Food Fights Coming Soon

National Guard riot training

US National Guard troops train for riot control duty. Several new reports on the world's food supply indicate their services will be needed. (US Army Photo)

Crop failures and food-price shocks, often leading to food riots, are eroding world food security — which is to say they are threatening the existence of a growing number of countries — according to a number of new reports. Climate change is implicated in the most catastrophic of the crop failures this year, but scientists blame industrial agriculture for some of the gravest threats to our food supply that lie just ahead. Continue reading

Nightfall in America

US Capitol dome

As night gathers in Washngton, the Capitol dome shines a beacon of total ignorance over the nation. (Photo by David Iliff/wikimedia)

The triumph of ignorance and greed in the November elections is about to complete the paralysis of the United States government that has been the clear objective of the right wing since 1980, and has been almost within its grasp since 2000. Virtually free at last from the constraints of objective journalism, effective opposition and a shared public sense of civic duty, the right wing no longer needs to be restrained, or rational, in completing the destruction of a once great nation. Continue reading

Lakes Warming Toward Danger Point

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, on the border of California and Nevada, is North America's largest alpine lake. Like most other lakes in the world, it's warming up. (Photo by NASA)

The world’s major lakes have been warming at a “rapid” rate since 1985, according to a survey released this week by the National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration (NASA). Using data from infra-red sensors mounted on satellites, the study found average surface-temperature warming in large lakes around the world of up to one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade. Continue reading

Sea Water Rising at Norfolk, Va.

The harbor at Norfolk Virginia

Norfolk, Virginia, on one of the world's great harbors in the world's largest estuary, has long prospered because of its proximity to the sea. That tide is changing. (US Navy photo)

While the rising oceans of a warming world eat away at, among many other places, the city of Norfolk Virginia, the state’s wingnut attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, spends his days suing the federal government to prevent it from regulating greenhouse gases, and trying to convict a University of Virginia scientist of fraud for having the temerity to conclude that the world’s climate is being changed by pollution. Continue reading

Burn, Baby, (Cough) Burn

Beijing pollution

The Beijing skyline, as seen three years ago, is unlikely to look this good again. Photo by Kevin Dooley/Flickr

The good news is that the worldwide recession is easing. The bad news is that the pollution of the world is resuming. (Although the word “pollution” seems retro in a time dominated by trendy references to greenhouse gases and carbon footprints, it might be useful to remind ourselves from time to time that climate change is not the only consequence of unrestrained pollution. It’s killing people in many other ways as well.) Continue reading

Blizzard Strikes US: Drops National IQ 24 inches

Two snowstorms of epic proportions in quick succession this month have triggered mass episodes of brain trauma among the public, and among public figures.

Drivers, of course, are the first to be afflicted. The third consecutive flake of snow divides all drivers (in all but the northernmost tier of states) into two categories: the feckless and the reckless. The feckless feel safer driving at 15 miles per hour, no matter how desperately momentum is needed to get up the next icy rise in the road, and no matter how many dozens of vehicles are stacked up behind them. They obey the legendary advice given the pilot by his mother: just fly low and slow, and you’ll be fine. The reckless, on the other hand, do not lower their speed or alter their driving habits for anything, because, like, why should they? Continue reading

Dumb and Dumber

If you’ve ever heard a public-address system screech, you’ve heard a feedback loop in action. The microphone picks up a little noise, the amplifier makes it louder, sends it out through the speaker, whereupon it is picked up by the mike and amplified again until it turns into a primal scream.

Feedback loops are accelerating the impacts of the greenhouse effect on global climate. Increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, acting like the glass in a greenhouse, trap solar radiation near the earth’s surface, raising the temperature. As it gets warmer in the northern reaches where the tundra and taiga are permanently frozen, they start to thaw in summer. When they thaw they release large amounts of carbon dioxide, which increase the greenhouse effect. Feedback loop.

Feedback loops, most of them unforeseen, have accelerated the effects of global warming well beyond the worst-case scenarios of just a few years ago. The Paul Revere of global climate change, James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute, describes¬†in the current edition of Newsweek how badly those scenarios — many of which he wrote himself — have been trampled.

Well, stupidity has feedback loops as well. Continue reading

Red Snow, Adobe Rain, Rippin’ Your Strip

In the new lexicon of the increasingly desertified American West, red snow is what you get after the wind has deposited what’s left of the disappearing soil on what’s left of the disappearing snow pack; adobe rain is composed of the mud splatters you get when rain has fallen through a dust cloud; and rippin’ your strip — taking out your lawn and replacing it with gravel or seriscape — is the West’s new black.

This is all laid out in a riveting article by Chip Ward, just posted on TomDispatch, titled “Red Snow Warning.” It’s a terrific elaboration on, and confirmation of, Chapter 3 of Brace for Impact, “A Drinking Problem.”

Check it out. Then tell me if you still think that we who see the whole industrial edifice coming down are alarmists. Then do something to secure a sustainable water supply for you and your family.