Friday, July 27, 2012

A world without coral reefs

"we airbrushed view of the crisis... Coral reefs, like rain forests, are a symbol of biodiversity. And, like rain forests, they are portrayed as existentially threatened — but salvageable. The message is: “There is yet hope.” 

Bradbury says no, there isn't.

 "...these forces are unstoppable and irreversible. And it is these two features — acceleration and inertia — that have blindsided us."
Time to wake up.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bill McKibben on climate threat to localism; "we've got to work globally."

Should local-first advocates also help tackle global climate change? On Sunday night in a taped discussion, Bill McKibben told us yes -- "The only thing that can derail this [localism] revolution is how we're degrading the planet." He pointed out that the extreme weather which hit Vermont (in 2010(?)) "washed away the local farms" that had taken 20 years or more to build up. "So we've got to work globally, which is what is for."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nevada City hot summer nights, and the crush of humanity

The question we came up with in town tonight is, by what alchemy could you take our streets seething with human ferment and produce some kind of civic output?
("everybody out having a good time" is one civic output, but what others might be possible?)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Explainer: "Obamacare" synopsis, presented neutrally

It's here on Reddit.

In about 3 pages, Obamacare "explained like you're a five year-old... without too much oversimplification, and (hopefully) without sounding too biased. ... What does it do? Well, here is everything, in the order of when it goes into effect (because some of it happens later than other parts of it):"

It's a quicker read than the original. (pdf, huge)

Welcome to the rest of our lives

From Peter Sinclair.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A precedent for the failure of a scientific consensus

The climate science consensus today, covering a range of views, says our policies are very much on the wrong track.
"... the [climate science] field, as represented by IPCC, rightly or wrongly is solidly behind a range of opinion [i.e., "enormously disruptive changes in the world’s climate in the lifetimes of people now living"] that, if correct, makes current policy toward carbon emissions flatly insane."
That's excerpted from a fine post by Michael Tobis at Planet3.0, looking at what lessons the late 19th-century extreme underestimates of Earth's age hold for scientists and other citizens today.

"People don’t believe us [on climate science projections] because 1) our competencies are not especially visible to them 2) our message seems improbable and 3) what we say reminds them of superstitious, excessive, innumerate apocalyptic green radicalism (and is embraced by green radicals) and 4) what we recommend is spending on specific expensive projects that would be otherwise unnecessary or premature. ...

... one might want to look through the history of science for cases where a crucial quantity [analogous to climate sensitivity] had an accepted range [and yet]... turned out to be badly wrong.  I’ve recently come across one, and the story is instructive.

How could such a crucial number [as the age of the earth] be so widely held for so long at a value that was so badly wrong?"
Go read the post for the answers.

It concludes,
"... Just as uncertainty is not our friend, the herd mentality is not our friend either. The herd will always split the difference between the evidence and what they want to believe. Consequently, we may be worse off than we think."

Monday, July 09, 2012

Thoughts of 4th of July parade spectators on global warming and solutions.

A little after noon, before Nevada City's (2pm) 4th of July parade, I started up Broad Street with voice recorder in hand,  asking the earlybird spectators what came to mind when they heard the term "global warming", and then if they indicated it was a problem, what came to mind for solutions.

Friday, July 06, 2012

How to report city and county issues that need fixing

This month's Nevada City Advocate (story not online AFAIK)  reports that Nevada County has an online and mobile "citizen service request" app for reporting potholes, environmental hazards etc, that went live several months ago (link). (Update: The City of Grass Valley has one too)

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Jeff Masters: next week may be our turn

"Around July 11, a sharp ridge of high pressure is expected to build in over the Western U.S., bringing the potential for crazy-hot conditions capable of toppling all-time heat records in many western states. "
- from Weather Underground co-founder Jeff Masters, in his post The June 2012 U.S. heat wave: one of the greatest in recorded history.  He continues,
"The intense heat and lack of rain, combined with soils that dried out early in the year due to lack of snowfall, have led to widespread areas of moderate to extreme drought over much of the nation's grain growing regions, from Kansas to Indiana. The USDA is reporting steadily deteriorating crop conditions for corn and soybeans, and it is likely that a multi-billion dollar drought disaster is underway in the Midwest."

See also Sierra Voices: this is what global warming looks like.

Kevin Trenberth: We're looking at the future (of global warming)

Trenberth on PBS, talking about the wild weather & record heat as a taste of the future under global warming.