Open Thread Plus Cartoon

Opine away!


90 Responses to Open Thread Plus Cartoon

  1. Spike says:

    Mozambique floods prompt Red Cross response with reports of 5 x normal rainfall in some areas:

  2. 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.”

  3. We continue to hear so called progressive politicians mouth phrases like “protect the middle class” and “save social security.” Unfortunately, the biggest threat to both comes from our warming climate and that is not on their agenda. As all of the talking heads on the weekend talk shows will tell you, the issues are immigration reform and stopping gun violence… not climate change or energy policy.

    I would look forward to having the #SOTU contain significant emphasis on climate, if for no other reasons than it would force Sen. Rubio to deal with the issue in his official Republican response. It would also force MSM to deal with the issue more than they have.

    Should I hold my breath, or is this too much to hope for.

  4. Bob Lang says:

    Could the following 2 things be headed for the “garbage can of history” a lot sooner than I thought:

    (1) GOP World of Alternative Reality

    (2) Prime Minister Harper’s vision of turning Canada into a tarsands-based Petro-Superpower.

  5. Paul Klinkman says:

    650,000 lost power. For example, almost all of Newport, RI lost power, and Middletown and Portsmouth next to Newport.

    We probably need people to go door to door into blacked-out neighborhoods and find families without heat, because furnace heat is connected to electricity in many homes and there’s no backup source of heat.

    This is an argument for off-grid solar heat with thermal storage. Sometimes “civilization” fails us.

  6. Agree heartily. Put the Republicans on the defensive. There’s almost nothing they can say that won’t make them look clueless.

    The best they can say is, study it some more. I would love to hear Rubio say it’s in doubt. What an opening that would be for follow-up action, like Congressional hearings.

    It’s important for Obama to take the fight to them. The SOTU and the Repub response should be the initial engagement.

    Here’s a SOTU moment: Obama uses the Draft Climate Assessment from the Federal Advisory Committee to call for a national renewables standard achieved by a date certain. Just like Kennedy used Sputnik to inspire us to put a man on the moon in 10 years. He should enumerate by name each of the 13 agencies that contributed to the report. That will be very hard for the Republicans to refute in their rebuttal address without looking like anti-science fools.

    I think the tide is turning in public sentiment. Most people get that something’s truly up with the climate, and it ain’t good. Obama has a great opportunity to seize the moment.

  7. Robert Callaghan says:

    There are only 2 facts you need to know.

    1) We are turning oceans into acid 10 times faster than the biggest mass extinction event in all of earth history some 300 million years ago.

    2) 4 of 5 mass extinction events were caused by turning oceans into acid.

  8. Robert Callaghan says:

    So much for all the fine British wines.

  9. Robert Callaghan says:

    The last one was caused by Fred Flintstone.

  10. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Robert – what is your point ?



  11. Robert Callaghan says:

    We are on the shore of the largest mass extinction event in history directly as a result of ocean acidification.

    That’s not even taking into account ecological planetary state shift. When humans impact 50% of earth’s land surface the food web of life breaks down. We are at 40% now. Once started, it is irreversible and unstoppable. We are hurtling towards a mass extinction event via two independent routes.

  12. DRT says:

    Every body counts. Sign up and show up for the ‘Forward on Climate’ Rally next Sunday.

  13. Sasparilla says:

    Having a hard time getting my head around this one. Up here just south of the Wisconsin Illinois border the robin’s (birds who migrate south for the winter and come back in the spring) just arrived here on Feb 9, 2013 (saw 3 of them together today).

    I thought them getting here in late February last year was outrageous (used to be the end of March), but this really amazes me.

  14. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    It was remarked on a recent thread that the hold the Kochs et al appear to have on the GOP is “truly amazing” – but this doesn’t do it justice – “quite incredible” seems nearer the mark to me.

    Consider, the US fossil fuel industries generate about $1.1Tn per year, which is about 7.3% out of the US economy of around $15Tn per year. I’ve no precise figure, but if only one half of that US economy were controlled by major corporations, it would imply about six times more financial power lies in major non-fossil fuel corporations than in fossil-centred ones.

    The great majority have no inherent loyalty to fossil fuels at all, and all the majors have ample forward planning capacity to know their future profitability is right in the firing line of climate destabilization.
    So where the hell are they on climate action ?

    Given the chickenfeed scale of funds applied by the fossil lobby to sponsoring the circus of denial, the ~six-fold strength of non-fossil corporations could easily mount overwhelming counter-funding – of thinktanks, media, politicians, etc – out of their petty cash. And yet they remain inactive and silent. Why is that ? Any equivalent threat to their future profits would generate immediate effective lobbying to eradicate it. It would be absurd to propose that they are in fear of the fossil lobby, so what is the reason for their almost total reticence ?

    Consider also the difference between US corporations’ conduct in climate politics and that of EU corporations. By contrast, while the EU’s major fossil corporations have not been accused of funding denialism since ’98 (when the GCC collapsed due to their withdrawal), various leading non-fossil corporations have been getting highly vocal – for example Munich Re (the global reinsurance giant) publicizing the message of its 40yr database of rising climate catastrophes, and Price-Waterhouse-Cooper (the global accountancy giant) publicizing its assessment of the dire climate threat to the global economy.

    Despite the major fossil corporations being relatively far larger in the EU, the politics is rather different too. In his post on Christine Legarde’s candid statements at Davos Joe remarked that she is actually a conservative – who worked her way to the top of French politics before heading the IMF. In the same vein it is worth noting that when the UK parliament passed legislation for an annual 3% cut in CO2 output, it did so with just three votes against out of about 650 members.

    So if it seems incredible that a 7.3% fossil-lobby tail is wagging the entire US corporate community, then what overriding interest is actually shared with that tail which is simply not a relevant factor for the EU fossil lobby and EU corporations in general ?

    The reality is that US corporations are fully aware that their profits, and the whole US ‘way of life’, depend on their control of foreign resources, and that this control relies totally on the maintenance of US global economic dominance. This is the one pivotal factor that can explain the difference between US and EU corporations’ conduct on climate. It implies that there has to date been a tacit consensus of US corporate support for the goal of breaking China’s bid to displace America’s global economic dominance, as embodied in the bipartisan US climate policy of a ‘brinkmanship of inaction’ to impose climatic destabilization, food shortages and civil strife in China, that was launched in 2000 by ex-Haliburton Cheyney and adopted in 2009 by Obama.

    (For a progress report see: “Food Security: Near future projections of the impact of drought in Asia” at )

    We could of course assume that US corporate leaders are just so much more stupid and ill-informed on climate than their EU counterparts, and that US fossil executives are just so much more venal and callous than the EU ones – but this seems to me passing ridiculous. In both regions the executives serve their organizations’ primary interests, and while those based in the US have a paramount interest in maintaining US global dominance – including at the expense of worsening global climate destabilization – those based in the EU have no such interest.

    Yet faith in the fabricated circus of denial that has veiled the US policy of inaction is so appealing to progressives in its custom-made exploitation of the favourite tribalist stress points – religious/scientific, northerner/southerner; urban/rural; liberal/conservative; even steak-eater/vegan, etc, – that some overlook the urgent need to question the authenticity of that circus. After all, if you can’t believe in the credibility of a bunch of lying conniving fossil lobby shills being to blame for four years of official inaction by a democrat president, what can you believe in ?

    The callous irrationality of fading empires’ elites – and the sudden power of a population roused to achieve cultural renewal – is what.



  15. Theodore says:

    I love this Woody Allen quote, which seems to be applicable to climate change:

    “More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

  16. Merrelyn Emery says:

    If only it were a ‘civilization’ – think civic, ME

  17. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Absolutely, certainly and ‘yes’, ME

  18. SecularAnimist says:

    In the case of climate change the path of despair and hopelessness IS the path to extinction.

    Which is exactly why despair is the new denial — as the fossil fuel corporations’ propaganda line shifts from “global warming isn’t happening, so there’s no need to phase out fossil fuels” to “it’s too late to stop global warming, so there’s no point in phasing out fossil fuels”.

  19. Brian R Smith says:

    Check out these photos of the gigantic Krupp (German)-made Bucket-wheel Excavator in use at the Athabaska tar sands, in Australia, Germany & elsewhere.

    “It took five years to build and had a cost of about $ 100 million. It has a height of about 95 meters, 240 meters long and 13,500 tons. Has a maximum speed of 10 meters per minute (0.6 km / h) through 12 caterpillar tracks systems powered electrically. It takes five workers to operate, and can excavate about 240,000 tons of coal or 240,000 cubic meters of sterile daily.”

    Also useful for attacking small cities or burying the dead in large numbers as needed.
    You can buy these used.

  20. Robert Callaghan says:

    We’ve lost almost all the old ice in the arctic with less than 1°C. Since CO2 is cumulative, we can’t safely put ANY more up there no matter what Bill McKibben says. The damage is done. It is already too late. Yes, we have to go green. But, it won’t make “the” difference we want it to, but we have to make the effort anyhow.

  21. Robert Callaghan says:

    I actually learned only recently that not all robins fly south for the winter. I also learned that black flies don’t exist below a certain latitude. Again, I only recently learned that the sun goes down at the same time every day near the equator. I’m 55. You’re never too old to be embarrassed.

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Poor old Mozambique has been hit a lot in the last decade or so. The rains are simply prodigious, and they are coming our way, wherever we live, some time soon.

  23. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The US ‘middle class’ is doomed under neo-feudalism. Why keep on kidding yourselves? Just pray that you do not fall into the abyss of the ‘working poor’ whose numbers are inexorably swelling.

  24. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    “The self-confidence of learned people is the comic tragedy of civilization.” – Alfred North Whitehead

  25. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    The older I get the less I feel the need to be embarrassed.

  26. Joan Savage says:

    How we bill/are billed for energy is not the same as a carbon tax, but I hadn’t thought about just how differently until a recent comment thread.
    In the one about “Carbon Pollution Data” it came out that where I live, residential customers pay less per unit the more electricity or gas we buy, while in Merrelyn Emery’s part of the world she’s billed more (I assume she means per unit) if she uses more energy.

    Just for kicks imagine how that might look if it were applied to buying gasoline, something like, first 10 gallons at $4/gal, second 10 gallons at $6/gal, third 10 gallons at $8/gallon. There’d be ways to circumvent it, sure, like frequent fill-ups to get the lower price, but that’s inconvenient enough to be a curb, also.

    It could be complemented with something like a ration or ID card per passenger that would create a discount for filling up for a carpool.

    I’m sure there are flaws with it, and I’d probably think of them in time, but the open thread is that moment to opine, so I’m just reaching outside the box for a little bit.

  27. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Yes, ocean acidification is an even worse disaster than climate destabilisation, yet it gets scant attention. I recently saw a young Japanese scientists, just back from the Arctic, after studying the effects of acidification on plankton. He asserted, rather matter-of-factly, that, in his opinion, we had passed the point of no return (in translation, of course, courtesy of NHK TV).

  28. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I quite enjoy the ‘richness of embarrassment’.

  29. TKPGH says:

    Exactly. That’s to the PA Sierra Club, there will busfulls of us coming from Pittsburgh and other places in PA.

  30. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I try to practise despair and hopefulness. Pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the Will.

  31. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Ah, Krupps-there’s a name to conjure with.

  32. Theodore says:

    OK, (sigh) time for an explanation – the quotation makes sense from the point of view of the climate change denier who thinks that prosperity is dependent upon fossil fuel production, and cannot be sustained without it. Of course we know better, but to some people, hunkered down for a last-ditch stand against those horrible environmentalists, any realization that climate change might actually be real seems to give them the terrible choice between despair and extinction.

  33. Robert Callaghan says:

    I share his belief, thank you for that info, all the best

  34. Robert Callaghan says:

    good one|

  35. Robert Callaghan says:

    well i guess i feel pretty rich being embarrassed about being embarressed.

  36. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, don’t fall into the trap. It’s part of the same strategy of divide and conquer, break the spirit, that we have seen since the late 1970s, ME

  37. Keep paddling, even though you can hear the muffled roar of the cataract. Just on the chance we are not yet in the heart of the current.

  38. Tiered pricing has been the norm in California for decades. Works just like graduated income tax. The more you consume, the higher the incremental rate. Makes total sense, even without GHGs. More cost causation — big users drive bigger facilities at the margin.

    Ultimately, utility charges are going to have to be decoupled from usage rates, because our usage rates have to fall to very small numbers. We will pay a high connection fee (to cover the capital and expense of the pipes and wires and their O&M), and a high volumetric charge (to pay for the electrons and molecules, plus a carbon tax).

    This is a huge change in mentality. People are used to “volume discounts.” It just can’t work that way with energy. Volume discounts assume a near-infinite supply. We’ve already maxed out the atmosphere’s carbon-carrying capacity (and then some).

    It amazes me there are still utilities where you pay less the more you use. It’s perverse.

  39. Tamsen Miller says:

    Obama said way back in November that he is not going to let the climate trump economic growth. and I heard yesterday that Obama is opening up more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. we get no quarter from Obama, just same ole, same ole status quo.

  40. David B. Benson says:

    Write to the state’s utility commission. They set rate schedules.

  41. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    The first liar hasn’t a chance.

  42. Matt Owens says:

    On a global basis, we can replace fossil fuels with solar and wind power: …if we want to.

  43. Don’t be embarrassed. The world is simply too vast to about know everything, even everything important. I’ve been “retired” for eight years, and all I do is read and write, and most of what I write about is what I’m reading about, so I’m like a perpetual graduate student. And the day doesn’t go by that I don’t learn something new, and usually something important that I knew nothing about, never heard of. It’s just the way it is, in science and knowledge in general.

    Feeling embarrassed about being uninformed or even misinformed is only appropriate if you’ve been pompous about how well informed you are.

  44. Would that it were only true — that climate deniers only choices are between despair and extinction.

    (Just kidding. They deserve better — maybe we can incarcerate them all in a big gym and pump in a little NO2!)

  45. David B. Benson says:

    Peru, Chile and Bolivia hit by floods after heavy rain:
    It even rained in the Atacama desert, an event possibly without precedent.

  46. Sasparilla says:

    That’s interesting to know. As I haven’t seen any Robin’s since last fall I’d guess the ones I saw are migrating fellows but I’ll watch and see when more arrive.

  47. Not a bad idea, but in my experience it has limited effectiveness. Back in the 1970s, California was hit by a severe drought. So they imposed a tiered system for water payments — after a certain amount of basic use your rates went up.

    Unfortunately rich people, many of them with BIG lawns and properties, simply didn’t care because they could easily afford the increased fees — my guess is that they hardly noticed them. And for companies, higher rates were just one more cost of doing business, so they adjusted the cost of their goods or services accordingly —the consumer ended up paying the difference. Some golf courses cut back on their water use a little, but most people who play golf have the luxury (time and money) to do so, so across-the-board fee hikes didn’t affect business much.

    I think straight-out rationing will be required at some point.

  48. Joe,

    I think your little comment on the cartoon contains a typo. You wrote: “Opine away!” I think you meant, “O, pine away.”

  49. paul magnus magnus says:

    Point of no return to where?

  50. Paul Magnus says:

    Simon says… oops Newman says…

    “We saw much more disruption to the coal export industry last time, the ports and the rail links, and there have been problems on this occasion but not to the same significance as last time.”

  51. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Sounds like all you guys need a real drought! Perhaps we can do a swap – we’ll send you a real drought in exchange for a decent sized watershed and just enough top soil to cover Oz to a depth of about 3 feet, ME

  52. Paul Magnus says:

    “It’s a record of records. There are no records of an event of this magnitude”, the local director of the service, Sebastian Zuniga, told the Andina news agency.

  53. Paul Magnus says:

    The cost of the summer’s floods and bushfires to insurers has surpassed $670 million.

  54. paul magnus magnus says:

    The World Bank president’s favourite book is the Miracle of Mindfulness by the Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, and the two men are likely to meet later this year.

    When I interviewed Thich Nhat Hanh at his French monastery in Plum Village a few weeks ago, he said about people in general: “When they see the truth it is too late to act … but they don’t want to wake up because it may make them suffer; they cannot confront the truth. It is not that they don’t know what is going to happen. They just don’t want to think about it.

  55. paul magnus magnus says:

    Thich help me get through a tough patch not long ago…

  56. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Did you mean ‘..fine British whines’?

  57. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Might as well. It’s almost like Pascal’s Wager.

  58. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The denial of Death.

  59. John McCormick says:

    Matt, I read your Part 1. Tell me Part 2 will be a vast improvement.

    Part 1 never mentioned transportation fuels. How are commuters, et, al, going to navigate through their lives without the means to transport themselves.

  60. Joan Savage says:

    Oxygen cycle comes to mind.

    Marine plankton have been nearly half the earth’s primary production of biomass, and similarly the earth’s oxygen production.
    A couple of years ago a study showed a trend in declining plankton.

    Like human’s wasteful practices with fossil carbon, we could run down the oxygen supply.
    With burning of fossil fuel alone it could take millennia to get to an oxygen crisis for vertebrates, but if we continue to reduce major oxygen producers in the 21st century, that element of mass extinction could go faster.

  61. Joan Savage says:

    That’s very helpful to think about.

    Rationing has some features that most of us alive today have never experienced personally.

  62. Joan Savage says:

    A Greenpeace group got off with a small fine and community service in New Zealand, though they could face civil charges for their protest which involved boarding a ship bound for Arctic oil exploration.

  63. Spike says:

    The Southern Ocean is especially vulnerable as pointed out some years ago

  64. Spike says:

    In Arequipa, Peru, about 5 inches of rain fell during the 7-hour period. According to the national meteorological service, the amount of rain that fell was the equivalent to about three months worth of rain.

  65. wili says:

    Gramsci, I believe.

  66. Nancy says:

    Too bad we’re wasting precious dollars on vehicles of mass destruction when we could be buying wind and tidal turbines at a fraction of the cost.

  67. David G Swanger says:

    I’m feeling a little more optimistic than usual this weekend. The first reason was one that emerged a couple of weeks ago, when it was announced that soot was causing twice the impact we thought it was. Hansen has said for sometime that getting rid of soot would help buy us time for the heavier lifting required, and his opinion would seem to be even more relevant now. And the industrial pushback would surely be smaller than it is with CO2.

    The other reason would be the recent announcement of a method borrowed from sea urchins of using nickel ions to turn CO2 emissions into chalk . Will it scale up? Is this the break we’ve been hoping for? Who knows…but to be able to live in hope for a while longer is a considerable blessing.

  68. Nancy says:

    The Atlantic fishing business just got worse. Drastic declines in cod and flounder have resulted in huge reductions in the quotas of these fish. Where did the fish go? Was it climate change or overfishing? Most likely a combination of both. Expect big increases in the cost of a fish dinner.

  69. David G Swanger says:

    Screwed up somehow & left out a the link on the nickel ion method. I’ll try again:

  70. riverat says:

    The question is where are you going to get all the calcium you need for the nickel catalysis to work when most sources of calcium will release CO2 during the refining process.

  71. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Thank you for reposting this Lewis. I am not sure that many Americans understand what is being done in their name in relation to China, or are aware of the dangers involved in their military build up in Asian-Pacific, ME

  72. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Merrelyn – I share your concern re the US ‘pivot’ in the Pacific – by declaring that the disputed islands fall within the US-Japan defence treaty, the Whitehouse is clearly taking a partisan disruptive stance. Were it acting responsibly, it could readily encourage a mutual commitment to the Antarctic option – of renouncing all mineral exploitation for many decades hence – thereby defusing the tensions’ profit motive.

    One aspect worth noting is that this belated resort to physical pressures on China may reflect a loss of WH confidence in the brinkmanship of inaction, now that the assumed relative advantages to the US under climate destabilization are being shown to have been a gross misjudgement. OTOH it could also be some unspeakable economist having pointed out how well the US economy has done in past wars.

    Regarding US public’s awareness of foreign policy in general, and toward China in particular, I’ve got the impression over the years that not so many get its relevance or are even that interested. The conditioning seems to be that what happens within US borders is mostly several orders of magnitude more important than what is done in the whole of the rest of the planet.

    I’m reminded of a charming Southern Baptist I met while flying in to Nicaragua soon after the war, and after the Sandinistas were ousted from power. We discussed his mission of filming the distribution of aid his church had put together, and the scant popularity of Americans after US sponsorship of the Contra’s atrocities.

    As he seemed blithely unaware of the facts, I described an article in the UK Times (pre Murdoch) that detailed a copy of the CIA’s printed instructions for Contra brigades of the priority of killing aid-workers, school teachers, nurses, etc to help demoralize the rural population and drive them off the farms and into the towns.

    He was silent for a moment and then said,
    “Well, I guess I’d have to hear that from an American to believe it.”

    No doubt many Englishmen were gripped by that nationalist myopia in the heyday of the British empire – (some still are).



  73. David G Swanger says:

    Lewis, I’ve been impressed by previous comments of yours, especially those about climate feedbacks, so I’m sorry to say that I found this unconvincing. Such a game of climate brinksmanship as you describe, with America calculating that China will fold first, would require knowledge I don’t think we have (i.e., the relative closeness to the brink of both nations, known to a high degree of certainty). While it seems likelier China will succumb before America does, the unknowns in the picture would make it a sizeable and dangerous bet that I find hard to believe we’d (I’m an American) make.

    The difference in attitudes between Europe and American corporate attitudes on this subject that you reference does seem genuine, at least to a degree. But I would instead point to the attitudes towards capitalism on each continent to explain it. Aside from the UK,which like America practices what’s sometimes known as “Anglo-Saxon capitalism”, the Continent favors a more deregiste approach with a greater place for the state in the economy.
    The more libertarian attitude in the Anglosphere has become sacralized in the way Jonathan Haidt describes in his book The Righteous Mind, especially among followers of Ayn Rand. I know several businessmen here to whom such an ideology is not a pretext, but a creed, whose pseudorationalism disguises its essentially religious nature, as did Communism. It’s often mixed, too, with an overt conservative Christian belief that God won’t let the world be destroyed, even though you’d think Rand’s atheism would be a barrier to this combination. This odd coupling of Objectivism & Christianity seems quite sincerely held by many Republican politicians, and its relative absence in Europe seems more likely to me to be the difference you’re looking for.

    That said, you’ve proven to be a savvy guy befoe, so maybe I’m wrong. I’d welcome opposing evidence and argument.

    Regards to you,

  74. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    And your ‘charming Southern Baptist’ considered himself a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.

  75. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    David, I think that you have made the mistake of speaking of ‘we’ not being prepared to take a really dangerous gamble in relation to ‘bringing China down’ (as Huntsman characterised it during a Republican Party Presidential candidate debate). You, David, and the rest of the US public, have virtually no input to US elite planning and machinations. That is business for the politico-business elite only. And they are absolutely determined to ensure that the ‘New American Century’ of ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’ will prevail in their dearly beloved ‘Clash of Civilizations’.

  76. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Indeed. I forgot my quotation marks. Apologies, Antonio.

  77. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Those tactics are as old as organised human society.

  78. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Lots of months’ rainfall falling in hours going on, around the world. Imagine what it will be like in ten, twenty, fifty years time.

  79. David G Swanger says:

    Pursuant to my comments above, 2 questions.

    1)A plan to break or forestall China’s economic dominance via climate collapse might make sense in 2000. Now, when the US is increasingly facing extreme weather challenges itself, it seems much more senseless. Wouldn’t your view of things indicate changed minds & renewed caution to be the policy of the moment rather than the doubling down we’re currently seeing? If China did collapse, would America suddenly be free to recognize climate as an issue and Republicans suddenly welcome a climate initiative? I find this difficult to believe somehow…but perhaps I’ve misunderstood you.

    2) Are Congressional Republicans like Inhofe simply “useful idiots” who really believe there’s no climate problem, or are they slick manipulators in on the plan and feeding the voters a line? Or are we afflicted with both?

    There are, of course, conspiracies from time to time; Julius Caesar & Abrahan Lincoln were killed by them. But most “conspiracies”
    aren’t real, and conspiracist thinking usually leads us astray. I would hate to see someone like you, whom I respect on climate issues, lured off the path of reason by a conspiracist will-of-the-wisp…unless, of course, you’re right.

    Continued regards,

  80. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The fishing gangsters, like typical capitalists, have simply refused to limit their catches and improve their methods, for decades. The science has been subverted, contorted and, in the end, simply ignored. This disaster is primarily man-made, with the climate change and oceanic acidification mega-disasters yet to come.

  81. David G Swanger says:

    Mulga, I think you may have misinterpreted me. I certainly believe American policy is made by an elite, of which I am not part. But I’m not sure I understand how well informed you believe the elites to be on this issue. Does the elite really believe in climate change and is hoping it will bring down China, or is it in the grip of denial, or do different elites, or their members, believe different things (which seems most likely to me a priori)? An elite rational enough to believe in climate change and that it’s a danger to China isn’t rational enough to believe it’s a threat to us? Not sure I buy that. Some in the elite refusing to believe in global warming because it might tie the hands of American business or because the Bible says God won’t flood the world again, I find all too easy to buy.

    I did see Lewis in a later comment suggest the White House might be reconsidering “the brinksmanship of inaction’ now that our presumed advantages over China seem misjudged.That would suggest rationality on the White House’s part. I can only hope it spreads.

  82. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yeah, it would appear that the US lost that roll of the climate disaster dice but if they have substituted military brinkmanship for that policy, I can see the risks being even worse. The US seems not to have got to grips with the strategy of the indirect approach as witnessed by Vietnam and Afghanistan yet it challenges China who gave us the legendary Sun Tzu, ME

  83. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes and were pursued ruthlessly by the polico-economic elites via a tightening of the social structure and economic rationalism after the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 70s, ME

  84. rollin says:

    I had flocks of robins here in late December, they moved on. I think it is somewhat food source dependent, have seen robins on the snow on and off for many years.

  85. rollin says:

    Floods, windstorms, more floods in the northeast US. I used to enjoy a good thunderstorm but they are producing damaging ground winds so much more frequently than in the past. Too much moisture and energy in the atmosphere.
    Too many variables to predict events but the direction is certainly evident.

  86. rollin says:

    Thanks Joan for pointing out one of the severest world emergencies we have on this planet. When the acidification prevents plankton growth and the major forests/jungles burn off there will be little we can do to halt the change toward a dead world. The foundation will have been pulled out from under the house.

  87. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    David – thanks for your generous responses.
    To answer your last questions first, I’d say that what I observe is no sort of conspiracy, but merely the normal covert operation of inadmissible govt policy – as every govt uses when necessary. Lesser examples of past US covert policy during its rivalry with the USSR include:
    the undeclared widespread testing of (relatively innocuous) germ agents in California (in LA IIRC) for germ warfare research; the Cuban missile crisis deal that rested on the undeclared commitment to remove US missiles from Turkey; the undeclared massive expansion of aerial bombing from Vietnam to Cambodia, etc.

    An unusual aspect of the undeclared policy of a brinkmanship of inaction is just how few need to have any knowledge of it for inaction to prevail. Given the hierachical nature of US politics, a message from upstairs that:
    “Action on climate is against business interests and anyway the science is highly questionable, if not fraudulent”,
    or that
    “We just don’t have the public support for action on climate – so the time is not right”
    – are scarcely going to get much argument from underlings. Deference to power seems to be the name of the game these days.

    It’s worth noting that perhaps the most widespread conspiracy theory is that of fossil fuel companies conspiring to fund denialism so as to frighten the president away from action on climate. – I see the funding of course, but I differ over the intention, in that the circus of denial forms a perfect distraction of activists’ time and energy while also providing the flimsy veil for the serially bizarre WH conduct on climate, which could otherwise attract effective criticism and raise popular demand for action, long before the bipartisan policy achieved its objective.

    With regard to the likes of Inhofe it’s hard to discern whether he’s more stupid than dishonest, or vice versa. Certainly the denier pols include many who fully acknowledged the reality of AGW before March 2009. The Byrd-Hagel senate resolution of ’97 is worth googling on this point. It objects to any emissions control treaty that is less than global, but it doesn’t express the slightest doubt of AGW’s reality or seriousness, not even to the extent of calling for more research. And it was passed unanimously. Thus when the WH is ready to negotiate I doubt that the GOP will have much difficulty re-flipping, apart from a few diehards, particularly with the likely aid of “new and worrisome research on the climate threat”.

    Your question on the present utility of the policy is spot on. When Cheyney ended US constructive engagement in negotiation and launched the brinkmanship of inaction by having Bush renege on Kyoto, the received wisdom was that developing nations like China would face far worse climate impacts than developed nations like the US, and that the US would be far better able to afford the damages and food price rises. That assumption of relative US advantage has been proven dead wrong, due largely to arctic amplification (feedbacks) destabilizing the Jetstream. It is increasingly clear that the policy is actually counterproductive to its objective – the US is being weakened by climate impacts more than China – but this doesn’t necessarily cause a volte-face. The stakes in the UN negotiation are so high that at best a cautious confidence building seems the likely first step. The change from the Durban COP, where both the need for a treaty and its feasibility were denied by the US, to the Dofa COP, where nations’ right of compensation for damages was acknowledged, might perhaps be a case in point.

    Empires’ resort to war to put down a rival is of course a commonplace of history, and it’s seems plausible that avoiding a drift to war would have been a cogent argument when Obama was persuaded to adopt Cheyney’s policy between December 2008 and March 2009. Yet while the bipartisan policy is proving unsustainable, the US is plainly in poor condition economically and militarily for anything approaching a major conflict. And M.A.D still retains its influence of course.

    From this persective it can be hoped that the US military pivot to the Pacific is essentially sabre-rattling with the underlying aim only of causing Beijing to shift rightward and react with heavy-handed suppression of its dissenters and protesters, thereby somewhat advancing the degree of alienation and civil unrest and thus the date of the desired regime change.

    Your comments on my post above on the anomalies in US corporate conduct are appreciated. The blend of Randian fanaticism with bizarre religious perspectives certainly exists in US corporations, but I’ve yet to see how, in more than a small percentage, it would override their chief economists and accountants and corporate stategists’ warnings of the climate impacts on furture profitability. And what we see is a near unanimous silence on climate from them, and a total lack of counter-funding against the fossil-lobby’s propaganda. By contrast, some of the most hard-nosed and least dirigiste of EU corporations have been very vocal. For instance, BP was one of the signatories of a high powered candid letter to the COP at Doha, which included a call for an effective global price on carbon.

    There are numerous lines of evidence pointing to the operation of the brinkmanship of inaction, of which the US corporations’ silence is only one. I hope you’ve seen some of the outlines I’ve posted of Obama’s actively obstructive interventions – if not I’ll gladly do so again.

    Two other aspects seem worth noting here. I guess we can agree that Washington’s paramount priority since WW2 has been the maintenance of its global economic dominance ? If so, then consider the stark contrast of the vast costs and existential risks of the nuclear arms race that was applied to crush the USSR’s bid for dominance, with the fact that neither Cheyney nor Obama have mounted any comparable measure against China’s rise, apart from the ‘brinkmanship of inaction.’
    Second, intensifying crop failures in China are now predictable within a decade as the outcome of the obstructionism launched by Cheyney and maintained by Obama. If this was merely an accidental outcome, it would probably be the first time in history that a fading empire accidentally shattered the food security of its upstart rival empire.

    I hope these perspectives may satisfy your concerns over the thesis – do please post any further questions arising, as practical testing of the idea is the best means of its development.


  88. David G Swanger says:

    Thanks for replying to my comment. I was unable to look at your remarks or respond yesterday, so this is late and things are a little too busy now to elaborate. But your comment is a thoughtful and chewy one that would necessitate some thoughtful delay in my own reply anyway. I’ll try again later today. Once more, thanks for responding and keep commenting.