Politically Strange Weather Year

It’s raining here right now. No, not drizzle – you can hear the rain dripping off the eaves. Shhhhh, the National Weather Service web page doesn’t know about this yet. For my area, they’re forecasting an iffy 30% chance of rain tomorrow, and patchy fog today. But what’s the forecast for the next 10 years, or 100?

Today, maybe we’ll get enough of the wet stuff I won’t have to water. The American Southwest could use more of this stuff. According to a randomly selected chart, “Cool-season Precipitation in the Southwestern USA since AD 1000“, precipitation follows a roughly 10-year cycle and (alarmingly) we are nearing a peak of a good cycle.  The paper is posted by  the University of Arizona (tree ring research), and copyright by the Royal Meteorological Society.

Just because the British are interested in studying Arizona weather, we don’t get to call it “global warming”. Call it “climate change.” (If the Gulf Stream gets blocked due to destruction of the arctic seawater thermocline by freshwater melt, the UK and most of Northern Europe are facing their next Ice Age).  Even with the desertification of the African continent, it will always be colder somewhere else. Those selfish Brits …

June Gloom vs Megatrends

A search on “strange weather in California” shows many people are asking what’s happening. It’s being called the “June Gloom”. The standard answer: low pressure areas and buckling jet streams. It makes little sense to look for a more cryptic answer for a single year; we’ve had goofy summers here before. In the early ’80’s, I recall one “summer that wasn’t a summer”. About a decade later I remember one fall where we had electrical storms come in from over the Pacific, more or less continuously, for a week. But even a whole season does not a pattern make.

Globally, 2010 shaped up, unfortunately, as the hottest year on record. Within the last year or so, Antarctica and Greenland calved icebergs the size of Rhode Island. Or was it Connecticut? Ocean coral is bleaching and (in some areas) actually endangered, but scoffers say “who cares, except a few Eco-tourists?” Well, the habitats that support the fisheries care, so, just at a time when world populations could depend more on marine protein if it were available, those stocks are dwindling too.

Corporate Oligarchy

The billionaire Koch family (“the biggest corporation you’ve never heard of”) are spending millions to infuse the idea that climate change is all part of a natural cycle, and homo sapiens better just get over it, suck it up, and adapt – or die. On man’s contribution to the cycle, they’re strangely silent.

Never mind that brothers Charles and David run Koch Industries, the second-biggest privately held corporation in the USA. They’re heavily invested in all of the latest and greatest ecological catastrophes, though they seem to have missed out on coal.

Refineries, pipelines, paper mills: we need all this stuff, but most of the world now understands the need to control effluents and emissions in the process of fueling the world economy.  If an enterprise pumps CO2 and pollutants into the atmosphere and water table, there’s a reason why Greenpeace targets the corporation as a “kingpin of climate science denial“, and the University of Massachusetts named them “one of the top ten air polluters” in the US. You can read up on this patriotic pair of ex-John-Birchers yourself in Wikipedia, Huffington Post, Greenpeace or the excellent recent New Yorker expose. Just do your own Google search on ‘Koch family and global warming.”

Future-Denial

The rain here turned to drizzle, and then the pavements dried. Local weather never tells us the big picture – what’s happening globally. What we want to watch out for are long-term trends and global-scale events.

When atmospheric CO2 levels are at 390 parts per million, higher than any time in the last 80,000 years (and possibly in the last 20 million), we all get to choose between cherished political agendas and the hard scientific evidence, but that’s a false choice. Throwing the data out the window in a fit of “science denial” was irresponsible in the 1950’s; it’s suicidally reckless today.

The agenda-driven science denial we see today is playing much the same role as the Vatican inquisition that convicted Galileo of heresy for furthering the controversial Copernican heliocentric “theory”.

If you’d like to control world thinking in such a way as to accumulate power, minimize unprofitable surprises and eliminate the annoying competition of free exchange of knowledge and ideas, one way to do it is to take over a major world church, ideology or religion.  Another way is to build a world-class financial empire and buy the votes and propaganda needed to impose your views on everybody else – their consent being useful, but not needed.

There’s some evidence that ideologues in the USA are trying to figure out a way to do both at the same time. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

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