Utopia 17: Whent the Red Wind Blows

“Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

J. Robert Oppenheimer quoting the Bhagavad Gita as he watched his creation, the first atomic bomb, successfully detonate.

Actual quote from the Bhagavad Gita:

sri-bhagavan uvaca:

kalo ‘smi loka-ksaya-krt pravrddho

lokan samahartum iha pravrttah /

rte ‘pi tvam na bhavisyanti sarve

ye ‘vasthitah pratyanikesu yodhah //

The Lord said: “Time  [death]  I am, the destroyer of the worlds, who has come to annihilate everyone.  Even without your taking part all those arrayed in the  [two] opposing ranks  will be slain!”

(Gita vs. 11.32

trans. after Swami Tripurari)


Utopia 17:  The Red Wind Blows

The next morning Jack’s excitement almost eclipsed his students’. They ate a quick breakfast and moved to the shuttle platform. The shuttles took the group to the Ely Depot where Dale Jr sat waiting in Big Bertha. The kids ran to touch the vehicle. Jack and his chaperone’s began to restrain them, but Dale only laughed, “That monster’s made to ride rough shod over desert rock. You don’t think a bunch of kids can hurt it?”

Jack nodded and the children converged on the vehicle in unbridled enthusiasm. They clambered in with excited chatter while Dale and Jack helped them with their harnesses. Dale drove the whole group to the garage. The kids, especially the boys, were as wowed as Jack had been as they stared in awe at the many vehicles in the garage.

While the children were allowed to use the bathroom and explore the garage, Jack had a final consultation with Dale Sr. about the best way to navigate to their destination. Places to stop and last minute advice were given. Finally they loaded the children into the sand rail and Jack checked all the harnesses himself before he climbed into the driver seat. Dale slapped Jack on the back and told him to have a good time and then Jack was behind the wheel. He took one last look behind him to make sure that everyone was buckled into their harness and then he started the engine. Conny Cortez screamed in surprise and then gave a shy and embarrassed smile to Jack. Jack said nothing but grinned back at her. He stepped on the clutch and eased his foot onto the gas. The buggy lurched forward forcefully causing the children to gasp and giggle, but it did not stall. It was Jack’s turn to flash an embarrassed look back at Conny.

They rushed past the abandoned buildings of Ely and out into the open desert. Red and purple mountains stood out against a vast expanse of yellow and orange dunes. They were on their way!

With some choppiness Jack managed to steer the buggy onto the road that Dale had indicated. They would be taking what passed as a road out here the whole trip. The roads in the Great Desert were of asphalt and were not kept up due to their infrequent use. They were crumpled and almost unrecognizable except as ruts in the desert floor. Jack soon had the buggy up to a decent speed. The children laughed and giggled andWhoood. Conny looked as though she was enjoying herself, but Rhonda appeared a tad bit green.

The car rumbled over the hills and valleys of the dunes. The kids treated each dune like a roller coaster. Raising their hands above their heads and screaming with delight with each down hill.

Jack would stop from time to time to examine the GPS machine that he was still getting used to. During these times the occupants of the vehicle filled their canteens. Some also ate snacks provided by the garage.

Jack had asked Dale Sr. for his suggestion for a place to stop for lunch. Jack was pleasantly surprised as he began to approach the lunch spot. Dale didn’t disappoint. The area was an oasis in the desert. It consisted of a spring at the base of Mount Washington only a short drive from their destination. Several jack rabbits and a coyote, who had been stalking them, fled at the sound of the engine as they approached. The children strained at their harnesses to watch their escape.

As soon as Jack stopped the car and let the children out they scattered in youthful exuberance. Any wildlife that was left was probably miles from here by now Jack thought.. Jack handed out the lunch boxes Dale had packed. They ate quickly and then resumed their exploration of the area.

To Jack’s surprise, out here away from other classes, the kids unselfconsciously started a game of sharks and minnows. A game he had not seen them play in at least 2 years. Some of them had pulled off their shoes and had their feet in the shallow spring. Rhonda stopped them from getting more than their knees wet but a splashing war started as soon as she turned her back. Jack watched them in silence for some time while he picked at his lunch. He was in heaven. This was exactly as it should be. This would be the talk of the school for the next month after they got back. He was content to sit and watch it all unfold for them today.

An hour slipped by before Jack had even noticed it. With some surprise at how time had gotten away from him, he stood and began to collect the trash and herd his class back into the car. If they did not get going they were not going to make it back to the garage by dark and he did not wish to challenge his new skill by driving in the dark.

He was repacking the back of the sand rail when he heard it. A rapid buzzing sound that slowed to a fast castanet rattle. Though Jack had never heard the real thing he recognized it immediately from years of movie watching. His head whipped around to locate the sound.

It was at the far side of the group. Everyone else had heard the sound as well and now stood frozen or looking to him for guidance. Everyone but one person that was. Andy was climbing a small group of rocks in the immediate vicinity of the sound and his back was to Jack. “Andy.” Jack whispered in desperation as a box of dinner rations slid from his hands and dropped to the desert floor.

Jack started to run as the buzzing rattle warned of its owner’s mood again. “Stay here! Don’t move!” he screamed at the majority of the class as he ran by them. Rhonda grabbed her daughter and held her close the other children watched him but stood still as they had been told.

He headed for the rocks where Andrew climbed. Andy was heading closer to the warning sound totally unaware of its existence. Jack gained on him and yelled to him even though he knew Andy could not hear him. Jack hit the rocks at a dead run. He sacrificed the skin on his hands and some on his shin as well to scrambled up them at full speed. He had almost reached Andy just as the warning sounded again. And then the unthinkable happened.

The snake struck Andy just below the right knee of his shorts clad leg. Andy reflexively jumped to the left and tripped over some rocks and went down hard.

Jack got there just in time to see the snake make a hasty retreat close under the boulder and down into a crevice. There were 2 very pronounce punched out marks below Andy’s knee. The tissue around the marks was already starting to turn a dull red color. Andy was unabashedly crying in surprise and pain.

He looked up as Jack arrived by his side, “What…?” he signed.

“Rattle snake.” Jack signed back. “We need to get you out of here.” Andy nodded and wiped tears from his face.

Jack grabbed Andy and began to pick his way down the rocks careful so not to stumble and drop the boy. By the time he reached the back of the buggy Jack’s arms and back were screaming in protest. Conny and Rhonda collected the other children into the car and saw that they were properly fastened in. They counted them to relieve Jack of his usual obsession.

The other children spoke in hushed voices as Jack set Andy on the tail of the buggy. He then turned and paused for a moment having to remember Dale’s lecture and where the first aide box was hidden. He reached under the last back seat to retrieve it and rifled threw it. There was a small booklet with advice in various circumstances. Jack’s trembling hands could barely turn the page to “Snake Bite”. Luckily the instructions were brief and simple. Jack located the “restriction band” in the box. He put it above the knee and tightened it so that it was tight enough to restrict blood flow from the leg but not too the leg, checking it with his fingers as instructed in the book. New tears ran down Andrew’s face with the discomfort of the band was added to the pain of the bite, but he made no objections to Jack’s ministrations. An arrow of guilt for allowing the child to get hurt pierced Jack’s heart. Jack hugged him and kissed his forehead. He tried to reassure him. Then he poured a canteen’s worth of water over the wound as instructed in the booklet. He told Andy he had to keep the leg low and had him dangle the leg over the edge of the rail’s tailgate. Andy’s sobs subsided to whimpers. Jack felt as though his heart was being ripped out from his chest and he hugged the boy again. Conny came to the back of the buggy to see if she could help.

Jack looked up from his embrace as she came into view. “Can you sit with him? I need to call for help.”

“Of course.” She took up his post cradling Andy and rocking him slightly against her chest. Andy held on to her but his eyes never left Jack as he moved away.

“I’ll be right back. I have to get you help.” Jack signed. Andy nodded but gave no answer. He breathed in with a shudder.

Jack scooted around the car to the driver’s side. Next to the driver’s seat was a satellite phone. There were no cell towers out here any more. This phone would bounce a signal directly off of one of the satellites overhead. Jack pushed the emergency button and waited. There was a brief pause of about 3 minutes which seemed like eternity to Jack. Then a male voice full of gravel came on the phone. “Dale’s Garage. Can I help you?”

“This is Jack. We need help.”

“Jack, I was just about to call you. Ya need to get to Mt Washington without any fartin’ around, buddy.”

“No, we can’t! One of the children has been hurt. We need emergency medical help.” Jack stated as calmly as he could. Still his voice wavered and threatened to crack. “One of the children was bit by a rattlesnake.”

There was a pause and then Dale’s voice answered, “Hold for a minute. I want to get someone on the other line.”

Before Jack could protest the sound on the phone went to a dull buzz indicating that he was on hold.

Another eternity passed and then to Jack’s relief he heard Dale’s familiar voice, again. “Are you sure it was a rattler, Jack?”

“Yes. Very sure.”

“OK. Have you used the first aide kit?”


“What did you do?”

Jack described following the instructions that were in the booklet. Dale seemed to approve.

“Okay, Jack listen to me, buddy. The reason I was going to call you is that there is a storm on the way. We can’t get a helicopter to you. Look, you need to high tail it to Mt. Washington. The caretakers of the monument have medical gear. They can help you.”

“No. We can’t. We need the helicopter.” Jack pleaded in desperation.

“No can do. Look, most rattler bites are dry bites. No venom. Most likely the kid will be alright even without medical care. But your best bet right now is to get your whole company out of the storm and get your kid to a place where someone has the know how and can care for him. And right now that would be Mt. Washington.”

Jack felt panic flow through every vessel in his body. His heart was beating almost through his chest. “I thought there weren’t any storms this late in the Spring. We need that helicopter!”

“Yeah. Usually we don’t get storms now. But your wasting time arguing with me.” Dale’s exasperation began to show through, “I can’t change the facts for you, Jack. The helicopter can’t make it through the storm. You need to go to Mt. Washington. They have trained people and anti-venom. You need to quit wasting time and concentrate on getting there. And drive safe. It won’t help to get someone else hurt before you get there!”

Jack felt as though Dale had punched him in the stomach with the last comment. It was Jack’s fault that Andy was hurt. It was clear from Dale’s voice there would be no convincing anyone to come to Andy’s aide. Jack needed to take Andy to Mt Washington. Jack thanked Dale with resignation and hung up.

He went back to Andy. Andy reached for him immediately as he arrived at the back of the vehicle. Jack cradled Andy as Conny stepped back.

Andy signed to Jack, “My face feels strange…numb.”

Jack took a step back and looked at Andy. The bite wound was now a purple color with red surrounding it. Small trails of blood were oozing from the puncture wounds. His leg had started to swell and Conny had removed his sock and shoe. Andy’s toes were twitching and Jack did not think Andy was even aware of the movement. Despite what Dale had said, Jack knew this was not going to be a “dry bite”.

Then Will asked, “Wha…Wha…What is going to happen now?”

Jack looked up at him and felt crushed. He put on his best poker face and smiled just a little, “There is help for us in Mt. Washington so we are going there.” he said so Andy could see his lips while he answered Will’s question.

Jack scooped up Andy and put him in the front seat next to the driver’s seat. Conny sat in the far passenger position of the bench seat, so she could care for Andy. Rhonda took a position near the back to watch the rest of the children. Jack started up the car and began to pull it around toward the road with barely a glance back to the other children’s harnesses, when Rhonda asked, “What’s that?” as she gazed out toward the Western horizon.

Jack whipped his head around to follow her gaze. Part of him knew what he would see but he had to look for himself. He had never been a religious man, so what escaped his lips next was not so much a prayer as the voice of his now longed-for father.

“Holy Mother of God!”

A wall of billowy red stretched from one side of the horizon to the other, and it was making its way toward them at incredible speed.

“I thought it was too late in the season for that.”


Jack glanced at her with an almost apologetic look, “A haboob…A giant sand storm. We have to hurry. If that hits before we get to Mount Washington, I won’t be able to see the road.” Jack steered the car back to the road and began to work it up through the gears. When he got to forth gear he punched the accelerator to the floor. The rail leapt forward. Jack’s heart beat against his chest with the terror of the excessive speed and the anxiety of not going fast enough.

The road was pitted and cracked and Andy groaned with each jostling that the buggy took. Soon he begged Jack to stop because he was sick. After some hesitation Jack obliged and Andy undid the harnesses and fumbled over Conny to the side of the car just before he began to vomit. When he was done Conny helped him back to the seat. He said something that Jack could not understand. Andy’s speech was difficult for strangers, but Jack could almost always understood it. When Jack furrowed his brow in confusion, And began to sign, “Feel worse.” His hand drooped and when he was done his hands dropped to his lap as though he could not hold them up.

Jack nodded and caressed the boy’s cheek. “We’ll be there soon.” he signed.

Jack risked a look at the approaching storm and was terrified to see that it had covered half the distance from the horizon to the road. He was briefly almost mesmerized by the ever changing front. The red cloud seemed to morph into the bearded face of an old man with a stern expression. As though God himself was coming to smite them. He started down the road again and prayed that the rail would go faster but neither God or the face in the massive red cloud answered this silent prayer.

“Tell the children to find something to cover their faces.” he yelled to Rhonda, “If too much dust gets into your lungs it can make them sick. They need to wet a piece of cloth and hold it over their face.”

Jack began to see great black birds flying in groups overhead cawing loudly. Ravens, the bird of the Southwestern desert. They were being chased by the storm. The wall of the storm was now almost upon them and Jack could feel the temperature plummeting.

The first grains of sand coated his mouth and nose. His eyes were protected by the driving goggles. Within minutes he had to down shift and slow the car to a crawl. He could barely see the road. Minutes after that he could not see the road edges at all. He also could not see rocks and other obstacles. They were swallowed up in dust and the whole desert looked like one continuous rust colored carpet. Jack had no choice but to stop.

The grit and sand was now stinging him on all the exposed skin. The children were kneeling down in the cab of the car to avoid the sting of the sand with bits of damp cloth pressed firmly to their faces.

He had surely doomed them all. Jack felt the sting of tears at the back of his eyes but he could not let the children see his desperation. He blinked back the tears and tried to think. How could he get them out of the storm? He sat with his white knuckled, right hand clutching the steering wheel and the left pushing a handkerchief he used as a towel into his face. His fingertips dug crescent shaped gouges in his cheeks. His breath came as ragged gasps as he panicked. He could not think of anything to do to save them. To save Andy.

A hand gently touched his skin and he jumped. It was Conny. She brought her cloth covered face very close to his ear and then uncovered her mouth long enough to scream in his ear, “Do you want me to walk ahead of you and see if I can find the road. I could carry a flash light so you could follow.”

Jack could have kissed her. His panic began to ease and he nodded to her. Then he reached behind the drivers seat to the emergency box again. He took his hand from his face so he could use both hands to search. He rifled through it for the flashlight. It was a huge light with a battery that could apparently last all day. He flicked it on. The light was bright enough to guide a plane to its landing. By the time he handed it to Conny he was coughing and gasping for breath. He covered his face again until he recovered. Then he took off his goggles and handed them to her as well. “You’ll need these.” he screamed at her.

She took the light and balanced it on her shoulder facing backwards. She then walked about 5 feet in front of the car. She let her feet tap the road until she found the edge. Then she began walking with the rag pressed over her face with one hand and the light held on her shoulder with the other.

Jack got behind the wheel again. He felt a twinge of guilt for letting her be the one out in the storm. The winds were fierce and she staggered away from him with the force of the gusts of sand hitting her. But what else could he do? He knew how to drive and she did not. Waiting for the storm to pass was not an option. This was all he could think of to do. Jack released the brake and began to crawl forward following the light.

Within minutes he could no longer see Connie, only the light bounced before him. His abilities were further hampered by the fact that he had given up the goggles and his eyes were now constantly watering as the sand stung them.

The light bounced in front of him in a rhythm and he crawled along slowly following it. At one point the light dropped to the ground and Jack’s stomach went with it but then the light was back to the usual position and they continued to crawl forward. Jack would stop periodically and consult the GPS but Connie appeared to be on the right track every time.

Andy lay unconscious next to Jack but when he rested his hand on Andy, he could still feel him breathing.

Jack’s eyes were stinging and watering with such ferocity that he was not sure if he was seeing things. There appeared to be two lights in front of him and not one. Then one of the lights split and gradually grew farther apart and brighter. Jack could not see the actual vehicle until he had pulled up next to it. Connie walked up by the side of the vehicle. Two peopleleapt out of the vehicle and ran toward Jack. The were clad in thick canvas jump suits and masks with built in goggles that covered both of their faces.

In his relief, Jack jumped out of his own vehicle and ran toward the first of the two.

The man lifted the mask from his mouth, “Where’s the boy?”

Jack led him to Andy who was slumped in the front seat. The man stood outside the vehicle and looked at Andy’s leg which was now swollen to twice the size and had a large purple patch surrounding the bite.

He displaced his mask again and yelled, “We have to get you to Mt Washington. Audrey will drive your vehicle. It will be faster.”

Jack shook his head. He was responsible for the buggy and the children. He did not even know these people. He put his hand on the door of the vehicle intending to get behind the driver’s seat again when the man yelled, “No! Don’t!”

But that was all Jack heard before his world went dark.

The Concepts Behind the Fiction:

1.  The Dust Bowl

The site of one of  the worst man-made environmental disasters was in the United States.  It started in 1931 and culminated in 1934.  In May of 1934 a cloud of 300 million tons of dirt from the great plains formed a cloud that was 20,000 feet high and 1000 miles wide.  It blacked out the sun in Chicago, New York and Boston.  It went on to dump a quarter inch of dirt on the decks of ships that were out to sea 1500 miles from its origins.  It was the American Dust Bowl.

In the 1860’s the government basically gave land away.  It encouraged people to move West and settle the land.  The tall grass prairies were settled first and the drier short grass prairies of Colorado, Kentucky, Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico were settled last.  Double the land and a free train ride was given away to the settling families in the short grass areas to compensate for their lack of water.  The belief was that once the land was cultivated that rain would increase in the area.  “The rain will follow the plow.”  The people who made these policies had no way of knowing that the prairies were the culmination of 10,000 years of top soil development and grass breeding.  The short grass prairies were populated by grasses that could withstand the periodic droughts that the region had and 1931 was the end of a 20 year rain cycle.

At first the area did produce record wheat harvests.  The US became the world’s bread basket.  By 1917 the tractor was invented and this doubled the land under cultivation.  So much so that the price of wheat crashed in 1929 along with other commodities.

By 1932, at the height of US economic woes, the ocean currents had shifted and the natural cycle of drought started.  By 1933 there was less than 12 inches of rain in the area.  The next 10 years would bring failed harvest after failed harvest.  The farmers would till the soil every year and plant the wheat which would then wither and die leaving the soil parched and uncovered.  It soon fell victim to the wind which can reach 60 mph in late winter and spring.  Eight hundred and fifty million tons (65%) of top soil were lost in the Dust Bowl years.  That was 6 toms for every person in the US at that time.  Some areas, particularly near New Mexico, have never recovered.  In the end, 150,000 square miles of previously productive farm land was deserted.

Although the people of the 1860’s thought water would follow the plow, they could not have been more wrong.  Denuding the soil by constant plowing without the ability to grow ground cover led to temperatures near the ground in excess of 100 degrees.  Without the help of plants, the ground was unable to cool itself and so whole states were like asphalt parking lots.  Also the dust storms themselves reflected the suns radiation. These effects actually decreased the moisture in the air causing even less rain to fall.

Additionally, without plants many animals and birds were unable to survive in the area.  This lead to plagues of insects that sought the cool moist atmosphere inside of homes.  The prairie homes were plagued by centipedes, tarantulas, spiders, locusts, and grasshoppers.  Coyotes died off but their main meal, rabbits, flourished leading to a plague of jack rabbits as well.  As many as 35,0000 rabbits were rounded up and killed in an afternoon.

Within 10 minutes of the storm an exposed person would have shortness of breath and a cough.  The sensation of suffocation brings on a type of panic that drives the victim to seek escape.  The dust would get in a person’s eyes and irritate the eye so badly that the victim could not see where to escape too.  If the damage caused by the dust was bad enough, permanent blindness resulted.

During the storms the dust particles hitting other dust particles or something metal created static electricity.  The static electricity was another cause of death for vegetation in the area.  Up to 1000-2000 volts could be generated in metal.  Enough to shock a limb or create unconsciousness in a man.  Even to create a heart dysrhythmia and possible death.

At first people did not know what was happening.  Some thought it was Armageddon and committed suicide rather than face the wrath of God.  The storms could strike in 1 min to 1 hour from sighting them on the horizon and reduced visibility to 1-3 feet.  They could last for days and consist of wind speeds of 50-80 mph.  They submerged equipment left outside.  They killed livestock.  The dust was in every crevice and in the food you ate and the air you breathed.

After the storm the person would have a hacking cough for weeks.  If the inhaled dust was sufficient, the lungs would be permanently scarred by a disease known as silicosis.  People with silicosis have chest pressure and cough for the rest of their lives.  The disease can be worse than black lung disease that coal miners get.  Eventually the victims die of bacterial super infection in the already diseased lungs.  In 1935 six new hospitals opened to treat victims of this lung disease.

Graphic chart and Pix

2.  Dust Bowl II


We are heading smack dab into the next Dust Bowl with our eyes wide open and daring Mother Nature to show us who is boss again.  Scientists looking at what caused the original 1930’s drought are saying that we should expect another drought in the American Southwest to last 90 years at least.  Any one actually living in the areas is acutely aware that we are already in our 12th year of drought.  This means that water was rationed to farmers in our biggest agricultural state, California.

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 27 (Reuters) – California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday declared a state emergency due to drought and said he would consider mandatory water rationing in the face of nearly $3 billion in economic losses from below-normal rainfall this year. As many as 95,000 agricultural jobs will be lost, communities will be devastated and some growers in the most economically productive farm state simply are not able to plant, state officials said, calling the current drought the most expensive ever….

California produces more than half the nation’s fruits, vegetables and nuts, and farmers in recent weeks have been staggered by reports that the main federal source of irrigation water will go dry this year and the top state water project will not fulfill more than 15 percent of requested water.


The Central Valley, a fertile but arid region stretching some 500 miles (805 km) from Bakersfield to Redding, is the agricultural heartland of California, which ranks as the nation’s No. 1 farm state in terms of the value of crops produced — more than $36 billion a year.


The reason for this is that the warmer air due to global warming causes the air to hold on to more water.  More water is taken to the higher latitudes as the dry areas become drier and the wet areas become wetter.  Thus the mid-portion of the continents dry out while the exterior of the continents face periodic flooding.

This has already happening to much of Asia.  There is a 70-90% reduction in rainfall in China’s North.  They are in dust bowl conditions right now.  Many areas have been over 100 days without rain this year.  Water is rationed and delivered by government official.  Beijing may need to be relocated to the South.  

Ten million people world wide have already been driven from their homes and are refugees of the ravages of global warming.

Norman Myers, an Oxford University professor and one of the first scholars to draw attention to the unfolding problem, estimated that by 2050 there will be more than 25 million refugees attributable to climate change, which will replace war and persecution as the leading cause of global displacement.

“The numbers could go off the charts,” he said.

Africa would be heaviest hit because so many people’s livelihoods are dependent on farming and livestock. Many Africans use less water in a day than the average American uses to flush the toilet, so any further declines that might occur because of climate change could be life-threatening.

“Climate change is going to set back development and food production in sub-Saharan Africa at least a decade and perhaps two or three,” he said.  LA Times

   20 million people are at risk right now in Africa.  India is also being severely affected.  Bill Rees (inventor of the ecological foot print) predicts that Japan, half of China, all of India and Africa, most of South and Central America and half of the United States will be uninhabitable by the late portion of the century due to drought and dust.  In fact land stressed by drought is up 30% as of 2002.

3.  Leadership Response:

US Downplays Likelihood of Climate Deal in Copenhagen

The Obama administration is downplaying hopes for reaching a global climate change treaty at the world summit in Copenhagen next month. On Wednesday, State Department climate change envoy Todd Stern said nations are unlikely to reach a deal in Copenhagen and should aim for an agreement in the following months. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned against delaying a climate treaty, citing the urgent need to begin cutting greenhouse gas emissions to avoid environmental catastrophe. Climate negotiators are currently meeting in Spain in advance of the Copenhagen talks. On Tuesday, delegates from the African bloc walked out of the negotiations, saying their concerns have gone ignored. The African countries said they would refuse to participate until richer nations agreed to consider making larger emissions cuts.  Democracy Now!


Senate Republicans to Boycott Climate Change Work Session

In other news from Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee have announced plans to boycott this week’s work session on a climate change bill, in a move aimed at thwarting Democratic efforts to advance the legislation quickly. Under committee rules, at least two Republicans are needed for Chair Barbara Boxer to hold the work sessions that would give senators an opportunity to amend the legislation and then vote to approve it in the panel. Republicans on the committee include Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who has described global warming as the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”  Democracy Now!

Sometimes I just don’t know what to say.

4.  Global Warming Deniers

Well maybe out leadership is as bamboozled by the climate change deniers as much of the country.  I was at Thanksgiving this weekend with my family.  My sister’s husband is a climate change denier.  He was telling me how it was all over the internet that all the scientists who were stating that global warming is a fact were faking it according to their e-mails.

I went home and looked for the articles.  Here is what I found:

“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards), and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline,” wrote Jones.

The two scientists were speaking of data that did not exactly match up.  Tree ring data and actual temperature data.  Jones was writing about how to resolve the data issue.  That was the “trick”.  Both sets of data showed world temperature climbing.  It was just a matter of how much.

Out of 1079 e-mails that were stolen from the scientists this was the best they could do?   It is kind of reminiscent of the Death Panel discussion.  Taking a comment out of context and twisting it to mean something else entirely than the author intended.

As implicated researcher Michael Mann notes to the respected international scientific journal Nature: “The deniers will probably do anything they can to distract the public from the reality of the problem [of climate change], and the threat that it poses. Cherry-picked, out-of-context quotes, stolen from private e-mails, is the best they’ve got.”  Grist

The same logic was applied to a revised graph of temperature change.

The scientists are adding new information to the chart which makes global warming appear to be moving faster then previously recognized.  So the deniers are focused on small changes in the data which they are treating like a smoking gun.   The addition of new data to the chart is said to be due to a conspiracy between scientists.  They seem unable to comprehend that the trend of the data is the same.  It is only the degree and the rapidity that the scientists are arguing about.  It actually continues to make the point that global warming exists.  The new look at the data indicates that the degree of warming is 0.44 degrees Celsius per decade vs. 0.33 degrees Celsius per decade.  Both indicate unacceptable warming.  Not exactly an Earth shattering cover up.

But what about all of those scientists who disagree with the majority of scientists about climate change?:

Curious about the Heartland Institute’s list of “500 Prominent Scientists” who deny global warming, Kevin [Grandia] decided to contact some of the folks on the list. He put together a list of 150 email addresses…simply the addresses he found it most easy to acquire. After only 24 hours, he’d received 45 emails from angry scientists saying that they, in no way, denied anthropogenic global warming.

It turns out that the heartland institute had never told the scientists they were going on the list, nor did they check to see if these people actually had any doubts about the causes of climate change.

It makes me wonder who the real conspirators are.

More Detailed Explanation of the Data with lots of Graphs.

5.  A Sensible Policy

Currently we manage water in an unsustainable way.  We waste it on golf courses and swimming pools.  We grow our crops in ways that use the most water and not the least.  We dam up great rivers which destroys the natural habitat and fish south of the dam.  This has all but wiped out natural salmon in this country.  Behind the dam the water stagnates and methane producing bacteria grow creating a green house gas 22 times worse than CO2.  Then we pipe the water to where it is used inefficiently.  We take our waste water and pour it directly into a sewer where it becomes part of the problem and not the solution.  We are also pumping water from the ground faster than aquifers can recharge themselves and the loss of water is causing sink holes to appear in the land above the emptied aquifers.  Anything that runs into those sink hole contaminates the water in the aquifer below.  Mexico City is draining its aquifer so rapidly that the entire city has sunk by 30 feet.

Drinking water is poisoned by industry and particularly “fraking” to get natural gas from the ground.  Mining and run off from industrial agriculture also contaminate the fresh water we already have.

There are much better ways to manage water.  First is conservation.  Waste water from much of household use can be used to grow crops and landscaping.  Collect the rain that falls at the sight in which you live and purify it for your own use.  Then the dams could be torn down.

Instead of dams, we should create berms and ponds.  These allow the run off water to slow down and sink into the ground instead of eroding the ground.  The process of filtering through the ground purifies the water and feeds the aquifers at the same time.  

No new housing should be allowed to be built without a septic tank, grey water system, and rain water collection/purification system.  Unfortunately with would mean that a centralized government would not have power over the new housing to stop the flow of water to and from the home.  This takes water out of the tax loop and deprives a centralized government of revenue.  Thus these policies are not ever going to become practice.  The government would much rather find a solution that includes taxation and control.


  1. I expect to be dealing with my job/moving crisis until mid Jan.  Until then I am sorry about the scarcity of my posts.  I am trying to keep up, but as more people leave my job before me the work load becomes more while the pay becomes less and time to write is being squeezed out of existence.

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