Friday, December 9, 2011

Via Utne:

Some fallacies die long, slow, hard deaths, and it appears that's what's happening with the happy, comforting, brainless mantra "Growth is good."

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Via Robert Reich: The Remarkable Political Stupidity of the Street

Wall Street is its own worst enemy. It should have welcomed new financial regulation as a means of restoring public trust. Instead, it’s busily shredding new regulations and making the public more distrustful than ever. The Street’s biggest lobbying groups have just filed a lawsuit against the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, seeking to overturn its new rule limiting speculative trading. For years Wall Street has speculated like mad in futures markets – food, oil, other...
Source: Robert Reich

More on Kepler 22-b

Via JMG: Closest Earth-Like Planet Yet Found

NASA reports:
It's the closest match to Earth that has yet been found. Recently discovered planet Kepler 22b has therefore instantly become the best place to find life outside our Solar System. The planet's host star, Kepler 22, is actually slightly smaller and cooler than the Sun, and lies 600 light-years from Earth toward the constellation of the Swan (Cygnus). The planet, Kepler 22b, is over twice the radius of the Earth and orbits slightly closer in, but lies in the habitable zone where liquid water could exist on the surface. Pictured above is an artist’s depiction of how Kepler 22b might appear to an approaching spaceship, in comparison to the inner planets of our Solar System. Whether Kepler 22b actually contains water or life is currently unknown. A SETI project, however, will begin monitoring Kepler 22b for signs of intelligence.
Start packing.

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Occupy The Syllabus

NYU is adding a course about Occupy Wall Street, which is fitting considering how much of the student body took part.
The course will explore the history and politics of debt and take a deeper look at the economic crisis the movement is protesting. It will be taught by SCA profesor Lisa Duggan. "Occupy Wall Street has done us all the service of illuminating [the fact] that the economy operates within the framework of political, social and cultural conflicts, and not outside them," she said. Duggan also hopes students will learn how the current crisis has developed and understand how it has affected the world.
There will also be a graduate-level course this spring.

Reposted from Joe

Via ClimateProgress: Poll: Majority of Americans Understand Global Warming Worsens Extreme Weather and Want Nation to Act

Yale released the above chart in November.  Now they have released “the second and third reports from our latest national survey on Americans’ climate change and energy beliefs, attitudes, policy support, and behavior.”  Key findings:
  • Public understanding that global warming is happening stayed at 63 percent, while belief that it is caused mostly by human activities increased three points since May 2011, to 50 percent.
  • A majority of Americans (57%) now disagree with the statement, “With the economy in such bad shape, the US can’t afford to reduce global warming” – an 8 point increase in disagreement since May 2011.
  • 65 percent said that global warming is affecting weather in the United States.
  • 58 percent of Americans said that the record heat waves last summer strengthened their belief that global warming is occurring, up 4 points since May 2011.
  • 38 percent of Americans said they have personally experienced the effects of global warming, up 4 points since May of 2011.
  • Americans trust “climate scientists” (74%) as a source of information about global warming more than any other group, including “other kinds of scientists” (65%) and the mainstream media (38%)
This matches September polling by ecoAmerica, which found:
  • 69% of Americans Know “Weather Conditions (Such as Heat Waves and Droughts) Are Made Worse by Climate Change
  • 57% of Americans understand “If we don’t do something about climate change now, we can end up having our farmland turned to desert.”
That public understanding certainly matches the science:
We know from a major 2011 study that “human-induced increases in greenhouse gases have contributed to the observed intensification of heavy precipitation events found over approximately two-thirds of data-covered parts of Northern Hemisphere land areas.”

As predicted, the warming has put more water vapor in the air, making deluges more intense.  Climatologist Kevin Trenberth explains:

There is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms,
Obviously, since it’s getting hotter, we’re worsening extreme heat waves — both in intensity and duration and scale (the area the heat wave covers).  For the same reason, we know humans are making droughts worse — in intensity, duration, and scale.

Actual observations reveal that since 1950, the global percentage of dry areas has increased by about 1.74% of global land area per decade (see here).  Heck, our best scientists are already using global warming to help them predict dangerous extreme weather (see “USGS Expert Explains How Global Warming Likely Contributes to East Africa’s Brutal Drought“).

The reinsurance industry understands all this (see Munich Re: “The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change”).

The American public can’t miss the extreme weather because it is everywhere now and increasingly off the charts — see NOAA Chief: U.S. Record of a Dozen Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters in One Year Is “a Harbinger of Things to Come.”

Of course, what’s to come is the real issue, since we still have control over that.  We’re facing 5 to 10 times the warming this century that we’ve seen in the past half century.

The time to act was a long time ago, but further delay is suicidal  — see IEA’s Bombshell Warning: We’re Headed Toward 11°F Global Warming and “Delaying Action Is a False Economy”

Related Posts.

Via Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented // The Christian Left:

Via JMG: Republicans Hate Christmas

Why is the RNC dissing the baby Jeebus by refusing to honor Christmas? Launch the boycott! (Also worth noting: Major Washington lobbying firm plies GOP with free booze.)

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Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Xmas Tradition

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Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: UK To EU: Good Luck With Euro Mess

British Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to sign on to the just-struck pact to save the Euro. All 17 nations that use the Euro have signed on.
Cameron said Britain refused to sacrifice sovereignty to save the euro, remaining outside an agreement by European nations to tighten budget rules. Cameron broke ranks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel after he failed to secure safeguards that would have stopped European Union plans to police financial services in London, Europe's trading hub.

In a clash that may reshape Europe's balance of power, the euro users opted to enshrine closer fiscal union in a new treaty that leaves out the U.K. instead of amending EU treaties that date back to the 1950s. Nine non-euro members -- Denmark, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania -- indicated they may follow suit after consulting with their national parliaments.
Twitter commentary on the issue ranges from "Well done, Cameron. You got your balls back!" to "Cameron protects City of London banking cronies! Again!" The New York Times calls the treaty a "significant defeat for Cameron."
Mr. Sarkozy said that “David Cameron requested something we all considered unacceptable, a protocol in the treaty allowing the U.K. to be exempted for a certain number of financial regulations.” Mr. Cameron said, “What was on offer wasn’t in British interests, so I didn’t agree to it.” He conceded that there were risks with others going ahead to form a separate treaty, but added, “We will insist that the E.U. institutions, the court and the Commission work for all 27 nations of the E.U.”
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Reposted from Joe

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Via Earth Hour:

Via Occupy The Future

Noam Chomsky
In These Times, November 1, 2011
(This article is adapted from Noam Chomsky's talk at the Occupy Boston encampment on Dewey Square on Oct. 22. He spoke as part of the Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture Series held by Occupy Boston's on-site Free University. Zinn was a historian, activist and author of A People's History of the United States.)
  Delivering a Howard Zinn lecture is a bittersweet experience for me. I regret that he's not here to take part in and invigorate a movement that would have been the dream of his life. Indeed, he laid a lot of the groundwork for it.

If the bonds and associations being established in these remarkable events can be sustained through a long, hard period ahead -- victories don't come quickly -- the Occupy protests could mark a significant moment in American history.

I've never seen anything quite like the Occupy movement in scale and character, here and worldwide. The Occupy outposts are trying to create cooperative communities that just might be the basis for the kinds of lasting organizations necessary to overcome the barriers ahead and the backlash that's already coming.

That the Occupy movement is unprecedented seems appropriate because this is an unprecedented era, not just at this moment but since the 1970s.

The 1970s marked a turning point for the United States. Since the country began, it had been a developing society, not always in very pretty ways, but with general progress toward industrialization and wealth.

Even in dark times, the expectation was that the progress would continue. I'm just old enough to remember the Great Depression. By the mid-1930s, even though the situation was objectively much harsher than today, the spirit was quite different.

A militant labor movement was organizing -- the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) and others -- and workers were staging sit-down strikes, just one step from taking over the factories and running them themselves.

Under popular pressure, New Deal legislation was passed. The prevailing sense was that we would get out of the hard times.

Now there's a sense of hopelessness, sometimes despair. This is quite new in our history. During the 1930s, working people could anticipate that the jobs would come back. Today, if you're a worker in manufacturing, with unemployment practically at Depression levels, you know that those jobs may be gone forever if current policies persist.

That change in the American outlook has evolved since the 1970s. In a reversal, several centuries of industrialization turned to de-industrialization. Of course manufacturing continued, but overseas -- very profitable, though harmful to the workforce.

The economy shifted to financialization. Financial institutions expanded enormously. A vicious cycle between finance and politics accelerated. Increasingly, wealth concentrated in the financial sector. Politicians, faced with the rising cost of campaigns, were driven ever deeper into the pockets of wealthy backers.

And the politicians rewarded them with policies favorable to Wall Street: deregulation, tax changes, relaxation of rules of corporate governance, which intensified the vicious cycle. Collapse was inevitable. In 2008, the government once again came to the rescue of Wall Street firms presumably too big to fail, with leaders too big to jail.

Today, for the one-tenth of 1 percent of the population who benefited most from these decades of greed and deceit, everything is fine.

In 2005, Citigroup -- which, by the way, has repeatedly been saved by government bailouts -- saw the wealthy as a growth opportunity. The bank released a brochure for investors that urged them to put their money into something called the Plutonomy Index, which identified stocks in companies that cater to the luxury market.

"The world is dividing into two blocs -- the plutonomy and the rest," Citigroup summarized. "The U.S., U.K. and Canada are the key plutonomies -- economies powered by the wealthy."

As for the non-rich, they're sometimes called the precariat -- people who live a precarious existence at the periphery of society. The "periphery," however, has become a substantial proportion of the population in the U.S. and elsewhere.

So we have the plutonomy and the precariat: the 1 percent and the 99 percent, as Occupy sees it -- not literal numbers, but the right picture.

The historic reversal in people's confidence about the future is a reflection of tendencies that could become irreversible. The Occupy protests are the first major popular reaction that could change the dynamic.

I've kept to domestic issues. But two dangerous developments in the international arena overshadow everything else.

For the first time in human history, there are real threats to the survival of the human species. Since 1945 we have had nuclear weapons, and it seems a miracle we have survived them. But policies of the Obama administration and its allies are encouraging escalation.

The other threat, of course, is environmental catastrophe. Practically every country in the world is taking at least halting steps to do something about it. The United States is taking steps backward. A propaganda system, openly acknowledged by the business community, declares that climate change is all a liberal hoax: Why pay attention to these scientists?

If this intransigence continues in the richest, most powerful country in the world, the catastrophe won't be averted.

Something must be done in a disciplined, sustained way, and soon. It won't be easy to proceed. There will be hardships and failures -- it's inevitable. But unless the process that's taking place here and elsewhere in the country and around the world continues to grow and becomes a major force in society and politics, the chances for a decent future are bleak.

You can't achieve significant initiatives without a large, active, popular base. It's necessary to get out into the country and help people understand what the Occupy movement is about -- what they themselves can do, and what the consequences are of not doing anything.

Organizing such a base involves education and activism. Education doesn't mean telling people what to believe -- it means learning from them and with them.

Karl Marx said, "The task is not just to understand the world but to change it." A variant to keep in mind is that if you want to change the world you'd better try to understand it. That doesn't mean listening to a talk or reading a book, though that's helpful sometimes. You learn from participating. You learn from others. You learn from the people you're trying to organize. We all have to gain the understanding and the experience to formulate and implement ideas.

The most exciting aspect of the Occupy movement is the construction of the linkages that are taking place all over. If they can be sustained and expanded, Occupy can lead to dedicated efforts to set society on a more humane course.

make the jump here to read the original

JMG Church Sign Of The Day

Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: New Blog: Rick Perry's Unpopular Opinions

It's here.

Reposted from Joe

The Partisans: Rick Perry - Weak, man.

Rita Ribeiro - É D'Oxum

Alan Grayson Vs. Newt Gingrich - Burn!

Via JMG / New2Torah: What Xmas is all About!

Sean Quigley - Little Drummer Boy

Soem stupidity vi JMG:

If You Don't See Merry Christmas In The Window, Then Don't Go In That Store

Soon to be a treasured holiday classic.

(Tipped by JMG reader Jeremy)

Reposted from Joe

A Possible Second Home for Humanity Found, but the Commute's Brutal

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Agenda Project: Patriotic Millionaires' Message to Congress "Tax Me"

TEDxKrakow - Srdja Popovic - A bad year for bad guys

Via Bizarro Comics:

Via JMG: MASH's Harry Morgan Dies At 96

You probably know him best as Col. Sherman T. Potter. Unless you're my age, in which case he's Detective Bill Gannon.Morgan's ability to play a variety of roles, dramatic and comedic, made him an actor in demand for half a century. He starred in about a dozen U.S. TV series starting in the 1950s and appeared in movies with some of Hollywood's biggest stars. He appeared in "The Ox-Bow Incident" in 1943 with Henry Fonda, "High Noon" in 1952 with Gary Cooper, "The Glenn Miller Story" in 1954 with Jimmy Stewart and "Inherit the Wind" in 1960 with Spencer Tracy. But it was his role on "M*A*S*H," the long-running series on the CBS network, that earned him his most fame. 

Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Today In The GOP's War On Poverty

Reposted from Joe

Gavin Creel "NOISE" An Anthem for Equality

California's Catherdrals: Redwood State Parks

Via JMG: Gingrich Widens Lead

Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: NYC Sees Wave Of iThieves

Thefts and robberies are soaring in NYC and the crooks are focusing on handheld electronics.
An eCrime wave is sweeping the city with iPads, smartphones and other pricey devices now more popular with Big Apple thieves than even cold hard cash, cops say. Half of the nearly 16,000 robberies in New York over the first 10 months of this year involved the trendy gadgets — mostly cell phones, an NYPD study found. “This makes electronics the single most stolen property type, surpassing even hard currency,” says the report. The thieves’ most wanted gadget is the iPhone, which accounts for over 70% of all stolen cell phones on subways and buses, the NYPD analysis reveals. Computers, tablets and MP3 players also account for nearly half the burglaries and 35% of all grand larcenies citywide, police said.
Cops say the number of thefts is higher than records show because some victims don't report muggings. The most common subway tactic is to reach in and snatch the device just as the doors are closing. (I witnessed this once.) The MTA advises keeping items in your pockets when standing near the doors.

Reposted by Joe

Via What If Mark Zuckerberg Is Right?

As Mark Zuckerberg once said, “A squirrel dying in your front yard may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.”
You decide.

Found on dbish’s Tumblr blog. Originally submitted by volunteer editor Erin F.

TEDx Brussels - John Bohannon & Black Label Movement - Dance Your PhD

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Original - FULL VERSION] Dominoes Techno Chicken - FUNNY

Ode To Joy

Caminhada de Domingo // Sunday Walk - Lupins!?!

On our walk around town this morning, we headed up Rua Alvarenga, and at the top where it turns onto the main drag into town, across from FAOP, I noticed this clump of lupins... well, if you can't have a field full of California poppies, most certainly a clump of lupins will do!

Via JMG: The Evolution Of Riot Gear

Visit the New York Times for the full graphic.

Reposted from Joe

Via Climate Progress:

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 04:10 PM PST
Global temperatures in 2011 are currently the tenth highest on record and are higher than any previous year with a La Niña event, which has a relative cooling influence. The 13 warmest years have all occurred in the 15 years since 1997. The extent of Arctic sea ice in 2011 was the second lowest on record, and its volume was the lowest.
“Our role is to provide the scientific knowledge to inform action by decision makers,” said [World Meteorological Organization] Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities,” he said.
“Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached new highs. They are very rapidly approaching levels consistent with a 2-2.4 degree Centigrade rise in average global temperatures which scientists believe could trigger far reaching and irreversible changes in our Earth, biosphere and oceans,” he said.

That’s from the WMO news release highlighting the “provisional annual World Meteorological Organization Statement on the Status of the Global Climate, which gives a global temperature assessment and a snapshot of weather and climate events around the world in 2011.”
Here’s more:

The WMO’s provisional statement estimated the global combined sea surface and land surface air temperature for 2011 (January–October) at 0.41°C ± 0.11°C (0.74°F ± 0.20°F) above the 1961–1990 annual average of 14.00°C/57.2°F, according to the provisional statement. This is the tenth equal warmest year since the start of records in 1850.
The 2002-2011 period equals 2001-2010 as the warmest decade on record, 0.46°C above the long-term average.
Global climate in 2011 was heavily influenced by the strong La Niña event which developed in the tropical Pacific in the second half of 2010 and continued until May 2011. It was one of the strongest of the last 60 years and was closely associated with the drought in east Africa, islands in the central equatorial Pacific and the southern United States, and flooding in southern Africa, eastern Australia and southern Asia.
Strong La Niña years are typically 0.10 to 0.15°C cooler than the years preceding and following them. 2011’s global temperatures followed this pattern, being lower than those of 2010, but were still considerably warmer than the most recent moderate to strong La Niña years, 2008 (+0.36°C), 2000 (+0.27°C) and 1989 (+0.12°C). Weak La Niña conditions have redeveloped in recent weeks but have not yet approached the intensity of those in late 2010 and early 2011.
Surface air temperatures were above the long-term average in 2011 over most land areas of the world. The largest departures from average were over Russia, especially in northern Russia where January-October temperatures were about 4°C above average in places.
The seasonal Arctic sea ice minimum, reached on 9 September, was 4.33 million square kilometres. This was 35% below the 1979-2000 average and only slightly more than the record low set in 2007. Unlike the 2007 season, both the Northwest and Northeast Passages were ice-free for periods during the 2011 summer. Sea ice volume was even further below average and was estimated at a new record low of 4200 cubic kilometres, surpassing the record of 4580 cubic kilometres set in 2010.
The above-average temperatures in most northern polar regions coincided with the second-lowest Arctic sea ice minimum extent and the lowest sea ice volume on record.
Other highlights:
  • Severe drought, then flood, in east Africa
  • Major floods in south-east Asia, Pakistan, Central and South America
  • Deadliest flash flood with landslide in Brazil
  • A year of extremes in the United States
  • A dry start to the year in Europe and eastern China
  • Another year of below-average tropical cyclone activity
The full WMO report is here.
Related Post:

Via Climate Progress:

Posted: 04 Dec 2011 09:23 AM PST
 Upwelling seawater along parts of Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf has carved out caves in the ice and drawn wildlife like this whale. Credit: Maria Stenzel, all rights reserved.
Upwelling seawater along parts of Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf has carved out caves in the ice. A new study links CO2 and Antarctica glaciation.
The news release for a new Science study, “The Role of Carbon Dioxide During the Onset of Antarctic Glaciation” (subs. req’d), explains:
A drop in carbon dioxide appears to be the driving force that led to the Antarctic ice sheet’s formation, according to a recent study led by scientists at Yale and Purdue universities of molecules from ancient algae found in deep-sea core samples.The key role of the greenhouse gas in one of the biggest climate events in Earth’s history supports carbon dioxide’s importance in past climate change and implicates it as a significant force in present and future climate….
The evidence falls in line with what we would expect if carbon dioxide is the main dial that governs global climate; if we crank it up or down there are dramatic changes,” [co-author Matthew} Huber said. "We went from a warm world without ice to a cooler world with an ice sheet overnight, in geologic terms, because of fluctuations in carbon dioxide levels."
We know from earlier study this year led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that polar ice sheet mass loss is speeding up and on pace for 1 foot sea level rise by 2050:
The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace, according to a new NASA-funded satellite study. The findings of the study — the longest to date of changes in polar ice sheet mass — suggest these ice sheets are overtaking ice loss from Earth’s mountain glaciers and ice caps to become the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted.
Recent modeling work suggests we are approaching the tipping point for irreversible melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which would, ultimately, represent 20 feet of sea level rise (see New study of Greenland under “more realistic forcings” concludes “collapse of the ice-sheet was found to occur between 400 and 560 ppm” of CO2).
And we know from paleoclimate studies that the Antarctic ice sheet (which contains 90% of the ice on the planet) is vulnerable to modest warming from current levels, particularly the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (see Science: CO2 levels haven’t been this high for 15 million years, when it was 5° to 10°F warmer and seas were 75 to 120 feet higher --We have shown that this dramatic rise in sea level is associated with an increase in CO2 levels of about 100 ppm”).

While the new study  firms up our understanding that CO2 is the "main dial that governs global climate," it does not appear to tell us what the tipping point is for full deglaciation:

The team found the tipping point in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels for cooling that initiates ice sheet formation is about 600 parts per million. Prior to the levels dropping this low, it was too warm for the ice sheet to form. At the Earth's current level of around 390 parts per million, the environment is such that an ice sheet remains, but carbon dioxide levels and temperatures are increasing. The world will likely reach levels between 550 and 1,000 parts per million by 2100. Melting an ice sheet is a different process than its initiation, and it is not known what level would cause the ice sheet to melt away completely, Huber said.
"The system is not linear and there may be a different threshold for melting the ice sheet, but if we continue on our current path of warming we will eventually reach that tipping point," he said. "Of course after we cross that threshold it will still take many thousands of years to melt an ice sheet."
It would no doubt take a long time to fully melt an ice sheet, but we are headed toward some serious polar warming (see M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F — with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F).  That study projects some 13°F warming over Antarctica in the 2090s.

And a study from earlier this year suggests we are headed toward far higher warming post-2100 (see Science: On our current emissions path, CO2 levels in 2100 will hit levels last seen when the Earth was 29°F (16°C) hotter; Paleoclimate data suggests CO2 “may have at least twice the effect on global temperatures than currently projected by computer models”).

Back in October, Climate Progress interviewed Rice University oceanographer John Anderson, a leading expert on sea level rise with more than 200 publications, (see Flood-Gate: Perry Officials Try to Hide Sea Level Rise from Texans with “Clear-Cut Unadulterated Censorship”).

Anderson explained that he's been working in Antarctica for 4 decades, that they've found unprecedented warming in the Antarctic Peninsula, and that "I am quite concerned about the potential of catastrophic contribution to  sea level rise from ice sheet collapse."

Indeed, he said "if people say that ice sheets react slowly, they are not familiar with what we know about ice sheets. There is clear evidence that that ice sheets behave catastrophically."
He was specifically worried about the "weak underbelly" of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the Pine Island Glacier.  For two recent discussions of PIG, see
That’s why so many leading experts on the subject agree with the recent scientific literature that as long as we stay anywhere near our current emissions path, we are headed toward a meter or more of sea level rise by century’s end — and then 6+ inches of sea level rise a decade for a long, long time.
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Kathryn Schulz On Regret (Premiere)

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