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So put down the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox Kool-Aid and turn off the television, because the coldest place on Earth just got warmer than has ever been recorded.

world on fireAccording to the weather blog Weather Underground, on Tuesday, March 24, the temperature in Antarctica rose to 63.5°F (17.5C) — a record for the polar continent. Part of a longer heat wave, the record high came just a day after the previous record was set at 63.3°F.

These temperature records occurred nearly three months past the warmest time of year in the Antarctic Peninsula, December, when the average high is 37.8°F. The average high for March is 31.3°F, making this week’s records more than 30°F above average. Burt also points out that temperature records for Esperanza have previously occurred in October and April, so these spikes are not unheard of.

They should also not be unexpected: the poles are warming faster than any part of the planet and rapid ice melt is being observed at increased rates in Antarctica. According to a new study, ice shelves in West Antarctica have lost as much as 18 percent of their volume over the last two decades, with rapid acceleration occurring over the last decade. The study found that from 1994 to 2003, the overall loss of ice shelf volume across the continent was negligible, but over the last decade West Antarctic losses increased by 70 percent.

According to the British Antarctic Survey, since records for the Antarctic Peninsula began half a century ago, the average temperature has risen about 5°F, making it “the most rapidly warming region in the Southern Hemisphere – comparable to rapidly warming regions of the Arctic.”

While the polar regions are feeling the most severe temperature changes brought on by the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, areas across the globe are setting record highs at a much faster rate than record lows. Since 2010, 46 nations or territories out of 235 have set or tied record highs. Only four have set record lows. According to the Weather Underground, so far this year, five nations or territories have tied or set all-time records for their highest temperature: Antarctica, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Wallis and Futuna Territory, and Samoa.

You are a clear and present danger to my grand-children’s future. Fear me.

I am not going to stop suggesting a twenty-first century variation of Pascal’s WagerPascal of course the seventeenth century philosophermathematician and physicist who so frightened The Church that his head to this day resides pickled in a jar somewhere in the catacombs of the Vatican. Simply put: If I am wrong, if the climate is not changing, the world not warming to in-habitability in my grand-childrens’ generation, I don’t lose a bloody damned thing.  If you, the denier, are wrong, we all lose, our grand-children lose, the only world we know of we can live on. End of the road, dinosaurs… extinction. Do you want to take that bet?

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Snowfall on Half-dome in Yosemite Valley on March 19 of 2012 and 2015

There was certainly no shortage of water in the Northeast this winter. Boston and several other communities saw record snowfall. But in other parts of the North America, a swinging jet stream exacerbated an already dire prolonged drought, stretching the breadth of the entire Southwest, from California to Texas. Even parts of the Midwest bread basket are thirsty.

There are two factors driving the drought: growth, and climate change. As the population increases, demand on surface water and aquifers grows relentlessly. The dipping, winding jet stream, a phenomenon tentatively linked to amplified warming of the Arctic, denies water to much of the western half of the US while dropping more than needed further east. It’s a fair prediction that there will be no relief in terms of reduced population growth or mitigating changes in climate anytime soon. But we don’t have to count on lucky rainstorms to relieve water shortages. There are other solutions.

The Canadian Wetback running for President…

imagesCruzing for a Fact-Check Bruising: “Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has announced he’s running for President in 2016. This means it’s going to be a busy campaign season for fact checkers, who have already started the Sisyphean task of correcting Cruz. […] Chris Mooney demonstrated one way for journalists to deal with presidential climate claims by contacting a climate scientist, who made it clear that Cruz was cherry-picking. Michelle Ye Hee Lee examined the satellite comment for WaPo’s Fact Checker column, giving Cruz ‘Three Pinnochios’ for his misleading statements.

Philip Bump took a critical look at Cruz’s comparison of deniers to Galileo and other comments, stating, ‘There’s not much Cruz got right.’ Most amusing (and original) would be Mooney’s column on Cruz’s Galileo defense. Mooney points out that, first and foremost, Cruz botched the history, saying, “Galileo was branded a denier,” for not accepting that the Earth was flat. This is just plain wrong, because Galileo’s ordeal was about whether the Earth orbited the Sun. Going further, Mooney contacted some historians, who made it clear that when it comes to the Galileo comparison, deniers are off base. One science historian pointed out that Galileo wasn’t attacked by scientists (as Cruz suggests) but by “the power structure of his day.’ And in modern times, ‘Climate contrarians are on the side of, and are supported by, the power structure of our day, which is the Republican Party and the carbon-combustion complex.'” [emphasis added]

It is a clear and present danger to my grand-children’s future.

Yes, “it”. It isn’t human. It is less than sufficiently evolved, less than human.

Given the weather anomalies of the past few years (and the phenomena caused by them, such as wildfires), the methane “time bomb” in the Arctic (also this video), and the fact that the Arctic is our “canary in the coal mine,” one might think that our “leaders” in Washington would be preoccupied with the matter of global warming (or, as some prefer, “climate change”).

there-is-no-planet-B-photo-by-Freya-Schork-2013Especially given that the high degree of interdependence that exists in our society is a “recipe for disaster”:  It means that our society is extremely fragile, and in consequence could easily collapse with a slight “push.”  What’s ironic about that “push” is that although it would come directly from Nature, theultimate responsibility for it would be our own—our burning of fossil fuels, along with our deforestation activities.

Needless to say, our “leaders” are doing “next to nothing” about global warming; in fact, virtually everyone in our society is simply “going about business as usual,” as if nothing of significance is going on “out there.”  In short, our nation seems to be in the grip of nonchalance, and that fact is puzzling.  Or is it?  In point of fact, despite the fact that ours is the most intelligent of species, several factors help explain why we humans—we Americans in particular—are not using that intelligence.

I’m getting hot,” croaked the frog as he floated in a pot of water from which steam was beginning to rise.

“Me too,” croaked the other frog as she paddled listlessly. “This water used to be warm. Now it’s too hot.”

“Oh well…nothing we can do about it. Maybe it’ll get better.”

“Let’s enjoy what we can,” she croaked. “We’ll listen to the music and watch the pictures on the ceiling that keep changing. They’re pretty.”

“OK…I’m feeling dreamy.”

As the water simmered, the frogs slipped into a stupor; they were unconscious as they began to boil.

In California’s epic drought, wars over water rights continue, while innovative alternatives for increasing the available water supply go untapped.

dirty earthWars over California’s limited water supply have been going on for at least a century. Water wars have been the subject of some vintage movies, including the 1958 hit The Big Country starring Gregory Peck, Clint Eastwood’s 1985 Pale Rider, 1995’s Waterworld with Kevin Costner, and the 2005 film Batman Begins. Most acclaimed was the 1975 Academy Award winner Chinatown with Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, involving a plot between a corrupt Los Angeles politician and land speculators to fabricate the 1937 drought in order to force farmers to sell their land at low prices. The plot was rooted in historical fact, reflecting battles between Owens Valley farmers and Los Angeles urbanites over water rights.

Today the water wars continue on a larger scale with new players. It’s no longer just the farmers against the ranchers or the urbanites. It’s the people against the new “water barons”  – Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Monsanto and the Bush family – who are buying up water all over the world at an unprecedented pace.

As part of the Guardian newspaper’s recently launched “keep it in the ground” campaign, Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein appears in a new video on Wednesday in which she argues the current moment is ripe for the world to take advantage of the dramatic drop in global oil prices by kicking the fossil fuel industry “while it’s down.”

Calling on themes from her two most recent books — The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster in 2007 and the more recently published This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate — Klein says the fall in oil prices since last year should be seen as an opportunity for those concerned about both the prevailing economic order and the dangers of climate change. “Let’s turn this shock,” she says in the nearly five-minute video essay, “into the shift we need.”

Could this be the shock that we harness for our big shift?

Her list of demands include: “No drilling in the arctic… No expansion of the tar sands…  more fracking bans like the ones in New York state and Scotland,” and a call to support and broaden the calls for fossil fuel divestment worldwide while ramping up the needed and available solutions to the climate crisis.

“Sometimes capitalism gives us a gift, the sudden drop in oil prices is one.”

“People are cherry picking science,” he said. “The science is not political. It’s like repealing gravity because you gained 10 pounds last week.” It can’t be done.

Stop eating shit: Food experts and groups representing millions of American consumers demand that federal nutrition guidelines adopt sustainability recommendations that put climate and health impacts ahead of industry interests.

downloadAs a federal government panel prepares to hear testimony and then finalize an updated version of influential nutritional guidelines on Tuesday, a coalition of more than 100 organizations and prominent food and health experts have joined together by calling for more sustainable recommendations than previous versions by replacing diets heavy with meat products with ones containing more plant-based foods.

Prepared by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), under the authority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal nutrition guidelines act as the government-approved blueprint for what constitutes a healthy diet. Updated and widely distributed every five years, the guidelines are used in nutrition education programs nationwide and dictate the meal plans for government institutions, including schools, prisons, military facilities and cafeterias for federal workers.

On Tuesday, as part of the campaigning efforts of the ‘My Plate, My Planet‘ coalition—which includes groups like the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and the Center for Food Safety alongside notable food experts like Eric Schlosser, Michelle Simon, Chef Tom Colicchio and Frances Moore Lappe—the group took out full-page advertisements in major U.S. newspapers as a way to amplify its message.

“People and the planet will be healthier if there’s less meat and more plant-based foods on our plates. Our diets, particularly the meat-heavy American diet, have a huge environmental footprint that not only threatens biodiversity but also our ability to continue producing healthy, nutritious food today and in the future,” said Stephanie Feldstein, director of the population and sustainability program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Now it’s up to secretaries Burwell and Vilsack to make sure the final guidelines are written to promote the health of Americans, not industry.”

“The importance of eating less meat and more plant-based foods for our own health and the health of the planet is backed up by the science,” said Feldstein. “It’s clear that sustainability is a growing concern among Americans, and the dietary guidelines risk irrelevance if they don’t address these issues.

As an added benefit, you’ll smell better.

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