While thieves and COP15 fiddled, the world’s burning continued . . .

March 18, 2010

A friend wrote me the other day wondering what I thought about the global warming hoax.  I told him I thought denialists and contrarians have acted shamefully claiming that warming is not occurring.

My friend wrote back puzzled.  He had meant, what did I think about the collapse of the false claims of warming?  He said he had understood that almost all the claims of warming were hoaxes cast by a cabal of conspiratorialist scientists who had gotten fat government contracts only on the condition that they claimed there is warming.

It’s actually been about two weeks since I got that message, but it’s a common thought around the world.  The thieves who stole e-mails from scientists did what Shakespeare termed worse: They stole the good names of scientists.  The thieves’ accomplices, especially in blogs but also in brazen journals of bias like The Australian and The Daily Mail, successfully transplanted a stick they claimed was the end of warming science, and they’ve managed to keep it spray-painted green to convince careless observers that it’s alive.

That tree won’t flower.  God’s earth doesn’t care about such falsehoods, but goes on cycling as Darwin noted.  In that cycling, warming continues faster than apace, burning our future and our children’s futures in bits noted only by careful scientists.

While Anthony Watts and other denialists gloated about heavy snows — we’re still cleaning up broken trees and destroyed groves and forests here in Dallas — fact is the North American west suffered from a snow drought.  You may have seen part of it if you watched the Olympics from Vancouver.  It was unseasonably warm, and until the second week there was a great shortage of natural snow for snow events.

We may forget about the ecological chains that weather actually push.  Over at Ralph Maughan’s Wildlife News I found a story about the annual count of elk in Wyoming/Montana/Idaho.  Ralph tracks all sorts of wildlife news, but especially news about wolves and wolf reintroductions.  Wolf packs prey on elk when they can.  The health of elk herds affects the health of wolf packs.

In January I heard there would be no elk count this year because the lack of snow made counting pretty much impossible. I’m glad the amount of snow increased because these numbers are important. Gaps in the data are harmful.

How much have you heard about snowfall shortages in the west, other than the Olympics?  The drought is pretty bad up there.  Much of the Mountain west, on both sides of the Rockies, gets water from the melting snows.  It doesn’t rain much in the spring and summer, but melting snows supply rivers throughout the year.  One reader commented at Maughan’s blog:

I have been in the back country of Montana, Idaho and Washington in the last 3 months and I can tell you, there is no snow to really speak of, the place I stay in Montana normally has about 5-6 feet of snow on the ground in January and when I returned around the first part of January, it had about a foot, Bozeman was very low snow as was Great Falls and Billings, Sandpoint has flowers blooming already, the Columbia River Gorge area up in the Mountains above the Gorge is greening up real well, no snow and Mount Hood has not had much snow either.

Right now, it looks very bleak for river levels this year, My wife was on the phone with her cousin in Florence, MT and Her Uncle in Lincoln, MT this week and they are saying the snow is just not there this year and expects that fishing this year will be very poor due to low water levels and higher river temps, one lives on the Blackfoot and the other on the Bitterroot..

Looks like unless we have a strong spring rain season, things could get dicey this year..

Anecdotal news, just one spot of rather amorphous data, right?

No.  It’s widespread.

Snow Drought in Interior Northwest - USA Today graphic

Snow Drought in Interior Northwest – USA Today graphic

Surely not all the droughts nor drought effects can be blamed on warming — but the rolling disasters of dead forests, especially from pine borers and pine bark beetles, across North America, can be fairly attributed to global warming.  Average winters would kill the insects — where average winters now are a rarity, forests that have stood at least since Columbus are dying out.  Many of the dying forests predate the coming of all humans to the Americas, 37,000 years ago or so.

Housing prices will rise.  Wildfires will increase.  Water emergencies will be declared, and restrictions on development in water-strapped counties and states will be enacted.

Humans can deny warming and human causation.  But even the Rockies cry out.

Who will listen?

US Drought Monitor, March 16, 2010

US Drought Monitor, March 16, 2010 – Click image for updated maps

Encore post, new coda: Worldview of Texas education policy makers

March 18, 2010

From a post many weeks ago, “Speaking of Texas education policy,” made more salient by events of the past month:

Moon landing and wrestling in America

from Funnyjunk

This is a troubling piece of humor. From Funnyjunk.

  • “America.  A country where people believe the moon landing is fake, but wrestling is real.”

And now we can add even more captions:

  • A country where state curriculum officials go to churches that warn against belief in ghosts, but who believe Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin came back from the grave to wrestle the quill from Jefferson and write the Declaration of Independence.
    [Heh.  Wouldn’t you love to see Aquinas and Calvin in the same room, trying to come to agreement on anything?]
  • A country with Barack Obama as president and where women’s basketball is a joy to watch during March Madness thanks to the the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title IX, but Cynthia Dunbar believes the Civil Rights Act itself was a mistake.
  • A country where Barbara McClintock did the research that showed how evolution works and won her a Nobel, but where Texans deny that a woman should do such work, and deny evolution.
  • A capitalist nation where Jack Kilby invented the printed circuit and had a good life, but where the Texas SSOE thinks “capitalism” is a dirty word.
    (No, ma’am, I couldn’t make that up.  They did it.  They took out the word “capitalism” because they say those “liberal economists” like Milton Friedman can’t be trusted.  Seriously.  No, really.  Go look it up.)
  • Home of Thomas Jefferson, whose words in the Declaration of Independence so sting tyrants and dictators that today, in the most repressive nations, even oppressive systems must pretend to follow Jefferson — hence, the “Peoples Republic of Korea,” “the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” “Peoples Republic of China,” and the provisions of the old Soviet Union’s Constitution that “guaranteed” freedom of speech and freedom of religion; but where Thomas Jefferson is held in contempt, and John Calvin and Thomas Aquinas claimed as the authors of American freedom. [I wonder what the Society of the Cincinnati have to say about that?]
  • Where Mark Twain’s profound, greatest American novel Huckleberry Finn made clear the case against racism and oppression of former slaves, but where school kids don’t read it because their misguided parents think it’s racist.
  • A nation where Cynthia Dunbar thinks Thomas Jefferson gets too much credit, but Barack Obama is a foreign terrorist
  • A nation where conservatives complain that the Supreme Court should never look at foreign laws for advice, wisdom, or precedent, but believe that Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican friar from Italy, and John Calvin, a French dissident who fled to Switzerland, pulled a religious coup d’etat and is infamous for executing people who disagreed with his religious views, wrote the Declaration of Independence.

I’ll wager there are more, more annoying, more inaccurate statements from the Texas SSOE members in the Texas Education Follies, which will make much briefer complaints and better bumper stickers.

Other posts at the Bathtub you should read, mostly featuring Ms. Dunbar:


A carrot for a nose: Healing newtism among climate contrarians

March 18, 2010

Peter Sinclair takes some claims from climate denialists too seriously.  I hope.

On the other hand, he thoroughly shreds some of the more hoary claims of the denialists.  Plus he includes clips of everybody’s favorite movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Give it a watch, “Flogging the Scientists”:

Gee.  Here in Texas we could use a Peter Sinclair film on history, economics and other social studies.  Quick!

Tip of the old scrub brush to Tim Lambert at Deltoid.


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