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Archive for November 18th, 2011

Corporate Art As TLC Takes On Southwest

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 18th, 2011 5:36 am by HL

Corporate Art As TLC Takes On Southwest
We talk a lot about overly cozy relationships between business and government, and about the creep of cost-saving measures like products into art, lending it a corporate cast. But it’s rare to see something as blatant as TLC’s planned show about Southwest Airlines. I’ll reserve final judgment until I see the show, of course. But […]

We talk a lot about overly cozy relationships between business and government, and about the creep of cost-saving measures like products into art, lending it a corporate cast. But it’s rare to see something as blatant as TLC’s planned show about Southwest Airlines. I’ll reserve final judgment until I see the show, of course. But it does seem to me that if you want to make a show about the experience of air travel as a whole, you need to include a lot of people who aren’t employed by specific airlines, particularly air traffic controllers, Transportation Security Administration officers, and ground crew, who are not always affiliated with specific airlines. And it seems like good documentary principal, even if you wanted to make a show about what it’s like to run an airline, to include representatives of multiple companies so viewers can see what the common challenges are and what problems are specific to individual companies and their policies. I understand the desire to make cheap entertainment: these aren’t easy times. But extended looks at individual businesses risk coming across as boring commercials, a la DC Cupcakes, a veteran of the same network.

IPCC Extreme Weather Report Is Another Blown Chance to Explain the Catastrophes Coming If We Keep Doing Nothing
UPDATE:  Andy Revkin’s comment (here) may be the single most head-exploding and revisionist thing he has ever written. I reply. Fortunately, the public already understands that global warming makes extreme weather more severe, as new polling reveals: September polling by ecoAmerica found that 57% of Americans already understand “If we don’t do something about climate […]

UPDATE:  Andy Revkin’s comment (here) may be the single most head-exploding and revisionist thing he has ever written. I reply.

Fortunately, the public already understands that global warming makes extreme weather more severe, as new polling reveals:

September polling by ecoAmerica found that 57% of Americans already understand “If we don’t do something about climate change now, we can end up having our farmland turned to desert.”  Duh:

drought map 2 2030-2039

The Palmer Drought Severity Index on a “moderate” warming path (via NCAR, click to enlarge). “A reading of -4 or below is considered extreme drought.” During the 1930s Dust Bowl, the PDSI spiked briefly to -6 but rarely exceeded -3.  We probably can’t stop this, but we can avert far, far worse post-2050 (see below).

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is coming out Friday with its umpteenth watered down report on climate science, in this case on extreme weather.  The thing to remember about IPCC reports is that pretty much everyone involved has to sign off on every word, so it is inevitably a least common denominator document.

The actual scientific literature from 2011 is far more useful than this report — see “Study Finds 80% Chance Russia’s 2010 July Heat Record Would Not Have Occurred Without Climate Warming” and “NOAA Study Finds Human-Caused Climate Change Already a Major Factor in More Frequent Mediterranean Droughts.”  I will provide the links to as many recent studies as possible in this post.

Indeed we already know from a major 2011 study that “human-induced increases in greenhouse gases have contributed to the observed intensification of heavy precipitation events found over approximately two-thirds of data-covered parts of Northern Hemisphere land areas.”  As predicted, the warming has put more water vapor in the air, making deluges more intense.  Climatologist Kevin Trenberth explains:

There is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms,

Obviously, since it’s getting hotter, we’re worsening extreme heat waves — both in intensity and duration and scale (the area the heat wave covers).  For the same reason, we know humans are making droughts worse — in intensity, duration, and scale.  The earlier snow melts also makes summer droughts worse.

Actual observations reveal that since 1950, the global percentage of dry areas has increased by about 1.74% of global land area per decade (see here).  Heck, our best scientists are already using global warming to help them predict dangerous extreme weather (see “USGS Expert Explains How Global Warming Likely Contributes to East Africa’s Brutal Drought“).

The reinsurance industry understands all this (see Munich Re: “The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change”).

Again, much if not most of the public appear to have a better sense of what’s happening right now than you’ll find in the summaries of a typical IPCC report, to go by Yale’s 2011 polling and the September poll from ecoAmerica quoted at the top, which also found:

69% of Americans Know “Weather Conditions (Such as Heat Waves and Droughts) Are Made Worse by Climate Change”

The American public can’t miss the extreme weather because it is everywhere now and increasingly off the charts (see “A New Record: 14 U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters in 2011“) and links below.

Of course, what’s to come is the real issue, since we still have control over that.  We’re facing 5 to 10 times the warming this century that we’ve seen in the past half century.

Unfortunately, the IPCC continues to conflate uncertainty in future emissions of greenhouse gases with uncertainty in the climate’s sensitivity to those emissions.  This means they present a very large range of possible overall impacts — and that allows the deniers to trumpet the low range with their powerful fossil-fuel-funded megaphone and induces the media to provide “balance” in their stories between the mid-range and the low range.

The reality is we are on the highest emissions trends (see “Biggest Jump Ever in Global Warming Pollution in 2010 means “levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago”).  And the latest science and observation points towards the high end of the climate’s sensitivity (see Journal of Climate: New cloud feedback results “provide support for the high end of current estimates of global climate sensitivity”).

Most climate scientists know what is coming if we don’t act quickly– and more and more are shedding their reticence to speak out, even if that is not yet reflected in bland, least-common-denominator IPCC reports (see Lonnie Thompson on why climatologists are speaking out: “Virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization”).

And as long as the deniers, inactivists and climate ignorati rule the debate, inaction is assured, which means that we are risking extreme weather beyond imagination, extreme events on top of an average warming this century that could hit 13-18°F over most of U.S. and 25°F in the Arctic:


This is business-as-usual (“no policy”) warming — see Royal Society Special Issue on Global Warming Details ‘Hellish Vision’ of 7°F (4°C) World. “In such a 4°C world, the limits for human adaptation are likely to be exceeded in many parts of the world, while the limits for adaptation for natural systems would largely be exceeded throughout the world.”

This would be the worst-case for the 2060s, but is, in any case, close to business as usual for 2090s.  See also M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F — with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F.

Remember, this is just average warming.  If you want to know what the extremes would be, well, must imagine the worst drought or wildfire or heatwave of today — and then add, say, 15°F!  Even on a moderate warming path, the “Monster crop-destroying Russian heat wave of 2010 is projected to be a once-in-a-decade event by 2060s (or sooner).”

If we look at just the moderate warming scenario the National Center for Atmospheric Research considered in its literature review and analysis, “Drought under global warming: a review,” (See NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path), Dust-Bowlification overwhelms the planet in the second half of the century:

drought map 3 2060-2069

The large-scale pattern shown in Figure 11 [of which the figure above is part] appears to be a robust response to increased GHGs. This is very alarming because if the drying is anything resembling Figure 11, a very large population will be severely affected in the coming decades over the whole United States, southern Europe, Southeast Asia, Brazil, Chile, Australia, and most of Africa.

NCAR notes “By the end of the century, many populated areas, including parts of the United States, could face readings in the range of -8 to -10, and much of the Mediterranean could fall to -15 to -20. Such readings would be almost unprecedented.”

  • The UK Met Office came to a similar view four years ago in their analysis, projecting severe drought over 40% of the Earth’s habited landmass by century’s end (see “The Century of Drought“).

The heat and drought drives wildfires.  Here’s a National Academies figure from a presentation made by the President’s science adviser Dr. John Holdren in Oslo last year, about conditions projected for mid-century:

As I concluded in my recent Nature piece, “Feeding some 9 billion people by mid-century in the face of a rapidly worsening climate may well be the greatest challenge the human race has ever faced.”  We could stave off the worse if we acted quickly, but the task is all but hopeless if we keep listening to the inactivists and confusionists.

Future generations will be cursing our names and wondering how the most prestigious institutions could put out such bland scientific reports — and how the media could treat those reports as the worst-case scenario when they were in fact mostly best-case scenarios.  We have ended up with this chart (via Michael Tobis) where the “fat tail” of catastrophe at the end gets fatter ever year we delay, but the “debate” in the press never budges.

The time to act was a long time ago, but further delay is suicidal  — see IEA’s Bombshell Warning: We’re Headed Toward 11°F Global Warming and “Delaying Action Is a False Economy”

Related Posts.

Calif. Supreme Court clears way for same-sex marriage case

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 18th, 2011 5:35 am by HL

Calif. Supreme Court clears way for same-sex marriage case

A California court cleared the way Thursday for federal appeals judges to render a highly anticipated decision on whether the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.

The California Supreme Court ruled that proponents of the ban, known as Proposition 8, have the legal standing to defend it in court. The question had become crucial in the legal battle over the measure because state officials had declined to defend it.

Read full article >>

Cain receives Secret Service protection

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain began receiving protection from the U.S. Secret Service Thursday, his campaign said, making the Georgia businessman the first GOP presidential contender to received stepped-up security on the campaign trail.

Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon said Thursday night that the campaign asked for the protection after The Washington Post posted an article online that morning detailing a series of physical skirmishes involving journalists at Cain rallies.

Read full article >>

Justice Dept. dispute with Alabama over illegal-immigration law intensifies

The Obama administration’s legal campaign against restrictive state immigration laws has led to a bitter standoff in Alabama, where Justice Department attorneys are investigating possible civil rights violations.

The federal government already has sued Alabama over its new law, one of three such lawsuits against states that have cracked down on illegal immigration. Now, the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation to monitor potential discrimination as parts of the Alabama law take effect.

Read full article >>

Marking 2 months of Occupation, D.C. protesters march to Key Bridge

Hundreds of protesters from the Occupy D.C. movement marched through downtown to Key Bridge at rush hour Thursday, resulting in a few traffic snarls but no major problems or arrests, police said.

They were among the thousands of supporters of Occupy Wall Street who marked the movement’s two-month anniversary with protests and traffic tie-ups around the country. Occupy protesters vowed to continue agitating for economic justice, even as police in New York and Chicago arrested hundreds and more police departments moved to clear out encampments, citing public health and safety concerns.

Read full article >>

U.S. probing use of surveillance technology in Syria

The Commerce Department is investigating whether technology produced by a California company helped Syrian police monitor dissidents amid a bloody crackdown there, U.S. officials said Thursday.

Commerce officials are attempting to determine whether Blue Coat Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., had prior knowledge that its equipment and software was being used by the Syrian government, according to several U.S. officials. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation.

Read full article >>

Go Occupy the Teachers’ Union Headquarters

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 18th, 2011 5:31 am by HL

Go Occupy the Teachers’ Union Headquarters
Andrew Rotherham, Time
It’s easy to get angry at banks and CEOs, especially as more Americans slip below the poverty line while the rich keep getting richer. But if the goal of Occupy Wall Street is improving social mobility in this country, then the movement really needs to focus as much on educational inequality as it does on income inequality. There is perhaps no better example of how the system is rigged against millions of Americans than the education our children receive. Public schools are obviously not to blame for the mortgage crisis, over-leveraged investment banks or the other triggers…

Gingrich: The Phony Intellectual
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post
Andy Ferguson, a senior editor at the Weekly Standard and arguably the most dazzling writer on the right, has been a one-man killing machine. In a series of pieces on Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Jon Huntsman, he has systematically done in (or helped to do in) more Republican candidates than Think Progress, the New York Times and George Soros ever could.In some cases, the effort was an intentional dissection of the candidate’s foibles. He wrote of the liberal elites’ favorite Republican: “Huntsman seems to…

How Congress Occupied Wall Street
Sarah Palin, Wall Street Journal
Mark Twain famously wrote, “There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.” Peter Schweizer's new book, “Throw Them All Out,” reveals this permanent political class in all its arrogant glory. (Full disclosure: Mr. Schweizer is employed by my political action committee as a foreign-policy adviser.) Mr. Schweizer answers the questions so many of us have asked. I addressed this in a speech in Iowa last Labor Day weekend. How do politicians who arrive in Washington, D.C. as men and women of modest means leave as millionaires? How do they…

Housing Crisis: Repeating Mistakes?
Sen. Jim DeMint, RedState
Sometimes it seems like Congress didn’t learn anything from the housing crisis at all. Early Tuesday morning, leaders in the House and Senate unveiled an appropriations bill, called a “minibus,” to fund several government agencies for the fiscal year 2012. Tucked inside the 401-page bill was language to increase the limits for which the Federal Housing Administration can insure mortgage loans up to $729,750, effectively allowing the agency to back McMansions with taxpayer dollars. Adding further insult to hard-working taxpayers an independent audit revealed, just…

The Keystone Pipeline Victory
Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation
Victories against climate change have been rare, so it’s vital to recognize them when they happen. The Obama administration’s decision to delay the Keystone XL pipeline is one such victory—arguably the most important achievement in the climate fight in North America in years.True, the administration’s November 10 statements did not outright kill the 1,700-mile pipeline, which the TransCanada company wants to build to transport highly polluting tar sands from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Texas coast. Yes, President Obama or his successor could…