Open Thread Plus Cartoon of the Week

Opine away!

63 Responses to Open Thread Plus Cartoon of the Week

  1. prokaryotes says:

    A couple of out takes from the recent NASA blue marble release, resolution 1980×1080 (Wallpaper).

  2. prokaryotes says:

    Maybe the story of the day

    #WSJ rejects climate essay from 255 National Academy of Science scientists; accepts anti-climate essay from 16 others.

    Remarkable Editorial Bias on Climate Science at the Wall Street Journal

  3. prokaryotes says:

    It always amaze me how the level of WTF can be raised when i click the TP frontpage

    today we read:

    North Carolina GOP Lawmaker Calls For Bringing Back Public Hangings, Starting With Abortion Providers

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    With Gingrich or, more likely, Romney/Goldman Sachs as an opponent, I don’t see how the Democrats can blow this one. Unless they keep trying to have it both ways with their strange drill-baby-drill policy.

  5. prokaryotes says:

    I invite everybody to join Climate Progress Network

    This is a new project and still in beta. But the main thing people/organizations/companies can do now is to register and present their project, their website. This is an opportunity for everybody for networking and share ideas.

  6. Chris Lock says:

    There is an existing pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver, called the Kinder Morgan pipeline. It had a spill last Tuesday in the Fraser Valley about 100 km east from the terminus in Vancouver the company calls “insignificant”. At local elementary, school children were kept inside because of the fumes.

    I wouldn’t call any amount insignificant.

    And there are plans to expand the pipeline.

    I live quite close to the terminus.

    I wonder if Keystone and Northern Gateway do not happen, the Kinder Morgan pipeline would be twinned, and that process would be easier because one pipeline already exists.

    Stephen Harper was in Davos, Switzerland this week telling off the Europeans for the financial mess they’re created because of the social programs. That’s hypocritical coming from a Canadian PM. But then he announced that there will be changes to our pension scheme. And he also says that the Northern Gateway and / or Keystone will happen despite the pressure from environmentalists.

    Harper sounds more and more like American Republicans.
    P.S. We’ll trade if you want. We take Obama and you can have Harper.

  7. Leif says:

    Stretch your imagination on this one. Perhaps 2012 will be the end of the world as we know it but not the “Rapture” as the Tin Hats understand. The year that humanity get it, that ALL life is one life. The cosmic consciousness if you will. The year the majority transforms from consumer caterpillar to “Pollinator Butterfly.”

  8. prokaryotes says:

    Fossil fuel emissions are the strongest contributor to atmospheric radiocarbon trends

  9. Jeff H says:

    Presidential Responsibility: Being honest with the public about climate change, leading the dialogue, and ensuring adequate public understanding

    Recently, I’ve given more thought to a view that a few others have mentioned before, at least briefly, but that I hadn’t thought about much — until now.

    Consider these two claims:

    1. The President should do something substantial to address climate change because he promised us he would, and because he should in any case.

    2. The President, as President, has an Obligation to make sure that the American people know about the climate change problem, understand that it’s real, and understand the likely implications.

    I agree with both claims. That said, given the present situation and the “first thing” that is missing from the President’s apparent philosophy and approach, the second claim (2) is the most immediately relevant one, and also the strongest. It’s the one that the President, the Dems, the environmental groups, CAP, CP, and so forth should understand, take to heart, and speak loudly, not taking ‘no’ for an answer.
    I think we haven’t focused on that claim enough, or made it loudly, and I don’t think it’s a claim that can be disagreed with, reasonably.

    One of the chief responsibilities of any President — perhaps THE chief responsibility of the Office of President — is to protect the American public from harm, to protect and serve their “best interests” in the genuine sense of that phrase. Part of that — a first and necessary step — must necessarily be to inform the public of substantial threats and problems, and to make sure that the public understands them sufficiently to choose, on an informed basis, what to do.

    The President’s responsibility is not to DO whatever he wants to do in order to actually address a problem his way. Alas, actually, the answer to the question, “What to do about the problem?” must arise via the democratic process (although goodness knows that there is a very great deal to be done to make sure that the process works and is informed and responsible). But the President DOES have an OBLIGATION — a moral obligation and a political one — to inform the public about major problems (in this case, climate change) and to make sure that the public understands them sufficiently. That much can only be seen as nothing less than an Obligation that comes with the Office. It’s the very least that the President is obligated to do. If he doesn’t do that, regarding an issue as huge and consequential and time-sensitive as climate change, he violates his Oath of Office, the intent of the Office of President, and indeed the entire point of government.

    This obligation, because of its nature and foundational importance, cannot be placed anywhere in the hierarchy of priorities that the President and his political advisers might prefer. It is an obligation OF the Office, and the President is presently IN Office. The question of whether or not it is politically expedient for the President (in order to get reelected) to convey the problem of climate change to the public adequately is not a relevant question when it comes to this sort of obligation. Presidents don’t have basic obligations so that they can decide how to play with them, manipulate them, tease with them, and live up to them (or not) IN ORDER TO GET REELECTED. The point of an obligation is that it’s not discretionary. It’s a basic part and requirement of the job.

    Also, it is not “for” the President to decide that He is the only or necessary one that must be elected for a future term. In other words, the following reasoning is faulty: “For the good of the people, it is I who must be elected for another term, and the ‘I’ part of that is so necessary that it justifies me in not living up to the basic obligations of the Office in my present term.” That logic is deeply faulty, and I hope I don’t have to explain why. (If it would be helpful, let me know.)

    Also — and hopefully this is also clear — it is NOT part of a healthy democracy if our leaders, especially our President, treat us like we’re children and think that (for our own good) we must not be told the truth. That stance defeats the whole point of democracy. It turns democracy into nothing more than a manipulative personality contest, and a dangerous one.

    So I think this: Whatever the President has or hasn’t done in the way of policies that actually begin to address climate change; and whatever he thinks we should DO to address climate change, and whether that’s the best approach or not; and whatever views he has about what “messaging” and tactics might be more conducive to reelection; either way, he has an Obligation to make sure that the American people are responsibly informed about climate change, NOW, and that is an Obligation associated with his present term, TODAY. It’s not discretionary. It’s not a political toy, or a means to be manipulated in order to facilitate reelection.

    This is, by the way, especially true because we are already more than three years into his first term, and he was elected on the basis that he was (and would be) clear about climate change. It’s also especially true because he claims to understand climate change and its importance, and indeed he has S. Chu at his side. With understanding comes responsibility. And with the Office of President, come basic obligations to the American people.

    In short, it’s not up to the President to decide whether or not to communicate climate change clearly, or to be satisfied at the current level of public (mis)-understanding and the current confusions in the media, confusions that are so persistent and (to many members of the public) plausible because they occupy a void that exists because of his own lack of communication. It’s not up to a professional accountant to decide to fudge the books, or to decide to not do the due diligence that he’s supposed to do when reviewing a company’s financial statements. It’s not up to a lifeguard on a beach to leave his post while on duty, leaving people to drown or to swim with the sharks.

    Perhaps someone — someone who is an ethicist, ideally, and who also has some understanding of the original justifications of government, and the Oath of Office of a President — should analyze and weigh-in on this matter. In my view, a President has a concrete Obligation to inform the public of substantial dangers and threats to their well-being, and to do his utmost to make sure that as many members of the public as possible gain a sufficient understanding to understand, to realize, that there is a real problem. That much is not discretionary. It’s up to the public, then, to do what they think is warranted, including whether or not to reelect someone who tells them the truth, or to foolishly reelect someone who doesn’t. But THAT is the public’s choice, and it is not (and should not be) up to the President to decide that he will not live up to his Obligations in the present term because he anticipates or assumes that the public will vote for a fabricator, rather than a truth-teller, the next time around.

    Indeed, the irony of a President who avoids speaking the truth soundly and loudly in his first term, all because he worries that if he does, the public will vote for someone who doesn’t speak the truth (instead of him) for a coming term — yet who claims that he values truth — should strike us all as rather amazing.

    In any case, there is a vital Obligation here, and it’s not being fulfilled. We should demand that the President fulfills it, and not vote for him if he doesn’t.

    Be Well,


  10. When I was young there was a slogan don’t be a litterbug. Then our litter was made of paper, glass and cans that would rust… so eventually it would disappear. Today, since so much of our litter is made of plastic, it never disappears. It qualifies as pollution.
    A morning’s walk with my dog

  11. Raul M. says:

    Still think that the hole to the underground shelter under the house slab or business building slab floor in a well drained lot has logistic advantages for the ones who will not act ahead of the weather curve.
    Jeff, you seen so good at repeating directions, just how could such be phrased by a leader before the obvious moment of truth?

  12. Alteredstory says:

    I have a general question about winter temperatures:

    Last year, one of the reasons for why it was so cold in parts of the northern hemisphere was the increase in temperature over the arctic sea due, in part, to the lack of ice – like taking a lid off a pot of hot water. That pushed arctic air south, and led to a cold winter.

    What’s happening with that this year? I’m asking because THIS winter has been abnormally warm where I’m situated (New England), and I’m wondering what’s going on up north that’s different from last year, since the ice didn’t stop melting.

    Does anybody have a good source on that?

  13. Leif says:

    I did not intend to imply any metaphysical dimensions to this excavation pro, just wanted to insert a few words that might draw eyes. The fact remains that the long lost structures have been right before our eyes, hidden in plain sight yet it took a scientist to see anew. Remind you of anything?

  14. Chris Winter says:

    Soon, WSJ will acquire a new meaning: “What slanted jive!”

  15. prokaryotes says:

    I don’t know now. The video i just posted it because it is somehow related to what you wrote.

    What becomes more evident over time is that more people become aware how we shape the future of our planet and following generations.

  16. prokaryotes says:

    Canada plays down embarrassing oil sands document

    Canada disassociated itself on Thursday from an embarrassing official policy paper that said the country’s independent energy regulator, now studying a controversial oil pipeline, is in fact a government ally.

  17. Raul M. says:

    Me too,
    I’m thinking of planting the spring garden.

  18. prokaryotes says:

    BP Oil Spill: Emails Reveal Company Veiling Spill Rate

    The email conversation, which BP agreed to release Friday as part of federal court proceedings, suggests BP managers recognized the potential of the disaster in its early hours, and company officials sought to make sure that the model-developed information wasn’t shared with outsiders. The emails also suggest BP was having heated discussions with Coast Guard officials over the potential of the oil spill.

  19. prokaryotes says:

    The SEC Mulls An Investigation Calls Grow For John Boehner To Resign

  20. prokaryotes says:

    @tebartl Tom Bartlett
    People engaged in moral thinking feel literally, physically elevated and are more creative. #spsp2012!/tebartl/status/163342983549296640

  21. Colorado Bob says:

    Dr. Masters 3 weeks ago –

    Remarkably dry and warm winter due to record extreme jet stream configuration

  22. prokaryotes says:

    The more that people perceive political polarization, more likely they are to be politically involved, independent of party ID.!/melanietbaum/status/162986443470413824

  23. prokaryotes says:

    Lisa Legault: “Controlling” anti-prejudice messages actually increase racism/prejudice; feeling autonomous reduces prejudice. #SPSP2012!/melanietbaum/status/163347630972342272

  24. prokaryotes says:

    Jacob Juhl: Nostalgia helps people cope with & make sense of a threatening world & increases tolerance for senseless stimuli. #SPSP2012!/melanietbaum/status/163348086633136128

  25. Raul M. says:

    People already cought up with general overhead expenses could group together to have a community water well powered by solar.
    The advantage in areas prone to power outages is that water would still flow even if there was otherwise a power outage.
    Such was quite common in earlier days to have water for the group with, of course, the high tech convience for today.

  26. prokaryotes says:

    Schmallenberg Virus Confirmed on Farms in the UK

    “This is a new virus and there is still much that we don’t know about it,”

    The disease, which has spread from the Netherlands and Germany, causes abortions and birth deformities in farm animal.

    Schmallenberg disease mostly affects sheep, but also cattle and goats. There is no treatment or vaccine.

    (Translation from german news)
    Note the occurrence of the virus to climate change?

    Climate change could be one reason that a virus is found in warmer regions, even in our latitudes. With climate change is moving the vegetation zones, and thus the presence of viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. Moreover, it remains unclear whether only the virus is new to the region, or whether it is a Gnitzenart is involved which has not occurred here.

  27. prokaryotes says:

    “[I]f you read just one book on climate change, make it Michael E Mann’s riveting exposé of disinformation and denial, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars” –The Irish Times (“Books to Read in 2012”)

  28. prokaryotes says:

    Weekly Address: President’s Blueprint Includes Renewal of American Values

    Jeff take notes :)

  29. Alteredstory says:

    I meant in terms of extent this winter compared to last, Bob.

  30. John Tucker says:

    thanks for the link.

    As an Arbovirus I would be surprised if it was not being at least positivity influenced by climate change.

    Its mortality rate probably will be.

    Im surprised it has not been more aggressively addressed in Europe considering the number of sheep farms.

  31. prokaryotes says:

    I read a bit and there is now some laws coming up, but critized for to slow acting.

    It seems that the birth rates are significantly are affected. Sheeps who had around 20 birth, now have 2 or 3.

  32. John Tucker says:

    Here is a article with more nuts and bolts – and is quite a bit more scary –

    New Animal Virus Takes Northern Europe by Surprise – 13 January 2012, [ ]

  33. prokaryotes says:

    The wiki about Akabane virus, mostly relates to Australia, where “Nearly all cattle breeders are affected” and transmission through insect bites.

    Also this is relevant

    An analysis of the meterological conditions showed that the first outbreaks of myxomatosis in S.E. England in 1953 could have resulted from wind carriage of insects infected with myxoma virus from northern France.


  34. John Tucker says:

    I started a file on it – it appears quite serious and also appears to be spreading very rapidly.

    It would probably be disastrous in the US.

    I imagine some rather intense isolation procedures/safeguards are being considered until more is known.

  35. prokaryotes says:

    Maybe an example for how the Akabane_virus spreads?

  36. John Tucker says:

    That or it crossed in a host/carrier.

    In the Dutch news they seem to think it is just a problem if its acquired around when a animal becomes pregnant – then its not an issue after it becomes immune I would assume they are thinking.

    I dont know it the science supports that conclusion yet and the Russians have issued a import ban (quarantine.)

    [ ]

  37. climatehawk1 says:

    Citizens’ Climate Lobby is pushing the Save Our Climate Act, H.R. 3242, which would establish an escalating tax on carbon, with the proceeds being returned to all Americans as an annual dividend payment. If you are concerned about global warming, one of the most effective things you can do is urge your Congressperson to cosponsor H.R. 3242. It only has 10 cosponsors so far, which is frankly pretty pathetic. Another good thing to do, of course, is join CCL.

  38. David B. Benson says:

    South Carolina Gas & Electic is issuing US$450 million in general obligation bonds @ about 4.355% per annum. Some of this is to help pay for the site preparation and pre-construction construction of the new VC Summer nuclear power plants. That modest interest rate will certainly help keep down the LCOE for VC SUmmer, expecially if the company can keep to that intreest rate as the more expensive construction phase begins.

  39. Jim Hansen and others at NASA GISS wrote a little about this in their 2011 annual global temperature analysis:

    At least for now, they seem to be skeptical on the link between arctic sea ice retreat and the colder mid latitude winters. Here is what they wrote on this question:

    “The most extreme negative AO index in the record (more than a century long) occurred in the 2009-2010 winter (Fig. 6) and a less extreme but still strongly negative index occurred in the 2010-2011 winter. Although there has been speculation about possible effects of reduced Arctic sea ice on outbreaks of Arctic air, Fig. 6 provides little support for that hypothesis. Several years had low sea ice cover in the past decade, yet most of those years were warm at middle latitude winters by 1951-1980 standards. Given the fact that winters are much “noisier” (greater natural variability) than summers, the past two unusually cool winters in the United States and Europe do not alter the expectation that middle latitude winters will tend to become warmer as global warming continues.”

    Also this paper from Hansen on the temperature changes and frequency of warm and cold seasons, “Pereceptions of Climate Chaange: The New Climate Dice”:

    And finally this graph shows that the past two winters in the U.S. and Europe have not been that unusually cold compated to the past 60 years:

    The coldest winters since 1950 in the U.S. and Europe occured in the 1960s and 1970s and a few cold winters in the 1980s.

  40. Colorado Bob says:

    One suspect vector are midges, who like the pine beetle, are expanding range, and generational turn-over.

  41. Colorado Bob says:

    Can the Economy Bear What Oil Prices Have in Store?

    The “tipping point” for oil supply appears to have occurred around 2005, says Murray, who compared world crude oil production with world prices going back to 1998. Before 2005, supply of regular crude oil was elastic and increased in response to price increases. Since then, production appears to have hit a wall at 75 million barrels per day in spite of price increases of 15 percent each year.

    “As a result, prices swing wildly in response to small changes in demand,” the co-authors wrote. “Others have remarked on this step change in the economies of oil around the year 2005, but the point needs to be lodged more firmly in the minds of policy makers.”

  42. prokaryotes says:

    Explain science like you’re talking to someone at a bar. Visual notes from @mireyamayor’s #scio12 keynote.!/rachelannyes/status/160034153851662336

  43. prokaryotes says:

    Boykoff: Obama’s rhetoric of ‘clean energy’ vs. the reality of climate change

    What happened to “climate change” and “global warming”?

    The Earth is still getting hotter, but those terms have nearly disappeared from political vocabulary. Instead, they have been replaced by less charged and more consumer-friendly expressions for the warming planet.

    President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday was a prime example of this shift. The president said “climate change” just once — compared with zero mentions in the 2011 address and two in 2010. When he did utter the phrase, it was merely to acknowledge the polarized atmosphere in Washington, saying, “The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change.” By contrast, Obama used the terms “energy” and “clean energy” nearly two dozen times.

    That tally reflects a broader change in how the president talks about the planet. A recent Brown University study looked specifically at the Obama administration’s language and found that mentions of “climate change” have been replaced by calls for “clean energy” and “energy independence.” Graciela Kincaid, a co-author of the study, wrote: “The phrases ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ have become all but taboo on Capitol Hill. These terms are stunningly absent from the political arena.” …

  44. Colorado Bob says:

    Unprecedented, human-made trends in ocean’s acidity

    “In some regions, the man-made rate of change in ocean acidity since the Industrial Revolution is hundred times greater than the natural rate of change between the Last Glacial Maximum and pre-industrial times,” emphasizes Friedrich. “When Earth started to warm 17,000 years ago, terminating the last glacial period, atmospheric CO2 levels rose from 190 parts per million (ppm) to 280 ppm over 6,000 years. Marine ecosystems had ample time to adjust. Now, for a similar rise in CO2 concentration to the present level of 392 ppm, the adjustment time is reduced to only 100 — 200 years.”

  45. prokaryotes says:

    To summarize:

    “The Mormons are the Chosen People. And the time is now for a Mormon leader to usher in the second coming of Christ and install the political Kingdom of God in Washington, D.C.” Romney’s religion is not a sideline, but a crucial element in understanding the man, the mission and the candidacy. (

  46. prokaryotes says:

    Watch ‘Revenge of the Electric Car’ for free on Hulu. #climate #green #EV

  47. prokaryotes says:

    Nasa study solves case of Earth’s ‘missing energy’

    “Our data show that Earth has been accumulating heat in the ocean at a rate of half a watt per square meter (10.8 square feet), with no sign of a decline,” Loeb said. “This extra energy will eventually find its way back into the atmosphere and increase temperatures on Earth.”

  48. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Porcine pipeline death? Joe Romm, can you check this?

    “With the PIG calibrated to the danger sensitivity required by law, oil and gas companies would have to dig up, inspect and replace pipe at a cost of millions per mile. That’s not what the oil companies wanted from their contractor that designed the PIG program.

    The programmers’ bosses took no chances. “We had to sign nondisclosure agreements.” They were required to conceal “any problems of this sort or the nature of the software we worked.” It could not “be made public at all. Under threat of lawsuit.” Nice.

    With the error left in place, he said, “People die.””