Monday, May 30, 2016


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Thursday, May 26, 2016

                          NEWS FROM THE OTHERWORLD

Naomi Klein's latest denunciation of Orientalism & the steam engine 
oozes from the subluminous ether of ecosocialisme into 
The London Review of Books:

                                  LET THEM DROWN 
        The Violence of Othering in a Warming World 
Naomi Klein examines how Said's ideas of racial hierarchy, including Orientalism, have been the silent partners to climate change since the earliest days of the steam engine, continuing to present day decisions to let entire nations drown and others warm to lethal levels. The lecture looks at how Said’s bold universalist vision might form the basis for a response to climate change grounded in radical inclusion, belonging and restorative justice.

Video: Let Them Drown

The most important lesson to take from all this is that there is no way to confront the climate crisis as a technocratic problem, in isolation. It must be seen in the context of austerity and privatisation, of colonialism and militarism, and of the various systems of othering needed to sustain them all. The connections and intersections between them are glaring, and yet so often resistance to them is highly compartmentalised. The anti-austerity people rarely talk about climate change, the climate change people rarely talk about war or occupation. We rarely make the connection between the guns that take black lives on the streets of US cities and in police custody and the much larger forces that annihilate so many black lives on arid land and in precarious boats around the world.

Overcoming these disconnections – strengthening the threads tying together our various issues and movements – is, I would argue, the most pressing task of anyone concerned with social and economic justice. It is the only way to build a counterpower sufficiently robust to win against the forces protecting the highly profitable but increasingly untenable status quo.

Climate change acts as an accelerant to many of our social ills – inequality, wars, racism – but it can also be an accelerant for the opposite, for the forces working for economic and social justice and against militarism. Indeed the climate crisis – by presenting our species with an existential threat and putting us on a firm and unyielding science-based deadline – might just be the catalyst we need to knit together a great many powerful movements, bound together by a belief in the inherent worth and value of all people and united by a rejection of the sacrifice zone mentality...

Monday, May 23, 2016


As the Soviet Union began to unwind, one of its former editorial votaries candidly admitted that over the Cold War's course, he'd found a shrewder account of its failings in National Review than The Nation. 

Their roles seem reversed in the Science Wars ,  where  a pundit combining Mark Steyn's bread and  Rush Limbaugh'sscientific acumen has advanced the amour propre of cultural marxists with  "monument of asininity so wide and tall, even the mind’s eye cannot glimpse its horizon or peak." 

The trouble is that his oxymoronic meisterstuck is entitled : Who Are the Real Deniers of Science ?,  a category in which NR has distinguished itself  on fronts as various as relativity, climate science,  evolution, stem cell biology, and the physics of cosmic rays.  Jonah could have saved a lot of  keystrokes by reading his opposite number's concurrent screed in  The Nation.

 covering the same ground more coherently in recalling how late Cornell sociologist Benedict Anderson “Continued to reflect on the fate of the left:

For a long time, different forms of socialism—anarchist, Leninist, New Leftist, social-democratic—provided a ‘global’ framework in which a progressive, emancipationist nationalism could flourish. Since the fall of ‘communism’ there has been a global vacuum, partially filled by feminism, environmentalism, neo-anarchism and various other ‘isms,’ fighting in different and not always cooperative ways against the barrenness of neoliberalism and hypocritical ‘human rights’ interventionism. But a lot of work, over a long period of time, will be needed to fill the vacuum"

Friday, May 13, 2016

                                  A  FROG  OUT  OF  WATER

Climate Progress reminds us that :
"It’s as hard to kill the boiling frog metaphor as it is to kill an actual boiling frog. Even though people keep saying that the slow human response to climate change makes us “like the proverbial frog in boiling water” — or that “the Universal Windows Platform is like Facebook and a boiling frog” — the metaphor/simile is not merely a cliché. It isn’t even accurate.
Since May 13 is Frog Jumping Day — and since just two weeks ago was “Save The Frogs” Day — it seems like a good time to explain once again why this cliché should be retired. As Wikipedia puts it, 
“German physiologist Friedrich Goltz demonstrated that a frog that has had its brain removed will remain in slowly heated water, but an intact frog attempted to escape the water when it reached 25 °C.” 
Other 19th Century studies appeared to have different results, but modern experiments (!) show that frogs with brains are in fact smart enough to leap out of water as it is heated uP. 
James Fallows of The Atlantic, who holds the world’s record for boiling frog posts, still posts regular updates, like his 2015 piece, “The Boiled-Frog Watch Returns.” Fallows posts this excerpt from the 1888 publication, Studies from the Biological Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University:

Fallows argues that while the “metaphor is flat wrong,” that is just a “minor problem. The major problem is that it is such a damned cliché.” He links to this 2013 essay, “Can we please throw the boiling frog metaphor into some boiling water?”

So in homage to America's most celebrated authority on the jumping behavior of frogs, Mr. Samuel Clemens,  Joe's observations deserve at least a trifling investment in dimensional analysis.

While decerebrate frogs are an admirable experimental proxy for many DC  think-tank inhabitants, let us focus instead on frogs with brains, for as Groltz points out, the behavioral repertoire of those without them is  decidedly limited.

There exists a consensus among more than 97% of the authors of climate science publications, myself included, that Earths's average temperature is ~ 13 degrees C , some 17 degrees C lower than the consensus value Romm 2016 reports as the flight temperature of metric standard frogs placed in pots of water.

As projected IPCC rates of  21st century clobal warming range to up to 4.5 times the present value of 1 degree per 100 years, or 1.14 microdegrees C per hour, the  precautionary principle dictates that we  assume that  even future frogs in unheated pots may experience heating rates in excess of 5 microdegrees per hour, much of it anthropogenic.

As specimens of genus Rana have been observed to live for in excess of 37 years or 324,333 hours, 22nd century frogs subject to IPCC future fossil fuel consumption scenario 8.5 may accordingly experience in excess of 1.6 degrees C of ambient warming in their lifetimes, as opposed to the 17 degrees C delta T observed to precipitate the Groltz pot-jumping reflex or sous vide' frog cooking.

From this robust model analysts may conclude that since most Rana species live for far less than 37 years, it may take in excess of three million hours or 100 generations of tadpoles before the Ranopocene era of climate change induced frog jumping arrives.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Someone is bound to blame it on climate change. Zhao Li of the Insect Museum of West China  in  Chengdu has discovered an insect over two feet long on a mountain near Liuzhou City in  southern  China.

The new creature,   dubbed  Phryganistria chinensis Zhao measures 62.4 centimeters from head to tail, almost 6 cm longer than the  previous  record,   Phobaeticus chani, discovered in Malaysia in 2008.

                                             L A N D F A L L !