Turning up the heat… Nature notes… GW: Don’t know why, there’s the sun up in the sky… Fun with methane.

Quote of the Week

“Even animals that are hated by many people deserve respect.” – Michael Sehr, animal rescue volunteer, after several people including local firemen managed to extract an overweight brown rat stuck in a sewer cover in Bensheim, Germany. The animal was later released unharmed.

A fat rat stuck in a sewer grate in Germany. It took about eight firefighters and an animal expert to rescue the rodent from the drain.

“So you wanna know if Trump colluded?” (Photo: Berufstierrettung Rhein Neckar)

 

“Who knew the end of the world would, at least for now, be so agreeable?”

Turning up the heat…

Saturday afternoon, the winter sun was smiling down over the thundering main road outside, beyond the little front patio, and it was getting hotter. But how hot?

I’d long been pondering buying one of those digital weather stations, that tells you everything you need to know, but felt a bit of a nerd. Who actually needs an anemometer in the garden? It’s windy or not! And you could usually tell it was raining, surely, and how much – as the water collected in the scattered pots and buckets in the untended garden, er, tended to show.

But I felt I could safely draw a red line just north of a max-min gardeners’ thermometer. And eventually on Saturday, prompted by the unusually fine weather, I remembered I’d been thinking for some years about acquiring one, and decided to slip out between the two vital rugby matches on TV to do a quick shop.

Wandering around the garden section of the DIY emporium, peering at things, I was gratified eventually to find a digital model, whose large black numerals I could easily read without glasses through the sitting-room window.

Despite two emergency surgeries, the damage to my eye from last year’s retinal detachments is permanent: I’ve described it as like looking through the bottom of a thick glass beer-mug. In my right eye, I’ve been left with very short, uncorrectably fixed focus, which at nine inches gives only a distorted impression of the world, with an annoying blind spot in the middle; although if I had to, with the one ‘bad’ eye I could just about grope my way around.

My ‘good’, left eye, by contrast, is very long-sighted. It can easily count the little matchstick figures of tourists as they break the skyline on top of the far hill opposite, trudging up the steep path to the monument over a mile distant.

Making out the lettering on the packets of stuff in the garden section, however, at a distance of perhaps three or four feet turns me into one of those elderly people who are always putting on and taking off their glasses, peering at mundane things as if they were precious museum relics.

I mention this only because it led to one of those daffy mix-ups the elderly have to brush off on an almost daily basis, pretending that we have become unembarrassable in our old age.

Because, when I got it home and inserted battery supplied, nothing happened. The big black numerals remained insistent that it was currently 39 degrees, which would have been a British record at any time of the year or century; while the previous max and min were stuck at 34C. Neither the reset button nor the convert to F button were working either.

A change of battery made no difference. They had clearly sold me a dud. So on Sunday I took it back to the shop, where after staring at it thoughtfully for about five seconds, a patient and helpful assistant peeled off the protective layer of plastic on which the numerals 39C and 34C were printed, to reveal beneath, a fully working screen.

It hadn’t occurred to me that anyone might do that, stick fake numbers on the front for display purposes. It hadn’t occurred to me either to wonder how the numerals would have got stuck on 39C and 34C if there was no battery in the machine. And with my short-range vision unaided, well, Mr Magoo hadn’t noticed the otherwise clear plastic covering.

There, I’ve geri-splained, so you can stop laughing now.

Which is all by way of an amuse bouche, an anecdotal preamble to what I really wanted to tell you.

Because as Hunzi and I took the opportunity of a little walkies along the cycle path behind the DIY store, from where you can go down to the river, I was checking my now operational max-min thermometer at intervals along the way.

And I can tell you that, in the dappled shade under the trees, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, 24 FEBRUARY, an unscientific – nevertheless, fully digital – observation, on a line of latitude that would, if pursued across the Atlantic, take you some one hundred miles north of Toronto, Canada, via Gander, Newfoundland, here on the west coast of the UK it was…

22.9 degrees C; 73.2F.

And as the sun beats down outside, in a hazy but cloudless sky, on the following day, Monday morning in Wales at exactly 11.25 a.m., under the large Photinia ‘Red Robin’, my new max-min thermometer is telling me it’s already an improbable 23.9C, 75.2F.

I’m hoping it’s defective, because this is insane. While out in the valley, catkins are bursting open on the willows, cow-parsley and celandine springing up everywhere and trees coming into leaf; on the beach, half-term families are picnicking and sunbathing and even paddling. In February.

Who knew the end of the world would, at least for now, be so agreeable?

Postscriptum: Huzzah! We made the news. Just up the road from Boglington a new British winter heat record was set today, of 20.6C. That’s with the official Met Office thermometer, which to be on the safe side always reads cooler than the actual temperature as measured by thousands of old gardeny folk like me, weather gnomes with our dodgy waterworks and our dodgy kit. Probably.

A thought: It occurs to me to wonder. Given that we are having problems with the world getting hotter, why does the Met Office insist that records have to be set – only in the shade? It’s the sunshine that’s killing us, not the shade! At least record the max and the min at any one time, shade and full sun, so we can see how hot it really is getting. And for the record book, if you must, take the midway-point. Shade-only temperature tells us nothing useful.

Nature notes

Tuesday: Two big, glossy rooks are having at my bird table, their wild, wary eyes darting around to check how threateningly I’m sitting here, typing. No wonder I keep having to fill the attached wire basket with those fatty bricks with fruit and seeds in them, yesterday’s is mostly gone. The thermometer affixed to the stem under the big Photinia is already showing 18.5C, it’s gained 2 degrees in the 20 minutes since 10 o’clock, and today’s sunshine is unimpeded by the thin layer of cirrhus cloud we had yesterday, blaring like a trumpet out of an azure sky.

Maybe another record is on the cards?

Wednesday: This morning’s Guardian bears images of a large and fierce brushfire that broke out yesterday over 1.5 sq km on Saddleworth Moor near Marsden in Yorkshire, curiously without even mentioning last year’s major peat fire on, er, Saddleworth Moor – which was closer to Manchester and notorious as the location of the burials of the victims of mass-child-murderer Ian Brady. Firefighters were also battling a smaller fire visible on Arthur’s Seat, an open space in the outskirts of Edinburgh; and two more in Sussex. (It’s February…)

Walking Hunzi at about noon here in our river valley on the edge of Boglington-on-Sea yesterday, I noticed that it appeared to be clouding over rapidly from the southwest, but soon after determined that the singular source of the cloud that now covered much of the town on an otherwise cloudless day must imply the existence of a fairly large brushfire. We drove to the highest point nearby but I could see only a huge column of smoke rising like a mushroom-cloud about ten miles away, beyond the next ridge; there was almost no wind and the broad valley inbetween was filled with smoke.

No-one else I spoke to had even noticed it. No-one ever looks up now at the sky.

A firefighter tackles the blaze on Saddleworth MoorA sunny day in February on Saddleworth Moor (apologies: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

GW: Don’t know why, there’s the sun up in the sky…

USA: Parts of Tennessee, especially Nashville, had their wettest ever February, with 3 days still on the calendar A state of emergency has been declared as rivers reach record highs. One man died at the weekend, driving into floodwater, and another was killed by a tornado. A Subway sandwich bar in Chattanooga was eaten by a landslide. It was closed at the time (Floodlist). 1 more person was killed and 71 injured in a 100-vehicle pileup in a whiteout blizzard in Wisconsin. (Accuweather)

Yet another winter storm, Ryan, is moving eastwards across the Rockies into the plains. Eugene, Oregon had 12-in. of snow (The Weather Channel). Life-threatening flooding and high winds are warned of in the Northeast as Winter Storm Quiana plays out. A freak 30-ft high wall of frozen chunks of foam has been pushed ashore from Lake Erie along the Niagara River Parkway at Buffalo, NY, blocking the highway. (Mail)

Updating that, another weather system to follow Ryan will be bringing yet more rain and snow through northern California, Oregon and Washington, with heavy snow over the mountains, and across into the already saturated great plains over the weekend. 1 person has already died in flash-flooding in Humboldt County as Venado in Sonoma County recorded “an incredible 20.48 inches” (520.19 mm) of rain in 48 hours to 27 Feb. How much more can Americans take? (The Weather Channel). Well….

Climate skeptic Donald Trump has appointed elderly Princeton physicist and general doofus, Prof. William J Happer to head a special White House panel on climate change to decide once and for all if it exists, in the light of the 1,400 page report by 300 actual scientists from the US administration, which warned only four months ago of the extreme need for urgency to tackle it. His verdict should be interesting: Happer has previously expressed a view that climatologists are an inferior species who don’t know what they’re talking about. But that’s okay, it’s your taxes the Big Galoot is pissing away (reports: various).

Canada: Extreme cold warnings are in place for an extended belt of provinces all along the US border, with windchill temperatures as low as -45F forecast. (Met Service of Canada).

Arctic: The Arctic is roasting this week, meteorologist Nick Humphrey writes in his Patreon blog. “Two separate Pacific storms moving into the Arctic, sending wide swaths of the Pacific side of the Arctic Ocean Basin to over 20C (36F) above normal. Not just very anomalous heat, but high wind and wave action hitting the thin sea ice in association with strong storms right out of the Pacific.” Prof Paul Beckwith in Ottawa is of the opinion that 80% of the cold air column in the Arctic has gone, spilled over into North America and Siberia.

Antarctic: “An iceberg (660 sq miles) roughly twice the size of New York City is set to break away from an Antarctic ice shelf as a result of a rapidly spreading rift that is being monitored by Nasa. The crack along part of the Brunt ice shelf in Antarctica first appeared in October 2016, according to Nasa. The crack is spreading to the east” (and having almost joined up with an older crack, is likely to complete within weeks). A “study found that melting of the ice sheet has accelerated threefold in the last five years.” (Guardian)

Angola: Heavy seasonal rain over the capital Luanda has left at least 4 dead and hundreds of homes destroyed. Rain fell from late 21 until 22 Feb., causing a bridge to collapse as well as destroying hundreds of homes. 4 people are thought to have died when houses collapsed. (Floodlist)

Indonesia: Dozens of houses have been destroyed by flash flooding in Papua New Guinea’s East New Britain province. Flooding has also damaged or blocked roads, leaving several communities isolated. 2 fatalities have been reported. (Floodlist)

Australia: Parts of Australia are expected to sizzle through a late summer heatwave this week. “Southern states and Victoria will get scorching weather in the coming days, while the northern part of the country sweats through ‘oppressive humidity’. Both Adelaide and Melbourne are forecast to hit up to 40C by the end of the week.” (Daily Mail). Wildfires are continuing to burn.

Mining giant RTZ has received a AU$2 million grant from the climate-change-denying Morrison government out of a fund set up by the previous administration to reduce fossil fuel carbon emissions, to bring a new diesel power plant online at a bauxite mine in Arnhemland, that they’ve already built. The “emissions reduction fund” has officially been renamed the “climate solutions policy” (Guardian).

Fiji: “Pola is currently a Category 3 severe tropical cyclone with winds equal to a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. Despite tracking farther from American Samoa and Samoa, bouts of heavy rain will affect the islands into Friday. Additional rainfall amounts of 150-300 mm (6-12 inches) are expected across the islands during this time.” (Accuweather)

Peru: Government reports that 51 people have been killed since the rainy season began in September 2018. 228 houses and 26 bridges have been destroyed and several roads blocked by torrential rain and landslides. Further heavy rain has affected several regions over the last few days, causing flooding and landslides in at least 5. (from Floodlist)

West Pacific: “…Wutip underwent rapid intensification on Saturday, topping out as a Category 4 supertyphoon with a central pressure of 925 mb and sustained winds of 155 mph. This makes Wutip the strongest tropical cyclone ever anywhere north of the equator in February (or since 1911?). The typhoon dumped 5–12” of rain over Guam Saturday afternoon, with another 3–5” expected.” (Wunderground). Despite only average sea surface temperature, Severe-weather.eu later has Wutip gaining Cat 5 strength – 161 mph sustained windspeed, gusting above 186 mph. Local media see it as drifting towards the Philippines at about 5 mph. There it has been renamed Betty. The last Typhoon Betty in 1989 killed 85 people.

China: Severe fog/smog warnings have been issued for large parts of the country, covering Hongzu province and Lianshui county. (WMO)

Europe: Warm, settled weather is expected to return to the British Isles during the week after setting a new winter record today, with 20.6C (68F) in the west of Wales; forecasters think it could go warmer (BBC). (Update: it hasn’t! Friday, we’re sitting under a wet and windy Atlantic front again.) The island of Crete, Greece, is bracing for more intense rain and flooding overnight, with totals of 250mm forecast through tomorrow. (Severe-weather.eu)

Update, 28 Feb: Crete experienced torrential rainfall and flooding for the second time in 7 days. A weather front, known locally as “Oceanis” brought heavy rain, hail and strong wind to the island from 23rd. 1 motorist died, making 5 dead for the month. Askifou in Chania had 596 mm of rain in 2 days between 23 and 25 Feb. and has now recorded 1,202mm of rain so far this month (to 26 Feb.), breaking the record for the highest monthly rainfall total in Europe. (From Floodlist)

Oceanis also affected parts of Malta, which saw winds up to 133km/h and waves up to 5 metres. The Times of Malta described the storm as “the worst since 1982”. Strong winds were also reported in parts of Croatia and Italy, where 7 deaths have been blamed on the storm, including four in Lazio, one in Campania and two in Sicily. One person is still missing in Sicily.

Yellowstone: “…was struck on Sunday by a magnitude 4.8 earthquake, the biggest recorded there since February 1980, but no damage or injuries were immediately reported. The tremor, a relatively light event by seismic standards, struck the northwest corner of the park and capped a flurry of smaller quakes at Yellowstone since Thursday, geologists at the University of Utah Seismograph Stations said in a statement.” (Scientific American. USGS says nothing to worry about… tens of thousands of years before the Big One.)

Steamboat geyser, biggest in the park, may have gone off for the 7th time this year (verification needed). The frequency is roughly every 7 days – readers will know that up to last year’s record of 32, the average was about 2 or 3 a year, if that. The huge M7.3 quake at the border between Peru and Ecuador at the weekend set the Yellowstone seismographs a’dancing, with much sympathetically rising magma. Yesterday saw a swarm of M1 and M2 quakes at very shallow depths around Clearlake, California; the previous day, a cluster at Green River, Wyoming, around the soda ash mines. Meanwhile, the even more disturbing, long-running swarm off the north California coast is creeping ashore. (Mary Greeley)

Temperature readings for the Madison River and other watercourses in the caldera climbed ten degrees F in one day, 27 Feb., according to the official graphs – despite the air temperature being below freezing. Firehole River recorded over 55F. (Mary Greeley)

Hawthorn tree, Boglington, 27 Feb. (Photo: BogPo)

Fun with methane

Methane is a word you can make from the letters of ‘the elephant in the room’.

The relationship of methane to carbon dioxide is a little more complicated, as it decays much more quickly in the atmosphere but while it persists is a much more potent retainer of solar heat, or producer of ‘radiative forcing’.

A greenhouse gas, in other words. And as it decays, it gives up its… carbon, which combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.

It also confusingly tends to be measured in parts per billon (ppb) rather than parts per million (ppm). Obviously, ‘n’ ppb is a thousand times’ weaker concentration than ‘n’ ppm.

Nevertheless, if anything is going to wipe us out fairly rapidly in the next few years it will be methane (CH4), rather than carbon dioxide (CO2). Because the CO2 is causing the warming that is releasing the CH4 to the air, in what is known as a ‘positive feedback loop’.

Methane gas is a product of decay: rotting vegetation, mainly. That’s why there is so much of it in the frozen lands around the Arctic circle and beneath where the sea rose during the current interglacial, about 12 thousand years ago, to form the shallow East Siberian Arctic Shelf.

There the methane has three ‘sinks’: in the so-called permafrost, the vast lands of tundra whose frozen peaty/spongy surface layer is up to 40 meters thick, that in many places is now rapidly thawing out. As it does so, it releases methane from the rotted vegetation – but also from fossil methane reserves from ancient forests trapped underneath, the second ‘sink’. This effect is increasingly visible bubbling from so-called ‘kaarst’ lakes in Canada and Siberia.

The third ‘sink’ contains methane that has been slowly outgassing from the seabed and then freezing, into clumps of what are called ‘clathrates’. The frozen methane, methane hydrate, is volatile and detectably emitting gas, although experts at Yale university have studied the phenomenon and are not convinced the warming of the shallow sea to date is sufficient to  vaporise the clathrates, as they tend to act rather like a Baked Alaska dessert, the outer layer of whipped eggwhite containing air bubbles acting as insulation to prevent the ice-cream center from melting before a meringue forms. (If only!)

Nevertheless it seems to be agreed that the Arctic alone possesses some 500 gigatonnes of methane reserves, just one per cent of which if emitted in a single event, a ‘methane burp’,  would be enough to force a further 1.6 degrees of global warming within weeks.

The rate of increase of atmospheric methane globally is both perturbing and puzzling scientists. Around 720 ppb in the mid-18th century, it’s now averaging over 1850 ppb worldwide.

The rate of increase has accelerated markedly over the past ten years. “Sam Carana”, the pseudonymous group of researchers at the Arctic News website, identified peaks in 2018 of over 3000 ppb.

But given that much of it seems to be coming from the tropics, and from the high Himalayas, as well as from the polar regions, no-one seems quite sure of the source.

Logic would suggest that scrub burning for cattle-grazing in the tropics and the removal of forest cover are exposing reserves locked-in the soil, retreating ice is uncovering ancient forest areas and thawing peatlands, while the excess heating of the poles is melting the permafrost and the submarine reserves, enabling the escape of fossil methane pockets beneath.

We also seem to be experiencing an upsurge in volcanism at present, that would produce additional CH4, CO2 and sulfur dioxide – SO2, another greenhouse problem.

But your Uncle Bogler is only an ancient Media Studies graduate giving off lots of methane himself, and must trust the experts who say they haven’t the faintest idea.

Just one more thing, while I’m scaring you.

Data from the Scripps Institute shows that, as CO2 and CH4 are increasing in the atmosphere there is, as my gasping lungs have been trying to tell me for the past three or four years, a corresponding loss of O2 – rather necessary oxygen – from the air; that I have described to skeptical friends as seeming less ‘nutricious’ than before.

And yes, GW is mostly man-made. Sorry, deniers, but we’re having eight times more effect on atmospheric CO2 heat-forcing than the small natural increase from solar output that happened before the current slide towards another 11-year cyclical minimum began.

Nor do polar shift, blood moons, solar eclipses or Nigel Farage have anything to do with it, okay?

Advertisements

Welcome to the Resistance… What will it take for people to get serious?… GW: Let it snow, let it snow, let it… rain?… A new BogPo emerging

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, greets US president Donald Trump in 2017.

“Thank Vishnu, I’ve found someone even crazier than me!”

Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

 

“In 36 days’ time there will be only resistance left.”

Welcome to the Resistance

In a month and one week from now, at midnight on Friday 29 March, Britain will leave the EU, almost certainly without a working deal for a transitional arrangement while a permanent settlement is negotiated.

At which point, it will be too late. Under EU rules, a permanent settlement will not be available after a Brexit without a deal. The settlement will be as it is: a complete and devastating break.

Forty-six years of co-operative engagement with almost the whole of the rest of Europe will end. Tariffs and visas and customs controls we thought we had done away with forever will be reimposed, food prices will rise, and the rights of visa-free movement and settlement and reciprocal free medical treatment will be abrogated, just like that.

Hundreds of British MEPs and civil servants will troop back to the UK and an uncertain future.

In time other rights, safety standards and product convergence we have long enjoyed will disappear, along with our obligations to our treaty partners; who are themselves, thanks largely to the British vote, under threat of divergence and breakdown.

We will default on the €39 billion it has been accepted we were already committed to pay, and walk away with no satisfactory arrangements regarding a whole range of issues it appears those who voted Leave had never even considered.

We shall enjoy only reduced security co-operation in Europe, and be faced with dealing with the probable consequences of a breakdown of the Good Friday agreement that has brought relative peace to the divided island of Ireland for the past 20 years. Co-operative agreements over science and technology, such as the Galileo GPS project, Airbus and the European Space Agency; the European Medicines Agency, will abruptly cease.

Hundreds of established foreign-owned companies employing thousands of workers have already made plans to relocate, either to Ireland or to the continent, in the event of No-deal. Companies needing to forward-order materials and components are struggling to stock-up; smaller airlines are facing bankruptcy. No reciprocal landing rights have yet been renegotiated: under a temporary arrangement, UK flights into and out of the EU will continue, but there is no agreement on internal routes.

We will enter into a protracted period during which our elected officials will struggle to obtain favourable trade agreements with a host of countries we already have reciprocal trading arrangements with under EU rules, faraway countries who owe us nothing and will add no value to any subsequent agreements, perpetuating the insane belief (or cynical lies) of politicians that Britain will again become the power in the world we once were.

(Mr Fox has just this evening confessed that he cannot rollover the same free-trade deal the Japanese have just agreed with the EU and we’ll have to start with them from scratch. To date just seven trade deals agreed include the Faroe Islands, Switzerland and Turkey, exports totalling £13 billion. Our current trade with third countries through the EU is £117 billion.)

The Government has already made plans for a security clampdown and the possible, temporary introduction of rationing of certain goods, food and medicines. The Army has been put on standby. Just this alone should tell you something about the situation Britain has got itself in.

We shall in a relatively short time become serfs to an unelected global criminal elite; subject to an international organized crime syndicate operating at the highest levels of many governments we propose to “do business” with, having its legitimized corporate and political roots in the rise both of the US mafia and the collapse of the Soviet Union – and, of course, global commodity interests: oil, food, the arms trade.

This ‘coup’ against the current world order involves an unholy alliance of far-right and far-left groups with agendas including the establishment of an apartheid, anti-abortion ‘white, Christian’ state in the USA; extreme anti-immigrant, antisemitic parties in European countries; those who believe, like Steve Bannon, that we are on a crusade against Islam before the Final Battle; those promoting Russian expansionism and the hegemony of the super-rich, the global corporations and those who oppose globalization.

Already, the threats are arriving. The US ambassador to Britain has instructed the government that we will have to accept US food imports produced to lower standards of safety and animal welfare if an overall trade agreement is to be put in place.

Against all that, the climate clock is also ticking down to a fast-approaching dystopia of economic and social chaos, prior to the probable extinction of most life on earth: the ‘sixth great extinction’ that has visibly begun; foreboding of which is clearly making us insane.

And they know it.

Everyone I meet who is willing to discuss this worrying situation is now in the final stage of grief, numb acceptance; wandering around in a dark mood of not really caring what happens next.

Sadly, I know of no-one who has more than just the normal dark suspicion of politicians, who understands how things have come to this pass: who it is that has secretly and deliberately advocated behind the scenes for ‘No-deal’ and why, and what the future holds.

But we should care, because as time has gone on, the extent of the treason and the true motives and identities of the shadowy funders of the project to replace the Western alliance become ever clearer.

The ‘No-deal’ option is, as we sort-of know, being nudged by a handful of Conservatives on the right and a few nitwitted fellow-travellers in the disintegrating Labour party – I hesitate to call them the Opposition – who have successfully co-opted Theresa May into their project with a threat to breakup the Party if she crosses their ‘red lines’.

Do you know why, and on whose behalf?

As the clock ticks down to midnight, the full extent of the conspiracy to steal Britain is only now emerging.

It is a story that has gained zero traction with the British people, because those journalists who are fighting to expose the shadowy plot behind the practised dissembling of a few front-runners – Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Davis, McVey, Baker, Farage and the others – are so easily dismissed, shouted down, disparaged as conspiracy theorists or traitors or liberal elites seeking to thwart ‘the will of the People’.

And of course the corporatist media – the Murdoch press, the Mail and titles like the Express and the Star, now under the aegis of Reach – formerly Mirror Group Newspapers – and their online surrogates – are not going to pick the story up and run with it, because they have spent decades preparing for this moment.

I urge you, if you value your freedom, to read and understand the following. It is quite a long article, because it concerns quite a big – and breathtaking – conspiracy:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/revealed-how-dark-money-is-winning-brexit-influencing-ga?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=7a15ab4b9d-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-7a15ab4b9d-408090269GW

In 35 days’ time there will be only resistance left.

You were warned.

 

“No wonder people are confused”

What will it take for people to get serious?

How will we continue to react to the accelerating story of global warming?

Certainly not in the news media, where there is a tradition of putting different categories of stories firmly into their own silos and failing to recognize any connection between them. Not a single report of, say, the political situation or war in the Middle East allows itself to be confused with the rapidly increasing extremes of temperature, the rise in the number of hurricanes in the Arabian Sea, or this winter’s extensive flooding throughout the region.

I first noticed the effect quite recently. Back in 2017, it was being widely reported on the news that our bumptious Foreign Secretary at the time, Boris Johnson, had managed to insult the entire Maori nation while on an official visit to New Zealand. There was no mention whatever of the fact that the area he was visiting was under a state of emergency declared in response to widespread, record floods.

More egregiously, last year the International Panel on Climate Change launched its notorious “12-years-to-act” report (basically, 12 years in which to do nothing) in the coastal city of Incheon, historic site of Gen. McArthur’s decisive invasion during the Korean War. Just the day before, several people had been killed in a ferocious typhoon that struck the south; one of many last year, in a part of the world that has also experienced killer summer heat each year for the past few years.

The irony obviously escaped the world’s media, as there was not one mention of it in the coverage of the conference.

All these opportunities being missed, to make the approaching extinction event even just a talking point, let alone the screaming banner headline news it ought to be.

A Guardian report today of a UN report warning that biodiversity issues are threatening world food security fails to mention that climate change is pushing agriculture northward and southward out of its traditional zones, where new varieties will need to be developed if production is to be maintained on poorer or less adapted soils. The grainbelt in the USA is moving northward at an alarming rate – as is the breadbasket in Australia moving south (toward the sea!) and shrinking fast as it succumbs to drought.

You would think that falling production in all of the main grain-producing areas of the world would exercise governments whose economies benefit from grain exports, as well as those reliant on imported bulk foods, but no, there are apparently more important things to worry about.

Over in India, a row has erupted between pressure groups over an ordinance forcing possibly as many as 5 million aboriginal tribespeople to leave their remote forest lands. While the authorities say that those who have title to the land can stay and they’re only pushing out overpopulating illegals who are destroying the forest ecology, other environmentalists are arguing that ethnic tribespeople have a right to pursue their rural economy unmolested by modern civilization.

It’s humans versus plant and animal diversity, again – the new Bolsonaro regime in Brazil is threatening to bring this clash to a head – with no obvious solution to a dilemma that is, in fact, affecting the entire planet.

Then we have the story of thousands upon thousands of French citizens donning yellow tabards and rioting in protest against a rise in the price of diesel fuel. There, we had a few mentions in the early days of the paradox that everyone knows we have to burn less fuel but nobody wants to be the one burning less fuel. A few people wrung their hands over this demonstration of the impossibility of getting nations to decarbonize; requiring us, as it does, to accept declining living standards. (The joke being, they are already declining anyway, that’s why the French are rioting!)

But your Uncle Bogler has seen little follow-up to this rather crucial point, given that environmental protesters and schoolchildren everywhere are on the march against climate-change inertia; while the somewhat blurred focus of the ‘gilets jaunes’ has moved from fuel to a broad range of social ills and a protest against the government in general.

The news media is a caravan that is always folding its tents and moving on. No wonder people are confused: is the threat supposed to be climate change, plastic bags, disappearing bugs, peak oil, antibiotic resistance, migration, overpopulation – what?

People are not going to understand the gravity of the situation while the media encloses these protests in a file marked ‘cranks’. Only when the climate change story becomes embedded in the wider news agenda and extreme weather events are seen for what they are – integral to the processes of social, economic and political change, not merely curiosities – it was a winter record18.5C, 65F in Scotland yesterday and the ski resorts are closing – only when they see how it is already affecting their lives and how everything is connected will people finally take notice.

 

GW: Let it snow, let it snow, let it… rain?

USA: Las Vegas, Nv. just had its first measurable snowfall since records began there in 1934. Up to 3-in was forecast, although with rain on the way it’s not expected to last. (CNN)

A huge storm system is moving up from the Gulf. “Significant flash flooding is expected in the South Friday, then severe thunderstorms, including the threat of tornadoes, are an increasing concern Saturday in parts of the South and Ohio Valley in what may be the most widespread severe weather event of this winter, so far.” A warning of life-threatening floods has gone out for the Nashville area of Tennessee, heading for its wettest-ever winter record. (From The Weather Channel)

Meanwhile, Winter Storm Quiana is already moving into position over the west coast, with forecasts of more heavy snow and blizzard conditions across the Plains and Midwest. Flagstaff, Az. just set a new record with 36-in. of snowfall, 21 Feb. Snow was also reported in Malibu, West Hollywood and Thousand Oaks, California, and at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California. Even LA had 0.8-in (From The Weather Channel)

Pakistan: Heavy rain has brought flash flooding to several provinces over the last few days, with local media reporting over 25 fatalities. … At least 9 people were killed in three incidents of roofs collapsing after heavy rain in Punjab Province. The city of Multan is reportedly among the worst affected areas. (From Floodlist)

Ecuador: Disaster authorities say that around 250 people have been affected by flooding in Los Ríos Province since 19 February. Several rivers have broken their banks in Pastaza Province, causing damage to homes. No casualties have been reported. (From Floodlist)

Pacific: The typhoon season has got off to an early start this year. “Category 2 (100 mph) Typhoon Wutip is gathering strength in the waters to the southeast of Guam. Wutip is expected to pass 150 miles to the southwest of Guam as a Category 3 typhoon on Saturday night local time, bringing tropical storm conditions to Guam and Rota in the Mariana Islands.”

Meanwhile, “Tropical Storm Oma, was located on 21 Feb. about 500 miles east of the Australian coast. Oma was headed south at about 8 mph, parallel to the coast.” Weakening due to wind shear, “Oma peaked as a Category 1 storm with 85 mph winds on Tuesday, and is predicted to bring gale-force winds to the northeast coast of Australia on Friday and Saturday. The storm’s high waves and surge may bring coastal inundation up to a meter (3.3 feet) above high tide. (From The Weather Channel) Update 23 Feb: Oma stalled off the coast and is rapidly weakening – not before 25 beaches were closed due to huge waves.

Europe: Trapped between two very cold airmasses, “Very warm air with temperature 10-15 °C warmer than normal overspreads western and northern Europe, Arctic region and Greenland” over the next few days.” (Severe-weather.eu) Temperatures are well above normal in the UK: a record high of 18.3C, 65F was recorded in Scotland, 22 Feb. and for most it’s been shorts and T-shirts.

Much colder conditions however are affecting the eastern Mediterranean: “High temperatures on Friday will climb to around 16 C (60 F) in Athens, and struggle to reach 7 C (45 F) by Sunday” (Accuweather). Severe-weather.eu has: Greece is up for another intense snowstorm this weekend as a new cold outbreak is pushed across the Balkan peninsula. Locally up to 40-50 cm of fresh snow seems likely until Sunday, combined with huge snow drifts due to strong to severe winds. Blowing snow and blizzard/whiteout conditions are expected.”

Meanwhile, hurricane-force Bora winds gusting (at altitude) up to 230 km/hr (140 mph) were expected at the weekend over Italy and the northern Adriatic up into Slovenia this week. (Severe-weather.eu)

Yellowstone: new earthquake swarm, harmonic tremors, ground uplift continuing, ground shaking, bigger M3-M4 quakes in the park and outside in Utah, toward Salt Lake City and in Montana. Ground temperature rising – also “water temperature” now “over 100C”. (NB yes, I know, you can’t heat water above 100C under normal pressure as it tends to turn to steam! Unless you’re a Yellowstone watcher, in which case anything is possible.) (Mary Greeley vlog post)

“Don’t you realize that blacking-up at a penguin party is considered seriously culturally offensive, Senator?”

Denier time

“The world’s capacity to produce food is being undermined by humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity, according to the first UN study of the plants, animals and micro-organisms that help to put meals on our plates.

“The stark warning was issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation after scientists found evidence the natural support systems that underpin the human diet are deteriorating around the world as farms, cities and factories gobble up land and pump out chemicals.” (Guardian)

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/feb/21/worlds-food-supply-under-severe-threat-from-loss-of biodiversity?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0d1YXJkaWFuVG9kYXlVS19XZWVrZGF5cy0xOTAyMjI%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayUK&CMP=GTUK_email

Adjust the ticket

Parking meter usage records are being employed to provide a reliable guide to rising sea levels around US coasts.

Based on a research paper from Stanford University, Dr Jeff Masters at Wunderground explains that commercial areas of coastal cities experience a fall in traffic on days when high tides are encroaching on their activities. In the early 1960s, he reports, Annapolis had about 4 high-tide flooding days a year. In 2017, the small city on Chesapeake Bay experienced 63 “nuisance flooding” days, at an estimated cost of $176,000 a year in lost revenues. As a result of the finding, the city is planning to install pumps in its parking lots. (Weather Underground)

http://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Using-Parking-Meter-Records-and-Tweets-Local-Businesses-Sea-Level-Rise-Research

Teen spirit

Using parts he bought on eBay, 12-year-old Jackson Oswalt of Memphis, Tennessee has become the youngest-ever person to build a working nuclear fusion reactor, in his parents’ spare room. The Open Source Fusor Research Consortium, a hobbyist group, has recognised the achievement, although official verification is still pending. The previous record was held by 14-year-old Taylor Wilson, who is now working in the nuclear industry. (Guardian)

The Pumpkin – Issue 76: Wtf is Trump’s emergency about?… Her justice rewards #2… Is another financial crash coming?… Not with a bang, but with a fart… GW: Open the floodgates of Heaven

Theresa May

“Hahaha! Now I am invisible, you shall see my backstop wall has a frontstop fence!”

(Photo: apologies to Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty)

Quote of the Week:

“Our campaign is about taking on the special interests that dominate our economic and political life. I’m talking about Wall Street, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry, the military industrial complex, the private prison industry, and the large multinational corporations that exert such an enormous influence over our lives.” – Senator Bernie Sanders, announcing that he is running for the White House again.

And with that list, he expects to be around in 2020? Anyway, his campaign raised $1m in pledges in the first three hours, and the filthy rich Republicans are already screaming “Socialist!”, and “Tax!”, so that’s a start.

Meanwhile, on the subject of tax, Alabama newspaper editor Bedloe Sutton has been criticized for publishing an editorial calling on the Ku Klux Klan to rise up and ride to Washington armed with hemp ropes and lynch any tax-raising Democrats they find there. He says he’s absolutely serious.

Should be an exciting two years.

 

Wtf is Trump’s emergency about?

“The saying goes that in any authoritarian society ‘the leader can never be trusted, but he must always be believed’.”

The central enigma of Trump, The Pumpkin believes, commands us to decide: is he just a self-deluding minor-criminal buffoon; an inarticulate, narcissistic sociopath; an under-educated, incurious, made-for-TV business tycoon teetering on the fragile edge of sanity, or does some genuinely darker purpose lurk beneath that bullish exterior and his often brutal ‘zero-sum’ view of a transactional universe, in which you are either a winner or a loser – on his terms?

Mussolini, or Hitler?

In that rather blunt analogy, we always assume that Mussolini was the Opera Buffo character, the preening, preposterous, not-so scary spaghetti monster – and Hitler, the deadly, all-devouring snake. But we forget that it was Mussolini who is credited as the inventor of modern fascism. He at least had an -ism to work with! But what did Hitler have?

The sad death at 77 from colonic cancer of the Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, who played Hitler during his last days in the brilliant film “Downfall”, has brought to light a similar conundrum to that of the Trump phenomenon. After spending months researching the character, Ganz remarked, he had only the mannerisms. He still had no idea of what really made Hitler tick.

And that’s the problem with self-proclaimed “leaders”. There may well be nothing at all beneath the surface, a yawning space to be filled only by a terrible hunger for universal approbation and a mad belief, as in Louis 1Vth’s cracker motto: “L’État, c’est moi!” (“I am the State”), in one’s own historic inevitability. A void into which historians may pour whatever conclusions they like.

The process of transition from democracy to autocracy – and then tyranny – invariably proceeds through seeing, one stage at a time, how much one can get away with.

Whereas most politicians project their power, devoid of soul the true authoritarian – the psychopath – insatiably ingests his.

Writing on Open Democracy, Julian de Madeiros answers the question in rather starker terms than the usual parade of MSNBC pundits and late-show comedians imagining that Trump is merely off his rocker:

” …the Italian scholar Giorgio Agamben defines totalitarianism as ‘the establishment, by means of a State of Exception, of a legal civil war that allows for the elimination not only of political adversaries, but of entire categories of citizens who for some reason cannot be integrated into our political system.’ Only then, and for this purpose, can a genuine state of emergency be imposed. The state of exception functions to normalize and integrate the necessary legal framework to enact a wholesale reactionary conspiratorial politics. This is more than just mere scapegoating, it is the internalization of extra-legal processes into the legitimization of the regime itself.”

http://www.opendemocracy.net/julian-de-medeiros/wall-isn-t-state-of-emergency-but-state-of-exception?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=b414e839a5-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-b414e839a5-408090269

And after havering and blustering for weeks, having tried and failed to achieve what everyone else sees as a vain and pointless project, even to the extent of trying out his powers to shut down government, careless of the suffering it caused to thousands, President Trump has moved to bypass the normal budgetary control vested in Congress through the declaration of a State of Exception to counter a so-called emergency which even he recognizes does not exist; is his own proud invention.

In a long, rambling and unscripted dissertation on Thursday night, a frequently snivelling Trump publicly admitted, whether by accident, design or an excess of self-confidence is hard to tell, that he had made up the story of an “invasion” of the southern border by criminal migrant elements – brown people – because if he were not allowed to fulfil his expedient campaign promise to “build the wall”, he would be less likely to win a second term in office.

It’s an admission that may well lose his case for him in courts up and down the land; until, as he has also said, it reaches a supreme court packed with his placemen, where he expects to win. For the legal basis on which he has declared an emergency is shaky; all the more so if there is clearly no emergency, which he has as good as admitted there isn’t.

And then he went off to Mar a Lago to cheat at golf for three days.

Is this his Reichstag moment?

To build his wall, or fence, or physical barrier, that he fantasizes he has already begun doing, he now proposes to take the money the democratically elected Congress is refusing him, whether they like it or not – whether 65% of disapproving American taxpayers like it or not – by assuming powers to override the legislature and to force the Pentagon – which is under the President’s control as Commander-in-Chief – to pay for it, and to provide the labor needed by diverting the Corps of Engineers from their normal duties of preventing floods and suchlike.

So, yet again, we are trapped in the same conundrum as before. Is he doing this just to get his silly wall built, this vanity project that nobody, not even he, believes will have the prophylactic effects on crime and illegal immigration he says it will? Just to get himself re-elected?

Or is he doing it because it sets a precedent that could lead to him assuming absolute powers to, for instance, fire Mueller, close down the mainstream media, suspend habeas corpus and inconvenient parts of the Constitution, dissolve Congress, put soldiers on the streets of American cities and lock-up his critics and political opponents?

And what would he gain from any of that? (The real question is, what would his billionaire backers, Evangelical so-called Christians, his disappointed Confederate supporters and President Putin gain?)

While America hovers in this climate of uncertainty, because – well, why would you want to believe your country was being taken over by an insane megalomaniac armed with the nuclear codes? – we tend to overlook that on the day he announced his State of Exception, new judicial decisions about several of his former henchmen were being handed down, that substantially increased the state of legal jeopardy in which Mr Trump has lived precariously for the past two years.

The President is noted for his adroitness at diverting accusations of malfeasance onto others, or simply bullying or, in the last resort, buying his way out of trouble. He has got away with it throughout his career, and nothing he has done since occupying the White House on a minority vote in the country suggests that his habits have changed one whit.

So it may be that his latest actions are neither those of a comic bull in a china shop, nor a big step towards achieving the simple-minded dictatorship he favors as a model of pain-free governance; but are yet another entertaining smokescreen among many he continues to generate, to divert the media’s attention away from the investigations which law enforcement officers are struggling to pull together into a coherent set of indictments against Trump and his family.

In passing, it was barely noticed too that his pick for the new Attorney-General of the United States, Mr William Barr, was confirmed yesterday in the Senate.

Mr Barr, a veteran of the Bush neo-con presidency, is reportedly an entirely reliable figure who will do nothing to impede the process of investigation by the Special Counsel – of whom he has charge – or of the FBI working at the behest of various District Courts looking into, for instance, Trump’s supersized inaugural fund: where it came from, and whatever happened to the spare change – reliably reported to be somewhere north of $60 million?

But danger-spotters will consider the many brutal remarks Trump tweeted about Barr’s hapless predecessor, the Georgia gnome, (my God, one has almost forgotten his name already!) Jefferson “Jeff” Beauregard Sessions 111 – and conclude that Mr Trump is hardly likely to nominate anyone whose personal loyalty is not assured: “L’État” being “lui”, as it were….

While Barr told the Senate hearing he believed it was “vitally important” that Robert Mueller be allowed to complete his investigation, it is less certain that once he has, Mr Barr – a noted Trump supporter who is not keen on the idea of locking-up sitting presidents – will not simply shut down debate about its findings by refusing to allow the final report to be published or sent to Congress, in full or in part.

There is, as has been said, more than one way to skin a cat; or for a rogue President, an outlier on the graph of bad hombres, to achieve an ambition to discredit and dismantle all the supposedly liberal, democratic institutions he perceives as impediments to his and his supporters’ crude, authoritarian tendencies.

What his actual ambition is, however, is still unclear to anyone other than his increasingly fanatical followers, the “Cult45” as they’ve been dubbed, who are in no doubt that he has been sent by God to make America white again. As De Medeiros writes, “The saying goes that in any authoritarian society ‘the leader can never be trusted, but he must always be believed’.”

And Mr Trump has been skilful in creating for his diehard base, a world of belief in which observable facts and rational propositions are subordinated to magical thinking and the will of the crowd.

More Hitler than Mussolini, possibly.

 

Let them out!

Mr Trump is nothing if not a hypocrite in a suit.

At the same time as he is insisting that European countries must take back their own self-exiled ISIS extremists from captivity in Syria and Iraq, he has obstinately refused for two and a half years to release the last five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay who have long been cleared for release by military tribunals.

Fat wanker.

 

Her justice rewards #2

Possibly the most abstruse legal case in recent history ended last year when – Politico reported – a judge threw out a slander claim against Hillary Clinton over her alleged use of a personal email server.

All through the Trump election campaign – all through, that is, AFTER the notorious 6 June, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower to obtain “dirt” on Clinton from the Russians – the orange candidate was exhorting his hysterical dumbfucks to “Lock her up!”. And they’re still doing it.

The Pumpkin was never quite sure why, but it seems to relate to this case.

It was because a tranche of thousands of deleted emails had been recovered, as we now know by a Russian intelligence hacking operation acting in (illegal) concert with the Wikileaks website. Among them were emails relating to statements made by President Obama and Secretary Clinton about the murders in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 of the American ambassador and three of his staff.

The official line was that the murders were inadvertent and carried out by a mob inflamed by (as it happens, false) reports of a US-made movie trailer insulting the Prophet, that attacked the consulate, where the ambassador just happened to be at the time, visiting Libya’s second wartorn city.

Ultimately it turned out from CIA reports that the attack had been deliberately planned and carried out by a Jihadi militia under cover of the rioting. Had the State Department had advance warning but said nothing, as the Ambassador entered the trap?

Somehow, lawyers for the families of two of the dead Americans made a case that a) the emails were illegal, because of Clinton’s improper use of a non-official channel, and b) the change to the official story was communicated in such a way as to slander the dead men and defame their families.

It was said that the original storyline had been made up so as not to damage Obama’s chances in his campaign to get elected for a second term.

Imported by Trump’s organizers to testify onstage at a rally as victims of “Crooked Hillary” and her plain dishonesty, the parents had themselves launched an emotional attack on Clinton, alleging that as Secretary of State she had somehow failed to protect their “children” (grown men, State department security people).

They were demanding damages, claiming that Clinton had slandered them in response to their claims that she had acted irresponsibly or even illegally – something for which U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that there was absolutely no evidence.

Judge Jackson’s ruling also discounted the use of the private email server as any sort of factor in the case. But her ruling in fact hinged on a technicality: that if the parents were going to demand financial compensation, they had failed to say so early enough in the case.

The appellants have reacted angrily, accusing Judge Jackson of political bias. Yet The Pumpkin might mildly observe, the bias appears to be all on the side of the appellants’ attorneys, who have a history of going after the Clintons in what has been said to be “thousands” of lawsuits since the 1990s.

In a possibly inflammatory and certainly contemptuous statement, attorney Larry Klayman claims that the judge:

“clearly put politics and ahead of her oath of office as a judge to administer to the law in a neutral unbiased way … Judge Jackson, who is an Obama appointee and a Democrat, was clearly protecting Mrs. Clinton and this intellectually dishonest decision will be appealed. My clients are confident of success,” Klayman said. (Politico report)

Described as “pathologically litigious”, and founder of a libertarian group known as the Freedom Foundation, Klayman is said to be a “birther” conspiracy theorist who once attempted to have President Obama deported as a non-citizen.

It seems tragic that the parents of the dead Americans should have allowed themselves to fall into the clutches of this obviously eccentric and grandstanding charlatan, who has been banned from a number of courtrooms around the country.

But despite last year’s ruling, Trump continues to conflate his attacks on Clinton and the FBI in tweet after tweet, claiming the entire law enforcement apparatus of the country and – whenever he loses a case – the judiciary are involved in a political conspiracy against him, funded by the official opposition.

This year-old ruling may come into play shortly, as it is Judge Berman Jackson who has tried the cases against Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort, and is being asked to slap a 24-year sentence on the 70-year-old this week for decades of financial crimes and his attempts to dupe the Mueller investigation. Rumors of a Presidential pardon have been swirling. But Mr Bad Deeds is out of town, grandstanding with the avunculicide, the loveable roly-poly Kim Jong-un.

 

Is another financial crash coming?

Despite his claims of an economic miracle, the budget deficit of the USA has increased since Trump took office from 19.2 trillion dollars in 2016 to almost 23 trillion this year. He has himself in the past identified $24 trillion as the “point of no return”, i.e. the point at which the debt finally becomes unrepayable, ever, and so is to be defaulted on.

Although Trump’s past sayings are never a reliable guide to his future fantasies.

The six-times bankrupt loser does not care: massive deficits, the bigger the better, are how you run a business, and if anyone complains, or asks for their money back, you sue ’em. And in the case of entire countries, well, invade and take the oil seems to be the simple philosophy.

It’s never been a better time to be a lawyer in the USA. In addition to the – I’m taking these figures off the top of my head but they’re about right – 18 separate criminal investigations, Trump is also fighting over three THOUSAND civil suits, pro and con.

Nor, judging on the evidence of the things he has tweeted or spoken about in any of his famous “word salad” interviews, can Trump identify the technical differences between the budget deficit (i.e. government spending set against tax revenues), the trade gap (i.e. overall money-in, money-out in trade in goods and services with other countries), and the stockmarket (i.e. overall value of shares in a select number of traded public companies). To Trump, it’s all his money to spend as he likes.

So it may come as no surprise that increasing numbers of US economists are becoming alarmed.

Seven million Americans are reportedly at least three months behind on their car payments. Millions of those “sub-prime” borrowers of lease finance will also have credit-card debts and mortgages they can’t finance either, which is uncomfortably reminiscent of the situation in 2007 before the banks stopped lending to one another and several went belly-up, requiring $trillions in rescue funding.

For these folks, taxes have risen around 10 per cent this year, thanks to the Trump “reforms” they stupidly voted for, imagining (while billionaires trousered more billions) that a small, one-off reduction last year was for always.

Now why did they think that, we wonder?

Oh, could it be the President lied to them?

 

Not with a bang, but with a fart

“What we are now witnessing is extremely worrying,” said one of the paper’s lead authors, Professor Euan Nisbet of Royal Holloway, University of London. “It is particularly alarming because we are still not sure why atmospheric methane levels are rising across the planet.”

Duh!

The climate disruption story has been bedevilled by the lunacy of scientific silos; over-specialization leading to a crazy kind of reductionism that promotes separate, individual studies while occluding the much more alarming “big picture”.

Maybe the fact that the Arctic region especially has for several years been experiencing huge temperature anomalies, heat resulting in outgassing from thawing permafrost swamps, kaarst lakes and clumps of frozen methane on the shallow seabed of the East Arctic Siberian shelf, and the vast reserves that lie beneath, might have something to do with it?

Like the Arctic News blogspot scientists have been trying to say for the past four years?

But the report from the American Geophysical Union, at least those morsels mentioned in the press, signally fails to make any mention of this Arctic methane, or indeed fracking operations in Colorado, blaming instead cattle ranching and African swamps! Are these clever people idiots, or is there a fault with the reporting?

But at least the news of a methane crisis has finally come to the attention of scientists with access to mainstream media, as the story appears in today’s Observer newspaper, albeit on page 18; and a few people might start to take notice. CO2 buildup might well prove terminal by 2100, but a blowout of 500 gigatonnes of Arctic methane would mean curtains within months.

To date, only carbon dioxide has been seen as the villain, but it is carbon dioxide that is generating the warming that is freeing the methane, which is on average 60 times more potent a greenhouse gas and thus, the most important component of one of those rather important ‘feedback loops’ the recent IPCC report studiously ignored.

Deep breath, everybody….

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/17/methane-levels-sharp-rise-threaten-paris-climate-agreement

 

GW: Open the floodgates of Heaven

Greece: A search is still underway for 4 people missing, presumed drowned after their vehicle was swept away in flash flooding near Heraklion, Crete. “Heavy rain had affected the island over the last few days.  Some areas recorded around 400mm of rain between 12 and 17 February.” (Floodlist)

Zimbabwe: Many are thought to have drowned in a flooded mine after a dam wall collapsed near the town of Kidoma on 12 Feb. Elsewhere, 2 people were drowned in flooding in Masvingo province. The national weather service reported record rainfall of 203 mm in 24 hours, 13 to 14 February, breaking the previous high of 98 mm set in 1977. (Floodlist report)

USA: And the misery continues. Pulses of more prolonged, heavy rain are forecast for most of the week across the southern midwest, with widespread risk of flash- and river-flooding. Parts of Tennessee could see 7 to 10 inches of rain in the next few days. “The Storm Prediction Center has already issued a Day 6 outlook for potential severe weather on Saturday across this region, noting the possibility of tornado-favorable conditions. Long-range models are suggesting that at least one more round of heavy rain could affect the South early next week before February draws to a close.” (Wunderground)

Australia: “Tropical Cyclone Oma is tracking towards NE Australia after grazing New Caledonia. The Category 1 system currently packs peak sustained winds of 85 mph (137 km/h).” (Severe-weather.eu) A more recent update has Oma as a very wide, slow-moving Cat 3 Typhoon with a well-formed eye, one of the worst kind, although its track is uncertain. “Meteorologists can’t rule out the chance that Oma will cross the Queensland coast somewhere in the south-east, possibly on the weekend.” (MyGC.com.au) A 4-6 meter tidal surge is predicted. 2 tourists, one French, one British, have gone missing from a beach in Brisbane where sea conditions are already said to be treacherous.

UK: following last week’s warm spell, temperatures are set to dip a little but are expected to be as high as 20C, 68F in places by next weekend – possibly beating the 1998 record of 19.7C (Express). Certainly the official forecasts are for quite a warm weekend. Pinch yourself, it’s still February. Severe-weather.eu predicts that this plume of “incredibly warm” air coming up from western Europe will stretch all the way through Scandinavia into the Arctic and persist through next week.

Iceland: “A very intense cyclone (a so-called ‘bombogenesis’ cyclone or weather bomb) will develop across the North Atlantic later today and move towards Iceland and Greenland tomorrow and on Thursday (20-21 Feb.). A violent windstorm will result from this cyclone, bringing extremely severe winds in excess of 150 km/h as well as significant wave heights up to 15 metres.” (Severe-weather.eu)

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser, biggest in the park, goes off for the 6th time this year (record 32 times last year). Selected seismometer data still being omitted from public records; magma still rising. A M3.2 earthquake was recorded inside the park, Sunday (Mary Greeley).

There has to be a reason… Will we hold them to this pledge?… Kick him out!… Can we trust economists?… GW: Sweep-up in Seattle… POZI-NEWS A great new feature accentuating the POZITIV!… School’s Out!

Quote of the Week

“The disconnection of Russia from the global web would mean that we are already at war with everyone. In this situation we should be thinking how to grow potatoes in a nuclear winter, and not about the internet.”

– Filipp Kulin, Russian internet expert, asked about a Kremlin plan to put up its own firewall around the internet, for “national security” reasons that are nothing to do with rising protests against Putin’s handling of the economy. (BBC, 12 Feb.)

donald trump

“And my doctor says I’m 35 feet tall and still only 239 pounds.”

Trump passes his medical with flying colors. (Photo Carlos Barría/Reuters)

There has to be a reason

“The secrecy imposed on the civil service is the second reason why, if trouble comes, it will appear to come from nowhere. The truth is that we have a hidden government, thinking the unthinkable in secret, not as an academic parlour game in which an idea is reduced to absurdity for intellectual pleasure, but as a means of stopping voters realising the scale of the trouble we may be facing.”

– Nick Cohen, writing in The Guardian, 11 Feb 2019.

Nick’s thesis is rather troubling. There has to be a reason why the government is quietly creating a new ministry employing five thousand supposedly temporary civil service volunteers at vast expense to the taxpayer, to manage the country on what looks suspiciously like a war footing.

They are being recruited now, to ensure stockpiles of food and medicine are distributed and rationed, with plans to chopper the Queen out of London, plans to commandeer trucks and warehouses and public transport and to put five thousand troops on the streets – possibly even to round up potentially violent dissidents – in the event of a no-deal exit from the EU at midnight on Friday, 29 March (“Piano Day”).

Saturday 30th, appropriately, being “Bipolar Day”; and Monday 1 April, of course, when people will get up, shake off their hangovers and go to work in the Brave New World of Britain as a vast global trading empire once more: “All Fools’ Day”.

Maybe it’s because the May cabinet genuinely expects the country to fall apart, with supermarkets looted, empty shelves, businesses shut down and rioters on the streets?

It seems inconceivable in this day and age.

For a start, few people really give a hoot about Brexit, they don’t have a clue what the fuss is all about, just that they don’t like the government’s hideously cruel and seemingly never-ending austerity program, although they go on voting for it.

They’re too busy going about their zero-hours “cog in a machine” jobs and trying to survive in the dog-eat-dog, app-driven modern world of Deliveroo and Uber Eats; of call-centres and fast-food outlets, of shelf-stacking and warehouse picking and packing, of Amazon deliveries and unpaid internships and temporary “teaching assistant” and “community policing” and agency cleaning and admin jobs where you can be fired for taking a day off sick.

That none of this growing fragility of our social institutions and the deskilling of work is the fault of the European Union is really quite meaningless to everyone other than policy nerds and the illiterate, piss-stained-sofa-dwelling fucktards of the far-left and the rabid-right – mostly the right – who post their irate, uninformed comments on media websites, as if they mattered.

Harking back to August 2011, and the “Tottenham riots” that spread over the course of a week to Birmingham and other cities, with the deaths of 5 people and much looting and arson, however, we recall that the single most proximate cause was the police shooting dead a black suspect in a planned ambush, who had already thrown away a gun that might or might not have been his.

That seems a somewhat more concrete casus belli than a possible decision to delay or abandon the lunacy of leaving the European Union on 29 March.

But the reason for the violence, later examined in detail by handwringing liberals in the media, was much the same as the reasons we keep hearing from the few more articulate Brexit-voters for why they delivered a slap to the government over the referendum: boarded-up white working-class communities left behind by globalization and immigration, disaffected with austerity and growing inequality, are fed up with well-padded politicians making remote decisions that make ordinary people worse-off; fed up with seeing the plethora of consumer goodies in shops, images of material success that they can’t afford.

So actually, the idea that riots might accompany a bad-deal Brexit may not be so far-fetched.

 

Will we hold them to this pledge?

In the wake of an urgent think-tank report slating politicians for failing to come up with any real policies for confronting multiple environmental threats coming thick and fast on top of impending climate disaster:

“A UK government spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to leaving our environment in a better state than we found it through our 25 Year Environment Plan and the forthcoming Environment Bill.

“‘Over 25 years we will replenish depleted soils, rid our seas and rivers of the rubbish trashing our planet, cut greenhouse gas emissions, cleanse our air of toxic pollutants, and develop cleaner, more sustainable energy sources.

“‘The Environment Bill will also create a new environmental body, the Office for Environmental Protection, to hold us to account on this commitment’.” (BBC Environment)

The BogPo replies: “Seeing is believing”. Especially the bit about replenishing depleted soils, as it takes around 300 years to create a microgram of new soil.

And we don’t have 25 years, sorry.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47203344

 

Trump has the media exactly where he wants them

Kick him out!

“A BBC cameraman was violently shoved and abused during a Donald Trump rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night, in an incident the corporation described as ‘unacceptable’.

Ron Skeans “recovered to film a man in a red Make America Great Again cap being restrained and shouting: ‘Fuck the media.’ As he was led away some in the crowd at the rally could be heard chanting: ‘Let him go.'”

Good. Maybe now the BBC’s apathetic “North America Editor”, John Supine will stop normalizing and apologizing for this demented old showboater in the White House.

Even with this report of what has become a fairly humdrum assault on journalists covering Trump’s Nazi rallies, his rapturous, chanting dumbfucks doing their Saviour’s bidding, the BBC admits only that he has a fairly “strained” relationship with the media.

He doesn’t.

Trump is and has knowingly for decades been a creature of the media. In turn, he ruthlessly exploits the media’s obsession with his every fart and grunt, his every cheeseburger dream, to keep himself in the limelight.

He knows that the more he insults and mocks and chastizes them, the harder the editors think they have to try to please, and the less likely his increasingly abusive, baying fascist “base” is to believe a word anyone says against him; especially Mueller.

His relentless self-publicizing and abusive personal put-downs of even the mildest critics have but one aim: to impress the image of a successful business tycoon, which he has never been, on potential victims of his family’s scams.

These tend to be sleazy minor criminals and corrupt officials skirting the law in “developing nations”, easily impressed by Trump’s tawdry glitz and glitter. Easy marks, ready and willing to be led by the nose into improbable real estate developments involving multi-million-dollar licensing and merchandizing contracts, generally disasters from which only the Trumps walk away richer. (According to media sources.)

Trump has the media exactly where he wants them: by their tiny, fluffy little balls, which (like Eleanor Rigby and her “face”) he keeps in a jar by the door.

“Enemies of the People” they may be. Friends to Trump they surely are.

 

Can we trust economists?

Best practice

Warehouseman Mr Jeff Hayward from Clitheroe in Lancashire has won his appeal at the fifth attempt against an employability tribunal decision that, despite letters from two doctors stating he was unable to walk 50 meters, he was so obviously fit for work that he merited zero disability points.

Sadly, Mr Hayward was unable to celebrate his victory, as he died seven months ago. A Department of Work and Pensions spokesperson expressed their regrets to the family over the time taken to reach a decision, but offered them some cheery news – at least they’ll get the back-payments. (Guardian)

 

Feurquières tous!

The mayor of a town in northern France has issued a ban on excessive dog barking in a bid to curb canine noise pollution, that he says has created an unbearable situation. Dog owners in Feurquières face a €68 (£60; $77) fine for “prolonged or repeated barking”.

One woman’s dogs in particular have apparently been the cause of numerous complaints. Animal rights groups are protesting. (Guardian) The BogPo however wonders why the French mayor has calculated the fine in Euro to come out as an exactly round number in UK pounds?

Are we maybe talking Englishwoman here?

 

GW: Sweep-up in Seattle

USA: One of the more potent storms of the winter, Nadia will hit California with heavy rain, excessive high country snow and gusty winds through Thursday night (13 Feb.). The worst of the storm is forecast to focus on Central and Northern California with a heightened threat of flooding, mudslides, erosion, power outages and avalanches and road-closing snowfall in the mountains. Several inches of rain will fall on the lower and intermediate slopes of the mountains.” (Accuweather, who are forecasting 3-6 FEET more snow in the Sierra Nevada.)

Storm Maya brought up to 5 feet of snow in Washington State at the weekend. “… more than 80,000 Washington customers were without power Saturday afternoon after nearly a year’s worth of snow fell in a single day in the Seattle area.” (Wunderground) “Severe weather is expected to stretch from coast to coast Tuesday (12 Feb.), with about 100 million people under some sort of winter alert, millions facing a flood threat and more snow on the way in Seattle. Widespread rain Tuesday will continue to soak the Ohio Valley, from Arkansas to Ohio. As much as 4 inches could fall. More than 55 million people are under a flood warning, flood advisory, flash flood watch or flash flood warning across the country.” (CNN) It also snowed, unusually, in Hawaii, where a wind gust was measured at 191 mph and several houses lost their roofs.

A brief heatwave in central Texas this weekend is likely to lift February temperatures into the 90sF, mid-30s C, an all-time record, before yet another storm system sails in from the Pacific and intense rainfall returns to the midwestern states, with more flooding forecast for the middle of the week. (The Weather Channel)

Europe: 3 German skiers and 2 ski patrollers have been killed over the weekend in the Alps. Another patroller is missing. An accident in France and an avalanche in the Austrian Alps brings the number of weather-related deaths in Europe this month to 26 as heavy snow continues to paralyse parts of the continent. (Independent) Meanwhile, most of Europe will bask this week in Spring-like weather. (Severe-weather.eu) Indeed, just north of sunny Boglington, the mercury hit 17C yesterday (62F) (15 Feb.).

Indonesia: “As many as 4” people have died in flooding in West Java, Indonesia, after heavy rain that began on 7 Feb. “A disaster agency spokesperson said that the overflowing Cinambo River caused a dam to break, flooding areas in the Cilengkrang district.” (Floodlist)

Saudi Arabia: Amber warnings have been issued for more heavy rainfall, after 2 people died near Madinah on 9 Feb. More than 100 people were rescued from vehicles stuck in flooded wadis. (Floodlist)

Malawi: 8 days of continuous heavy rain between 18-24 January caused extensive flooding, evacuations and damage to property in central and southern regions. (Late report from Floodlist)

Brazil: Strong winds, torrential rain, flash flooding and landslides caused havoc in the municipality of Rio de Janeiro, 6-7 Feb. 90mm (4-in.) rain fell in just one hour. Officials said that some areas recorded more than the February average rainfall in just a few hours. Wind gusts of around 110 km/h were also recorded. (Floodlist)

Peru: “As many as 10 people have died after heavy rain, flooding and landslides since 07 Feb. President Martin Vizcarra said on 11 Feb. that 8,000 people have been affected and 1,800 made homeless. Flooding and landslides have damaged or destroyed bridges, roads, homes, health centres and schools.” And there’s more flooding in Ecuador. (Floodlist)

Australia: 1 person has died and several are in intensive care, infected with Melioidosis, a soil bacterium apparently released by the recent record floods affecting Queensland. A report from CNN notes that the Flinders river has gone from a trickle to 27 miles wide – so vast a flood that it is believed to have generated a thunderstorm. Huge volumes of soil can be seen from space, washing into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Russia: “Residents of a coalmining region in Siberia have been posting videos online showing entire streets and districts covered in toxic black snow. The scenes in the footage were described as “post-apocalyptic” by Russian media.

Black stalactites hang from trees in the Kemerevo region of Siberia. The snow is black because it binds with coal dust as it falls. (Siberian Times)

“The coal dust that turns the snow black in the Kuzbass comes from numerous open pit mines that environmental activists say have had disastrous consequences for the health of the region’s 2.6 million people. … Officials in Mysky, a town in the region, were mocked recently for painting black snow white.” (Guardian Green Light report, 15 Feb.)

Two cyclones colliding over Norilsk in Eastern Siberia earlier in the week produced up to 4 meters of snowfall. But at least it was warmer – temperatures rose to -11C. (Siberian Times)

World: The oceans are warming fast.

  • “The year 2018 passed the previous record set just the year before, in 2017; the top five years of ocean heat have come in the last five years. Last year continues a startling trend of global ocean warming that is a direct result of humans’ warming of the planet.” (CNN, from journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences). Prof. Paul Beckwith reports – the land is now warming three times faster than the sea, which until recently had absorbed over 90% of all the atmospheric warming caused by CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
  • “In the extreme, environmental breakdown could trigger catastrophic breakdown of human systems, driving a rapid process of ‘runaway collapse’ in which economic, social and political shocks cascade through the globally linked system – in much the same way as occurred in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2007-08.” The warning comes in a paper from UK thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research.
  • “CO₂ levels just reached another record high. On February 9, 2019, an average daily CO₂ level of 414.27 ppm was recorded at Mauna Loa, Hawaii.” Global CO2 level normally peaks in March/April. (Arctic News)
  • Atlantic hurricanes showed “highly unusual” upward trends in rapid intensification rates during the period 1982 – 2009 that can only be explained by including human-caused climate change as a contributing cause, according to research published last week in Nature Communications. Hurricane Maria (2017) for instance intensified by 70 mph in just 24 hours.
  • A new study is causing worries for electric car smuggies, who may lose up to 40% of their cruising range in cold weather. Fights are being reported in the lines for recharging cars at scarce charging points.

Yellowstone: the rising magma column – 300 miles long and containing enough molten material to fill the Grand Canyon 11 times over, with a core temperature measured at 2,500 F, – is now being “intensely monitored” by USGS geologists and vulcanologists. Ground heating, earthquake swarms continuing. (Mary Greeley)

 

POZI-NEWS

A great new feature accentuating the POZITIV!

By a margin of 92 to 8, “Joshua Tree and Death Valley national parks are to be enlarged, and stunning river landscapes in California and Utah will be protected, under new legislation that passed the US Senate on Tuesday. In all, the public lands package sets aside more than a million acres of new wilderness and conservation areas in western states. … The bill will go to the Democrat-controlled House next, where it’s likely to pass, and then to the president’s desk.” (Guardian, 14 Feb.)

Where it will hopefully cause the ecocidal vandal Trump to choke to death on his fucking cheeseburger.

The “very stable genius” has been frantically trying to reduce the size of protected national monument lands and encourage more fracking and opencast mining while permitting slurry runoff from mines and agricultural poisons to pollute the rivers on behalf of his pal David Murray of Murray Energy, a multi-billionaire “coal baron” and one of his biggest donors,

Mr Murray reportedly backhanded several million dollars to Trump’s highly controversial $107m Inaugural Fund, AFTER the Inauguration ceremonies were over, from which a vast amount of money appears to have gone missing without explanation, in exchange for a “wish list” which Mr Trump on assuming office immediately set about using Executive Orders to grant.

Both men have quite openly admitted without a trace of shame that, for example, Trump’s order to the Tennessee Valley Authority to reverse a decision to switch its energy supply away from a Murray Energy coalmine into renewables was as a direct result of David Murray’s paying him money.

A bribe, in other words.

And so extensive is Trump’s gluey web of corruption, fantasy and deceit, nobody even cares anymore.

 

School’s Out!

A protester on a school climate strike march in Sydney, Australia.

Schoolchildren in 60 areas of Britain were apparently striking today (15 Feb.) in sympathy with the expanding global movement begun by the scary-looking 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, from Sweden, to bring government attention back from the Brexit farrago to the very real environmental threats the rising generation are going to have to deal with, since we won’t.

You might not know this, reading the BBC’s coverage, which is a day out of date. However, on a POZITIV note, the Nailsea Comprehensive school/Oxford/Harvard-educated Claire Perry, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – who in your Old Uncle’s view should become our next Prime Minister – went on the Today programme this morning …

And smack in the face of the smug, middle-class (w)anchor Justin Webb, who has been tutting his disapproval all week, actually SUPPORTED the strike!

But you won’t read about that on the BBC News website. It would cause a revolution.

The Pumpkin – Issue 75: A Master of Evasion… Her justice rewards… GW: Up and down on the great weather rollercoaster…

“Trump, eternally the great mob boss, never forgets nor forgives.”

A Master of Evasion

“So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post. Hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better & more responsible hands!”

This is the petty, vindictive little playground bully at his finest, the half-fuckwit, half-fatberg America inadvertently elected as its President in 2016. (The funniest insult of it being to call the putrid, conspiracy-theory-mongering supermarket gossip-sheet The National Enquirer a “competitor” to the internationally respected Post!) The tweet needs to be read with that slimy, slug-trail voice and a hint of narcissistic triumphalism.

The story of the feud between Trump and the enviably far richer Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and “world’s richest man” (if you don’t count Vladimir Putin, who may be at least twice as rich), is ably told by Washington reporter Ben Jacobs in today’s Guardian (8 Feb.)

Essentially, Mr Bezos owns the Post, a newspaper Mr Trump has happily co-operated with – and vice versa – in the past, but which now aggrieves him by doing snippy little things like enumerating the times he has outright lied to the American people – currently around 8,300 since he first assured everyone his inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s – on the basis of checkable facts; and criticizing his cackhanded mismanagement of the Oval Office.

The Post‘s heyday was, of course, in the mid 1970s when its dogged investigative team of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein played a large part in bringing down the corrupt but otherwise quite good President Richard M Nixon over the series of burglaries at the Watergate Complex he taped himself authorizing, to steal ‘dirt’ on his then-Democrat opponent, the hawkish Barry Goldwater.

Subsequently impeached for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and several violations of the Constitution, Nixon resigned with a full pardon in 1975. He was succeeded by Vice-President Gerald Ford, a man of whom it was said he was so dumb, he couldn’t shit and chew gum at the same time; and subsequently by the other halfway decent President, the Democrat Jimmy Carter.

There are gobsmackingly obvious parallels with the situation today facing Mr Trump, into whom there are now some 18 separate investigations ongoing alleging conspiracy with a foreign power to steal the 2016 election, misuse of campaign funds, obstruction of justice, money-laundering, tax fraud – and several (to put it mildly) violations of the constitution; notably the emoluments clause, in ignorance of which he continues to create any opportunity to enrich himself at the nation’s expense.

(It’s said that for his inauguration ceremonies, his Washington post-office hotel was charging foreign dignitaries $175,000 a night….)

We just haven’t quite got to the resignation speech yet.

Sadly, no Woodward and Bernstein today can contend with Mr Trump’s relentless campaign of character assassination against both the media and his own law-enforcement agencies, and his first-rate skills at blowing out dense clouds of purple smoke to distract the public attention whenever it looks like any further embarrassing revelations are about to emerge. He plays the media like a fiddle, as they say.

If the legion of investigative journalists and their many books and articles are to be believed, as no doubt they should be, mostly, Mr Trump is guilty of all those crimes and many more. But he is a master of evasion – and not just fiscally. The fingerprints have been wiped; finding the DNA, let alone a smoking gun, is taking the Special Counsel a frustratingly long time.

The Bezos affair is classic Trump.

For many years, Mr Trump’s friend, David Pecker, Editor-in-Chief of the salacious supermarket rag, The National Enquirer, had protected him by buying up as exclusives, any bad stories about him and then locking them away in a safe. It’s known in the yellow trade as ‘catch and kill’. Under guarantee of immunity, Mr Pecker has been spilling his guts to the FBI about it all, and specifically about the role played by Mr Trump’s personal bagman, Michael Cohen, shortly due to surrender himself to the prison authorities to start a three-year stretch.

Mr Trump’s vendetta against the Post appears to have extended recently to doing work on behalf of his Saudi paymasters. In his action against the Enquirer, that he has now launched alleging, among other things, blackmail, Mr Bezos’ lawyers are pointing to a special glossy supplement on Saudi Arabia that Mr Pecker published last year, totally against the scandal sheet’s normal editorial policy, praising the repressive and atavistic desert regime to the skies.

For three months, despite the assessments of his own intel community and the views of Republican senators in Congress – even that egregious little Trumpsucker, Sen. Graham – Mr Trump has been assiduously creating doubt and uncertainty over the role of Saudi Crown Prince bin-Salman in the brutal assassination of critic, Jamal Khashoggi… a special contributor to, as it happens, the Washington Post.

And then in January, an exclusive story appeared in the Enquirer about Mr Bezos and an affair with a former TV anchor, Lauren Sanchez – a report based on hacked text messages. Mrs Bezos is duly divorcing him and a settlement somewhere in the mid-billions is eagerly anticipated by those who get excited by such important news.

Bezos immediately launched an investigation into how the Enquirer and its parent company, AMI, had gotten hold of the story. He claims that his attempts to find the source of the hacked material to determine whether it and other Enquirer pieces in recent months had been politically motivated had led to threats from AMI to expose even more intimate photos the couple had exchanged.

In other words, blackmail – and foolishly offered in an email for all to read.

Instead of cowing down and paying up, Bezos went public and published full details of everything in the Post. Even people who loathe Amazon and its rapacious business model have had to admit, that was brave. Bezos’ implied assertion was that the intelligence service must have been involved – which could mean only one thing: the order came from the Very Top.

Is petty blackmail something you’re really going to try with the “world’s richest man”, involved in a long-running feud with the political motivator himself, President Donald Trump?

The obvious inference, amply reinforced by that sickening tweet, its triumphal crowing utterly demeaning of the sacred office of the President of the United States, for now – a monstrous spoiled, whining, devious, self-exonerating 9-year-old brat, of squalid habits and early-onset dementia trapped in the lumbering body of a man who cheats at golf, as well as on his wives – is that this was Pecker’s way of saying sorry to his “friend”.

We doubt it’ll get him off the hook. Trump, eternally the made-for-TV mob boss, never forgets nor forgives.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/07/jeff-bezos-national-enquirer-blackmail-claims-trump

Postscriptum: And in a small but intensely interesting sidelight on the Bezos affair, we have belatedly learned, the Daily Beast reported on 31 Jan. that Lauren Sanchez’ showbiz agent brother Michael is a known “business” associate of…. Roger Stone, another of Trump’s henchmen now under indictment, and has frequently tweeted political support for the President.

The question then becomes, has this whole affair been a honeytrap setup, the kind of exploit Mr Pecker’s safe is no doubt full of? Was any foreign agency involved in hacking Bezos/Sanchez’ texts and photos? Was this a politically motivated Kompromat operation against a hated enemy, that now threatens to blow up in the President’s curiously mottled orange face? (I’m wondering if it might be skin cancer?)

Sanchez and others, including AMI, the publisher of the Enquirer, are denying everything; the problem facing AMI group being that only last year they signed an agreement with the Mueller investigation that if they gave evidence against Michael Cohen they wouldn’t face prosecution – unless any further crime was committed within the next three years, in which case the FBI would throw the book at them.

So this is an existential matter for the publishers.

One further question remains. There being no fool like a staggeringly rich fool, may we ask: why oh why was Bezos, who is no longer 14 years old, stupid enough to post dick-pix to his girlfriend over social media?

(The Pumpkin has been itching to make this joke and so will risk it here: Why would anyone want to wake up to Bezos’ scrawny old head on the pillow? For a moment, they might wonder which way up he was sleeping… Sorry!)

 

Her justice rewards

Along with now-retired Senator Jeff Flake, “moderate” Senator Susan Collins from the moderate east coast lobster-fishing state of Maine was an outstanding holdout on the committee to confirm Trump-pick, Brett Kavanaugh as a job-for-life Supreme Court justice.

Kavanaugh, who allegedly assured Trump no sitting President could be indicted for crimes commited while in office. Kavanaugh, who dramatically defended himself against the sober testimony of women accusing him of gross improprieties while a college student.

Kavanaugh, whose emotionally overwrought self-defence was said by many witnesses never called to testify to have been a pack of lies; and who boasted of liking beer when the evidence suggested, he likes it a bit too much.

Kavanaugh, the subject of strong criticism from Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts; and of a warning letter to Congress, signed by over a thousand lawyers and professors of law who knew Kavanaugh’s record and judged it wanting.

Kavanaugh, who just last week fulfilled the dire warnings of the liberal establishment by recording a dissenting opinion in a Louisiana case, where the court ruled 5-4 to overturn a complicated new law that would have meant only one doctor being available in the entire state licensed to perform abortions.

In a dramatic turnround, however, when it came to the vote, Flake and Collins (see previous Posts) threw principle to the wind and voted with their fellow Retardicans to rubber-stamp Kavanaugh’s lifelong appointment to the court. The question remained: why?

Sen. Collins has now filed accounts, regarding her 2020 re-election campaign donations. To date, her PAC has benefited from $1.8 million dollars in funding. Since the day she changed her voting on Kavanaugh, a million dollars of that has been sent in from out-of-state donors, whom she does not even represent. (TYT/Ring of Fire, from Time Magazine reporting)

 

GW: Up and down on the great weather rollercoaster

World: “The start of 2019 has been marked by high impact weather in many parts of the world, including dangerous and extreme cold in North America, record heat, wildfires and rainfall in Australia, record temperatures and rainfall in parts of South America, and heavy snowfall in the Alps and Himalayas.

“Globally, temperatures were a little over 0.4°C warmer than the average January from 1981-2010.”

With an adjusted “realistic” baseline of 1750 AD (rather than NASA/IPCC’s 1951) when industrialization began; with allowances for ‘blank’ areas of the Arctic where no measurements were available, La Niña cooling, etc., and without even adding in potential feedbacks such as rapidly rising methane release, Arctic News’ “Sam Carana” (7 Feb.) estimates that global warming has already crossed the lower 1.5C “Paris” target. It was “1.73°C warmer than preindustrial in 2018. The (graph) also shows that it could become 1.85°C warmer in 2019.” Projections of the increase in global temperature cease by 2030 as 5C is considered terminal.

WMOpublic.wmo.int/en/media/news/2019-starts-extreme-high-impact-weather

arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/02/extinction-alert.html

USA: “At least 1 person (later 2) has died in flash flooding in Tennessee (and Ohio) after a storm system (Lucian) brought record-breaking rain to the Nashville area. Nashville recorded 4 in./ 101.6mm of rain on 6 Feb. This breaks the daily rainfall record for 06 February, 1.73 in./ 43.94mm set in 1884. It also exceeds the normal monthly rainfall for February, which is 3.94 inches / 100 mm. (from Floodlist). Indiana University, Bloomington was underwater, 8 Feb, and there was flooding in Indianapolis. Rivers are still rising as the frontal system has stalled and continues to dump impressive amounts of rain at the boundary, bringing warm air over the midwest ahead of another polar deep-freeze. (From Wunderground)

Update from The Weather Channel: “Winter Storm Maya will bring another round of snow to the Pacific Northwest to start the weekend, just days after Winter Storm Lucian (23 dead) snarled travel in both Seattle and Portland, Oregon, and this will kick off yet another expansive wintry mess of snow and ice across the Plains, Midwest and East into next week.” – weather.com/safety/winter/news/2019-02-07-winter-storm-maya-seattle-portland-midwest-east-snow-ice-forecast?cm_ven=wu_videos?cm_ven=hp-slot-1 Monday 11 Feb, Accuweather reports, Seattle had another 10-in. of snow over the weekend, its worst February total in decades.

Hawaii: “An intense winter storm will approach Hawaii from the north this weekend—an unusual trajectory that could bring a variety of destructive impacts to the 50th State. The angle of approach will push very strong northwest to north winds across the islands. Extremely high surf (waves up to 60 ft!) can be expected, especially along north- and west-facing coastlines and harbors, where the National Weather Service is warning that coastal flooding could be “unprecedented.” (Wunderground)

S America: “At least 16 people have died in landslides in La Paz Department, Bolivia. Heavy rain from 2 Feb. caused landslides along the Yolosita-Caranavi highway in Caranavi Province, burying several vehicles. Local authorities said that at least 16 people died and 53 were injured.” (from Floodlist)

“Southern Argentina broke a number of high temperature records on 4 February. The temperature in Perito Moreno (Patagonia) reached 38.2°C. Northeast Argentina, and the adjacent parts of Uruguay and Brazil have been hit with extensive flooding, with well above the long-term expected average rainfall. On January 8, the Argentine city of Resistencia recorded 224mm rainfall. This is a new 24-hour rainfall record, much higher than the previous highest of 206mm recorded in January 1994.” (From World Meteorological Association global report.)

Indonesia: The death toll in floods in Sulawesi towards the end of January is reported to be in the dozens. (BBC News) Homes and roads were washed away.

New Zealand: “Strong winds are expected to fan forest fires that have been burning for a week through New Zealand’s South Island, forcing thousands of people from their homes. Early on Sunday, 155 firefighters were battling the blaze on the ground with air support from 23 helicopters and three fixed wing planes … The Pigeon Valley fire covers 2,300 hectares (5,700 acres).” (Guardian) – and may according to subsequent reports go on burning for “weeks”.

Australia: as record flooding in Queensland slowly abates, farmers who originally celebrated the end of a seven-year drought are left counting the cost, confronted by a landscape strewn with up to half a million dead cattle they have no way of disposing of, polluting waterways.

Europe: Snow melt and heavy rain caused rivers in Bosnia to overflow from 5 Feb. Bridges, roads, homes and farm land have been damaged. Temperatures rose from sub-zero last week to around 15C. Some areas also saw heavy rain.” (From Floodlist). “A very deep cyclone (Storm Erik – “quite windy” BBC) will affect the UK and Ireland on 8 and 9 Feb. It will produce storm to potentially hurricane force winds, and locally quite significant rainfall totals. This is a potentially dangerous system. (Update: 3 dead.) Winds gusting above 100 km/h are expected across much of Ireland, Scotland, southwest and north England and Wales.” The same front has brought damaging wind gusts up to hurricane-force 160k/h and unseasonally warm conditions again to Iceland. (Severe-weather.eu)

India: The “capital Delhi was hit by a strong hailstorm on Thursday, turning the city white and leaving people stunned and delighted. Pictures and videos posted on social media show cherry-sized ice balls and streets covered in white.” – Normally lethal air quality temporarily improving as a result. “Parts of northern India have experienced heavy snowfall over the past days”… leading to avalanche warnings. (From BBC Weather)

Yellowstone: continuous small earthquakes and ground uplift ongoing in the Lake area. The live webcam at Old Faithful geyser is still down. “Deep low-frequency earthquake” signatures are showing up in the seismograph record all over the park, a type associated with rising magma. (Mary Greeley)

The panic begins: “I don’t know what everyone else is doing but my wife and I are moving to our off grid home up near Algonquin park in northern Ontario. GL to everyone we wish you the best. We are prepared with food and supplies and weapons that I have stock piled now for the past 4 years. Thank you Mary for the heads up and we will continue to watch your program from our off grid site. Much love and respect from Canada.” – Comment post, Mary Greeley website.

 

 

Media: Just gettin’ it on… Taking a chance on love… Loony Tunings (Guitar Bore alert)… Futuropathy: latest… GW: the climes, they are a’ changin’… RIP Trevor.

Quote of the Week

“We can only speculate about how much more embedded public knowledge of the EU’s benefits would be today if she (Thatcher) and other leading politicians had explained rather than obfuscated; if the basics had been taught in schools and reported honestly in the media. … Instead, the public has remained largely uninformed about the economic advantages of the EU and its ‘frictionless’ single market, for which Thatcher herself pushed so hard.”– David Conn, in The Guardian, 4 Feb.

Given that Nissan chose to locate in Britain for reasons most strongly connected with these islands as gateways to both the European and US markets, Conn points out that Thatcher could have opened the new Sunderland Nissan plant in 1986 with a speech about those opportunities. Instead, she chose characteristically to spin the massive Japanese investment purely as a vote of confidence in good old British know-how.

And many of those who voted Leave still believe in her John Bull-shit, even as they see their jobs vanishing in a puff of good old British smoke; while the Brexit politicians scramble to accuse the EU of treachery, having agreed a tariff-free trade deal on car imports from… Japan, just as we were leaving.

The BogPo consoles itself with the thought that continuing car manufacturing at all in the face of climate disaster is a Thoroughly Bad Thing. If the (entirely foreign-owned) car industry in the UK relocates abroad post-Brexit, we can say, hand on heart, we did our bit to save Humanity.

“You may most certainly not grab my pussy, Herr Juncker. Not without a change to the backstop!” (Photo: Geert Vanden/Guardian)

Medea

Just gettin’ it on

“Winter has arrived with savage consequences for digital publishers, including BuzzFeed. In the space of two weeks, about 2,100 jobs have been lost across the media, with many disappearing from purely digital publishers. BuzzFeed’s layoffs amounted to 15% of its total staff, a loss of around 220 jobs across all departments, including in its widely admired New York newsroom.” (Guardian report)

I got a bit confused, the first time I searched for Buzzfeed, to be confronted with a page of the usual garbage ‘Daily Mail’-type stories about Z-list celebs and shows I’d never heard of, recipes, weather reports and clickbait for Harry Potter fans, only without bikinis.

The layout looked like amateur night at the Krazy Kidz Kut’n’Paste emporium, but I guess they must have focus-grouped it, gettin’ down wiv da ‘hood, and all that.

I’d heard they were a really hot breaking news site. There are a couple of newsish stories today, some predictable stuff on Brexit, something about the Duchess of Markle. Since my first shock exposure, I’ve relied on other media quoting Buzzfeed news, a service I never managed to find. They seem well respected in the business.

However, the business is fast disappearing.

“…the past decade has been catastrophic. Between 2008 and 2017, the number of newsroom jobs in US newspapers dropped by 45%, to 39,000, and all US newsroom jobs, including TV and radio, declined by 23% overall.”

The reason seems to be twofold.

One, viewers and readers are tuning to their mates on Instagram as more reliable sources of information, believing in Trump’s truth, that the conventional mainstream media are fake news.

(It seems to your Old Uncle that the media at least tries to represent the truth, while it’s life that’s increasingly fake.)

And no publisher has been able to find a business model that doesn’t involve driving prospective readers headlong into a paywall, forcing people to look at irrelevant ads by pinning their eyes open with digital safety pins, spattering cookies and legal spyware over your computer, or conning readers with low-cost subscription offers they can’t cancel when the price shoots up.

Where your Uncle Bogler feels there is a disconnect in online journalism, is between the urge to inform a loyal readership of their views, and the site owners’ futile desire to make huge profits. Falling between the two, is the natural hope of the hacks to be paid for their time and trouble.

And you can never tell in this business, what might suddenly go wrong. The drink-drive conviction and divorce trials of inexplicably popular presenter Ant McPartlin and his voluntary incarceration in rehab were said to have cost ITV £1.3 Billion in lost share value last year. Ad revenues continue to fall, as the uncertainties of Brexit seems to have affected companies’ marketing budgets.

I’d go further into that, were it not for the annoying paywall Campaign magazine hides behind. I’m not going to subscribe for a year just to read the lead paragraph of only one article, as I have no interest in the rest. Can’t they understand that, and just allow superficial researchers a peep?

(The New Yorker magazine has quite a successful policy of allowing people who receive their daily email digest for free, to view four actual articles a month. Then they bombard you day and night with special subscription offers.)

All I can say is, bad luck. The Boglington Post, with its lately rather silent sister bogl, The Pumpkin, remains rock solid on a readership now averaging 4 a day, and has no plans to downscale. Our own business model is very simple:

Keep on ’til the fun stops. Don’t stop ’til you get it on. Etc.

 

Taking a chance on love

In the wake of the 69-year-old Dutchman who lost a court case to have 20 years knocked off his life because he felt discriminated against on dating sites, comes a report that a “27-year-old Indian man plans to sue his parents for giving birth to him without his consent.”

“Mumbai businessman Raphael Samuel told the BBC that it’s wrong to bring children into the world because they then have to put up with lifelong suffering. … In a statement, his mother Kavita Karnad Samuel explained: ‘I must admire my son’s temerity to want to take his parents to court knowing both of us are lawyers. And if Raphael could come up with a rational explanation as to how we could have sought his consent to be born, I will accept my fault.'” (BBC News, 7 Sept.)

I personally concluded today, my mother allegedly having politely told my grandfather where to shove the money he was offering her to pay to have me aborted, that if we are indeed witnessing the final extinction of the human race, it is surely a unique privilege to be here at such a time.

Don’t you think?

 

(Guitar bore alert)

Loony Tunings

Although I know several hundred chords and more, almost 60 years having passed since I was gifted my first guitar by my Granny, I am probably the world’s worst soloist.

Despite doggedly practising scales, which is supposed to familiarise you with the intervals and ensure correct note selection within the appropriate key, I cannot play a melody one note at a time to save my life.

It is indeed the reason that, after a disastrously embarrassing school gig, I gave up the guitar for 45 years. Having two wives in quick succession was another.

Jazz musicians smile indulgently. As long as you manage eventually to resolve to the right note in the scale of the key you’re supposedly playing in, they tell me, there are no “wrong notes” you can play in jazz.

Oh, yes there are! I seem to find them all.

Anyway, I wanted to Post briefly about this theory I have, before somebody else discovers it.

As you problee kno’, the standard “open” tuning of a guitar from the top or first string is “E-A-D-G-B-E” (the string nearest your face is the ‘top’ or ‘first’ string of six, although it is the lowest note – bear with me).

The sharp-eyed among you will observe, G and B are only three whole tones – five frets – apart, while the other strings are each four tones – but still five frets – distant from their neighbours. It’s probably this more than anything that confuses me, as I am insanely logical and it isn’t. (Okay, there’s a good reason, if I could only remember what it is. Something to do with the notes B and C, and E and F, each being only half a tone interval (one fret) apart.)

Who knew so much math would be involved in learning music? And when it comes to augmented and diminished 9ths and 13ths and slash-chords and suspended (rootless) 4th chords, you need calculus and an extra finger or two on your left hand. I never got that far with our dreadful math supply teacher, gropy-hands Mr Nazeer.)

Anyway, some reckless folk, especially folk musicians, will lower the top E, i.e. the lowest note, to a D; i.e., two frets, or one whole tone down. This makes playing in the keys of G or D, favorite folky keys, easier and gives you a gutsy bottom note to resolve to in the bass that’s in your key; whereas the ‘E’ wouldn’t be.

A few hardier people even follow the great French-Algerian player, Pierre Bensusan, who leads what is known as the “DADGAD” movement, tuning to those strange open notes. I guess you’d have to be pretty fly to play in any keys other than D and G, although he manages rather well. It’s quite a different sound.

We’ll ignore any similar cranks reading this.

Now, the standard tuning seems to suit pop, rock and folk players well, as their music tends to be written in the major keys of E, A, D and G, and those are predominantly the unfretted, open strings. So if like me you are hideously inaccurate at melody, you have fallbacks available that don’t sound crap.

Jazz songs, on the other hand, possibly to keep horn and woodwind players happy, tend to be written in the major keys of F, Bb, Eb, Ab and C, often played (for that distinctive jazzy sound) as chords with the addition of the dominant 7th or the flattened 5th note (the “blue note”).

And quite by chance, those would be the open strings if you raised your tuning by a half-note, or one fret, and didn’t want to play too many wrong notes when soloing. For, as if by divine intention you would end up with open strings tuned to F-Bb-Eb-Ab-C and F!

For that reason, to humor my very own loony-tuning theory, rather than risk actually retuning all the strings, I have just bought my lovely new Lowden guitar a present: a spring-loaded, bar-type device known as a “capo” (short for Italian “capo d’astro, or capotasto”), hailing originally from C18th Spain (when it was known as a “cejuelo” and was made of wood), being used to raise the open-string tuning to whatever higher pitch you need.

And because my li’l Lowden was so ridiculously expensive, I reasoned – being insanely logical, you understand – nothing less than a 24k gold-plated capo from a brilliant British company called G7th would do, the cleverest and most ergonomic design going, costing over £40 incl. postage.

What am I like? I can barely play the thing!

Postscriptum

Occasionally, you may encounter a guitarmaker whose products make you wet your pants. One such is Theo Sharpach. http://www.scharpach.com/archtop/

I have no idea how much his instruments will set you back, even if you could get your hands on one*. Just win the lottery, okay? Some of the tonewoods he uses are 500 years old.

*The Vienna is $30,000. Or was, four years ago. It’s ‘on application’.

 

Futuropathy: latest

“A further rise in global temperatures would be enhanced by amplifying feedbacks from land and oceans, including exposure of water surfaces following sea ice melting, reduction of CO₂ concentration in water, release of methane and fires. Climate change trajectories would be highly irregular as a result of stadial events affected by flow of ice melt water into the oceans. Whereas similar temperature fluctuations and stadial events occurred during past interglacial periods (Cortese et al. 2007) when temperature fluctuations were close to ~1°C, further rises in temperature in future would enhance the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, entering uncharted territory unlike any recorded during the Pleistocene, rendering large parts of the continents uninhabitable.”

  • Professor Andrew Glikson, Earth and Paleo-climate science, Australia National University (ANU) School of Anthropology and Archaeology; ANU Planetary Science Institute, ANU Climate Change Institute, Honorary Associate Professor, Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence, University of Queensland. For longer (very technical) report, see Arctic News, 30 Jan.

 

GW: the climes, they are a’ changin’

USA: A dipolar system with a remarkable temperature gradient is forming across the North American landmass as I write. According to Severe-weather.eu: “a surface cyclone (Winter Storm Lucian) will move across the Great Plains and will result in extremely powerful warm advection across the central Plains and later over the eastern half of CONUS. Looking over the Thursday map, we can see the temperature anomaly ahead of the cyclone will be more than 20°C above normal, while the airmass behind the system will be more than 20°C colder than average for early February! Very intense winds/jet stream will form in between and also support some severe weather further south along the surface front.”

During the horrendous Polar Vortex incident, “more than 30 record lows were broken across the Midwest. Cotton, Minnesota, was the coldest place in the US on Thursday (31 Jan.) with a low of -48C (-56F) based on preliminary data. (That ain’t windchill, neither.) At -21F, with a windchill of around -51F (-46C) Chicago passed the record low for 31 Jan., while Mount Carroll has probably beaten the Illinois record with a morning temperature of -39C (-38F, or 70F below freezing).” (BBC Weather)

The good news is, it has been colder in the midwest before. More cold records were set in 1994 than have been set this winter. And record warmth has been noted on the East Coast. (Jeff Masters, Wunderground)

Alarmingly, a “nuclear plant in southern New Jersey was shut down early Thursday after intake screens froze over, restricting the flow of water needed to cool the reactor. A second unit at the station on the Delaware river was powered down because of the same problem.” (Fortune)

US Update: So now, it’s Monday 4 Feb, and it’s back up to 60F (17C) degrees in Washington DC, in February, with a forecast of 70F, 21C by Thursday; temperatures in the southeast heading for the high 70s; while California is being hammered by a second major storm in a week. The town of Paradise, incinerated in the Camp Fire last year, is under a flash-flood watch and 7 feet of snow has fallen in the Sierra Nevada mountains, with more forecast. (NBC)

By contrast, Boston has had record low-snow, only 2.3 inches, New York likewise, while Caribou, Maine, recorded its snowiest January on record and has tallied 112.5 inches (9’4″) of snow through Feb. 4, almost 50 inches above average. (The Weather Channel)

And: Phil, the Punxutawney, Pa. groundhog is predicting an early spring. Just so you know.

Punxutawney Phil. Rumors that he is over 200 years old have been disproved by fact-checkers on The Washington Post.

Middle East: “Flooding affected northern and western parts of Saudi Arabia between 27 and 29 Jan. Civil Defence reported dozens of rescues and later that 12 people had died. A total of 271 people had been rescued across the country and 137 evacuated. On 28 Jan, more than 50 homes in Iraq’s Najaf province were swept away by a severe flash flood. Iran’s Red Crescent Society provided emergency shelter for 800 people after heavy rain in southern and western provinces triggered massive floods from 27 January. A total of around 1,400 people were affected” across 4 provinces. (Floodlist).

North Africa: For a second year running, the Arctic was considerably warmer in early February than Morocco:

“Surface air temperatures near Svalbard were as high as 5.2°C or 41.4°F on Feb 3, 2019. At the same time, it was -3.5°C or 25.6°F in Africa. The contrast was even more profound on Feb 4, 2018, when at those same spots it was as cold as -10°C or 13.9°F in Africa, while at the same time it was 5.8C or 42.4°F near Svalbard.” (Arctic-news.blogspot.com)

Australia: “heavy rain has continued to fall in North Queensland, with flooding affecting areas around Townsville from 30 January, 2019. (Townsville received more than a meter (3.3ft) of rain in just a week. That is more than 20 times the average for the time of year – beating the previous record set in 1998, in what became known as the Night of Noah.) (BBC) A few days earlier, wide areas of the north of the state recorded more than 500mm in 48 hours, causing the Daintree River to reach record levels.” (Floodlist)

Update, 5 Feb: the bodies of 2 men thought to have been engaged in a breaking and entering were recovered from a storm drain in Townsville, Monday (4 Feb). Bluewater Creek had 340mm of rain overnight, bringing the week’s drenching up to a record 1.8 meters. Floodwaters are beginning to recede.

“Tasmania recorded its driest January on record, with maximum temperatures an astonishing 3.22C above the long-term average for the month.” Unique on earth, the island’s primeval “Gondwana” pine forests are threatened by more than 40wildfires caused by a great increase in ‘dry-lightning’ strikes, that are burning uncontrolled over 190,000 Ha – 3% of the total land area.

Meanwhile, “A week-long heatwave has floored New Zealand, breaking temperature records across the country. “Hanmer Forest in north Canterbury has hit a record-breaking 38.4C – the warmest it’s been since records began in 1906. (Newshub). Temperatures have soared above 37C (98.6F) in parts of the South Island” And it’s forecast to get hotter. 1 person is known to have died from hypothermia; sea-surface temperatures around the islands are up to 6C above normal. (Guardian)

Indonesia: “Heavy rain in the northern part of Bali triggered a landslide on 29 Jan., killing 4 people. 16 people were injured and required medical attention.” (Floodlist).

Thailand: The Ministry of Education has ordered all schools in Bangkok and some surrounding provinces to close for the remainder of the week amid concerns over dangerous levels of air pollution. Bangkok’s air quality has fallen to harmful levels with the quantity of unsafe dust particles — known as PM2.5 — exceeding what is considered safe in 41 areas around the capital. (CNN)

S. America: floods in Chile affected families and homes in Arica. Around 25,000 were left without electricity. As of 01 Feb, one person was missing, 20 families have been evacuated and 151 people were staying in shelters. Roads, including routes from Arica to Sora and Chapisca, have been cut. Chile has been experiencing a 40C-plus heatwave. Flooding in southern Peru caused a hotel to collapse. (from Floodlist)

Cuba: the death toll from the F3/F4 tornado, the strongest on record to hit Havana, has risen to 6. 2,500 properties were destroyed. The January 27 tornado was followed by a meteorite that landed in western Cuba near the town of Viñales on Friday, Feb. 1. Residents reported windows shattering, and the meteorite was detectable on both satellite and radar. (Wunderground)

Europe: Extremely warm weather is returning to south-central Europe and the Balkans this week, pushing the cold air down over North Africa. It’s been an active start to the tornado season in the Med, with 61 reported in January, including the big one that hit Antalya in Turkey, causing multiple casualties. The south of Italy is in for a period of persistent, excessive rainfall. Thunderstorms will develop along a virtually stationary frontal boundary across central Mediterranean, stretching from Crete into southern Italy. “Torrential” rainfall is forecast for Greece, up to 250mm overnight 5/6 Feb. (Severe-weather.eu))

Flash floods: Others hit Campinas, Brazil; Cordoba, Spain; Jerusalem, Israel; Makassar, Indonesia – all in the last week of January. (Strange Times website).

Antarctica: a hole 2/3rds the size of Manhattan has been discovered under the Thwaites glacier. 14 billion tonnes of ice is thought to have melted out in only the last three years.

Yellowstone: Normally placid Steamboat geyser has erupted for the fourth time this year, keeping up roughly a weekly schedule. See Posts, Passim. The Blessed Mary Greeley is reporting unusual double-signature seismographic patterns of ground uplift around the Yellowstone lake; while the continuous webcam at the geyser basin has been taken offline.

Climate change: Bringing it home to the British consumer

“Consumers are seeing smaller chips as a result of last year’s drought and extreme heat. Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets, said: ‘They’re 3cm shorter on average in the UK. Smaller potatoes means smaller chips.'” (Guardian)

Taken with rapidly vanishig fish stocks, it’s an existential concern, alright.

We’ve ‘had our chips’!

 

RIP Trevor

Trevor, a Mallard drake and internet celebrity said to be the world’s loneliest duck, has died – presumed killed by dogs on the Pacific island of Niue, a New Zealand protectorate.

Stranded by a storm two years ago, Trevor had lived in a puddle by the side of a dirt road, which was being surreptitiously topped up by the local fire brigade as there is no natural reserve of fresh water on the island.

He was named Trevor, after New Zealand’s parliamentary speaker, coincidentally named Trevor Mallard.

“Deepest sympathy to the people of Niue from the parliament of New Zealand,” Mallard posted on social media on Monday.

Niue’s chamber of commerce chief added, Trevor’s death would be a loss for the nation. “He captured many hearts and even the rooster, the chicken and the weka were looking a little forlorn today wandering around near the dry puddle,”

(Report: Guardian Green Light)

 

The BogPo – an Appeal:

Can anyone explain to your old Uncle why it is that Twitter photos no longer appear as uploads embedded in stories on news websites? The text is there, but the picture areas are now blank. This has started happening only in the past fortnight. The BogPo doesn’t have a Twitter account and so never opened the files, but they were at least visible – now not. Why?