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A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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Will the Trump Administration Take Down the Arctic Refuge?
What happens in the Arctic doesn’t just stay up north. It affects the world, as that region is the integrator of our planet’s climate systems, atmospheric and oceanic. At the moment, the northernmost places on Earth are warming at more than twice the global average, a phenomenon whose impact is already being felt planetwide. Welcome... Read More
The United States just experienced its largest rainfall event in memory. For the first time in recorded weather history, two category 4 hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, hit in a single season (not yet over). And San Francisco, famed for its chilliness, experienced an unheard of 106 degree day as September began, while a record West... Read More
Militarizing Homeland Security in the Climate-Change Era
Deployed to the Houston area to assist in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, U.S. military forces hadn’t even completed their assignments when they were hurriedly dispatched to Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to face Irma, the fiercest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. Florida Governor Rick Scott, who had sent members of... Read More
Trump’s Fossil-Fueled Foreign Policy
Who says President Trump doesn’t have a coherent foreign policy? Pundits and critics across the political spectrum have chided him for failing to articulate and implement a clear international agenda. Look closely at his overseas endeavors, though, and one all-too-consistent pattern emerges: Donald Trump will do whatever it takes to prolong the reign of fossil... Read More
Donald Trump and the Triumph of Anti-Politics
Once upon a time, long, long ago, I testified before the great assembly of our land. When I describe this event to children today, it really does sound to them like a fairy tale. Once upon a time -- a time before the world splintered into a million pieces and America became its current disunited... Read More
If you’re looking for fairy tales that are on the grim (not Grimm) side, things that once might only have been in dystopian fiction, look no further than our present planet at our present moment. What about, for instance, that trillion-metric-ton iceberg -- yes, “trillion” is not a misprint -- that broke loose last week... Read More
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Life is not boring with President Trump. Perhaps he hasn't yet fulfilled many wishes of his voters, but he definitely has made their news much more entertaining. Standing a few inches from impeachment, surviving lynch by media, hunted down by rogue Republican senators, the US President broke three taboos established by his predecessors: he removed... Read More
President Trump fulfilled one of his campaign promises by withdrawing our country from last year’s Paris agreement on phasing out fossil-fuel energy production. This is pure America First policy-making. The Paris agreement was a big favorite with globalists, in spite of the fact that it wasn’t actually very global. Sure, all the important countries signed... Read More
Inaction Equals Annihilation
Not since World War II have more human beings been at risk from disease and starvation than at this very moment. On March 10th, Stephen O’Brien, under secretary-general of the United Nations for humanitarian affairs, informed the Security Council that 20 million people in three African countries -- Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan -- as... Read More
There are the terrorists, who get attention out of all proportion to their actual clout, and then there are those with big-time clout -- I think of them as the terrarists -- who get almost no attention at all. Back in May 2013, I came up with that term and here’s how I described those... Read More
The mental convolutions in which some will engage in order to ignore the evidence that the polar ice caps are melting—and if not from warming from what?—is as astounding as the convolutions and denial of basic facts that characterize those who believe the government’s official 9/11 fairy tale. If all science is rigged, as a... Read More
I am fortunate in having readers who look after me. Some have offered me refuge in their countries and their homes from what they expect otherwise will inevitably be the midnight knock on my door. Others correct my mistakes from typos to content. As I have never considered myself infallible, I carefully read what they... Read More
Trump’s Carbon-Obsessed Energy Policy and the Planetary Nightmare to Come
Scroll through Donald Trump’s campaign promises or listen to his speeches and you could easily conclude that his energy policy consists of little more than a wish list drawn up by the major fossil fuel companies: lift environmental restrictions on oil and natural gas extraction, build the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, open more... Read More
Or How Donald Trump Changed Everything (2016-2020)
I didn’t vote in the pivotal American election of 2016. Thirty-five years ago, in that unseasonably warm month of November, I was in Antarctica’s Allan Hills taking ice core samples with a hand augur. The pictures I have from that time show my team drilling deep into the blue ice, but what we were actually... Read More
The Mounting Threat to Climate Progress
In a year of record-setting heat on a blistered globe, with fast-warmingoceans, fast-melting ice caps, and fast-rising sea levels, ratification of the December 2015 Paris climate summit agreement -- already endorsed by most nations -- should be a complete no-brainer. That it isn't tells you a great deal about our world. Global geopolitics and the... Read More
The man who might be president insists that climate change is an elaborate, “very expensive hoax,” even possibly a “Chinese” one meant to undermine the American economy. It’s “bullshit” and “pseudoscience” (on which, it seems, he’s an expert). He’s said this sort of thing numerous times, always mockingly, always dismissively. Only recently in his Phoenix... Read More
One small aspect of a trip I took to El Paso, Texas, back in the 1970s remains in my mind: the weather. No, not the weather in El Paso, which is more or less the same much of the year, but the weather on the local television news. I remember watching a weatherman begin his... Read More
Give a group of 21 Republican and Democratic Florida mayors credit. When it comes to sea level rise, they live at what might be considered Ground Zero for climate change in the U.S. As Philip Levine, the mayor of Miami Beach, put it, “Some people get swept into office. I floated into office.” The group... Read More
Flooding the Earth With Fossil Fuels
Here’s the story so far. We have the chief legal representatives of the eighth and 16th largest economies on Earth (California and New York) probing the biggest fossil fuel company on Earth (ExxonMobil), while both Democratic presidential candidates are demanding that the federal Department of Justice join the investigation of what may prove to be... Read More
The time scale should stagger you. Just imagine for a moment that what we humans do on this planet will last at least 10,000 more years, and no, I’m not talking about those statues on Easter Island or the pyramids or the Great Wall of China or the Empire State Building. I’m not talking about... Read More
How to Stop the Fossil Fuel Industry From Wrecking Our World
When I was a kid, I was creepily fascinated by the wrongheaded idea, current in my grade school, that your hair and your fingernails kept growing after you died. The lesson seemed to be that it was hard to kill something off -- if it wanted to keep going. Something similar is happening right now... Read More
The Future Belongs to Renewables
Historically, the transition from one energy system to another, as from wood to coal or coal to oil, has proven an enormously complicated process, requiring decades to complete. In similar fashion, it will undoubtedly be many years before renewable forms of energy -- wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, and others still in development -- replace fossil... Read More
Excuse me if I take a flier today and write an introduction on the good news about climate change. Yep, the good news. It would, of course, be easy enough to do the opposite. When it comes to climate change, gloomy is a cinch. Just about any piece on the subject is likely to depress... Read More
Turning Up the Heat on History
For six centuries or more, history was, above all, the story of the great game of empires. From the time the first wooden ships mounted with cannons left Europe’s shores, they began to compete for global power and control. Three, four, even five empires, rising and falling, on an increasingly commandeered and colonized planet. The... Read More
These days, all you have to do is look around if you want your hair to stand on end on the subject of our future on this planet. Here’s just a little relatively random list of recent news on climate-change-related happenings. Mexico was recently hit by the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Western... Read More
Averting a World of Failed States and Resource Wars
At the end of November, delegations from nearly 200 countries will convene in Paris for what is billed as the most important climate meeting ever held. Officially known as the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the 1992 treatythat designated that phenomenon a threat to planetary... Read More
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Modern science has long progressed beyond relying on solely on personal experience. Nevertheless, that acknowledged, at least in some instances Yogi Berra’s quip that you can see a lot by looking around still remains relevant. The role of personal experience is particularly relevant to two contemporary scientific theories. The first is global warming, specifically the... Read More
Climate Change “Tipping Points” and the Fate of the Earth
Not so long ago, it was science fiction. Now, it’s hard science -- and that should frighten us all. The latest reports from the prestigious and sober Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make increasingly hair-raising reading, suggesting that the planet is approaching possible moments of irreversible damage in a fashion and at a speed... Read More
Wrestling With Fears Too Big to Name
Madeline is in the swing, her face the picture of delight. “Mo, mo,” she cries and kicks her legs to show me that she wants me to push her higher and faster. I push, and push, and push with both hands. There is no thought in my head except for her joy. I’m completely present... Read More
As Both Climate Victim and Responder, the National Style-Setter Leads the Way
Long ago, I lived in a cheap flat in San Francisco and worked as the lone straight man in a gay construction company. Strangely enough, the drought now strangling California brings back memories of those days. It was the 1970s. Our company specialized in restoring the Victorian “gingerbread” to the facades of the city’s townhouses,... Read More
Why We All Need to Learn the Word “Anthropogenic”
The wettest rainforest in the continental United States had gone up in flames and the smoke was so thick, so blanketing, that you could see it miles away. Deep in Washington’s Olympic National Park, the aptly named Paradise Fire, undaunted by the dampness of it all, was eating the forest alive and destroying an ecological... Read More
Normally, Americans love breaking records. (“We’re number one! We’re number one!”) But the latest records to come out of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should make anyone’s heart sink. Here’s how the World Meteorological Society put the newsin a recent press release: “The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for January to... Read More
In October 2014, there was a massive climate change march, estimated at 400,000 people, in New York City and I was there with my family. It was so jam-packed that, as I wrote at the time, it took my crew an hour and a half just to begin walking and three and a half hours... Read More
The Past Battles the Future at Seneca Lake
Let’s amend the famous line from Joni Mitchell’s “Yellow Taxi” to fit this moment in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. There, Big Energy seems determined to turn paradise, if not into a parking lot, then into a massive storage area for fracked natural gas. But there’s one way in which that song... Read More
Dahr Jamail is one of the last reporters in the Western world. Be certain to read his report on the “Sixth Great Mass Extinction” here: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/31612-sixth-great-mass-extinction-event-begins-2015-on-pace-to-become-hottest-year-on-record His report is also available on Information Clearing House:http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article42281.htm I have concluded that only the young, who have no historical frame of reference, and corporate-paid shills are capable of... Read More
Why “Politically Motivated” Science Is Good Science
Recently, the Washington Post reported new data showing something most of us already sense: that increased polarization on Capitol Hill is due to the way the Republican Party has lurched to the right. The authors of the study use Senator John McCain to illustrate the point. McCain's political odyssey is, in some dismaying sense, close... Read More
When I go out with my not quite three-year-old grandson, his idea of a good time is hide-and-seek. This means suddenly darting behind a bush too small to fully obscure him or into a doorway where he remains in plain sight, while I wander around wondering aloud where in the world he could possibly be.... Read More
Climate change is a controversy. What appear to be independent scientists say that the climate is warming due to greenhouse gases produced by human activity. This warming, apparently measurable, has many impacts on sea levels, and on plant, animal, sea, and bird life, as well as food supply for a heavily populated earth. Readers, accustomed... Read More
Bill Nye the Science Guy gave a commencement speech at Rutgers on Sunday. Reading the speech left me thinking that if this is America’s designated Science Guy, I can be the nation’s designated swimsuit model. Up to now I have had only the slightest, vaguest awareness of Bill Nye. Readers have occasionally pointed me to... Read More
Consider the extremes of our present climate moment by the numbers. Recently, Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman professor of economics at the University of Chicago and the former chief economist of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, did a little calculating. He was curious to find out just how much the planet’s temperature might rise... Read More
Four Reasons Why the Transition From Fossil Fuels to a Green Energy Era Is Gaining Traction
Don’t hold your breath, but future historians may look back on 2015 as the year that the renewable energy ascendancy began, the moment when the world started to move decisively away from its reliance on fossil fuels. Those fuels -- oil, natural gas, and coal -- will, of course, continue to dominate the energy landscape... Read More
Welcome to the asylum! I’m talking, of course, about this country, or rather the world Big Oil spent big bucks creating.You know, the one in which the obvious -- climate change -- is doubted and denied, and in which the new Republican Congress is actively opposed to doing anything about it. Just the other day,... Read More
The Real Story Behind the Oil Price Collapse
Many reasons have been provided for the dramatic plunge in the price of oil to about $60 per barrel (nearly half of what it was a year ago): slowing demand due to global economic stagnation; overproduction at shale fields in the United States; the decision of the Saudis and other Middle Eastern OPEC producers to... Read More
How Energy Coordination on One Continent Could Bring the Planet to Its Knees
It’s a ritual long familiar to observers of American politics: presidential hopefuls with limited international experience travel to foreign lands and deliver speeches designed to showcase their grasp of foreign affairs. Typically, such escapades involve trips to major European capitals or active war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, however, has... Read More
How Big Oil Is Responding to the Anti-Carbon Moment
Around the world, carbon-based fuels are under attack. Increasingly grim economic pressures, growing popular resistance, and the efforts of government regulators have all shocked the energy industry. Oil prices are falling, colleges and universities are divesting from their carbon stocks, voters are instituting curbs on hydro-fracking, and delegates at the U.N. climate conference in Peru... Read More
Think of it as the uncertainty principle. By the nature of things, doubt, the unknown, and uncertainty are naturally part of the big picture in science, especially when it comes to creating “models” of the future. As Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway showed in their blockbuster book, Merchants of Doubt, the giant oil companies (following... Read More
The Climate for 2015
It was the most thrilling bureaucratic document I’ve ever seen for just one reason: it was dated the 21st day of the month of Thermidor in the Year Six. Written in sepia ink on heavy paper, it recorded an ordinary land auction in France in what we would call the late summer of 1798. But... Read More
Looking for a little hope on climate change? Believe it or not, it’s here and it’s real. And I'm not referring to the fact that, at least temporarily, oil prices have gone through the floor, making environmentally destructive “tough oil” projects like western oil-shale fracking and Canadian tar sands extraction look ever less profitable. Nor... Read More
Don't call it a "march." It was a "stand" -- and a first stand at that, not a last one. The People's Climate March, billed as the largest climate demonstration in history, more than exceeded expectations and was an experience that has yet to desert me. Its moment couldn’t have been grimmer in global warming... Read More
The Climate Movement Steps Up
Less than two weeks have passed and yet it isn’t too early to say it: the People’s Climate March changed the social map -- many maps, in fact, since hundreds of smaller marches took place in 162 countries. That march in New York City,spectacular as it may have been with its 400,000 participants, joyous as... Read More
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