Open Thread And Cartoon Of The Week

Opine away.

By Brian McFadden


74 Responses to Open Thread And Cartoon Of The Week

  1. Michael R Ponicki says:

    I’ll call this piece, “Perception of reality according by the liberal mind”, very instructive! :)

  2. Shall I be the spoilsport who starts a thread about how the Super Bowl epitomizes every challenge we face in combating climate disruption? Is a more frivolous, gargantuan, orgiastic waste of resources imaginable?

    The sum powers of our fossil-fueled technology are for one day focused on this primal and brutish entertainment. Planes, satellites, telecommunications, computers–all in the service of base prodigality on a planetary scale.

    Yet there I’ll be, microbrew in hand, screaming at the screen. And enjoying every minute of it.

    If that is not the very essence of our dilemma, I don’t know what is.

  3. Will Fox says:

    Zeitgeist: Moving Forward

    If you haven’t watched this, please do so, and share with your friends/family/colleagues.

    It’s the best documentary I’ve ever seen, and perfectly sums up the state of the world today – from environmental, social, political and economic viewpoints. In particular, the film deals with our utterly unsustainable use of resources, and presents a brilliant alternative to capitalism, known as a “resource-based economy” –

    Mulga, I think you will love this ;-)

    The documentary is 2 years old now – but there’s a large and growing number of people who follow the Zeitgeist Movement, along with similar efforts like the Venus Project. If you care about global warming and environmental issues, this film is an absolute must-see, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  4. Wes says:

    Well, bread and circuses worked so well for the Romans, they should work for us, too! Too bad that there won’t be any Edward Gibbon left to write “The Rise and Fall of the Human Race.”

    I continue to be amazed at the seeming lack of urgency displayed by folks who should know better. They act like we have generations to deal with this, but ignore the positive feedbacks that make a relatively near term irreversible tipping point inevitable.

  5. TJinBoulderUT says:

    Out here in the southern Utah we’ve been passing around DeBuys’s book A Great Aridness and wondering at the fact that our state’s governor wants to open up areas for tar sands mining. Utah is a very odd mix of rabid libertarian/LDS conformists – “use this land that God gave us” on one side and equally committed outdoor enthusiasts who want to protect this awesome landscape on the other.

    Hiking yesterday we wondered how Germany could install over 20% of it’s energy needs in solar while Utah with an abundance of sun has no plan in place and little in the way of incentives. If it hadn’t been for our St. Bill Clinton who designated the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument we would have a massive coal mine just down the road. As it is there’s a mine (Alton) not far from the beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park, with coal trucks rumbling up the road – presumably sending coal to China.

    I’m sorry to say this – but – if you lived out here you would have little hope that we have the awareness or will to stop the madness, until it’s way too late. And, it already may be.

  6. Gingerbaker says:

    The Superbowl is a large successful cultural event enjoyed by millions. The fact that megawatts of energy are used to bring this about is not the issue.

    The issue is that fossil fuels are still being used to produce electricity. Once we get all of our energy from the sun and wind – what does it matter how profligate we are with it? There are zero environmental consequences from using green electricity.

    Once we move to all green power, this idea that energy use must be conserved – that we MUST suffer to be good stewards of the Earth – that the Superbowl must be reviled, will hopefully pass from our collective conscious.

  7. So, Michael. How does the conservative mind perceive reality? I think that arch-Conservative arch-Conservationist Barry Goldwater must be turning in his grave. At least he understood the connection between the root meanings of those words.

  8. Gingerbaker says:

    Harvard scientists: Data on fluoride, IQ not applicable in U.S.

    Read more here:

    Your article is by Joe Mercola, a notorious alarmist and promoter of quack medicine.

  9. Spike says:

    The UK remains at risk of flooding with little attention still being paid to the risks of climate change.Vicky Pope, a Met office climate scientist states “Flooding is the real risk. We are seeing rainfall patterns changing, heavier rainfall coming in strong bursts.”

  10. Robert Callaghan says:

    you might as well get the big picture.
    the secret U.S. invasion of Africa has begun.

  11. Ken Barrows says:

    Why America won’t do anything meaningful about climate change:

    (1) Unrestrained glee about the increase in January auto sales–double digit growth year over year. It’s really great, apparently, to borrow money to pay rapidly depreciating assets.

    (2) Of all the autos sold in January, what percentage were solely gasoline fueled? 95%? Now that they’re out there, those cars will be emitting CO2 past 2025.

    (3) GM is planning to expand some factories. And not just to build Volts.

    So, if climate change is the problem most here seem to think, shouldn’t be we saying that this is terrible news? Precious capital is going to pay for depreciating fossil fuel powered assets.

  12. Ken Barrows says:

    I am going to a movie, using a car, though :(

  13. catman306 says:

    Basic tactics:

    When A defends B, attack A.

    Political demonstrations USED to have an impact because coverage in the media would amplify the effect of thousands of real people marching. But today’s media won’t cover peaceful demonstrations. The coverage begins when the protests become violent shedding a bad light on meaning of the cause. Police will crush the violence and arrest the demonstrators as they’ve been trained to do. No change to Business as Usual will occur.

    The media are strongly defending the deniers and the destroyers by denying meaningful information to the public.

    The MSM has become that which must be attacked.

    Good luck, on that. But if you could get 100 million people to stop paying their cable TV bills at the same time, or cancel their service…until such time as they begin to cover climate disruption and change as a real and important news story.

    Money is the only thing that matters to media infotainment companies. Starve them of it. Maybe then they’ll start covering the ‘Story of the Century’ and the public’s newly educated collective mind will demand real climate action.

  14. Superman1 says:

    “shouldn’t be we saying that this is terrible news?”

    What would lead you to expect good news? What have we done in the past to ameliorate climate change: essentially nothing! what are we doing presently to ameliorate climate change: essentially nothing! What is on the books for the future to ameliorate climate change: essentially nothing but hopes, dreams, and fantasies! The only thing real on the books at this point is BP’s 2030 Energy Outlook, which projects a 30% increase in fossil fuel use over 2010. This is based on government projections, corporate plans, and estimated consumer demand. Expecting good news in this environment is akin to expecting to win the Powerball Lottery.

  15. Robert Callaghan says:

    i gotta say how much it hurts to see those nasty little ads

  16. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    I’ll give a second for William DeBuys’ “Great Aridness”. It’s a wonderful source of information on water woes in the SW U.S., past, present, and future
    There is hope for the survival of our progeny. During the Pliocene the planet achieved a long term stable state at between +2C to +3C, and CO2 concentration at or a bit above present levels. Perhaps a fair number of “evolved” hominids and as many as 25% of other species can survive. It wouldn’t be a friendly planet, but a place of great lonliness (paraphrasing E. O. Wilson). But of course, we have to begin applying the brakes NOW! Kevin Anderson has said that +4C is likely not stable.

  17. Superman1 says:

    Wasn’t that rather obvious when Africom was established?

  18. Ken Barrows says:

    Tell me something I don’t know ;)

  19. Robert Callaghan says:

    yep, but i love the quick jabs followed by uppercuts and a right hook. great writing.

  20. Robert Callaghan says:

    I call Mike’s comment, mis-perception of reality by the fecal mind.

  21. Will Fox says:

    BP’s Energy Outlook for 2030 is laughably biased. Solar and wind have been growing exponentially in installed capacity – and will continue to do so – while declining exponentially in cost. On current trends (doubling every couple of years), solar and wind capacity will dominate the US and indeed much of the world by 2030, even without government subsidies. Carbon capture technologies are further behind in development, but we can expect a similar rapid growth from them eventually. Just look at the staggering multitude of breakthroughs occurring on an almost daily basis at and Moore’s Law is just one of many trends that are leading us towards a technological revolution. Things may look dire right now, but there is much hope when you consider these exponential trends. The problem is that most people on Climate Progress only view things from the absolute worst case perspective, as if the only possible outcome is global extinction/armageddon.

  22. David Goldstein says:

    Ken- this is a really great point and also an incredibly poignant point. Poignant because this ‘growth is good’ mantra is so throughly baked in to our cultural ethos and, at the same time, is -possibly more than anything – serving to destroy the very society itself. THIS- the ‘religion’ of celebrating economic ‘growth’ (expansion) – is what will bring us down. Well….we shall see (or our children and grandchildren will see) just how far down we are brought and if a more sane manner of interacting with the world emerges in the ashes.

  23. Henry says:

    In fairness to the people of the UK, you can’t blame them for not listening to the Met office. It was only a year or two past that the Met was predicting drought for the UK!

  24. Robert Callaghan says:

    LOL it wasn’t too long ago Britain was celebrating the oncoming Mediterranean climate and the new British wines.

  25. Turboblocke says:

    Henry: there actually was a drought in many parts of the UK until Spring last year, since when there has been a lot of unusual rainfall with flooding.

  26. Henry says:

    Turboblocke – Yes, it had been dryer at that time. But on may 23, 2012 the Met predicted dryer than normal conditions for the summer and the actual result for that period – RAINFALL WAS 158% OF NORMAL.
    This is not to bash the Met, only to point out the folly of trying to predict weather trends beyond next week, let alone for the next few months.

  27. Joe Romm says:

    Yes, it is fighting the last war.

  28. Mike Roddy says:

    Here’s what we need to do a lot more of:

    Maybe they can charge admission next time, and use the money to help fund a solar or wind plant.

  29. Brooks Bridges says:

    Rotting teeth that could have been avoided by public water fluoridation results in a significantly shorter life for people too poor for dental work. THAT is not doubt.

  30. Robert Callaghan says:

    by fighting the last war, do you mean cap’n trade?

  31. Kelli says:

    Mercola is not a “quack”, he actually knows about real health not the Big Pharma-dominated medical system.

    Actually, its ironic that we pollute what little water there is on Earth with fluoride and a myriad of other toxins. Can’t someone finally wake up and realize whats going on?

  32. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Thanks, Will-I’ll have a look. The current economic system is suicidal, yet we simply refuse to acknowledge it. Passing strange! The fact that it is unsustainable has been known for decades, and suspected by great minds for centuries. All the indigenous understood that preserving the natural balance of life was the paramount concern of society, but we seem to furiously deny it. I think it’s connected to the denial of death, and the belief in faery-tale paradises in the Hereafter.

  33. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Just a front in the ‘Bring China Down’ Crusade. Pity the poor Africans.

  34. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I admire your optimism Will, and, without a shadow of a doubt, if we moved forcefully towards total decarbonisation we could save ourselves, yet. But, will we? Will the powers-that-be allow it? In Australia hard Right state regimes are actively sabotaging renewable energy, and pushing hard to extract more and more coal and gas. And there is a very real possibility, that I suspect is almost now a certainty, that we have already passed several points of no return.

  35. perceptiventity says:

    If you’ve appreciated ‘Zeitgeist’ you might also be inspired by ‘BARAKA’ and a subsequent sequel

  36. AlC says:

    Stand up and make yourself visible on February 17th!
    Forward on Climate Rally
    Washington DC:

    Too far from Washington DC?
    Los Angeles, San Francsco, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, Medford…

  37. perceptiventity says:

    ‘ SAMSARA ‘ the movie

    Jaque Fresco has been illuminating us from 1970s and to no avail human greed marches on, alas.

  38. Omega Centauri says:

    Never say there are zero consequences. Even with green energy with could still swamp the planets ecosystems. That swamping is a lot less efficient, i.e. with anything close to our current useage the effects would be reasonably small. But if we continue exponential growth, we will hit any conceivable limit surprisingly fast.

  39. Omega Centauri says:

    The people who predict that sort of thing (prospects a few months out), produce statistical forecasts. A “strong” prediction would be a 40% chance this season will be in the top third of years. These may still have some value, but they show that the variability is greater than the predictability. This is a totally different issue than climate change. The most important thing we seem to be experiencing (beyond warming), is that seasonable variability is increasing.

  40. Omega Centauri says:

    The “good” news, is the planet probably won’t yield up the expected treasure trove of fossil fuels. But there will still be enough to cause some serious damage.

  41. David B. Benson says:

    ‘Reality has a liberal bias’

  42. Will Fox says:

    Declines in UK moth species ‘potentially catastrophic’

  43. Artful Dodger says:

    Electric car? or Plug-in Hybrid? ;^)
    Keep it in mind next time you rent, buy, or lease.

  44. Artful Dodger says:

    Wes, perhaps you feel they plan for you to survive? Certainly not if you are an employee, or other such parasite on capital.

  45. Artful Dodger says:

    The Arctic permafrost (or perma-melt as Joe calls it) contains double the amount of carbon as is currently in the atmosphere.

    The BEST case scenario is it melts out at <0.5% per year (200 years to melt), so that most effects of GHG release comes from CO2.

    This results in 1,000 ppm CO2 and a mostly ice-free Greenland by 2200 CE, along with
    70 feet of sea level rise.
    If it melts significantly faster so that most effects come from CH4 (methane) gas, then it's 'well-howdy' for the climate.

    Think ice-free planet, and 70 METERS OF SLR!

  46. Bob Bingham says:

    The reason carbon capture is elusive is that coal is only cheap if you put the pollution into the atmosphere for free. If you try to capture the CO2 and other pollution it becomes very expensive and so why bother?
    Each ton of coal produces 2.5 tons of CO2 and A coal fired power station burns around 10,000 tons a day. What are you going to do with 25,000 tons of CO2 a day?

  47. Will Fox says:

    We’re now burning so much fossil fuel, it can actually be viewed from space!!

    Exactly how obvious do the signs have to get before deniers accept that we’re having an impact, and that global warming is real?

  48. Will Fox says:

    Er…oops, just seen Hoedad’s post above.

  49. Superman1 says:

    “Kevin Anderson has said that +4C is likely not stable”

    Where is the evidence that the present 0.8 C is stable? The ice cap is almost gone in Summer, and Alexeev’s recent paper on the effect of warm Atlantic water in the Arctic essentially guarantees that the Summer ice cap will be gone very shortly. Then we will have Arctic water heating 24/7 in the Summer from both the Sun and Atlantic water.

    Archer believes the clathrates are buried sufficiently deep in the sediment to be protected from thermal pulses for a long period of time. But, how valid is that assumption? The following was published in December 2012. It shows that some clathrates are found at much shallower depths, and could be vulnerable to Arctic water heating. The level of danger all depends on the amount of clathrates and where they are distributed, and my guess is that the ‘black’ community is gathering this data in droves. We may, in fact, be further over the cliff than anyone realizes.

    “A ‘test case’ for how undersea deposits of methane — a greenhouse gas locked in sediments — might respond to climate change has been uncovered in the Arctic Circle.

    The shallowest known deposit of methane hydrate — a crystalline solid comprising methane molecules trapped in an ice-lattice structure — has been discovered on the continental slope off Canada in the Beaufort Sea.

    The trapped gas deposit is located in an area of small conical hills on the ocean floor just 290 metres below sea level. Before the discovery, the shallowest known marine gas-hydrate deposits were found in the Gulf of Mexico and in the vicinity of the Svalbard Islands at depths of around 400 m, says Charles Paull, a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California, who presented the work on Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, California1.

    This particular deposit is only modest in size, but the methane trapped in such deposits represents an immense global carbon reservoir. Some experts fear that destabilization of such gas-hydrate deposits around the world — caused by changes in sea temperature or drilling, for example — could cause a release of methane into the environment and accelerate global warming. At such a shallow depth, the newly discovered deposit is vulnerable to decomposition if there is even subtle warming of the overlaying water, says Paull.”

  50. Superman1 says:

    “Solar and wind have been growing exponentially in installed capacity – and will continue to do so – while declining exponentially in cost. On current trends (doubling every couple of years), solar and wind capacity will dominate the US and indeed much of the world by 2030, even without government subsidies.”

    You are looking at the wrong metric. The only metric of consequence is emission/concentration of CO2. That has not been decreasing; the fossil boys are selling all they can produce, and are frantically searching for more. If and when the time comes that solar/wind could seriously challenge fossil to replace existing/planned facilities, the fossil boys will use their secret weapon – cut the price! States like Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia are essentially one product towns, and they will do what it takes to sell that product. They have much flexibility in what they can do to wages and profits to be competitive. So, like many exponential growth situations, I would take the solar/wind one with a grain of salt.

    “The problem is that most people on Climate Progress only view things from the absolute worst case perspective, as if the only possible outcome is global extinction/armageddon.”

    At this point in time, rather than use ‘only possible outcome’, I would phrase it as ‘most probable outcome’. That leaves open the slim possibility that the residents of this planet could get their act together in time to ward off the catastrophe; why anyone would be optimistic that they could is beyond me, given past performance. See my response to Dennis in 5. above for further details.

  51. Superman1 says:

    See my comments to Dennis in 5 above when it is posted. We are truly skating on thin ice, even if we were to get serious about solving the problem. Do you think the Australian politicians will leave that new multi-trillion dollar fossil discovery sitting in the ground?

  52. Will Fox says:

    “The results are that rainfall extremes are increasing on average globally. They show that there is a 7% increase in extreme rainfall intensity for every degree increase in global atmospheric temperature. Assuming an increase in global average temperature by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century, this could mean very substantial increases in rainfall intensity as a result of climate change.”

  53. wili says:

    And don’t forget the sea-bed sources of methane. They seem to be on the move right now over the Barents Sea.

  54. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    I knew Joe couldn’t keep the “Man of Steel” locked in chains forever – not without a healthy supply of Kryptonite.
    Thanks for the response, and for the persuasive arguments, many of which I might agree with pending the answer to: Does the earth’s climate system have memory? That is, does the climate system remember slope (direction, and rate of change)? Is future climate change somehow coupled to current and/or past climate change? Here’s my argument: The Pliocene was a cooling period between the warmer Miocene and the glacials of the Pleistocene. The period was from 5.3mya to 2.6mya, so climate change was slow by comparison with today. There were drastic geological changes: North and South America joined, India collided with S. Asia giving birth to the Himalayas, Africa joined with Europe and the Mediterranean began to fill. During the middle of the Pliocene (3.3mya to 3.0mya), with Global temperatures about +2C to +3C warmer than today, sea levels about 25m higher, and CO2 concentration slightly above 400ppm, the Arctic ice cap began forming, and Greenland began glaciating. All this occurred during a period of recent CO2 (and likely CH4) sequestration. So it is likely that all the CO2 available for release today was also available then, and yet, the climate continued slowly cooling. So, does slope and rate of change matter? If so, then I agree with you – we are all screwed! But if we were to quickly halt CO2 emissions, could we not expect a better outcome? You may be right. Ocean circulation currents and oceanic inertia may well be the “memory” that “gets” us. The final chapter may already be written. But as for me… I still have hope that Superman can revive Lois by flying E->W till the earth’s rotation changes and time reverses, etc., etc. etc.

  55. Spike says:

    Science Daily covers the study here:

  56. catman306 says:

    This could be Gaia’s face washing for an extreme make-over.

    What’s the name for the era after Anthropocene, Post-Anthropocene?

  57. catman306 says:

    Climate action ‘could halve energy firms’ worth’

    If the world succeeds in reaching its targets for curbing greenhouse gases, a leading bank says, this will mean huge quantities of oil and gas reserves must be left unused.

    The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its 2012 World Energy Outlook that in order to have a 50% chance of limiting the rise in global temperatures to 2°C, only a third of current fossil fuel reserves can be burned before 2050.

  58. Paul Magnus says:

    River not run dry yet…

    Is denial the biggest barrier to sustainable change?

    The battle for climate change recognition may finally have been won but unless we find innovative ways of tackling our fear of action, we may yet lose the war

  59. Paul Magnus says:

    “The heads of the World Bank, the IMF and the OECD met privately with political leaders and collectively told them to forget about the idea of growth if they are not prepared to deal with climate change”

    “chief executive of a major City investment firm told me of how afraid executives in the financial markets are of voicing the truth. “

  60. Paul Magnus says:

    HSBC: Oil majors at risk from ‘unburnable’ reserves

    HSBC study finds meeting international climate goals could strip 60 per cent of the value from companies such as BP, Shell, and Statoil

  61. Paul Magnus says:

    Think … pension funds….

  62. Paul Magnus says:

    The 6th estate…

    For many of these much-heralded “country folk”, the financial and emotional struggle of staying on the land will be too much; they’ve said as much in shocked-filled resignation as the water came back too soon.

    Watching on, from the fire-prone drier states, the unspoken narrative is screaming; where will these people go? What will they do for a living? And who will grow the food they were growing for both domestic and export markets?

    There’s even been talk from Queensland Premier Campbell Newman that some flood-prone residential areas in Queensland might have to be relocated to avoid what looks increasingly like the recurring reality of extreme flooding.

  63. Paul Magnus says:

    “For the first time in years there were no cars on Jakarta’s streets (other than floating ones); instead, the city more used to lumbering in a grinding traffic gridlock was incapacitated by metre-high water that turned the city’s roads into Venice-style canals.”

    This is the bit where mother earth is saying its time to cut back on GHG…

    “It put a whole new – and rather ironic – spin on Jakarta’s car-free day campaign to reduce pollution in the city.”

  64. Paul Magnus says:

    “The implications of a non-functioning Jakarta are immense and wide-ranging both for Indonesia and the region. But this is the reality facing the new Jakartan “

  65. Paul Magnus says:

    Personally, I think the coal industry should be the one paying mostly for these damages. Surely. We need to stop deluding ourselves.

    Flood donations trickle as damage bill mounts
    The chairman of the Red Cross Flood Appeal committee says the response so far is nowhere near enough for

  66. Paul Magnus says:

    “In some cases I’ve stood on bridges that have been replaced three and four times in the last five years.”

  67. Paul Magnus says:

    Factoid… Jakarta’s populations is about that of entire population of Australia’s.

  68. Paul Magnus says:

    interesting…. are relief funds going to have to cover this…?

    City Sewed Over 2011 Floods
    PITTSBURGH (AP) — Surviving relatives of four people killed in flash flooding in Pittsburgh in August 2011 are suing several government and private entities claiming the deaths could have been prevented, attorneys for the two affected families announced Friday. Mary Saflin, 72, of Oakmo…

  69. Paul Magnus says:

    are relief funds going to cover these financial complications associated with extreme weather?

    What are the implications of this? You can add this now to the cost of climate change.

  70. Mulga Mumblebrain says: