31 August 2011

The more things change, the more they stay the same

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents." ~~ Major General Smedley Darlington Butler (USMC), from his book War Is a Racket (1935)

30 August 2011

Miracle my ASS


Rick Perry brags about the wonderful job he's done of job creation in Texas, but the truth about the Texas "jobs miracle" is certainly nothing to brag about. I have posted before about how most of the jobs Perry brags about are minimum wage jobs with no benefits, but it gets even worse than that. When you subtract the growth of the labor force in the state from the number of new jobs you find that there are now more than 300,000 people out of work in Texas than before the jobs were created. In other words, Texas has lost ground on the jobs front (and lost more ground than any other state).

Reposted from Jobsanger

29 August 2011

Here Comes Rick!


The deeply disturbing similarities to George W. Bush aside, Rick Perry has also got that Ronald Reagan thing happening, have you noticed that? Good hair, telegenic, sunny disposition, smooth talker - and dumber than an empty box of Rice Crispies. Ronnie with a Texas twang. The perfect candidate in this era of soundbites and snake oil. Just when you thought that the 2012 clown parade could not possibly get any stupider, enter Rick Perry, stage right - extreme right.
For the rest of this post click here.

28 August 2011

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

By Warren Buffet
Reposted from the New York Times

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

27 August 2011

What Climate Change?


26 August 2011

UN Climate Report Fails to Capture Arctic Ice Thinning Reality: MIT

The United Nations' most recent global climate report "fails to capture trends in Arctic sea-ice thinning and drift, and in some cases substantially underestimates these trends," says a new research from MIT.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, released in 2007, forecasts an ice-free Arctic summer by the year 2100.

However, the Arctic sea ice may be thinning four times faster than predicted, according to Pierre Rampal and his research team of MIT'S Department of Earth, Atmosphere, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS).

The research team's findings will be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans.

After comparing IPCC models with actual data, Rampal and his collaborators concluded that the forecasts were significantly off. IPCC models focused on changes in temperature, which are one way to lose or gain ice. However, Rampal said that the report underestimates mechanical forces that contributed to ice-melting.

Mechanical forces like wind or ocean currents batter the ice causing it to break up. Ice in small pieces behave differently than ice in one large mass and are more susceptible to thinning due to temperature changes.

Wind and currents also play a significant role in winter, when they can cause "drastic effects" on the ice's shape and movement, said Rampal.

Since the Arctic Ocean's winter ice-cover has grown thinner over the years, it breaks up more easily under the influence of winds and currents. This leads to even more ice break up in the summer. The study states that smaller pieces of ice are more likely to escape from the Arctic basin and move to warmer waters in the south where the ice would melt, which would mean more Arctic ice thinning.

On the other hand, large cracks in winter's ice cover help create new ice, since the extremely cold air in contact with the liquid ocean promotes refreezing.

Because "everything is coupled" in these intricate feedback loops, "it's hard to predict the future of Arctic sea ice," Rampal says.

Rampal believes that it is necessary to improve the accuracy of the Arctic ice thinning predictions by considering mechanical forces and other ice phenomena that have taken a back seat in IPCC models.

Rampal is working on a project with researchers at MIT and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to combine models and observations which will produce a more accurate picture of what's happening.

Rampal and his research team aren't the only ones contemplating the fate of the Arctic ice.

Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) published a study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, stating that Arctic ice under current climate conditions is as likely to expand as it is to contract for periods of up to about a decade.

Computer simulations showed that the level of Arctic sea ice loss was not wholly the result of warming, but ran hand in hand with climate variability.

"One of the results that surprised us all was the number of computer simulations that indicated a temporary halt to the loss of the ice. The computer simulations suggest that we could see a 10-year period of stable ice or even a slight increase in the extent of the ice. Even though the observed ice loss has accelerated over the last decade, the fate of sea ice over the next decade depends not only on human activity but also on climate variability that cannot be predicted," said NCAR scientist Jennifer Kay, the lead author.

Despite the thinning of Arctic ice getting a short reprieve in the next decade, even Kay admitted that the long term trend did not bode well.

"When you start looking at longer-term trends, 50 or 60 years, there's no escaping the loss of ice in the summer," Kay said.

Studies show that ice in the Arctic has shrunk by about a third since 1979. Arctic ice cover hit a new monthly record low, this July.

Scientists have warned that Arctic summer ice could soon be a thing of the past.

IPCC predicts that this could happen by 2100. But MIT researchers seem to disagree, saying that it could be sooner. It is still uncertain when we might see an Arctic summer devoid of ice.

The most important thing to do is to start "with the interventions even earlier. Now," Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC chair, said in an interview reported by The New York Times.

25 August 2011

Corporatism Is Destroying America




Reposed from Thurman's Notebook

The abuse of corporate power and privilege is the root cause of the decline of the American working class today. The founders of our American experiment fought and died to overthrow the abuse that inevitably results from the unholy marriage of business interests – especially corporate interests – to government power. One of the results of our victory in the war fought for our independence was that corporate charters were severely restricted in the earliest days of our republic.
Before the ink had time to dry on the Articles of Confederation, corporate business interests had already begun fighting to increase their power and influence. Today we’re in circumstances as bad or worse than those which inspired the revolution of 1776. It is our duty to resist and fight back against the tyranny being forced down our throats by the oligarchs of our time.
Many corporations start out as small, virtually harmless local businesses, but a few eventually grow into large conglomerates providing services that society becomes dependent upon, such as electricity, fuel or food distribution, telecommunications, and transport. As these entities grow, so does their financial and political power, and enormous power is often abused, whether the perpetrators realize they’re doing it or not.
In the early years of the United States, corporations were only chartered for very specific purposes, such as building canals or other infrastructure that small local business entities could not accomplish alone. Once the initial goals of the venture were accomplished, most corporate charters were expired after a reasonable amount of time and profit had been earned. Early American corporations were also not allowed to own subsidiaries. The result was a vibrant, diverse business environment in every community, and that should be the goal we work toward today.
Giant corporations should be carefully broken apart into small, more manageable, local or at most regional entities. Those which provide vital public services or depend upon interstate infrastructure such as cable networks, pipelines, or satellite communications should eventually become property of the people, managed by public/private partnerships in which employees or taxpayers eventually become the owners, managers, and financial beneficiaries as profits are funneled into schools or other social benefits.
Today corporate officers are legally bound to pursue profits above all other concerns. Look where that’s gotten us! New corporate charter laws need to be established and the rules of the game changed. Corporations should have as their first motive – a prime directive if you like – a requirement to place the well being of their employees and that of the communities in which they operate above profits and shareholder returns. Strong governmental regulation must be established and maintained at all times to keep corporate greed in check.
Big business has become Big Brother, manipulating public opinion and behavior, running roughshod over the greater interests of the nation, buying politicians from the federal to the local level, and generally behaving like the despots our ancestors died fighting 235 years ago. Adam Smith never envisioned corporate entities so huge and powerful that they could subvert the free market and overpower the invisible hand hr described, but that’s exactly where we find ourselves today.
Local businesses are owned by local people, keep local money in the community and benefit local people in the form of good jobs. We need more small partnerships and sole proprietorships in place of the dominant corporate business model of today. Small is beautiful. Small is sustainable and responsible. Too big to fail is too big to exist, and if we don’t change course soon we’re going to discover that the United States of America, as it exists today, is too big to survive.

24 August 2011

So True!


Dumb freakin' Americans!


23 August 2011

Tom Degan Hits the Nail - SQUARLY

Barack Obama had a golden opportunity to show more courage than any president since Jack Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis almost half-a-century ago. He could have stood up and said, "NO, goddamn it! I refuse to allow the well being of the American people to be held hostage by these hideous jackasses" He then could have legally invoked the Fourteenth and stood up for principle. It would have been one of history's mountaintop moments. Instead he blew it. In the end temporary political expediency won out over doing right by the suffering people of this country. He didn't "fail while daring greatly". He just failed - completely.

For the rest of the post see "Useless. Useless."

22 August 2011

Nail it TOM!

Here is a snippet from Tom Degan. Please read this post.

"This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it - that we are really just a nation of two-hundred and twenty-million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable. The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern....is one of the few men who've run for President of the United States in this century who really understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon."

Hunter Thompson
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

21 August 2011

20 August 2011

Views From the Front Lines

Recently, the Passivhaus community in the US has been stirred by a split between the PHI (Passivhaus Institute, Germany) and the PHIUS (Passive House Institute US). As a dedicated supporter of the standard and as one whom has discussed the intricacies of the standard as well as the politics with both sides I thought a chance to put my two cents in may help others dealing with this issue.

FIRST and foremost, for those of us determined to make a difference in the way we build in the US that have found logic and intelligence in the Passivhaus methodology, this split is irrelevant. Our goal is in creating buildings that perform as designed to a much higher level of both function and longevity then is standard in the US now. The appealing thing about the PH methodology is that it is a numbers and physics based system that is not prescriptive, but rather scientifically based. So the thing that attracted me and I am sure many others is the validated and repeatable performance of buildings that use this system.

I have been asked over the past few days by many of my colleagues, where does that leave us. It leaves us in the same place we were prior to this occurrence... US pioneers in creating high performance buildings. This movement was never about a certificate or a plaque. It is all about performing as designed, designing intelligently to create beautiful, affordable and low energy projects, and leading the way out of the morass that the US building industry has been stuck in since Reagan took the solar panels off the white house and had his Saudi friends flood the market with $1 gasoline!

So where does that leave us as Passivhaus Pioneers. Well truthfully the same place we were. PHIUS will still be pre-certifiying projects, as I assume PHI will. I have found that one of the most useful items offered by PHIUS is the per-certification of projects. Having a knowledgeable and competent colleague verify and challenge your calculations prior to construction is an invaluable service. As a lone pracitioner in an isolated part of the Blue Ridge of Virginia, having access to the folks at PHIUS has been invaluable to me.

Now here i must level an honest critique that both PHIUS and PHI share. Both organisations are victims of there own success and we all have shared the frustration of trying to get timely answers out of them. I have been in contact with both organisations over the past few years and both are equally guilty of terrible customer relations, with inquiries going unacknowledged and support when it does come being abbreviated. After getting to know both organisations, i realize that both are swamped and can't keep up with the requests, also i know both are supposed to be working on this, but in my opinion, it is the one that solves this support problem most effectively that will gain the most momentum in the US.

BACK to the item at hand - the split. There are many reasons for the split, but first and foremost in my opinion it is a conflict of misunderstanding and strong personalities. The Germans think in a way that is different from the US and the ability to both hear and act on each others differences seems to be lacking. I could see this schism coming over a year ago and i advised both the US and German players that splitting publicly when the movement was just gaining it's footing would only hurt the goals that all of us share. The truth is that both sides agreed, but each also had strong opinions, built up over years, of the other that was very difficult to overcome.

There is nothing in my heart but admiration and warmth for Dr. Feist and Kat Klingenberg. Without both of their unyielding efforts the Passivhaus standard would not be achieving the success it is today. I am confident that both of them, as well as others involved, truly and completely have the same goal in focus... unfortunately there is strong disagreement as to the best method of reaching this goal in the US market, and that has left us where we are today.

It is my fervent hope that as time goes, these wounds will heal. The way will open as the US Passivhaus market matures, that both parties will find the way forward and honor the respect for each other that I know they hold.

In the mean time, Passivhausers (Hausi) keep the nose down and the feet forward. This movement is up to us to make or break! It is not about titles, organisations, certificates or plaques, IT IS ABOUT PERFORMANCE. The physics are there to understand and as a community if we support each other and try our best to vet projects and create high quality work the success will happen.

This will seem like a minor issue in the years to come.

CHEERS to all -- Adam

Rick Perry's Prayer-Rally Politics - WE SHOULD BE AFRAID --VERY AFRAID.


The Biggest Religious Movement You Never Heard of: Nine things you need to know about Rick Perry's prayer event. Perry's endorsers are not just a random group of radical evangelists but part of a large and little-understood international religious movement.

hen Texas Gov. Rick Perry decided to stage a Texas-size prayer event - dubbed "The Response" - on Aug. 6, it no doubt seemed like the right thing to do at the time. It received little critical scrutiny when he announced it back in early June, except on websites that track these sorts of things. But after Rachel Maddow, drawing on these sites, did a segment highlighting some of the more bizarre statements made by Perry's high-profile religious endorsers, things cooled considerably - even though the real story is still not remotely well-understood.

"Perry's endorsers are not just a random group of radical evangelists making outrageous statements," researcher Rachel Tabachnick subsequently wrote at Alternet.org. "These are the apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), the biggest international religious movement you never heard of." Almost simultaneously, investigative rePeter Forrest Wilder of the Texas Observer published an extensive article on Perry's prayer event and his endorsers, "Rick Perry's Army of God."

The NAR's intellectual godfather, C. Peter Wagner, one of Perry's early endorsers, brags that it's the most significant change in how Christianity is practiced since the Protestant Reformation. Like him or not, in a sense he's right: With tens, even hundreds of millions of followers worldwide, the NAR's stress on Godlike prophetic and apostolic powers, its revisions of end-time prophecies, its methodology of "spiritual warfare" and its agenda of theocratic dominion over all aspects of society are not just threatening to modern secular democracy and the religious pluralism it protects, they have been sharply criticized by other conservative Christians as unbiblical, deviant teachings, even a form of the very demonic practices they obsessively declare war against. Indeed, the Assemblies of God - the largest Pentecostal denomination in America - condemned some of the NAR's teachings and practices as "deviant" in 2000, though Tabachnick told me that many within the denomination have since embraced the movement.

Wilder told me they were going to "tone it down a little bit to make it less overt in terms of the particular set of beliefs and practices that most of the people behind the event hold." So, probably no talk about taking over government, sex with demons or Oprah Winfrey as a harbinger of the Antichrist - the sort of more alarming tidbits Maddow highlighted.

But if America's mainstream media rePeters think this turns Perry's prayer meeting into a nonevent, they couldn't be more mistaken. There might not be any "gotcha!" moments to be had - although anything is possible - but with 15 long months of campaigning ahead and multiple other candidates courting the same, poorly understood religious constituency, there is a wealth of potential insights to be gathered that could prove invaluable down the road. What's more, the failure to explore and understand the multiple intersections of religion and politics has repeatedly exacted a terrible toll over the past 30 years of media consolidation, which has seen more and more talking heads, as frontline reporting has withered on the vine. Failure to understand the politico-religious dynamics of far-off Afghanistan in the 1980s resulted in all sorts of mayhem there - and eventually in the 9/11 attacks.

So what are some of the stories the media ought to be looking at, coming out of The Response, regardless of whether there are any instant YouTube classics or not? Without trying to dictate what others should write, one can glean some helpful tips from those who've ventured in early. Here are nine underreported stories worth considering:

1. "The Response" Is Not a Broadly Representative Christian Event.

There's a heavy concentration of NAR figures among the endorsers, with several other of the most prominent figures joining Wagner, including Mike Bickle, founder of the Kansas City–based International House of Prayer (IHOP), Dr. John Benefiel, head of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network of Oklahoma City, and Cindy Jacobs of Generals International. Tabachnick ticked off a list of NAR endorsers, starting with five from IHOP: Luis and Jill Cataldo, IHOP staff members in Kansas City; Randy and Kelsey Bohlender of IHOP and The Call; Apostle Doug Stringer; and Dave Silker of IHOP.

"This is not a random cross-section of conservative Christians," Wilder told me. "There is such an emphasis and disproportionate number of people that are very closely tied together, affiliated with this strain of neo-pentecostalism or charismatic movement, that it cannot be an accident."

They aren't the only ones involved, of course. The Texas GOP has been avidly recruiting conservative Christians of all stripes for deep political involvement since the mid-1990s. Former state party vice-chair David Barton, a self-taught revisionist historian, has played a key role in this process. (He, too, is an endorser.) However, with the NAR's keen interest in establishing Christian dominion over politics as part of their "Seven Mountains" strategy (more on this below), it's no coincidence that they are significantly overrepresented.

2. Perry Is Not the Only Potential GOP Nominee Specifically Courting the NAR.

According to Tabachnick, writing about Perry's announcement in June, GOP candidates competing for NAR support "include Sarah Palin, who has an over 20-year relationship with Alaskan Apostle Mary Glazier; Newt Gingrich, who was anointed by Lou Engle on an internationally televised broadcast in 2009; Michelle Bachman; Rick Santorum; and now, apparently, Rick Perry."

"It's not just the NAR infiltrating government," Wilder told me. "I think - my observation - they are sought out, often by the politicians themselves."

"Politicians of any type, want to go where the energy is, they want to go where the votes are." Wilder continued. "They want to go where there are people who put together a network. These folks put together a tremendous network. For example, you look at the Heartland Apostolic Network - they have a presence in 50 states."

In addition to cultivating NAR leadership, candidates can publicly identify themselves with the NAR without anyone else being the wiser. Like many other movements, the NAR has its own lingo, which allows politicians to speak directly to NAR members in coded language, directly soliciting their support, telling them "I'm one of you" without anyone else realizing what's being said. This happened repeatedly in 2008, when Palin openly talked about "prayer warriors."

Another NAR phrase Tabachnick wrote about in September 2010 is "the head and not the tail," although she points out that others use the phrase quite differently. For the NAR, however, Tabachnick identified the phrase as the "battle cry for the Seven Mountains Campaign." That's how the NAR conceives of its dominionist agenda: taking control of the "Seven Mountains," or culture-shaping spheres that dominate human society: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family, and religion.

By becoming "the head and not the tail" of these seven spheres, the NAR aims to establish complete dominance of human society around the world. Speaking like this sends a powerful message about much more than just opposing abortion or gay marriage, yet the words can pass by unnoticed by rePeters unfamiliar with the NAR.

3. Perry Is Not the Only State-Level Figure Connected to the NAR.

A key aspect of the NAR is its emphasis on "spiritual warfare," which grew out of Wagner's decades of earlier work on church growth. Over time, Wagner came to believe that church growth was limited in some places because of demonic power. At first, attention was focused on the process of "spiritual mapping," a geographical approach to demon-fighting. More recently, this has been presented in terms of "Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare," described as part of a three-tiered approach, as Talk2action.org explains in its glossary of NAR terms:

Ground-level spiritual warfare is casting out demons from individuals. Occult-level spiritual warfare is confrontations with demons operating through witchcraft and esoteric philosophies (examples are Freemasonry and Tibetan Buddhism). Strategic-level spiritual warfare is the highest level, dealing with confrontation of territorial principalities that control entire communities, ethnic groups, religions and nations.
Given this deep-seated orientation, it's not surprising that geographical organization has been key to the NAR. Establishing geographic dominion over cities and states makes perfect sense on the way to controlling whole nations and eventually the world. And so it's not surprising to note several examples where NAR-related individuals have gained state-level power.

Most famously, of course, Sarah Palin, was governor of Alaska. While her deep involvement with the NAR was glossed over at the time, it's now clear that she first joined a statewide "prayer warrior" network under Apostle Mary Glazier when she was 24 years old. When she first ran for Wasilla City Council in the 1990s on an explicitly religious platform, it was unprecedented for the town but perfectly normal by NAR standards. Banning books from the public library when she became mayor was similarly unsurprising once you understand the dominionist ideology she embraced.

Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas doesn't have anything close to Palin's longtime involvement as a prayer-warrior footsoldier, but he has played a highly visible role as a general while serving in the Senate before becoming governor. While in the Senate, Brownback spent years supporting the NAR's "reconciliation" strategy with Native Americans, both sponsoring legislation and appearing at NAR events. Brownback is the only sitting governor to accept Perry's invitation to attend The Response.

In Hawaii in 2010, before now-governor Ambecrombie joined the race, both the leading Republican and Democratic candidates for governor were deeply involved with NAR. They had almost achieved their goal of making the election irrelevant for their purposes. In April 2010, Tabachnick's colleague at Talk2action, Bruce Wilson, wrote a blog post, Christian Right Claims Both 2010 Hawaii Gubernatorial Candidates. It began with a quote from Ed Silvoso, a global NAR leader who is intimately involved with promoting the Ugandan "Kill the gays" law. The quote reads, "It doesn't matter if the Republican or the Democratic candidate wins the governorship [of Hawaii]. Either one is already in the kingdom".

The Democrat, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, is a Mormon, despite the fact that the NAR regards the Mormon church as being under demonic control - the same as the Catholic Church. NAR groups even go so far as to burn the Book of Mormon. They're a pretty tolerant lot - at least the Mormons among them like Hannemann are. The Republican. Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, is positively Palin-like in his NAR enthusiasms. Fortunately, longtime Democratic Congressman Neil Abercrombie entered the race and won. But there's no doubt the NAR will try again in Hawaii.

4. State-Level Prayer Warrior Networks Are Important.

As Wilder pointed out above, John Benefiel's Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network has a presence in all 50 states. Some states have other organizations as well. Collectively, these organizations, based on "spiritual mapping," create a strong foundation for campaign organizing. "Prayer warriors" have already been mobilized in significant elections, such as the 2008 initiative banning gay marriage in California, and given their geographic foundations, their potential is considerable.

Wilder went on to say, "In Texas, for example, they've got one guy who's in charge of the whole state. He oversees 15 regions. Each has its own director. Below that, there's counties and even churches and precincts. So it's this beautifully put-together network that's both broad and deep, and these are committed, disciplined people."

"These are not people living in caves," Wilder added. "They function just fine in the secular world."

Needless to say, their ideology of taking dominion over the government provides a strong motivational framework for keeping them dedicated, whereas most of the population's political interest fluctuates considerably over time. Particularly in light of widespread state-level GOP attacks on public worker unions, which normally provide a great deal of grass-roots organizational support for Democrats, these GOP-supporting networks could provide a crucial boost for GOP candidates, as well as helping to select who those general election candidates might be.

5. A "Rainbow Right" Could Play a Decisive Role in 2012.

Running against America's first black president, the GOP is going to need any edge it can find to gain minority inroads. The NAR is especially aggressive in recruiting minority leaders, and this could be disproportionately important in 2012.

"If Perry runs for president, success may depend on minority voters. The inclusion of minorities is an area where the NAR is strikingly different from old-school fundamentalists and Jerry Falwell's Religious Right," Tabachnick said. "The NAR is trying to form what Bruce Wilson refers to as a 'Rainbow Coalition' in the Religious Right. Success could dramatically change voter patterns in this country."

"It's surprisingly multiracial, that is, surprising if you you don't understand why," Wilder said. Consequently, people should not expect The Response to be "this white bread crowd that people would expect Rick Perry, this white conservative male would be putting on. In fact, it's a pretty racially diverse movement of people, in part reflecting its deep involvement in overseas evangelizing."

"There's this interesting kind of veneer of racial reconciliation," Wilder continued. "I wrote about in the article. There's this kind of instrumentality to it, not that it's not sincere, but there's a goal that's attached, trying to overcome racial problems within this community or Christianity or even conservatism, if you want to keep going with it. And that's that, at a base level, you look at what Lou Engel said. He wants a new breed of black prophets to rise up and use their social justice civil rights kind of bona fides to lend authenticity and credibility to the anti-abortion movement."

"Thus far, they've had trouble getting everybody on the same page and the right wing continues to shoot itself in the foot with racism and radical immigration policies," Tabachnick added. "But if you look at David Barton and many of the apostles, they are doing everything possible to rewrite history in a way that rebrands conservatives as the champions of Blacks, Latinos, Jews, etc., and liberals as the enemy."

6. But Don't Take Talk of "Reconciliation" at Face Value.

As both Wilder and Tabachnick indicate, many of those drawn in by the NAR's talk of reconciliation are quite sincere. But what this actually means in practice is another matter altogether. It's not actually about hearing out real past grievances - particularly since Christianity itself often had a major role in legitimizing, even perpetrating those grievances in the first place, such as justifying Southern slavery with biblical arguments, as described by Larry E. Tise in his 1987 book, Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery in America, 1701-1840. Christianity played an equally important role in justifying the genocide of Native American peoples from the early colonial period onward, with Native Americans themselves often portrayed as demons.

Setting aside their revisionist history for the moment, there's the more immediate question of how to square the rhetoric of reconciliation with the reality of a de facto culture war. In a guide to Talk2Action's articles on the NAR, put together last October, Tabachnick wrote that "they literally demonize religions outside of evangelicalism, including burning of Mormon, Catholic and Native American artifacts, and excursions in which they claim their 'spiritual warfare' supernaturally damages icons and infrastructure of other faiths."

A report from the Trinity Apostolic Prayer Network website describes one such ceremony - held in Olney, Texas, on April 21, 2007 - in which Native American artifacts were destroyed. The report has since been scrubbed but was saved by Talk2Action researchers. Central to this reconciliation ritual was the destruction of Native American artifacts, which had to be carried out by NAR-designated "representatives" of the Native American people. These were Jay Swallow, a prominent Native American "apostle" and Mark Wauahdooah, an NAR-affiliated Comanche. Picking up in the midst of a detailed description, we are told, "Jay then proceeded to lead Mark in the smashing of vessels. One vessel depicted the snakelike features of Leviathan, and the other depicted the Sun god, Baal. They were placed in trash bags, and Mark used a dogwood rod presented to Jay by Chuck Pierce to destroy the pottery. It shattered into many pieces at the joyous shouts of the body of Christ. Tom Schlueter, as an apostolic leader of the region, was invited by Jay and John to lead the group through the Divorce Decree. Then judgment was declared. The divorce was finalized. A crystal gavel (presented to Tom by Chuck Pierce) was used to declare the judgment..."

Finally, to round things off, the report noted, "A spirit of reconciliation was released as we embraced each other. There was a representation of Native American, Hispanic, Asian, African American and Anglo. What an awesome day!"

Not one Anglo-American artifact was destroyed, of course. What would the NAR leaders endorsing Perry's prayer event say to Native Americans who see such acts of cultural destruction as a continuation of past hostility, even genocide, rather than of reconciliation? Would they say that such Native Americans were possessed by demons? Would their answer be to smash still more artifacts? "The beatings will continue until morale improves." Is that the logic?

Surely, there are important questions here for intelligent rePeters to ask.

7. The NAR's "Factual" Claims Don't Always Stand Up.

It's often said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. NAR propaganda has plenty of extraordinary claims. But proof? Not so much. For example, consider the case of Kenyan witch-hunter Thomas Muthee. A video of Muthee anointing Sarah Palin came to light during the 2008 campaign, but little of the background involved made it into the corporate media. Far from being an obscure backwoods figure, Muthee was one of the stars of a 1999 video, the first in the Transformations series, a pseudo-documentary series advancing strategic-level spiritual warfare that is advertised as having been seen by 200 million people in 70 languages. Muthee's reputation was reputedly established by vanquishing a Kenyan "witch" around 1990, as recounted in that video. This then lead to a spiritual, moral and cultural revival, with plummeting crime rates and joy for all. There's just one problem: It's not true.

First off, the vanquished "witch" is actually a rival preacher, and she never went anywhere. On Oct. 15, 2008, a leading British newpaper, The Telegraph, ran a story datelined Nairobi by Nick Wadhams, "False claims exposed of Kenyan pastor who protected Sarah Palin from witches".

"In fact, Mama Jane never left. She is a pastor just down the road from Muthee's Word of Faith Church," Wadhams reported. "'Muthee was saying that this was a place of witch doctors. Where do you see the witch?' said Mama Jane, whose real name is Jane Njenga."

Further down, Wadham wrote, "Rival pastors in Kiambu now denounce Muthee for his treatment of Mama Jane. 'You cannot make personal gain on crucifying a woman,' said an ally of Mama Jane, Pastor Gideon Maina. 'As a man of God, you don't make your name by stepping on other people's names.'"

Nor were Muthee's claims of dramatic quality-of-life improvements backed up by facts, either. Indeed, a nine-page 2002 letter from Dutch Christian work group "Back to the Bible" found numerous factual problems in the various segments of the first two "Transformations" videos that had been released at the time. Regarding Muthee's claims, they wrote, "We are told in the video that this area had the worst reputation in the land and was full of violence and rape. But this is not backed up by police reports, authorities of justice or any other official source. There are also no official reports of reform because of the "revival." We do realize that often things work differently in an African land, so we consulted the magazine "Internationale Samenwerking" (International Co-operation) of the Dutch Ministry of development aid. In this paper, there is no report of a decline in crime during the last years in Kenya."

Not everything in the videos is false, of course. But when it comes to matters that routinely are documented by authorities, the NAR's record for truthfulness does not warrant any rePeter treating them as a reliable source.

8. NAR-Related "History" Often Stands Real History on Its Head.

Blaming liberals and Democrats for America's racist past is par for the course in NAR circles. They are hardly alone in this, however. They heavily rely on self-trained "historian" David Barton, along with many others, not just on the religious right, but among conservatives and Republicans more generally. Barton is also quite popular for his "historical" arguments that America was established as a Christian nation - a claim that professional historians reject with mountains of evidence to the contrary, not least the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, which explicitly states, "The Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

Barton's argument blaming liberals and Democrats for America's racism depends on a double deception: First, Barton focuses on pre-1960s history, the time period when the national Democratic Party decisively broke with its racist past - and set in motion the long-term decline of its support among Southern whites, which Republicans immediately took advantage of with Barry Goldwater's candidacy in 1964, when his home state of Arizona was the only non-Southern state the GOP carried - a complete reversal of the 1956 election.

This minor detail - later cemented into the long-term electoral "Southern Strategy" under Richard Nixon - is completely missing from Barton's account. A second deception is that Barton presents the impression that racist Democrats - who predominated most heavily in the South - were synonymous with liberals, while anti-racist Republicans were conservatives. Both impressions are historically false. Indeed, anti-racist Republicans in the 1960s were the much-maligned "Rockefeller Republicans," who movement conservatives worked very hard to drive out of the party.

Yet, the NAR goes much further than Barton in creating its own alternative history. In her bookBridging the Racial and Political Divide: How Godly Politics Can Transform A Nation, Texas apostle Alice Peterson not only ignores the mass exodus of racist whites from the Democratic Party, she asserts a continuity over time based on an "invisible network of evil comprising an unholy structure," which she then identifies with the biblical figure Jezebel, interpreted not as the human figure she actually is in the Bible, but instead as a demon, a typical example of how the NAR reinvents the Bible for their own political purposes. Since the same demon has been associated with the Democrats at least since the 1860s, mere matters like LBJ's heroic arm-twisting passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act - and Nixon's race-based "Southern Strategy" to lock up Southern whites for the GOP - are without any historical significance so far as Peterson is concerned. Lest anyone question her too closely, Peterson assures us that she has actually seen the demon Jezebel with her own two eyes - and not only Jezebel, but a few smaller demons underneath her skirt.

9. Be Skeptical About NAR's Self-Proclaimed "Christianity."

Like many conservative Christians, members of the NAR are often quick to dismiss other Christians they don't agree with, so it's probably not a good idea to do the same with them.

Yet, it would not be good, thorough reporting to ignore the fact that, mentioned above, other conservative Christians have been highly critical of NAR doctrines and practices, often labeling them "unbiblical." I've already cited the Assembly of God's warnings from 2000. Additionally, the letter from the Dutch Christian work group "Back to the Bible" mentioned above, criticized NAR's unbiblical teachings as well at the factual errors in the Transformations videos. Another extensive critique can be found in the 2002 book Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare: A Modern Mythology? by Bishop Michael Reid, who has three degrees from Oral Roberts University, including an honorary Doctorate of Divinity, and a gay sex scandal just licked Wagner's long-time close associate, Ted Haggard. Other critical voices from conservative Christians can be easily found online, repeating many of the same criticisms.

As stated earlier, Wagner brags that the NAR is the most significant change in how Christianity is practiced since the Protestant Reformation, and all these critics agree - except, they say, it's changed so much that it's no longer consistent with the Bible.

A Call to Question

This is hardly an exhaustive list of potential stories that in no way depend on fireworks at The Response this coming Saturday. But they are certainly enough to show that there's no shortage of explosive material lurking just beneath the surface, waiting to be more fully explored.

19 August 2011

Denmark’s Road Map for Fossil Fuel Independence

In BriefLast year, the Danish Commission on Climate Change Policy found that Denmark can remove fossil fuels entirely from its energy system—including transport—by 2050 without introducing nuclear energy or carbon capture and storage. In response, the Danish government immediately adopted the goal of becoming independent of fossil fuels by 2050. Removal of fossil fuels would bring Denmark in line with the EU policy goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80–95 percent by 2050. This report represents the first, comprehensive national analysis for achieving independence from fossil fuels. While the report’s recommendations are specific to the current Danish situation, the approach used in the analyses is generic and can be of use to other nations. Perhaps the most striking finding of all is that the overall cost of achieving fossil fuel independence is only marginally more (on the order of 0.5 percent of GDP in 2050) than predicted total energy-related expenditure in a “business-as-usual” scenario. This near equivalence in cost is due primarily to expected increases in the price of fossil fuels.

For more info click here.

Also, for Virginians see my old blog post Re: Virginia vs Denmark

18 August 2011

16 August 2011

No Comment Necessary

15 August 2011

14 August 2011

No Comment Necessary

13 August 2011

Easy Peezy Punkin pie

12 August 2011

Repube Piss On you economic Theory



One of the tenets of the Republicans' failed "trickle-down" economic policy is that lowering the taxes for the richest Americans will create jobs for everyone else. Of course, as the above chart shows, this is an outrageous lie. All lowering taxes for the rich does is fatten the bank accounts of the rich. And I'm sure it's just a coincidence (NOT!) that most members of Congress, especially Republicans, just happen to be rich.

Reposted from Jobsanger

11 August 2011

America the STUPID

10 August 2011

Bernie Sanders - A Real American Patriot

In the middle of all this ridiculous nonsense there is one clear voice calling out for reason and economic justice -- Senator Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont. Here is Bernie's latest letter to progressives about the situation in Washington:

The debate over raising the debt ceiling and deficit reduction is coming down to the wire and I wanted to take a moment to update you on what is going on in Washington.

Despite the fact that Democrats control the White House and the Senate, it is right-wing Republicans who are calling the shots and setting the agenda. Unless we fight back vigorously, Congress and President Obama will give the American people exactly what they don’t want.

Poll after poll shows that the American people want Congress to focus on job creation and that they want deficit reduction to be done in a way which is fair and which requires shared sacrifice. They do not want the budget to be balanced on the backs of those people who are already hurting through massive cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, child care, nutrition, affordable housing, fuel assistance and environmental protection. They want millionaires and billionaires to start paying their fair share in taxes, and they want the removal of massive loopholes which enable many large corporations to avoid taxes. They also want a significant reduction in military spending.

Republican leaders talk about three or four trillion dollars in spending cuts over the next ten years, with no new taxes on the wealthy and large corporations and unless we turn the tide NOW, they will get pretty much what they want.

Please understand what they mean. While no specific proposals have been adopted as of this date, here are some of the ideas which have been discussed.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Revising the formula which determines cost of living increases (COLAs) so that in ten years, a 75-year-old will receive $560 a year less in benefits and in 20 years an 85-year-old will receive $1,000 a year less. Further, another provision which would require that Social Security always be solvent for 75 years would likely mean even larger cuts in benefits. All of this would take place despite the fact that Social Security has not contributed one penny to the deficit and has a $2.6 trillion surplus today. This new formula would also cut back on the pensions of veterans.

MEDICARE: Raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67 and/or cutting benefits by $250 billion over ten years. Now you tell me, how are 66 year old Americans with modest means going to afford health insurance with a private company – especially if they have medical problems? It’s not going to happen. They are going to suffer. Some will unnecessarily die.

MEDICAID: At a time when 50 million Americans already have no health insurance, Republicans and some Democrats are proposing to cut hundreds of billions from Medicaid which means that many men, women and children will lose the health insurance they have. According to a Harvard University study, some 45,000 Americans die each year because they don’t get to a doctor when they should. How many more will die if Medicaid is slashed? How many children will be thrown off of the Children’s Health Insurance Program?

EDUCATION: Today, childcare and college education are already unaffordable for millions of working families and Head Start has long waiting lists. If Republicans and some Democrats get their way, Pell grants and other educational programs will be deeply slashed. Affordable childcare and a college education will no longer be possible for many families in our country.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND INFRASTRUCTURE: Forget about the government having the ability to protect the people from corporations who want to evade regulations within the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. With massive cuts in the EPA, the resources will not be there. Forget about this country having the investment capability to transform our energy system to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. Forget about creating millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and improving our public transportation system.

At a time of growing hunger in America there will be massive cuts to nutrition programs. We have a crisis in homelessness, and there will be cuts to affordable housing. While we need more funds for research and development in disease prevention and other areas, fewer funds will be available. And on and on it goes.

Yes, the time is late, but we can still make a huge difference.

As, perhaps, the most progressive member of the Senate, I will continue to stand for a deficit reduction plan which is fair, which requires the wealthy and large corporations to begin paying their fair share of taxes and contribute at least 50 percent toward any plan which is adopted. I will also demand that Congress take a hard look at excessive military spending.

This nightmare can be avoided, if, as progressives, we continue to stand together for social justice and common decency. Thank you for all that you do.

Sincerely,


Senator Bernie Sanders

09 August 2011

How to recognize a terrorist



If you are a right wing reactionary idealouge all muslims are terrorists and there are not christian terrorists,

For fucks sake!

08 August 2011

F***ing REPUBES!

06 August 2011

Virginia makes the list with 14th most toxic air - YEAH AMERCIANS FOR PROsPERITY

WASHINGTON (July 20, 2011) -- Residents of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida live in states with the most toxic air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The study used publicly-available data in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The analysis, entitled “Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States” was jointly released today by NRDC and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).

Among the key findings:

Nearly half of all the toxic air pollution reported from industrial sources in the United States comes from coal- and oil-fired power plants.
Power plants are the single largest industrial source of toxic air pollution in 28 states and the District of Columbia.
“Power plants are the biggest industrial toxic air polluters in our country, putting children and families at risk by dumping deadly and dangerous poisons into the air we breathe," said Dan Lashof, Climate Center Director at NRDC. "Tougher standards are long overdue. Members of Congress who consider blocking toxic pollution safeguards should understand that this literally will cost American children and families their health and lives.”

Despite the health benefits of reducing toxic pollution from power plants, some polluters and members of Congress are seeking to block EPA’s efforts to update public health protections. Last week, two House Committees voted for amendments by Ed Whitfield (R-KY)/Mike Ross (D-AR) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) to block for at least a year the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics standard. These amendments could move to the House floor as early as this week.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton (R-MI) has vowed to block EPA’s clean air safeguards. One of the nation’s biggest polluters, American Electric Power (AEP) based in Columbus, Ohio has drafted legislation to block the EPA and has argued against EPA’s current efforts.

The states on the "Toxic 20" list (from worst to best) are:

Ohio
Pennsylvania
Florida
Kentucky
Maryland
Indiana
Michigan
West Virginia
Georgia
North Carolina
South Carolina
Alabama
Texas
Virginia
Tennessee
Missouri
Illinois
Wisconsin
New Hampshire
Iowa
The EPA estimates that the reductions of toxic pollution required by the pending “Mercury and Air Toxics” standard would save as many as 17,000 lives every year by 2015 and prevent up to 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms. The safeguards also would avoid more than 12,000 emergency room and hospital visits and prevent 850,000 lost work days every year. These standards are expected to be finalized in November; the agency is taking public comments on its proposal until Aug. 4, 2011.

“Coal pollution is killing Americans,” said Lynn Ringenberg, MD, of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “It is America’s biggest source of toxic air pollution. Air toxics from coal-fired power plants cause cancer, birth defects, and respiratory illness. Just one of those air toxics, mercury, damages the developing brains of fetuses, infants, and small children. It robs our children of healthy neurological development and native intelligence.

“Poisonous power threatens the health of our kids and families. As a pediatrician for over thirty years, I urge us absolutely to support the EPA’s efforts to reduce the health threat from coal.”

The 28 states in which power plants are the leading source of toxic air pollution reported to the TRI are: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

ABOUT THE DATA

The EPA’s Toxic Release inventory, known as the TRI, is a national database of toxic emissions self-reported by industrial sources. This analysis compared TRI emissions from the electric utilities sector to those from other sectors and ranked sources by total emissions by sector. Releases are calculated and self-reported by covered entities. Emissions of key power plant pollutants are reported to the TRI, including mercury, hydrochloric acid, and other hazardous metals.

Top emitting power plants were identified based on toxic emissions reported to TRI. Power plant ownership information was drawn from “Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers in the United States (2010).” Data on pollution control systems at specific plants was obtained from EPA’s National Electric Energy Data System Database v.4.10 (2010).

For the full methodology, see the analysis “Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States,” which can be found here: http://docs.nrdc.org/air/air_11072001.asp.

05 August 2011

04 August 2011

Five myths about extreme weather

By Manish Bapna and Jennifer Morgan, Published: July 22
Reposted from Washington Post

It’s too darn hot. From Maine to Hawaii, the mercury has been rising relentlessly. The oven-like conditions in the United States are just the latest in a series of extreme weather events over the past year — epic floods in Pakistan and Australia, record heat waves in Moscow, the heaviest snowfall in more than a century in South Korea. These extremes are pushing the limits of human experience. What is driving this phenomenon? And rather than just complain, what can we do about it?

1. This summer is much hotter than normal.

It feels hot for a reason, and not just in the United States. Last month’s global average land surface temperature was the fourth warmest on record. And July is doing its best to outdo June. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 49 states — all except Delaware — have had record highs in the past three weeks. In Washington, a heat wave sweeping the East Coast is pushing temperatures into triple digits.

However, while suffering Washingtonians might be forgiven for regarding this summer as an aberration, they would be wrong. Globally, June was the 316th month in a row that had a higher temperature than the 20th century average. So, while it is indeed much hotter than it used to be, we may be witnessing a new normal in heat and other extreme weather. This month’s temperature records may not stand for long.

2. “Hundred year” weather events happen only once every 100 years.

Hundred-year weather events no longer live up to their name. In 2005, for instance, a devastating “once a century” drought hit the Amazon, only to be followed by another in 2010. Globally, previously rare weather events have been occurring with startling frequency. Consider the massive floods that inundated a fifth of Pakistan last year and submerged eastern Australiaand America’s heartlandthis year. It’s time for meteorologists to come up with a new, more accurate term.

Of course, what scientists actually mean by “one in 100 years” is not that a major flood, drought or hurricane will strike a given place only once a century, but rather that there is a 1 percentchance of such an event in any given year. Either way, the fact that what were once considered hundred-year events seem to be happening more often is consistent with climate models projecting that rising global average temperatures will lead to more frequent and severe extreme weather.

3. Extreme droughts and extreme floods can’t both be due to climate change.

It seems counterintuitive that climate change could be responsible for both withering droughts and devastating floods. Yet it can. Scientists have found that climate change can trigger periods of intense rainfall followed by long spells of dry weather. This combination of severe rainstorms and droughts, in turn, can lead to more flooding, landslides, soil erosion and other disasters. There are signs in some places that this may already be underway.

For example, from 1951 to 2000, heavy monsoons in India became more frequent and intense, while more moderate rains happened less often. Similarly, in China, severe droughts this spring were followed by massive flooding, which has killed nearly 200 people and caused more than 1.5 million to be evacuated.

4. An extra one or two degrees in temperature is no big deal.

When it’s already 100 degrees outside, one degree more doesn’t seem like much. But in terms of the global average, a one-degree temperature rise has huge implications for people and the planet.

Since pre-industrial times, the global average surface temperature has increased by 1.4 degrees — with more than one degree of that warming happening in the past three decades. And we are already witnessing significant changes. In many parts of the world, cold days and nights have become rarer, and hot days and nights more common, over the past half-century. Arctic sea ice, Greenland’s ice sheet, and glaciers in the Alps and the Antarctic Peninsula are all melting faster. The oceans have become more acidic as a result of the buildup of greenhouse gases, and the warming of rivers and lakes is affecting freshwater fish and other species. As are result, animals and plants are migrating toward poles or higher elevations in search of more hospitable habitats.

And all this is happening with just 1.4 degrees of warming. What’s more, this is just an average, with actual temperatures rising at different rates, and with varying impacts, around the world. Without action to reduce carbon emissions, many leading climate scientists are projecting that the planet’s average temperature could rise as much as 11.5 degrees by the end of the century. The consequences are hard to imagine.

5. Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.

We all love to complain about the weather. But the old saying is not quite accurate. There is, in fact, a lot that governments, businesses and individuals around the world can do — and are already doing — to cut back on heat-trapping gases and prepare for extreme weather.

At least 85 nations have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or limit their growth by 2020 by shifting to renewable energy, increasing energy efficiency and protecting forests, among other efforts. Similarly, some Fortune 500 companies and even the U.S. military are working to reduce their carbon emissions. A good start, but not nearly enough.

Many countries, cities and communities are preparing for the impact of rising global temperatures. In Bangladesh, for example, the government’s actions to improve disaster preparedness have helped reduce death tolls from cyclones. Cyclone Sidr in 2007 claimed 3,400 lives, whereas a similar cyclone in 1991 led to roughly 140,000 deaths. And Vietnam has invested in mangrove restoration to rebuild a natural barrier to protect coastlines from flooding. The World Resources Report 2010-2011, produced by the World Resources Institute, the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Environment Program and the World Bank, highlights how governments are planning for climate change and extreme weather.

But we can do much more to reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to the problem in the first place. When it comes to our warming planet, it’s time for less hot air and more action.

03 August 2011

Jobs vs Nukes

02 August 2011

Watch This