Global Warming — Not Funny!

EZ Writer from Daily Kos has the scoop on today’s Washington Post lead story on global warming. From the story:

The debate has been intensifying because Earth is warming much faster than some researchers had predicted. James Hansen, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, last week confirmed that 2005 was the warmest year on record, surpassing 1998. Earth’s average temperature has risen nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 30 years, he noted, and another increase of about 4 degrees over the next century would “imply changes that constitute practically a different planet.”

[…]

Princeton University geosciences and international affairs professor Michael Oppenheimer, who also advises the advocacy group Environmental Defense, said one of the greatest dangers lies in the disintegration of the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets, which together hold about 20 percent of the fresh water on the planet. If either of the two sheets disintegrates, sea level could rise nearly 20 feet in the course of a couple of centuries, swamping the southern third of Florida and Manhattan up to the middle of Greenwich Village.

While both the Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheets as a whole are gaining some mass in their cold interiors because of increasing snowfall, they are losing ice along their peripheries. That indicates that scientists may have underestimated the rate of disintegration they face in the future, Oppenheimer said. Greenland’s current net ice loss is equivalent to an annual 0.008 inch sea level rise.

The effects of the collapse of either ice sheet would be “huge,” Oppenheimer said. “Once you lost one of these ice sheets, there’s really no putting it back for thousands of years, if ever.”

The story goes on to detail how Hansen has been blocked by the Bush administration from sharing his research with the public.

When Hansen posted data on the Internet last fall suggesting that 2005 could be the warmest on record, according to a Goddard scientist who did not want to be identified, NASA officials ordered Hansen to withdraw the information because he had not screened it with the administration in advance. More recently, NASA officials tried to discourage a reporter from interviewing Hansen for this article and later insisted he could speak on the record only if an agency spokeswoman listened in on the conversation.

“They’re trying to control what’s getting out to the public,” Hansen said, adding that many of his colleagues are afraid to talk about the issue. “They’re not willing to say much because they’ve been pressured and they’re afraid they’ll get into trouble.”

It’s frightening to read the comments on EZ Writer’s diary and hear from people all over the country who are experiencing warmer weather. There seems to be growing concern about this issue as it becomes an undeniable reality.

Nancy Green’s Vigil Featured in Projo Today

Nancy Green, at her vigil to remember the soldiers killed in Iraq.
One of our writers here at Kmareka, Nancy Green, is featured in a Projo article by Bob Kerr today:

Nancy Green checks the number in The New York Times every week, then prints it on a piece of paper that she puts on the poster, which she carries to South Main Street in Providence on Saturday at noon.

Sometimes, there are only five or six people there, presenting themselves in opposition to the war in Iraq for those passing by to respond to or ignore. Green, a nurse who feels the need to be publicly counted, was moved to act by none other than Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy defense secretary and one of the architects of the wrong-way war in Iraq.

Wolfowitz left a lot of people stunned and amazed when he was asked, in the spring of 2004, how many Americans had died in the war. He came up with a figure that was more than 200 shy of reality.

“It made me really angry,” says Green. “I knew the numbers better than he did.”

She found a peace sign from another time, another national breakdown, and put the numbers of the American dead in Iraq on it and joined the group on South Main Street.

“Investing some time on a Saturday morning, it’s not that big a deal,” she says. “It’s the least I can do.”

Since she has been there, she has noticed a shift in the numbers. The ratio of passing drivers who jab an approving thumb skyward compared with those who flash a middle finger has changed from about 3 to 1 to 4 to 1.

It is an unscientific survey, but Green takes it as a hopeful sign.

She doesn’t always make it to South Main Street, but her sign is always there with the latest numbers. It is a simple and eloquent reminder of how a war that was supposed to be swift and precise and end with flowers being showered on the American invaders has become bogged down in a deadly muddle of roadside bombs and shoddy equipment and too few people to do the job.

“There is just the number, nothing else,” she says. “People know what it is. I hope at some point people are going to say this is too much. They’re going to ask ‘What’s the reason — all these people being sent to Iraq and so many dying?’ “

Not many are asking yet, so the small Saturday ritual in Providence continues, along with small gatherings in other places where people discover that they are simply not able to live with this war day after day in silence and indifference.

“It makes a point,” Green says of the small weekly gathering. “It brings the issue out in front of people.”

When the war is over, Green is planning a small ceremony to burn the sign. She doesn’t know when that will be, of course. And she doesn’t know how the end will be determined or defined.

So she does her hour on South Main Street in Providence. And people stop and sometimes say a few words through the small sound system. The only rule is to keep it clean.

And dozens of people see the number on the sign and there’s a good chance that many of them will think about it, unless they’re on a cell phone or listening to an iPod or haven’t been told there’s a war going on.

During a war that we know so little about, and often find on the inside pages, these small doses of reality, offered by our neighbors in assorted places, become more and more vital.

The total of American combat deaths in Iraq as of yesterday was 2,239.

When Nancy Green first took her sign to South Main Street, the number was 1,234.

The number of Iraqi deaths is something no one seems quite sure of.

Go, Nancy! You are an inspiration to us all.

Lest We Forget…

This morning, as I listened to Sarah McLachlan sing of a “World On Fire� on my way to work, I found myself remembering the horrors of 9/11. It seems that the tragic events of that day (and the ones that followed) will never stray far from my conscious mind. Has anything really been the same since? After subjecting myself to a barrage of remembered feelings and images, I did a little math. Tomorrow, January 28th, will be 1,600 days since September 11th, 2001. In commemoration of this anniversary of sorts and because we have all been touched—and even traumatized—by this tragedy, I direct you to The September 11 Digital Archive which “uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the history� of that terrible day. There are lessons to be learned here, lessons our [so-called] leaders would do well to heed.

Slumping into 2006 with Low GDP Growth

Angry Bear’s writer Kash (who has a PhD in macroeconomics) has a post about the unexpectedly poor numbers for Gross Domestic Product growth in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Consumer spending slowed dramatically, to its lowest rate of growth in recent history. Business spending slowed even more dramatically, from a growth rate in the neighborhood of 8-10% over the past 10 quarters to just 3% this quarter – the lowest rate of business spending growth since 2003: Q1.

In fact, the only thing that kept GDP growth positive at all was a massive build-up in inventories – the largest increase in inventories since early 2002. Apparently businesses were caught off guard by the slowdown in demand, and have not yet slowed their production accordingly. Presumably, they will.

With news like this, it begs the question of whether the stock market will hold up, and whether unemployment will rise. Better not buy that big new house yet. In six months there might be some real bargains on the market.

The Cold Shoulder Of The White House

The Bush Administration’s continuing neglect of environmental issues has apparently ticked off the wrong special interest group. No, it’s not Greenpeace. It’s not the Sierra Club. It’s not even Bloggers Against Loggers. It’s the Advocates For Beings Of Frozen Precipitation, a lobbying organization which represents the interests of this country’s snowmen and snowwomen. As reported in The Onion in an article entitled “Nation’s Snowmen March Against Global Warming,� these frozen beings have recently taken to the streets to raise awareness of the threat of global warming and to protest the inadequate measures taken by this nation’s leaders to address such. Recently, several former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency took the Bush Administration to task for its failure to take the issue of global warming seriously enough. Their comments, along with the snowman protest, apparently received a very cool reception at the White House.

Soldier-Made Videos from the War in Iraq

A new blogging site sponsored by PBS and run by journalist Mark Glaser is currently featuring a story about videos of war shot by American soldiers in Iraq and uploaded to the internet.

This is disturbing to me for many reasons, as I detail below in the comment I left on the site:

As a clinical social worker, and blogger, and citizen concerned about the Iraq war and the soldiers there, this gives me the willies. It’s bad enough that so many of our soldiers are coming back with major PTSD, and that the rate of suicide and mental illness for soldiers from this war is extremely high. Now we are adding to this the possibility that people can get videos of combat directly from soldiers. I can see why this would be against the army code of conduct. I can also see how this could make for more traumatized individuals in the world. It seems like, as you remark in the your post, this will mostly lead to further dehumanizing of the enemy. I guess this helps us understand just how sick the mind needs to become in order to fight in war, but other than that, I don’t see the point. Also, are there any precautions to prevent children from watching these videos?

Okay, I just went and watched one — Iraq Fallujah. All I can say is, this is wrong. It’s way too easy to get exposed to something totally heinous. Especially I think we need to have something in place to keep children from being exposed. It’s good that it’s being documented, but where and when these videos are viewable is a big issue that is not at all being addressed here.

To elaborate on my concerns, and I’m a big “freedom of speech” defender, but I’m imagining an ordinary 13-year-old boy deciding he is going to research the Iraq war online, coming across these videos, spending several hours watching them in a state of total shock and engrossment, and consequently starting to feel very depressed, not being able to sleep at night, afraid to tell his parents what he’s done for fear he will get in trouble. It seems to me there should be some stopping points along the way before these videos are made available. Stop One: US Army Intelligence. Stop Two: a page that states that this material may not be suitable for minors and requests evidence that the viewer is not a minor.