The end of the world for some a day or so late; Is this climate change or same old same old?

May 23, 2011

If you predict just about anything you have a good chance of being right — it may well come to pass. Just don’t be too specific about time and date.That poor preacher who predicted that the world would end Saturday was apparently wrong and as I understand it is now in seclusion and quite distraught. Reportedly some sucker in New York spent his life savings buying posters and such proclaiming the end of the world.

But then again they may have been just a day early. For it was the end of the world for at least 116 (the latest count as I write this) folks in Joplin, Mo., where a tornado struck Sunday, and it may well seem like the end of the world for as many or more who are picking through the rubble looking for what little they can salvage or worse yet looking for missing loved ones and friends.

Within the last hour or so I heard a purported weather expert say that he has never seen such a cold weather pattern in the mid level atmosphere and thinks it might be unprecedented, but he was quick to also note that there have been cyclical weather patterns of  heavy snow packs and torrential rains and floods followed by droughts and then deluges all over again since weather began to be officially recorded. And what happened before that we don’t necessarily know for sure — at least we don’t have the official statistics (the Bible of course speaks of flood and famines).

He also indicated one cannot attribute the recent spate of bad weather and natural disasters all over the nation and world to the notion of global warming or climate change, as it has been renamed (because we hear of both extreme hot and cold weather). Those who study such things just don’t know for sure what is going on, or at least he did not, he indicated.

(I’m just paraphrasing what I heard on part of Tom Sullivan’s talk show aired on Fox Radio. I got it by way of KFBK, Sacramento, where Sullivan used to hold forth until he hit the big time and moved to New York.)

I wished I knew of some independent and objective and non-biased repository of scientific observations and conclusions on the weather so I could get this whole climate change thing in perspective. I know that the reactionary right is in denial and/or thinks it’s all a ploy by the far left to use as an excuse to control all human behavior (the right mainly focuses on control of sexual behavior). I have also just read in the past day that some of the more thoughtful among the so-called “conservative” movement or Republican Party, that is the thinking branch, would like to give some credence to the possible dangers of climate change and the notion that man has had some part in causing it and possibly has the power to help remedy it. But they risk being kicked out of their own movement for such heresy. Just ask Newt Gingrich who has had to explain away past spoken sympathies with the notion of climate change brought on at least partly by man’s activities and possibly fixable by man’s change of behaviors. He’s not even allowed to say it is worth looking into (his explanation of past statements — not necessarily so, just worth looking into). The mighty Rush Limburger Cheese himself has said Gingrich’s nod to the notions of the non-reactionaries on possible climate change was in inexplicable (read that unacceptable).

Mixing science and politics could lead to the end of the world for us all.

P.s.

I kind of indirectly described Gingrich as thoughtful. I think he is an idea person, although the word “thoughtful’ might not apply to him depending upon the context of that word one has in mind. He is given to making rash and bombastic statements. But his current problem seems to come from thinking, that is at looking at more than one side of an issue, something his brethren do not approve of. To be fair, same goes on the far left.

Advertisements

Global warming or climate change should not be a political issue but a scientific one…

December 11, 2010

Is there global warming going on? And is it man-caused? And is there a danger we will go too far — or have already done so — to reverse the ill effects on climate?

The only answers to these questions are in science.

But they are usually presented in political or ideological terms and most all sides or shades in the political spectrum are guilty to some degree in using the subject to push their own agenda. Even some so-called scientists may be guilty in shading the evidence to make it fit at certain narration, because funding for research is often done at the behest of some entity that wants to promote a point of view, usually to support some perceived financial opportunity or often the maintenance of an existing economy. To put in bluntly, for instance, I’m in trucking and it is to the industry’s advantage (short term at least) to have science that would suggest all that diesel smoke has no detrimental effect on the environment. 

The news media is often blamed for inaccurately reporting the science on the subject. This charge may well be true for two main reasons. First of all, the media can only legitimately report what it is told. Second of all, most journalists are not scientists and if they were smart enough to be scientists they’d more than likely be working as such. And scientists probably would not make terribly good journalists for the most part — there are no doubt exceptions. And scientists who have a talent to communicate need to step up their efforts and be supported in doing so.

And of course there is not total agreement in the scientific community on nearly anything and the science would be suspect if there was — I mean man does not and probably can‘t ever know everything, so science itself is an inexact science.

But if our leaders in this nation really believed in education as they often claim to, no matter what their individual political persuasion, they would promote the study of science and government-supported un-biased research — although government support, in and of itself, does not guarantee lack of bias, as we found out during the George W. Bush administration.

Science and ideology do not mix.

I’m just guessing, just guessing mind you, that we probably are adding the greenhouse effect with carbon emissions from fossil fuels at a rate that will eventually do irreparable harm to our environment. That does not mean we have to, or even could, stop everything we are doing right now and/or go back to the Stone Age. What it does mean is that we have to take serious steps now to turn things around. To a degree we are. But we may need to move faster. And what we really need to do is promote a better and non-ideological based understanding of science among everyone, and particularly our young, who have a chance to do something about it.

What brought this to my mind was an article I just read about a new book by Professor David Archer called “Global Carbon Cycle”. And as I understand it, it suggests that there is still time to reverse what appears to be a trend that may lead to global warming that will cause disastrous climate change, but that time is running out.

And the reviewer says the book is quite readable for the layman. So maybe people should read it instead of spouting the latest lines from Rush Limburger Cheese or even Al “I-invented-the-internet” Gore.

I refer you to the article and book: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ac/20101210/sc_ac/7371018_the_real_science_of_global_warming;_ylt=AmsCRSc6N8MpBhTPfOGIrtis0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTRlYm4zanVzBGFzc2V0A2FjLzIwMTAxMjEwLzczNzEwMThfdGhlX3JlYWxfc2NpZW5jZV9vZl9nbG9iYWxfd2FybWluZwRjY29kZQNtb3N0cG9wdWxhcgRjcG9zAzgEcG9zAzUEcHQDaG9tZV9jb2tlBHNlYwN5bl9oZWFkbGluZV9saXN0BHNsawN0aGVyZWFsc2NpZW4

And if there is other credible research out there that suggests really things are no different now than they ever have been and that nothing needs to be done, then we should consider that too, but let‘s see that research. We need to know what we need to know, not just what we only hoped that we needed to know.


Environmental concerns — all I know is what I read in the papers…

April 27, 2010

One of the initial reports I heard on the latest offshore oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (a giant oil platform explosion) was from a so-called expert who assured everyone all was fine and there was no sign of a major oil spill (and, oh, thank heavens it was a certified oil industry expert instead of some kooky environmentalist or left-wing , non-scientifically-educated reporter talking, needlessly worrying us all about an environmental calamity).

Well that was late last week, I guess.

Now I just read that as the result of this same oil rig explosion a thousand barrels of crude oil are spilling into the ocean each day. That’s got to be costly and it cannot be good for the marine environment.

(Eleven platform crew members were still unaccounted for and presumed dead.)

The good news, if there is any, is that it is believed that since the whole thing is far enough out to sea, crews have more time than they otherwise might to contain the spill.

We’ve had bad spills before and they have done terrible environmental damage, but the world goes on, and to some extent nature comes back, and I presume the attitude of many is that such is the cost of survival in modern society.

And then there are those who claim that those who are concerned about environmental degradation of the planet are just alarmists or people who are against progress and who would, in fact, like to take us all back to the Stone Age.

Well, I don’t consider myself in that category, but I am concerned about the environment, and I can say right here I would just as soon there be no offshore oil drilling and certainly no more started — but I am reasonably sure there will be, even if this newest incident has dealt a blow to the cause of drill baby drill. Just before the latest catastrophe President Obama had proposed consideration of limited new offshore drilling, no doubt for political purposes as much as his perceived need of offshore oil.

I’m not a scientist and even though I have a four-year college degree my education was fairly light on hard science. So really all I know is what I read in the papers, so to speak. I have to depend upon the interpretations, primarily written by journalists who get information from scientists, directly and indirectly.

And it only seems logical that when educated folks are studying the unknown, if they are truly being objective they are likely to come up with varying interpretations of the data they have collected and one researcher’s data might not match another’s.

But over time, if everyone stays objective, it seems only logical that some common patterns will be noticed.

At some point there has to be a general consensus among scientists. The generally accepted story has been that the majority of scientists worldwide believe in the phenomenon of global warming that seems to be caused or at least greatly exacerbated by the actions of man.

Now some scientists, we are told, do not follow that line. But I have assumed or at least suspected that many of them are in the employ of industry groups who always fight environmental regulations.

Within the last year or so I have been reading reports that in some cases that some scientists who promote the theory of global warming have been caught faking data or purposely misinterpreting it. One motivation might be that even though they actually believe in global warming, it is easier to get continued funding for study if you can spice up the dire predictions a little. Or global warming detractors would have you believe that it is all a hoax and dishonest researchers are just eating up research grants.

A seemingly straight-forward opinion (opinion, that’s important) piece by a scientist I read in the Wall Street Journal the other day flat out claimed that there is no solid scientific evidence of global warming.

So who do I believe? And do I try to get my own personal count on how many scientists think one thing and how many the other? And do I personally sift through all the data (you know I’m not going to do that and neither are you)? I would not likely be able to interpret the data and would not know how accurate it was or the veracity of those who collected it.

A lot of people have a prejudice in this matter. They see environmentalism as too costly and a threat to jobs and just a plain waste of time.

Personally I would like to have clean air to breathe and an all-around healthy environment and I would like to see the survival of the planet and mankind.

I don’t subscribe to the theory that the only way we can keep employed and feeding ourselves is to foul our nest. It just does not make sense to me.

But I have to depend upon the experts who look at the facts in an objective manner.

Cooking the books to get research dollars under the guise of objective study or simply writing the things the way industry wants it (no costly regulations) is not the kind of expert advice that seems worth anything to me.

(You have to know that the same industrialists who would buy phony research to lobby against environmental regulations would demand the most objective information they could get when making their own business decisions, such as where to drill for oil or dig for coal.)

The best the layperson can do is read as much as he or she can and stay objective and do whatever seems to be called for on a personal basis.

P.s.

“Global warming“, some have noted, should have been labeled “climate change”, as it is sometimes now, because that phraseology is easier to understand, because, as I understand it, global warming can cause warm weather in some places that have been cold and cold weather in some places that have been warm and rain in dry areas and drought in rainy areas.

P.s. P.s.

Come to think of it, I don’t have to entirely depend upon what I read in the papers — I have (we all have) seen or otherwise experienced pollution first hand, such as smog, dirty rivers and lakes and other filthy waterways, as well as garbage strewn all over.


I am the God of Hell Fire and I bring you FIRE!

June 25, 2008

(Copyright)

The WALTHER REPORT
By Tony Walther

And now for the third time I feel compelled to write something about that summer thunderstorm over the weekend that didn’t amount to much, not much except for the fact that it seems that all of the local area and the state is lit up in flame.

A pall of smoke and ashes has hung over us here in the Northern Sacramento Valley since Sunday.

The fires so far are primarily in the mountains that nearly surround us (east and west and north).

Air quality is not good. I think the air conditioner helps filter out some of the bad air (although I need to buy a new filter pad). But I had a passing thought (fear), because someone told me that at least one of the fires was near some major electric transmissions lines. A power outage could really spell disaster. No cooling on a hot summer day. Lost food in the fridge (and food is like gold now). And horrors of all horrors, no internet, no computer, no blogging.

There are literally hundreds of fires in the local area. Most or all them were caused by lighting strikes over the weekend. I was sitting here writing my blog as the thunderstorm started, but about the time I concluded writing it, the storm seemed to have finished. Not quite so, it rained and there was lighting and thunder throughout the day, along with a small amount of hail where I live.

So, of course, I wrote a followup, an update, if you will, and used it as an excuse to mention something about the possibility of global warming and society’s reaction to it.

Today, I write another update to let you know that things are still smokey here. Don’t have my paper yet, but last I heard there was a prediction for at least a chance of more thunderstorms and definitely hot weather (in the 100s this weekend). I had also said in my first blog on the subject that we were having unseasonably low temperatures – we seem to be back to seasonably high temps.

I guess the reason we have had such an outbreak of fires is that the normal rainy season (fall, winter, early spring) did not really deliver enough this past year. That would have been a surprise to me back in December when I briefly went back to my trucking job and was slogging through the snow, dragging those heavy iron chains around and struggling to wrap them around my wheels. And when it snows in the mountains around here, it generally rains in the valley.

So far, thank goodness, the fires around here locally don’t seem to have resulted in many casualties or lost homes (and I hope I don’t have to update that with bad news).

The ranks of firefighters here in Northern California are thin, the media reports tell me. So, if you’re in that line of work, you might apply. We could bring in the military (National Guard, regular Army), but then again, I guess they’re all tied up with other projects. And yes, while I did intend sarcasm in that last sentence, I did not mean to offend the troops themselves, for they will do their duty as directed, as they continue to demonstrate.

Don’t need to wait for the paper, just checked the weather on the internet and the forecast for today is 98, but it’s expected to be up to 104 by Friday. They don’t seem to be calling for thunderstorms now, just some clouds, here in the valley. But then again, last weekend’s thunder and lightning and rain and hail episode wasn’t in the forecast either.

And to be clear, thunderstorms around here in the mountains in the summer are not so uncommon, but they are uncommon here in the valley. And they have those dry lighting strikes too up in the mountains and, in fact, that seems to have been the culprit for many of the fires. Lightning to torch them, but no rain , or not enough, to put them out or to have prevented them in the first place.

So, even with all of our technology and all of those computer models and so on, the weather remains hard to accurately predict, and at best, it seems, the forecasters can only go a day or so ahead of time.

There’s not much we can do about it either, except prepare, and prepare for what?

We are at the mercy of God, Mother Nature, the Supreme Being, George W.

Note:
Column’s headline courtesy of lyrics by Arthur Brown (1967).