Cartoon hits the right temperature on climate change and science

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In the January 31 edition of the newspaper comic strip, Non Sequitur, the dad is trying to explain a basic principle of climate change to one of his daughters.

When she screams that she doesn’t want to hear about the “science junk on a Saturday,” his response is – “How long is this anti-knowledge trend going to last?”

It struck me that this is exactly the phrase to use to frame this trend. The phrase “anti-science” is accurate, but “anti-knowledge” covers the movement in a much better way. We have some politicians and TV talking heads who are leading this effort.

The latest topic on the anti-knowledge table is vaccinations for kids. Vaccinations have been highly successful in wiping out or greatly reducing particular diseases over many decades.

It’s about your kids AND the children of other families in your community. The country was experiencing an alarming rate of diseases like measles before the vaccinations spread far and wide. Countless kids were saved from suffering and death.

Sure, caution should be used, as some kids might have allergies or other conditions that might prevent them receiving certain vaccines. But what a few talking heads are putting out in recent days isn’t helping at all and only serves to needlessly scare some moms and dads.

And of course, the climate-change debate has gone way off the tracks. Even some proponents of the science are letting the anti-knowledge side frame the debate by arguing endlessly about what the temperature was at any given point in time.

The debate should be more about topics like pollution and deforestation and what mankind is doing to the Earth’s oceans. These impacts affect the climate AND the overall health and welfare of humans and our fellow inhabitants of the Earth. These impacts are undeniable – completely undeniable.

Science and knowledge have led to and are leading to advancements for the human race. Without science and knowledge, diseases and unchecked pollution would have led to massive impacts on the planet, far beyond what we’re even facing now.

Without science and knowledge, there are no phones, Internet, transportation as we know it – including airplanes, farming, weather forecasting, TV, radio, heating and air systems for our homes, electricity, space exploration and much more.

So being anti-science and anti-knowledge only serves to limit advancement. We can’t be so selective when it comes to science and knowledge, especially when it’s just a matter of being inconvenient for the power and propaganda brokers.

And denying science and knowledge does a huge disservice to children and future generations.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Climate change debate should be about much more than temperature change

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The science-deniers are routinely commenting about climate change with observations about temperature. And too often it sinks the overall discussion into nothing more than a comparison of temperature over particular eras.

The deniers really don’t want the debate to slip beyond this level – into the impacts of climate change and even more importantly, the deeper overall impacts of human activity.

While the specific temperature trends are certainly an important factor, too much is made in the media and within debates about temperature ONLY.

The keys are actually the impacts of the temperatures and the pollution/emissions being poured into our air, water and land.
The oceans are being impacted to an extreme level by human activity – trash, overfishing, pollution and more.
While the US is doing better in some respects with air pollution, some regions of the globe are still horrible – as in China.
The Appalachian Mountains are being destroyed by mining operations – with entire ranges blown up. The material is dumped into mountain streams.

Deforestation is a huge tragedy. Animal species moving into extinction at a rapid pace is a huge tragedy.

It is an indisputable FACT that human activity is impacting the planet. Those wishing to firmly place their head in the sand and ignore the facts will never change the facts.

Denying that something that is undeniably happening isn’t happening isn’t a logical position. It is nothing more than a child putting his fingers into his ears while crying out, “La, la, la, la ….”

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Report: Pope to speak out with concerns about climate change

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I am not Catholic and I don’t agree with everything Pope Francis has stated over his stint as the church’s leader. But on so many issues, he is making tremendous strides for people everywhere.

I really like this Pope.

Now, reports indicate he will be speaking out about the dangers of climate change. People of all religions should be concerned with what is happening to the planet. Those who believe God created the Earth – in whatever form their religion places God – should be very concerned with the level of pollution being dumped into the air, water and ground.

Selling our environment off to Big Oil, Big Gas and other polluting corporations, to support greed, is far from the teachings of any true religion I’ve ever heard about. I think the Pope understands that Jesus would be horrified to the degree to which greed is damaging our planet – the creation.

Denying the impact of greed only supports the greed. So thanks Pope Francis. Please continue to speak out for those in need and for the planet.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Troubling Trend: Polar bear populations falling

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Despite what some climate-change deniers have claimed of late, polar bears are struggling to survive, as the planet warms.

An LA Times ran article on Saturday, reporting on a recent study that showed populations of polar bears in Alaska and western Canada fell by 40 percent, from 2001 to 2010. The research was conducted by scientists from a number of organizations, including the U.S. Geological Survey and Environment Canada.

As the report notes, hunting for food is much more difficult for the animals now. As the Arctic ice continues to dramatically melt, they are forced to swim greater distances between ice fields.

But some in the anti-science crowd continue to claim the ice is not melting and polar bears are healthy and happy. Just saying something that is not true over and over and over again doesn’t turn it into a fact.

It’s so sad to see entire species of majestic creatures slip into extinction, while the root causes are too largely ignored. Sometimes, as is the case with climate change, it is greed that drives the movement to ignore these issues.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

More bad news for Earth’s oceans and ice caps

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Two recent articles point to troubling trends for our oceans. If only more than a few political leaders had the courage to stand up to their Big Oil/Big Coal donors – and then move in the right direction on climate change.

Climate Central describes the oceans as “warming and acidifying.” And recent reporting indicates 90 percent of the planets warming is on the seas.

Before you think, “oh, it’s only the oceans,” read this from the article – “That rapid ocean warming has consequences for the Earth’s climate and its shorelines.”

And then there’s the Daily Beast, from October 5. Despite what the anti-science crowd is putting out, Antarctica is melting fast. It is even reportedly impacting the Earth’s gravity.

Over a three-year span of a recent study, three Antarctic glaciers lost about 2014 billion US tons of ice each year.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Another politician who needs a science lesson

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It is on the one hand comical and other hand troubling and sad to continue to read statements from political leaders and pundits who are battling against science.

Too many are denying there is a human factor to climate change. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia is among ranks of those who either don’t understand the science at all or just want to deny science is real.

This week, Capito debated Natalie Tennant, her Democratic opponent for US Senate. From an interview after the debate, the Charleston Gazette quoted Capito as saying, “Is the climate changing? Yes it’s changing, it changes all the time, we heard it raining out there. I’m sure humans are contributing to it.”
She doesn’t know the difference between climate science and the daily weather outside. It is stunning on on off-the-charts scale.
If some politicians want to be puppets for Big Oil or some other set of corporations, why can’t they just be up front about it? These statements only scream out to show a lack of basic education. Do they really want to broadcast this about themselves?
PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Open Letter to the President: Reject the Keystone XL Pipeline

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The odds that President Obama will read the following blog letter addressed to him are extremely slim – probably the same odds that I will be elected President of the United States during any future election.

But I’m going to post it anyway. Who Cares? – Right? It’s the joy of blogging.

Mr President,

One of the key questions on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline goes to who do you trust and who should the American people trust?

A) – We can trust the science – in both the impacts of pollution on our air – and on our water from the frequent spills we will certainly see. And we can trust the science on climate change.

Or B) – We could trust Big Oil and its lobbyists and CEOs and non-scientists.

The B option has the poorest of track records. Remember before the Gulf Oil Gusher, when the propaganda from politicians and Big Oil was telling us off-shore oil drilling was soooo safe and spills rarely, ever happen? After the one of the biggest man-made disasters in world history unfolded in the Gulf of Mexico and after we found out the level of coverup that transpired, we found out that leaks and spills were commonplace in the Gulf and the equipment is anything but safe.

The lives of so many people were impacted and of course the suffering for wildlife was extreme. We should never forget the images of animals covered with thick layers of sludge or the individuals who died on the rig. Had the Federal Government and the Minerals Management Service not so fully trusted and bowed down to Big Oil, maybe that disaster could have been prevented.

Sure – we need jobs and energy is vital to our society. But why should we continue to live in the 1930s? Even by the 1960s we had a government that pushed innovation. President Kennedy called for a man on the Moon by the end of the decade and the effort proceeded forward like a stampede, until the goal was reached.

Now, as a nation, Big Oil would have us believe we need to back up into the 1950s. We are four decades beyond Neal Armstrong’s first footprint on the moon. Where is the same level of governmental push for innovation on energy, that we saw with space exploration back in the 1960s?

What we, the people, see from the outside looking in seems to be the stifling of energy innovation, from the rather large boot of Big Oil. The strategy seems from my viewpoint to be – slow down real energy innovation until they’ve sucked as many barrels of oil out of the ground as possible. Why? – Because oil still in the ground is lost profit, when some clean, great energy source rolls into the forefront.

So again I ask – Who should you trust and who should the American people trust? In whose hands should we place our future? Should Big Oil get its way or should the health and welfare of our environment and therefore the health and welfare of the American people take the highest level of concern?

The answers are abundantly clear.

 

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Top climate scientists urge President Obama to reject Keystone XL Pipeline

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A letter from 18 of the top climate scientists in the country is urging President Obama to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline. From extracting the tar sands to piping the dirty product down from Canada to the Gulf Coast, it’s a bad thing for the environment and wildlife.

350.org reports an environmental impact statement is due to be released soon by the State Department, but it remains to be seen if the department heads will have the backbone to report the full impacts of the project.

The scientists are very concerned with the level of climate change the planet is experiencing and with the further impacts this pipeline could help bring. They wrote in part to the President: “We hope, as scientists, that you will demonstrate the seriousness of your climate convictions by refusing to permit Keystone XL; to do otherwise would be to undermine your legacy.”

 

It’s January – and insects are singing and stinging here in Carolina

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I’ve lived in my hometown all of my life. But I never recall a time in a past mid-January when crickets and other insects were making their music, mosquitoes were biting and moths were flying around the porch lights. All of that has occurred over the last 24 hours here – and today I was sweating, just sitting in the backyard watching the dogs play.

My neighborhood experience is not the end-all evidence of climate change, but it’s another bit of evidence.

For decades, I’ve been a last holdout to put away the short pants. Through Christmas or a little beyond, I would suffer even a cold spell or two to keep wearing shorts. Every fall, when the softball league I played in reached its fall tournament in November, it was chilly and I was often the only player still in shorts.

But eventually, I’d have to relent and go to mostly bluejeans or other long pants once January rolled in. It hasn’t been the case over the past few years and certainly not this winter. We have had a few colder nights, but November 2012 was decidedly cooler than December 2012. I was taking down Christmas decorations the other day in a T-shirt.

It seems to me the wildlife has picked up on the trend as well. Birds were chirping and the weather was mild this morning when I stepped out to the street to get the newspaper, as if it was April 13 – not January 13.

The science is in and the global and backyard evidence is in. We are experiencing climate change and man-made factors are playing a role.