Thursday, July 24, 2014

Climate Change Denial

I've often wondered why people would rather believe that climate change isn't happening, versus people who readily accept the consensus of 97% of the world’s scientists that it is. Then again, Mulder from the X-Files would be ‘proud’ that we’re in an age of conspiracy theories… except that was a TV show and reality is much more boring.

I've seen detractors of the science behind climate change point out anything from a lone dissenting scientist, to Fox News ‘coverage’, to supposed ‘studies’ that claim to refute the consensus of the VAST (nearly total) majority of climate scientists. What these folks focus on are things called ‘outliers’ to bolster their claim that somehow, someone thought it would be a great idea to tell us that man is altering the environment, and atmosphere, which in turn warms the planet and alters weather patterns and sea levels – all to probably sell solar panels or battery powered cars. In short, they think it’s a massive liberal conspiracy to – I don’t know what… sell more batteries? Good god, run for your lives. Hippies are telling you how to drive.

Any sane person would recognize that the argument against climate change is directly funded, organized, and disseminated by the Oil, Gas, and Coal industries.

Why would they try to convince you to carry on as normal and say that Global Warming/Climate change is all some conspiracy? Because this fact loses them money if CLEAN energy is deployed, like solar, wind, and geothermal.

Some of the bullshit lies that they say I will directly address. But first, let’s focus on science, and how you understand it (or don’t).

Climate scientists can analyze ice samples from glaciers that are millions of years old; Ice that has not melted since the dinosaurs were around. You can find such glaciers in Antarctica, and Greenland. Perpetually frozen places (well historically anyway). Ice accumulates in layers. Snow falls, and is weighed down by other snow storms over time. Every layer adds around ¼ centimeter, and over time, you have a thick ice sheet. The snow that falls brings with it particles from the air at the time it was formed. This gives scientists an accurate picture of the global atmospheric composition, and from there they are able to deduce what the environment was like. You can couple this data with fossils, and other organics in order to gain an even more accurate picture: What life was thriving and dying, what volcanoes were erupting, even how thick or thin the ozone layer was. We can carbon date these samples to accurately say WHEN they came from.

It IS an exact science. The only thing that should cast doubt on any conclusion are things called ‘x-factors’, or factors that haven’t been added to the model. Occasionally someone will say something like ‘hey, did we factor in seismicity? Meteor impacts? Solar flares?’; And if the answer is ‘no’, then that data is added (not subtracted) to the model, in order to further refine it.

So really, what you are looking at over the past several decades is that we are refining a formerly fuzzy picture of the climate into a clearer image. Not the opposite direction. This is what has been OBSERVED.

What scientists know is that there has never been this much carbon in the atmosphere, this fast. Global average temperatures have never raised this fast without a massive natural disaster (like the Chicxulub asteroid impact that killed most of the dinosaurs). Since the Industrial revolution, carbon levels in the atmosphere have skyrocketed. Carbon is black, and black things absorb heat. Carbon particles absorb the heat in the atmosphere, warming it. In contrast, things like silver nitrate, or sulfur dioxide reflect heat back into space, cooling the atmosphere. If for example, we were to pump the atmosphere with many metric tons of silver nitrate, you would see a temporary cooling effect on the global average temperature.

Now, the ‘global average temperature’ is what climate scientists refer to as ‘global warming’ or climate change. Averages are calculated by gathering many sets of measurements, adding them up and dividing by the number of measurements to get the global ‘average’ temperature. So while it may be -25F in Alaska, for example, the ‘average’ would be offset by say, 135F in Death Valley, which would be a record.

Globally, the ‘average’ temperatures are rising. This causes weather patterns to become more severe, ice to melt in places it has not previously melted, and sea levels to rise.

Now, there have been some seriously ZANY fucking things, said by idiots who have NO understanding of climate science, such as I do, in order to politicize the issue, or display full-on their ignorance of the subject and contempt for ‘nerds’ who ‘think they know better than I do’.
So first, I’d like to address the ‘deniers’:

You are not a scientist. You have no understanding of what science is. You do not understand what ‘peer-reviewed’ means. You do not understand what ‘outliers’ are. And you are not qualified to question the conclusions of 97% of theworld’s EXPERTS. Let me repeat – EXPERTS. It is unfortunate that you ‘deniers’ are given equal time on news stations, in order for them to appear ‘balanced’. News channels exist these days to make money, to keep their viewers watching, and to promote the agendas of their sponsors. News channels are not scientists either. They are ‘infotainment’. They are also unqualified to comment on Global Warming/Climate Change.

To the ‘outlier’ scientists:

It is unfortunate that people have misconstrued the efforts of scientific skeptics, who are necessary to keep science honest and accurate, as a ‘movement of dissent’. Science is ALL about questioning common knowledge and consensus, but even the biggest science skeptic will tell you, all they have is a theory, and even their theories eventually need to be proven, or discarded. On an issue as important as this one, you ought to do a better job of explaining that your dissent is not proven science. It is a necessary component of science and it is getting the wrong amount of publicity and attention. One dissenting scientist out of 100, will require EXTRAORDINARY evidence, to be peer reviewed, in order to challenge current models. So far, not one scientific skeptic or peer reviewed study has turned out to be CORRECT. In fact, no climate denial study has EVER BEEN PEER REVIEWED! NOT ONE. Yet cable channels will go OUT OF THEIR WAY to find that one skeptic who swears up and down they are right. And they don’t care how crazy they are, so long as you’re watching.

To the cable channels:

Shame on you. You are the worst. You have singlehandedly turned an important issue that could be an existential threat to the human race and sensationalized it, politicized it, twisted it, and made it into a joke. You are probably going to be the sole reason nothing gets done to seriously address the threat of rising sea levels, severe weather, and damage to life and property, and the whole time you’re laughing your way to the bank. If you were a person, I’d have you savagely beaten, drug out to the street, and executed for treason. You are the WORST.

To the politicians:

The surprising lack of urgency on your part (liberals) is astounding. This isn't a ‘social issue’. This isn't a tax issue. This isn't even a re-election issue. This is a national security threat, a global problem, and will eventually make this world absolutely miserable. To the conservatives, your persistent pandering to the religious extremists in the Evangelical sector is not only dangerous, and sad, it is unbelievable. You would sacrifice the very future of this planet and the human race, just so you don’t look ‘wrong’ in the eyes of the people who believe in the Apocalypse. Honestly? The most dangerous kind of stupidity is the one  you possess.

To you:

Please stop reaching for outlier sciences. If they were in fact true, science would support that theory as prevailing. Science looks at hard data. While occasionally one of them gets greedy or falsifies data, this is not the norm, and those people will never work in the industry again. Peer review all but assures this will not happen. Science does not have an ‘opinion’. Belief in a scientific principle is based solely on if that principle works. If it can be refined, it will be. The one in a million expert who says things like ‘I challenge the current climate model’ must back it up with peer reviewed evidence, or it is just a theory.

In conclusion:

Science is not wrong. There is a reason Al Gore chose the title ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ for his climate change opus: IT IS NOT A CONVENIENT THING FOR US TO ACCEPT. He knows full well, that this is just as inconvenient as say, someone hitting your car, or your house being broken into. It is a shock. It’s something we DON’T want to accept. Who WANTS to accept that we are hopelessly destroying the entire food chain, the forests that give us air, the very weather patterns, and could eventually make the planet uninhabitable for human existence? It makes us feel BAD that we could be that horrible. But until we accept this ‘inconvenient truth’, we’re just making the problem worse and ignoring it.

Time to grow up, and put the X-Files where it belongs… on Netflix – for entertainment.

Why on earth would this be a ‘conspiracy’? What are ‘they’ trying to do? Sell you solar panels? That’s the conspiracy? Wow, seriously evil plan there, guys. I don’t know about you but I LoooOOoove my sky high A/C bill, and soot/smoke generating, fossil fuel burning, inefficient oil leaking car! Why the hell would I ever want a Tesla Model S? Doesn't even make that ‘Vroom vroom’ noise! That’s un-American, and an Obama plot to make me buy something that’s not a FORD!

Seriously. Grow. Up.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Don't Let The USA Slip Into Fascism.

Americans have some real funny ideas about immigrants lately. I can’t quite put my finger on why it seems so many people in the USA, despite all of us actually being the product of immigration (unless you happen to be a Native American) seem to have such vitriolic attitudes towards immigrants or people from other countries (read: anyone with brown skin, or an accent, you just don’t hear anything these days about “Those damn Irish, Norwegians, Canadians, French, Germans, or Spaniards…) coming to the USA either legally, or illegally. Our economy is on a good recovery, stock markets are great, and for the most part the jobs lost in Bush’s recession have been recovered and new ones are being created. So what's your beef NOW?

First it was “They’re taking our jobs!” (they weren’t). Then it was ‘they’re so violent!’ (not as violent as WE are! We kill 30k of our own each year alone! That’s as many in one year here that have died in the last DECADE in Mexico due to drug cartel violence). Then it was ‘they don’t speak English!’. Well, yeah, most of them do, and not every town in the USA speaks English, and it’s always been that way.

But unfortunately, it’s nothing new at all, and has been occurring since we ‘founded’ this nation (read: when British people rebelled against their crown and seized 13 British colonies). From the onset of the creation of this nation, people started referring to themselves as ‘natives’, even though they were anything but. They referred to anyone that didn’t speak English, or had a thick accent, as immigrants, although when you look at this country, no less than 14 distinct American accents are in use, and even more foreign languages. We have Spanish, French, German, Norwegian, Italian, Irish, Cuban, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, and Native cities/towns in the USA where English simply isn’t used, and it hurts exactly nobody. I guess we forget that.

But this latest round of immigrants has people on the far, far right howling for everything from land mines to be deployed on the border, to execution squads like the minutemen, to whatever cruel method of ridding the country of unwanted visitors imaginable (however this is not true of all right-wingers, I know plenty of reasonable Republicans who have the same opinion as I on this topic – that compassion and understanding is needed). The latest flare up is in regards to hundreds of small children that showed up at the border, and these people are actually suggesting some really cruel things be done to them… it makes me absolutely sick.

Why hate children? Most of them are 5 to 12 years old and have NO CLUE why so many  so-called ‘Patriotic, God-Fearing Americans’ HATE them so much. After all, the USA advertises itself the world over as a bright shining beacon of democracy, freedom, liberty, and opportunity. Can you really, truly, blame children for their ignorance of our system? Really? Why would we pretend to be this great compassionate nation, and then just be cruel to child refugees? They came here with the idea that we're the good guys. Captian America. Now we're showing a whole generation of kids, we say one thing, and do another.

Why? What is WRONG with us? Thought we were some sort of 'Christian' nation, weren't we? Guess that's all lip service and branding.

From the recent shit-fit in Murrieta, CA to the absolutely draconian and unnecessary laws passed in a Texas town – effectively barring any facility from housing immigrants for processing, or allowing any Border Patrol in their city to enforce federal law (and, excuse me, how stupid is that when you are COMPLAINING ABOUT UNCHECKED IMMIGRATION??). This unchecked hatred, re-enforced by the trolls of the Internet, extreme-right morons like Texas Gov Rick Perry, or AZ Gov Jan Brewer is not only dangerous to our youth who are learning “It’s ok to hate”, it’s dangerous to our national security.

Why would I say that? Let’s look back to another country that went down this road. We are getting DANGEROUSLY close to acting just like it. After WWI, Germany was a humiliated nation. Having been defeated soundly by other world powers, attention turned to domestic issues. Poverty was rampant, and people were looking for someone to blame (sound familiar?). Then along comes this charismatic politician who claimed he knew the real issue. It was those damn Jews! Immigrants! Non-German mongrels! Yes… THEY were the problem and had to be dealt with!

Germany started by rounding them all up. Anyone not with blonde hair and blue eyes was asked to show their papers (a lot like AZ’s now-overruled immigration law), or wear a gold Star of David on their shirt/coat to identify them as Jews. Then, deportations followed. People were either told to get out of Germany because they weren’t “Aryan” enough, or jailed. The German population armed themselves heavily. Fear and propaganda was spread: Jews were dirty, evil, greedy, and wanted to take your jobs.

Wow, sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it?

And the German people bought it, hook, line, and sinker. The next thing you knew it, Germany was pre-emptively invading other countries under the guise of ‘Protecting Germans abroad’ (Bush Doctrine), rounding up people and putting them into labor-death-murder camps (a lot like some of our correctional and immigration facilities, and no, I am not exaggerating), and of course telling the world it was for their benefit to have a strong, pure Germany (we do tend to put our interests above that of the entire world).

Oh, and we did it here too. We rounded up all the Japanese Americans during WWII and put THEM in camps! Look what we’re doing now.

Fascism is a funny thing. It creeps up on you like an insidious infection. Just like cells, people are infected with hate, rabid-nationalism, and fear of anything or anyone different from them and it spreads exponentially. The next thing you know, politicians rise up to meet the demand of hate, and serve it.

We cannot, as a nation, allow this to happen.

Yes, the immigration system needs fixing, but don’t think for a second that it’s something that can be fixed with hateful policy, draconian constructs like minefields or walls, or simply stepping up deportation as Obama has done (he holds the record out of any president in history for deportations).
I believe in root causes – and root solutions.

The root cause of all of this is Americas demand for illegal drugs.

Want to stop the influx of frightened children fleeing for the US, or adults that are willing to risk their lives to flee for the USA in hopes of safety? Change our drug policy. Create a better guest worker program. Assist other countries in fighting cartels. Build up other nations rather than trying to out-compete them.
If you don’t solve any of that, not one damn thing will change.

It’s not the children’s fault. It’s not the fault of people who want to get away from violence and do everything they can for a better life. It’s the fault of the people/nation that created the problem in the first place.

It’s our fault, we are failing on a moral, diplomatic, and international level. The President can only do so much, say so much, or issue so many orders. He is not a god. He cannot snap his fingers and make immigration stop. Congress needs to get its act together and send Obama a bill he would sign instead of consistently sabotaging the executive branch. It’s like we don’t care about our country anymore. Either that, or we created one so complex that we no longer understand it. In any case, something has to be done, but I will fucking draw the line in the sand at blaming children.

Do. Not. Blame. CHILDREN!

You want to fix immigration? Want to stop the flow of illegal or undocumented people into our country? Start by making good policy at home, end by helping the countries where the people are coming from in the first place. I guarantee you that it is mostly our fault anyway what is happening in places like Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico. We destabilized their governments, and made a power vacuum that is only filled by gangs and drug cartels, all while we buy their drugs. Thanks CIA. We try to micromanage the world, while getting high off their supply, creating the situation that makes them flee their homes for here. Get it now? Can we stop blaming CHILDREN for our problems now, and can we stop acting like them? Ok. Good.