global climate change

Silver Linings in a Mushroom Cloud?

Silver linings are hard to find these days and it is apparent that we really have no clue how to proceed under this administration.

What are we to do when we realize that our country has become a threat to the well-being of the entire planet? What would happen to the human race if only idiots like Donald Trump survive the blast and resulting 'winter'?

The Overton Window And Changing In An Age of Decay

One of the biggest factors that President Obama and the US now face with regard to financial, healthcare and climate issues is the Overton Window:

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The Overton Window is a means of visualizing which ideas define that range of acceptance by where they fall in it, and adding new ideas that can push the old ideas towards acceptance merely by making the limits more extreme.

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Specifically, the rabid Reich- Right-wing lunacy over 8 of the preceding 9 years, increasingly shrill now that they've lost both the White House and majority control of Congress, has painted a very uninformed, intellectually dishonest picture of the causes, effects and cures for all the major issues we now face. In order to make lasting change, the President must first plug the major damages, then shift public & policy perspectives via the Overton Window in order to set the stage for making lasting changes.

Moving the Overton Window, named after the originator of the term, is essentially a method of changing the public's perception of acceptability:

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Overton described a method for moving that window, thereby including previously excluded ideas, while excluding previously acceptable ideas. The technique relies on people promoting ideas even less acceptable than the previous "outer fringe" ideas. That makes those old fringe ideas look less extreme, and thereby acceptable. The idea is that priming the public with fringe ideas intended to be and remain unacceptable, will make the real target ideas seem more acceptable by comparison.

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It takes a lot of time and effort to make major policy shifts even when not addressing the possible effects of public perception. Changing national policies has often been described as driving a very large bus or delivery truck, or attempting to turn a huge ship at sea: it starts changing direction slowly and is a bit unwieldy to steer. President Obama's words at the world climate talks at Copenhagen reminded me of this:

Global Climate Change: Warming, Stagnant, Cooling Or What?

The recent "scandal" of hacked emails has created a flurry of activity between global climate change proponents and opponents. From this AP article by David Stringer:

In one of the stolen e-mails, Trenberth is quoted as saying "we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't."

He said the comment is presented by skeptics as evidence scientists can't explain some trends that appear to contradict their stance on climate change. Trenberth explained his phrase was actually contained in a paper he wrote about the need for better monitoring of global warming to explain the anomalies — in particular improved recording of rising sea surface temperatures.

In another e-mail posted online, and unrelated to Trenberth, the British research center's director, Phil Jones, wrote that he had used a "trick" to "hide the decline" in a chart detailing recent global temperatures. Jones has denied manipulating evidence and insisted his comment had been misunderstood. He said in a statement Saturday that he'd used the word trick "as in a clever thing to do."

A different AP piece, by Seth Borenstein, appears to provide some facts that back up the frustrated climatologists' claims about context:

Drawing A Line in the Black Sand

Crossposted from DailyKos. (Thanks!) Promoted. It's quite long, but well worth it. -- GH

I think it was maybe a year ago I was flicking through cable TV, and I happened across a movie called "There Will Be Blood."

There Will Be Blood is a 2007 American drama film directed, written and co-produced by Paul Thomas Anderson. The film is loosely based on the Upton Sinclair novel Oil! (1927). It tells the story of a silver-miner-turned-oil-man on a ruthless quest for wealth during Southern California's oil boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

I'd read a few books, watched a few documentaries and done a ton of internet research not long before this and had been slowly coming to the conclusion that we genuinely had a whole bunch of powerful people who knew that emissions of C02 were endangering the ability of life to survive on our planet. The frightening thing was many of these people were working hard to make sure we kept burning fossil fuels at ever increasing rates and making sure the transition to cleaner sources of energy never happened.

I didn't really understand why though until I watched this movie and a few pennies dropped.

Building A Way Out: Better Building Codes Mean Less Energy Consumption

An important commentary by DailyKos diarist gmoke hit the Diary Rescue list last night.  The piece was essentially conveying the review of the Waxman-Markey bill (H.R. 2454: American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009). In particular, the diarist and the source article he quotes from (Architecture 2030's review of the bill here -- PDF alert!) speak specifically about the importance of Section 201:

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Architecture 2030 analyzed the Waxman-Markey climate bill (H.R. 2454: American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009) and really likes Section 201 which covers energy building codes because buildings are responsible for

  • 50.1% of total annual U.S. energy consumption
  • 49.1% of total annual U.S. GHG emissions
  • 74.5% of total annual U.S. electricity consumption
  • most of the projected 7.34 QBtu increase in U.S. electricity consumption by 2030

Section 201 strengthens building codes so that by 2010 buildings will be 30% below the baseline energy code (IECC 2006 and ASHRAE 90.1-2004), increases that to 50% below the baseline energy code by 2014-2015, and adds an additional 5% reduction every three years after, out to 2029-2030.

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Whereas the 100 nuclear power plants only act as a replacement energy source, the updated building energy codes of Section 201 actually reduce energy consumption, eliminating the need for more plants. The codes also achieve more than six times the emissions reductions as 100 nuclear power plants. The codes accomplish all of this at a fraction of the cost.
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It appears that simply by being smarter about how we build our homes, businesses and various other structures, we can reduce our energy consumption and thus have a seriously positive effect on reducing GHGs as well as impacting energy and environmental goals.

Good to know.

Open Thread -- "Oh When The Shark Bites..."

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"...Ya know when that shark bites, with his teeth, babe
    Scarlet billows start to spread..."

        from Bobby Darin.net / Mac the Knife
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More information about the song Mac The Knife from Wikipedia.

Expect to see changes in animal migration and feeding patterns as global climate changes begin to accelerate. The attack below may -- or may not -- be one such example:

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The county's first fatal shark attack in a half-century focused worldwide attention on a stretch of coastline with no history of shark activity.
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This is an Open Thread.

Making 'em Sweat: Delayed Action Further Endangers Polar Bears

Just a brief blurb from a Reuters news article by Deborah Zabarenko from Monday, January 7:

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - The United States delayed a decision on whether global warming threatens polar bears, saying on Monday new data and public comment required more time. Environmentalists vowed to sue for quicker action.

Apparently, while denying that the potential reason for the exception was that "substantial scientific uncertainty" existed with regard to the threat to the bears, no really adequate answer was provided, and the head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it would take "as much as a month" to analyze all the pertinent details.

The blog just2hands provides some additional information about the initial decision to consider listing the bears under the Endangered Species Act:

well, a few weeks ago, the dept. of interior finally pulled its head out and put out a proposal to list polar bears as a threatened under the endangered species act ... gee, i wonder what convinced them? was it the reports of polar bear drownings or was it the cannibalism?

You can check the link to the blog for three action sites where you can either sign a pre-written letter or add one of your own.

Important Update: A guest post by Alisha Fowler via WattHead on DailyKos draws attention to some additional -- and more sinister -- reasons behind the delay. Check it out:

the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was due to make a decision about its "threatened" status by this Wednesday. The Service has, however, delayed the listing for up to one month!

This leaves the bear and its habitat unprotected. Coincidentally, one of the largest oil and gas lease sales is set to occur on February 6, in the Chukchi Sea off of the northwest coast of Alaska –

Does anyone smell a rat burning Bush in the room?

Two for One News Blurb: Stormy Weather for West Coast and for OLPC

Stormy Weather Ahead

Whether meteorological or economic in nature, the stormy weather being felt in parts of the nation today may simply be a brief taste of what is to come.

Starting with the meteorological via CNN,

Severe storms that have brought heavy rain, snow and high winds to California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado claimed their first victim and probably triggered a levee break Saturday.