Category Archives: climate change

Rain

It finally rained last night. This was the first rain to fall on my garden in at least a month. Let me tell you, hearing that rainfall on my roof was some sweet, sweet music. And this morning I awoke to the most wonderful present: four full rainbarrels!

This drought has been something else. Last week while driving around town I rounded a turn and for a fleeting moment thought I was on a canyon road in Los Angeles. Something about the brown scrubby vegetation and the smell of the air made me think I was back in my hometown. And I thought: damn. I’ve been talking about moving back to L.A. for so long, I conjured it up in Nashville! Just give of us a beach and take the Baptists and it’s done.

We broke more heat records this week — seven heat records broken since June 28. Anyone who is still pretending this is “cyclical” needs to reacquaint themselves with the definition of a circle. When you’re breaking a new heat record every day — some over 100 years old — you don’t get a circle. You get a line pointing straight up. Just sayin’, people.

Middle Tennessee had a severe drought two years ago, and another one three years before that. I remember reading that the farmers outside of Nashville were forced to truck hay in for their livestock from places like Iowa. But with 75% of the country now in drought, I don’t know where they’d go for that hay these days.

Most deniers I know are now saying, “well, maybe it is climate change, but it’s too late to do anything about it, anyway.” Oh, well now you tell us. Thanks a lot, assholes. They are probably correct on this front but still: thanks for reminding us how y’all have been wrong about everything important and why we shouldn’t listen to you in the future. Also, we all know as soon as there’s a snowfall they’re all gonna be like, “Al Gore is fat, nyah nyah,” so I just don’t waste my time with these idiots. Crawl back under your holes with your friends the Birthers.

Last night’s rain probably saved my garden. We were in triage mode, trying to save big stuff like trees and giving up on the rest. Most of the hostas got scorched weeks ago and just need to be cut back. As I said in an earlier post, I long ago gave up on annuals like impatiens and have planted drought-tolerant species like lantana and yarrow, which offer a nice pop of color and have brought the hummingbirds to the yard. Speaking of hummingbirds, I’m guessing the drought has killed off a big portion of their nectar supply so I’m going to be extra diligent about keeping the feeders fresh.

We’re supposed to get more rain this week, which is a blessing. The temperatures have dropped, too. It’s a small dose of normalcy in a summer which has been anything but.

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Filed under climate change, garden blogging

The New Normal

The calendar says June. The map says Nashville, Tennessee. The thermometer says Phoenix, Arizona.

Yesterday it was 109 degrees in Nashville. I shit you not.

Did I mention it’s still June? Hottest day ever on record. Today is not much better. In fact, for the foreseeable future Nashville is expected to be 100+ degrees. If this is June, then August is going to be positively brutal.

When I was a kid, we used to visit my grandmother in Palm Desert, California every summer. I remember more than one July Fourth in the California desert that was as hot as Nashville is this weekend. In fact, Nashville’s temp this weekend is the same as Phoenix, Arizona.

So here we are. We’re becoming a desert. Get used to it. Sure, the record we’re breaking was set in 1952, but we’ve been breaking daily records for decades. Hey remember that awful August of 2007? When people died from the heat? And that was August.

And 2010 was so bad, I was blogging about record-breaking August heat and the strange critters it had drawn out into the land of the living.

So, welcome to the new normal. I’m trying to make peace with it. For one thing, the super hot and dry temperatures have wrecked havoc on our nastier pests: chiggers and mosquitoes. The little fuckers don’t stand a chance in this climate. Winning! Also, for the past few years I’ve nixed stuff like impatiens and opted for hardier Lantana, which can handle extreme heat and drought. Last winter, believe it or not, my Lantana wintered over. First time that’s ever happened.

Some Like It Hot

On the other hand, I’m desperately trying to save my Viburnum, which have just the sweetest smelling blooms in spring. I’m losing. I’m afraid the koi are going to boil alive in the pond. And what was I thinking when I cut down some trees shading the garden? I know: I was thinking my plants needed more sunshine. Damn, I’d give anything for that shade now.

So, folks, you can pretend climate change isn’t real all you want. Pass all the bills you want allowing you to teach that the dinosaurs just missed Noah’s boatlift and climate change is a liberal plot. That doesn’t change the facts and that doesn’t mean it ain’t happening. It just means you’re stupid.

Personally, I’ve been with the “it’s too late, anyway” camp for a while. We can’t reverse this. We could have if we took action a few decades ago, but not anymore. I’m sure when things become too obvious for even wingnuts to ignore they’ll blame Democrats — that’s what they always do. Might I suggest they cool off at a nice, air conditioned movie theater — perhaps one showing Phil Valentine’s climate change denial movie?

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Filed under climate change, garden blogging, Nashville weather

Technically True But Still Utter BS

Ah, our glorious mainstream media. Here’s wishing they’d actually provide information, not, ya know, troll for clicks with sensational headlines:

Wind Farms Cause Global Warming!

That was the headline of an article in Forbes Magazine from April 30, 2012. And how about this one: “Wind farms can cause climate change, finds new study” from the Telegraph. Or this one from Fox News where they remove the word ‘can:’ “New Research Shows that Wind Farms Cause Global Warming.”

All of these articles have glommed onto a study published in Nature Climate Change on April 29, 2012. The title of that article? “Impacts of wInd farms on land surface temperature.”

It’s amazing how the media can distort the truth when it wants to. The observational study looked at west-central Texas where four of the world’s largest wind farms are located. From 2003-2011, recorded measurements of the local surface temperatures in the vicinity increased by 0.72 degrees Celsius, particularly at night compared with nearby non-wind farm locations. As the authors point out, “These changes, if spatially large enough, may have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate.”

The proposed mechanism is attributed to a changing distribution of air, swapping warmer air above with cooler air below as a result of the rotating motion of the turbines. There’s no net increase in heat, just a change in where it’s located. But this may have the possibility have affecting the regional weather patterns and even regional climate, if the effect is substantial enough

Back in my day this is what we’d call “media bias.” Apparently these days that’s reserved for networks that hire Rachel Maddow. Go figure.

Dibble notes that Forbes actually did provide the accurate information … eventually. But most readers probably didn’t read that far down the article — if they did more than scan the headline, that is. And this is what makes me nuts about most science reporting geared for us uneducated masses: it’s little more than click-bait. That might be fine on a story like “sugar makes you stupid!” — hey, we all know sugar is bad for you. But on an issue like climate change, where manufactured “controversy” has been foisted on the public to the detriment of the health of the entire planet so some rich oil Daddies can get even richer, well, it’s downright irresponsible. People need real reporting on climate change, not sensationalism and click-bait. It’s a complete abrogation of journalistic duty.

Pfft.

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Filed under climate change, energy production, Media, media fairness

Al Gore Is Fat: The Movie

Local talk show blowhard Phil Valentine, last seen circling our state capitol while repeatedly honking his car horn, has a hilarious new anti-climate change film that is a 90-minute attack on Al Gore, liberals and environmentalists. It’s in one theater here in Nashville (because he lives here), and probably won’t be coming to a theater near you, but I’m sure it will be hitting the wingnut DVD distribution circuit soon. The Tennessean did a story on it, which you can read here.

This was funny:

In Michael Moore fashion, Valentine in the film goes to a book signing for Gore to try to talk to him and also to Gore’s Belle Meade home, where he says he wants to see him.

“Yes, this is Arlen Specter,” he says at one point, speaking into the intercom at the entrance. “Can Al Gore come out and play?”

He imitates different voices, including pretending to be Jesse Jackson. An employee comes out and says Gore is out of town and gives him information for the contact person he needs to call.

Har dee har har! That’s so funny! What’s really funny is that despite their professed hatred of prominent liberals like Michael Moore, the right has accepted their cultural superiority. They wouldn’t be copying them otherwise. As I’ve said many times before, conservatives are constantly co-opting the messaging and tactics of the left because they’re culturally irrelevant themselves, and are incapable of creating anything new. Instead of coming up with their own ideas they need to come up with a conservative version of whatever the left has already been successful doing. It’s kinda sad, really.

So, Valentine has basically made a documentary with an all-volunteer crew to debunk climate change by saying it’s phony because Al Gore is fat. Really, that’s it in a nutshell. As Michael Vandenbergh, director of Vanderbilt’s Environmental Law Program and the Climate Change Research Network, is quoted as saying in The Tennessean:

“Whatever you think about Al Gore doesn’t affect that there’s scientific consensus about climate change, and it won’t make it go away,” he said.

Al Gore has been a great straw man for the deniers, but they look beyond silly as climate change has become reality, as anyone with a vegetable garden knows.

What’s funny to me is Valentine’s own inconsistencies on issues like energy.

Little is sacred on the green front. Valentine at one point makes fun of people who recycle plastic bottles and own hybrid cars.

Valentine said he doesn’t recycle, but he does drive a restored 1985 Mercedes-Benz, which was highlighted in the film. It runs on biodiesel that he makes from old restaurant oil.

It’s strictly to save money, he said.

He backs solar, wind and nuclear energy along with drilling for traditional fuel sources as ways to ease the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. He said he is not for cutting back on energy use.

Dude, you’re a moron. You’re for saving money but only the way YOU do it? Hybrids’ better gas mileage saves money. Making buildings more energy efficient saves money. How come that’s not okay, but driving on vegetable oil is?

Recycling plastic bottles saves money. It means you don’t have to make new ones. Why is that not okay?

This is why I don’t worry about the troglodytes of conservatism who claim to support free market solutions to everything, but then are critical when the free market decides something they don’t like. I spent $8 fueling my car last month. Who wouldn’t want that deal? It doesn’t matter what your politics may be, the pocket book has already won the argument. You guys lost. Attacking Al Gore isn’t going to change a thing, except put you on the wrong side of yet another issue. We’re used to seeing that from you guys. Thanks for staying consistent on at least that one point.

This is why I’ve decided to stop worrying and love the climate change deniers. I’ve realized the people who need to know about this stuff, the people who matter, are not the people with their head in the sand. And by people who matter, I’m not talking about the champagne-swillers in Davos. I’m talking about engineers and biologists and agricultural scientists and medical doctors. I’m talking about the folks who are building city storm sewers, who know devastating floods are the new normal and are adjusting their plans accordingly. And yes, I’m talking about business leaders.

Climate change isn’t just real, it’s been decided. There’s no going back at this point, it’s too late. All we can do is prepare for its impact. And people are doing that. Phil Valentine can try to propagandize to his faithful, but he’s preaching to the choir. We already know these people are out of touch with reality. So keep it up. Because you’re just backing yourselves into a corner, showing yourselves to be even more irrelevant.

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Filed under Al Gore, climate change, conservatives, Phil Valentine, talk radio

Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay MORE?

Remember Newt Gingrich’s “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” campaign? Based on the false assumption that if we drill for oil in America, that oil will stay in America? And drive gas prices Americans pay down? Because, you know … supply and demand and all that simplistic Econ 101 crap from the 1920s that people believe still holds true in a global economy?

Yeah, well, it ain’t happening:

Oil boomlet sweeps U.S. as exports and production rise

Looking at your heating bills or gas prices, you may find it surprising that the United States is enjoying a mini oil boom. It’s producing more crude oil and, for the first time in decades, has become a net exporter of petroleum products such as jet fuel, heating oil and gasoline.

The U.S. exported more oil-based fuels than it imported in the first nine months of this year, making it likely that 2011 will be the first time since 1949 that the nation is a net exporter of such goods, primarily diesel.

That’s not all. The U.S. has reversed another decades-long trend. It began producing more crude oil in 2008 than the year before and accelerated that upswing 3% in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 2010. That production has helped reduce U.S. imports of crude oil by about 10% since 2006.

Funny because I thought Socialist Obama was a puppet of Greenpeace and the Sierra Club! Oh, and the tree huggers and Dirty Fucking Hippies have blocked all the new refineries! And bargle bargle blargh! And Al Gore is fat!

Hmm. So we’re producing more crude oil domestically, reducing our imports, headed toward energy independence … yet we’re still paying over $3.50 a gallon for gasoline! What happened to the “pay less” part of Newt’s slogan?

What gives? Two things:

American consumers benefit little from the U.S. oil boomlet, because their fuel prices depend heavily on a global oil market that remains tight and has probably already peaked in production, says Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy and the World.

Ah yes that global market thing. Oil is not like oranges or laundry detergent. And then there’s the fact that this “boomlet” comes from new sources of oil (like tar sands and shale and ultra-deep offshore wells) that had been prohibitively expensive to tap before. The price of oil has to reach a certain high price before tapping these sources makes economic sense.

You see, high gas prices are built into the system. So no matter how much we drill and refine here in the U.S., we won’t be seeing cheap gasoline. And as for the rest of it — the poisoned well water and earthquakes from fracking, the crazy, wild weather from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide — we all pay those costs so the oil companies can enjoy higher profits. Privatize the gains, socialize the losses: it’s the way we do things these days.

Of course, those of us who drive electric cars don’t pay too much attention to gas prices.

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Filed under climate change, energy production, gas prices

The Tim DeChristopher Case

This is a weird story.

Tim DeChristopher is a young environmental activist facing two felony counts which stem from an action he took in December 2008. In short, DeChristopher bid $1.7 million for 22,000 acres of federal land offered for sale at a public auction; a student at the University of Utah at the time, he didn’t have the money to pay for his bid, but he took took the action to protect the land from oil and gas drilling and protest the country’s energy policy. He now faces 10 years in prison and a $75,000 fine.

DeChristopher accuses the oil and gas industry of being behind his prosecution. Said DeChristopher in a recent interview:

We were making the case for selective prosecution before the indictment because we had substantial evidence that the oil industry had played a strong role. One of my attorneys got a call from an AP reporter before I was informed what the charges against me were. The journalist told my attorney, these are going to be the charges. The reporter got that information from an oil industry lobbyist. So before I knew or my attorneys knew, the oil industry knew. Why did they know before my attorneys knew?  

And then, there were 25 people in the last 3 years that have won leases without being able to pay for them, who had a profit motive, and none of them have been prosecuted. It seems that they are coming down particularly hard on me.

I really hadn’t heard anything about this case; apparently Robert Redford, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben and some other prominent Lefties have come to his defense and are trying to raise awareness.

I’m just a little confused. I’ve never participated in an auction of public land before but don’t you have to show proof of assets or something before signing up? Is there a reason why we don’t require that? DeChristopher said a BLM staffer asked him if he’d like to bid on the auction, which seems strange, and he said it was “easier than signing up on eBay.”

There’s a web page set up to support DeChristopher, called Bidder70. A march and rally to support DeChristopher have been scheduled for the day his trial begins, Feb. 28 in Salt Lake City.

I’m sure our media will ignore this story as they do so much else that’s really important. It always amazes me how we have a 24/7 TV news media and yet I’m continually reading about news which never hits their radar. It seems if it doesn’t involve tricorn hats or crazy-eyed Michelle Bachmann, they’re just not interested.

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Filed under climate change, protests, Tim DeChristopher

>Grumpy

>Man I hate this weather. It snowed last night … AGAIN!! I’m so OVER it, already. I left Southern California for this? God.

This is Nashville and we don’t get this kind of snow. At least, we haven’t in the 26 years I’ve lived here. Cripes. But this is two winters in a row, now. Apparently we’ve hit some kind of milestone. I mean, shit. If I’m going to have to deal with snow and ice every damn winter I might as well live somewhere that also gives me universal healthcare and a strong social safety net. Oh, and a population that appreciates professional hockey! I mean, Jesus. This fucking sucks.

I hate this because I know it means the hellacious summer we experienced last year (which prompted this grumpy dog-days-of-August post ) is going to return as well. And don’t think we’ve seen the last of the flooding, either. We are Nashville! We’re gonna get wet! Oh, we might not get another weather penis, but I predict this spring will see some pretty hellacious rainstorms. Just a guess. Hey, better stock up on those pumps and Shop-Vacs now, folks. Thank me later.

This is one reason I laugh when our idiot legislators decide the road to riches for Tennessee is to lure retirees. I mean, I have nothing against retirees — I aspire to be one some day, after all — but this isn’t the first time someone decided what Tennessee needs to do is compete with Florida and Arizona for the retiree market. Yessiree, resource-sucking seniors are just dying to get a load of this sucky climate: snow and ice in the winter, unbearable heat and humidity in the summer. Basically this place is livable four months out of the year. If you’re looking for the ideal place to spend your sunset years, this ain’t it.

So with everyone snarking about how Al Gore is fat and all, I’m reminded of the hissy fits this Hollywood blockbuster spawned a few years ago. It actually suggested, in a Hollywood blockbuster way, that global warming could cause extreme winters! Crazy, I know! But true! Might be something to add to the Netflix queue since it’s too damn cold to leave the house.

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Filed under climate change, Nashville weather

>I, Too, Demand My Constitutional Right To A Syndicated Radio Show & Other Thoughts

>Constitutional scholar Sarah Palin tells Dr. Laura to not retreat, reload!

Which should make today a fun one on the internets.

Meanwhile, as the nation focuses on the circus sideshow, Nashville is preparing for a repeat of its floods of three and a half months ago. Hopefully we won’t be looking at our fourth 100-year flood in 40 years. Climate change, much? The New York Times connects the dots (although some of us did that a few months ago):

Dr. Meehl, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told me in an interview that the “fairly small” average warming in the earth’s temperature, about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial Revolution, can be expected to lead to “much more noticeable changes in the extremes” of heat and cold.

“Physically, you’d expect to see more record heat events and fewer record cold events,” he said. “That’s what we are seeing.”
For those intimidated by scientific papers, a simpler write-up on the issue can be found here. And Dr. Meehl is also on YouTube talking about the findings of his research.

Here’s the video:

Conservatives who deny climate change are a lot like Sarah Palin discussing the Constitution: they do it with very little real understanding of the subject matter, lots of false assumptions and politically-motivated finger pointing, and a hefty dose of oil industry backing. They don’t need to prove anything, just sow enough doubt in peoples’ minds that it undermines any real effort to change anything so we can keep sucking on the bones of dead dinosaurs.

Hmm … maybe the Constitution really does guarantee me a right to a nationally-syndicated radio show! In which case, my first program can be about climate change.

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Filed under climate change, Dr. laura, Nashville weather, Sarah Palin

>Media FAIL

>Turns out “Climategate” was a manufactured controversy and the media regrets the error:

But not only did British investigators clear the East Anglia scientist at the center of it all, Phil Jones, of scientific impropriety and dishonesty in April, an investigation at Penn State cleared PSU climatologist Michael Mann of “falsifying or suppressing data, intending to delete or conceal e-mails and information, and misusing privileged or confidential information” in February. In perhaps the biggest backpedaling, The Sunday Times of London, which led the media pack in charging that IPCC reports were full of egregious (and probably intentional) errors, retracted its central claim—namely, that the IPCC statement that up to 40 percent of the Amazonian rainforest could be vulnerable to climate change was “unsubstantiated.” The Times also admitted that it had totally twisted the remarks of one forest expert to make it sound as if he agreed that the IPCC had screwed up, when he said no such thing.

Of course, we’ll still hear about “Climategate” in Bill Kristol columns and Fox News reports for years and years to come. Because the point was to discredit scientists, not get at any truth or fact. That’s the point of these smears, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, it turns out that ACORN has also been cleared:

A preliminary report from the General Accounting Office has cleared ACORN of allegations that it misused millions of federal dollars over a four-year span.

According to the report, nine federal agencies gave the community group more than $40 million in eight housing-related grants from 2005 to 2009. There were no problems with seven of the eight grants, and ACORN supplied correct documentation for the eighth after it was notified the paperwork was missing. The GAO said it found no evidence of fraud or misuse of federal dollars.

ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said the report “does nothing more than add to the growing list of government entities who have vindicated us,” according to The Hill. ACORN has vigorously disputed charges that surfaced after a video sting by conservative activists showed low-level ACORN staffers giving tax advice regarding a prostitution ring. The group also faced charges from conservative media of voter fraud after the 2008 election.

[…]

A December 2009 report commissioned by the House Judiciary Committee found ACORN violated no federal regulations. That study, conducted by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, also found that ACORN correctly used all federal dollars it received and did not improperly register any voters during the 2008 presidential election. An investigation by the California attorney general reached the same conclusion. An independent investigator hired by ACORN also cleared the organization of wrongdoing.

ACORN is now suing to get its federal funding restored. Really, they should sue Andrew Breitbart and his minions for slander. (Incidentally, back in May, the New York Times issued a correction for its erroneous reporting on the James O’Keefe/ACORN affair.)

Again, it doesn’t matter: ACORN will forever be synonymous with something unsavory in peoples’ minds, and none of our gutless Democrats have the spine to go to bat for a bunch of community organizers who helped a bunch of poor people with their legal troubles. I mean, who gives a shit, right?

So with two right-wing smears down the toilet (and let’s not forget the whole “Saddam had WMDs” thing), all we can hope is that our establishment media has learned a lesson here. It’s looking doubtful. Recent events indicate the “liberal” media runs for the fainting couches when the right wing tells them to. (More here.)

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Filed under ACORN, climate change, media

Connecting The Dots

Someone has to. Guess it might as well be me.

Nashville, January 2010:

Nashville, May 2010:

It’s not just Nashville. One month ago, floods decimated New England. I don’t remember hearing about those floods in the news, either. But YouTube is full of shocking videos, like this one from Mystic, Connecticut and this one of a Rhode Island shopping mall under two feet of water. A friend who lives out there writes:

One of the worst things we had for weeks was the stench and everyone getting sick from bacteria in the air. Take care of yourself.

Something to look forward to, Nashville.

Drought and floods in India and China have resulted in a global cotton shortage, folks. That means no more cheap $10 T-shirts at WalMart and CostCo, not to mention a shortage of canvas tarps, cotton for industrial use and medical supplies.

It has contributed to the tensions between India and Pakistan. India has halted export of its cotton, forcing two-thirds of Pakistan’s yarn mills to close.

Farmers in Hawaii are cutting back production as much as 40% because of severe drought.

And as I mentioned last winter, there was massive drought in the Southern Hemisphere, causing severe crop loss.

We are 7 billion strong on this planet. Our thirst for oil has led us to interfere in the governments of foreign lands, even wage wars to access oil. Little surprise some people resort to desperate acts of terrorism.

We drill for oil in more extreme, dangerous places. Just one accident has destroyed a major food industry in this country. I doubt there will be much recovery of the shrimp and oyster beds in the Gulf. It’s not just the oil; the chemical dispersants they are using to contain the spill have unknown risks:

Chemical dispersants carry complex environmental trade-offs: helping to keep oil from reaching sensitive wetlands while exposing other sea life to toxic substances. The concoction works like dish soap to separate oil and water, but the exact chemical composition is protected as a trade secret.

Sure. Because where the public health and the continued existence of a major food source are concerned, what’s really important is protecting Dow Chemical’s (or whomever’s) copyright.

Someone in Washington needs to connect these dots. There is a clear and concrete line connecting our fossil fuel addiction, our resource wars, the pollution we are pumping into the atmosphere, our growing population, and the extremes of weather we’ve experienced. And by “we” I do mean that globally. We all cause the problem and we all suffer the consequenes.

We’re all in this together. We all share the same planet.

The cost of our inaction will be more floods, more drought, more political instability and more terrorism. We can get off this hamster wheel now, or we can keep running and running, expecting to get somewhere but not moving one inch. It’s all very plain and obvious to me. I can’t believe it isn’t obvious to anyone else.

It’s all connected, people.

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Filed under climate change, energy conservation, Gulf oil spill, weather