Whistleblower Case Illustrates How Trump/Flunkies Try to Silence Science


“The threat to these Alaska Native communities is not theoretical…Retaliation against me for those disclosures is unlawful.”

❝ For the first time since the Trump administration came to office and began dismantling the key science underpinnings of federal climate policy, a senior agency official has invoked the protections of the whistleblower law to publicly object to what he calls an illegal attempt to intimidate him.

The official, Joel Clement, had been the director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the Interior Department before he says he was arbitrarily reassigned to an obscure accounting post to punish him for speaking up about protections for native Americans in Alaska. He says that was ordered by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to force him to be quiet or quit — and to send a message.

Clement, who publicized his formal complaint in a commentary published Wednesday in the Washington Post, said his case is not an isolated example but part of a pattern.

Witch Hunt is one of Trump’s favorite condemnations of journalists working hard to present facts to confront his lies – and more. No doubt many of his appointed flunkies – like Ryan Zinke – not only approve of their boss’s lies; but, join willingly in shameful practices like those described by Clement in an attempt to close down criticism and confrontation.

Not unusual for rightwing ideologues. Reminiscent of that Republican creep, Joe McCarthy, who popularized the witch hunt as his favorite political theatre decades ago. Trump’s theatrics promise a revival.

How Small Changes in Average Temperature = Big Change in Extremes

❝ Climate change is driving up summer temperatures across the country. We often talk about warming in terms average temperatures, which can be perceived as small to the public, but any rise in the average temperature leads to a rise in the the number of days that are extremely hot.

To understand what’s happening, we need to get a little geeky and take you back to Stats class. The classic bell curve represents the distribution of all temperatures at a location. The bulk of temperatures — those close to average — sit near the middle of the curve. Record temperatures, which are rare, sit on the fringes, with hot on right and cold on the left. As the world warms from the increase in greenhouse gases, the whole curve shifts to the warmer side, the right. This shift results in a large jump in the number of extremely hot days and a drop in the number of extremely cool days. It also means heat records are more likely to be set than cold records. And it is these extremes that impact our lives.

That’s what we are seeing across much of the country. Average summer temperature have risen a few degrees across the West and Southern Plains, leading to more days above 100°F in Austin, Dallas and El Paso all the way up to Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City, and Boise. It’s worth noting that this trend has been recorded across the entire Northern Hemisphere…

Science is a force for truth. Even for people who refuse to learn from examples as basic as this graphic. Or the research data behind it.

High Ground Is Becoming Hot Property as South Florida Sea Level Climbs


Click to enlargeMiami Herald

A sunny day in Miami – and the tide comes in

❝ One of the first sea-level rise maps Broadway Harewood saw was a few years back, when climate activists gathered in his neighborhood to talk about how global warming would affect people in less-affluent South Florida communities…

“Oh, Miami Beach is going under, the sea level is coming up,” Harewood said. “So now the rich people have to find a place to live. My property is 15 feet above sea level, theirs is what? Three under?

“So OK,” he said, taking on the voice of a rich developer, “let’s knock down the projects, and we move in and push them out…”

❝ One of the great ironies of those historic housing patterns in Miami is that for decades under Jim Crow, laws and zoning restricted black people to parts of the urban core, an older part of the community that sits on relatively higher ground along a limestone ridge that runs like a topographic stripe down the eastern coast of South Florida. Now, many of those neighborhoods, formerly redlined by lenders and in some places bound in by a literal color wall, have an amenity not yet in the real estate listings: They’re on higher ground and are less likely to flood as seas rise.

Whether it’s climate change or an eye for good real estate returns, historically black communities on higher ground are increasingly in the sights of speculators and investors. Real estate investment may no longer be just about the next hot neighborhood, it may also now be about the next dry neighborhood.

RTFA for the whole story, details and futures to follow. Gentrification has added a few new qualities to what makes a hot profit-neighborhood. Height above sea level counts for a lot of investment dollar$. Even if the duds in DC don’t care to talk about it.

The 5 biggest lies in Trump’s Paris climate speech


Not telling the truth about anythingChip Somodevilla/Getty Images

❝ The other day, President Donald Trump gave a speech announcing that the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

It is a remarkable address, in its own way, in that virtually every passage contains something false or misleading. The sheer density of bullshit is almost admirable, from a performance art perspective. Trump even managed to get in some howlers that had nothing to do with climate change. He started by citing an act of terrorism in Manila that wasn’t terrorism. He said, “our tax bill is moving along in Congress,” but there’s no tax bill. And so forth.

A proper fact-check would run longer than the speech itself. To keep this quick, I’ve selected the top five deceptions.

❝ The author, David Roberts, says: I’m not calling these “lies,” because that implies Trump knows they are false. It is far from clear that Trump understands anything about any of the issues at stake, or is even capable of forming stable beliefs as such…

Anyway, whether he’s lying or merely bullshitting, here are the top five:

1) No, an agreement cannot be both nonbinding and draconian (Spoiler: Paris is the former)…

2) No, Paris cannot be “renegotiated”

3) No, abiding by the agreement will not cost the US a bazillion dollars

4) No, China and India are not getting away with anything

5) No, other nations are not laughing at us behind our backs — or they weren’t, anyway

❝ Here we come to the root of the matter: tribalism. The tribalist (or “nationalist” as they are often called) sees all relationships, including relationships among nations, as zero-sum contests. There are only strong and weak, dominator and dominated, winners and losers.

For the millionth time, a voluntary deal cannot hamstring anyone, nor can it empower anyone. But the tribalist brain simply cannot grok an arrangement of mutual long-term benefit. So it must be unsavory “foreign lobbyists” trying to get us “tied up and bound down” so that they can drain our precious bodily fluids.

RTFA, It makes good sense even when, as usual – Trump doesn’t. Roberts even takes the time to point out how and when he shifts from his 5th-grade vocabulary – as written for him to recite – into kindergarten-speak when something strikes a responsive chord in his lizard brain.

Archetypal East Coast Trees Are Moving West

❝ As anybody who’s taken a drive through Vermont in the autumn will know, the eastern US has plenty of iconic trees, like maple and oak. But over the past three decades, deciduous tree species in this part of the world seem to be shifting westward, according to new research…Evergreens, meanwhile, are going north.

❝ Past research has tracked how some tree species are moving north for reasons related to climate change. But in Science Advances, researchers looked at 30 years’ worth of tree data from the US Forest Service, including 86 species, reflecting changes between 1980 and 2015 — and, to their surprise, saw this westward shift of deciduous trees. “We show that more tree species have experienced a westward shift than a poleward shift (62%) in their abundance, a trend that is stronger for saplings than adult trees,” it reads.

This wasn’t a modelling exercise that casts forward to something that may happen in the future. Rather, it’s tracking changes that are happening now.

❝ This strange shift appears to be linked to climate change and its accompanying effects. Over the last 30 years, the study says, the mean annual temperature in the eastern US has gone up by 0.16 ̊C, on average, and the northern region has seen the highest increase…

Precipitation patterns are shifting, too: The central US has seen an increase of more than 150 mm total in annual precipitation, and there’s been a reduction in the southeast…

“There is still some skepticism out there about climate change,” Songlin Fei of Purdue University acknowledged. With this study, “we’re saying, let’s look at what’s actually happened. We wanted to show the reality, not speculations.” Our environment is changing more rapidly than many scientists expected. Fei asked: “Is our society ready to adapt?”

Yes, this is probably too short-term to be classified as climatology. But, as Fei correctly characterized, scientists have a habit of being conservative – regardless of propaganda from fossil fuel pimps. The inclination described just may be a short-term trend, e.g., meteorology not climatology.

EPA removes climate science from website after two decades

❝ The Environmental Protection Agency announced that its website would be “undergoing changes” to better represent the new direction the agency is taking, triggering the removal of several agency websites containing detailed climate data and scientific information…

❝ The agency also said it would carefully archive pages from the past administration.

❝ The change was approved by Scott Pruitt, according to an individual familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, to avoid a conflict between the site’s content and the policies the administration is now pursuing…

Yet the website overhaul appears to include not only policy-related changes but also scrutiny of a scientific Web page that has existed for nearly two decades, and that explained what climate change is and how it worked.

❝ The page contains scientific explanations of climate change and its causes and consequences, and has existed in one form or another since at least 1997. At that time it was called the agency’s Global Warming site.

The site has long served an informational role and sought to provide a comprehensive review of basic climate science, the effects of climate change, and how it is affecting the United States. In addition it contained information about the agency’s approach to climate change and how people could take steps to lower their own contributions to climate change.

Trump and his know-nothing flunkies care as little about science as they do about truth in any other area they consider only to be politics. Reality interferes with their foolishness – and American citizens will bear the results of their destructive crimes.

RTFA for lots and lots of detail. Sad but true.

NASA GRACE Satellite Mapping


Click to enlarge

❝ Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center generate groundwater and soil moisture drought indicators each week. They are based on terrestrial water storage observations derived from GRACE satellite data and integrated with other observations, using a sophisticated numerical model of land surface water and energy processes.

❝ The drought indicators describe current wet or dry conditions, expressed as a percentile showing the probability of occurrence within the period of record from 1948 to the present, with lower values (warm colors) meaning dryer than normal, and higher values (blues) meaning wetter than normal. These are provided as both images and binary data files.

Important stuff even if you don’t earn your living from the land. That ain’t a large number of folks as the percentage of US population. Their products are significant even in a global economy.

Sooner or later, everything in these maps is going to affect your life.