Obama to rename Mt. McKinley as Denali

The Los Angeles Times was the first to inform me of a climate change voyage to Alaska this week by President Obama. Alaska already renamed North America’s tallest mountain as Denali instead of McKinley. Obama will now do that for our federal government. I will link to that article and include my own graphic image (a montage of 3 images).

Above: Mount Denali. We will no longer call it Mount McKinley. President Obama makes this announcement during a climate change voyage to Alaska this week, the state of my birth. Image credits are noted in the image.

Above: Mount Denali. We will no longer call it Mount McKinley. President Obama makes this announcement during a climate change voyage to Alaska this week, the state of my birth. Image credits are noted in the image. (Click to zoom.) 

New NASA Medallion Commemoratives

[2015 08 20] August 20, 2015

I visited Space Center Houston last week. I found and purchased two new NASA medallion commemoratives, one for the Apollo 45th anniversary, and one for Orion EFT-1. The Apollo coin is sold in a nice package, and both are sold in a plastic coin-shaped transparent container, as always. Both are probably created by Winco; the package explains that the Apollo coin is made by Winco. I think the Apollo coin cost $19.99 and the Orion coin cost $14.99.

Here is a link to the Apollo coin at the Space Store. Here is a better image link from the collection of Timothy Perri. Here is a link to the Orion coin using a UK link for the Space Shop. We can see more detail in the Orion coin at this Amazon link. Here is the best image of the Orion coin, available with this link from collectSpace.

NASA and Winco did a great job over the years. The Apollo 40th anniversary medals are inspiring. They created more of them, including Curiosity.

If you find the stands for these medallions, please let me know. I have more medals of this size than stands. Racks would be of interest, too. Maybe someone with a 3D printer can make the stands available. I ordered stands from numismatists, but they were not good for this purpose.

Change the Flag Mississippi

[2015 08 31] Update! August 31, 2015

The Guardian presents a news article today with good news. The University of Texas at Austin is moving its statue of the President of the Confederacy to a private museum. This was the action I recommended below, and I hinted at the complexity of that task, while predicting that we will start this task in the USA quickly and make rapid progress toward rapid completion. I will not define how rapid, and it will take place in a just manner, a fair manner, but enough is enough.

I added a book to the list of references at the end of this article, Slavery by Another Name, the Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, by Douglas A. Blackmon. Surprisingly, the Wall Street Journal is to thank for that book, since they assigned the author to do the in-depth investigative reporting. [The 2010 book Merchants of Doubt explains the harm done to climate change reporting by the Wall Street Journal, not just in its editorial pages, but also on page 1.] Today I found the website of Blackmon’s book. Its opening page features this quote from the author, “Why must the Confederate banner come down? Because it is the battle flag of white cowards, And those angry that white privilege is ending.” That is the title of his blog entry, which I will read later today.

My great friend and neighbor tells me the Confederate flag represents heritage, meaning it need not be removed from government property in the USA. The coming changes are part of another heritage. Civil War historian Douglas McPherson said Reparations are not appropriate since we already paid with the lives and other sacrifices in the Civil War. I paraphrase his comments, probably from a recent interview on National Public Radio. That comment is probably a reference to the June 2014 cover story for the Atlantic magazine by Ta-Nehisi Coates. My first thought was, “What about Reparations for events since the end of the Civil War?” Today, as I think of the coming changes to flags, statues, and more, I say that these changes are in part to honor our heritage.

[2015 08 18] August 18, 2015

This seems obvious to me now. Change the flag, Mississippi! This can happen quickly, but we need public support. An online petition might help.

No Confederate flag is appropriate for any government institution or government property.

The flag of the state of Mississippi. Image credit: Wikipedia.

The flag of the state of Mississippi. Image credit: Wikipedia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the USA, we have many such urgent tasks ahead of us in the near future.

Oddly, PBS television repeated a show this week about Muscle Shoals and two famous music recording studios, hit-makers. It was a great show. At one point, they put the spotlight on a band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, but they showed some live concert footage featuring a giant copy of this Confederate flag on the stage. The show defined Southern Rock starting with Duane Allman, an amazing guitarist, and the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert was a private event, not a government event. (They became big stars after opening for the Who on a two-year concert tour, as I recall from the show.) With time, that Confederate flag will lose its popularity. Its popularity keeps increasing as part of the huge backlash following events such as civil rights movements. That Confederate flag’s popularity received a big boost in 1948, too. Michelle Alexander explains (below) that Dr. Martin Luther King moved his focus from civil rights to human rights, by the way.

A year or two ago I photographed a small flag of the state of Mississippi on an ocean-going ship of the federal government of the United States of America! It was a NOAA ship. I will post that photograph here when I find it. No rush. Obviously, Americans will not long tolerate any form of any Confederate flag on any federal vessel. The change will come soon. Things are changing. When this change comes, it will be fast.

[2015 08 19] August 19, 2015: While looking for my photograph of the NOAA ship flying the state flag of Mississippi in Galveston Texas USA, I came across this article from the Guardian dated June 23, 2015. “Mississippi to propose removal of Confederate emblem from state flag.” The article and its web page link to a few related articles in the Guardian. One link leads to an article explaining that six other state flags contain symbols that require changing as much as the state flag of Mississippi:

[2015 08 20] August 20, 2015: While reading Salon (salon.com) today, Britney Cooper’s article mentioned a Confederate memorial on the grounds of the Caddo Parish courthouse in Louisiana. Internet search engines show plenty of images. As I mentioned above, this work is in our near future. Of course, there are many such examples, such as Confederate memorials in public parks in Charleston, South Carolina USA. The reference below to Michelle Alexander’s book explains that the ongoing backlash against civil rights was handled well by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he moved his focus from civil rights to human rights. An earlier Britney Cooper article at Salon convinced me that endorsing a small federal government in the USA was always (and still is) a way to keep the Blacks down. That compromise or design in 1776 and 1789 (a weak federal government) was a central principle in our history. It changed with the New Deal, a complex story. We will keep most of those New Deal changes, including a strong federal government, despite the work of Movement Conservatives described in the writing of Heather Cox Richardson.

  1. Alabama
  2. Arkansas
  3. Florida
  4. Georgia
  5. North Carolina
  6. Tennessee

Some references about race relations and the USA:

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates appeared on PBS television on the Bill Moyers show, and that interview can be seen online at www.billmoyers.com. The subject was the June 2014 cover story for the Atlantic magazine, The Case for Reparations. See also two books written by Mr. Coates, the Beautiful Struggle and Between the World and Me. I recall reading his blog at the Atlantic magazine website, too.
  • The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, the 2010 book by Michelle Alexander. The book ends with a quote from James Baldwin’s book, The Fire Next Time.
  • The 2014 book Dog Whistle Politics, How Coded Racial Appeals Have Wrecked the Middle Class, by Ian Haney-Lôpez. He also appeared on Moyers & Company on PBS television, and those episodes are available at www.billmoyers.com. Ian Haney-Lôpez wrote some blog entries there, too.
  • Soon after Bree Newsome climbed that flagpole and removed that flag in Charleston, South Carolina, it was voted down, so to speak, so the flag was removed permanently. I will link to her website here later. Many thanks to her friends and helpers, including the friend spotting for her at the base of the flagpole.
  • The 2014 book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, by Naomi Klein. Once the James Watt version of the steam engine arrived, the Industrial Age started, and now we know that greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from fossil fuels, caused damaging global warming, 0.85C (Multiply by 1.8 to convert to F.) so far. Most nations agreed in 2009 to 2C as a guardrail. Earth is now at a point of no return, and that point is moving in a bad direction. The Industrial Age is linked to slavery (and capitalism, and colonization).
  • [Update Monday, August 31, 2015] The 2009 book Slavery by Another Name, the Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the End of the Civil War to World War II. by Douglas A. Blackmon, a book created thanks to his Wall Street Journal investigative reporting. The website of the book is excellent!

 

Climate Change is an Astronomy Subject

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) passed a 3-paragraph climate change resolution in January of 2013, endorsing the 2012, and now the August 2013 two-page position statement of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), whose title is Human-Induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action. That is good news! The AAS has about 7,000 members. The AGU has about 62,000 members.

I have attended astronomy meetings now and then in Houston since 1992. Their featured lectures (presentations) are often excellent. They meet at the NASA-related Lunar and Planetary Institute, a nice venue. Their (our) monthly meetings include a member’s minute, and membership is free. I can remind them of this subject, and I did that once already. I summarized what is written above. I have been in touch with other regular attendees, too. I will miss the following meeting, so I encourage others to create a member’s minute on this subject. My fellow attendees are not tempted to act on my suggestion, but FC did not answer my LinkedIn email note yet.

See SkepticalScience.com for a good introduction. Take the free course (a MOOC), Denial101x.

Greenhouse gases are warming the global climate. The worst is water vapor, but it is a feedback in this scenario, and human-induced greenhouse gases are the forcing functions creating that positive feedback. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the worst of those gases, since human-induced CO2 emissions do not return the system to its prior state for hundreds of years for most of it, and for up to 20,000 years for the last 35% of it. Because of that long life, we reached a point of no return, and that point continues to move in a bad direction. For all practical purposes, this is irreversible.

The IPCC of the United Nations first reported this human fingerprint in 1995 in global surface average temperatures, and the human fingerprint has since been found in many other measurements, too, such as ocean acidification.

In the USA we delayed for more than 20 years, since the Kyoto Protocol, which (Wikipedia) extends the 1992 UNFCCC. Working with the United Nations, most nations of the world agreed in 2009 to a guardrail of 2C for an increase in that global average surface temperature since the start of the Industrial Revolution. We already reached 0.8C by 2015 over the last 140 years.

I heard some scientists say we have 10 or 15 years remaining to act to avoid that guardrail. Some scientists say we are too late to respect that guardrail limit.

Thanks to institutionalized delay, only radical solutions remain, according the Naomi Klein, in her 2014 book, This Changes Everything. We must reduce those greenhouse gas emissions and do the other things for not just adaptation, but also mitigation. Things are changing!

To convert an increase or decrease from C to F, multiply by 1.8. To convert C to F, multiply by 1.8, then add 32.

Below are two images from this link: climate.nasa.gov.

Temperature hitsory

Above: Temperature history from the NASA climate website. Click to zoom. 2015 06 30.

CO2 history for climate change information

CO2 history for climate change information. This is from the NASA climate website. Click to zoom.

The CO2 plot above goes back to 400,000 years, but its label says 650,000 years? I have seen the plot with data on that time scale for both CO2 and global average surface temperature. I think I heard or read that way back then, during those hundreds of thousands of years, the 3 or 4 peaks and the tracking elsewhere is the result of temperature acting at the forcing function and CO2 acting as the positive feedback. I think I read that this is what is predicted for those past eras, so temperature leading the CO2 during those past eras is not a surprise or a mystery, nor does it contradict the description of CO2 now leading temperature since the start of the industrial era?

“CO2 is not a pollutant!” That is a myth. It is a false dichotomy. CO2 is needed by plants and exhaled by us, but human-induced CO2 greenhouse gas emissions require urgent action. Actually, my Denial 101x course says that is a red herring, so I stand corrected. I reviewed a 3-minute video on YouTube explaining that. Not a false dichotomy, though it is probably that, too, but a red herring.

“It is just the Sun.” That is a myth. For the last few decades, the Sun’s energy declined slightly while global warming accelerated. Also, the Sun would head both the upper and lower atmosphere together, but the upper atmosphere has been cooling the last few decades, though that is complicated by human-induced loss of ozone in the upper atmosphere. This myth is an oversimplification.

Climate Reality Project and Me

I am pleased to be selected for 3 days of training with the Climate Reality Project, founded in 2006 by Al Gore! It was a long application, but I have some relevant experience. This 3-day event will take place in September of 2015. As the AGU position statement title says, Human-Induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action. I will send my acceptance in July, and reserve my travel in August.

The purple martin is the largest of the swallows. This father may have just fed its baby, and is taking off from that branch to its right, maybe to hunt more dragonflies. Armand Bayou, near Houston Texas USA. Species extinction is a big problem now, at least sometimes linked with human-induced climate change. Click to zoom. Image credit: Douglas Yazell. Creative Commons via Flickr: credit if used. See the Flickr album.

Texas A&M University 2014 Climate Change Statement

Someone sent me this link and statement about a month ago. This climate change statement from Texas A&M University (TAMU), from their Department of Atmospheric Sciences (faculty) replaces an earlier undated statement with similar content. The earlier statement is archived somewhere in Horizons (www.aiaahouston.org/horizons).

Today this link is not working. Houston experienced a bad storm last night, so this is probably the reason for the trouble in College Station Texas USA, but here is that link:

http://www.met.tamu.edu/about/weather-climate/climate-change-statement/index.html

A PDF file was sent to me. It contained this statement, so here is an image of that statement:

The 2014 climate change statement from the Texas A&M University Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

It mentions 1.5 degrees in item (1) above. That should say Fahrenheit (F). Multiply by 5/9 to convert to Celsius (C). That converts to 0.83333 (repeating 3) degree C. That is what I recall, 0.8C over the last 140 years. In the above text, it is about 132 years.

The range 2.5 to 7 degrees F above is 1.38888 (repeating 8) to 3.88888 (repeating 8) degrees C. That is in addition to roughly the 0.8C mentioned above.

The IPCC is the best source for climate change information, though their reports are the lowest common denominator. Their charter requires them to use the most conservative language when describing the threat of climate change. The IPCC website is http://ipcc.ch.

The above text refers to the position statement of the AGU. Its title is Human-Induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action.

The solution: reduce greenhouse gases! Learn what you must as a citizen and tell others about it. Change is required! Enough science is settled to know that urgent action is required. The science work continues, but we know enough to avoid delay. Still the USA delayed, and the Prime Ministers of Canada and Australia deny the science. This is an incredible challenge. China cannot succeed with the USA, and vice versa. The developing world cannot succeed without the developed world, and vice versa. Time is running out. Public policy changes are required. Political changes are required. It is a complicated subject, but it can be simplified. I hope most people understand the challenge, but quite a few influential people deny the science.

Almost 200 nations agreed to 2C as a limit for global average surface temperature increase since the start of the Industrial Revolution (about 1880), and Earth already reached 0.8C over the last 140 years. We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to make that change. Carbon dioxide is the most important one, but methane and others are also greenhouse gases.

The consequences of human-induced climate change are already terrible. What portion of 13 feet of storm surge from Hurricane Sandy was due to human-induced climate change? One foot? See the IPCC and other sources for those consequences.

Recommended books: Merchants of Doubt (2010) and This Changes Everything (2014).

Climate Science Denial MOOC

Good news! A great course is available for free, for anyone connected to the internet. Its title is Making Sense of Climate Science Denial. “Learn to make sense of the science and to respond to climate change denial.”

MOOC: Massive Open Online Course.

John Cook of SkepticalScience.com is the creator, or one of the creators. I just finished week 1 of 7. This is a free course. We have an option to pay $100. Excellent new video interviews include Ben Santer, Naomi Oreskes, Katharine Hayhoe, and Michael Mann. Those names alone ensure this is a great course. Many more scientists are interviewed and many more scientists are involved in creating this course.

I am sure you can catch up easily if you start late now. They estimate 2 hours of work per week.

Here is the long form of a link to this course:

https://www.edx.org/course/making-sense-climate-science-denial-uqx-denial101x

I hope to find you there. As the title of the AGU position statement says, Human-Induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action. AGU: American Geophysical Union.

By the way, in the 2013 charts by Sandrine Dixson (Her last name is hyphenated there, so this is the shorter form.), her chart 7 says that business as usual (RCP8.5) as likely as not leads to a temperature increase of 4C by the year 2100. Multiply by 1.8 to convert to Fahrenheit. Climate: everyone’s business. Related data is in the 2014 IPCC Working Group 1 document. I think it starts on page 1013 of Chapter 12. That 4C is compared to the 2C that more than 100 nations agreed to as a limit for global average surface temperature increase since the start of the Industrial Age. We already reached 0.8C.

IPCC: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

RCP: Representative Concentration Pathway

Thanks to Salon.com for telling us about this MOOC. The article’s author was Lindsay Abrams, their environment journalist.

Two tree sparrows in Armand Bayou seen from the Bay Area Park boardwalk. Monday, May 4, 2015. (Click to zoom.) Image credit: Douglas Yazell.

Climate Change Notes, Urgent Action Required

[2015 03 21] A few quick notes.

Title of the position statement of the American Geophysical Union: Human-Induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action.

Two good books: Merchants of Doubt (2010) and This Changes Everything (2014).

Charts from a dinner meeting presentation on climate change science & public policy can be found at the bottom of this web page at the moment: www.aiaahouston.org/iac. The presenter is Dr. Barry Lefer of the University of Houston. His specialty is air pollution. As I recall, at one point he said that for the past 100 years, natural variation is undetectable compared to human influence.

Please be sure to watch some climate change episodes of Moyers & Company, the PBS television show. See www.billmoyers.com. The interview with Katharine Hayhoe is especially good.

Please join 350.org. To start, it is a free email signup.

The Guardian (http://theguardian.com) also features excellent climate change journalism. A recent article uses the headline, Florida employee ‘punished for using phrase climate change.’

 

Climate Change and NASA

NASA continues to do great work on climate change, as always. Here is something from one of the NASA FAQs (frequently asked questions).

See http://climate.nasa.gov

See http://climate.nasa.gov

The AGU (American Geophysical Union) position statement is titled, “Human-induced climate change requires urgent action.” That science is as settled as science can be, as settled as the age of the Earth and the role of evolution on life, including human life.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is an award-winning source for climate change science communication and public policy. They shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.

As we can see from the image, NASA does not promote particular public policies. Even the AMA (American Medical Association) published a climate change position statement, referring to their support for the work of the IPCC. Who else can join the AGU and the AMA in publishing a position statement?

My sighting and photos of an adult bald eagle fishing with two Opsrey

I was walking my dog Friday, September 26, 2014, and I had my camera (20x optical zoom, automatic mode, sports mode) with me. I photographed a bald eagle and two Osprey. About a year ago, a couple told me that bald eagles were sighted here in Houston at Armand Bayou years ago, nesting, and creating a second nest farther down the bayou, farther away from people. The sight of this bald eagle was a big and pleasant surprise. I will place one photo here for now. I have a few photos of it. In one photo, the bald eagle has a fish in its claws. In another photo, one of the two Osprey has a fish in its claws.

My PowerPoint slides are available in PDF format via this website:

http://ourparkbench.com/images/2014_09_26_Bald_Eagle_and_Osprey_Reduced_Size_PDF_no_dog.pdf

Here is that link in a clickable and more concise form.

Great to see a bald eagle

A bald eagle and an Osprey. The wingspan for an Osprey is up to one inch less than 6 feet (Wikipedia). The wingspan for a bald eagle is up to 8 feet (Wikipedia). In this photo, the Osprey has a fish in its claws.

And below are two more pictures of a bald eagle (the same one, I guess) at that same place. It is being attacked in air by an Opsrey. These photos are from Friday, October 3, 2014, my second bald eagle sighting, one week after the first sighting. I photographed both sightings!

A bald eagle and an Osprey

Bald eagle and Opsrey again

Bald eagle and Osprey again

Bald eagle and Osprey again

The 2010 book Merchants of Doubt mentions eagles and falcons being saved by the work of Rachel Carson, author of the 1962 book Silent Spring. Her book talked about DDT, pesticides, and ecosystems. In the first paragraph of MoD’s Chapter 7, bald eagles are mentioned. The MoD book explains in its Chapter 7 that suddenly in 2007, an internet “Rachel was wrong.” campaign appeared from the CEI. (I will not bother to define the acronyms of these conservative think tanks for now. Calling them conservative is being too nice to them, by the way.) Conservative and Libertarian. AEI. The Cato Institute. The Heartland Institute. They are free market fundamentalists.

In 1972, the successful solution in the USA to the problem of DDT and other pesticides was implemented, including government regulations.

“Mass murderer.” “Worse than Hitler.” That is how they described Rachel Carson in 2007 with their “Rachel is wrong” campaign.

“After Rush Limbaugh parroted the ‘Rachel was wrong’ attack, the CEI promoted him for the Nobel Peace Prize.” That sentence is from MoD, an exact quote, except that the book spells out the acronym for CEI.

The MoD authors are Naomi Oreskes and Eric M. Conway. I recommend the book. The full title is Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Eric M. Conway is the NASA/JPL historian.

Of course, climate change is is the news now with Eric Schmidt talking about ALEC, another one of those free market fundamentalist groups. Here is a link to an article from the Guardian. The quote by Schmidt about ALEC is from an NPR show, the Diane Rehm show. Here is the link to that transcript from NPR. And here is that quote from that show of Monday, September 22, 2014:

[Start quote.]

KRISTEN11:55:16
Hi, yes. Thank you so much for taking my call, Diane.
REHM11:55:18
Sure.
KRISTEN11:55:19
I’m curious to know if Google is still supporting ALEC, which is that fund lobbyist in D.C. that are funding climate change deniers.
SCHMIDT11:55:30
We funded them as part of a political game for something unrelated. I think the consensus within the company was that that was sort of a mistake. And so we’re trying to not do that in the future.
REHM11:55:42
And how did you get involved with them in the first place? And were you then disappointed in what you saw?
SCHMIDT11:55:52
Well, the company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts. What a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring. And the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people. They’re just literally lying.
REHM11:56:19
Eric Schmidt. He’s executive chairman of Google. He’s former chief executive officer of Google from 2001 through 2011. His new book is titled how Google works. Eric Schmidt, it was a pleasure to talk with you. And maybe we’ll talk again.

[End quote.]