The China Syndrome Worsens

Lanzhou, on the Yellow River in China, is one of the most polluted places in the world and is typical of the the consequences of unrestrained industry that are bringing Chinese protesters into the streets. (Photo by sandandtsunamis/Flickr)

China has long been the secret envy of American industrialists. Imagine being able to do whatever you want — build any factory anywhere, pay people whatever the hell you feel like laying them, dump your waste wherever the hell you feel like dumping it — all with no interference from any news media, EPA, environmental organization or opposition party. Forget West Virginia — that’s almost heaven.  But be careful what you wish for, boys and girls; China is coming apart faster than we are. Continue reading

Thunderstorms on Steroids Punching Holes in Ozone

A thunderstorm near Denver, Colorado reaches for the stratosphere. These days, supercharged thunderstorms are punching through the ozone layer, exposing living things below to a new threat. (Photo by Dan Mahr/Flickr)

Scientists at Harvard University have discovered yet another unexpected — not to mention unintended — consequence of  climate change. Thunderstorms on steroids — supercharged by the increased heat energy trapped in the atmosphere — are, as it were, punching massive holes in the ozone layer. The implications for life on earth are profound, and profoundly negative. Continue reading

From American Drought to “Global Catastrophe”

Food riots erupted across North Africa in 2011 — this one in Algeria in January — after prices spiked. It’s about to happen again. (Photo by Magharebia/Flickr)

Some poet  invented the name “Arab Spring” as a label for the tsunami of public desperation that last year took down the governments of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Poets and Pollyannas saw the events as an upwelling of love for democracy. Realists related them to the spike in world food prices that threatened the survival of whole populations and made them desperate for change — any change.  Now, thanks in large part to events unfolding in the American heartland, get ready for another, worse, spike. Continue reading

Mississippi Falling: How Far?

It’s not easy being a Mississippi barge; 14 months ago they were being swept away by flood waters, now they’re running aground in low water. (Photo by Brad Jones/Flickr)

The Mississippi River is in some places running 53 feet below its level of last May. That’s not quite as alarming as it sounds because last May it was in an historic flood. But with little snow last winter in the mountains and no rain to speak of this year in the West and much of the Midwest, the lower river has fallen eight to 10 feet below normal. That is perilously close to shutting down one of the country’s principal arteries of commerce. Continue reading

Newt Gingrich Says Brace for Impact. Believe it Now??

A solar flare erupting from the sun yesterday, along with a CME that will miss earth. Watch that space.

Newt Gingrich is like the sun in this respect: if an entity belches heat and light and energy on all frequencies in all directions all the time, every once in a while it’s going to hit something.  At 1:00 am tomorrow, Saturday July 14, a coronal mass ejection from the sun capable of shutting down life on earth as we know it will miss our home planet, not by much. Coincidentally, the Washington Post this morning contains an essay by Mr. Gingrich on the danger of such an event, a rare direct hit by a man who has frequent cerebral mass ejections. Continue reading

Hunger Games in the Heartland

We’re headed back to the dustbowl future in the heartland. But not to hear the USDA tell it.

As recently as six weeks ago, the Pollyannas of industrial agriculture were all over the industrial media trumpeting the imminent “huge” corn harvest in the United States.  They knew it was going to be huge (see, for example, Bloomberg News on May 24) because more US acres were planted in corn this year than ever, and because there is no such thing as global climate change. Well, they didn’t say that second part, but they assumed it. Because if they hadn’t, they  might have foreseen the disaster now unfolding. Continue reading

How They Do Drought in Texas

Your Texas rice field looks like this? No problem, drill another well. (Photo by Terry Shuck/Flikr)

The next stop on our Last Chance Tour of a collapsing civilization: the Texas Panhandle.  The land is turning into  desert, the people are acting out the Tragedy of the Commons (a pretty way of describing the way humans fight for the last scrap of a vanishing resource),  the government is making things worse and almost everybody is pretending nothing is happening at all. Continue reading

18 Wheelers: Endangered Species

The environs of the Great American 18-Wheeler, which is showing signs of going extinct. (Photo by Thomanication/Flickr)

The industrial machine that is America today is not a person (any more than a corporation is), but if it were, we would understand clearly that its vascular system — the mechanical  network that supplies petro-nutrients to all its robot parts, without which it  cannot survive for a minute — consists of highways filled with tractor-trailer rigs. Heads up: the system has severe atherosclerosis. Continue reading

Thunderstorms Threaten WV Famine

A vicious squall line moves across the northeastern US on Friday, June 29. (Photo by NASA/Goddard)

The third horseman of the Apocalypse — Famine — is abroad in West Virginia today, the day after Independence Day 2012, because of a thunderstorm. In a stunning development illustrating the fragility of the industrial food chain, people in many of West Virginia’s counties began experiencing hunger three days after the storm knocked out power in their area. Continue reading

NPR: The Lost Best Hope

(Photo by timsamoff/flickr)

The last bastion of intelligent and balanced journalism in this country is apparently now the lost bastion: on Morning Edition last Wednesday, NPR ran a piece on the oil bidness that was a travesty of journalism. The piece by John Ydstie “reported” on the “huge boom” in US oil and natural gas production and claimed — not by quoting an idiot, but by making the idiotic statement with no attribution or qualification — that it “could help the nation reach the elusive goal of energy independence.” That was the lede sentence, and things went downhill from there.
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