2020-09-24

Overthrowing the 2020 Election, US Safety and the World’s Future

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by Neil Godfrey

Over the past week I have been sifting through tweets, newsfeeds, video clips to collate the evidence that Trump has no intention of allowing the election of November 2020 to result in his removal from office. Yet in the last few days Trump has come out and publicly declared just that. There is no need to direct attention to the signposts that have marked the way over this past year since Trump has now made no secret that he will not accept anything other than his return to power. In his most recent statement he repeated his intention not to accept ballots — add to that his stacking of the courts and his demonstrated willingness to use the army to “dominate” U.S. cities.

The only question is, What is the legitimate and necessary response to his declared intention? It is not just a United States problem. The future of human civilization is threatened by the vanity of a single man and a party spellbound or intimidated by him. If one can blindly deny the world’s highest number of deaths from covid-19 in one’s own nation (or say those who are dying don’t matter because most of them are of little consequence to the national economy) then we are living in Fantasyland to expect a thought for future disasters within the US and beyond. From The Science Show:

Today we have evidence of three domino-like connections.

The first one is that rapidly melting sea ice in the Arctic is speeding up thawing of permafrost, which makes the jet stream meander, which in turn leads to more droughts and forest fires, which in turn causes even faster heating when the forests emit carbon dioxide.

The second domino is when melting of Greenland is slowing down the heat circulation in the North Atlantic, which in turn is reinforcing droughts in the Amazonian rainforest, drying out and resulting in fires and huge emissions of greenhouse gases when the forest irreversibly moves towards a savanna state.

The third domino risk is when ice sheets in the Arctic and Greenland show evidence of being connected via the oceans to Antarctica. When the Arctic melts, the exchange of heat in the ocean from the southern to the northern hemisphere will slow down, and this means that the ocean around Antarctica gets gradually warmer, which will result in huge glaciers being lubricated by hot surface waters and thereby gliding faster into the ocean with an ultimate risk of not just one- to two-metre sea level rise, but over ten metres.

. . . .

Thirty years ago, we could perhaps ignore the fact that the world’s major ecosystems, like the Amazon rainforest, like the temperate forests and the world’s peatlands, were global commons that we need to protect together. Earth was so biologically intact, and thereby resilient, and our carbon footprint was so limited that Earth could absorb national mismanagement without putting living conditions for all of us at risk. Not anymore.

Think about the following. We are at 1.1°C of global warming. We must not exceed 1.5°C and certainly not go above 2°C. We are on track to take us to 3° or 4°C of warming. If we are going to have any chance, global emissions must start to decline this year and then be cut by half by 2030, then cut by half again 2040, and then reach zero by 2050. This is what we call the carbon law; cut emissions by half every decade and you follow science.

But this will only work if the planet does not surprise us. That is, all ecosystems and all the ice sheets and all the storage of energy and conveyor belt heat in the oceans must remain intact. If we were to lose the Amazon rainforest, it could potentially add another 1°C of warming by itself. If we were to lose all of the Earth’s temperate peatlands, this could potentially lead to another 1°C warming. . . .

This is no time to be treating Trump as “just another candidate” or the election as “just another election” as has been happening throughout history. And it’s no time for other nations to be treating the United States as a “good global citizen”.

 


2020-01-07

Ammunition for Climate Change Deniers (The Facts Are Bad Enough)

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by Neil Godfrey

I posted a familiar looking photo in “Post-Apocalyptic Fiction has been moved to Current Affairs” that I have now replaced with one of the current situation. It reminded me of scenes I had seen in another bushfire year and I thought, “Here we go again” – but no, I have learned that that photo was recycled from a 2013 bushfire in Tasmania.

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And now there is this infographic circulating on Twitter, Reddit and everywhere else, I guess. Infographic.tv awarded it one of “the best”. The critical comment comes from cupboard.com.

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Here is my own “infographic” based on the same data. Bear in mind I am no mathematician so more mathematically endowed readers are welcome to offer corrections:

California —  AmazonSiberiaAustralia
Bottom row — the scales as depicted in the infographic, all compared with California. Top row — a truer representation according to the figures (my rough calculation).

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Certain maps hit home as definitely misleading from the moment I saw them. They do not represent what is happening now. They “point” to areas where we have had bushfires since September 1919, and the “pinpointing” is with a thick marker pen rather than a precision pen.

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Here’s a more realistic satellite image of where the most serious threats are at the moment:

From space.com

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There are other more informative maps for residents, too, on the various state fire service sites. These are bad enough:

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Left: Today’s map from NSW Rural Fire Service.
Right: Qld Rural Fire Service current map

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I can see the climate change deniers (who include our current political leaders in the pockets of the coal industry and Pentecostal faith) eventually standing up for Murdoch’s media coverage as some more “realistic” perspective:

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From theguardian.com

 


2020-01-04

Meanwhile, a little to the north-west of Australia, another historical record . . .

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by Neil Godfrey

The Indonesian climatological agency has deemed the New Year’s floods “one of the most extreme” rainfall events since records began in 1866. —  Max Walden, ABC reporter

I thought cloud seeding was meant to increase the likelihood of rainfall. I learn here that it can also be used to try to prevent rainfall:

Indonesia tries cloud seeding as flood death toll rises to 46

Home to some 30 million people, greater Jakarta is highly vulnerable to floods — worsened by being the fastest-sinking city on Earth.

Since the 1970s, parts of Jakarta have sunk more than four metres, at a rate of up to 25 centimetres a year.

Modelling from researchers at the Bandung Institute of Technology has shown that 95 per cent of northern Jakarta could be underwater by 2050.

The megacity’s severe environmental problems have motivated Mr Widodo’s Government to relocate Indonesia’s capital to Borneo, a plan it announced last year.

Walden, Max. “Indonesia Tries Cloud Seeding as Flood Death Toll Rises to 46.” Text. ABC News, January 4, 2020. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-04/indonesia-to-try-cloud-seeding-as-death-toll-rises-to-46/11840786.

“Post-Apocalyptic Fiction has been moved to Current Affairs”

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by Neil Godfrey

Terrified children at the helm of dinghies, piloting away from the flames . . . Photo by Allison Marion of her son Finn; see ABC News article: Victoria bushfire evacuee . . . .

A novelist has the words to best describe it:

Australia today is ground zero for the climate catastrophe. Its glorious Great Barrier Reef is dying, its world-heritage rain forests are burning, its giant kelp forests have largely vanished, numerous towns have run out of water or are about to, and now the vast continent is burning on a scale never before seen.

The images of the fires are a cross between “Mad Max” and “On the Beach”: thousands driven onto beaches in a dull orange haze, crowded tableaux of people and animals almost medieval in their strange muteness — half-Bruegel, half-Bosch, ringed by fire, survivors’ faces hidden behind masks and swimming goggles. Day turns to night as smoke extinguishes all light in the horrifying minutes before the red glow announces the imminence of the inferno. Flames leaping 200 feet into the air. Fire tornadoes. Terrified children at the helm of dinghies, piloting away from the flames, refugees in their own country.

The fires have already burned about 14.5 million acres — an area almost as large as West Virginia, more than triple the area destroyed by the 2018 fires in California and six times the size of the 2019 fires in Amazonia. Canberra’s air on New Year’s Day was the most polluted in the world partly because of a plume of fire smoke as wide as Europe.

Scientists estimate that close to half a billion native animals have been killed and fear that some species of animals and plants may have been wiped out completely. Surviving animals are abandoning their young in what is described as mass “starvation events.” At least 18 people are dead and grave fears are held about many more.

All this, and peak fire season is only just beginning.

Flanagan, Richard. 2020. “Australia Is Committing Climate Suicide.” The New York Times, January 4, 2020, sec. Opinion. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/03/opinion/australia-fires-climate-change.html. (With thanks to the reader who sent me a link to this article.)

And our faith-infused prime minister, Scott Morrison, as per one of the videos posted in the previous post, tells us that we have always had to face disasters and challenges of one kind or another, and this is no different, and we will, as we have beaten other challenges, likewise rise up and beat this one. He is not talking about climate change. He is talking about the historic catastrophic fire season in Australia as if its a one-off.

After yesterday’s post another video emerged that shows the PM getting a bit of humiliating flack for a change.

In my previous post I dwelt on the PM’s faith perspective. I think it’s fair to say he does not believe in evolution nor that the Bible has anything to say about climate change. Richard Flanagan’s article reminded me of another more material factor that attracted an inordinate amount of attention in the last election:

In no small part Mr. Morrison owes his narrow election victory last year to the coal-mining oligarch Clive Palmer, who formed a puppet party to keep the Labor Party — which had been committed to limited but real climate-change action — out of government. Mr. Palmer’s advertising budget for the campaign was more than double that of the two major parties combined. Mr. Palmer subsequently announced plans to build the biggest coal mine in Australia.

Clive Palmer has a deep record of dishonesty in business and with clients that surely rivals Donald Trump’s. The poster above shows how attached he was to imitating his U.S. alter ego in that election campaign.

Palmer himself had no chance of becoming PM but his votes lent support to the Scott Morrison government. Who is Scott Morrison? He is acceptable to many Australians as a PM because he is said to be “authentic”. Yes, he’s a “daggy dad” and even a pentecostal, but Australians are a tolerant lot and can accept neighbours down the street who are like that. We have proven we are just as likely to vote for atheists and, god-forbid, unmarried women, as prime ministers. What is Morrison’s political background? I have never liked him for the reason given by Flanagan:

Mr. Morrison made his name as immigration minister, perfecting the cruelty of a policy that interns refugees in hellish Pacific-island camps, and seems indifferent to human suffering. Now his government has taken a disturbing authoritarian turn, cracking down on unions, civic organizations and journalists. Under legislation pending in Tasmania, and expected to be copied across Australia, environmental protesters now face up to 21 years in jail for demonstrating.

“Australia is a burning nation led by cowards,” wrote the leading broadcaster Hugh Riminton, speaking for many. To which he might have added “idiots,” after Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack blamed the fires on exploding horse manure.

Such are those who would open the gates of hell and lead a nation to commit climate suicide.

Most Australians want serious action on climate change. I’m keeping a close eye on Extinction Rebellion (Australian branch) with a view to contributing actively to that movement — I took special notice of them at the same time as Morrison who wanted to limit their ability to make a public impact with their activism. Scott Morrison and his party appear to be firmly indebted to contributions from the coal industry. I understand that the opposition party has also begun taking significant donations from that industry.

The situation is eerily reminiscent of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, when the ruling apparatchiks were all-powerful but losing the fundamental, moral legitimacy to govern. In Australia today, a political establishment, grown sclerotic and demented on its own fantasies, is facing a monstrous reality which it has neither the ability nor the will to confront.

Mr. Morrison may have a massive propaganda machine in the Murdoch press and no opposition, but his moral authority is bleeding away by the hour. On Thursday, after walking away from a pregnant woman asking for help, he was forced to flee the angry, heckling residents of a burned-out town. A local conservative politician described his own leader’s humiliation as “the welcome he probably deserved.”

As Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, once observed, the collapse of the Soviet Union began with the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986. In the wake of that catastrophe, “the system as we knew it became untenable,” he wrote in 2006. Could it be that the immense, still-unfolding tragedy of the Australian fires may yet prove to be the Chernobyl of climate crisis?

Evacuees at Mallacoota Wharf (Jan 2020). Picture: Twitter/Bluefestblues Source:Twitter — From news.com.au

 

P.S. I recall the days when an election was about advancing a more humane, just and sustainable society. Today, the debates seem to have very little imagination beyond the theme of “economic growth”, led, of course, by mining giants et al.

 


Flanagan, Richard. 2020. “Australia Is Committing Climate Suicide.” The New York Times, January 4, 2020, sec. Opinion. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/03/opinion/australia-fires-climate-change.html.


 

 


2020-01-03

Apocalypse Now: Rapture Into Denial for Pentecostal Leaders

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by Neil Godfrey

I’m wondering if any Australians who comment here from time to time have been affected by the bushfires that seem to have been with us and only getting worse for months now. What’s happening now is horrendous and unlike anything else I’ve ever heard of, and I know Indonesia, the Amazon, Africa, the United States Arctic regions and god knows where else have been experiencing similar. I am finding it hard to get my head to imagine the following scenario in which a young firefighter was killed. No-one would think this possible . . .

A young volunteer firefighter and soon-to-be father was killed when a “freakish weather event” lifted his fire truck off the ground, the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) says.

Samuel McPaul, 28, died yesterday after his truck flipped in the Green Valley blaze in Jingellic, 70 kilometres east of Albury near the NSW-Victoria border.

NSW RFS district manager Superintendent Patrick Westwood said Mr McPaul was “doing everything right” when tragedy struck.

He and two others had been mustering cattle caught in a paddock on flat ground.

“The crew decided to move away from that area and, quite unexpectedly, very suddenly, they experienced extreme winds and what could only be described as a fire tornado that lifted the back of the truck, fully inverted it and landed it on its roof, trapping three people, three crew that is, and unfortunately, one of them fatally,” Superintendent Westwood said.

“The driver was a veteran captain of 35 years-plus experience.

“He thought he was in the right spot — as he was, from what I can understand — and just this freakish weather event that would have to be seen to be believed. Even then, other veteran firefighters don’t believe what they saw, [it] engulfed that vehicle with flame, fire, and strong winds and literally picked up an 8-tonne truck and flipped it over.

(From ABC News)

Many readers have probably already seen the horrific scenes of apocalyptic-like doom, the navy rescuing people stranded on the beach as their town was being destroyed, and no doubt similar scenes elsewhere in the world.

A few weeks ago fires several kilometres away were causing our view across town to be hazed out by smoke. To go outside was to breathe smoke and return inside smelling strongly of smoke. A few days later I thought it was clearing and went outside at twilight and saw what looked for all the world like a “glorious red sunset” — but not where the sun sets in the west; it was in the south! Reflections of the fire in the clouds. An apocalyptic poet would find words to depict something like the sun being thrown out of its orbit.

A Timeline

2017

That Coal Prop in Parliament

 

2018

Inside a Pentecostal Hillsong Church (link is to analysis of the influence of his religious beliefs on his politics, inc climate change) (And here’s another.)

 

2018 (Nov)

And a similar message was delivered directly for Greta Thunberg.

 

2019

Brian Houston, Pentecostal Hillsong Pastor, is a potential liability publicity wise given coming under a cloud for failing to report to police evidence that his father had been guilty of child sex abuse in his church. (And one more about the Devil and Scott Morrison.)

2020


2019-09-28

I like this article: Why Greta Thunberg triggers the troglodytes among us

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by Neil Godfrey

Photo: The teardowns and tirades against Greta Thunberg aren’t everywhere, but sometimes it can seem like it. (Reuters: Kevin Lamarque)

It’s by Lauren Rosewarne and it’s worth reading in full and seriously thinking about:

Why Greta Thunberg triggers the troglodytes among us

. . . .

But there’s an underbelly. A cruel and creepy world where it’s apparently perfectly fine — nay, encouraged — for adults, generally but not exclusively male adults, to shred a 16-year-old to pieces.

Greta ticks all the boxes — triggers the troglodytes amongst us — in some wholly predictable ways.

She’s a girl. To say our culture hates girls is, of course, an overstatement. Afterall, we enjoy looking at girls and having them sing and shimmy for us.

If a book, a band, a film, a foodstuff has a disproportionate teen-girl following — think Twilight, think Taylor Swift, think Billie Eilish — it’s rendered culturally unimportant at best and as vacuous crap at worst.

The moment girls scream and cry over something is the moment our culture has decided it’s wholly unimportant.

She’s not just a girl — she’s a girl with Asperger’s

She’s not just a girl though.

We like certain 16-year-olds. Ideally, ones that look like they’re on the cusp of blossoming womanhood. Barely legal in porn parlance.

…..

If we’re going to pay her any attention, the least she can do is offer us something enticing to look at. To smile for us. To not be too strident. To play nice.

Greta Thunberg isn’t a 16-year-old doing sexiness for us. She’s not performing femininity, she’s not exchanging eroticism for a platform to talk about the environment.

She’s a soft-spoken girl with bare skin and pigtails. And because this packaging is so unfamiliar on the world stage — because we have no real track record of paying attention to girls who look like this — it’s acceptable to ignore her.

….

They’re naive, and their words — their wants, their hopes — get discounted.

But she’s not just a girl. She’s a girl with Asperger’s. And Asperger’s is commonly perceived as a disability.

I found a lot to think about in the full article. It’s worth a read, I believe.

(I’m reminded a little bit of Joan of Arc, for some or several reasons.)

 


2019-03-18

Brilliant News

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by Neil Godfrey

Now this was brilliant news. Before we heard about anything else coming from New Zealand we were hearing of students striking to call on governments to take more serious action on climate change. Now that’s what education is supposed to be about. Educator John Dewey would have been thrilled. The education of the school kids would have been advanced further when they heard later government ministers expressing horror at what the students were doing, predicting the end of an educated society and consequent ruin of the nation if school children just decided to go out on strike every time they disliked something they thought the government was doing! What a laugh it was to listen to such nonsense from “responsible adults”.

Hope for the future! A “woke” generation arising!


2018-08-01

The Foreseeable End of Organized Human Life – while Nero performs

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by Neil Godfrey

No doubt many of you have seen or read this interview so I add a link to it here for latecomers. It pretty well sums up the most critical moment in the past few thousand years of human history.


2018-01-04

Why I Am (Still) Against Nuclear Power

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by Tim Widowfield

People on the Internet who like to style themselves as rational, worldly, and clever members of the intelligentsia enjoy poking fun at people for their irrational beliefs. The usual targets of their (our) jabs are fish in a barrel: creationism (young Earth and old Earth), homeopathy, climate-change denial, and so on.

We see, for example, groups of people dedicated to poking fun at those who are supposedly afraid of chemicals by calling water by its unfamiliar sciency name: dihydrogen monoxide. I’m not necessarily opposed to poking fun at people for their ignorance, but I can’t really support the DHMO thing, because it’s a one-joke wonder that’s too clever and far too satisfied with itself.

Punching down

There’s a sociological reason why it provokes a smug smile, but not actual laughter. It breaks one of the few rules of comedy — punching up is funny; punching down is not. We should try not to make fun of people who cannot understand science (the dumb) while we’re justifiably ridiculing those who refuse to understand science (the deliberately ignorant) or who exploit the ignorance of others for their own gain (the malicious).

Atomic Energy Town

On social media rational people enjoy posting on subjects like the anti-vaccine movement and the rejection of anthropogenic global warming. And that’s good; these are threats to human survival. However, I’ve noticed a trend in the past few years in which the proponents of the nuclear power industry have successfully made supporting “green nuclear energy” one of our merit badges.

A recent USA Today article (“People trust science. So why don’t they believe it?“) demonstrates a now-mainstream tactic: namely, juxtaposing AGW-denial with the supposed AGW solution, nuclear power.

Many conservatives reject the science of man-made climate change, just as many liberals reject the science that shows nuclear energy can safely combat it. The views we express signal which political group we belong to. The gap between what science shows and what people believe, sociologists say, is about our identity.

Do some liberals oppose nuclear power for unscientific, political reasons? Probably. Ignorance exists in all quarters. Some social liberals believe in healing crystals. Others may fear vaccines. Conservatives and liberals have irrational beliefs.

Is it safe?

The key word in the excerpt above, I suppose, is “safely.” People, we are told, have an irrational fear of nuclear power because they think it isn’t safe, which, we are further told, is ridiculous, because it’s extremely safe. And if you don’t think it’s safe, you must be a nut job. As Richard Carrier writes: Continue reading “Why I Am (Still) Against Nuclear Power”