Open Thread Plus Cartoon Of The Week

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"Open Thread Plus Cartoon Of The Week"

Opine away!

By David Horsey, “Even deadly meteors and asteroids may not unite the human race“:

In the movies, when humanity is faced with imminent doom, whether from a massive asteroid or an invasion of space monsters, the people of the world forget their differences, band together and save themselves. In the real world, such unanimity of purpose is far more rare. When it came time to help their fellow Americans whose lives were upended by Sandy, quite a few members of Congress balked, delayed and refused to let go of their compulsive quest to scale back government spending. Ideology trumped compassion.

Similarly, many of the same people refuse to accept the settled scientific facts that indicate the changing global climate is bringing more destructive storms, drought and rising seas. They cannot honestly refute the science, so they willfully ignore it. They have a vested interest in the status quo and so choose short-term political and economic gain over the long-term welfare of the human race. It is oh-so-much easier to blame the president, blame a conspiracy of international scientists or talk about God’s wrath than it is to tell the oil and coal companies and the polluting industries that provide large donations at election time that they cannot do business as they have in the past.

Sounds like that classic Onion piece: “Republicans vote to repeal Obama-backed bill that would destroy asteroid headed for Earth.”

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48 Responses to Open Thread Plus Cartoon Of The Week

    • Sasparilla says:

      Yes, looking forward to Joe’s take on the paper when he gets a chance.

      Finally we’ve got a scientific stake in the ground on northern hemisphere permafrost melt starting and going wide-scale.

  1. Will Fox says:

    Great video on corporate capitalism and its effects on society and the environment -

    http://vimeo.com/59002146

    • EconomicDemocracyDorOrg says:

      I’m about to watch your recommended video, meanwhile, here’s a short 2-minute flash movie about how Corporate Capitalism works:

      http://economicdemocracy.org/otherworld.swf

      (See also “/images/capital.gif” at same website for a great cartoon, which makes corporate capitalism to be more of a pernal “evil capitlists” over-personalized view than the institutional and systems-based view showing how CEOs are almost forced to act this way..but still good)

  2. Jan says:

    “… tell the oil and coal companies and the polluting industries [...] that they cannot do business as they have in the past.”

    And tell “consumers” they cannot consume as they have in the past.

    Which might be just as hard. It’s not just corrupt politicians and evil corporations who are to blame.

    • Superman1 says:

      Not ‘just as hard’; ten times as hard!

    • Daniel Coffey says:

      Unfortunately, this is one of the core issues when it comes to tackling the problem of global warming. Environmentalist want to point at corporations that provide the things they and all the rest of us use. But they do not want to support the alternatives or substitute methods for providing what people want and need.

      What is most frustrating for me is that this piece does not acknowledge the willful self-delusion on the part of preservationist environmental groups who are delaying or blocking the only options we have – other than eliminating the consumption of 80% of the people on Earth. Instead, its the corporations – which are clearly responsible in large part when the fight the necessary alternatives. But consumers are given a guilt free pass, along with environmentalists who are blocking the practical alternatives. It’s a hypocritical mess.

      There are not many options for what must be done – that are actually able to function in a civil society (radically reducing populations via war is simply not a proper approach) – and the technical constraints of those technical options require us to do things which are not going to be without environmental consequences. There is no easy way out of this dilemma.

      I grew up under the influence of the Sermon on the Mount. It seems that not planning for the needs of those who have the least is simply immoral, or moral in a different frame of reference than I occupy.

      We have the technology available to us now if we will use at sufficient large scale to make a difference. When will the environmental community actually go out and show up to support large-scale solar and wind projects? After its too late?

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        Please, Daniel, apropos of your obsession, which ‘environmentalists’ are opposing which ‘practical alternatives’? If some environmental group is unreasonably blocking a good project for the wrong reasons, I’ll join you in criticising them. But you never nominate any specific example of such behaviour, so your criticism becomes, by implication, a condemnation of all environmental groups, as if they were the greatest obstacle to renewable energy projects, which is total bunkum.

      • David Smith says:

        Not all environmental organizations and not all environmentalists have AGW on their list of issues. Actually, Climate Hawks who would place AGW first are a small minority in the environmentalist world. It’s probably like gun control among political activist (Dem & Rep combined). It’s a sorry state, but true.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          It’s a little that way still in Australia. Big Green groups are, naturally, open to everyone, so they attract single-issue zealots as well as the type who see the systemic collapse. They attract political Rightwingers, who reduce the influence of what the MSM relentlessly vilify as ‘green extremists’ ie those who understand the capitalist basis of ecological collapse. And their leaders, as people will, regularly sell-out to the Establishment in order to become accepted as ‘players’, which stokes their egotism. Those who actively seek out a ‘leadership’ role are prone to this condition.

    • Andrew says:

      Putting consumption on even close to equal footing to production in this mess is absolutely backwards.

      Consumers do not have unlimited choices; they work within tightly constrained limits. Take for example, living in the suburbs and relying on a car for transportation – one of the most intractable problems/drivers of US climate change. This is a structural driver of consumption and is not a choice as much as a requirement. We do not have the urban housing infrastructure or transportation infrastructure at present to change this. THAT is the problem, not that consumers are making “bad choices” and need to be “convinced to stop consuming as they have in the past”.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Thanks for the commonsense Andrew and in my experience, when they are offered a more adaptive choice, most take it, ME

  3. Jon says:

    I get the general point but why exactly, if there was nothing but a crater where Chicago used to be (to be more accurate, a new bay on the lakeshore), would you want to fill it? Would we be determined to rebuild Chicago exactly where it used to be in order to show meteors we can’t be intimidated?

    • Dennis Tomlinson says:

      I suspect the answer is yes, though extent would likely depend on which side of the city suffered the most damage. Chicagoans seem to have an extra measure of hubris when it comes to their city. Lake Shore Drive, Columbus Avenue, and Michigan Avenue north of 22nd street – Grant Park included – would certainly be rebuilt, some on pylons perhaps. It was 140 years ago when Chicagoans showed a resolve not to be cowed by the likes of Mrs. O’Leary, and her Guernsey. Imagine the resolve an exploding meteor would bring.

  4. John Hollenberg says:

    U.S. government risks financial exposure from climate change – GAO

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/14/us-usa-climate-gao-study-idUSBRE91D1FI20130214

  5. Paul Klinkman says:

    Somebody asked, “How do I rebel against the status quo of climate change?”

    I said that you don’t have to be an inventor in order to focus full energy on the invention part. Human civilization has something called specialization of tasks. However, you do need to work on something good for your living, not merely work to eat (unless you’re a slave, of course).

  6. Brooks Bridges says:

    “The New Abolitionists: Global warming is the great moral crisis of our time”

    By WEN STEPHENSON | February 20, 2013

    A wonderful, deep article on the moral dilemma aspects and providing some history on people dealing with the slavery issue.

    Just Google: “The New Abolitionists: Global warming” and you’ll get the site.

    Includes discussion of DeChristopher, who is currently serving the remainder of his sentence at a halfway house in Salt Lake City. His official release is set for April 21.

    Wen also has some posts on the site interviewing Naomi Klein which are also very deep and thoughtful – and about action.

    • catman306 says:

      Glad to hear that DeChristopher will be amongst us again soon.
      Good news at CP is always appreciated.

    • Daniel Coffey says:

      Read it. I hate to say this, it was well written, interesting, flowery, shallow and ultimately entirely wrong in its focus. Remake the world? Come on…

      I have been talking radically for years about the need to do something big and fast about global warming, and all the environmental community – who doesn’t really get it – has been doing during that time is protesting large-scale wind and solar projects. They want everyone to cut back on – conserve – and put a few solar PV panels on rooftops. They say it creates jobs; labor unions file suit to block non-carbon renewable energy projects in order to get jobs. All this slow-walking has made things even worse.

      You don’t need to go out and yell in the streets about fossil fuel, you must clearly understand the solution to the problem and not lose track – cut greenhouse emissions from electricity production and transportation by nearly 100%. Taxes, shell games, carbon-trading games, politics, conservation and all the other interesting half-measures are not going to solve this problem.

      We either get to building the substitutes to fossil fuels or the last ditch options are too awful to imagine – and too late to matter.

      Here is the real plan. Something totally different than the usual environmental nonsense. We need to go down and demand that red-tape get cut, studies get streamlined to the maximum, and large-scale solar PV, wind and geothermal facilities get built TODAY. If you want to demand solutions, demand them. Instead, everyone is demanding that we just stop – which is impossible.

      If you don’t create options and substitutes for electricity and transportation, you give the living human beings of this earth no options.

      When is that reality going to sink in…?

  7. 2qb says:

    Decimate= reduce by 10%. Will there be 6.25 billion humans in 2025? Probably not if breadbasket drought goes on for next ten years.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      True enough, in Roman times, if you were a work-shy legionary, but today the colloquial understanding is of extreme destruction, say leaving 10% left, not 90%.

  8. fj says:

    GOP denier and obstructionist governance is built on a house of cards.

    • Superman1 says:

      Any politician, Dem or Rep, knows he/she wouldn’t last in office two days if he proposed the stringent measures required to have any hope of avoiding the catastrophe. But, blame the fossil boys, the media, the politicians, everyone but the main problem: you and me.

      • Andrew says:

        “You and I” have zero direct control over US energy policy, transportation policy, and housing policy. Fixes are imaginable in these realms that would go a long way toward mitigating climate change and would also garner a democratic majority. Think a beefed up cap & dividend approach. But they have to be seriously considered by the state first; this has not happened because of the power of entrenched economic interests and their relation to the state, not because we wouldn’t vote for them.

  9. Ellie Cohen says:

    Great interview today on CNBC with Daryl Hannah;

    Daryl Hannah denounces Keystone pipeline – Video on NBCNews …
    video.msnbc.msn.com/msnbc/50919798/ February 23, 2013
    Video on NBCNews.com: Actress and activist Daryl Hannah joins MSNBC’s Alex Witt to explain her opposition to the Keystone Pipeline…

    • Daniel Coffey says:

      Excellent video. I am glad she talked about the reality that the pipeline bypasses the mid-west. I raised this economic point a long time ago because it seemed like the ultimate reality. Amazingly, refined gasoline prices in the mid-west will rise. That is the key point. She did a good job presenting, better than I expected.

  10. Bob Lang says:

    Here’s some food for thought:
    Just checked the major grain and oilseed price increases since 2005 (all prices in US$ per bushel). Price Increase = (Current Price) minus (2005 Price) divided by (2005 Price):

    Wheat (Kansas) up 108% from $3.60 to $7.49

    Corn (CBOT) up 229% from $2.10 to $6.90

    Soybeans (CBOT) up 134% from $6.25 to $14.61

    Rough Rice (CBOT) up 140% from $6.50 to $15.59

    These are the basic food commodities humanity depends on for survival, bearing in mind that these increases are just the tip of the iceberg considering that we are still in early-stage climate disruption.

    • Daniel Coffey says:

      There must be a pony in there somewhere…

      What happens when short positions are the only positions? Who’s the counter-party?

      • Bob Lang says:

        Not sure I follow you here. How can there only be short positions? In commodity futures trading, for every “short” (seller) there has to be a “long” (buyer). Futures trading is tightly regulated. Producers (farmers) of a commodity are typically “short” to lock in a profit, whereas consumers (food companies) are “long” for the same reason. Then there are the speculators who are crucial to providing market liquidity to keep the buy/sell spreads tight.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      The added element of financial speculation, which will only worsen as the grifters get their 85 billion fix every month courtesy of the privately owned Federal Reserve, will worsen the situation. That will lead to increased hunger and starvation, social chaos and civil discord, all eminently preferable to the rulers of the West than that the non-Western world would rise to prominence and escape Western domination. It’s a global campaign of ‘disaster capitalism’.

    • Colorado Bob says:

      BL -
      Here’s one from Penn. about fruit growers , and what they are facing .

      Crassweller spoke at length to the 40 growers about expected changes in pruning, pests, production and plant diseases.
      “That’s something we can handle,” said Dwight Mickey, secretary of the county fruit growers. “You just have to learn to adapt. Those are things we can control, the influx of new insects and diseases.”
      Hail on the other hand is unpredictable and usually devastating.
      Mickey, Pennsylvania’s 2012 Grower of the Year, lost most of his 2011 apple crop to a hailstorm.
      Some growers in Mexico, Korea and New Zealand cover their trees with nets, a labor intensive barrier to hail damage.
      Local growers are likely to see more erratic weather with climate change, Crassweller said. That means higher winds. And in July and August, that means more storms with higher winds, so probably greater chances for hail.
      Mickey already has recognized a change in the weather pattern.
      “I had hail (each of) the last five years,” he said. “It used to be we’d get once it every 10 years. It seems to be a matter of fact. You don’t know when or for how long.”

      http://www.publicopiniononline.com/localnews/ci_22649322/climate-change-fruit-growers-mull-warmer-weather-hail

  11. Lester says:

    I saw the message – we should cooperate if there is imminent threat to our world and lives. Yet, in the comment section, i saw many remarks that defy the warning and play the blame game again. There is no hope for Rebulicans.

  12. DRT says:

    The Case for Fossil-Fuel Divestment
    On the road with the new generation of college activists fighting for the environment

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-case-for-fossil-fuel-divestment-20130222

  13. J4zonian says:

    The truth is, in almost every single disaster movie I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot as I’m compiling comparative data on elements they include) there is someone (or some group) who causes and/or ignores or covers up the problem, making it worse, because of money. The artists involved in making movies are in touch with what’s going on. (not so in touch with the science behind it… as it’s always abysmal. Neutrinos changing behavior. A military cabal to cause earthquakes. Cold fusion…

  14. fj says:

    Why is America afraid to act on Climate Change?

    Pluralistic ignorance is a house of cards

    “But it takes more than the public endorsement of a private falsehood to set off madness of crowds. Pluralistic ignorance is a house of cards. As the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes make clear, all it takes is one little boy to break the spiral of silence, and a false consensus will implode. Once the Emperor’s nakedness became common knowledge, pluralistic ignorance was no longer possible. The sociologist Michael May suggests that for pluralistic ignorance to be robust against little boys and other truth-tellers, it needs an additional ingredient: enforcement. People not only avow a preposterous belief that they think everyone else avows, but they punish those who fail to avow it, largely out the belief – also false – that everyone else wants it enforced. Macy and his colleagues speculate that false conformity and false enforcement reinforce each other, creating a vicious circle that can entrap a population into an ideology that few of them accept individually.”

    Steven Pinker, “The Better Angels of Our Nature”, Chapter: Inner Demons, page 562

    • fj says:

      The enforcement is rapidly dissipating.

      Some of the enforcement has been in the form of ridicule.

      GOP and right-wing enforcement demand adherence to the party line.

  15. Sasparilla says:

    Had a nice experience today. Attended a workshop on natural landscaping with the keynote speech by Prof. Chip Taylor from the University of Kansas. His focus is on pollinators and Monarch Butterflies (if you watch the new Imax movie coming out he was the science advisor on it as well as being in the movie a little was in the previous Nova episode (incredible journey of the butterflies) where he makes a brief couple of views.

    He started out with some slides on the current state of the Monarch Butterfly population (and overwintering population – not good), but then jumped immediately into a set of slides and a very straightforward discussion of Climate Change. Used some great slides, although probably all the folks in the audience knew climate change was happening as he pointed out since you’re out gardening and have seen it.

    Afterwords when asked about deniers (most questions were on the butterflies of course), he noted there will always be deniers (mentioning there are still people who believe the earth is flat) and that education is the solution to this since most of the population will know the truth when taught it. At another point he noted he’s planning a course for his students (next year I think) called “Climate in 2040″ and the implication was taking the warming we have in the stack by then and figuring out what it means for the environment appropriate for his student’s fields of focus (and his focus on pollinators and Monarch’s probably).

    Anyways, just an awesome thing to see such a heavyweight presentation in the middle of a presentation on Monarch Butterflies and polinator’s as well as him linking some new climatic behaviors in the Butterflies overwinter areas in Mexico to climate change since they weren’t happening previously (and thoughts we’ll have to move species, insects and plants, to allow them survive since they don’t have continuous habitats any longer here in the U.S.).

    Here’s the Monarch Watch website which he plays a big part in running if anyone is interested: http://www.monarchwatch.org/

  16. Paul Magnus says:

    Climate disruption affecting coal and other mining in Auz. Also causing contamination of water….

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-22/flooded-mines-caught-in-water-quality-debate/4535380?section=qld

  17. rollin says:

    Well, Hollywood tried for a long time to get people to act correctly. There were good guys and bad guys, and usually the good guys won. Hollywood showed us there is a choice, be good guy or a bad guy. Problem is the good guys were helping the real bad guys, the ones that legally grab and run everything. Maybe we need to redefine what and who a criminal is, we have the wrong people in jail.

  18. Bob Lang says:

    Just how trustworthy is rumored candidate to succeed Chu, Ernest Moniz:

    (1) Ernest Moniz is director of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), a research arm that has received more than $125 million in pledges from the oil and gas industry since 2006, according to the Public Accountability Initiative.
    The four “founding members” of MITEI — BP, Shell, Italy’s ENI and Saudi Aramco — each agreed to pay $25 million over five years for the right to help manage research projects, maintain an office at MITEI headquarters and “place a researcher in a participating MIT faculty member’s lab,” according to the MITEI website.

    (2) Moniz has been unabashed in his advocacy of the use of natural gas as a “bridge” fuel and even for some expansion of nuclear power.

  19. Robert In New Orleans says:

    An excellant article about sea-level rise affecting New Orleans and surrounding areas:

    http://thelensnola.org/2013/02/21/new-research-louisiana-coast-faces-highest-rate-of-sea-level-rise-on-the-planet/

    The author Mr. Bob Marshall was a former enviromental/outdoors writer for the New Orleans Times Picayune and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

    Mr. Romm, you should interview this man as he “Understands It”.

    New Orleans will be the first “Major Domino” in the United States to fall.

    • Superman1 says:

      The article doesn’t show the temperatures they’re estimating in parallel with the SLRs. But, the climate models with BAU, excluding known positive feedback mechanisms, predict 5-6 C by the end of the century. That spells ‘game over’. No need to worry about 4.5 feet SLR; there will be nobody around to see it.