Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy


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2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season: Tropical Storm Arlene in Gulf

There was an area of interest in the southwestern portion of the Gulf of Mexico yesterday that the U.S. National Hurricane Center gave a 40% chance of forming into a tropical system within 48 hours.  Well, it took less than 12 for the disturbance to spin up into the Atlantic’s first named storm of the 2011 season: Arelene.

Tropical Storm Arlene‘s vitals as of 9A MDT are:

Center’s location: 21.2N, 95.7W (the western part of the Bay of Campeche)

Moving: W at 8mph

Maximum sustained winds: 50mph

By 7A MDT tomorrow, the storm should make landfall along the Mexican coast.  There is a small chance that Arlene will intensify to Hurricane strength prior to landfall.  The primary threat of this storm will be heavy rain over areas that are experiencing extreme drought conditions.  This will likely result in flash flooding because the ground is extremely dry and plants are dormant and will thus be unable to absorb so much rainfall.


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“Bipartisanship” In Action

How successful has the bipartisanship only strategy of governing by “Democrats” worked for Americans?  Pretty damn well … if you’re a Republican Teabagger.  One only need look at recent developments to see just how well this strategy has worked to enact liberal policies:

Michiganders face lower unemployment insurance payments and stricter eligibility rules.

Kansas is trying to become the state with the fewest abortion-licensed facilities: 0.  Remember, abortion is a legal medical procedure.  Other states are trying to ban this legal procedure, regardless of rape, incest, or health of the mother.  Are the Teabaggers screaming that this is a prime example of a big, intrusive government limiting freedom?  Hell no, they’re not.  They have a Black Man in the White House to delegitimize.

Democratic “leaders” are seriously considering ending Social Security and Medicaid.  Perhaps they’re volunteering to do it just so the Republican Teabaggers won’t have to.

The cost of illegal, undeclared, unpaid invasions and occupations the U.S. has perpetrated since 2001?  $3.7 trillion.  Perhaps those Democratic “leaders’ should work to stop the occupations.  That could just stop our hurtling into greater and greater debts and deficits.

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations set another record high this year: 394.35ppm.  The globe was the warmest in 2010 than at any other point in recorded history – and likely at any time in tens of thousands of years.  2010 and 2011 have seen more extreme weather events as a result of climate change than at any point in recorded history.  These conditions will only get worse as long as Democrats keep acting “bipartisanshipy” with Republican Teabaggers and never stand up to the dirty energy industry.

So to all the pro-“centrists”: how well is the country doing?  This list took less than 5 minutes to assemble.  There are hundreds of other similar examples.  Maybe it’s time Democrats demanded their elected officials do what they promise on the campaign trail or go work to elect a different Democrat.  This is what voting for the lesser of two evils has brought us.  We’re still walking down the path toward evil.  It’s time to do something else.


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Hottest Temperatures Ever Recorded In TX/OK Panhandles & KS

This last weekend ended on a brutal temperature note for the folks in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles as well as southwestern Kansas.  A ridge of high pressure is being exacerbated by the worst drought the region has faced in recorded history.  Underlying all of that are the warmer base conditions that exist thanks to climate change.  If we don’t stop our greenhouse pollution problem, these records won’t stand for very long.

Just how hot did it get?

117F in Childress, tying the city’s all-time record high temperature and breaking the previous daily record by 9F.

112F in Lubbock.

111F in Medicine Lodge.

110F in Dodge City.

109F in Amarillo.

108F in Garden City.

CapitalClimate has a post detailing more of the records set.

Dr. Jeff Masters points out that these temperatures are boosted by the most extreme drought on record for these same areas.  Without moisture in the soil or plants in the region, the incoming solar radiation can heat up the earth and therefore the atmosphere much more effectively.  Masters’ post includes a graphic showing current drought conditions across Texas.  Not much of the state remains outside of `Exceptional` drought conditions.

Welcome to the new normal.  Don’t like it?  Then it’s time to start demanding climate action.


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Vitter Tries To Bribe Sec. Salazar; Ed Schultz Silent

Self-described “liberal” talk show host Ed Schultz helped engineer Rep. Weiner’s resignation due to Weiener’s sexting habits.  Schultz spent a considerable amount of time wringing his hands as hard as he could in the days following Weiner’s sexting revelation.  My question, as well as that of plenty of other liberals is, “What about Sen. David Vitter, Ed?”  I first wrote about this last week and am following up on the story now that new news has come to light.

What’s happened is this: Sen. David Vitter made a bribery offer to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (whom I have no love for, as evidenced by my writing history, by the way): Vitter will stop holding up $19,600 of Salazar’s pay raise vote if the Interior Secretary can somehow increase the rate of exploratory drill permits for the Gulf of Mexico.  Money for action = bribe.

This news came out at ~1:30P ET today as CREW filed an official complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee.  Unsurprisingly, I didn’t find any reference to Ed Schultz issuing commentary on the subject yet today.  I don’t expect I’ll find any such reference tomorrow or next week.  Schultz has left Sens. Vitter, Ensign and Coburn untouched during their respective ethics violations and well-documented illegal behavior.

A Democrat sending pictures of his junk?  Schultz feels compelled to hammer home his opinion because TMZ reported on it.

Republicans violating laws and breaking ethics rules?  Schultz ignores them because he thinks he can’t generate ratings if he covers them.

Ed Schultz is an entertainer first and a liberal second (at best).


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Globe’s Oceans At Risk Of Mass Extinction

To many who have paid attention to the developing climate change crisis, the news that a mass extinction could occur in the world’s oceans shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.  Climate change isn’t just about higher surface temperatures and slightly different precipitation patterns.  No, a set of issues are currently unfolding.  That set is getting more complex and more pertinent to our daily lives.  A preliminary report, issued by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), begins to detail just how dangerous our actions are to the oceans.  Among other things, the report’s findings are of critical importance because the panel found that ocean degeneration is already occurring at a much faster rate than has been previously projected.

“The findings are shocking,” Dr. Alex Rogers, IPSO’s scientific director, said in a statement released by the group. “This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, our children’s and generations beyond that.”

Indeed, recent research shows that the ocean’s temperature won’t recover to pre-Industrial Age levels for thousands of years.  The same thing goes for acidification and sea level rise.  If a mass extinction occurs, sea life won’t recover for hundreds of thousands to millions of years.  Since a majority of the world’s population is dependent on sea life for their daily sustenance, a mass extinction would have enormous ramifications for our species for longer than we’ve been a species.

So, what’s the problem?  Or better yet, what are the problems?  An increase of both hypoxia (low oxygen) and anoxia (lack of oxygen that creates “dead zones”) in the oceans, warming, and acidification are the causal factors of previous mass extinctions.  Guess what’s going on today?  Record-sized dead zones are occurring across the planet; the oceans have warmed and will continue to do so for at least hundreds of years; and the oceans are acidifying.  Both the warming and acidification are likely occurring at rates that are multiple times faster than what occurred naturally in the geologic past.

What needs to be done?

The IPSO report calls for such changes, recommending actions in key areas: immediate reduction of CO2 emissions, coordinated efforts to restore marine ecosystems, and universal implementation of the precautionary principle so “activities proceed only if they are shown not to harm the ocean singly or in combination with other activities.” The panel also calls for the UN to swiftly introduce an “effective governance of the High Seas.”

We hold the fate of global ecosystems in our hands.  It is solely up to the decisions of our species whether mass extinctions occur and the planet becomes uninhabitable by modern societies.  Will this report join the growing body that have been largely ignored in the past?  This report has received more attention in the corporate media than most reports of similar importance.  That’s a good thing.  But it means little if policy makers continue to drag their feet while enjoying their access to power.  That such a frivolous thing could spell the end of today’s ecosystems…

Cross-posted at myFDL and SquareState.


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Liberal Failures Of 2009-2010 & Why They Happened

In catching up from a weekend getaway, I was happy to catch Chris Bowers’ Sunday post entitled, “Think Big: Choosing the fights that build progressive power“.  It detailed some things that have been rattling around in my head for a while.

First, liberal policy failures of 2009-2010:

Congress passed no significant legislation on climate change or immigration. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy were extended. Even a watered down version of the Employee Free Choice Act went nowhere. The public option was defeated. The laws passed on reproductive rights were actually regressive. Congress accomplished nothing in response to a Supreme Court ruling that sent campaign finance law backward, and no progress was made on the partisan composition of judicial appointments to the federal bench. Expanding overseas military deployments went unchecked, as did the reduction of civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism.

Chris also wrote this, and I believe it to be the primary reason why those policy failures occurred:

Specifically, a majority of legislators and candidates believe their electoral chances suffer more if they oppose conservative policy goals than if they oppose progressive ones. That was even the case in 2009-2010, when Democrats held massive majorities in Congress. As long [as] the majority of candidates and members of Congress continue to believe that veering to the left hurts them electorally, progressives will continue to see their public policy goals go largely unachieved even when Democrats are governing.

Liberals do not hold their elected officials accountable.  It has nothing to do with “purity tests”.  The faux-pragmatism approach pushed by those defending CorporateDems have shown us how false that argument is with their resounding lack of results when they were in charge.

The reason Chris outlined above is why I didn’t vote for a number of so-called Democrats in 2010.  Votes need to be earned.  Fear-mongering about what Republican Teabaggers might do if elected no longer works as a tactic for me.  I’ve seen what CorporateDems do when they’re elected and it’s not different enough to talk about.

Keep electing CorporateDems or “the lesser of two evils”, Democrats.  All you’re doing is delaying the inevitable, not preventing it.


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Weiner To Resign; Where Is Schultz On Vitter?

Well, Ed Schultz should feel very proud today.  Even though he’s “only one opinion”, he led the Liberal Hand-Wringing Brigade about Rep. Anthony Weiner’s lewd conduct.  Strangely, I don’t remember Sens. Ensign, Coburn or Vitter garnering nearly as much attention from Schultz as Rep. Weiner did.  Sen. Ensign likely broke laws.  Sen. Coburn helped him do so.  Sen. Vitter definitely broke laws.  But Schultz didn’t spend weeks lambasting them – even though Schultz claims to be liberal while Ensign, Coburn and Vitter are among the most ultra-right-wing wackos that have served in this nation’s history.

Schultz could have either backed up Rep. Weiner, who has been one of the staunchest defenders of the working person, which Schultz claims is his #1 issue, or shut the hell up about Weiner.  The whole sordid story wasn’t actually news, it was infotainment.  Schultz easily could have not talked about his “one opinion” day after day, week after week.  It’s his decision what he talks about, no one else’s, regardless of how many times Schultz claimed that it was important because everybody was talking about it.

So congratulations, Ed.  By leading the Liberal Hand-Wringing Brigade, you’ve removed a strong middle-class defender from the House, which I should remind you the Teabaggers overwhelming took over in 2010 precisely because too few Democrats fought for the middle class in Obama’s first two years.  Meanwhile, Ed didn’t do any heavy lifting to ensure Ensign resigned (which only happened right before charges were brought against him); no heavy lifting to get Coburn to resign; no heavy lifting to get Vitter to resign.  By not acting on the Teabaggers but working overtime on Weiner, Ed has made his crusade for the middle class much more difficult.

Hmm.  One might begin to wonder how solid Ed’s liberal chops really are with crap like this.  Count me as a former Schultz listener/watcher.  In fact, I haven’t watched Schultz’s show since he began needlessly obsessing about Weiner.  At this point, I don’t see much point in listening to him either.  He clearly doesn’t believe the junk coming out of his mouth.  Ed is a fake, pure and simple.

So what’s next, Ed?  Now that you’ve lost your Weiner punching bag, what could you possibly spend all day covering?  By all means, continue to ignore the Teabagger sex scandals, especially those that actually included broken laws.  I’m sure there’s another Democrat out there that has offended your delicate sensibilities enough so that you can fixate on and destroy their political career, regardless of what they could have done for middle-class America.  Having the power and reach the you do, it would be nice to see you exercise some responsibility every now and then.


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Obama Follows Bush In Abusing War Powers Act

The Obama administration has sent a report to Congress detailing why it doesn’t need the legislature’s approval for continued American military action in the Libya theater.  To no one’s surprise, the Teabaggers don’t like the administration’s justification.  But here’s the problem with that: the Teabaggers were silent when it came to Bush & Afghanistan and Bush & Iraq.  No declaration of war was made by the Congress in 2001 or 2003.  And before this argument gets construed to be partisan, I will gladly point out that far too few so-called Democrats challenged the Bush administration regarding their abuse of executive powers.

So more to the point, Congress (members from both parties) is complaining that they aren’t satisfied with the administration’s approach to the Libya crisis.  While I agree with the basis of their argument, it’s hypocritical for the Teabaggers especially but for most Democrats as well to decide now is the time to complain.  Now that Congress hasn’t been handed a $1.5 Trillion budget surplus; now that Congress abdicated its responsibilities with regard to Afghanistan (where we’ve been invaders/occupiers for over 10 years now); now that Congress abdicated its responsibilities with regard to Iraq (where a clearly illegal invasion and occupation has lasted over 8 years); now that Congress extended unpaid for tax cuts to the wealthiest 1% of Americans & American mega-corporations; now, Congress is saying there is no imminent national security threat and that the costs are worrisome (even though the costs of Afghanistan’s occupation are estimated to be $455 Billion and the costs of Iraq’s occupation are estimated to be $800 Billion and both represent failed states and our own country has less national security now than it did in Oct 2001).

Go cry somewhere else, Congress.  This American citizen was calling for security and financial accountability since the 9/11 attacks and was roundly ignored by both parties.  Now the Teabaggers want to end Medicare and Social Security because they couldn’t find the courage to stand up to their fellow party members during the Bush Regime?  Now the Democrats want to continue the Bush Regime’s disastrous economic policies?  Only today’s corrupted corporate media would be able to presen such nonsense as “news”, while failing to hold themselves accountable for their lack of action.

Take note, Teabaggers & CorporateDems alike: it’s far too late to pretend to be angry that you decided you wanted to be irrelevant as a part of the government.  By giving away your powers when “your guy” was in the White House, you lost any valid argument trying to claim them when “the other guy” is in the White House.

Take note, Obama administration: your actions are likely as illegal as the Bush Regime’s were.  Nothing is different just because you have a different letter after your name or just because there’s a black man in charge now.  The Constitutional Scholar is proving himself to be anything but.  I have lost nearly all of the respect I had for Obama.  This isn’t the change we voted for.  This isn’t leadership.  This is continued capitalistic cronyism and it’s as disgusting now as it was 3 years ago.


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Climate Change Action: Focus on U.S. Cities

Thinking and writing about all of the looming climate-related crises headed our way can get depressing.  As part of an effort to pull myself out of the muck, I want to start focusing some attention on things that are being done to prevent or adapt to climate change.  Both will have to be engaged with increasing resources in the future.  As with all planning, it’s best to start with where we are today.  To that end, I want to present some work I found and get other folks thinking and writing about it.

A Dr. Boyd Cohen has put together a top-10 list: “Top 10 Climate-Ready Cities in the U.S.“.  Now, I hate most top-10 lists, especially those dealing with pop culture topics.  That’s mostly because I seem to disagree with the specific placement of entries to the list.  Most of the time, nobody knows how a top-10 list was assembled.  What criteria were utilized to generate the list?  Well, in this case, the criteria are at least presented by Dr. Cohen.  Whether you and I agree with the inclusion of the criteria doesn’t matter, mostly because it’s not our list.

Continue reading


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Bernanke Doesn’t Get It

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a speech Tuesday in which he said the economy’s greatest troubles — high oil prices and supply chain disruptions from Japan — would soon pass.

Want to know why our economy is in trouble?  Because toadies like Bernanke think our biggest problems are oil prices and supply disruptions.

Our biggest problem, period, is employment.  If people aren’t working, they aren’t making wages, which means they’re not buying anything.  Consumers’ activities account for 70% of the U.S. economy.  Fewer wages means less demand, which means weak economy.

The longer Bernanke and people like him are in power, the longer we’re going to have a weak economy.

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