If You Want My Opinion . . .

Last night, while I was online typing my opinion on a news item, I accidently accessed a history of some of my comments over the last 2 years or so (and I thought I usually kept my mouth shut and my opinions to myself). I didn’t immediately realize what I was reading and was thinking “This is really good shit, I wonder who writes this stuff,” when I realized “Oh, I do”.  So I thought I would post what I consider to be the best here.  Now, just in case anyone is actually interested in my opinions, below is a regular anthology for you! (Where possible, the original article is linked)

13/10 — Imagining a Moral Economy for British Columbia – discussion on The Tyee
A superb piece of work – this is the kind of analysis and planning discussion that should be in the mainline media every morning and every evening. This is what those who access their knowledge of the world with a TV remote should find every time they sit down and look. So how do we accomplish that??

13/08 — Article in The Source on transforming our transportation system
Well said Derrick. While we are so far behind we can barely make out the number 8 on the ball, I think I am finally seeing the ship begin to turn. A few stories have finally started to appear in the mainstream media and the new-normal extreme weather you mentioned has caused some eyes to briefly blink half open. As individuals, we can jump on the chance to start a conversation with those we suspect are thinking during these waking moments.

13/08 — Ecuador Cancels Trade Pact Over U.S. ‘Blackmail’ in Snowden Case
¡Viva Ecuador! As greedy North America sells it’s collective soul for money, South America takes the High Road and shows us how an ethical humanity lives. ¡Viva!

13/08 — Article by the Business and Media Institute (US) denying climate change
This is bought-and-paid-for, worthless crap. The real figures are available in seconds to anyone who can do a “Google” search. It’s 30 years since there was any reasonable uncertainty among climate scientists about the FACTS that the Earth’s climate is warming and that the major reason is human activity – at this point there is better than 99% agreement with these two FACTS by accredited climate scientists around the world. Do some reading, inform yourself, the mainline news media will not do it for you. It’s really quite important as the continued existence of the human species depends on all of us coming to terms with reality – that’s REAL reality, not the kind on Cable TV.

RIP van Winkle and Friends Awaken to Global Climate Change

Apparently this winter’s worldwide, and extreme weather events have finally awakened some people with the power to be heard. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech in Jakarta finally says it as it is, climate change is “the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction” (WMD).

At home in the US and also in the UK, the story seems to have been picked up by journalists who, after revelling with Rip van Winkle, have been asleep for 20 years and missed out on the unfolding of the biggest crisis ever to confront the human species. For the dedicated journalists at The Chicago Tribune and the The Daily Mail this must be a real bummer. Hopefully they will now do some reading and catch up on what the scientists have discovered while they were sleeping it off.

President Obama (POTUS) is in the position of having to do an end run around the US Congress which is deadlocked between the scientifically literate on the one [left] hand and the Flat Earth Society (FES) on the other. It will take some tricky maneuvering to outflank the FES as they have the financial support of corporate America and the advertising strength of the mainline media empires but one would hope that the POTUS has some influence in the strange and complex system that is US politics and that a start can now be made on defusing the WMD.

The Mountain Pine Beetle as positive feedback loop

Twenty years ago in British Columbia, two facts were well understood and widely known in the scientific community:

  1. The population of the Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) was being kept in check by the die-off due to the coldest winter temperatures.
  2. Winter temperatures were rising due to the increasing level of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Was there no one person who noticed that these two established facts, when taken together, spelled disaster for BC’s lodgepole pine forests? If there was, did they not speak up and try to sound a warning? If they did, why was that warning not heeded and why did it never make it into public awareness?

There would seem to be only three possibilities that would answer the above questions, criminal negligence, or unbelievable stupidity would have to have taken place in the scientific community or the governing bodies to which they answered, or one or other of these bodies would have been corrupted by bribes by an outside party or parties.MPB damage in British Columbia
Scientists are not known for being negligent or stupid and only in rare cases corruptible, same for the govenors of universities. This leaves private corporations and government departments who employ scientists as the most likely places for the supression of impending disaster to have taken place. Take your pick — increasingly in recent years, governments have been shown to be emminently corruptible and the sources of such corruption have been shown to be private corporations.

For those who still think that Global warming is a new and unproven idea, the concept first entered the scientific literature in 1824 when French physicist Joseph Fourier postulated the “greenhouse effect”. By the 1850’s, Irish physicist John Tyndall had come up with a way to actually test and measure the effect and by 1858 had effectively proven Fourier’s theory. At the end of the 19th century, Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius estimated that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide would increase Earth’s temperature by 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit, a figure within the IPCC’s estimate of 3.6 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit for a doubling of CO2 from 19th century levels — stop protesting the truth and do some reading.

So we come to the Positive Feedback Loop aspect of the MPB wintering through, it goes like this:

  • Excess CO2 from various sources, notably the burning of fossil fuels, enters the atmosphere and increases the insulating blanket of the greenhouse effect
  • In areas where conditions are right, pine trees grow and utilize CO2 from the air for that growth. This immobilizes or sequesters the carbon in the structure of the trees and, if conditions remain stable, the system will reach eqilibrium.
  • As increasing amounts of greenhouse gases are emitted beyond the growth of the trees’ (or other ecological services) ability to sequester, the atmosphere warms up and minimum winter temperatures increase above the level required to keep the MPB population under control
  • MPB attack and kill vast swaths of pine trees across areas previously under the control of cooler temperatures
  • After a period of a few years, most of the dead pine falls and begins to break down. This breakdown (rotting or increase of entropy) of the wood releases greenhouse gases such as CO2 – carbon dioxide, and CH4 – methane to enter the atmosphere and reinforce the greenhouse effect

So the loop is that emission of greenhouse gases eventually causes the breakdown of wood structure, which causes an increase in the emission of greenhouse gases. This is known as a POSITIVE feedback look because the cause is reinforced by the effect, not because the result is necessarily positive from a human point of view.

There’s Reality and Then There’s REALITY!!

Is cable news worth the cost (or worth anything at all).

Below is an excerpt from Giles Slade’s excellent book “AMERICAN EXODUS: Climate Change and the Coming Flight for Survival” – 2013. He is describing an exchange between meteorologist Paul Douglas and a TV executive at the beginning of the deadly 1995 Chicago heat wave which killed nearly 800 people:

We said, “This is going to be a major story. People are going to be dying This is something you’ld better hit very, very hard . . . I’ll never forget [the executive producer] . . . wanted to do a live shot of some place . . . hotter than Chicago. She kept wanting . . . a featury, lifestyle kind of cutesy . . . story . . . I kept pleading with her . . . “You’re missing the point. We should have people at the hospitals, we should have people at City Hall.” It degenerated into a shouting match . . . She started screaming “You don’t get it! This is television!” . . . I said, “I do get it. I understand. This is a dangerous situation for Chicago. We’re the hottest spot. People will be dying later today. That’s your story.”

You be the judge. Also, take a look here for a glimmer of hope and a glimpse of the difficulties around reporting or finding real, truthful news in a 21st century capitalist democracy.

BTW – For those of us who are Canadians, Slade’s book could be sub-titled “Guess who’s coming to dinner . . . and never going home again.”