La Niňa: In English, it Means Scapegoat

This drought, in Texas, was caused by La Niňa, off Peru. But don't worry, the tooth fairy will fix it.

It was one of those articles that subtracted from the sum total of human knowledge. It appeared on the respected Reuters news service, and began: “The dreaded La Niňa weather anomaly, blamed for both drought and record snowfall in the U.S., has returned and will garner strength during the coming winter, the Climate Prediction Center forecast Thursday.” The logical equivalent would be you — on finding your car doesn’t start in the morning — taking your ignition key to the shop and demanding that it be fixed. Because you “blame” it for the problem. Continue reading

Report: Trawlers Scraping Last Life from Oceans

A new study details how factory trawlers such as the Northern Osprey are stripping the deep oceans of fish that cannot replace themselves. (Photo by Dennis Jarvis/Flickr)

A perfunctory article deep inside yesterday’s Washington Post paints a horrifying picture of exhausted oceans — described as “more akin to a watery desert” —  being scraped clean of the last traces of marine life by pitiless, gargantuan deep-water trawlers operating beyond the law and beyond sanity.  The story is based on a new study of the world’s fisheries published in the journal Marine Policy (“Scientists call for end to deep-sea fishing”). (The article upholds the new Standards of Fair and Balanced Journalism set by Fox News by somehow, somewhere finding an academic mooch who sees no problem with that.)

Continue reading

Energy Industries Rush to Sell Out Their Country

1252 people were arrested for demonstrating against a proposed tar-sands pipeline from Canada. Meanwhile, the real crimes wre being committed elsewhere. (Photo by tarsandsaction/flickr)

The most real and present danger to the security — indeed, the survival — of the United States is the advent of peak oil (the time when the oil-producing nations’ declining output can no longer meet the rising demand of the oil-consuming nations). The condition is imminent (even Forbes Magazine admits the possibility: “Has Peak Oil Come To The Non-Opec World? Maybe.”) and its effects will be catastrophic. The sudden absence, or extreme cost, of a substance whose abundance and cheapness provide the foundation of our entire economy can hardly be imagined. So the American energy industry, aided and abetted by its wholly-owned politicians, is doing everything possible to make it worse. Continue reading

Monsanto: More Crimes Against Humanity

Monsanto’s declining reputation worldwide is reflected in this French street art of an imagined member of “Monsanto Youth.” (Photo by Thierry Erhmann/Flickr)

When we come to our senses and begin to mete out capital punishment to corporations, Monsanto will surely be the first to mount the scaffold (see Capital Punishment for Corporations: Time to Start). Just in the past week, there emerged two new examples of its abuse of the planet, two new indications of the catastrophe it is bringing down on all our heads. The general public, which could reasonably be expected to be at Monsanto’s gates with pitchforks and torches, yawned and went back to reality-TV reruns.

Continue reading

Forbes Says Brace for Impact: Believe it Now?

Having described how fast the airplane is descending, and how close it is to the rocks, Dr. Harte and his interviewer do the required fantasizing about how a soft landing might come about. (Photo by Radio Nederland/Flickr)

Forbes Magazine is a capitalist tool. That is not an insult, that is its self-proclaimed motto. Known for listing, rating and pandering to billionaires and business, serving as it does the biggest and baddest industrialists in the world, Forbes (and Forbes.com) is where you would expect to find pollution propaganda and climate-change denial. It is the last place you would look to find a hair-on-fire, climate-change authority explaining in great detail why we should, in effect, brace for impact. But guess what: the man has bitten the dog. Continue reading

Irene Trashes Obama’s Polls

This image purports to show a hurricane that the Obama administration either failed to protect us from, or invented.

President Obama’s approval ratings plummeted this morning on news that a major hurricane was approaching the US east coast. Seven out of ten Americans who watched Fox News srongly disapprove of the President’s handling of hurricanes. According to the US Chamber of Commerce, “The Obama administration has done nothing to protect job creators from hurricanes. We think it may be an impeachable offense.” Continue reading

Global Warming’s Evil Twin

We may admire the first person ever to eat an oyster, like this one from the Pacific Northwest. We may soon meet the last, because of rapid ocean acidification. (Photo by adactio/Flickr).

To the extent that we talk, think or do anything about the threat of the industrial age’s rampant and accelerating pollution of air, water and land, we focus these days on climate change. It is a serious effect (serious enough to induce blindness and deafness in nine out of ten candidates for the Republican presidential nomination), but far from the only serious effect of industrial pollution. The same stuff that’s making our atmosphere warmer is turning our oceans to acid — and, little noticed outside the shellfish industry, has very nearly removed oysters from the national menu. Continue reading

Great Lakes Dying: Mussel-Bound Michigan

Beautiful, tranquil and nearly dead: Lake Michigan in the moonlight. (Photo by Kevin Dooley/Flickr)

On Saturday, August 13, the last commercial fishing boat working Lake Michigan out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, passed the harbor breakwater outbound for the last time. Two hundred years of commercial fishing from Milwaukee was over, because Lake Michigan is virtually dead. It is not over-fishing that killed it — although the once-typical annual haul of 40 million pounds of fish would have done that before long —  it was an invasive clam that did it. Continue reading

The Mother of All Fracking Lies

Water from one of the wells never harmed by fracking explodes, in a scene from the documentary "Gasland."

The claim that not one single water well has been harmed by hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is the anthem of the oil and gas industry as it presses its case to perforate the shale formations of the world without regard for the vital water resources also to be found there. The current administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa Jackson, sings from the same sheet music. But even in a world where public statements have little relationship to reality, this is a remarkable Big Lie. Continue reading

Omens of Collapse: A Stage and a Fence

The concert stage at the Indiana State Fair was built to impress, and to last a day or two longer than it did. Does anyone else see an omen here?

Things that are done for show don’t work well, don’t last long, and can hurt a lot of people when, inevitably,  they collapse. This lesson was demonstrated anew this past week in two widely separated — and wildly different — places: the Indiana State Fair and the Mexican border. Continue reading