In a February 12 2015 letter to the editor of New York State’s North Country Now, an anonymous reader asks, “What Global Warming? Whatever happened to global warming? I feel short changed!”
You see, it’s been cold lately. How could that be if we’re experiencing global warming?
There are two answers to that question. The first answer is that even if the globe is warming, winter will be colder than the summer. That’s how winter works. But winters have been getting warmer, not cooler, over time. In the NASA dataset of global temperature measurements from 188o to 2015, the 10 warmest winters have all occurred in the last 20 years, and the 10 coldest winters all occur before 1920. We just don’t remember that winters used to be colder because most of those experiencing the coldest winters are dead.
The second answer is even on a warming globe, some places can be locally cooler. In other words, local weather is not the same as global climate. NOAA’s most recent global temperature anomaly map shows a local cool spot hanging right over New York’s North Country. The letter writer doesn’t know that in most other places around the globe, it’s getting hotter, making for a general trend of global warming.
The trend extends through data newly released by NASA, showing that after the record-hot year of 2014, January 2015 is the second-hottest January in its records, topped only by January 2007. Even in the winter, this is what global warming looks like.
P.S. I hear some other New Yorker under the local cold spot has been asking the same question. He goes by the name of Don:
Women have no right to control their own bodies.
Workers have no right to earn enough to live on.
Children have no right to eat.
Unprivileged citizens have no right to vote.
People of color have no right to organize.
Same-sex couples have no right to marry.
Those are the policy priorities of the right wing in North Carolina. Taken together, they exclude a supermajority of the people of North Carolina. North Carolina has a long history of political rule that privileges straight, rich, white men at the exclusion of other groups, but it also has a history of building alliances across lines of race and class to pursue a more inclusive vision. In the 1890s, populists and Republicans joined together in a strategy dubbed “fusion politics” to promote policies of greater racial and economic equality. That movement was eventually undone by waves of white supremacist violence and intimidation, but 120 years later fusion politics re-emerged in the “Moral Mondays” movement. Centered around the NAACP but bringing in feminists, progressive religious groups from multiple Christian and non-Christian faiths, LGBT groups, Greens, labor unions and more, this new fusion politics is in many ways broader than the fusion politics of old, embracing an agenda of equal political rights across lines of race, class, gender, and sexuality.
When all the different groups excluded from the conservative North Carolina power base are put together, they create impressive numbers. Blogger DocDawg attended a Moral Movement March in Raleigh this past Saturday, and he documented attendance in pictures…
But more importantly, he documented numbers. In his article he declares that “we were 12,000 strong by my calculation,” and in private conversation he explained that:
“you can take that number to the bank (or to the State Capitol). I get so pissed off by wildly inaccurate estimates of turnout, so decided to do it right. I ran up ten flights of stairs to the top of a parking structure beside the parade route, photographed the whole length of the march, then took those pictures home, analyzed the mean packing density of the marchers, google-mapped the precise length and average width of the route, and thus came to that number.”
Twelve thousand voices raised in protest on a cold winter’s day in Raleigh should be heard. Will North Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature listen?
Today, it’s Presidents Day, the day we celebrate the accomplishments of overachievers by not going to work. This discrepancy edges in the direction of irony, but fails to hit that high mark, and ends up slamming into befuddlement. Besides that, it’s cold and snowy, which makes the idea of rising to meet the day with determination laughable.
So, today, I shall offer no deep observations. I shall call no alarms. I shall bring attention to no neglected corners of anything that has corners.
Instead, I will merely note that I have discovered a really fun program (I would call it an “app” if it were not for the fact that whenever I say the word “app”, I sound like a cat that is about to spit up a hairball) called Volotic.
Volotic is a visual music-maker. The user makes loops of the sort that one might hear in the background of a video game by placing icons on a grid, and hurling balls of musical mojo at them.
Go back to bed. Make a tune. Fall asleep feeling as if you have gotten something done.
From where I sit as I write this, I can look outside through a window, and see, even in the dim light of this early hour, that it is very snowy, and very cold, outside. It is easy to forget, in these conditions, that last year was the hottest year for Planet Earth in the many generations in which records of global temperature have been kept.
The news from the Arctic at this time also seems not to fit with the Arctic blast that the northeastern United States has experienced over the last couple of weeks. January 2015 saw the third lowest extent of Arctic sea ice ever recorded. The historically low ice coverage of the Arctic seas has continued into February. For this date, Arctic sea ice extent is as low as it ever has been.
Though the area of Arctic sea covered by ice fluctuates from year to year, the downward trend over the decades has been quite consistent. There is a big melt going on.
Why, then, are we so darned cold? If the Arctic is melting, shouldn’t we be experiencing fewer big snowstorms and onslaughts of below-zero temperatures?
The Union of Concerned Scientists has noted in the past that the melting of Arctic sea ice may be linked to instability in the “polar vortex”, leading to what had been especially cold and stormy winters in Europe and Asia. The North Atlantic Oscillation was in “positive mode” then. Could that same instability be contributing to this cold and stormy morning here in the northeastern United States?
A meteorologist living in Boston comments that it is “very hard to say whether something like this is exacerbated by climate change.” In short, nobody really knows for sure whether there’s a connection between the Arctic melt and the extreme winter here in our region this year. The relationship of climate to specific seasons of winter storms is complicated.
Catholic Mythology has it that Valentine’s Day started with St. Valentine, a Roman who is purported to have lived one thousand, seven hundred years ago.
That’s a load of poppycock. For one thing, no one really knows who St. Valentine was, or if he really existed.
There is less known about St. Valentine than what is known about King Arthur and Robin Hood. The name Valentinus was taken from a list of Christian martyrs that was written down over a hundred years after their supposed martyrdom. It is, therefore, likely that the list was at least partially contrived for political reasons. That’s all the basis there is for the legends of St. Valentine. Geoffrey Chaucer invented much of the rest out of whole cloth, about a thousand years after St. Valentine is supposed to have lived.
The association of February 14 with romantic love in fact has ancient roots going all the way back to the pre-Christian Roman empire, in a two-day festival of Juno Fructifier and Lupercalia. This festival was devoted to fertility, and included an ancient equivalent of the key parties of the 1970s. Young women would put slips of paper with their names into a box, and young men would then reach in and take one slip each. The pairs would become then become sexual partners for a day, or perhaps longer, if the chemistry was right. Juno was also celebrated during the festival in her incarnation as Lupa, the wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, the twins who founded Rome.
It is said that Pope Gelasius tried to replace this ancient festival with a new ritual in which young people drew the name of a Christian saint on February 14, and attempted to emulate the virtues of that saint for a year, though this may be legend as well. Whatever the twists and turns in the threads of historical connection between then and now, it’s clear that the association of February 14 with love and sex predates anyone carrying the name of Valentine.
As our writer Jim has documented, the minimum wage in the United States has dropped over the last five years by 75 cents, while the wealth of corporations has skyrocketed, and chief executives are making hundreds of times more than their companies’ average workers are. The facts are plain: Companies are directing the wealth they generate to their elite leaders and investors, and making their workers pay for it.
While this is happening, politicians like Republican Steve King are blaming rank-and-file workers for reducing the competitiveness of the companies they work for. Steve King claims that, when companies can’t compete, it’s because working Americans aren’t willing to take a pay cut.
Congressman King has a solution to this supposed problem. He wants to pass a law forcing workers to accept lower wages. His bill, H.R. 987, would repeal Davis-Bacon wage protections that ensure that workers on government-funded projects receive the prevailing wages in their particular labor market. If H.R. 987 passes, large numbers of workers across America will be forced to take a big pay cut, at the same time that their bosses’ pay continues to rise.
Steve King justifies this legislation by saying that, “Every dollar that American taxpayers send to Washington must be used as efficiently as possible.” If government projects must operate as efficiently as possible, though, why not just use slave labor?
Furthermore, why is Steve King targeting the people who already earn the lowest wages in companies that contract with the government? Why isn’t Steve King introducing legislation requiring that CEOs and investors take a big pay cut in order to increase efficiency?
The reason is simple and corrupt. Rank and file workers don’t have the money to pay off politicians like Steve King. CEOs and big investors do.
The members of Congress who are cosponsoring Steve King’s legislation to cut wages for working people across America are: Lynn Jenkins, Scott Perry, Trent Franks, Gregg Harper, Jeff Duncan, and Jeb Hensarling.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein urges Americans to oppose Barack Obama’s request for congressional authorization of military force against the Islamic State. Stein writes, “Don’t let America get dragged into another war for oil in the Middle East. These reckless and destructive wars have done nothing but create tremendous blowback against the U.S. around the world. It’s time to discard the failed foreign policy of endless war, and break the cycle of violence through diplomacy, international law and human rights.”
“Stop the wars,” Stein says. I agree with her that stopping war is an important goal. I am given pause, however, when I look at Barack Obama’s actual request for authorization of military force.
What I see in Obama’s request for authorization is a reduction in the ability of the United States to wage war, compared to the powers that President Obama currently claims (although these claims are an implausible stretch). First, the request for authorization would repeal the authorization for war in Iraq, upon which Obama bases his current military actions against the Islamic State. Second, the request sunsets the authorization of force against the Islamic State in three years, whereas the current authorization of force against Iraq is open-ended. Third, the request limits the use of force to the Islamic State, its current allies on the battlefield, and to any “closely-related successor entity” which is actually engaged in hostilities against the United States.
The authorization of force that Barack Obama is requesting does not end war. However, it would offer a significant restriction of the ability of the President of the United States to wage war. This restriction, under the guise of a new military effort, seems to be the closest that the current Republican-controlled Congress would ever come to curtailing the President’s military powers. Given that, in two years, we will have a new President, who might be yet another Bush, limitation of war powers now seems especially important.
Jill Stein would have us miss this opportunity to lessen the war making of United States, because it is not a complete elimination of authorization for war. While I understand her motivation, I question her sense of political tactics. Sometimes, heading straight for a target is the surest way to ensure that one never reaches it.
Are you looking for some immediate release? If so, Jim Rundberg has got just the thing for you.
He’s running for the Republican nomination for Governor of Colorado. “I am going to be the next Governor of Colorado! We are making our future the way we want it to be!”
No, hold on a second, that’s just what his Twitter profile says. Actually, Jim Rundberg is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Rundberg still owes tens of thousands of dollars in fines for failing to file campaign finance reports from his Colorado campaign for governor last year, actually. He only ever raised $327 to support his campaign. Rundberg now lives in Puerto Rico.
“Truly,” says Rundberg, “we Americans are the sum of the whole.” Well, some Americans are part of the sum of the whole, anyway.
Women don’t count. They’re not part of the “American heritage” that Rundberg talks about, when he explains that our heritage is “the way we work to provide for our wives”.
Could lesbians be part of Rundberg’s American heritage, apparently, so long as they’re married in one of the states that provides for marriage equality? Sadly no. “God does not accept homosexual behavior, and he does not authorize any homosexual relationship. Neither do I,” says Rundberg. So, gays and lesbians are not part of the sum of the whole of America either, it seems.
Non-Christians don’t count, either. American heritage, says Rundberg, “is the faith in God which we hold”. Don’t have faith in gods? Then Rundberg’s presidential campaign isn’t for you.
Other than that, it is with a humble tone that Rundberg begins his presidential campaign, explaining that he is campaigning in accordance with “the will of Almighty God”. This tone of personal humility is in line with his policy platform, which includes the geographical expansion of the United States. “We must realize the need is not for making stronger our current borders,” he writes. “The need is to expand our borders that they may encompass any who wish it, so that they too may enjoy the blessings of liberty and know what it is to be American. As President, I will not ask other countries to be like us. I will invite them to become America with us.”
Where, though, has there been a model for a nation inviting other nations to be absorbed? Oh, I know – how about Russia? If Jim Rundberg is elected President, he could call Vladimir Putin for advice about how to incorporate neighbors who ask to be annexed.
Have you felt that immediate release yet?