Sunday, January 8, 2012

Newt's global warming flip-flop

An "amateur paleontologist"? Newt Gingrich is clearly relying on the fact that most Republicans won't have the slightest idea what paleontology is.

You know, I like dinosaurs, too. But that doesn't make me an expert in paleontology. And it certainly doesn't make me an expert in climatology, which is a completely different field of science.

Frankly, Newt isn't just relying on our ignorance of paleontology. He's also relying on our news media not calling him on this. Yeah, questioning why paleontology has anything at all to do with global warming would be showing bias, huh? Just another of those "gotcha" questions, like "what newspapers and magazines do you read?"

Like Romney, Gingrich is just flip-flopping to appeal to the increasingly anti-science Republican base (scientifically ignorant enough to not know what "paleontology" even means). Most of these Republicans were more rational even just a few years ago. But as fast as the GOP is rushing to the far-right, it's a struggle for their "leaders" to keep up.

OK, there's no point in continuing with this argument. Certainly, I've made it before. So maybe I'll just post a few links to recent articles I've noticed. I thought of blogging more about each of these, but it's not going to happen.

But maybe they'll give you something to think about.

From the New Zealand Herald:
Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide - have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years. ...

Scientists estimate that there are hundreds of millions of tonnes of methane gas locked away beneath the Arctic permafrost, which extends from the mainland into the seabed of the relatively shallow sea of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.

One of the greatest fears is that with the disappearance of the Arctic sea-ice in summer, and rapidly rising temperatures across the entire region, which are already melting the Siberian permafrost, the trapped methane could be suddenly released into the atmosphere, leading to rapid and severe climate change.

From USA Today:
The USA has endured 12 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in 2011, breaking the record of nine set in 2008, the National Climatic Data Center announced this morning at a meeting in San Francisco. ...

In these 12 disasters, 646 Americans have been killed, the weather service says. In total, including other weather events that didn't reach the billion-dollar threshold, more than 1,000 people have lost their lives because of weather and climate events this year. ...

"We're having intense storms that I haven't seen before," weather service chief Jack Hayes said this week, adding that the cost of weather-related disasters has increased dramatically in recent years.

Scientists blame the disasters on a combination of global warming and freak weather.

From the Washington Post:
The underwater world on display in Disney’s “Finding Nemo” is teeming with a dizzying array of cheery creatures, from sea turtles to seahorses and mackerel to sharks. So a team of Canadian and U.S. scientists decided to assess the mythical ecosystem inhabited by the small clownfish and his friends to see how their real-world counterparts were faring.

It turns out that when it comes to surviving in a non-Pixar sea, being adorable isn’t enough.

Sixteen percent of the species associated with characters in “Finding Nemo” that have been evaluated face the threat of extinction, according to the study, which was conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Canada’s Simon Fraser University. The analysis of 1,568 species is not just a whimsical look at American popular culture and its cartoon characters. It reveals how humans treat some of the ocean’s most charismatic inhabitants.

“These are species that should be doing better because they are the ones we care about,” said Loren McClenachan, a post-doctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University.

From Clean Technica (because I didn't want to be unremittingly bleak):
With two years of the Obama administration, almost four times as much clean energy has been put on the grid on public lands as in all the previous 40 years.

All the renewable energy ever permitted on public lands totaled 1,800 MW by the end of 2008. In the last two years, the Department of the Interior has approved 6,600 MW of new projects.

Rapid and responsible fast track utility-scale production of clean energy is a solution to the climate destabilization caused by continuing the reliance on fossil energy. ...

Like all renewable energy projects, these 27 underwent extensive environmental review and reflect strong efforts to mitigate potential environmental impacts. ...

The Wilderness Society, which has long been lobbying the White House for reform on how electrical grids are planned, built and managed, supported the new approach to rapid deployment.

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