Life is not a spectator sport

Cartoon: Which political party is the most pro family?

The right-wing blog Tigerhawk writes in this post, Warmth in winter: American perception and global reality, By TigerHawk at 3/04/2007 09:54:00 AM

Starting in March, the United States has a very different experience from Europe and northern Asia. In general, the rest of the populated northern hemisphere is much hotter than it used to be. In the United States, the only meaningful changes have been in the southwest, which is thinly populated and only marginally influences American politics. The ugly truth is that we Americans are, in general, enjoying warmer winters without paying the price of hotter summers. (emphasis mine)

He has charts and graphs and everything. Very impressive unless you do some fact checking. U.S. HAS SECOND WARMEST SUMMER ON RECORD Nation Experienced Warmest January – August Period On Record

The average June-August 2006 temperature for the contiguous United States (based on preliminary data) was 2.4 degrees F (1.3 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 72.1 degrees F (22.3 degrees C). This was the second warmest summer on record, slightly cooler than the record of 74.7 degrees F set in 1936 during the Dust Bowl era. This summer’s average was 74.5 degrees F. Eight of the past ten summers have been warmer than the U.S. average for the same period.

NOAA image of June-August 2006 statewide precipitation rankings.The persistence of the anomalous warmth in 2006 made this January-August period the warmest on record for the continental U.S., eclipsing the previous record of 1934.


The prolonged drought over large portions of the West generated a set of adverse and costly effects in 2002, ranging from record wildfires in Oregon, to large fish kills in California’s Klamath River triggered by warm water temperatures. In some regions of the West, drought has persisted for nearly a decade, leading to severe stress on vegetation and water resources. The intensity and frequency of recent droughts has raised concerns that fundamental climate shifts may be occurring in the western U.S. and elsewhere, due perhaps to the generally rising temperatures observed globally over the past decade. This paper reviews the current understanding of possible links between drought and global climate change, the physical and  economic consequences of drought, and the potential to mitigate the adverse consequences of such climatic events using long term climate forecasts and other meteorological information.

A range of potential effects of global climate change on water resources and agricultural management has been suggested.  These include increased surface temperatures and evaporation rates, increased global precipitation (but with greater geographic variability), increased proportions of precipitation received as rain, not snow, earlier and shorter runoff seasons, increased water temperatures, and decreased water quality.  Variability in precipitation patterns is also expected to increase, resulting in more frequent droughts in the U.S. and elsewhere (see Adams et al. 1999, for a review of the effects of climate change on agriculture and agricultural resources).

The economic consequences of drought are well documented.  For example, average annual costs in the United States due to drought are estimated at $6 to 8 billion (Knutson, 2001).  Flooding and hurricanes, though more publicized than drought, are responsible for only $3.6 to 7.2 billion in annual damages combined (Knutson, 2001).  Some of these economic costs arise from the direct physical impacts of drought, such as crop failure, municipal water shortage, wildfires, and fish and wildlife mortality.  Indirect effects also occur.  For example, water deficits reduce hydroelectric power generation, and increase electricity prices.  The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (2002) and Claussen (2001) offer comprehensive discussions of the physical and socioeconomic impacts of drought in the United States.

 Combating global warming makes economic sense

For 25 years, the Golden State has led the nation in programs to save energy; these, in turn, reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions that contribute to global warming. According to the California Energy Commission, the state’s energy-efficient appliance standards, among the toughest in the country, have led to a 75 percent reduction in the energy required to power refrigerators, much to the delight of consumers. Similarly, new homes built in California use only a quarter of the energy of older homes, thanks to smarter building codes. Renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind have prospered in California, where state tax credits helped drive the price of wind energy down almost 90 percent, which now makes it cheaper, in windy areas, than any alternative. As a consequence, in Colorado, for example, customers who agreed to pay a bit extra for wind-only electricity are instead are now getting rebates.

The Hewlett Foundation recently sponsored a study of the economic consequences of these policies over the past three decades. It tells an amazing story. California now uses half as much energy per capita as the nation as a whole, saving the average household $1,000 each year, with total savings now more than $56 billion. New York households have similarly benefited. Whereas per-capita electricity use across the nation has increased 50 percent in the last 30 years, in New York it has risen only 15 percent, due to the state’s focus on energy conservation, saving billions of dollars. The bottom line here is that saving energy is not only good for the environment, it also saves people money.

Whither winter weather? Some worry Minnesota’s losing it 

These are simple straight forward facts. Not too difficult to find. Why he had the energy to put of three temperature maps and one photo ( which he couldn’t help, but insinuate a vast liberal media conspiracy as to why he hadn’t seen the chart pictured else where. Right-wing rule #13b – Anything that disturbs the right-wing force is a result of a vast liberal conspiracy – never entertain the idea that you might be wrong.) and not get the major point of his post factually correct leaves a critical reader wondering about the exclusion of such important data. He also states that he agrees directionally with Al Gore, but basically just doesn’t like him as to so would make TH a member of the likers of the celebrity class – you know that class of people that gave us Ronald Reagan and might give us second rate actor Fred Thompson for president. Still one supposes mission accomplished – he managed to get his facts wrong, bash Al Gore, the supposedly liberal media and celebrities all in one post without being the least aware of his short circuiting the hypocrisy meter.

‘We killed BBC reporter’, Palestinian group says. Another tragic nail in that perverse narrative of the Right that all journalist are terrorist sympathizers.

The Man Who Sued Himself

In continuing coverage of the mess that is our federal student aid system, the NYT today ran a story about the private sector’s often below-the-belt tactics competing with the less costly direct loan program.

“The companies have offered money to universities to pull out of the federal direct loan program, which was championed by the Clinton administration.
They went to court to keep the direct program from becoming more competitive. And they benefited from oversight so lax that the Education Department’s assistant inspector general in 2003 called for tightened regulation of lender dealings with universities.”

In January of last year I published a detailed insider account in the Village Voice of how political pressure was applied within the Department of Education to subvert the direct loan program.

“”The people Bush brought in told us we were no longer allowed to give speeches, talk to colleges, publish any brochures or reports, make any hires,” my source said. “The annual Direct Loan conference was canceled. Our communications person wasn’t allowed to talk to the press without a [Bush] appointee in the room. You almost had to ask permission to go to the bathroom, and you never, ever got it.””

We wouldn’t want the government doing something that is more effective and saves students and their parents a few bucks at the expense of Bush administration supporters in the private sector now would we. That America has a middle class thanks to affordable public universities and that the nation’s science, business and technological future rests on having a large number of well educated Americans from a broad spectrum of backgrounds would never cross the Decider’s mind.

60 years ago, Jackie Robinson stepped onto a field in a monumental act of courage

ASHEVILLE — Baseball will honor perhaps the most significant African-American athlete in history today by celebrating the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the game’s color barrier.

When Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, he changed the game and athletics forever.

“Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.” – Jackie Robinson