Where is our Commonwealth headed?

Whichever media source you turn to underscores that the American public — both conservative and liberal — is frustrated and disappointed with the performance of Congress. This frustration seems well placed.

The Senate has used its powers to block a variety of actions, laws and presidential appointments, including the appointment of a Supreme Court justice.  The Republican-dominated House hasn’t passed a budget in years; hasn’t repaired a bridge; hasn’t created a job; but has spent millions, according to Republican sources, trying to smear the administration or Hillary Clinton.

Incredibly, the 114th Congress has enacted into law only six of the more than 2,600 bills that were introduced in the first session.

The previous 113th Congress, by all accounts, was the absolute worst in terms of legislation passed in all of American history.  It looks like the 114th is well on its way to surpassing the 113th in terms of abysmal performance.

Unfortunately, our own congressman, David Brat, part of a distinct minority faction called the “Freedom Caucus,” seems comfortable with this chaos. Perhaps it will keep the focus off of his failure as a congressman.  Indeed, he may hope to continue this debacle by seeking re-election this coming November. The far right is apparently happy with this anarchy. The rest of us — moderate Republicans, Independents, Democrats of all persuasions — may prefer that our government representatives in the Congress perform the duties that are assigned to them by our Constitution.

Brat is so out of line with the vast majority of his colleagues that he voted against Paul Ryan for House Speaker.  His back-bencher minority status and performance makes him a singularly ineffective representative from the great Commonwealth of Virginia and for our congressional district.

Brat has been so inconsequential that he has sponsored only 12 bills during his 18 months in office and only one of them has actually been passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president:  H.R. 2693 — to designate the arboretum at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia, as the “Phyllis E. Galanti Arboretum.”  All the rest of his bills, which have at the very most only 15 cosponsors, but mostly between two and five, have been referred to committee where they languish.

What else has he accomplished?  Brat voted against a Republican-sponsored bipartisan bill to help developing countries to reduce global poverty and hunger, especially for women and children.  Brat was one of 12 who voted against the Republican-sponsored bipartisan bill for the provision of grants to maintain the national 9/11 memorials at the World Trade Center, in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon.  Brat voted against his Republican colleagues in passing a federal program providing American workers displaced by foreign trade agreements with job training and services.  Brat voted against the Iran Nuclear Deal, which has now demonstrated complete success in sending all of Iran’s bomb-capable uranium on a one-way trip back to Russia.  Brat voted against fellow Republicans in reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank and allowing it to resume offering assistance in the form of loans and insurance to foreign companies that want to buy U.S. goods.  Brat voted against an amendment to the Patriot Act that would severely limit U.S. agencies spying on American citizens.

Brat strongly disagrees with allowing women to make their own health care decisions.  He strongly disagrees with providing health insurance to 400,000 of Virginia’s poorest citizens.  Brat strongly opposes any sensible efforts to try to reign in the gun violence afflicting America.  He strongly opposes any efforts to expand energy production into solar, wind, or any other sector that might mitigate the effects of climate change.  He strongly opposes any efforts to stimulate the economy.

You don’t have to take my word for it.  Do your own research and fact-checking at https://ballotpedia.org/David_Brat and at https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/david_brat/412605/report-card/2015.

Voters in Culpeper County and the 7th Congressional District do have an alternative to Dave Brat — in Eileen Bedell, a Virginia-born and educated attorney from Richmond. As a small business owner and mother, she is focused on the issues that affect us all.  Her kitchen-table approach to these issues in meetings with citizens and on radio and TV are moderate and practical. You can watch these interviews yourselves and draw your own conclusions.

Check her out on Facebook and on www.BedellforVirginia.com.  You can meet Eileen and discuss your viewpoints and problems with her directly at the Beer Hound Brewery in Culpeper at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26. If you are concerned about your future and your family’s future, I urge you to attend.

Mike McClary

NOTE: This article was reprinted with authors permission, and in the Culpeper Star Exponent appears here  in the Culpeper Star Exponent. 

Your local paper is misleading you

After reading the Central Virginian’s annual (3/17) op-ed for “Sunshine Week,” which talked about openness and transparency and how important and essential it is for effective and responsive local government, I have to ask; what were they thinking after cutting and pasting Rich Lowry’s — syndicated op-ed the following week?

Where he loudly hailed Trump as this generations George Wallace, claiming that what he has accomplished during this primary was worthy of “respect and envy.” Perhaps, but considering that his authoritarian viewpoints are being passed off as principled truth-telling, it’s more likely that he’s promoting an approach which brooks no opposition, countenances no questions, and stifles any debate.

One designed to coerce any possible dissenters into cowering before attitudes they might otherwise reject — lest they be accused of being “politically correct.”  Retrograde ways of thinking which like wild cards in a poker game have absolutely no value except what we willingly give them, and may be played at the most opportune moment.

The CV’s continuous promotion of other ultra conservative writers like Glen Mollette and Lee Hamilton makes any claims that they are not actively pushing certain perspectives seem suspect. Especially since repeating a few basic ideas over and over is exactly how propaganda works.

So if you’ve been following their going coverage of the County’s budget, where possible tax increases and a host of cuts to service agencies are distinct possibilities, you may have noticed something else.

While their stories are filled with quotes, carefully stenographed from the lips of all the right “Important People” — there doesn’t appears to be any attempt to determine if  those comments were accurate or even truthful — or for any follow up questions.

Perhaps because it’s easier to be guardians of the status quo, to pretend to inform their readers with disjointed factoids than to question anything.

By failing to put the Board of Supervisors long and sordid history of indecisiveness and fiscal bungling into any meaningful context in their coverage of the County’s most recent budget, the CV is for all practical purposes setting the bar of public accountability so low that the Boards blindly stumbling over it is now considered an achievement.

While it’s not clear if they view information as something to be manipulated, or are using it to manipulate the public, they are certainly helping to debase the very notion of responsible government.

Where even their featured (3/17) Chuck Wagon column talking about the need to make informed choices becomes an exercise in futility as their readers lack the very information necessary to make those “informed choices.

While Mr. Moss’s advice to go with one’s feelings has often been the easiest of local choices, it hasn’t always proven to be the wisest option, since it means actually taking the time to examine all of the available information — not just pretending to talk about it — before making those decisions.

And since the CV is apparently determined to blur any distinctions between relevant information, commentary and social/cultural indoctrination, I’m curious how they expect their readers to know which of the many breadcrumb trails scattered throughout their stories they should follow?

The “proof” that the CV has completely lost their way and that their biases have overwhelmed any commitment to open dialogue or the facts should start to become more and more apparent over the course of the next few weeks. And it will start with their milquetoast coverage of the Board of Supervisors budgetary shenanigans.

And as they  continue to reprint syndicated conservatives like; Glenn Mollette and Rich Lowry,  effectively crowding out any local voices in their op-ed page.

Given that the CV completely failed to report about either of the two Town Halls that our state and congressional representatives held in Louisa (April ’14 & February ’16), it remains to be seen what kind of coverage they will devote to the upcoming April 21st  town hall meeting featuring Delegate Peter Farrell and Senator Bryce Reeves.

Or if they will join local officials on our Board of Supervisors, and the Town of Louisa in reprising last years endorsement of the upcoming  National Day of Prayer (May 5th). Apparently oblivious to the fact that in the case in the case of local officials  such actions are an inherent conflict of interest, and an abuse of their powers  to sanction events which favor one religion over another.

This uniquely Southern form of self inflicted injury is just one of many  indications that the CV will continue to under inform and yes mislead their readers. So contrary to their over sized proclamations on their op-ed page, it’s not always your government who’s keeping you from being informed;  it’s your local paper.

And they are counting on their readers not to notice this, and in the absence of any feedback they will continue promoting their “it’s your right to know” brand convinced that no one is any the wiser.

Jon Taylor

Meet Eileen Bedell Candidate for Congress

A Woman’s Place is in the House … and the Senate too,” was the campaign slogan of Anna Belle Clement O’Brien, nicknamed “the first lady of Tennessee politics” where she served in the State Senate from 1976 to until 1991, and it became part of our national vocabulary.

Women voters (and men, too) in Culpeper County and Virginia’s 7th Congressional District have the opportunity this November to elect an exceptionally qualified woman, Eileen Bedell, to the United States House of Representatives.  Eileen came to Culpeper on March 24th to introduce herself to the Culpeper County Democratic Committee (CCDC), and we liked what we saw.

We were impressed with Eileen right from the start.  Sometimes, little things tell a big story, and Eileen’s visit spoke volumes.  She arrived early so she could greet each attendee individually as they came in.   She was personable, intelligent, well spoken and well prepared.  We really liked what she had to tell us.

Eileen is a proud, native-born Virginian, having grown up in Fairfax County but chosen to raise her own family in Central Virginia.  She graduated from Langley High School, at the age of 16.  Eileen attended Virginia Tech and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Communication Studies.  Eileen earned her law degree at the College of William and Mary in 1996.

Bedell began her law practice in Central Virginia nearly twenty years ago and has focused her work on representing individuals and small businesses, helping them navigate the challenges of Virginia’s judicial system.  For example, in her practice, Eileen Bedell has assisted hard working Virginians by ensuring they receive the unemployment compensation to which they are entitled or protecting them from workplace discrimination.  For almost two decades, Bedell has been fighting for the citizens of Central Virginia in the court room and looks forward to doing so in Congress.  She lives in Bon Air, in Chesterfield County, Virginia with her husband and two children.

She spoke about how America seems adrift, and how Americans from all over the country need to pull together to strengthen our democracy and build a future for our children and grandchildren. Bedell knows now is the right time for her to help Central Virginia accomplish these goals by presenting concrete solutions to our communities’ problems.

It was clear to me that the challenges Virginians face every day, juggling the desire for economic security with devotion to family and a commitment to setting the right example is very real to Eileen.

We all know that the issues that we face are both complex and pressing.  Rather than presenting a formal speech Eileen disarmingly and refreshingly took questions while sitting down with us, saying, “we’re just talking around the kitchen table here, right?”  Her level headed and even handed approach to the issues raised that evening were clearly well thought out, though she also readily states that she learns from every interaction she has with voters.

Deliberate, moderate and constructive, Eileen made a positive impression on me, and to the others with whom I’ve spoken about her visit.  I encourage readers to take an unbiased look at her discussion of the issues on her webpage, www.bedellforvirginia.com, and reach their own conclusions.  You can also follow her on Facebook.

We’re all aware that the current House of Representatives is the most unproductive in American history — its favorability rating is about 11 percent.   Many have observed that women in Congress on both sides of the aisle have been able to communicate and accomplish tasks much more effectively than their male colleagues.  Whether we are talking women in the military, in politics, or women in law enforcement, the presence of women always adds a cooler head and a warmer heart to any human enterprise.

Perhaps we should try it.  I think that adding this smart, level-headed woman to the Virginia delegation will help raise the bar immensely.

The next opportunity to meet and speak with Eileen is in two weeks. The Culpeper County Democratic Committee is hosting a fundraiser for Eileen at the Beer Hound on April 26th at 5:00 pm.  All are welcome to come out to provide their support.

Mike McClary

Note: reprinted with authors permission, and appearing here.

AGW — ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING

  • What’s AGW? Its human caused warming of our world. The warming we’ve created has been enough that we passed a major tipping point. And that in turn created some very unpleasant consequences for our planet’s future.
  • Is it real, and is it important? Yes, and Yes! Earth has been cooling for at least the last 4 million years. Volcanism — the largest natural source of CO2 in the world is also diminishing. 2.75 million years ago, our planet started having ice ages — 40 to 50 of them so far.

Scientists say that the ice ages synchronize with 3 of our planet’s orbital characteristics: Earth’s orbit shape, and its axial tilt and its wobble. By knowing our past, we can predict our future — quite accurately. According to this model based on Earth’s orbital characteristics, we’re entering an ice age and Northeast Canada is starting to glaciate.

  • Since this didn’t happen, what happened instead? What happened is our ancestors slowly expanded both their capabilities and their numbers, and therefore their CO2 Today we call that expanded capability the Agricultural Revolution. For our ancestors, CO2 was either an unknown or just another waste product. They continued expanding their numbers until they created the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s. And as we started using and increasing our use of fossil fuels — a major source of CO2 — our planet went from very slow warming to the very rapid warming of today.
  • WE ALREADY PASSED OUR FIRST MAJOR TIPPING POINT About 3 to 5 decades ago, we passed the point when we could — with some serious work — stop or turn the global warming process around. And today, all the things we ascribe to AGW are just consequences of having passed that tipping point — things like: forest fire season now lasts all year; ocean acidification; global weather change — generally not for the better; because of the warmer polar seas, we’re starting to feel the downsides of warmer winters in northern United States and southern Canada; we’re in the early stages of run-away glacial melt; methane is in the early stages of increase; 30% of corals have bleached.

And there’s more ….

  • What other problems are we facing because of those consequences?

Climate scientists tell us we will see major sea level rise in the next 5 decades which will mean moving more than 20 million people inland just in these United States, and redoing all the affected ports, airports, businesses, commerce currently within 3 to 10 vertical feet of today’s sea level, etc .

Our infrastructure (highways, rails, power and phone lines, large metal structures, etc.) are built mostly for temperatures below 120 degrees and their rates of failure go way up at higher temperatures.

Our food plants raised in high CO2 atmospheres get larger, yet most are less nutritious.

Ocean acidity and warming waters are causing major die-offs of various species, including corals which make up barrier reefs.

(note: although the next four problems are not directly climate related, they are problems we have to deal with at the same time)

In the last year, world population growth was almost 75,000,000 — raising world population to 7.4 billion people. We’re expanding at the rate of a billion people in a little more than 13 years. The number of people in our world wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for this inconvenient information: we were told that we — humanity — used up 2015’s resources by August, 2015, meaning that we’re living beyond the carrying capacity of our planet.

We’re using ground water faster than the aquifers replenish — all over our planet. Many aquifers are seriously depleted and emptying rapidly which in turn is starting to have serious effects on agriculture and population

We are extincting species fast enough that we seem to be in a contest with the Chicxulub  meteor for “Most species extincted” prize, a competition I would be happy to lose.

Our oceans have serious problems and badly need attention if we want our oceans to continue supplying us.

Something that has been missing in the mishmash of disparate information we have about Anthropogenic Global Warming (or Climate Change).  We have been dealing with AGW from the perspective of “inside the box” and we tend to get lost in the bits and pieces, the details of AGW. This series is intended to be view from “outside the box,” a view which lets us see how the giant jigsaw puzzle of AGW fits together, and it gives us some direction how we can effectively deal with it.

All of the data and information in this series has been collected and tested by scientists. Without this information, we would have no more idea about what’s happening to our world than did the Maya and other ancient civilizations that failed. This knowledge gives us the ability to — if we so choose — to do something to stop the processes which destroyed civilizations of our past.

So why am I talking about scientists and not politicians, or preachers, or corporation executives?

Scientists are people who study “Life, the Universe, and Everything” a phrase first coined by Douglas Adams in his “The Hitchhikers Guide” series – which I believe accurately describes what scientists study. They want to understand how everything works, what rules govern our Universe and planet and people, what limits there are in nature, how to do accurate, measurable and repeatable work which will be respected by their colleagues and made part of the huge reference work of scientists over the last 250 or so years of studying — well, of studying Life, the Universe and Everything.

To accomplish these goals, scientists use techniques or tools like “scientific method”, “null hypothesis”, and “peer review” among others. AND they want our planet to continue working for a long term sustainable future.

Scientists, as a group, have a reputation for accuracy and truthfulness which should be the envy of politicians and preachers. The techniques and tools of science ensure this. So yes – there are occasional scientists who falsify data and even rarer are scientists who steal. Almost without exception, scientists police their own miscreants. That’s something we can’t count on for the other 3 groups I mention above.

If you want to find out more about Global Warming and determine for yourself if it is real and how serious is it – who would you ask? Would you ask your favorite politician, or preacher, or would you depend on the word of Corporate CEO’s?

But what you should know is that the entire oil and energy industry has placed the importance of profits now over the future the people living on our planet and our people, and has spend decades going out of their way discredit the very notion that mankind has anything to do with global warming. Despite having their information of their own that warns of the catastrophic effects of global warming.

Which brings us back to the fact that: “All of the data and information in this series has been collected and tested by scientists. Without this information, we would have no idea about what’s really happening to our world“, or that there really are things we can do about Global Warming even though time is running out

Jim Adams

Next: Part 2: Man made vs. natural climate-change

Part 2: AWG vs natural climate change

Many scientists believe that today’s air and water currents started being shaped millions of years ago when Australia, then India left Antarctica and took off across the southern seas to where they are today — Australia, pushing against SE Asia, and India is still crunching under Eurasia and raising the Himalayas, still moving northeast about 1.5 to 2 inches per year (that’s fairly fast for Continental Drift).

Then, about 4 million years ago, the Isthmus of Panama connected North and South America and re-did the world water currents to more or less to what we have today. Please note: scientists are still arguing about the effects of these.

Anyway, we also seem to be in a period of global cooling. Vulcanism, our world’s major source of new CO2 has diminished. Some CO2 gets taken out by bonding with clay and rock particles all over the world. Then there’s Eurasia and India still crushing rocks to dust in 7.0 quakes and higher in this land of heavy monsoons where a lot of CO2is removed from the air by these rains.

This CO2 bonds with the Himalayan rock dust and it disappears from the atmosphere. This process has contributed to global cooling for several millions of years

About 2.75 million years ago, our world had cooled enough that we started having ice ages — between 40 to 50 of them, depending on how you choose to define “ice age”. All of these ice ages are determined by 3 inter-related Earth orbit characteristics.

Earth’s orbit goes from round to oval bringing our Earth up to 5 million miles closer or farther from the sun, then back to round again. A full cycle takes  about 100,000 years

The axial tilt varies from 22.2 to 24.5 degrees and back in 41,000 years.   This small tilt makes a big difference above 40 degrees latitude.

And the axis wobbles like a top in an 11,000 year cycle

These 3 characteristics define all of the past glacial cycles, including the CO2 and methane levels. And with these 3 orbital characteristics, we can also predict at least the next several ice age cycles. This next cycle, the one we’re in right now is supposed to be a minor ice age cycle — at least compared to the last severe one.

This is the cooling cycle climate scientists were predicting in the 1970s. And northeast Canada is supposed to be well on its way to being glaciated, the Arctic is supposed to be getting colder and the ice caps and Arctic Sea ice are not supposed to be melting.

About 12,000 years ago, what happened was the human races widespread use of agriculture.

In southern Eurasia and north east China, our ancestors were inventing and improving agriculture. We have pollen from pond and lake cores showing us when and where they replaced forests with crop plants. Forests, during leafy season remove a lot of CO2 from the atmosphere , and store it in the leaves and wood and roots. When we used those areas for agriculture, we stopped the leafy season CO2 removal and we burnt the wood or let it decompose (rot), releasing the CO2 stored in the wood.

We also tilled the soil which removed a lot of CO2 which was stored there. It was enough that — about 8000 years ago, our world CO2 levels started increasing enough to be measurably deviating from the predicted decreasing CO2 values. About 5000 years ago, methane (from wet-land rice farming) started doing the same — measurably increasing in our world atmosphere, instead of decreasing as predicted.

So, for the last 8000 years, our agriculture has had an effect on global climate. Over this time span, CO2   has increased from the naturally occurring level of  265 ppm (parts per million ) to the human augmented quantity of 275 ppm just before the Industrial Revolution. This rate of increase was closer to horizontal on a graph, rather than vertical — that is, it took 8000 years for the human race to raise the CO2by 100 ppm.

Even so, our agricultural activities generated enough greenhouse gases that our ancestors overrode the climate controlling factors of Earth’s orbit shape, its axial tilt and it’s wobbling. And would increase as we increased the worlds our population into the 10’s if not 100’s of millions.

Then in 430 B.C., we start having the first records of various plagues in the Old World. These diseases — on the low end — killed only 1  or less out of every  50 people. On the high end, they killed 7 out of every 10 people. Our Old World ancestors, the survivors of those plagues — built up  immunities to these diseases. Still, when plagues struck, country people and small town people — those who lived — would move to the cities, and the farmed land would regrow into forest again.

It was our agriculture which increased the atmospheric CO2and shifted the climate of our world from cooling to warming. Our ancestors cleared forests and tilled the soil on a sufficiently large scale that it affected the CO2 balance of our world. We warmed our world and never knew it – until now.

In plague times, large numbers of country and farm people died or moved back to the cities. Forests regrew in what once was agricultural land. It was lack of agriculture which shifted the climate of our world from warming to cooling. Trees regrew in sufficient numbers to have a measurable effect on the atmospheric CO2. These corresponded to the cool spells in our history — which lasted until our populations grew again, people cleared the regrown forests, and again tilled the soil.

The biggest cooling was shortly after our Old World immune ancestors came to this continent where there were no immunities. Old World immigrants came ashore all along the coasts of the two continents, and walked across lots of land and came in contact with many native people. This started what was probably the largest pandemic the world had ever known.

The gathering consensus is that Native Americans lost about 9 out of every 10 people all across both Americas. A few early descriptions speak of village after village along rivers. When the plagues came thru the Americas, agriculture almost stopped, most villages disappeared, trees regrew and started removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Since Native Americans, did not keep written records, the earliest record of these changes comes from the first European explorers.

Because of this pandemic, a sufficient amount of CO2 was removed so that — Earth’s orbital characteristics — started reclaiming our climate like the 50 glacial cycles before this one. And it was severe enough in places that we called it “The Little Ice Age”

And in the “for what it’s worth” category: Europe had a severe smallpox epidemic around that same time

Jim Adams

Next: Part 3: awg- greenhouse gases and tipping-points

 

Part 3: AWG and the role of greenhouse gases and tipping points

Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide CO2 and methane CH4are gases which keep heat on our planet like a greenhouse glass window keeps sunshine heat from escaping the greenhouse. From scientific experimentation we’ve known that these gases contributed to rising temperatures since the early 1800s.

Of those gases; CO2 is believed to be the most significant in it’s contributions to global warming , and essentially the higher the parts per million of CO2, the more it will keep heat from escaping our planet .

In a little over 260 years we have increased our use carbon based fossil fuels. In the process of doing that, we increased atmospheric CO2 from about 275 ppm at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to just over 400 ppm of CO2 and rapidly climbing as of 2016. And it’s not just that increased our CO2 ppm by more than 125 ppm, the rate of increase is –accelerating, and is now much closer to vertical.

We’re now on our own — and we can succeed — or fail to survive. It’s  up to us.

Why is this so important?

WE PASSED OUR FIRST MAJOR GLOBAL WARMING TIPPING POINT A FEW DECADES AGO.

 When this CO2 warmed our planet enough for the Arctic sea ice to melt — about 20% by the end of September, the traditional end the Arctic summer. It didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time. Since then it has warmed even more, and close to 60% of the Arctic sea ice was melted by the end of last September, the end the Arctic summer. When we were kids, a ship now, and a ship then struggled thru the Northwest Passage.

Today, small ships and yachts — without ice gear –regularly traverse the Northwest passage. And while the sea ice was melting, we did nothing but talk and chatter. One of the unfortunate characteristics of passing a tipping point is — we don’t realize we’ve passed it till the consequences become so severe — and continuing — that we finally get: “oh, we’ve passed that tipping point”.

The consequences ARE getting more severe.

What’s a tipping point?

A tipping point is when something shifts, and it can’t be reversed (though maybe deflected somewhat). A simple not-very-realistic example — when applied to AGW — is taking a large step across the center pivot of a teeter-totter (and we can’t step back or off).

Step. Tip. Crash. Tipping point passed.

A larger, though still almost immediate example is one we’ve used in the environmental movement: a large boulder breaks loose on a mountain top and avalanches it’s way down to the valley. It can’t be stopped till it stops by itself, a very short destructive while later.

My favorite tipping point analogy has a delay before consequences set in. It goes like this: we (and all of Humanity) are in a row boat, rowing down a river, facing our past with our backs to our future (just like in a real rowboat). Someone sees a sign on the shore thru the mists and asks: “What’s it say?” and a science type, squinting says: “Point – of – No — Return”.

Some laugh, most ignore it. A small few of us want all of us to go to shore — immediately. We continue on — and not to worry, it’ll still be a while before the Niagara River turns vertical. That “Point of No Return” sign was the tipping point — the point at which we have to  continue our journey.

We’ve already passed our first major tipping point, and the river has not yet turned vertical, though the currents, the turbulence, the noise are all increasing. This is the way most real-life tipping points operate: we pass the “point of no return” and maybe a few decades later, more serious consequences set in — often very hard.

In this case, the consequences happen like gravity. Here’s a thought problem to illustrate it: Imagine you’re standing on a chair — and you HAVE TO step off. And that stepping off is our tipping point.

It’s simple– you can step off that chair gracefully, or effectively in several ways. And then there’s thousands of ways to step or collapse off the chair less than gracefully and less than effectively — some of them quite deadly. Gravity may be just a theory but when you step or fall, gravity automatically exerts a force on you.

The starting point for this thought problem is that chair we’re standing on — and we HAVE TO  step off. There’s no choice there —– Global Warming is  happening. Where we have choice is how we step off and how we land.   Or in this case, how we deal with Global Warming.

So: how are we  as a planet of people, going to deal with the now automatically occurring consequences, some of which I list below? And, with that in mind, how are you  going to deal with these same automatically occurring consequences?

Think seriously about it.  No one on this planet is  “uninvolved” with this issue. The early stages of Global Warming are here, and unless we take actions to shift our presence in the world they will only get worse.

The sky isn’t falling, but the oceans and world ice caps ARE warming, the oceans ARE acidifying, fire season DO last all year, we’ve OVER-FISHED all our world’s waters, and we’re emptying most of our aquifers faster than they can be replenished.

Jim Adams

Next:  Part 4: anthropogenic global warming – some consequences

 

Part 4: ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING – Some Consequences

Here’s a dozen of the unintended serious consequences — These are the “trickle downs” from passing that “Point of No Return”  and as our CO2 exhaust continues to increase, as more of the Arctic Sea Ice melts.

Consequence A) “The Earth has warmed 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit, on average, since the late 19th century. Most of the warming has occurred since 1960 ……. some parts of the Arctic have warmed as much as 15 degrees F. This warming is caused by the increasing CO2 causing increasing warming globally which in turn is causing the sea ice of the Arctic to melt.  This leaves only dark sea water and dark land instead of snow covering the permafrost and sea. Dark sea water and dark land absorb much more warming sunshine than the reflective snow and ice it replaced. And the rate of warming is speeding up.

This Arctic warmth has in turn shifted and weakened the jet stream so world weather patterns are being strongly affected. We’re getting warm winters and droughts in our west, and Arctic air coming down our east coast. The rest of the world is also affected — just as severely or worse.

Consequence B) Those warm winters in both the west and the east have created super pests, another unintended consequence. Because various pests thrive in areas which now have higher temperatures, they’ve become super pests.

This National Geographic article describes how global warming disturbed the balance between the Pine Bark Beetle and the pines it feeds on. Because there are no longer cold enough winters to freeze and kill the majority of the Western Pine Bark Beetle larvae (over a several year period), the pine tree death rate is still rapidly expanding. As of a few months ago, 60,000,000 acres in the northwest US and southwest Canada are now occupied by dead and dying pine trees.

Dead forests can (and do) cause many huge forest wildfires and both the US and Canada are spending millions cutting and doing controlled burns of these forests to prevent even larger out-of-control wildfires.

The dead pine zone is spreading rapidly, and all the smoke from increasing number and size of forest fires is sending soot — the ultra fine particles — around the world and where it makes a difference is when it settles on ice or snow, turning the snow dark. Dead forests don’t hold the soil in place nor protect snow from melting rapidly. Beetle killed pines rot rapidly and fall on roads and rail roads, across phone and electric wires. And I don’t know what the loss of over 60 million acres of forest means to our global carbon budget.

Will the forests re-balance themselves? Of course. They’ve done so many times in the past. Our problem is that forests move very slowly through time and space and we humans move very rapidly. For a forest to move a couple hundred miles can take several centuries. Or for a deciduous ecosystem to replace an evergreen ecosystem also takes several hundred years. And we don’t have that kind of time. Our problem is we are overloaded with forest problems at a time when we need problem-free healthy forests

At the eastern end of our  country, winters are milder too and moose are paying the price. Moose are the state animal of Maine and — there’s not many places where large mammals are accepted as just part of life as the moose are in Maine.

Warmer winters — like with the bark beetle — don’t kill the Moose Tick the way colder winters do. The result is a plague of Moose Ticks. The most tick bites I’ve ever had at one time is about 200 seed ticks (1st instar ticks) biting on my feet all at the same time, and it was a crazy-maker, an intense itch which continuously happened over the next 2 weeks.

I can’t imagine what a moose would feel like with 75,000 to 100,000 Moose ticks sucking blood and itching for an entire summer, if not longer. Anyway, in Maine, the heavily infested moose are called “ghost moose” because they are anemic and their hair is worn from scratching the itches.

Will moose survive? Probably, though not as far south as Maine

Consequence C) Warming the far North — both sea permafrost and land permafrost have started releasing methane in increasing quantities. Methane is a far more serious greenhouse gas — over 20-30 times as potent as CO2 in the short run.

And now that the hydrofracking boom has been around for over a decade, the levels of methane being released into the atmosphere are frightening. Coupled with the chemical and radioactive contamination of underground aquifers hydrofracking activities around the world are using up prodigious amounts of precious fresh water, methane may ultimately prove to be most dangerous of the greenhouse gases along .

Nor is that even the biggest concern when it comes to global warming, here’s a lot of methane frozen in the permafrost of the Arctic tundra — including methane suspended on the sea bottom in the form of methane clathrates  (CH4·5.75H2O) or (4CH4·23H2O).

And “most likely” estimates are that there are anywhere between 1 to 5 trillion tons of frozen methane are currently stored and in the early stages of releasing in the now unfreezing regions of our planet,  and by comparison there is an estimated  750 billion tons of CO2 currently in our atmosphere.

Consequence D)Run-away glacial melt. Several decades ago, an scientific article about glaciers, observed that they flowed about the length of a football field every year. Today, the Jakobshavn glacier  in Greenland is moving at a speed of about 10 miles a year. An indication that we are well beyond the early stages of run-away glacial melt.

And in north east Greenland, the huge Zachariae Isstrom glacier is starting to crumble. “The glacier has now become detached from a stabilizing sill and is losing ice at a rate of 4.5 billion tonnes a year,” or a little less than 2 cubic miles. While that might not sound like much these are only the first two of many glaciers yet to come.

There are two things happening here. First, the warmer seas and air in the Antarctic and Arctic, plus a foot of sea level rise (warmer water expands in volume) have caused a lot of sea ice to separate from the land at the foot of many of the glaciers. This sea ice used to act as a plug which slowed the glaciers descent to the sea. Without those plugs, the glaciers move faster. This is true not only for Greenland, but also for east and west Antarctica.

Second, A National Geographic article describes an 11 billion gallon lake which drained thru what’s called a moulin, a suddenly forming vertical drain to the bottom of the ice cap — draining faster than Niagara Falls. Considering that Greenland, our northern Ice Cap is only a little smaller than the Louisiana Purchase, there’s a lot of melt lakes forming — and draining which is why we don’t see large lakes on top of Greenland — or Antarctica.

National Geographic talks about melt on the top of the Greenland Ice Cap happening more rapidly because of an increase in forest fires in the northern forests — sending more soot (black) into the air and when it settles on the surface of the glaciers, the darkened ice absorbs more heat, faster,  and more of these large lakes are forming. Adding the soot from the expanding forest fire season will increase the soot even more.

And note: the pristine white of northern snow and ice of yesteryear is no more. Lots of recent research has shown that the Greenland ice cap is made up of some of the planet’s largest glaciers, and it’s steadily losing more ice in the summer than it gains in the winter.

The older way of looking at the two ice caps was that they are stationary mountains of ice. Melting on the surface would accumulate and drain away along the surface — which would take centuries. When we started doing time-lapse photography of glaciers, however, we saw that ice doesn’t move with a smooth though glacial flow. Instead — in the speeded up view — glaciers twist and squirm — and crack — all over the place. Our two ice caps are no different, just bigger and slower.

The water which drains to the bottom of the ice cap acts as a lubricant to the ice above it, speeding glaciers even more, on their way to the sea. As a result of all this, we are a little beyond the early stages of run-away glacial melt. And that glacial melt water is what raises sea level.

Jim Adams

Next: Part 5 : More consequences of AWG

Part 5: ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING – Consequences

Consequence E) Ocean acidification is often called “the evil twin of Global Warming“.  A billion people depend on the oceans for sustenance. The reason AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) has been happening so slowly is — as they recently found out — the oceans have been absorbing about a quarter to a third of the CO2 we release into our atmosphere — and this has acidified the oceans ( CO2+ H2O = carbonic acid). While it’s not a particularly strong acid, for those which live in it 24/7/365, it doesn’t have to be all that strong.

In northern waters where acidification is stronger — two examples — oyster larvae can no longer develop because they can’t set their calcium carbonate (CaCO3)shells in acid water. Without their shells, the oyster larvae die, and million dollar oyster farms are failing. At least one oyster farm is hatching oyster larvae in lower acid water elsewhere to get them started — and so far, that appears to be working.

Pteropods (Sea Butterfly) are a  plankton near the base of oceanic food chains. A lot of commercial (and non-commercial) fish eat Pteropods. When pteropods can no longer carbonate their shells, the fish starve. And then there’s all the other shellfish, plus shrimp, crabs, lobsters, starfish, corals, etc. which have calcium carbonate skeletons or shells that are being seriously endangered by ocean acidification.

Because of the high (and increasing) atmospheric CO2content, the oceans continue to acidify. Here too, we are a little beyond the early stages of acidification consequences.

Consequence F) Then there’s coral bleaching.  There’s an (estimated) 9 million species which live in, on, or associated with corals. And reefs form barriers; they protect coasts. The many species of coral have been (and are) the base species for an incredibly complex set of oceanic ecosystems. Coral has an algae which lives inside it, on which it depends for energy and nutrition. Both too warm water and too acidic water cause this bleaching, or loss of it’s algae — and a short time later, the coral dies, and the ecosystems they support die with them.

An estimated 30 percent of our planet’s coral has already perished as a result of above-average ocean temperatures, El Nino’s effects, and acidification.” In response to this, several scientists are experimenting (non-GMO) with breeding  “super” corals which can live in these higher-temperature and more acid waters.

The major question they face is: can they do it fast enough?

As just one of many coral reefs and sites, the Australian Great Barrier Reef — besides being the home to many major aquatic ecosystems, also protects the coast from battering seas. Currently, it is endangered, as are many more.

Consequence G) According to the intergovernmental panel on climate change  : It looks like sea level rise will happen quite a bit faster than they had originally  predicted. And it’s because of run-away glacial melt  caused by enough soot on the ice caps to turn them from dark gray to almost black, absorbing all the solar heat that used to be reflected back into space.

So it is it is likely that we’ll see 10 vertical feet of sea level rise or more by 2065 (only 5 decades from now) with even greater storm surges on top of that. And it’s because of warmer sea water melting sea ice from underneath, and because of increasing methane release.

Any sea level rise, let alone 10 vertical feet will have a significant impact on coastal cities, commerce and industry and low-lying coastal agriculture — plus Florida’s water supply. So even if those estimates are off by a decade or two, it’s just as serious, just not as immediate.

It is estimated that more than 20 million US citizens will be affected. The rest of our planet will also have hundreds of millions of refugees from this unplanned sea level rise.

Consequence H) Higher temperatures threaten our infrastructure which was built mostly for the 1960s to 1980s and high temperatures of 110 or so degrees expand and weaken steel—and last year parts of India saw temperature of 122 degrees F.

At these high temperatures, the rails on railroads kink  and  when defining rail kink : “Good rail track can expand — in summer heat — . So if you’ve got 100 meters of track secured at the ends, it’ll lengthen 2 meters, going from spring to summer. If this is made out of crap steel it can be a lot worse. — It may not return when it gets cool if it’s bowed this much. You get hardening at the flex points.” And it becomes unsafe for trains to cross kinked rails, even at slow speeds.

When it gets that hot, concrete ruptures and explodes, and asphalt and blacktop melts, and metal bridges and other large metal structures warp, electric transmission efficiency goes way down in high temperatures, people and animals and plants (like our field crops and gardens and forests) are killed by excess heat.

Consequence I) Here in the United States, firefighters have noted that fire season used to be 3 to 4 months a year and now, fire season lasts all year .  Here in the United States, Forestry fire fighters used up their 2015 budget in August. And just because they’re out of money doesn’t mean forest fires have stopped or even diminished. Northern Russian forests are burning too. So is Australia. This is a major source of soot causing dark snow causing run-away glacial melt at both ice caps.

On the plus side, because of the smoke, there are some beautiful sunrises and sunsets around the world.

Jim Adams

Next: Part 6: Part 6: AWG consequences continued

Part 6: ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING – Consequences (continued)

These next four world sized problems are not direct consequences of global warming BUT each is globally serious in its own right. I include them both because we have to deal with them at the same time as we deal with the consequences of Global Warming, and because they increase the effects of Global Warming

Consequence J). Population growth, in the last year, world population grew by almost 75 million people — raising world population to almost 7.4 billion people. We’re expanding at the rate of a billion people in a little more than 13 years. So even though the rate of our population growth is decreasing, we’re still growing fast enough to reach 10 to 12 billion people in the next few decades.

Recently, we were told that we– humanity, with a current population of 7.4 billion — used up a year’s worth of resources by August 13th of 2015. Is this serious? Yes, it’s extremely serious.

Population ecology and carrying capacity

“Global overshoot occurs when humanity’s annual demand for the goods and services that our land and seas can provide—fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, wood, cotton for clothing, and carbon dioxide absorption—exceeds what Earth’s ecosystems can renew in a year . Overshoot means we are drawing down the planet’s principal rather than living off its annual interest. This overshoot leads to a depletion of Earth’s life-supporting natural capital and a buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. ” This means that we’re now living beyond the carrying capacity of our planet.

Consequence (K) We’re using ground water faster than the aquifers replenish — all over our planet. Many (though not all) major aquifers are  seriously depleted and emptying rapidly which in turn will have serious effects on agriculture and population. “Twenty-one of the world’s 37 largest aquifersin locations from India and China to the United States and France — have passed their sustainability tipping points, meaning more water was removed than replaced during the decade-long study.  And thirteen aquifers declined at rates that put them into the most troubled category, with underground aquifers supplying 35 percent of the water used by humans worldwide. ”

One of those “most troubled” aquifers is the Californian Central Valley Aquifer System, where it is currently supplying a large part of America’s major vegetable garden. Merely “troubled” is the “Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains Aquifer which supplies water to Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, extends through the Carolinas up to New Jersey, and supplies parts of eastern Mexico.”

Consequence (L)   All the books I’ve read, all the sites I visit say the same thing: Our oceans are in serious trouble and need rescuing, or the oceans will cease providing for us. They’re over fished, destructively fished (bottom trawling and other destructive “techniques”), over heated, polluted with plastics which end up in the gyres, acidified by excess CO2, polluted with outflow from our rivers and other shore-based garbage we don’t want to deal with, polluted with an increasing number of oil drilling “incidents” (such as BP’s Deep Horizon)

The oceans suffer from centuries of our viewing them as the best place in our world to dump our micro thru macro garbage so we don’t have to deal with it. This is one more problem on our “fix immediately, if not sooner” list.

Almost 20% of the people of our world depend on the oceans for a good portion (to all) of their sustenance.  And Marine Biologists are worried that we are near a tipping point in the oceans which will collapse oceanic ecosystems.

Consequence (M)  The book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, outlines how  we are extincting species so rapidly (including those being caused by global warming) that we may soon out-do the adverse effects of the Chicxulub meteor 65 millions of years ago, along with the Deccan Traps eruptions. Those took out 75% of all species, including the dinosaurs. It only took tens to hundreds of thousands of years for a good partial recovery — without the dinosaurs.

It’s clear that these are extinctions we are causing .

Jim Adams

Next: Part 7: AGW- what can we do?

Part 7: ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING – What can we do?

These are some, though not all of the major consequences of our planet having passed it’s first major AGW tipping point.

And so far, we’ve talked about our past, and our present. Now it’s time to talk about ways we can create our future — if we so choose.

 So, what can we do?

What we’ve unleashed in our world isn’t pretty, or nice, or easy to deal with. We’ve inadvertently geo-engineered our entire world so these consequences are happening.

What’s for us to do is to consciously and deliberately reverse geo-engineer — do what it takes to re-create our world as a comfortable world to live on — again.

In the meantime, we are beyond “serious” on this issue of Global Warming. The existence of our civilization is at stake.

So, what can we do?

There are many things we can do — here’s a short list. It’s not a final list. This list is mostly to open the conversations about how we want to create our future.

At the top of the list is: Educate, educate, educate. We have a class size of over 7 billion students, and there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions who will not get it for many reasons. Enroll television networks in presenting regular sessions on what AGW means, what we are facing, what we can do. Make certain there are Primary and Secondary School and University classes on AGW. Our President should be THE Presenter in Chief.

Carbon Underground says “that if we farm and ranch in harmony with carbon cycles, we can put carbon back in the soil — quickly.

Soil?!! Yes, top soil. Soil is the second largest reservoir of CO2. Although the oceans are a much larger reservoir, top soil is the one on which we can have the most immediate effect.

“Scientists say (we) can get back to 350 ppm of CO2in 10 years. All we have to do is increase soil organic matter in all grasslands on the planet by one percent. At the heart of this is regenerative agriculture. “Regenerative agriculture comprises an array of techniques that rebuild soil and, in the process, sequester carbon.”   This promises to be the most effective approach to quickly start lowering our planetary CO2.

Or, by practicing agriculture across our planet so that we build top soil, we can slow the climate warming of our planet.

What can agencies like the USDA here in the United States do to expedite making this happen?

 The New York Times also asks in this article “Is there anything I can do?”  and they have listed a number of very doable suggestions:

“Fly less, drive less, waste less”

“There are lots of simple ways to reduce your own carbon footprint, and most of them will save you money. You can plug leaks in your home insulation to save power, install a smart thermostat, switch to more efficient light bulbs, turn off the lights in any room where you are not using them, drive fewer miles by consolidating trips or taking public transit, waste less food, and eat less meat.

Perhaps the biggest single thing individuals can do on their own is to take fewer airplane trips; just one or two fewer plane rides per year can save as much in emissions as all the other actions combined. If you want to be at the cutting edge, you can look at buying an electric or hybrid car, putting solar panels on your roof, or both.

If you want to offset your emissions, you can buy certificates, with the money going to projects that protect forests, capture greenhouse gases and so forth.

In the end, though, experts do not believe the needed transformation in the energy system can happen without strong state and national policies. So speaking up and exercising your rights as a citizen will matter as much as anything else you can do.”

I join Dr McKibben and Dr Hansen of 350.org in promoting:  Let’s keep as much fossil carbon (coal, oil, natural gas, etc) in the ground as we can.  Fossil fuels are carbon based and they are the reason we increased our world CO2 from 275 ppm to 400 ppm in only 250 years. Add in the increasing methane as CO2equivalents, and we are now above 445ppm.

The CO2 we put in our atmosphere has been enough to melt over 60% of the Arctic Sea ice by the end of Arctic summer. That CO2 sent us across our major tipping point, which in turn is causing the huge trickle down of consequences I list above.

Keep fossil fuels in the ground!

Since doing so won’t disappear our energy needs, this means developing alternatives to high carbon sources ASAP.  We are doing this far more rapidly than I had thought we could. Still, I also hope we can work on this faster than we did the Manhattan Project.

It’s that important.

Again, in the for-what-it’s-worth category, France has a high standard of living and produces 90% of it’s electricity from non-carbon producing sources: water, wind and nuclear. They’re way ahead of us.

TreeHugger Matt McDermott makes a strong case for eliminating as much soot being released into our atmosphere as we can — as rapidly as we can. This can help to slow run-away glacial melt and therefore sea-level rise and even Anthropogenic Global Warming more than most other projects we could undertake. Diminishing soot is an area in which we can start immediate actions.

Jim Adams

Next: Part 8: AGW recommendations (continued)