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.

50 years of glaciers changing, disappearing, in Montana


Click to enlargeUSGS

The warming climate has dramatically reduced the size of 39 glaciers in Montana since 1966, some by as much as 85 percent, according to data released by the U.S. Geological Survey and Portland State University. On average, the glaciers have reduced by 39 percent and only 26 glaciers are now larger than 25 acres, which is used as a guideline for deciding if bodies of ice are large enough to be considered glaciers.

The data include scientific information for the 37 named glaciers in Glacier National Park and two glaciers on U.S. Forest Service land. The retreat of glaciers is significant in Montana because of the impact shrinking glaciers can have on tourism, as well as being a visual indicator of mountain ecosystem change in the northern Rocky Mountains…

“While the shrinkage in Montana is more severe than some other places in the U.S., it is in line with trends that have been happening on a global scale,” geologist Andrew Fountain said…

This information is part of a larger, ongoing USGS glacier study of glaciers in Montana, Alaska and Washington to document mass balance measurements that estimate whether the total amount of ice is increasing or decreasing at a particular glacier. This information helps scientists understand the impact of large scale climate patterns on glaciers in distinctly different mountain environments.

Some of the glaciers the park is named for are now too small to qualify as glaciers. That’s OK. The brains in some of the politicians we’ve elected to serve the people – are now too small to do much more than parrot statements programmed in by major campaign donors and other political scum.

They’re the individuals chosen in our democratic republic charged with solving problems on this scale.

Earth three-peats hottest year record

❝ Earth sizzled to a third-straight record hot year in 2016, with scientists mostly blaming man-made global warming with help from a natural El Nino that’s now gone.

Two U.S. agencies and international weather groups reported Wednesday that last year was the warmest on record. They measure global temperatures in slightly different ways, and came up with a range of increases, from minuscule to what top American climate scientists described as substantial.

They’re “all singing the same song even if they are hitting different notes along the way. The pattern is very clear,” said Deke Arndt of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration…

“This is clearly a record,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. “We are now no longer only looking at something that only scientists can see, but is apparent to people in our daily lives.”

❝ Temperature records go back to 1880. This is the fifth time in a dozen years that the globe has set a new annual heat record. Records have been set in 2016, 2015, 2014, 2010 and 2005…

Schmidt said his calculations show most of the record heat was from heat-trapping gases from the burning of oil, coal and gas. Only about 12 percent was due to El Nino, which is a periodic warming of parts of the Pacific that change weather globally, he said. Arndt put the El Nino factor closer to a quarter or a third…

❝ The effects are more than just records, but actually hurt people and the environment, said Oklahoma University meteorology professor Jason Furtado. They’re “harmful on several levels, including human welfare, ecology, economics, and even geopolitics,” he said.

I’ll second that emotion.

Examination of Arctic warmth leads straight to the expected cause


Click to enlarge

❝ It normally takes many months to get a paper through peer review and into a journal, but a group of scientists has released their detection and attribution study early, and it’s a stunning indictment. We now know the culprit for the astonishing Arctic warmth of November and December. It seemed very likely that the guilty party was rising greenhouse gasses with Arctic amplification as the accomplice, and that’s JUST what the evidence shows. It’s overwhelming, and the defendants have no choice but to throw themselves upon the mercy of the court.

❝ The analysis shows that even in our present climate that is around a degree warmer than 1900, this heat is unusual, but would happen once every 50-200 years. The odds of it happening in the climate of 1900 are astronomically tiny, however, if we warm another degree, this will be a nearly commonplace event.

The study is here, and for those that do not want to read the whole thing RTFA for the conclusions.

❝ What this study took great pains to do was to show that this warmth is almost certainly not a natural oscillation in the Arctic climate. Such oscillations exist, but when they are subtracted out, this year stands out like a big red sore thumb. Chris Mooney at the Washington Post has a good summary of this study as well.

I’ll leave crayola-sophistry to the climate denial crowd. They have a good couple of years ahead with the government packed by both wings of the Republican Party.

Republicans end climate change the old-fashioned way — by censorship


…But I know what the Koch brothers say science is, and that’s good enough for me

❝ Remember when Scott Walker was a hot presidential prospect for about six minutes, and then he went to London and refused to venture a guess at whether evolution is real, and looked even more stupid than most Republicans while doing it? Well by golly, when it comes to other kinds of science, Walker is not confused at all. He knows, for instance, that climate change is a very controversial subject among people who are Koch Industries, so he’s made a concerted effort to make sure state policy is uncontaminated by too much science. That admirable decisiveness is showing, in the form of a state website that used to be about “Climate Change and Wisconsin´s Great Lakes,” but has now had every mention of “climate” — or for that matter, real science — carefully scrubbed away.

❝ As Scientific American reported way back in 2015, Walker has “moved to reduce the role of science in environmental policymaking and to silence discussion of controversial subjects, including climate change, by state employees.” He’s dismantled environmental regulations, and attempted to slash staff at the state Department of Natural Resources, getting rid of a third of its scientists and firing a bunch of the department’s “environmental educators,” because why would you waste state money on spreading liberal propaganda to innocent schoolchildren? And just like Rick Scott did in Florida, Wisconsin also tried to prohibit state workers from even saying the “C” word at all.

❝ And then there’s that website. Urban Milwaukee columnist James Rowen details how the DNR’s website has been purged of any science whatsoever, changing a page that had actually been a pretty decent introduction to how climate change is affecting the Great Lakes into a couple of paragraphs of shrugging and saying, gosh, we dunno…

RTFA. In case you need your understanding of Republican politics dragged away from the nuances of Trump’s flirtation with fascism. Neocons haven’t disappeared. They still don’t win primaries. They still retain control of states outside the Confederacy via reliance on gerrymandering and anti-voting regulations. Yes, they also get a bump in their national power from the Idiocracy perpetuated by the TweetFührer.

Climate Change in the Trumpocene Age

republican-concern

❝ In the year since the Paris climate agreement was concluded, the world’s efforts to limit global warming to 2º Celsius above pre-industrial levels seemed to gain momentum. Enough signatory countries took the necessary steps to formalize the agreement to ensure that it entered into force on November 4. Meanwhile, in October, the international community reached a separate aviation – related climate accord, which covers an area that the Paris agreement did not address; and agreed to amend the 1989 Montreal Protocol to phase out hydrofluorocarbons – a potent greenhouse gas.

But, following the United States’ presidential election, many observers fear that international efforts to combat climate change – such as the Paris accord and the Sustainable Development Goals…could be derailed. During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump – who in 2012 took to Twitter to declare that climate change is a Chinese-created hoax – said that he would walk away from the Paris agreement. But, in a post-election interview with the New York Times, Trump said that he had an “open mind” about the Paris agreement, implying that he is now backing away from his previous statements.

❝ Given Trump’s belief that “unpredictability” is a virtue, no one can know for certain what he will do when he takes office in January…but, if Trump chooses to abandon the US government’s climate-related commitments, the rest of the world will have to find a way forward on its own…

Prospective solutions to the Trumpocene Age are useful, creative and probably necessary. Adding in his fellow Republican gangbangers brings additional intellectual dishonesty to his table.

❝ …bumptious unilateralism is a double-edge sword. As Stiglitz warns, if Trump does not pursue climate-friendly policies, other countries might “start imposing tariffs against US products made in ways that violate global climate-change rules.” And beyond the international community, “the market itself will be Trump’s biggest constraint,” says New York University economist Nouriel Roubini: “If he tries to pursue radical populist policies, the response will be swift and punishing: stocks will plummet, the dollar will fall, investors will flee to US Treasury bonds, gold prices will spike, and so forth.”…

❝ Similarly, even if Trump reneges on US commitments, and does not implement national policies to reduce emissions, such a move would kill the Paris agreement only if other countries decided to do the same, which is not likely to happen. For large emerging countries such as China and India, “the relatively rapid transition away from fossil fuels,” argues…John Mathews, “is driven not so much by concerns about climate change as by the economic benefits renewable energy sources are perceived as conveying.”

Thus, with China and India in the lead, the rest of the world will most likely continue to pursue carbon-emissions reductions, regardless of US participation, simply because it is profitable to do so. The US, meanwhile, will suffer more than the climate does if it does not move toward a green economy.

RTFA for a great deal more analysis, understanding and alternatives from Bo Lidegaard and more. Poisonally, I expect little sound economic sense within the framework of Trumponomics. Most is perfectly satisfactory to the Republican crew from Reaganites to Tea Party Trumpkins. They couldn’t care less about jobs, education or healthcare. They lie the nation they profess to love – dedicate all to the greed they love more than life.