Friday, August 20, 2010

Burning Time

Calhouns Ca(n)nons for August 20, 2010

All politics is local
              Tip O’Neill

The Rogers Red grapevine has gone all rogery red well before it’s time. Nearby the Great Grapevine has started to give up the ghost for the season. Its leaves are yellowing and spotting as it shuts down for its winter sleep. All this in the middle of August in a year with no summer.

At least not here in my small corner of the world. While the rest of the country boils with record high heat and people flee in a desperate search for somewhere cool to hole up, Los Osos has turned into Joe Btfsplk, Andy Capp’s Li’l Abner cartoon character who always walked around with a cloud over his head. In Los Osos, it’s as literal as that cartoon. Drizzle-mist in the early morning, and the rest of the day spent with a lowering cloud cap overhead but one with a perfectly circular edge and a clear horizon line all around letting we bearish folk know that the sun is shining, well, over there and there and way over there, but not here.

And it’s unseasonably cool, throwing all my plants into a muddle. Is it spring, yet? No? Now? No? When? But I have no answer. Our local weatherman talks about coastal up-wellings and the vast ocean mysteries of La Nina and El Nino but that doesn’t explain the Joe Btfsplk cloud.

Moscow is also under a cloud, but this one is made up of deadly smoke from an out of control forest fire, aided and abetted by vast peat fields that were drained years ago to serve as an industrial fuel source and never re-flooded when the country switched to gas and oil for fuel. The abandoned peat and the vast forests, tinder dry from a heat wave that was the worst in Russia’s recorded history, are but a terrifying glimpse of Things Yet To Come. Imagine the vast pine woodlands that stretch from Moscow all the way to Sarah Palin’s house. Imagine them tinder dry from drought and heat. Imagine a match.

Our own Rocky and Sierra mountain ranges are facing similar conditions; drought and heat are already starting to weaken the trees for the pine pitch beetle to finish off. With no way to stop the process, the dying trunks will eventually stretch for thousands of miles. It’s the stuff of nightmares and is on our doorstep now.

Meanwhile, a 100-square mile chunk of ice just broke off from a Greenland glacier. That’s a hunk four times larger than Manhattan that’s now free to move across the Arctic Ocean. We now wait to see if it will head south to threaten the north Atlantic shipping lanes and huge North Sea oil rigs. The BP oil spill as preview to what may come?

And in Pakistan, millions have been left homeless by massive flooding and with so much farmland washed away, famine will follow after.

The majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is likely the culprit behind these weather extremes and also predict that the extremes will get even wilder the higher the overall global temperature climbs. To a sane person, the future coming into focus is not a welcome one. To a sane person, it would make sense to switch as quickly as possible to an energy plan that didn’t contribute to global warming in order to lessen the worst of what’s coming. But to our corporate-owned politicians, especially those owned by the coal and oil companies, it is critical to lie about and block all efforts to switch to “new” energy sources until every last dollar can be extracted from burning through our “old” energy sources. And if that worsens our future, too bad. Money for a few takes precedence over life for the many.

And, sadly, too many Americans can’t seem to connect that Moscow fire dot to the floods in Iowa dot to the heat wave in DC dot to the break-away glacier dot. But if, as Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local,” then surely all weather is local too. And perhaps that’s our last best hope.

When misfortune hits someone half-way across the globe, it’s unfortunate. When the same misfortune hits your own house, it’s a Great Tragedy and Something Must Be Done! Which means that only when the dots get personal do people tend to take them seriously enough to connect them. And there’s nothing more personal than unusual weather events directly overhead to get one’s attention. I mean, it’s hard to argue with your own dead lawn or that washed out road down the street or a tornado that hits your house in a town where no tornadoes have ever hit before, ever, or the community’s water well that runs dry again because for three years in a row there wasn’t enough snowmelt to replenish the aquifer, or the price of bread just went up because the wheat crop in Kansas failed from a new strain of wheat rust that’s never appeared that far north before, or a plague of malaria-bearing mosquitoes that is normally limited to hot, wet climates shows up in your town after a bizarrely wet year of rain and heat and fogs and unseasonable damp.

Ding, ding, ding. Local alarm bells. Time to wake up. And grab an umbrella. It’s a hard rain of our own making that’s coming to Our Town.


Mike Green said...

Another domino tips over

franc4 said...

Could God be telling us something that politition$ and/or greedy folk$ don't under$tand?..or want to?

Alon Perlman said...

While chanel surfing past the network newses recently, I caught the weather channel explaining that the extreme looping of the northern jet stream will start straightening out soon.

Global weather will hitch up and tighten it’s belt, tuck in it’s shirt tails and walk straight. For a while, at least for a few weeks, it may even shave and go out looking for a job, before it lapses again.
If so;
The most direct result here, L.O. on the C.C. is that we could yet have a Native American summer. Or not.
(Isn’t PC language stupid-Isn’t “America” named after Amrigo Vaspuchi or something, somewhere in the 1500’s?)
Further out- There was a serious prediction for an extreme hurricane season. While the gulf waters are warm enough, the atmospheric perturbations of the Jet stream in the Africa to Caribbean, mid-Atlantic, will quiet. That should allow the pearl necklace of proto-hurricanes to reform and start marching onto New Orleans. The only silver lining there is that most of “The Spill” has dissipated and the subsurface part that “They are not telling us about” is distributed out offshore of Texas.
Further, Further out- Much of Bangladesh is only a few feet above the rising sea level. Most of the crops are grown on flood plains. Extended decade forecast; Expect rising social unrest with a sprinkling of revolutions.
Speaking of revolutions-we are decades away from oil dependency weaning. It’s not just the short term interest of the fat cats. It’s the fundamental ingraining of marketing and consumption patterns. “Throw away the old wasteful technology! Rush out and buy more green stuff!” And that is from the AWARE people
More people have become better at denial than at any point in history

Justified fears of deep water oil drilling, and the backlash against near shore drilling will push oil exploration to the polar areas. With potential effects (Law of unintended consequences) to global warming amplified much beyond that of activities closer to the equator (my theory).

Didn’t know or remember about the peat fields. The ground burning? How apocalyptic is that. A few years ago, there was an in-depth article in the New Yorker, about sinking towns in Alaska, also in Minsk. The soil is supported by the hardness of permafrost. As the ground softens vast areas of Forrest start sinking. The old growth trees start tipping and stressing their roots. The outcome is more dead trees. Fuel for fires. Sequestered carbon yearning to fly free. And the thunderstorms can spark the tundras well as a match.

I didn’t watch that old Gore film yet, the expectation I had was for it to be true with some annoying exaggeration.
We are clearly NOW in TIPPING POINT. Ahead, beyond the swinging of extremes, lay run-away phenomenon.
Does the Global warming VETTED scientific scenario (2 Meters sea rise in 2100 (?)) hold out with significant eradication of northern tree canopy, attendant release of CO2 and cloud and dust effects?

Back Home in Ann’s Garden- The toughs’t decision you may have to make is when to fertilize. There is a seasonal fertilization cycle that depends on winter dormancy. The false springs wear out the plants and burn a lot of nutrients. Over fertilizing before winter causes new growth that is more susceptible to freezes. Watch out for newly-clear starry nights about 2 months away. I suggest a smattering of bone meal and a small amount of slow release pellets. Then again that may be wrong and doing nothing may be best. How good is conventional wisdom in unconventional times.

M said...

When I moved here 39 years ago this month, it was duck soup everyday. The bay stunk to high heaven also by the way. Cyclic perhaps?
Sincerely, M

M said...

If i'm not mistaken, didn't a volcano erupt recently in Greenland? Possibly effecting ice temperature maybe?
Sincerely, M

Spectator said...

There is no crisis! The sky is not falling!

It would seem to me that if the world is warming we should increase the amount of smoke etc. into the atmosphere to stop the sun's rays from warming the earth. After all, it has been theorized that increased volcanic activity brought on the last ice age.

The amount of carbon dioxide emitted by electrical plants, industry, and automobiles is not equal to 1/10 of one volcano's emissions.

Check out this:

We have your number!

Alon Perlman said...

Hi Spectator, as I understand it, you are partly correct. The volcanic activity a few months ago put ash into the atmosphere for a while. That had two good effects for cooling- it blocked and reflected the sun and for a while (weeks to months cooled Europe) second; it caused a lot of Jet flights in Europe to be canceled.
Also there was a "Mini-Ice age" due to volcano in the northern hemisphere sometime in recorded history- Napoleonic era?- you can wikipedia it- I won't bother- I re-read it sometime last year.
But weather is complicated; Sulfur and carbon remain in atmosphere so when the volcanic dust settles other affects take place (The Los Osos Internet-Environmentalists Experts Call them "GHG's" as if they knew what that meant). Global Warming was first conceived and calculated perhaps 200 years ago- it was based on assumptions of Burning wood and coal for steam engines (of course), back then. Having record lows as well as record high's is an expected effect of global warming

On a different but similar weather related topic- Assuming Spectator lives in Panama and is a Lecarre fan
M- Cool-1971-ish?-groovy- you lucky old duck- I think there were two major sedimentation events due to fires that lowered the amount of Eel grass-one was within that time frame- Did Morro bay town have a sewer yet? Also they had a creek that used to dump into the bay but now dumps slightly north of their sewer plant- don't remember the time frame that was diverted. probably pre-causeway to Rock, which would had been earlier? Also, live-aboards anywhere on the bay could dump overboard back then...
Also may had had more grazing cattle in creeks...

Alon Perlman said...

Whoa- SPECTATOR- Sorry
This is the link

Mike said...

The sky is only falling in Los Osos...!!! ...but the sewer will be built...!!!!

Churadogs said...

Spectator sez:"There is no crisis! The sky is not falling!"

Human nature being what it is, it's absolutely fascinating to me to see the amount of denial going on. Part of that is just ignorance or lack of information and part of it is caused by the whole issue being framed incorrectly. When you say "global warming" it sounds all nice and summery, as in, Hey, things will be nice and pleasant, no more Moscow winters!" but that's not the problem. What's occuring is both more subtle and more profound than that; change one thing and the interconnected web begins to tear. Too much Co2 in the atmosphere acidifies the ocean which dissolves in coral reefs, destroys the "fish nursery" and fish stocks, removes protective island barriers, etc. Change the general temperature and bugs hatch out too soon for the migrating birds which then starve. It's all linked together. And what's worrisome is there is a tipping point in all ecosystems when the system cannot right itself and it will crash. By then it will be too late. But, human nature being what it is, we deny, and refuse to do anything since that would take some effort, which people are loath to do.Even when their lives and the future of their grandchildrens' lives depends on it. Fascinating.

Watershed Mark said...

Like "Pie Holes" Everybody has one.

Watershed Mark said...

Spectator said...

To Ann: Thanks for the reply, but I feel that our kids and grandchildren have far more to worry about from bad government than global warming. The current load of socialist/progressives comes to mind. Just consider the tax load to come. Right now every man, woman, and child citizen of the US owes $48,000 for national debt. It is going up constantly because of interest, and unbridled spending.

I do not think there is any denial of cyclical global warming. The whole argument is about the progressive/socialists wishing to create a crisis to farther their agenda.

As far as CO2 is concerned, the more we have will cause the plants to grow better. Ever hear of algae in the ocean? As far as acidity in the water, you alarmists should pass a law stopping fish from pissing.

FYI: It seems to me that the denial is caused by the assertions of uneducated fools which deserve to be denied. These people get their info from savvy political types wishing to make money. Al Gore comes to mind.

Now if you and Alon could only cash in........

Watershed Mark said...

Spectator: BINGO!

Watershed Mark said...

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.
Edward Bernays

Watershed Mark said...

Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.

Fortunately, we still are holding a shred of a Constitutional Republic...

Churadogs said...

Spectator sez;"but I feel that our kids and grandchildren have far more to worry about from bad government than global warming."

Just wait until environmental catastrophes result in collapsed governments and disaster-fueled lawless states, or mass migrations and resource wars, and then you may release that there are far worse things than "bad" governments.

Churadogs said...

Spectator sez;"but I feel that our kids and grandchildren have far more to worry about from bad government than global warming."

Just wait until environmental catastrophes result in collapsed governments and disaster-fueled lawless states, or mass migrations and resource wars, and then you may release that there are far worse things than "bad" governments.

Mike said...

..damn, the sky IS falling...!!!