Impact Of Strongest El Nino On Record

Weather is something that always attracts my attention and interest.  The El Nino which is driving our weather all across the United States is making for warmer temps in some places and more precipitation in other regions.

This El Nino is the strongest on record and does make for concern.  Time and again we are witnessing the setting of weather records be it the warmest month as Dane County experienced in November, or the most intense cyclones, etc.  This is all part and parcel of the climate change taking place, and again shows why we need to be more proactive in dealing with the root causes of these changes.

El Nino’s impacts are already evident across the Midwest–from an early season “snow drought” across the North Woods—where Marquette, MI, which had recorded 56.2″ of snow by this time a year ago, has measured only 9″ of snow to date this year.  It’s a trend which is being observed from northern Minnesota into a wide swath of Wisconsin and Michigan.

w1 w2

Santa Global Warming Makes The New Yorker Cover

Corn Combines Running In Illinois, Weather Pushes Everything Ahead

This morning before 5 A.M. on WGN radio, Orion Samuelson, the farm announcer made a startling comment.  The corn combines are already in the fields in parts of Illinois and Indiana.  According to Samuelson the corn stalks in some places are already dry and the corn dented to the point where the combines can roll.

August is not even over yet, and already 13% of Illinois’ corn crop is ready to go. That’s up from the normal pace of 5% mature by this week. 

So……..(care to guess where I am heading?)

Everything in the gardens this year have been way ahead of schedule.   We were eating fresh corn on the cob July 2nd!  Throw out the notion of knee-high sweet corn by July4th.  This past week I noticed that the maple trees in some places around Madison are dropping a fair amount of red leaves.  Our bloom-again bearded irises that should amaze walkers in late September started two weeks ago with their second showing.  I have nothing more to bloom here this season, except for the mums……oh, yeah they are in full color too!    What does one do for a fall show this year?

So…..dare I ask what this means for fall and winter………and the first snow flakes of the year?

But there is NO global warming, folks.  That is all just a big liberal lie.  Trust me on that, as I heard it on FAUX News.

Now someone needs to tell the plants in my yard.

President Nixon’s Aides Talked Of Global Warming 40 Years Ago

How Patrick Moynihan became an aide to President Richard Nixon is a rather fascinating tale.  It speaks to the desire of Nixon to have intelligent advisors around him, and his willingness to have competing sides of an issue presented.  It also was aimed to keep certain aides off-balance.  This past week some more documents were released from the Nixon White House days, and among them was one dealing with global warming.  Forty years ago global warming was a topic of discussion in the White House.

Adviser Daniel Patrick Moynihan, notable as a Democrat in the administration, urged the administration to initiate a worldwide system of monitoring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, decades before the issue of global warming came to the public’s attention.

There is widespread agreement that carbon dioxide content will rise 25 percent by 2000, Moynihan wrote in a September 1969 memo.

“This could increase the average temperature near the earth’s surface by 7 degrees Fahrenheit,” he wrote. “This in turn could raise the level of the sea by 10 feet. Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter.”

Moynihan was Nixon’s counselor for urban affairs from January 1969 — when Nixon began his presidency — to December 1970. He later served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations before New York voters elected him to the Senate.

Moynihan received a response in a January 26, 1970 memo from Hubert Heffner, deputy director of the administration’s Office of Science and Technology. Heffner acknowledged that atmospheric temperature rise was an issue that should be looked at.

“The more I get into this, the more I find two classes of doom-sayers, with, of course, the silent majority in between,” he wrote. “One group says we will turn into snow-tripping mastodons because of the atmospheric dust and the other says we will have to grow gills to survive the increased ocean level due to the temperature rise.”

Heffner wrote that he would ask the Environmental Science Services Administration to look further into the issue.

Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency and had an interest in the environment. In one memo, Moynihan noted his approval of the first Earth Day, to be held April 22, 1970.

“Clearly this is an opportunity to get the President usefully and positively involved with a large student movement,” he wrote to John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s adviser on domestic affairs.

Moynihan’s memo was among 100,000 documents released Friday.

Watch Animated Journey Through Earth’s Climate History

Science is a hard thing to disprove.

What Motivates And Guides Caffeinated Politics?

I was reminded this past week that with over 2,500 posts on this blog, there are some over-riding themes and principles that are repeated over and over.  I thought it might be fun to think of the guiding issues and principles found on this blog, and write them down.

…. The process of governing is more important than the politics of any issue.  In addition a  fair and orderly atmosphere both in electing officals, and creating legislation is required to insure a fair and equal playing field.

….Campaign money, and the ever-consuming need for more and more of it,  pollutes the political process, and undermines the enactment of sound public policy.

…. The Supreme Court (both state and national) requires the highest and most ethical standards applied to applicants.  In the states, it is more appropriate to appoint justices through the merit selection process than to have elections for the judiciary.

…. Drunk driving is a most troubling  problem that will require tough-minded legislators being more interested in doing what is right, than  carrying alcohol for the Tavern League.

…. Tough anti-smoking laws are just common sense.

…. Going with principle (Dubai deal) is more important than following the prevailing political mood.

…. Torture is wrong, and spawns more terrorists while undermining a nation’s moral code.

…. Darfur needs the world.  Sadly, history will severely judge the  majorityfor not caring.

…. Preventive wars are a waste  of a nation’s  treasured resources.

….Israel needs to stop the illegal settlement policy, and Palestinians should have, must have, and will have a homeland to call their own.  When it comes to Israel the tail must stop wagging the dog.

….Polar bears are needing us to care more about them, and to reach an understanding about the need to address climate change.

…. Gun control is needed to insure the safety of the citizenry.  Strict regulations on the manufacture, sale, registration, and usage is the means for a safer nation.

…. Marriage matters, for all.   Period.

…. Cheating on a partner, married or otherwise, is smarmy and wrong.  Getting preachy about this issue is still OK.

…. Books are some of our best friends.

…. Just because a singer is older does not mean that they have less value or creative ability.

…. History is in need of more study and understanding, not only in our schools, but also with the average citizen of this nation.

….Never underestimate the lack of humor from Mormons.

…. Never underestimate the damage one Bishop (Molrino) can cause.

…. When it looks like it is a slow news day check in on the antics of Sarah Palin and the Clampetts of Palinland.

…. Newspapers are the foundation for long-form investigative reporting, and an essential ingredient to democracy.

….Journalists are as vital to the nations democracy and well being as our soldiers, sailors. and air force.

….Radio and TV personalities should be considered guests in our house, and when they offend should be rejected from our premises. 

…. Elvis is still The King.

…. So is Roy Acuff.

…. The Grand Ole Opry is a national treasure, and true slice of Americana.

Obama Administration Lets Down Polar Bears

This is not a good move by the Obama Team.


I am not pleased with the reticence by the Obama administration, whether for the reasons stated or not, when it comes to using all the available tools to stop the dangers to the polar bear population created by global warming.  I think most people concerned with polar bears, and global warming, expected a tougher and more broad-minded approach to this matter from the Obama White House.  As stated on this blog often, we wanted and expected the Endangered Species Act to be used as a catalyst for stopping polluters that directly impact the future of the polar bears.  To offer up, as Interior Secretary Salazar did, that Congress should pass legislation setting national caps on greenhouse gases sounds great.  But when does Congress plan to act?  The problem is needing a solution now, and the Endangered Species Act was a vehicle already in place where the start of a remedy could be applied.

No, this is not a good move by the Obama team.

The federal bureaucracy that safeguards endangered species isn’t equipped to tackle climate change, Interior Department officials said yesterday — declining to protect Alaskan polar bears by cracking down on polluters in the Lower 48.

The decision, announced yesterday by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, was the Obama administration’s first word on an emerging environmental question.

The 35-year-old Endangered Species Act was designed to save animals from close-by threats such as hunting, trapping and logging. But, now that U.S. species from mountainsides to tropical seas are threatened by climate change, can it be used to fight a global problem?

Salazar, upholding a decision made in the last months of the Bush administration, said no.

“The Endangered Species Act is not the appropriate tool for us to deal with what is a global issue,” Salazar said in a conference call with reporters. Instead, he said, the administration will push Congress to enact legislation setting national caps on greenhouse gases.

Polar bears were listed as threatened last year, the first time any species had been given protection primarily because of climate change. Scientists say that warming temperatures erode the bears’ sea-ice habitat. If current trends continue, three of the world’s four major populations may be extinct by 2075.

Environmental groups said this ought to trigger federal action against the source of the problem, greenhouse-gas emissions.

But yesterday, federal officials said that was impractical. They said the law requires a causal connection between a particular polar bear and a particular polluter’s emissions — an impossible task, they said, given that greenhouse gases come from factories, power plants and automobiles, many of them thousands of miles away.

“We have to have the smoking gun and the dead animal,” said Valerie Fellows, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In this case, Fellows said, agency scientists cannot prove that sort of link: “You can’t link the power plant in Florida with a dead bear in Alaska.” Officials from several industry associations used this same logic yesterday in applauding the decision.

Fish and Wildlife Service officials said they will still protect the bear from threats closer to home, such as hunting and oil and gas exploration in Alaska. They added that, for procedural reasons, rejecting the Bush administration rule would not have immediately changed the rules that apply to polar bears anyway.

But the decision could still set an important precedent, as legislation to cap greenhouse-gas emissions is still a long way from passage, and a number of other animals with climate-related problems are already on the federal docket.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is already pondering how to help two Caribbean corals dying in a warmer ocean — and this week it agreed to consider the possibility of protecting the American pika, a mountain mammal that can’t live above 77.9 degrees.

“If we were in a situation where we already had very, very strong climate legislation,” the polar bear decision would be less important, said Melanie Duchin, a Greenpeace “campaigner” in Anchorage, Alaska. “Right now, it’s a vacuum.”

Looking Ahead At Guantanamo, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel In 2009

One thing is for sure.  No one can say that given all that is about to happen in 2009 that there will be time for being bored.  There will be enough political drama, international intrigue, and policy maneuvering to keep news reporters hopping, and printing presses humming.  This year is going to produce lots to watch and debate.

We know that America will swear in our 44th President who will face grave economic issues that will require keen skills to pass a massive stimulus bill, work on green energy technologies, and improve our health care system.

And who knows, come July 1st , following the close of the current term of the Supreme Court, there may be an opening requiring even more political skills from Barack Obama. 

I think that most of the drama this year will be overseas.  That is not to take anything away from the expectations placed on the Obama White House, or the feisty skirmishes that will rage in Congress.  There will be tons to go around all year long.  But there will be, rightfully, great interest focused on other parts of the world too. 

In Iran the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution will take place, as well as election for President.   President Ahmadinejadwill have those withmore pragmatic ideas wishing to replace him. Having said that the question remains, as always in Iran, what does the ruling Ayatollah think about the matter?  That is where the real power exists.   The other 800-pound question that remains to be resolved is how, and in what context negotiations will proceed with Iran to stop their nuclear development.  Included in this issue needs to be the penalty for failure if Iran does not meet up to international expectations.  How effective can the U.S. be towards Russia who has long been a strong supporter of Iran at the United Nations?  If we allow Iran to get this weaponry the world will be a very unsafe and unpredictable place to live.  I expect robust diplomacy to take place in 2009 on this matter.

Guantanamo will be closed this year, and the legal black hole that created international disgust with America will cease to exist.  The aftermath of that policy will dog this nation for a long time, but the prison will no longer operate.  The question remains as to what to do with a very small handful of prisoners who might pose a problem if released.  But that will be resolved in some fashion that I trust satisfies those who want legal protections for these prisoners.  This black mark on the world will be shut down.

Afghanistan will be the place where war ravages heavily for Americans, as the number of troops will need to be increased due to the shortages that resulted from the Iraq War.  New policy goals will need to be implemented as history shows that creating a central power in this nation by outsiders is futile.  Our soldiers need to be mindful that fighting the terrorist element is central, but nation building  here is not sustainable.  The separate powers in the various provinces need to be dealt with, and a powerful central government should be dismissed as a policy goal.

I suspect, if needing to bet today, that when elections are held in Israel that Benjamin Netanyahu will lead a new government.  That does not bode well for the region.  The questions remains as to how stable the coalition government will be after what will be a bitter election, and the bloodletting that is now taking place in Gaza.  To what degree any semblance of a peace plan can be stitched together by Hillary Clinton as she assumes her role as Secretary of State will be most interesting to watch.  Sadly, I expect only intransigence from the Israelis, and little progress in this area of the world.

And then there is North Korea.  Could there be a economic implosion in this impoverished nation?  What happens if it occurs?

As I write Russia has turned off the natural gas that is supplied to Ukraine.  One just never knows where 2009 will lead.  But I know it will never be dull.