Thursday, February 26, 2009

variations on a theme

The most troubling thing about listening to the politicians & media spun dialogue is their seeming oblivion to the physical living breathing world out here. One would think our economy is wholly contained within ledger sheets and credit capability.

The right wing continues to rage against any admission that America’s unbridled adulation of consumption & greed (under the cloak of “free market”) has produced long term destruction; or that global warming is real & happening; or that humanity is having a vast, and harmful, impact upon the very life support systems we depend upon; or that blindly feeding the military profit machine produces more harm than good.

Maybe it’s denial? And maybe it’s not just them, maybe it’s most all of us? How many of us are guilty of ignoring what really keeps this economy afloat? For instance, do you turn on a water faucet totally disinterested in the water system & reservoirs & mountain wetlands & weather systems that made that stream of liquid life pour from your faucet? You should be interested, because there’s no guarantee that it will always be flowing.

When have we heard a politician ~ be they Democrat, Republican, Obama or an ideological dinosaur ~ discuss the fact of America’s fantastic success these past couple centuries being attributable to the cornucopia of land and resources that lay before us immigrants? Sure our ingenuity helped, but without the resources at our disposal, all the ingenuity in the world would have come to naught.

“We” have had centuries of consuming as ravenously as possible, but the party couldn’t go on forever. Our fortune is to be part of the generation of reckoning. Our kids will have to learn to live in a brave new world. Within means and learning to become true stewards of the land, focused on sustaining and enhancing. What will they make of our boast: “too much is never enough?”

Of course, productive land is dependent upon benign weather patterns. When have we experienced the media actually trying to explain what scientists are observing in our climate? Why is the media incapable of cutting through all the politically motivated spin and giving Americans a good lesson on what satellites and ground observations are actually recording?

The questions could go on. But, I think the bigger issue may be in recognizing how much ego we have invested in our particular views of the world. Both the left and the right have excellent ammunition against the other. It is too easy to ridicule the epic mistakes of each. Maybe one of the prerequisites for successfully dealing with the coming crisis is in recognizing our own mistakes, misunderstandings and blind spots. To gain a degree of humility. To appreciate that there is much to learn. To want to learn. To achieve a willingness to listen to others while suspending judgment for the moment and digesting the thoughts behind the words before returning to judgmental mode. Sounds easy, but so hard to do, yet oh so necessary.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More fun with global warming

This is in reply to a local ex-oil man and perennial climate change naysayer. His letter can be found in the February 5th issue of the Durango Telegraph. Since his letter is a parroting of the usual naysayer nonsense, I see no need to add his letter to my blog.
Besides, the following is pretty self explanatory and speaks to the greater naysayer camp, not just one individual.

I have noticed that in the following three posts I have left out one essential reference source regarding climate change - www RealClimate. If you want to examine the issues in detail, this is the place!

Dear Durango Telegraph Editor,
RC’s letter of February 5th is filled with exactly the kinds of transgressions he condemns in his “8 rules.”

But, let’s skip the rhetoric and go to the authoritative data being collected and digested by NASA’s Earth Observatory Satellite system. To follow along please go to the internet: this opens to NASA’s “GISS Surface Temperature Analysis ~ Global Temperature Trends: 2008 Annual Summation.”

The opening page shows the famous graph everyone points to regarding “average” global temperatures. From a distance it looks serious and uphill. But, looking closer, it starts getting more complicated. In this thicket of details is where RC, Heartland Institute, and a host of other corporate sponsored naysayers do some statistical voodoo. Through their tunnel vision they conjure a downward trend and are trumpeting: ‘Lookie here the temperatures are going down, Global Warming is an elaborate hoax!’

Back, to the GISS’s graph. On the website you will notice that next to the graph is a Global Map representing the distribution of temperatures that went into the averages displayed in the famous graph. Naysayers, never direct your attention to this map ~ but, it is definitely something to study.

Looking at that map, the colors represent the distribution of heat energy on our Earth. Consider our climate as the heat engine it truly is. This heat engine’s job is to maintain a state of dynamic global equilibrium. “Barometric differentials” and “temperature gradients” are the throttles of this atmospheric weather machine. It’s simple undeniable physics!

Looking at the actual map, notice the white areas representing no change in temperatures. Not too much of that. Beside that is a lot of yellows, meaning increased temperature. Next to that is quite a bit of reds reflecting significant temperature increases in these regions. Nestled between all of that are the blue patches recording regional decrees in temperatures.

RC, engineer/scientist; come on, please think about this picture. What is there to be smug about? Don’t barometric differentials and temperature gradients drive weather fronts & storm intensity? Read the details within that GISS report. There is nothing in the least supportive of your clarion call to willful ignorance. All the “Faith” in the world does not change the truth that ignoring our changing climate does us more harm than good!

RC writes: “even though the science does not support a substantial human contribution to 20th century warning.” This is perhaps the most outrageous, even treasonous, nonsense the corporate driven naysayers perpetrate. How can any informed person claim that human impact upon this earth isn’t substantial and overwhelmingly destructive. RC show us some positive proof. Not just slick sound-bits! Any serious research yields frightening visions of what unrestrained greed continues to do to our Biosphere ~ you know that web of water, earth, air and life that is our collective life support system. Read the U.S. Geological Survey report at:, or for a visual: Do some web browsing asking your own questions. The facts are out there and deserve to be studied critically - stifling our preconceived notions. All sides have much to learn.

RC writes: “The second group consists of, well, political propagandist.” RC, isn’t this who you represent? Where are they doing any research? Where do they actually try to explain the dynamics of climate to the public? Where do they acknowledge the full spectrum of data being gathered these days? Where is their funding and reason for existence coming from?

Look at Heartland Institute, the latest mega player in the contrarian media campaign. Last spring they came up with “500 Scientists with Documented Doubts about Man-Made Global Warming Scares.” Well, it was a fraud. As proven by the dozens of signees who, within days, publicly condemned their names being usurped. For a collection of links exposing the Heartland Institute’s fraud, see:

If you’re interested in the history of the contrarian camp this talk by Naomi Oreskes Ph.D., Stanford Professor of History & Science is a must. See:

RC writes: “... solutions should cost as little as possible in economic, political, and social terms.” Silly man. Our economy may depend upon weather patterns, but it doesn’t work the other way around! Stop mixing the two! Understanding the climate is more important than pretending we are in control.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Research Global Warming Issues ~ #2

I’m embarrassed by my 2-3-9 Letter to the Durango Herald Editor regarding the recently published “Warming of the Antarctic ice-sheet surface since the 1957 International Geophysical Year” in the journal Nature.

I got so focused on the naysayer nonsense that I never mentioned the significance of this recent report. From the introduction of the report itself:

“Assessments of Antarctic temperature change have emphasized the contrast between strong warming of the Antarctic Peninsula and slight cooling of the Antarctic continental interior in recent decades.... Here we show that significant warming extends well beyond the Antarctic Peninsula to cover most of West Antarctica, an area of warming much larger than previously reported. West Antarctic warming exceeds 0.1 °C per decade over the past 50 years, and is strongest in winter and spring.”

Incidentally, here’s the latest (1-28-9) from the North Pole: USA’s National Snow & Ice Data Center “... sea ice extent just dipped below January 2007 levels (the previous historic low) in the last few days... ”

Oh, and what is happening in between? The University of Zurich's World Glacier Monitoring Service reports that in 2006 and 2007 that the world's glaciers lost 2 meters (over six feet!) of thickness on average. UZWGMS notes: "The new data continues the global trend in accelerated ice loss over the past few decades." The rate of ice loss is twice as fast as a decade ago.

The real remaining question is: How long are we going to allow faith based wishful thinking to overrule what we can see, measure & understand?