Fox Viewers Overwhelmingly Think We Should Prepare for Alien Invasion Before Fighting Climate Change

By Alex Seitz-Wald | Sourced from ThinkProgress

“A new (supposedly) NASA-funded study postulating that aliens may attack humans over climate change had all the ingredients for a perfect Fox faux controversy — it bolstered their anti-science narrative, painted their opponents as clownish radicals, and highlighted wasteful government spending on a supposedly liberal casue. Fox reported the “news from NASA” several times several times today, presenting it as official “taxpayer funded research.” A chyron on Fox and Friends read: “NASA: Global warming may provoke an [alien] attack.”

But as Business Insider pointed out, they’re “wrong” — “That report was not funded by NASA. It was written by an independent group of scientists and bloggers. One of those happens to work at NASA.” NASA distanced itself from the report as well, calling reports linking the agency to it “not true.” Host Megyn Kelly finally corrected the record this afternoon, saying, “I was making that up.”

But before she did, she was so bemused by the study that she directed her viewers to complete a poll on her website which asked how we should respond to the study: “Immediately increase efforts to curb greenhouse gases,” “Develop weapons to kill the Aliens FIRST,” or “Gently suggest scientists research how to create job.”

Not surprisingly, most suggested they research something else. But more than six times as many respondents (19 percent to 3 percent) said we should focus on building weapons to kill aliens before curbing greenhouse gases. Watch a compilation:”

(N.B.: click link below to see video)

“The poll is of course not scientific, but you can hardly blame the viewers who did respond, considering Fox’s constant misinformation about climate change. For instance, as she presented the poll, Kelly said of curbing climate change, “just in case, right?” — as in, “just in case” the science is right. She did not make a similar qualifier for alien invasion. Numerous studies consistently show that Fox viewers are among the most misinformed of news viewers, while at least one study has shown that — perversely — watching Fox actually makes people lessinformed than they were to begin with.

“Trust me folks, this story is hard to understand,” Fox and Friends host Gretchen Carlson said of the “NASA study.” Indeed.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/653185/fox_viewers_overwhelmingly_think_we_should_prepare_for_alien_invasion_before_fighting_climate_change/

Atheists, Muslims More Popular Than Tea Party (Also, Tea Party’s Just a New Name for Racist Christian Right)

From Alternet, by  Sarah Seltzer

“The results of a comprehensive New York Times polling project (document link here) offer some good news to that end. The results show that public opinion is trending away from Tea. They also dispel some big myths about the Tea Party being economic in nature rather than what it actually is: a re-branded, repurposed version of the same old Christian Right. This may seem familiar to AlterNet readers–but still, it’s good to have the numbers and the mainstream attention to highlight such a crucial truth.

Here’s the juiciest nugget from professors David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam in the Times, one which encapsulates the Tea Party’s growing unpopularity with a vivid comparison or two (emphases mine):

Of course, politicians of all stripes are not faring well among the public these days. But in data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.

Alex Seitz-Wald at Think Progress, highlighting the above results, also notes that these unpopularity numbers for the Tea Party have skyrocketed over the past year or so.

The professors, who have conducted a wide-ranging survey of interviews over time, go on to shatter the big canard of the Tea Party’s “creation myth” and image in the mainstream media, pointing to data collected before and after the birth of the “Tea Party” to back up their claims. The results, below:

So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics.

Andrew Sullivan writes about how pivotal this numerical information is: “Now we have some large data sets to review the reality. And the reality is that the Tea Party is the Christianist right-wing of the GOP.” First-person evidence leads to the same place.  Abe Sauer at The Awl draws the exact the same conclusion as Sullivan and the Times data after two years hanging out in a more social sense with the Tea Party, to which he initially felt sympathetic:  “Two years of Tea Party functions later, and I finally know what the Tea Party wants: A Christian nation.”

Again,  “The Tea Party is about small government” is a myth that progressives have emphatically been pointing to as untrue, and the long line of conservative social legislation that’s been passed by states controlled by Tea Party blocs suggests the same.

Adele Stan here at AlterNet and our colleagues like Sarah Posner and others have been hammering home this fact for a long time, but really it’s good to see that the MSM is catching up, and that apparently, so is the majority of the country. This is a message that needs to be repeated until it sinks in. The Tea Party is nothing new. Same problem, new name.

Now, if only this information meant that politicians could ignore this bloc, that the Tea Party didn’t retain its ability to hold our government hostage. Still, it’s a step in the right direction.”

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.alternet.org/rss/1/651861/atheists%2C_muslims_more_popular_than_tea_party_%28also%2C_tea_party%27s_just_a_new_name_for_racist_christian_right%29?akid=7419.123424.qJ7Z66&rd=1&t=18

Christian Jihad? Why We Should Worry About Right-Wing Terror Attacks Like Norway’s in the US

N.B.: We might recall “It Can’t Happen Here” bu Sinclair Lewis, as we read why it can and probably will. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Can’t_Happen_Here)

From Alternet, by Frank Schaffer

“The Norwegian police on Saturday charged a 32-year-old man, whom they identified as a Christian fundamentalist with right-wing connections, over the bombing of a government center and a shooting attack on a nearby island that together left at least 91 people dead.

In my new book “Sex, Mom and God” I predicted just such an action. I predicted that right wing Christians will unleash terror here in America too. I predict that they will copy Islamic extremists, and may eventually even make common cause with them.

There is a growing movement in America that equates godliness with hatred of our government in fact hatred of our country as fallen and evil because we allow women choice, gays to marry, have a social safety net, and allow immigration from other cultures and non-white races.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the killer wrote:

“Today’s Protestant church is a joke,” he wrote in an online post in 2009. “Priests in jeans who march for Palestine and churches that look like minimalist shopping centres. I am a supporter of an indirect collective conversion of the Protestant church back to the Catholic.”

It seems Anders Behring Breivik longed for a “pure” and ultra conservative religion. He was a man of religious conviction, no liberals with their jeans need apply! Liberals beware.

Norway is just a first taste of what will happen here on a larger scale.

A HISTORY of VIOLENT ACTION

There is a history to the far right, religious right extremism on the rise today, extremism so extreme that in its congressional manifestation it is risking the good faith and credit of the US in the debt calling fiasco. The Tea Party activists also want purity of doctrine.

My family was part of the far right/violent right’s rise in the 1970s and 80s when we helped create the “pro-life” movement come into existence that in the end spawned the killers of abortion providers. These killers were literally doing what we’d called for.

The terror unleashed on Norway – and the terror now unleashed by the Tea Party through Congress as it holds our economy hostage to extremist “economic” theories that want to destroy our ability to function — is the sort of white, Christian; far right terror America can expect more of.

THE “CHRISTIAN BROTHERHOOD”

Call this the ultimate “Tea Party” type “answer” to secularism, modernity, and above all our hated government. Call this the Christian Brotherhood. From far right congress people, to far right gun-toting terror in Norway and here at home, our own Western version of the Taliban is on the rise.

Foreigners, visitors from another planet and Americans living in a bubble of reasonable or educated people might not know this but the reality is that the debt ceiling confrontation is by, for and the result of America’s evangelical Christian control of the Republican Party.

It is the ultimate expression of an alternate reality, one that has the mistrust of the US government as its bedrock “faith,” second only to faith in Jesus.

To understand why an irrational self-defeating action like destroying the credit of the USA might seem like the right thing to do you have to understand two things: that the Republican Party is now the party of religious fanatics and that these fanatics — people like Michele Bachmann — don’t want to work within our system, they want to bring it down along the lines of so-called Christian “Reconstruction.” (See my book for a full account of what this is.)

In the scorched-earth era of the “health care reform debates” of 2009 and beyond, Evangelicals seemed to believe that Jesus commanded that all hospitals (and everything else) should be run by corporations for profit, just because corporations weren’t the evil government. The right even decided that it was “normal” for the state to hand over its age-old public and patriotic duties to private companies — even for military operations (“contractors”), prisons, health care, public transport, and all the rest.

PRIVATE “FACTS”

The Religious Right/Far Right et al. favored private “facts,” too.

They claimed that global warming wasn’t real. They asserted this because scientists (those same agents of Satan who insisted that evolution was real) were the ones who said human actions were changing the climate. Worse, the government said so, too!

“Global warming is a left-wing plot to take away our freedom!”

“Amtrak must make a profit!”

There is an indirect but deadly connection between the “intellectual” fig-leaf providers/leaders like my late father and periodic upheavals like the loony American Right’s sometimes-violent reaction to the election of Barack Obama, killings in Norway and what the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party is about to do to us in forcing a default on our loans, and thus destroying the US economy in a way bin Laden could only have dreamed of doing.

No, your average member of some moronic gun toting Michigan militia is not reading books by my late father Francis Schaeffer where he called for the overthrow of the government because of Roe v Wade and the legalization of abortion. Nor have they heard of people like Robert George. And the killer in Norway may or may not have read my father’s books.

But Michele Bachmann is reading my father’s books. And she was trained in far right Reconstructionist theory at the Oral Roberts law school by one of Dad’s followers.

Bachmann says she got into politics because of reading my father’s work. And she is one of his extremist followers.

Non-Evangelicals with far right agendas like Robert George (I’ll introduce him to you in a moment) have cashed in on the Evangelicals’ like Bachmann’s willingness to lend their numbers and influence to one “moral” anti-American crusade after another, or rather I should say, to one political crusade after another masquerading as moral crusades.

“RESPECTABLE” FAR RIGHT “INTELLECTUALS”

For instance, conservative Roman Catholic Princeton University Professor of Jurisprudence Robert George is an antiabortion, anti-Obama, anti-gay-rights, and anti-stem-cell-research “profamily” activist, and he has found ways to effectively carry on the far right Reconstructionist agenda while denying any formal connection to it and taking the intellectual high road.

Take George’s brainchild: the “Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience.”

This was published in 2009 as an anti-Obama manifesto, and many far right Evangelical leaders signed on.

The “Manhattan Declaration” reads:

“We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act . . . nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

In case you’ve never heard of George, he’s been a one-man “brain trust” for the Religious Right, Glenn Beck, and the Far Right of the Republican Party as well as for the ultraconservative wing of the Roman Catholic Church. Here’s how theNew York Times introduced him to its readers:

“[Robert George] has parlayed a 13th-century Catholic philosophy [the natural law theory] into real political influence. Glenn Beck, the Fox News talker and a big George fan, likes to introduce him as “one of the biggest brains in America,” or, on one broadcast, “Superman of the Earth.” Karl Rove told me he considers George a rising star on the right and a leading voice in persuading President George W. Bush to restrict embryonic stem-cell research. . . . Newt Gingrich called him “an important and growing influence” on the conservative movement, especially on matters like abortion and marriage. “If there really is a vast right-wing conspiracy,” the conservative Catholic journal Crisis concluded a few years ago, “its leaders probably meet in George’s kitchen.””

GOVERNMENT IS THE ENEMY

It’s a question of legitimacy and illegitimacy.

What the Religious Right, including the Religious Right’s Roman Catholic and Protestant enablers, did was contribute to a climate in which the very legitimacy of our government–is questioned as part of religious faith itself.

The “Manhattan Declaration” called laws with which its signers disagreed “edicts,” thereby conjuring up images of dictators handing down oppressive rules, rather than legitimately elected democratic bodies passing legislation. In other words, when the Right lost in the democratic process, “other means” to undermine the law were encouraged. This is the language of revolution, not democracy.

The Far Right intellectual enablers began by questioning abortion rights, gay rights, school prayer rulings, and so forth. What they ended up doing was to help foster a climate in which–in the eyes of a dangerous and growing (mostly white lower class undereducated gun-toting) minority–the very legitimacy of the U.S. government was called into question, sometimes in paranoid generalities, but often with ridiculous specificity: for instance, in the persistent lie that President Obama was not a citizen or was a Muslim or that the Federal Reserve and/or United Nations were somehow involved in a plot to “take away our freedoms” or that sensible gun control equaled “tyranny.”

TERROR FOR CHRIST

It was in the context of delegitimizing our government that actions by domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh became thinkable. In 1993 McVeigh told a reporter, “The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control.”

Change a word or two and his words could have been lifted from my father’s 1981 book A Christian Manifesto, or for that matter a few decades later, from statements by the so-called Tea Party or those by Michele Bachmann, or Robert George or his follower Glenn Beck.

In my father’s book he called for the overthrow of the US government unless non-violent ways were found to overturn Roe v Wade. He compared America to Nazi Germany.

Note the ominous rhetorical shadow Dad’s book cast over a benighted and divided American future, a future that produced the climate of hate that eventually spawned the murder of abortion providers such as Dr. George Tiller in Wichita in 2009 and the threat of destroying America’s credit in an effort to literally defund the USA.

Here’s a bit from Manifesto on how the government was “taking away” our country and turning it over to Liberals, codenamed by Dad as “this total humanistic way of thinking”:

“The law, and especially the courts, is the vehicle to force this total humanistic way of thinking upon the entire population…”

And this:

“Simply put, the Declaration of Independence states that the people, if they find that their basic rights are being systematically attacked by the state, have a duty to try and change that government, and if they cannot do so, to abolish it.”

Then this:

“There does come a time when force, even physical force, is appropriate. . . . A true Christian in Hitler’s Germany and in the occupied countries should have defied the false and counterfeit state. This brings us to a current issue that is crucial for the future of the church in the United States, the issue of abortion. . . . It is time we consciously realize that when any office commands what is contrary to God’s law it abrogates its authority. And our loyalty to the God who gave this law then requires that we make the appropriate response in that situation.”

In other words, Dad’s followers were told that (1) force is a legitimate weapon to use against an evil government; (2) America was like Hitler’s Germany–because of legal abortion and of the forcing of “Humanism” on the population–and thus intrinsically evil; and (3) whatever would have been the “appropriate response” to stop Hitler was now appropriate to do here in America to stop our government, which Dad had just branded a “counterfeit state.”

EXTREMISM IS NEXT TO GODLINESS

To understand the extremism coming from the right, the fact that there are members of Congress who seem to be genuinely mentally unhinged leading the charge on the debt ceiling, you need to understand that this hatred of all things government has theological roots that have nothing to do with facts.

Theology is — by nature — not about reason but about faith. If God’s will is to be served then so be it if America is plunged into chaos! This debt ceiling fiasco is just another chapter in the “culture” wars.

The extreme language of Evangelical/”pro-life” rebellion has now been repackaged in the debt ceiling showdown. It is the language of religion pitted against facts.

And the anti-government charge is being led by people who are either true believers, thus unable to reason, or people catering to the true believers so that they can remain in the good books of the Tea Party, which is nothing more than the Evangelical far right repackaged and renamed.

Some people took the next step. The night of December 14, 2008, Bruce Turnidge was in handcuffs and sitting next to an FBI agent in Turnidge’s farmhouse in Oregon. He was ranting about the “need” for militias and cursing the election of an African American president. Hours earlier, his son, Joshua, had been arrested for allegedly causing a fatal bomb explosion.

“Bruce started talking about the Second Amendment and citizens’ rights to carry firearms,” said George Chamberlin, the FBI agent. “Bruce talked at length that the government should fear the people and that the people should not fear the government.”

In February 2010, a little more than a year after Obama’s inauguration, Joseph Stack, a fifty-three-year-old software engineer, piloted a plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, and killed one man and injured several others.

Before killing himself, Stack posted an online suicide note railing against the federal government and expressing grievances similar to those Dad had enumerated.

A Facebook group celebrating Stack had thousands of members sign on almost instantly after he was “martyred for our freedoms,” as one contributor called it. The site featured the Gadsden flag (the flag with the logo “Don’t Tread On Me”) and these words: “Finally an American man took a stand against our tyrannical government that no longer follows the constitution and turned its back on its founding fathers and the beliefs this country was founded on.”

In March 2010 the so-called Hutaree Militia, a right-wing, biblically inspired fundamentalist group, was alleged to have hatched a plot to kill police officers. Members of this outfit had planned attacks on police officers as a way of acting out their hatred for the government as well as a way to launch the civil chaos “predicted” in so-called End Times biblical prophecies. The day the plotters were arrested, I checked their online homepage. Here’s what I found as their mission statement (misspellings in the original post, which has since been taken down, as has the site):

“As Christians we all are a part of the Souls of the Body of Christ, the one true church of Christ. . . . This is the belief of the Hutaree soldier, as should the belief of all followers in Christ be.”

THE BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE DRIVES THE RIGHT TO INSANITY

Following the election of our first black president, the “politics” of the Evangelical, Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Mormon Far Right was not the politics of a loyal opposition, but rather the instigation of revolution, which was first and best expressed by Rush Limbaugh when even before President Obama took office he said, “I hope Obama fails.”

To the old-fashioned conservative mantra “Big government doesn’t work,” the newly radicalized Evangelicals (and their Roman Catholic and Mormon cobelligerents) added “The U.S. government is evil!”

And the very same community–Protestant American Evangelicals–who had once been the bedrock supporters of public education, and voted for such moderate and reasonable men as President Dwight Eisenhower, became the enemies of not only the public schools but also of anything in the (nonmilitary) public sphere “run by the government.”

As they opened new institutions (proudly outside the mainstream), the Jesus Victims doing this “reclaiming” cast themselves in the role of persecuted exiles.

What they never admitted was that they were self-banished from mainstream institutions, not only because the Evangelicals’ political views on social issues conflicted with most people’s views, but also because Evangelicals (and other conservative religionists) found themselves holding the short end of the intellectual stick.

And yet having “dropped out” (to use a 1960s phrase), the Evangelicals nevertheless kept on demanding that regarding “moral” and “family” matters the society they’d renounced nonetheless had to conform to their beliefs.

CHRISTIAN JIHAD

Another Far Right Roman Catholic ideologue (and also an academic) even wrote a book calling on Christians, Jews, and Muslims to join together in a jihad against the secular West. In Ecumenical Jihad: Ecumenism and the Culture War a former friend of mine, Peter Kreeft (a professor of philosophy at Boston College), called for “ecumenical jihad.”

I met with Kreeft several times in my home in the 1980s and early 1990s while he was developing his “jihadist” ideas.

Kreeft’s was not a plea for blowing people up, and his book was published pre-9/11.

His book was based on the fact that many believers in Roman Catholicism, Evangelical Protestantism, and Islam (at least in their fundamentalist forms) rejected the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Homosexuality is out, sex education is evil, and so on. Kreeft called on all believers to unite to overthrow “secularism” in the same anti-secular spirit that Robert George channeled a few years later when trying to undermine the Obama administration through his brainchild, the “Manhattan Declaration.”

Kreeft called for an “alliance” of fundamentalist Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims to prosecute a culture war against what he viewed as the Western cultural elite. Ecumenical Jihad was dedicated to Richard John Neuhaus, the late Roman Catholic convert priest, and to Charles Colson (who later teamed up with George to author the “Manhattan Declaration”).

The groups Kreeft, Colson, and Neuhaus had in mind to “bring together” in an ecumenical jihad were alienated Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, and conservative Roman Catholics, to which Kreeft added Muslims (not that any actually signed on to his program as far as I know). These groups did not share each other’s theology, but they had a deeper link: anger at the “victimhood” imposed on them by modernity.

Kreeft and Neuhaus were calling abortion murder. Thus, the logic of their argument was that of my father’s, too: The U.S. government was enabling murder and was thus disparaged as a “regime,” even a “counterfeit state,” that needed to be overthrown.

A WILLINGNESS TO DESTROY AMERICA IN ORDER TO “SAVE” IT

George and Colson and the others who wrote and then signed the “Manhattan Declaration” (like Kreeft before them) also called for fundamentalists to unite if need be for civil disobedience to stop the U.S. government from passing laws that did not comply with their religious “values” and/or to undermine those laws if they were enacted.

So if the U.S. government legalized gay marriage and thus “compelled” all Americans (including church groups) to recognize gay men and women’s civil rights, the government need no longer be obeyed when those laws affected religious people who disagreed with them. The “Manhattan Declaration” called believers to “not comply.” And just as Neuhaus dismissed the U.S. government as a “regime”–and my father did the same when saying the government was a “counterfeit state”–George and his co – signers also used dismissive and demeaning language about the U.S. government.

In a country awash in weapons and wallowing in the rhetoric of rebellion against an “evil” government, sporadic outbursts of murder tinged with political overtones seem as inevitable as they seem horribly “normal.”

It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to foresee a day when a “secessionist” group and/or members of some “militia”–let alone one lone individual–will use their U.S. passports, white skins, and solid- citizen standing as a cover for importing a weapon of mass destruction to “liberate” the rest of us from our federal government’s “tyranny” and/or to “punish” some city like New York, known as the U.S. “abortion capital” or San Francisco as the place that “those gays have taken over.” And the possibility of an assassination in the same vein is a never-ending threat.

What we fear most from Islamist terrorists will be unleashed here as it was in Norway.

Terror is on the way on the way from our very own Christian and/or Libertarian “Tea Party” type activists inspired by right wing “Christian” intellectuals and political leaders like Bachmann who – after the killing starts — will then disown them and express horror at their actions, actions that are in fact the logical extension of the anti-government rhetoric spewing from Congress and the religious right.”

————————————————————————————————————————————

Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His new book is Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics–and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/151751/christian_jihad_why_we_should_worry_about_right-wing_terror_attacks_like_norway%27s_in_the_us_/

Why is the Mississippi River flooding?

SUSAN WEBB, PeoplesWorld

“The right-wing National Review is rushing to instruct us that global warming has nothing to do with the record-breaking Mississippi River flood that is rolling toward New Orleans.

The funny thing is, it’s all based on quotes from experts who say a key cause of the flooding is over-development – in other words, the very “free market” enterpreneurship so beloved by the conservative crowd at the National Review.

So which is it? In fact, experts seem to agree, it’s not an either-or situation.

First, this fact: The Mississippi River crested at 47.79 feet on Tuesday (May 10) at Memphis, the second-highest level on record, reports Andrew Freedman, a climate policy analyst with ClimateCentral. The water spilled through Memphis and surrounding areas, leaving hundreds homeless. As it continues south, it is drowning communities and farmland in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Freedman says two factors led to the flood. First is record rainfall in the Mississippi watershed: “the heavy rain that fell during April in the Ohio Valley, where six states – Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia – recorded their wettest April since instrument records began 117 years ago. Nine states recorded their wettest February through April period on record, according to a report released Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).” On top of that, he says, snowmelt added more water to the river.

Climate change cannot be blamed as the direct cause of the flooding, says Freedman. “But,” he writes, “scientists have detected large-scale trends indicating that extreme precipitation events are becoming more likely as temperatures warm in response to increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the air.”

“This means that heavy rainfall events are more frequent than they used to be, in part because a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture that can be wrung out by storm systems,” he explains.

Greenhouse gases are things like carbon dioxide and methane, which seal in heat close to the earth’s surface, leading to global warming. The increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, scientists overwhelmingly agree, is primarily due to industrial and automobile emissions.

Freeman writes, “Scientists are working to detect the ‘fingerprint’ of climate change in specific extreme weather events, and their methods are still in their infancy. It will take many months for studies to be completed on whether climate change may have made April’s heavy rains more likely.” But several recent studies show a link between climate change and extreme rainfall.

So, global warming may well have something to do with the Mississippi flood. But it’s not the only factor.

The National Review attempt at global-warming debunking consists of a repost of an ABC News report headlined “Mississippi Rising: Critics Say High Water Result of Man Not Mother Nature.” In fact the experts interviewed by ABC suggest a variety of factors are involved, including those record rainfalls that climate scientists are researching.

H.J. Bosworth Jr., civil engineer and director of research for Levees.org, told ABC, “This is largely a man-made disaster – to point it only to rainfall is naïve. Yes, there was lots of rainfall, but there was also lots of development. Every time you build a parking lot or a Wal-Mart you add to the burden of the drainage system and all that drainage goes into the Mississippi River.”

“If the rainfall increased in a forest the forest is going to suck up 90 percent of that rainfall. But if it happens in a urban area the pavement and roofs aren’t going to suck up anything,” he said.

At the same time, Robert Criss, professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, said, “The rivers need some room and we are getting that message explained very clearly to us year after year. It’s time we smelled the coffee. There is a lot of evidence that floods are not only getting deeper and more severe, but also more frequent.”

Criss said it is necessary to “get people and infrastructure out of the flood plains rather than walling off more of the flood plains. Currently, we are putting more infrastructure in the flood plains. We have square miles and square miles of flood plains that are now huge shopping malls or other things.”

At American Rivers, a conservation organization, Amy Souers Kober cites a disturbing statistic. “We have lost 35 million acres of wetlands in the upper Mississippi basin,” she writes. “That’s an area the size of Illinois. Think of all the floodwaters those wetlands could have held.”

American Rivers and others are part of a growing movement to stop trying to constrict rivers and instead let them follow their natural course, keeping open space for flood plains. The Washington Post reports that places like Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Napa, Calif., and Piece County, Wash., which have had major floods, are taking steps to move development away from their river edges and restore the water’s natural paths. Cedar Rapid is opening up a “floodable greenway,” while Napa is creating a “living river.” ”

Emphasis mine. 

see:http://peoplesworld.org/why-is-the-mississippi-river-flooding/

Scientists Find Link Between Global Warming and Earthquakes

From Alternet:

“One would not necessarily assume that the recent earthquake activity around the globe these past few years is in any way, shape or form related to climate change. It just seems implausible that warming seas and a warming atmosphere, the drivers of climate change, would have any effect on the slow process of plate tectonics, in which one plate shifts under or over another, occasionally producing the large earthquakes such as those that devastated the peoples of Indonesia, New Zealand, South America, and Japan to name but a few recent events.

However, scientists have for the first time released a study that indicates that man made changes to our climate are also quite probably effecting the movement of tectonic plates around the globe as well. The implications of their research are far ranging as well as frightening:

SYDNEY (AFP) – Scientists have for the first time shown a linkbetween intensifying climate events and tectonic plate movement in findings that could provide a valuable insight into why huge tremors occur. […]

An Australian-led team of researchers from France and Germany found that the strengthening Indian monsoon had accelerated movement of the Indian plate over the past 10 million years by a factor of about 20 percent.

Lead researcher Giampiero Iaffaldano said Wednesday that although scientists have long known that tectonic movements influence climate by creating new mountains and sea trenches, his study was the first to show the reverse.

“The closure or opening of new ocean basins or the build of large mountain bands like the Andes or Tibet itself, those are geological processes that affect the pattern of climate,” said Iaffaldano, an earth scientist with the Australian National University.

“We are showing for the first time that the opposite also is true, that the pattern of climate is then able to affect back in a feedback mechanism the motion of tectonic plates.”

Call this this one more example of the law of unintended consequences. For over one hundred years scientists have been stating that increases in human activity such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation would invariably have an effect on our climate by raising the mean temperatures of the oceans and the atmosphere. We have and are currently witnessing the effects of those predictions, based on principles of physics that were first explained in the 19th century.

What few foresaw however, was that changes to our surface climate would impact the movement of the large crustal plates that cause the continents to drift and that form mountain ranges and cause earthquakes. The research is obviously in its early stages, but I do not think we should take the findings of these scientists lightly or diminish their import.

The relationship of the movements of continental plates affecting climate is well established, as the lead earth scientist for this study quoted above noted. It is not, therefore illogical to assume that changes to climate in a feedback loop would also effect the movement of those plates. This study demonstrates that such is the case, at least with changes to the climate involving the increased intensity of monsoons in the Indian Ocean.

I am no scientist, but many scientists have been telling us that the changes we see are now locked in and will occur even if we ended all carbon, methane and other greenhouse gases today. We are now only at a point where the only valid debate the extent of the damage that will occur to life on this planet if we can end or do not curb greenhouse gas emissions and other human activities that are driving climate change.

We had thought those effects would be primarily climate related, i.e., intensified storms, harsh droughts and desertification in some areas, increased and more intense precipitation in others, rising sea levels, more intense heat waves and wildfires, species extinction, increased disease vectors, and so forth. Now we are learning that once again, we may have underestimated the impact of human activities on the earth. I cannot say how climate change now and in the future, will impact plate tectonics. However, if further research supports the study discussed above, we may be able to add increased or more intense earthquakes and tsunamis to the list of adverse consequences that are caused in part by the change to our climate brought about by our species “dominion over the earth.””

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/560158/scientists_find_link_between_global_warming_and_earthquakes/#paragraph2

Climate Change and the Integrity of Science

CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE INTEGRITY OF SCIENCE
From 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences:
Lead Letter Published in Science magazine
May 7, 2010
http://www.pacinst.org/climate/climate_statement.pdf

We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science  never absolutely proves anything.   When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the
same as saying society should never take action.  For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.

Scientific conclusions derive from an understanding of basic laws supported by laboratory experiments, observations of nature, and mathematical and computer modeling. Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them. This process is inherently adversarial- scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation. That’s what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and
Einstein did. But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of “well-established theories” and are often spoken of as “facts.”

For instance, there is compelling scientific evidence that our planet is about 4.5bn years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14bn years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today’s organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution). Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories
to be wrong. Climate change now falls into this category: there is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.

Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers, are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and
comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected. But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:

(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere.  A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.

(ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

(iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth’s climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human- induced changes.

(iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.

(v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

Much more can be, and has been, said by the world’s scientific societies, national academies, and individuals, but these conclusions should be enough to indicate why scientists are concerned about what future generations will face from business- as-usual practices.
We urge our policymakers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the unrestrained burning of fossil fuels.

We also call for an end to McCarthy- like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them. Society has two choices: we can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat
of global climate change quickly and substantively. The good news is that smart and effective actions are possible. But delay must not be an option.

The signatories are all members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences but are not speaking on its behalf or on behalf of their institutions:

If one can deny Evolution, they can deny any scientific result

Last week I sent out an electronic epistle on the similarity of the anti-scientific stance of global warming deniers and Evolution deniers.  While I have not yet researched if there is any data on the overlap of the deniers, I maintain it is very important because our space program succeeded in part because both science and science education became respected and trusted: today, that is no longer true, and we are paying the price in pollution, cost, inefficiency, and vulnerability, as well as the premature extinction of our and many other species.

N.B.: I Capitalize ‘Evolution’ and ‘Climate Change’ not only for emphasis, but because they are more important than many things that are capitalized, e.g. St.Patrick’s Day.

N.B.: We are not going to succeed in the 21st century with a generation home schooled in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

The Mar 3 edition of the NY Times addressed this linking of anti-Evolution, and Climate Change denial :

“Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.

In Kentucky, a bill recently introduced in the Legislature would encourage teachers to discuss “the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories,” including “evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.”

The bill, which has yet to be voted on, is patterned on even more aggressive efforts in other states to fuse such issues. In Louisiana, a law passed in 2008 says the state board of education may assist teachers in promoting “critical thinking” on all of those subjects.

Last year, the Texas Board of Education adopted language requiring that teachers present all sides of the evidence on evolution and global warming.

Oklahoma introduced a bill with similar goals in 2009, although it was not enacted.

The linkage of evolution and global warming is partly a legal strategy: courts have found that singling out evolution for criticism in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. By insisting that global warming also be debated, deniers of evolution can argue that they are simply championing academic freedom in general.

Yet they are also capitalizing on rising public resistance in some quarters to accepting the science of global warming, particularly among political conservatives who oppose efforts to rein in emissions of greenhouse gases.

In South Dakota, a resolution calling for the “balanced teaching of global warming in public schools” passed the Legislature this week.

“Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant,” the resolution said, “but rather a highly beneficial ingredient for all plant life.”

The measure made no mention of evolution, but opponents of efforts to dilute the teaching of evolution noted that the language was similar to that of bills in other states that had included both. The vote split almost entirely along partisan lines in both houses, with Republican voting for it and Democrats voting against.

For mainstream scientists, there is no credible challenge to evolutionary theory. They oppose the teaching of alternative views like intelligent design, the proposition that life is so complex that it must be the design of an intelligent being. And there is wide agreement among scientists that global warming is occurring and that human activities are probably driving it. Yet many conservative evangelical Christians assert that both are examples of scientists’ overstepping their bounds.

John G. West, a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute in Seattle, a group that advocates intelligent design and has led the campaign for teaching critiques of evolution in the schools, said that the institute was not specifically promoting opposition to accepted science on climate change. Still, Mr. West said, he is sympathetic to that cause.

“There is a lot of similar dogmatism on this issue,” he said, “with scientists being persecuted for findings that are not in keeping with the orthodoxy. We think analyzing and evaluating scientific evidence is a good thing, whether that is about global warming or evolution.”

Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist who directs the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University and has spoken against efforts to water down the teaching of evolution to school boards in Texas and Ohio, described the move toward climate-change skepticism as a predictable offshoot of creationism.

Wherever there is a battle over evolution now,” he said, “there is a secondary battle to diminish other hot-button issues like Big Bang and, increasingly, climate change. It is all about casting doubt on the veracity of science — to say it is just one view of the world, just another story, no better or more valid than fundamentalism.”

Not all evangelical Christians reject the notion of climate change, of course. There is a budding green evangelical movement in the country driven partly by a belief that because God created the earth, humans are obligated to care for it.

Yet there is little doubt that the skepticism about global warming resonates more strongly among conservatives, and Christian conservatives in particular. A survey published in October by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that white evangelical Protestants were among those least likely to believe that there was “solid evidence” that the Earth was warming because of human activity.

Only 23 percent of those surveyed accepted that idea, compared with 36 percent of the American population as a whole….”

By LESLIE KAUFMAN

see: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/04/science/earth/04climate.html?ref=todayspaper&pagewanted=print

Don’t ‘sweat’ the planet!

One frequently hears terms such as “Save the planet”.  That is manifestly wrong: this planet has survived incredible changes in its billions of years, and it is not threatened by our collective stupidly: our species is.

This point is not mere pedantry: it is an important aspect of understanding:

o Who/what we are

o Where we live

o How we survive

The great majority of species which have lived on earth are extinct, as ours will eventually be: our goal is to prevent this from occurring prematurely.

Wagering on our environment

Using reasoning like Blaise Pascal’s famous ‘wager’ ( see: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/), let’s use that approach in dealing with our environment, and global warming.

Starting with the observation that warming is occuring, there are two possibilities:

A: Human activity(production of carbon dioxide) is having an impact, or

B: It is not.

We have two alternatives:

1: We can reduce our carbon dioxide output by reducing our use of fossil fuels.

2: We can maintain our current policy of using oil and coal.

Arranging into a table:

                                                           A                                                B

1: Use non-fossil fuels:   Win& Win – see A1 below                  Win – see B1 below

2: Use fossil fuels              Lose & lose Lose- see A2 below    Lose – see B2 below

 

A1: Win & Win: Not only do we protect the future of our species, but we improve sustainablity and reduce dependence on other countries.

A2: Win:  We improve sustainablity and reduce dependence on other countries.

B1: Lose & Lose: We have an unstainable economy, dependent on other countries, and the future of our species is threatened.

B2: Lose: We have an unstainable economy, dependent on other countries.

With these results, our decision must be to reduce the use of carbon fuels.  In addition, applying Occam’s razor: (see

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occam’s+razor), 

we don’t even need the supposition that global warm is occuring- it is still a benefit to convert to non-fossil fuels.  Q.E.D.

Obama goes after Global Warming

What happens when the flat earthers are no longer in charge?

With Obama in, we now have hope for international cooperation on global warming!

NY Times: “But within weeks of taking office, President Obama has radically shifted the global equation, placing the United States at the forefront of the international climate effort and raising hopes that an effective international accord might be possible. Mr. Obama’s chief climate negotiator, Todd Stern, said last week that the United States would be involved in the negotiation of a new treaty — to be signed in Copenhagen in December — “in a robust way.

That treaty, officials and climate experts involved in the negotiations say, will significantly differ from the agreement of a decade ago, reaching beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions and including financial mechanisms and making good on longstanding promises to provide money and technical assistance to help developing countries cope with climate change.”

Right on!  Lets be cool!

see:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/science/earth/01treaty.html?_r=1&hp