But in the land of make-believe, Watts and Goddard say: “Arctic ice extent and thickness nearly identical to what it was 10 years ago.”
One of the country’s leading experts on the Arctic projects it will be essentially ice-free (in the fall) decades ahead of the projections of the climate models used in the 2007 IPCC report. And that has quite dire implications and consequences for the likely future rate of climate change compared to those models.
The following chart is from Wieslaw Maslowski of the Naval Postgraduate School in a presentation at the March State of the Arctic Meeting (click to enlarge):
*This projection is based on a combined model and data trendline focusing on ice volume. By “ice-free,” Maslowski tells me he means more than an 80% drop from the 1979-2000 summer volume baseline of ~200,00 km^3. Some sea ice above Greenland and Eastern Canada may survive into the 2020s (as the inset in his figure shows), but the Arctic as it has been for apparently a million years will be gone.
Note also that the Polar Science Center asserts “September Ice Volume was lowest in 2009 at 5,800 km^3 or 67% below its 1979 maximum.” If that figure is correct, then we may be on one of Maslowski’s faster-declining trend lines. And yes, after apparently hundreds of thousands of years, this relatively rapid decline can, I think, safely be called a “death spiral” (especially if the Polar Science Center’s work discussed below is correct).
Note that I think it would be a better world if that’s how political news was covered. The articles about horse-race politics would be boring—and rightly so—which means that if you wanted readers for your articles about politics, you’d have to try to find a way to make policy writing engaging. It’s a bit of a hard challenge because it doesn’t involve the same obvious level of human narrative drama, but at the end of the day superficially dry policy debates actually have massive consequences for very real human beings all around the country and the world, so it should hardly be impossible to bring this stuff down to earth.
On Tuesday, Arkansas voters will go to the polls to nominate a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. The race is expected to be close, with incumbent senator Blanche Lincoln facing a tough challenge from former Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who is mounting a populist campaign against Lincoln, claiming she is too close to big corporations.
Today, on CNN’s State of the Union, host Candy Crowley asked Lincoln about how she felt her campaign was going. The incumbent senator said that she has been traveling all over the state to campaign, while Halter has been allowing “other people fund his campaign and do his dirty work”
LINCOLN: I’ve spent the last oh gosh the last week on our countdown to victory tour in 20, 25 county courthouses across the state. Bill hasn’t been doing that, he’s been letting other people fund his campaign and do his dirty work and I’ve been out there with the people.
While it is true that Halter has received support from outside groups, such as the AFL-CIO labor union, it should be noted that during the 2009-2010 campaign cycle, 93 percent of his funds come from individual contributions, and only 5 percent come from PACs and other interest groups.
And while Lincoln boasts of being “out there with the people,” a review of her campaign contributions shows that she has received far more money from PACs, corporate front groups, and other outside interest organizations than Halter has. During the 2009-2010 campaign cycle, 38 percent of Lincoln’s funding has come from PACs. Here’s a short list of some of the “other people” funding her campaign:
- $9,000 from insurance giant Aetna Inc.
- $7,000 from petroleum company Anadarko
- $6,000 from drug corporation Bayer
- $2,000 from Bechtel corporation
- $5,500 from insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield
- $5,000 from defense contractor Boeing
- $5,000 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- $5,000 from Charles Schwab brokerage house
- $10,000 from oil giant Chevron
- $6,000 from telecommunications corporation Comcast
- $5,000 from oil company ExxonMobil
- $6,500 from investment bank Goldman Sachs
- $8,000 from retailer Home Depot
- $6,500 from investment bank JP Morgan Chase
- $7,000 from defense contractor Lockheed Martin
- $5,000 from oil industry giant Occidental Petroleum
- $8,000 from retailer Wal-Mart
If Lincoln is going to criticize her opponent for receiving funds from outside groups, she should be upfront about her own as well.
Lincoln took $4,000 from BP in the 2009-2010 campaign cycle alone.
National Incident Commander Thad Allen has rebuked BP for being “very pleased” about the company’s failed efforts to contain the disaster he described as an “insidious enemy” that is “holding the gulf hostage.” On Saturday, BP Senior Vice President Bob Fryar said “the company funneled about 250,000 gallons of oil in the first 24 hours from a containment cap installed on the well” to a drilling ship on the ocean surface. “That operation has gone extremely well,” Fryar said at an Alabama news conference. “We are very pleased.” On CNN’s State of the Union, Allen rebuked Fryar, telling Candy Crowley that nobody “should be pleased as long as there’s oil in the water”:
ALLEN: We are making the right progress. I don’t think anybody should be pleased as long as there is oil in the water. They have been able to put a containment cap over the leak site, start to bring oil to the surface and start turning off the vents. Nobody should be pleased until the relief well is done.
“The facts are, there is oil on the beach,” Allen concluded. “We need to keep focusing on that. This is an insidious enemy attacking our shores. It’s holding the gulf hostage.”
The effectiveness of the containment cap in limiting the flow of oil into the ocean is actually entirely unclear. Cutting the riser pipe may have increased the gusher, whose flow rate is unknown. The estimate of 500,000 to 850,000 gallons a day is just a lower bound estimate from before the riser pipe cut, the scientists who worked on the official Flow Rate Technical Group have explained. The live underwater video shows no apparent reduction in the oil spewing into the gulf.
BP has a long record of being “very pleased” with their failed efforts to stop the leak and contain the spread of oil, which has now led to the closure of a third of the Gulf of Mexico, an area larger than the state of Florida:
May 17: “I’m really pleased we’ve had success now,” BP COO Doug Suttles says. “We’ve actually had what we call this riser insertion tube working more than 24 hours now.”
May 19: BP announces it’s “very pleased” with the performance of the insertion tube, as oil blankets Louisiana’s wetlands, fishermen are sickened, and the slick is caught by the loop current.
May 26: “As the admiral has mentioned, it’s disappointing, we do have oil ashore at nine different locations in the state of Louisiana,” Suttles says, before finding a silver lining. “But we still have no oil ashore in either Alabama, Mississippi, or Florida, which we’re very pleased about.”
May 27: “As I’ve mentioned before, the equipment actually has performed very well,” Suttles says about the top kill effort, which replaced the failed riser insertion tube. “We are very pleased with the performance of the equipment so far.”
May 28: “I’ve done this many, many times now and I can tell you that the battle offshore, we’re winning that battle,” Suttles claims. “It’s the least amount of oil that I’ve seen offshore since my very first flight, so I’m very, very pleased with the activity of the offshore team.”
May 29: “I’m very pleased to say the amount of oil on the surface of the sea continues to be reduced,” Suttles bizarrely claims, as BP abandons the failed “top kill” effort.
June 5: “Over the last 24 hours we’ve been able to collect 6,000 barrels of oil,” BP Senior Vice President Bob Fryar tells reporters in Mobile, AL, “so we’re very pleased with that operation.”
Say it’s midway through the final year of the first decade of the 21st Century. Say that, last week, two things happened: scientists in China announced successful quantum teleportation over a distance of ten miles, while other scientists, in Maryland, announced the creation of an artificial, self-replicating genome. In this particular version of the 21st Century, which happens to be the one you’re living in, neither of these stories attracted a very great deal of attention.
Henley says “It’s one of those times I wish I found Gibson’s novels more engrossing.” Fortunately, I like several of Gibson’s novels a great deal. Indeed, while riding the train from Shanghai to Yiwu and watching the alternation of run-amok ultra-modern construction and backbreaking rural poverty rush by at 200 kilometers an hour, I kept thinking of the line “the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.” It inspired me to re-read Neuromancer on the plane back home (possible thanks to the magic of ebooks) which is definitely still a great read today.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Jun 6, 2010 at 3:44 pm
If only they had been so clever in their operations or response
As BP’s oil disaster continues to ravage the Gulf Coast, the company is ramping up its public relations and legal operations to try to salvage its reputation and protect itself from lawsuits. Now, ABC News is reporting that one such tactic BP is using is purchasing search items that have the word “oil” in them on various search engines to ensure that the first results that appear link directly to BP’s official website:
By Climate Guest Blogger on Jun 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm
Turns out BP is very easily pleased.
National Incident Commander Thad Allen has rebuked BP for being “very pleased” about the company’s failed efforts to contain the disaster he described as an “insidious enemy” that is “holding the gulf hostage.” In this repost, WE’s Brad Johnson has the story and videos:
Yesterday, U.S. GOP Senate candidate from Kentucky Rand Paul wrote an op-ed in the Bowling Green Daily News, attempting to explain his widely condemned belief that private businesses should be allowed to turn away customers because of their race. In the piece, he compares himself to 19th century abolitionists and Martin Luther King, Jr. and tries to argue that he is carrying on the legacy of their “battles” — such as fighting for restaurants to allow people to smoke:
I am unlike many folks who run for office. I am an idealist. When I read history I side with abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas who fought for 30 years to end slavery and to integrate public transportation in the free North in the 1840s. I see our failure to end slavery for decade after decade as a failure of weak-kneed politicians. [...]
Segregation ended only after a great and momentous uprising by idealists like Martin Luther King Jr., who provoked weak-kneed politicians to action.
In 2010, there are battles that need to be fought, and they have nothing to do with race or discrimination, but rather the rights of people to be free from a nanny state.
For example, I am opposed to the government telling restaurant owners that they cannot allow smoking in their establishments. I believe we as consumers can choose whether to patronize a smoke-filled restaurant or do business with a smoke-free option. Think about it — this overreach is now extending to mandates about fat and calorie counts in menus. Do we really need the government managing all of these decisions for us?
Ph.D. Octopus has more on why Paul’s “idea of how to fight segregation and racism is simply nonsense.”
I blogged on May 16 that I had some doubts that price controls on debit card interchange fees would really end up benefitting consumers. The incidence of these fees, I thought, likely fell on retailers rather than consumers, so legislation curbing the fees would benefit retailers rather than consumers. “Should be a good subject for some economics PhD candidates a few years from now,” I concluded.
It looks like I won’t need to wait, however, as GMU’s Todd Zywicki has unloaded with a paper making a full-throated defense of interchange fees and foretelling all sorts of gloom and doom if regulations are imposed (“consequence of interchange fee legislation, as Australia’s experiment with such regulation demonstrates, would be reduced access to credit, higher interest rates for consumers, and the return of the much-loathed annual fee for credit cards”). I haven’t read the paper beyond the abstract, which strikes me as almost certainly over the top, but it’s a reminder that there’s often more to be said on these issues than seems obvious at first glance.
This morning on ABC This Week, Arianna Huffington brought up the role the Bush administration played in creating a regulatory system “full of loopholes, full of cronies and lobbyists filling the very agencies they’re supposed to be overseeing,” especially when it comes to the oil industry. Indeed, a 2008 report by the Interior Department’s Inspector General found that workers at the Minerals Management Service were “partying, having sex, using drugs and accepting gifts and ski trips and golf outings from energy company representatives with whom they did government business.” She then tried to talk about the role Halliburton, the energy giant formerly run by Dick Cheney, has in the oil spill, but she was soon cut off by Liz Cheney, who rushed to defend her dad and the corporation:
HUFFINGTON: Right here, we have the poster child of Bush-Cheney crony capitalism. Halliburton involved in this, and we haven’t said about that. They after all were responsible for cementing the well. Here’s Halliburton, after it defrauded the American taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars –
CHENEY: Arianna, I don’t know what planet you live on, but that’s not –
HUFFINGTON: — it’s involved again. I’m living on this planet. … Halliburton was involved in this. How can you say it is not?
TAPPER: Well, Halliburton was cementing the pipe.
HUFFINGTON: How can you say Halliburton has no relationship?
CHENEY: Her assertion that Halliburton defrauded the U.S. government –
HUFFINGTON: It did. It did.
CHENEY: It was Bush-Cheney cronyism is the left talking point –
HUFFINGTON: It was — hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraq.
CHENEY: Arianna, is absolutely not true. It is absolutely not true.
First of all, Halliburton was involved in the current oil spill, as both Huffington and host Jake Tapper pointed out. From the Wall Street Journal:
An oil-drilling procedure called cementing is coming under scrutiny as a possible cause of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico that has led to one of the biggest oil spills in U.S. history, drilling experts said Thursday. [...]
The scrutiny on cementing will focus attention on Halliburton Co., the oilfield-services firm that was handling the cementing process on the rig, which burned and sank last week. The disaster, which killed 11, has left a gusher of oil streaming into the Gulf from a mile under the surface. … According to Transocean Ltd., the operator of the drilling rig, Halliburton had finished cementing the 18,000-foot well shortly before the explosion.
Natalie Roshto, whose husband died after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, has filed a lawsuit against BP and oil rig owner Transocean for violating “numerous statutes and regulations.” The suit also names Halliburton, claiming that prior to the disaster, it was “engaged in cementing operations of the well and well cap and, upon information and belief, improperly and negligently performed these duties, which was a cause of the explosion.” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) has also sent a letter to Halliburton seeking more details about its role. (Josh Dorner and Rebecca Lefton of CAPAF have more here and here on Cheney’s ties to this disaster.)
Second of all, Halliburton became notorious for its malfeasance in Iraq. It allegedly tried to cover up the gang rape of one of its contractors, knowingly exposed U.S. troops to deadly toxins, and ignored warnings of unsafe electrical wiring that led to the death of U.S. soldiers. In 2007, federal auditors told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the government had wasted $10 billion on “overpriced contracts or undocumented costs.” Of that amount, $2.7 billion was charged by Halliburton.