Open Thread Plus Toles Cartoon

A cyber-penny for your cyber-thoughts.

52 Responses to Open Thread Plus Toles Cartoon

  1. climatehawk1 says:

    How about that Heartland stuff! Very nice article in the LA Times by Neela Banerjee.

    Otherwise, my usual plea: if you’re in the U.S. or Canada, please join Citizens’ Climate Lobby and express your support for the Save Our Climate Act, H.R. 3242. The more support it gets, the more climate will become a topic of attention in Congress.

  2. 2012 is a presidential election year. There are many issues that will divide the candidates. Energy and climate change will only be one of them.

    The Republican Candidate, no matter if it is Romney or Santorum, will have to take a radical anti-science position in order to be nominated. They combine a drill-baby-drill energy policy with a near religious belief that climate change has no connection to anything that man is doing.

    Even with the reality devoid Republican position, the Obama campaign will try to avoid making climate change into an issue. I the last 2 SOTU addresses, Obama used the word “climate” just 1 time, and that was to admit that there will be no climate legislation out of this Congress, no matter how eloquent Senators Sanders, Whitehouse, Udall might be.

    There are candidates who would take positions that the followers of this blog would approve, but they will not get significant national media coverage. Both leading Green Party candidates, Barr and Stein, hold rational views of our energy policy and what that is doing to our climate.

    The one element that no candidate can really control is the price of gasoline. In my community, it has gone up some 20 cents/gal. in the last 2 week, now edging past $4 at some stations. Republican will hammer this as often and as loudly as they can and I am not sure how much it will resonate with voters.

    And I am still waiting for someone to ask the folks at just what they will do when we use of the “100 years” of energy supplies they claim we have.

  3. Raul M. says:

    still like the scientists.
    Some have figured much of the how and why of UV
    Damage to the eyes.
    Contact manufacturer figured out how to make contacts
    Protective from UV damage.
    Loving my new contacts, not much correction but sure lessons the sensitivity.

  4. Tom King says:

    The characters in fake wrestling appear more animated than those in any real sporting contest. The characters in a sitcom appear more animated than those in real life. In the real world, a mountain climber is under tremendous pressure to stay tethered to the reality of the mountain so that a false step can be corrected. But in a contrived world, no such tethering is required.

    Unfortunately, we seem to be attracted to the contrived personalities. There is a type of mastery involved with acting out these roles. And we value that mastery even while secretly acknowledging that the real world is a more serious place.

    Thus we have two conflicting desires – the first is for a realist, and the second for an actor. It is easy to imagine how the puppet strings might get tangled in such an arrangement.

  5. Will Fox says:

    Has anyone here read “The God Species” by Mark Lynas? I finished it yesterday – excellent book.

    It talks about “planetary boundaries” we need to establish in order to prevent climate change, pollution, extinctions, etc. There are several of these boundaries – nitrogen, carbon, land use, biodiversity and so on. We’ve already crossed a few of them, and carbon looks like being the most serious (pre-industrial levels were 280ppm, current levels are 395ppm, and the limit should be 350ppm).

    Although it presents some fairly dire warnings, it’s also a really positive book that offers common sense, practical solutions that can solve these various crises. Unlike the Zeitgeist movement, Lynas believes that capitalism and growth are possible even within the limits of these boundaries. I’m inclined to agree with him. We just need to be more efficient and sustainable, and learn to cooperate internationally. He cites the Montreal Protocol (which saved the ozone layer, by limiting CFCs) as the perfect example of this.

    Another thing I loved was the mistakes of the Green movement that he highlights (e.g. with nuclear power, and GM food), and what environmentalists should be doing to win more support. Lynas also wrote “Six Degrees” which is excellent too.

  6. Jim says:

    I live in Michigan and drive by several nice inland lakes every day on my way to work. Until this year these lakes were populated by many fishing shanties throughout winter. None this year. So far this winter there have only been a few days where I didn’t see open water areas. This week we are back to partial ice coverage with very large open water areas. It’s stunning.

  7. William P says:

    The response to Heartland would benefit by stating the US Department of Defense believes global warming is a large and serious threat, and is planning actively to deal with that threat through its multiple branches and agencies.

  8. wili says:

    I appreciated Lynas’s book “Six Degrees,” but from your description of it, I think I’ll take a pass on this one.

    Capitalism, as currently constructed, is completely wedded to endless growth on a limited planet. There is no way to reconcile that mindset with long-term sustainability.

    And, imho, the environmental movement has been completely correct to be skeptical (at minimum) of the safety and usefulness of nukes and GMO’s. How many Fukushima’s will it take to make people reconsider their infatuation with this deadly technology? I was deeply disappointed to see that Monbiot, too, has taken to promoting nukes. (Of course, the UK is now in something of an energy pickle, even more than much of the rest of the world. And desperation brings out desperate measures.)

    My main critique of the environmental movement is that it has not aligned itself enough with poor people’s movements, those most often at the blunt end of ecological damage.

  9. wili says:

    Here in Minnesota, January and February are usually characterized by having very few days that get above freezing (or at least very high above it for very long) and very many days that get below 0 F. This year we have had only a few days that dipped below 0, and most days have seen temps significantly above freezing–they have had to close down the ubiquitous ice-rinks in all the parks since you can’t skate on slush, much less on ponds or mud.

  10. wili says:

    Nice metaphor. I hop you don’t mind if I use it.

  11. climatehawk1 says:

    Right, and this is just the beginning. If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to check outDavid Roberts’s excellent piece on “The Brutal Logic of Climate Change.”

  12. climatehawk1 says:

    And in Vermont, we are getting into mud season about six weeks early. Highs in the 40s for the past several days–throughout the “winter,” occasional periods of a few days of normal temperatures have alternated with equally long or longer stretches of unusual warmth.

  13. climatehawk1 says:

    Ms. Banerjee can be reached at @neelaeast on Twitter, if you’ve a mind to thank/congratulate her.

  14. Peter says:

    The corporate elite are in power. They own everything; the Coal & Energy industrial complex, the banks, the Pharmaceutical, health insurance companies, but most importantly the Media. The concept of a free and open press is a concept that has died over the last 32 years.

    The planet now is entering into A state of dangerous climate change, yet the public remains aloof, unaware of the apocalypse ahead.

  15. NASA and NOAA both report that January 2012 was the 18th and 19th warmest January on record respectively:

    NOAA report:

    NASA January Global temp. anomaly map:

    The NASA map shows that North America, Europe and the Arctic were notably warmer than average. In contrast, Alaska, Antarctica, Northern Africa and Eurasia were cooler than average.

  16. colinc says:

    Before Lynas’ book, there was/is…

    Planetary Boundaries

    To avoid catastrophic environmental change humanity must stay within defined ‘planetary boundaries’ for a range of essential Earth-system processes, argue Johan Rockström and his co-authors in a Nature Feature. If one boundary is transgressed, then safe levels for other processes could also be under serious risk, they caution. Seven expert commentaries respond to this proposal in Nature Reports Climate Change.

  17. Sasparilla says:

    Sounds alot like what I’ve been seeing Jim.

    I’m on the northern border of Illinois and Wisconsin and the same situation. Lakes that always have fishing huts on them (my daughter looks forward to seeing them from the car) are not there because the lakes never froze over (first time ever for that while I’ve been around – 80’s).

    Then yesterday – this ones a zinger – February 17, I’m out in my back yard and I notice a pair of Robins, Robins! In the middle of February at the Wisconsin border! I couldn’t believe it, so I grabbed my binoculars just to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me, they weren’t, then I heard their distinctive call.

    Just crazy. Last year I was dumbfounded they arrived on March 3rd thinking that was so early, but this is truly nuts. I also noticed several flights of Ducks flying north (something else that doesn’t normally happen till mid March).

    Frankly I’m afraid that big cold spell that was on the other side of the globe (seems like instead of cold winter everwhere the North can only manage to push regional blobs of winter temperatures down this year) will find its way here for a late appearance and freeze all these early returners. But all this has been unprecedented – and extremely disconcerting.

    As another poster often laments, the clock is ticking, we’re not changing anything and nature is reacting…

  18. Leif says:

    Instead of gentle stirring we are getting bigger systems with more staying power. Climatic disruption anyone?

  19. Sasparilla says:

    Seems like the winter air mass, this year, just doesn’t have the chops to come down and make it cold everywhere (like normal) and can only push big blobs of cold air down on part of the globe (the resemblance to the beginning of a spinning top starting to loose it center as it spins reminds me of it a bit), the other parts like most of the US just haven’t gotten those winter air masses (for the most part) at all this year.

    Extremely disconcerting to see this happening.

  20. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    If Obama wins, which I believe is the ruling caste’s preference (he having proved, as expected, such a loyal and faithful servant of their interests)I’d expect four more years of precisely the same masterful indolence concerning climate change as the last four. Voting for a second Obama term is, in my opinion, another triumph of hope over experience.

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The last authentic human beings were hounded from Australian politics ten to fifteen years ago. None any longer speak in any but meaningless and fraudulent cliches, no-one dares stand up to a rabid Rightwing MSM, no one dares say honestly what they think, lest it differ by a scintilla from their colleagues, whereupon the MSM starts braying of discord and in-fighting. The dominance of money power and an ever more ideological and hectoring MSM have destroyed public life and replaced it with a charade where feeding the bigotries of the lowest ranks of the public, feeding the greedy ‘aspirations’ of the middle-class and kow-towing to Rupert Murdoch’s ideological prejudices are the highest goods. Such a society, it is needless to say, is moribund.

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    As far as I’m concerned Lynas is a figure of no credibility. His reporting at Copenhagen, with his frenzied denunciation of China as the prime culprit, was bad enough, but his continuing and enthusiastic apologias for nuclear energy finished the process for me. In my opinion, anyone who argues for the continuance of capitalism as the prime force on the planet, and for continued economic growth, is- let’s be polite-grotesquely mistaken.

  23. Tony says:

    I live down south of you in southern Indiana. The old timers can remember when the waterways and ponds froze over here, but that hasn’t happened for many years. We, too, have had an amazingly mild winter this year.

  24. Tony says:

    Great quote from this article:

    “NOAA’s response of IT infrastructure investment is laughable. We are an iPhone agency with an etch-a-sketch infrastructure. Download speeds at most weather forecast offices are no faster than they were a decade ago. In many offices, you have more available bandwidth on your cell phone than the office has.”

  25. riverat says:

    You may be right but in the end either the Republican or Democratic nominee will win. There is essentially zero possibility of another outcome (just like there is essentially zero possibility that anthropogenic global warming is not real). So if those are your only choices would you rather see a Republican win just to spite Obama? It may be a crummy choice but it’s all you’ve got.

  26. Peter says:

    Capitalism in its current guise is not sustainable- since it still treats the earth as an infinite sphere in which non renewable resources can be extracted for unlimited economic growth.

    The thin connections of our Global Economy, and how climate disruptions will shatter this economic model are revealed in a more realistic book by Diane Dumanoski ‘The End of the Long Summer’ which explores the future in which we shrink back to more localized economies because of the effects of climate change. Capitalism NOW needs a global economy with infinite markets for increased growth.

    This century may prove to me the most important in human civilization going back to the late Neolithic.

  27. PAUL DONOHUE says:

    I saw that January was fairly cool world wide in spite of the warm U.S. I wonder what is going on? I have heard the the SO2 from China is cooling things off. I wonder if there are any numbers to support that?

    I am almost done with Michael Mann’s book. Really excellent and very interesting. I plan to give it a 5 stars at Amazon.

  28. Chris Winter says:

    I like the first sentence from that Los Angeles Times article: “Once in a while, there comes along a reason to believe in karma.”

    Let’s hope that karma runs right over the Heartland Institute dogma.

    Quips aside, Ms. Banerjee’s article is an excellent summary of the situation.

  29. Leif says:

    No one has any problem attributing el Nino/la Nina to weather disruptions on the Pacific Coast and down the line to even as far away as Europe in some cases. Even up wind to Australia and the Far East. El Nine, la Nina is a Pacific current with a small temperature change of only a few degrees that starts in the Eastern Pacific and dwindles out off the the coast of South America.

    Currently the open water from the Arctic ice melt is a larger area about the size of Mexico that has changed from Polar ice conditions of sub zero to above freezing, (dozens of degrees). This area is far closer to the habitable zones of North America and Europe. To assume that it warrants no attention in the weather system propagation of both is totally irresponsible and criminally deceitful.

  30. PAUL DONOHUE says:

    I would like to remove my comment.

  31. Leif says:

    Western Pacific obviously, I was thinking of the Far East at the moment. Senior moment.

  32. John Tucker says:

    Natural gas expansion update:

    New EIA report:

    Natural gas pipeline capacity additions in 2011 ( )

    In the press:

    Commercial Vehicle Shift Spurs CNG Mini-Boom ( )

    Colorado, Oklahoma push natural gas cars ( )

    It doesn’t take a scientist to see where this is going.

    To get a better idea of the scope I included recent maps and energy generation expansions in a post:

    Natural gas capacity additions ( )

  33. John Tucker says:

    German Rumblings :

    Well the new climate skeptic haven is turning out to be Germany as “greens” undoubtedly distance themselves from improperly installed renewables (any visit to a anti nuclear discussion on energy in the last year would have tipped you off to this coming). The ABC/Spiegel piece is particularly distressing in tis triangulated and poorly though out conclusion:

    Smoke and Mirrors in the Climate Debate ( )

    Germany’s sunshine daydream ( )

    It would be better if you made sure that shotgun was unarmed before handing it over.

  34. John Tucker says:

    sorry tony that wasn’t a response to you.

    I actually enjoy the NOAA sites a lot. Im sure its frustrating to those working there but I would rather deal with he slow bandwidth than loose anything honestly.

  35. John Tucker says:

    it flushes away after the weekend and probably doesn’t get much reading anyway.

  36. John Tucker says:

    If you think environmental firms wont or cant promote fossil fuels READ THIS:

    The American Way to Natural Gas Vehicles — and Investor Profits

    Enter water industry guru Richard Heckmann. Heckmann is the jockey investor behind U.S. Filter, a water company he founded in 1990.

    “Somebody had to start it. It is in our interest to see gas prices go up. It is in our interest to see … more gas be drilled and more gas produced, so it ought to be in our interest to figure out how to consume it, and that’s what we’re doing.” [ ]

  37. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You’re correct, on the surface, riverat, but dig a little deeper. Having a Manchurian Candidate like Obama, in my opinion a confidence-man programmed to fool the gullible, but in practise a long-term asset of the ruling caste, in power means that the Masters cannot lose. Either or, both will govern for the rich. Obama’s sole selling-point now is that the alternative will be worse, ie the Republicans will be 110% as bad as Obama.
    So ‘democracy’ and elections have been rigged by the real power in all capitalist states, the money power. All people have left is the refusal to go along with the sham. Not voting is pointless, and part of Plan Obama, to so disillusion those he betrayed that they will abstain for years, leaving the field to the Tea Party Mad Hatters who love the billionaires more than their own children.
    The only sensible, honourable and possibly effective policy, I believe, is to vote for a third party, preferably someone for whom the ecological crisis is paramount. If it costs Obama the job-stiff luck! If 5% or more vote ecological it may be the start of a mass movement. But, if you stick with the two-party sham, you are just being complicit in your own destruction. The creatures who control the Democratic Party are, in my opinion, 99.9% as reprehensible as those controlling the Republicans. Perhaps it’s time for a ‘colour revolution’ in their birthplace, the USA.

  38. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    But, above all else, it is plain dumb, but that attracts the Dunning-Krugerites like ants to a honey-pot.

  39. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The German Greens have been marching to the Right for years. They have long been neo-liberal in their economics, and ‘Atlanticist’ in their fealty to the US/NATO plan for global domination. For them (this is a result of the long ago schism between ‘realos’ [sell-outs] and ‘fundies’ [real environmentalists])the environment is simply a lifestyle choice, and, when it gets in the way of increased consumption (plus that air of self-righteous and smug satisfaction)it is pretty quickly dumped.

  40. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    John, this is capitalism in action. Money comes first, last and always. Half the ‘environmental’ groups in Australia, and the leading so-called ‘environmentalists’ have sold out to one business or another over recent years, to give them a nice ‘greenwashed’ facade. Capitalism brings out the greed in most people. It is humanity’s Achilles heel.

  41. John Tucker says:

    That was just too much and unexpected even for me Mulga, as much as I advocate for nuclear options for instance I would never seek to promote them to benefit from accidents and environmental concerns.

  42. John Tucker says:

    Here we go:

    T. Boone Pickens visited White House seven times

    Pickens says he has spent “nearly $100 million” over 3½ years promoting his plan.

    “I’ve accomplished my goal of achieving legislation and proposed policies to help solve the OPEC oil crisis,” Pickens said in a statement. “The ball’s now in Washington’s court. What we need is leadership. Despite the political partisanship that divides Washington, I am hopeful and confident Congress will put America’s best energy future first.” ( )

  43. John Tucker says:

    I cant believe there is somebody actually named T. Boone Pickens that promotes natural gas. You couldn’t make that up.

  44. john tucker says:

    To be fair he just supports natural gas power in vehicles to get us off oil. Seems like a nice guy. Unfortunately we probably need to skip that step.

  45. prokaryotes says:

    I just got an email from the Heartland Institute about the “HeartlandGate” documents

  46. Leland Palmer says:

    I was reading through this presentation from East Siberian Arctic Shelf experts Shakhova and Semiletov, the other day:

    Methane release from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf and the Potential for Abrupt Climate Change

    Go to the link, and hit the small orange download button. The big green animated one is a commercial link- don’t hit that one.

    So, they say some disturbing things in this presentation, including their estimate of a trillion tons of methane hydrates on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) and about 0.7 trillion tons of associated free methane gas.

    But what really caught my attention was page 24:

    A)Observed warming on the ESAS (March-April-May; MAM, 2000-2005 versus 1970-1999, NOAA)is the strongest in the entire Arctic and the region is now 5°C warmer compared with average springtime temperature registered during the 20th century;
    B) Circum-Arctic map of sub-sea permafrost (shown in purple) (ACIA, 2005). This compilation suggests that most (~ 80%) of the relict submarine permafrost is predicted on the ESAS;

    This shows that warming over the ESAS is the greatest in the entire Arctic, and shows a correlation between methane emitting areas of subsea permafrost and atmospheric hot spots. This suggests a causal relationship- perhaps enough methane is leaking to cause local warm spots?

    Going to NASA GISS, average data for 2011 shows the same correlation: a hot spot over the East Siberian Arctic Shelf:

    NASA GISS 2011 ESAS Hot Spot

    Looking at the monthly data for 2011 and January of 2012, this same correlation seems to be showing up, especially in the fall and early winter- large temperature anomalies over the ESAS. Starting in October and extending through January 2012, the temperature anomalies over the ESAS were very large and intense.

    Data for earlier years shows some correlation, but 2011 appeared to me to be the worst so far.

    Of course, Semiletov was talking about widespread venting from the ESAS this year, with fields of plumes a kilometer in diameter, after his recent research expedition up there.

    If large scale methane releases were already happening, this is what it would look like, I think. :(

  47. Leland Palmer says:

    For people who would like to go to NASA GISS (Goddard Institute of Space Sciences) and make their own maps, here is the link:

    NASA GISS Surface Temperature Maps

    Go to the link and pick anomalies, an appropriate time period, and polar projection, for a similar map.

  48. Jay Alt says:

    On Feb 2nd the groundhog saw his shadow and darted back to his burrow.
    And unlike Conservative Think Tanks (CTTs) or neoliberal economists, groundhogs are well-attuned to the world.

    So groundhog said – “Hurrmph! Six more days of winter”

  49. Zach says:

    Maybe I’m wrong, but other than the Open Letter by climate scientists, I’m not seeing any other articles *primarily* focused on the Heartland Institute’s hypocrisy regarding this recent leak and ‘climategate’:

  50. riverat says:

    I don’t disagree with your sentiment much Mulga but until there are enough people on board to give some other option a chance I’ll have to go with Obama. There are other factors to consider besides global warming. In particular the next President will undoubtedly appoint 1 or 2 new Supreme Court justices. In some ways the Supreme Court is more important than the President. They are appointed for life so the appointments live on beyond any one Presidents term. Right now the right wing holds a slight edge on the court and after the Citizens United decision I shudder to think what would happen with new appointments if we have a Republican President. So I’ll be voting for Obama because another Republican President would be worse than George W. Bush given the current political climate in the US.

  51. riverat says:

    And I’ll add, change isn’t going to come from the politicians, no matter who you elect. True change will only come when enough people start telling the politicians they want it.