Saturday 20 August 2022

Quotable Quotes: Absurd.


Journalist: Mr. President, how worried are you about the situation in Taiwan?

Joe Biden: I’m not worried, but I’m concerned that they [the Chinese] are moving as much as they are. (August 8th)

Do they speak English in the US?

Sunday 14 August 2022

One-China Trickery, Bill Birtles? Whose Trickery?


What if I told you that your reading ability — coupled with your critical thinking and sense of decency — is critically important as we are being pushed into what may well end up being the Third World War?

It’s a big responsibility, isn’t it? You don’t have to accept the challenge, but if you do, read on.

Thursday 11 August 2022

A July of Extremes

That’s how hot North America, Europe, Africa and parts of Asia were in early July.

From the Earth Observatory release:
At the beginning of July 2022, NOAA’s monthly climate outlook favored temperatures well above average across much of the United States. The outlook proved prescient.
Around the globe in summer 2022, wave after wave of heat crested and broke. Heat waves, particularly in Europe and Asia, caused thousands of heat-related deaths. On July 19, the U.K. had its hottest day ever recorded as temperatures topped 104°F (40°C). In the U.S., the heat was pervasive and persistent as atmospheric high-pressure systems established stagnant heat domes, which placed more than 150 million people under heat warnings and advisories. Nearly every region of the continental U.S. experienced above-average temperatures. Several states saw record-breaking triple-digit highs, some for days on end. With the added impact of high humidity in many regions, the extreme heat threatened life and health. (The entire release is here)

It’s been a long, hot summer over there: in Spain and Portugal the first record-breaking heatwave happened in late spring.

This is a global view, from the World Meteorological Organisation:


“This kind of heatwave is the new normal” – Prof. Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary-General.

But it’s not only the heath. Over Europe and parts of North America it’s been dry:


“No similar data in the last 230 years compares with the drought and heat we are experiencing this year. Then we have had storms … These episodes are growing in frequency and intensity, exactly as forecast by climate reports over the last 30 years. Why do we continue to wait to make this a priority?” – Luca Mercalli, president of the Italian Meteorological Society.



Mercalli is right. In Spain, for example, after a dry winter, dams are at 40% capacity: 20 percentage points less than the 10 last years’ average. But that’s the average for all reservoirs, for all uses. In those for human consumption the situation is worse: 35% left.

Hot, dry weather spells wildfires:


Wildfires in a dozen European countries have already burned over 600K hectares (Algeria and Tunisia not included), the second highest such figure ever recorded, according to the Joint Research Centre of the European Union.

To be sure, wildfires are common in southern Europe and around the Mediterranean. But this year Britain, Germany, Slovenia and the Czech Republic have also been visited by the flames.

Official fire seasons in southern Europe and the Mediterranean typically run from June to September. It’s still mid-August. So, they might face another month or so of wildfires.

But actual wildfire seasons have been getting longer.

And that’s not necessarily the worst. In some ways, in eastern Siberia it is worse:


By mid/late June wildfires in Russia had already affected an area 50% larger than the area affected in the whole of the European Union and Britain combined up to July.

Dry and hot weather also spells crop failure:


40% of Italy's agricultural output comes from the Po River Valley. It is going through its worse drought in more than 70 years. But the situation in other southern European countries, like Spain and Portugal and parts of southern France, if any better, is not much better.

Excessive rain, however, is not an unmitigated good either.

And, yes, July also saw rainfall records being broken. It was only mid-July when Sydney had already broken a 164-year-old record:


“So, to see more than that [i.e. the previous record] just in one half of the month is nothing short of extraordinary” – Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino.

Over here we’re heading out of winter (an unusually cooler one, as you can see in the WMO map). Unexpected rainfall, however, might be far from over. This is how Australia looked like on Wednesday at about 0900 AEST:


By recent standards (2020-2022 ), that cloud cover does not look exceptional.

Further south a very different kind of record was also broken:


Okay, but what does that mean, exactly? Well, in plain English it means this:


According to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, last July Antarctic sea ice cover was 1.1 million km² below the 1991-2020 average for July: 7% under average. In fact, this July’s Antarctic ice cover was the lowest value registered since data collection started 44 years ago.

Is that much?

To give an idea what 1.1 million km² means: about the total area (i.e. the sum of all land and territorial seas a country claims as its own) of Colombia or Ethiopia and a little less than the total area of Alaska: some ten times the total area of Kentucky. Add the areas of the two largest European Union members, France and Spain. Think of South Australia. That’s about 1.1 million km².

Further, unusually reduced Antarctic sea ice cover was not just a July feature: sea ice cover has been unusually low since last February.

Nor is that phenomenon limited to Antarctica. Arctic ice cover was 4% below its July average.

That may be shocking, but it’s hardly surprising. Last March (it does sound like a long time ago, doesn’t it?) this was making headlines all over the planet:


 Let me try to highlight the good and the bad in that particular news:
  • The good news: to the extent that this is only polar sea ice cover, it doesn’t involve sea levels rising.
  • The bad news: whether sea level rises or not with that melting, less ice cover accelerates global heating. You see, ice is white. It reflects sunlight back into space.
The thing is that polar ice is not always sea ice. And, if you go back to the WMO map you can safely bet that not only sea ice melted: those figures say nothing about the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Well, their ice melting does raise sea levels.

Additionally, to the best of my knowledge, we do not know how that flow of fresh water affects oceanic currents, like the Gulf Stream.

So far, the world’s average temperature has increased by a little over 1.1ÂșC. But our planet is already cooking.

This is not something hypothesided for a distant future. It’s happening now. The future is here. The record-breaking storms and droughts are here. Water consumption is being rationed or is about to be rationed. The unprecedented wildfires are happening now. Our rivers either run dry or overflow. Crops are already failing. The repair bills go into the billions figures. People are already losing their livelihoods. Already property cannot be insured. People must relocate, but can’t afford it or have nowhere else to go. The most desperate try to migrate, but doors are seldom open. They are the lucky ones: others are already either starving or dying of heath stroke, or drowning in floods and burning in wildfires. Health is being compromised for life. Rains cause mudslides, heath causes snow avalanches.

Even if we acted decisively now, it won’t get any better any time soon. The immediate goal is to keep things from getting worse, to steer the planet away from a worse future. Worse as in much, much worse.

But we are not acting decisively. Not really.

Instead, we are busy with other “priorities”. Like the kind of things national security “experts” like to talk about: we need to get ready to fight an absurd, self-destructive, unnecessary direct war with Choinah while fighting an absurd, self-destructive, unnecessary proxy war with Russia.

Those disasters we are already seeing are not matters of national security – ask those “experts”.

I suppose their madness, idiocy, ignorance, shortsightedness, irresponsibility are also, somehow, Pew-teen’s fault.

Wednesday 3 August 2022

The Inmates do Run the Asylum (Updated).

Maybe my GP is right. I might be worrying too much. I shouldn’t follow the news so closely.


Judge by yourself.