Handy Guide to Coming Disasters

Both senators from Texas, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and twenty of their House colleagues voted against the 2013 Hurricane Sandy Relief Act. (In the previous fiscal year, Texas received more federal disaster relief money than any other state.) All but four Texas reps voted in favor of initial Harvey relief legislation. The four dissenters don’t represent coastal districts, so they don’t care.

Florida Governor Rick Scott (still the record holder for Medicare fraud) warned residents of his state as Hurricane Irma bore down on them, “This is a catastrophic storm our state has never seen.” Governor Scott in 2015 purportedly banned state employees from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming.” Post hurricane, he still demurs when questioned about the subject, his stock answer, “I am not a scientist.” (I am not a doctor, but I know a 105° fever requires attention.)

Climate-change denier Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (a legacy of the Nixon administration) says it would be “very, very insensitive to the people in Florida” to discuss the cause of “these massive, anomalous storms.”

The Los Angeles Times recently published a concise summary of scientific consensus about cause and effect of natural catastrophes and why we can expect more in the future.

  • Wind & Rain – Rising sea levels mean more flooding – storm surge – when storms push water into the shore. Warmer air results in more moisture in the atmosphere, so… when it rains, it pours. And oh yeah, scientists say there’ll be fewer weak storms. That’s because more of them will be Category 4 and 5.
  • Lack of Wind & Rain – Warmer temperatures mean quicker evaporation into the atmosphere to feed the storms in hurricane zones. Meanwhile, in the southwestern U.S., even with normal rainfall – which has not occurred the past few years – the ground will be drier meaning less moisture for living things.
  • Fire – Dry conditions mean more fires. Duh. Warmer weather also means greater survival rates for pine beetles that generally perish in frigid conditions. The pest has expanded its area of devastation from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Northwest and Canada.

Read the rest of it here.

The Jevons Paradox and the Rebound Effect

The U.S. imposed its first automobile fuel-economy regulations in 1975, a response to the Arab oil embargo. (If you’re old enough, you remember lining up to buy gasoline and odd-even days to fill up, based on your license number.) Since then, average miles-per-gallon has gone from 13.5 to about 27 now. (33 for cars, 24 for light trucks. Overall consumption has increased, however, the result of more miles driven – more than double since then – increased horsepower and heavier vehicles. Hence what is called the “Rebound Effect.”

In the mid-nineteenth century, William Stanley Jevons published “The Coal Question,” a book casting doubt on England’s long-term prospects as a world power. Britain’s industrial and military dominance was supported by its abundance of coal, a natural resource it was rapidly depleting. Jevons argued that conservation, e.g. energy efficiency, would not delay the inevitable depletion.

It is wholly a confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuel is equivalent to a diminished consumption. The very contrary is the truth.

His thesis, also known as the “Jevons Paradox,” is that the more something is perceived as economical, the more people will use. Our cars are more fuel efficient, so we drive more.

Since climate-change has officially been determined to be a hoax and unfair to the U.S., we may as well extract all the fossil fuels and burn them. And if it turns out that burning carbon is not good for us? Not to worry, Mother Earth will recover and be just fine after we’re gone.

(For a rebuttal of the Jevons Paradox, click here.)

Good News For Corn Syrup

Changing climate is affecting maple syrup producers in the Northeast. Cold winters with frigid nights are essential for trees to generate the precious syrup. Warmer weather causes sap to rise up in the trees instead of descending to the taps. One producer reports that 75 gallons produced in 2000 is now down to 15 gallons. Some growers report lower sugar content.

New England produces most of this country’s maple syrup. Tiny Vermont by itself accounts for 47% of it. (A famous Illinois maple “sirup” producer is a must-stop for Route 66 travelers.)

Log Cabin brand long ago contained maple syrup. Now it advertises “authentic maple-tasting syrup.”

Climate change is also good news for Oregon wine growers – short term – but maybe not so good for California. Major producers in the Golden State are hedging bets by purchasing vineyards in Oregon and Washington.

Our new president has taken up the challenge by proposing a 25% cut in the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget.

What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You.

The day of our peaceful transfer of power, one of the first changes was the disappearance of the Climate Change page on whitehouse.gov. (Also disappearing: LGBT, Civil Rights. Oh, and the button for users with disabilities including a White House video tour in sign language, an explanation of links on the site for viewers to access audible screen readers, closed captioning and other services.)

  • Wildfires in the West are worse, much worse
  • Artic ice is melting; sea levels are rising
  • Oceans are becoming more acidic
  • Plants and animals are migrating
  • It’s getting hotter (yes, blizzards fit into the scientific model)

If we pretend it’s not there, it will go away.

Climate Change – Real or Hoax?

fire-8754The western United States has suffered a large increase in wildfires in over the past three decades. A new study reports that the area burned is twice what used to be normal. That’s an additional 16,000 square miles of scorched earth. The report blames climate change; more specifically, climate change caused by human activity.

The higher temperatures dry the air, sucking moisture from plants, trees and dead vegetation. Millions of trees are dead, killed by warm-weather beetles. Less snow fall means less snow melt which means drier ground.

The report concludes that wildfires may eventually become smaller as there is less to burn.

For some amusement, read the comments below the Los Angeles Times story. Deniers are eager to flaunt their willful ignorance by posting the same dreary, debunked bromides.