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Tag Archives: global warming

Wandering the chaos of the internet today, I came across this other declaration, with which I totally concur.   While it didn’t really begin with 9/11, but had been in the works for some time before, with that event (yet to be meaningfully investigated by genuinely impartial parties), our government commenced a series of serious attacks on the Constitution, with perhaps “The Patriot Act” signalling the first step.  Since then in one “legal” ruling after another the Bill of Rights has been stripped of meaning.  As famously said by Mr Obama’s predecessor, “it’s just a goddamn piece of paper.”

While the circus of the Republican nominee selection process travels the country putting on its dog and pony show, back in DC, in the furious rush to wrap up “business”  before the Christmas break, our wonderful Congressmen and women have hobbled together a fantastic new bill, the annual National Defense Authorization Act – to say “law” – which Barack Obama, our erstwhile scholar of the Constitution, and our erstwhile “liberal” President, had promised to veto if it retained a certain element that had been tacked on in the devious manner of our politicians, a “rider” having to do with giving the Executive the (unconstitutional) right to declare someone “a terrorist” or even someone as being vaguely in some way connected to a claimed “terrorist” and to arrest them, lock them up, hide them, and throw away the key.  American or not, where ever they are.   However, as is his way, Mr Obama did his feint to the left, and now is ready to sign this new bill/law.  And bye-bye to what is left of the Constitution’s “Bill of Rights.”

Mr Obama does what his Harvard Massah’s taught him

Thus goes America’s political world, which, like our financial world, basically engages in a constant shell game, shuffling the cards like the hustler down on the corner.   Just keep ’em movin’ and no one will notice.  So in short order, with a signature on this piece of typical Nazi-style “law” we will have all the trappings of a real genuine dictatorship.  We have already had the practice, now we just need to formalize it in our “laws.”

Bradley Manning

In the same week as this dubious item, Bradley Manning surfaced from the Federal military detention system where he has been held the last year and a half, often naked, in what might reasonably be called less than “humane” conditions.   He was taken, dressed, before a military tribunal to face whatever music they might wish to inflict for having released reams of governmental “secret” documents, many of which essentially described crimes committed by America’s military, along with many revealing views of those in government.  While complying with the Nuremberg laws which require a citizen to report war crimes and crimes against humanity, which the American government purports to support and follow, Manning ran afoul of higher ups within our governmental system who regarded this a dire threat (which in fact it – the truth – is).   Mr Manning will undergo this kangaroo court “trial” and be put away for decades, no doubt.  In the same week, in Iraq, America did a military about face, at least in theatrical terms, and allegedly ended the war in said country, folding flags and driving military vehicles to next door Kuwait.  The corporate news doesn’t see fit to inform our public how many “private contractors” receiving Federal funds remain in Iraq.   The recipient of Mr Manning’s alleged leak, Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks, is in detention in the UK awaiting a British court’s decision whether he should be extradited to Sweden where two women, who admit to consensual sex with him, filed charges of subsequent rape for having had morning- after sex with them, allegedly without consent or condom.   In the interim, while this wound its way through the UK’s legal system, American corporations – PayPal and others – commenced to refuse to service WikiLeaks’ fund-raising system, drying up its financial capacity to function.

And  in yet this same week, a reporter, American, found a trove of US military documents in Iraq, which had been tossed in the garbage as the troops left.  An Iraqi man was using them as a heating source, burning them.  Some of the documents – 40,000 pages – the reporter obtained detailed “secret” testimony within the US military regarding the Haditha massacre of November 19, 2005.  These documents reveal clear knowledge within the US military of what are certain “war crimes” but which were covered up as well as possible by American authorities.

Haditha, Iraq, Nov 19, 2005

While Pvt Manning is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison for releasing documents which reveal American war crimes, as well as other useful information regarding American practices, the soldiers who committed the Haditha murders have had charges dropped, been acquitted or been left alone.  Sargeant Wuterich, the platoon commander, had his trial postponed until 2012.   Apparently the papers discovered in Iraq last week will be pertinent – they clearly show a perfectly normal attempt by the military to cover up this war crime – one among thousands committed in the name of the United States, commencing with the lies which were used to initiate this war of choice upon a country which had nothing to do with 9/11.  Naturally the perpetrators of those lies will never be prosecuted by America’s courts.

While beautiful, the above image, of a lake in Alaska, is less than lovely in other respects.  By coincidence it was published in the NY Times within the same day as another report, from Russia.   In both cases the substance of the articles was on the scientifically predicted surge of methane gasses which are coming from the warming of the arctic tundra and from undersea sources.   The essential story is that biomass which has been frozen for hundreds of thousands of years is now warming, in effect fermenting, and releasing methane gasses into the atmosphere.  Methane is a potent “greenhouse” gas, functioning to trap solar heat 20 times more effectively than does CO2.   As predicted by many ecological scientists the warming of the arctic region will result in a feed-back loop in which the warming induced by industrial releases of carbon based gasses, will provoke the production of methane, which will hasten global warming, ad infinitum.   The NY Times Andrew Revkin has a less apocalyptic view here.

US troops withdraw to Kuwait from IraqCliffs on MarsDiagram of black gravitational hole in space

POSTSCRIPT

In today’s emails came one from Michael Moore, which I think warrants as much exposure as it can get, so in case you did not get it, I print it below:

Friends,

It’s Saturday night and I didn’t want the day to end before I sent out this note to you.

One year ago today (December 17th), Mohamed Bouazizi, a man who had a simple produce stand in Tunisia, set himself on fire to protest his government’s repression. His singular sacrifice ignited a revolution that toppled Tunisia’s dictator and launched revolts in regimes across the Middle East.

Three months ago today, Occupy Wall Street began with a takeover of New York’s Zuccotti Park. This movement against the greed of corporate America and its banks — and the money that now controls most of our democratic institutions — has quickly spread to hundreds of towns and cities across America. The majority of Americans now agree that a nation where 400 billionaires have more wealth than 160 million Americans combined is not the country they want America to be. The 99% are rising up against the 1% — and now there is no turning back.

Twenty-four years ago today, U.S. Army Spc. Bradley Manning was born. He has now spent 570 days in a military prison without a trial — simply because he allegedly blew the whistle on the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. He exposed what the Pentagon and the Bush administration did in creating this evil and he did so by allegedly leaking documents and footage to Wikileaks. Many of these documents dealt not only with Iraq but with how we prop up dictators around the world and how our corporations exploit the poor on this planet. (There were even cables with crazy stuff on them, like one detailing Bush’s State Department trying to stop a government minister in another country from holding a screening of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11.’)

The Wikileaks trove was a fascinating look into how the United States conducts its business — and clearly those who don’t want the world to know how we do things in places like, say, Tunisia, were not happy with Bradley Manning.

Mohamed Bouazizi was being treated poorly by government officials because all he wanted to do was set up a cart and sell fruit and vegetables on the street. But local police kept harassing him and trying to stop him. He, like most Tunisians, knew how corrupt their government was. But when Wikileaks published cables from the U.S. ambassador in Tunis confirming the corruption — cables that were published just a week or so before Mohamed set himself on fire — well, that was it for the Tunisian people, and all hell broke loose.

People across the world devoured the information Bradley Manning revealed, and it was used by movements in Egypt, Spain, and eventually Occupy Wall Street to bolster what we already thought was true. Except here were the goods — the evidence that was needed to prove it all true. And then a democracy movement spread around the globe so fast and so deep — and in just a year’s time! When anyone asks me, “Who started Occupy Wall Street?” sometimes I say “Goldman Sachs” or “Chase” but mostly I just say, “Bradley Manning.” It was his courageous action that was the tipping point — and it was not surprising when the dictator of Tunisia censored all news of the Wikileaks documents Manning had allegedly supplied. But the internet took Manning’s gift and spread it throughout Tunisia, a young man set himself on fire and the Arab Spring that led eventually to Zuccotti Park has a young, gay soldier in the United States Army to thank.

And that is why I want to honor Bradley Manning on this, his 24th birthday, and ask the millions of you reading this to join with me in demanding his immediate release. He does not deserve the un-American treatment, including cruel solitary confinement, he’s received in over eighteen months of imprisonment. If anything, this young man deserves a friggin’ medal. He did what great Americans have always done — he took a bold stand against injustice and he did it without stopping for a minute to consider the consequences for himself.

The Pentagon and the national security apparatus are hell-bent on setting an example with Bradley Manning. But we as Americans have a right to know what is being done in our name and with our tax dollars. If the government tries to cover up its malfeasance, then it is the duty of each and every one of us, should the situation arise, to drag the truth, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the light of day.

The American flag was lowered in Iraq this past Thursday as our war on them officially came to an end. If anyone should be on trial or in the brig right now, it should be those men who lied to the nation in order to start this war — and in doing so sent nearly 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to their deaths.

But it is not Bush or Rumsfeld or Cheney or Wolfowitz who sit in prison tonight. It is the hero who exposed them. It is Bradley Manning who has lost his freedom and that, in turn, becomes just one more crime being committed in our name.

I know, I know, c’mon Mike — it’s the holiday season, there’s presents to buy and parties to go to! And yes, this really is one of my favorite weeks of the year. But in the spirit of the man whose birth will be celebrated next Sunday, please do something, anything, to help this young man who spends his birthday tonight behind bars. I say, enough. Let him go home and spend Christmas with his family. We’ve done enough violence to the world this decade while claiming to be a country that admires the Prince of Peace. The war is over. And a whole new movement has a lot to thank Bradley Manning for.

Yours,

Michael Moore
MMFlint@MichaelMoore.com

Downtown Seoul this week, from uncharacteristic monsoon-like weather

With permission of the author, John Englander, (http://www.johnenglander.net) I repost the item below on likely ocean levels in the coming decades and centuries.  The article I think gives a clear and concise explanation, rooted in scientific evidence.   While I am myself far from a scientist, I am a little less sanguine about the suggestion here that sea levels will begin to rise in another decade or so at the rate indicated here – 1 to 5 (3 – 15 feet) meters by the end of the century; my modestly educated guess is it will be much more, as numerous elements collide in a catastrophe-theory scenario, in which there is a harsh rupture (already indicated here in the 20,000 times faster than historical precedent in the build-up of of CO2) in many of the balancing structures previously present – such as the sudden release of CO2 stored in arctic tundra, a similar release as forest fires expand from drought and the death of forests (presently in the US West thanks to pine beetle infestation caused by warmer summers, not to mention the man-made destruction of rain forests in S America and Asia.)  And as well I see very little sign that we will collectively put our foot on the brakes of CO2 emissions at the level required to slow the human industrial input of CO2 into the atmosphere.  If anything it is likely to rise sharply in the next decade or two.   I am fearful it will take a truly major catastrophe to slam some sense into our communal minds, and before we rationally address the matter, we seem far more likely to engage in wars for access to water, minerals, food production areas, and so on.  This is already aggressively occurring under the mask of  “globalization” in which monetary wealth is license to buy up South America and African farmland and evict the natives to grow food for China, S Korea and others.   This process is only beginning and is sure to produce politically volatile situations in which warfare will be the resort.   Modern warfare injects a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere, not to mention other highly toxic elements.  We might note that the US military is the largest single user of carbon-based fuels in the world.

As waters rise, and coastal areas, usually the most densely populated regions in most countries,flood,  populations will forced inland to survive, sparking mass migrations and accompanying conflict.  Also much rich farmland is located in alluvial coastal plains and these will be lost.  The confluence of these, and other aspects, are likely to produce highly aggravating situations resulting in famines and other forms of pestilence as populations grow denser under less and less organized circumstances.  Refugee camps are not usually paragons of health, and we are talking of millions and billions of refugees (for example Bangladesh will be inundated and those 100 millions will flee inland to… jam-packed India.)  Similarly higher temperatures will produce far greater moisture in the atmosphere resulting in greater snow packs in mountain areas and monsoon-type weather seen this year in the American mid-west.  Higher summer temperatures will result in a fast run-off of the snowpack, resulting in the flooding seen on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, or in the floods in Korea.  These shifts are happening so rapidly that they are overwhelming the flood control systems predicated on an entirely different basis than what is probable to be the new norm in the immediate years to come.  The result will be a global breakdown in infra-structures designed for utterly different “norms.”  Again, the consequences will lead to socio-political upheavals of major proportions.    The consequences are unlikely to be handled in a sane, rational manner.

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Why Sea Level will Rise for Centuries; ultimately 100 feet +

By John – Posted on 20 July 2011

Just 5 illustrations show why sea level will almost certainly rise for centuries; the STUNNING levels of historical change; and even why society generally doubts that it will ever happen. Articles about sea level rise  (SLR) somewhere on the planet are appearing almost daily. (I track this stuff for my forthcoming book “High Tide on Main Street”.) I am glad to see at least this modest increased awareness about a HUGE problem.

The chart to the right shows sea level change over the last 24,000 years, taken from the geologic record. It is in meters, the standard measurement in science. (For approximate # of feet, multiply by 3.)

There are 4 things to note:

1.  Less than 20,000 years ago the ocean was down almost 400 feet below the current sea level. A HUGE change in sea level, and not that long ago. This is based on geologic records that have been known and taught for the better part of a century.

2.  Nearly all 130 meters of rise (400 feet) happened between 20,000 years ago, at the peak of the last ice age, and about 6-8 thousand years ago; in other words over about just 12,000 years.

3.  For about the last 6,000 years, sea level has hardly changed at all. That is about the age of our earliest written records, and more or less the span of human civilization. No wonder that we believe sea level to be rather fixed in place. 

4.  It is also worth noting that about 14,000 years ago, long before any human impact, that the ice sheets melted quickly, causing what the geologists call a ‘meltwater pulse.’ The ocean rose about 65 feet in just 4 centures, averaging more than a foot a decade– hard to imagine! (Might that sudden rise be the basis for stories of the biblical flood, or Atlantis?)

Amazingly, sea level has regularly cycled up and down about 120 meters, or almost 400 feet on a regular cycle, pretty much every 100,000 years. That has been going on for at least 2.7 million years. If you want to see the chart showing that pattern, look back at my last post “SPIEGEL missed Explaining wide range of 3-16 feet of SLR forecasts”; the lower yellow/blue graph there shows an expanded view of the last 140,000 years of sea level, and a larger view of more than 800,000 years.  (Again, the vertical scale is in meters, so for those who use feet, MULTIPLY BY 3, approximately.)

While that huge cycle of sea level change is likely very surprising, it ties into something you likely do know about: the ice ages, when North America and Europe were regularly covered in ice more than 3 km (2 miles) deep. As the ice melted, the water flowed into the sea, raising the level of the ocean. (As the sea level changes, of course, the shoreline moves — a LOT.) Not only can scientists calculate the thickness of that ice and how much water would have been added to the ocean, but we can actually see very distinct ancient beaches and shorlines now more than 300 feet underwater, as further proof. (I have personally seen them from research submarines.) So, there is no question that sea level changes.

Scientists look for causes, relationships, and corroboration to prove hypotheses (theories). With temperature, CO2 (carbon dioxide) and Sea Level, the historical records of geology fit together neatly.

Temperature in the atmosphere correlates almost directly with the amount of CO2, due to a principle of basic physics and chemistry. Long before Al Gore, it was proven that CO2 (carbon dioxide) was colorless, and transmitted light VERY well, but that it trapped heat VERY WELL too.

Today we call that the greenhouse effect, as it describes how a glass greenhouse enables keeping warmer temperature in a colder climate.  Glass has those same properties as CO2 gas.

As the planet warms, the ice sheets melt, raising sea level; there are three things that move in close synchonization. The attached graph shows temperature in RED, CO2 in GREEN, and sea level in BLUE, for the last 420,000 years.

The problem we face becomes apparent when we update the CO2 level, as shown in the graph on the left, with 2 lines of Temperature (RED) and CO2 – NOW shown in BLUE).

CO2 has gone up like a rocket, and corresponds to such things as the coal and petroleum that we have burned over the last century.

We have to note that these graphs showing hundreds of thousands of years, compress the horizontal time scale. It is not possible to see a specific year, or even a decade. Even a century would be a speck, when the smallest division on the graph at the left is 50,000 years. But it does show a “big picture” with GREAT clarity. What you can’t tell from such a graph is how many years temperature and CO2 changes might lag each other. (And interestingly, sometimes one leads, and sometimes the other.  That’s worthy of a separate post.)

The fact is that we don’t know how quickly temperature will follow the vertical line of CO2 increase.  That is the extremely important question that different teams of scientists are trying to figure out with supercomputers — to project how quickly our atmosphere and ocean will warm as CO2 levels continue to increase.

CO2 is now at 394 ppm; about 40% higher than at any time in millions of years. It ranges from about 180 – 280 ppm with each ice age cycle as shown in that 2 line, Red-Blue graph above. (For the latest actual number, see the little blue graphic in the right hand column of my home page.)

Just two more images wrap up the sea level story.

The oceans and atmosphere have warmed globally over the last century. This is the 130 year reconstruction of the average annual land-sea temperatures over the entire planet. It shows a change from a low of almost minus 0.4 from a norm, to a positive 0.6 — just under a degree Celsius over the 130 year graph, or about 0.8 degrees C (about 1.4 degrees F) over the last century.

So we already have most of the pieces of the sea level puzzle.

  • Sea Level has changed repeatedly by almost 400 feet.
  • It logically goes up and down, in opposite direction of the changing ice sheets over the last 3 million years
  • The ice sheets slowly adjust to global mean temperature, which follows CO2 levels in close parallel.

Got it?: CO2; average global temperature; ice sheets, and sea level are all locked together in a physical relationship.

The last correlation is a stunner; at least it stunned me, when I stopped to let it sink in.

Dr. David Archer, an eminent scientist (and author of THE LONG THAW) looked at the work of another eminent glaciologist, Dr. Richard Alley, and produced the simple graph at the left. It plots a few known ancient sea levels against ancient temperatures. Admittedly the numbers are approximate.

It graphs 5 different points of historic sea level: 40 and 3 million years ago, 120,000 and 20,000 years ago, and the present day.

They fall reasonably on a straight line, which is what is expected if the amount of ice on the planet will change proportional to the average temperature on the planet. It cannot predict how quickly the adjustment will happen. (It might help to understand that  200,000 years is considered a “brief period” by geologists.)

What is stunning is the angle or correlation of the graph trend line. It indicates that with each degree C of change in the global mean temperature, that sea level changes by about 20 meters (65 feet). Just think about that; and recall that we have already had almost a degree of warming over the last hundred year, with lots more on the way. The current forecast is for a MINIMUM of 2 degrees C warming by end of century and most models show that we will get 4-5 degrees C, if we don’t take drastic steps to reduce greenhouse gases very soon.

Again, it could take centuries for that amount of ice melting to happen. The long periods of ice formation and melting happen over thousands of years. We are now definitely in a warming period as proven by the shrinking glaciers and melting Arctic ice cap, and the Greenland ice sheet. It is predicted that the Arctic Ocean will be ice free, some time in about two decades.  That has not occurred for at least 7,000 years and perhaps not in the last three million years. The added greenhouse gases are warming the planets temperature above the usual top end of the ice age cycle.

According to the pattern of last three million years (shown on that previous blog post) we would have started the long cooling phase towards the next ice age. Instead we are warming. If we melt all the ice on the planet( which has happened before, but not for about 40 – 50 million years), then global sea levels would be approximately 80 meters (265 feet) higher than today. That would swamp every coastal city. What we do not yet know is whether that will take hundreds of years, or thousands.  Presently the forecasts for this century range from as low as a meter (3 feet) of SLR, to as much as 5 meters (16 feet). There are two reasons that scientists cannot yet accurately predict how fast the ice will melt.

First, the geologic record is not accurate down to the level of individual years as mentioned above.

The second challenge is that we are now warming MUCH faster than during previous periods of abrupt climate change. According to our leading climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, the Earth has warmed 20,000 times faster over the last century, than during the abrupt change 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs were wiped out, likely as a result of an asteroid impact. While the cause of that mega extinction was different than the present situation, the rate of warming is the relvant comparison that he makes.

In other words. because the current warming, caused by the rapid rise in greenhouse gases, is happening 20,000 times faster than in nature, it is hard to say how fast the ice will melt, and the ocean will rise. There is no accurate precedent. But the models are getting better rather quickly, due to increasingly accurate measurements of how the ice is actually melting.

What the latest models do show is that sea level will continue to rise for at least 500 years, even if we stopped all CO2 emissions immediately.

While that 500 year lag time, may seem surprising, the earth’s systems move slowly, like changing course or stopping a big ship. One of the reasons that heat and ice melt will not stop for at least 500 years is that it takes up to 700 years for the oceans to fully change temperature, due to the fact that the oceans’ average depth is a few miles/km, and goes as deep as 35 thousand feet (12,000 km). The heat layers segregate, slowing change to a new surface temperature.

In effect, the ocean acts like a giant storage battery for heat. It has absorbed most of the extra heat, trapped by the greenhouse gases. That is a key reason that the ice will melt, and the oceans will rise, for centuries, or longer.

What we do over the decades ahead will slow or increase the rate of warming, and the rate of sea level rise. and can make a big difference for generations to follow.

New Orleans in the past and futureMonk by the Sea, Caspar David Friedrich