same way.

Australia’s agrarian purveyors have certainly been persistent, hopeful as pilgrims in search of holy land.  Disasters have not discouraged.  A sense of a certain attendant fatalism can be found in the scribbles of Nancy Fotheringham Cato’s “Mallee Farmer”:

You cleared the mallee and the sand blew over
Fence and road to the slow green river;
You prayed for rain but the sky breathed dust
Of long dead farmers and soil’s red rust.
You ploughed up the paddocks with a stump jump plough
But the gates were open and the drought walked through.

The Settlement Drought (1790-1793) threatened but did not overwhelm early European settlers. The Goyder Line Drought (1861-5) savaged but did not kill farming in parts of South Australia.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

In defense of using ‘the new normal’ to describe climate change

WHAT IS NORMAL ANYWAY?

In defense of using ‘the new normal’ to describe climate change

It’s been an unusual summer, to say the least. Heat maps keep taking on a red-orange glow, with some veering into rare magenta territory. The Carr Fire, one of the most severe in California history, has burned down 1,000 homes and spun a fire tornado through the air.

“Over a decade or so, we’re going to have more fire, more destructive fire, more billions that will have to be spent on it,” California Governor Jerry Brown said last week. “All that is the ‘new normal’ that we will have to face.”

Why on earth is the word normal being thrown around to describe such extraordinary times?

The new normal is a catchy phrase, and one you’ve probably heard before — if not from Brown, then perhaps from the New York Times. In recent years, the cliche has shown up after disastrous wildfires, hurricanes, heatwaves, and drought.

While government officials and the media like to throw the phrase around, scientists kind of hate it.

“It sounds like we left the old normal, the old conditions, and arrived at a new normal, a new stasis,” Crystal Kolden, a fire scientist at the University of Idaho, tells me. “Unfortunately, that’s not what our climate projections are telling us. They’re telling us that this is one step on a very long staircase that’s heading toward extreme conditions.”

In climate science, “normal” is a well-defined word: an average over a 30-year period. Thus, the use of normal does not describe our current period, in which we’re going to continue seeing things we’ve never seen, Kolden says.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is the Climate Change Preparation for the Pole Shift?

A reader sent this is where ice storms are happening daily this summer in Calgary, Canada. In Bavaria, where I am currently, it is the hottest in 200 years. The temperature is in the 90s (32c) and hotels, restaurants do not have air conditioning because it never gets hot here. Then in Ukraine, which it is typically in the 90s for the summer, they are experiencing the coldest summer with temperatures in the 70s.

In Greenland, birds migrate there for the summer to create offspring. This year, summer never came. Indeed, crops are failing around the world from either too much heat or too much cold. It appears that where it is normally hot, the climate is becoming cold. Where it is cold, it is becoming hot.

Many scientists are starting to wonder what is going on. It certainly is not Global Warming since that theory implies consistency. Some are wondering if this is a prelude to the climate is shifting thanks to a possible pole shift. The problem, nobody knows what this means. The last time the poles flipped was 720,000 years ago. We have no model to clearly define the end result. Will we suddenly be frozen with a spoon in our mouth at breakfast? Perhaps we are entering more than just a major Sixth Wave in the ECM. Maybe the weather is also conspiring to shift the financial capital from the West to the East.

Still, the other school of thought is pointing to volcanos. It’s abundantly clear that there is also such a thing as volcanic weather, which historically can be highly dangerous. These astonishing changes historically also remind us that volcanic events have long affected weather systems and have even transformed the Earth’s climate dramatically.

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Time For Some Climate Honesty

kienyke.com

Time For Some Climate Honesty

Half-truths are doing no good

Let’s assume that you have doubts about ‘global warming’.

Some people do and, truthfully, we utterly lack the ability to accurately model how much warming will happen, where and by when (emphasis on accurately).

The reason is not for lack of trying or continual learning and model refinement, but centers on the complexity of the task.

Even seemingly simple systems that are actually complex are impossible to predictively model. An example is a pile of sand growing grain by grain that will finally slump at some unpredictable time and in an unpredictable way. You would think that such a simple system could be accurately modeled, but that’s not the case. Exactly when the pile will finally slump is unpredictable. Exactly how large the resulting slump will be is also unpredictable. The “when” and the “how much” are unknowable (using current modeling techniques).

All that can be calculated for certain is that a higher pile with steeper sides/areas (a.k.a. “fingers of instability”) is more likely to slump sooner and more catastrophically.

Now consider the tasks laid out before the global climate modelers where feedback loops abound, unknown variables still lurk, and the final result is the summation of multiple interacting complex systems. It’s not a pile of sand granules, it’s a gigantic interconnected system composed of heat flows, cloud formation, wind and oceanic patters and currents, variable solar and cosmic radiation, volcanoes and dust and jet trails and a thousand other inputs all interreacting with and influencing each other…in unpredictable ways.

It’s chaos theory (i.e. the butterfly effect) which means it’s way beyond anything we can currently model with any accuracy or confidence.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Global heatwave is symptom of early stage cycle of civilisational collapse

Fueled by Pollution and Unsound Policies, Toxic Algae Overtakes Florida Beaches and Waterways

Fueled by Pollution and Unsound Policies, Toxic Algae Overtakes Florida Beaches and Waterways

Sunset over a canal in Cape Coral, Florida, filled with blue green algae.

Parts of South Florida are being inundated by harmful algal blooms, which affect both public health and marine life, including red tide (caused by the alga Karenia brevis) and blue-green algae (more precisely known as cyanobacteria, or Microcystis, which are technically bacteria but commonly referred to as algae).

While both types of toxin-producing algae are normal parts of their environments, the crisis is not. Water pollution and climate change are fueling this supersized toxic algae mess.

Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, in a canal near Cape Coral Yacht Club in Florida.
Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, in a canal near the Cape Coral Yacht Club in Florida.

Fish kill on a beach in Boca Grande, Florida
Fish kill on a beach in Boca Grande, Florida.

The state’s water quality standards, friendly toward agriculture and real estate development, result in the release of an abundance of nutrients including phosphorus and nitrogen into the water. This influx of growth-inducing nutrients causes marine and freshwater algae populations to explode in what’s called a “bloom.” These blooms can use up much of the oxygen in the water, causing aquatic life to die, in addition to the potentially fatal toxins these algae release.

Storm run-off from agricultural and urban landscapes, laden with fertilizers and animal manure, and badly maintained septic systems contribute to the current crisis. On top of this, massive releases of polluted freshwater, laden with cyanobacteria, from Lake Okeechobee are ending up on both of the state’s coasts. And when the freshwater cyanobacteria hit the saltwater, they die, creating even more nutrients that feed the red tide.

Photographer's sneakers on a concrete seawall on the side of a toxic algae-filled canal in Cape Coral, Florida.
Photographer’s sneakers on a concrete seawall on the side of a toxic algae-filled canal in Cape Coral, Florida.

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Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum, Not “Human Nature”

Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum, Not “Human Nature”

The skyline of Manhattan is seen at sunset in New York, May 23, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

The skyline of Manhattan at sunset in New York, May 23, 2018.

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

THIS SUNDAY, THE entire New York Times Magazine will be composed of just one article on a single subject: the failure to confront the global climate crisis in the 1980s, a time when the science was settled and the politics seemed to align. Written by Nathaniel Rich, this work of history is filled with insider revelations about roads not taken that, on several occasions, made me swear out loud. And lest there be any doubt that the implications of these decisions will be etched in geologic time, Rich’s words are punctuated with full-page aerial photographs by George Steinmetz that wrenchingly document the rapid unraveling of planetary systems, from the rushing water where Greenland ice used to be to massive algae blooms in China’s third largest lake.The novella-length piece represents the kind of media commitment that the climate crisis has long deserved but almost never received. We have all heard the various excuses for why the small matter of despoiling our only home just doesn’t cut it as an urgent news story: “Climate change is too far off in the future”; “It’s inappropriate to talk about politics when people are losing their lives to hurricanes and fires”; “Journalists follow the news, they don’t make it — and politicians aren’t talking about climate change”; and of course: “Every time we try, it’s a ratings killer.”

None of the excuses can mask the dereliction of duty. It has always been possible for major media outlets to decide, all on their own, that planetary destabilization is a huge news story, very likely the most consequential of our time. They always had the capacity to harness the skills of their reporters and photographers to connect abstract science to lived extreme weather events.

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Crime of the 21st Century

Crime of the 21st Century

Perpetrators of Apocalypse, or, The Seven Circles of Hell

Gustave Doré

Time to have a talk / it will not be fun / buckle up. Feel free to skip to the end at any point for pleasant pictures of adorable animals.

You and I are witnessing the twenty-first century’s great crime: a global holocaust whose first victims have already perished. And I mean holocaust, from Greek holókaustos, translated as “whole” and “burnt” – the whole enormity of life daily sacrificed to flames. That is not hyperbole. Driving this crime is the collapse of the world’s stable climatic and atmospheric systems. Fossil energy economies are doing this. They transform the world into a deathly, suffocating hothouse sabotaging the climate and atmosphere. That’s what they do.

Carbon energy kills 3.5 to 6 million people per year through air pollution alone. Beyond that, this crime is also killing people via extreme hurricanes, wildfires, floods, droughts, and heat waves, expanding the range of deadly diseases like malaria and Lyme, famines, and conflicts like the Syrian civil war. There is good reason to believe these disasters will destabilizegeopolitical relationships and lead to world war. Every one of these types of disasters will continue to intensify—that is inevitable at this point.

What is not inevitable is degree of intensity. Quantity of death can still be curtailed; we can prevent billions of deaths, even forestall human extinction. But the tragic fact is that some immense minimum of murder is certain. The body count will exceed those of any crimes that have come before. Monarchs and dictators designed the twentieth century’s vast death; this new crime is perpetrated by a global oligarchy – a hereditary aristocracy – a network of governments ruled by a super-wealthy elite. The most culpable among this elite are members of the oil, gas, and coal industries.

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The End of the Line – A Climate in Crisis

The End of the Line – A Climate in Crisis

Train Wreck, Montparnasse, 1895

The world of academia is starting to pick up on the concept that humanity is unknowingly cruising on a train ride to doomsday, a surefire encounter with collapse of society based upon climate crises brought on by exponential climate change. The depth of the problem: It’s inevitable and inescapable.

Nonetheless, people do not want to discuss and/or read about an impending disruption to society, especially on the scale of a collapse. Still, some academics consider it responsible and in fact necessary to communicate the issue on a pre-collapse basis in order for people to learn to support each other and to explore the radical implications well ahead of time.

Hence, the premise for Professor Jem Bendell’s brilliant seminal work, “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy, July 27th 2018.” (http://www.lifeworth.com/deepadaptation.pdf)

Accordingly, at the opening of the essay: “It is time we consider the implications of it being too late to avert a global environmental catastrophe in the lifetimes of people alive today.”

Seemingly, Professor Bendell is going out on a limb by calling for ecosystem catastrophes followed by social collapse within current lifetimes. Few, if any, academicians dare make such a prediction, and the few that do risk loss of jobs, grant funding, and renunciation by colleagues.

Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the prestigious Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in a live interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! at Paris 15 admitted that climate scientists low-ball their findings, often times to protect grant funding.

Anderson: “Yet so far we simply have not been prepared to accept the revolutionary implications of our own findings, and even when we do we are reluctant to voice such thoughts openly… many are ultimately choosing to censor their own research.”

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We’re in year 30 of the current climate crisis

We’re in year 30 of the current climate crisis

In late-June, 1988, Canada hosted the world’s first large-scale climate conference that brought together scientists, experts, policymakers, elected officials, and the media.  The “World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security” was held in Toronto, hosted by Canada’s Conservative government, and attended by hundreds of scientists and officials.

In their final conference statement, attendees wrote that “Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war.”  (See excerpt pictured above.)  The 30-year-old conference statement contains a detailed catalogue of causes and effects of climate change.

Elizabeth May—who in 1988 was employed by Canada’s Department of Environment—attended the conference.   In a 2006 article she reflected on Canada’s leadership in the 1980s on climate and atmospheric issues:

“The conference … was a landmark event.  It was opened by Prime Minister Mulroney, who spoke then of the need for an international law of the atmosphere, citing our work on acid rain and ozone as the first planks in this growing area of international environmental governance…. 

Canada was acknowledged as the leader in hosting the first-ever international scientific conference on climate change, designed to give the issue a public face.  No nation would be surprised to see Canada in the lead.  After all, we had just successfully wrestled to the ground a huge regional problem, acid rain, and we had been champions of the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer.”

The Toronto conference’s final statement also called on governments and industry to work together to “reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 20% … by the year 2005…. ”  This became known as the Toronto Target.  Ignoring that target and many others, Canada has increased its CO2 emissions by 29 percent since 1988.

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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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