The Southwest of England is quiet, but it boasts an active cultural life.
One of the many enjoyable things about living in England is that, no matter where you are, if you drive for an hour you’ll likely end up in a completely different microclimate. So driving from London to North Devon, in the southwest of England bordering on the Irish Sea, can be discombobulating this time of year. Spring in this part of the country is a good two to three weeks behind London. Or London Spring is two to three weeks ahead of where it should be—it depends on your perspective. But being out here for nine days, with nothing to do except for walking and reading, lets me experience early spring for a second time, and it’s just as good the second time around.
Of course, out here they had a very wet and stormy winter—London was relatively peaceful by comparison. Continue reading
As Robert Herrick put it back in 1648:
I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers:
Of April, May, of June, and July flowers.
I sing of Maypoles, Hock-carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal cakes.
Suspense, yes…but an awful lot of thoughtful – and realistic – romance, too…
Danger in Blackwater Swamp by Saundra Kelley is one of those interesting books that benefits from having an identity crisis. Its principle desire is, I think, to be a standard offering in the suspense genre. Instead it winds up being only partly a suspense tale (to the author’s credit, it will bring readers to the edge of their seats at multiple points in the narrative); with – or without – the author’s permission, it also offers us a set of mature, engrossing characters in the protagonists who have lived and loved and lost – and who may (we begin to hope as we get to know them) get to love again. As I read this book I found myself reminded of Anthony Trollope’s dictum about the characters he (or any writer) might create. To paraphrase, Trollope observes that characters have to do what they have to do – and it’s up to the author to be wise enough to allow characters that freedom. Lucky for readers, Saundra Kelley is an author that wise.
If you can’t dispute the facts, attacking your opponent may distort the debate before it even starts.For more posts in this series, please click here.
Debates can be difficult. This is especially true when you’re arguing against subjects that are nearly indisputable, such as evolution or industrial climate disruption (aka climate change). When faced with this situation, it is nearly always easier to create a distraction than it is to argue with either the science or the data underlying it. If the distraction is successful, then you don’t even have to debate the science or data at all – you get to focus on something that you choose and that may be totally unrelated to the argument at hand.
In discussions of climate disruption there are a number of common distractions. For example, the term “catastrophic global warming” is a straw man – a claim that scientists don’t actually make that’s easier to debate than the actual nature of climate change and model projections. Similarly, the argument that the supposedly missing tropospheric hot spot disproves greenhouse gas-driven climate disruption is another straw man, in this case because it’s not the hot spot that demonstrates greenhouse gases, but rather the heating in the troposphere and the cooling in the stratosphere.
Sometimes, however, deniers of industrial climate disruption try to derail any discussion of climate science before it even starts. One way they do this is by using a tactic and logical fallacy known as “poisoning the well,” and it’s the focus of today’s Climate Illogic. Continue reading
When the sun strikes
and the things that frighten you
For the children, for everyone, Japan lost on March 11th, 2011
Gone, just gone, replaced by an ever-flowing teardrop.
They’re the bubblegum kids no one is ever going to know,
rotting out their lives in the cold of Mishima’s boiling sea.
There’s grace in the truncheons of justice they may have become.
For the fourth time since 2008 the Defense Department finds that climate change will exacerbate tensions and conflict.
In June 2008, the Department of Defense under then President George W. Bush published its 2008 National Defense Strategy. In this document was a single mention of climate change as one of trends and risks that could “pose a new range of challenges for states and societies” that “will affect existing security concerns such as international terrorism and weapons proliferation.”
Since then, the Department of Defense (DoD) has discussed climate change in major strategy documents three additional times. The latest, the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, was published today (March 4). In the executive summary to the Review, the DoD writes that
The impacts of climate change may increase the frequency, scale, and complexity of future missions, including defense support to civil authorities, while at the same time undermining the capacity of our domestic installations to support training activities.
Thoughts on saving a honey bee
After the rains, Brisbane is a drowning pool for baby rodents and all the teeming airborne insects normally fuelled by the sun. It’s an incidental, non-malicious cleansing which some say takes teeny animal souls back to various waiting rooms to wait for rebirth in some other Earthly form.
Knowing where you’re going takes all the fun out of getting there…
Kara McAllister is lost and she knows it. That’s why she is drawn to a strange Rand- McNally map of the Inter-mountain West that she finds in a Powell’s Bookstore in Portland as she is running away from a failed relationship, a successful career – and herself. How she comes to find a new relationship, a new career, and, ultimately, herself, is the central narrative of Denny Wilkins’ first novel, Mapping Utah.
It’s Kara who is the protagonist of this work. That must be understood before the novel’s achievement reveals itself. There are plenty of antagonists: bad guys who would ruin delicate wilderness areas for their petty amusements, corrupt police and politicians who sell the public trust, bad lovers who see their relationships as conveniences.
But there’s only one Kara. And it’s her deconstruction and reconstruction that drives Wilkins’ novel and makes Mapping Utah more than a ripping good yarn – which it is, by the way.
This is a book with romance, geology, action, botany, suspense, technology, politics, weightlifting. There’s a way in for almost any reader, in other words, no matter how escapist or academic or transactional (think “how to”) his/her tastes might be. Continue reading
Roy Spencer’s rant on climate change “deniers” vs. “global warming Nazis” indicates that his signature achievements are in the past.
There was a point when climate scientist Roy Spencer was widely respected for essentially inventing the method that scientists use to measure the Earth’s temperature from satellites. But since the early 1990s, Spencer’s reputation has suffered a number of self-inflicted injuries. For example, Spencer’s evangelical faith has led him to reject evolution in favor of intelligent design. And he’s been quick to conclude that global warming is overblown while only reluctantly accepting corrections that have nearly always shown his conclusions were biased cold. In short, Spencer has demonstrated that he is no longer able to separate his biases from his science.
But Spencer’s post calling climate experts and global warming activists “global warming Nazis” in response to being called a “denier” of global warming indicates that Spencer – who has been called to testify before Congress at least three times – has finally gone completely off the rails. Continue reading
Britain is in the grip of some of the worst winter weather in years. In fact, maybe 100 years—that’s what meteorologists are calling the winter rains and storms we’ve been experiencing. Here in London it hasn’t been particularly bad—a warmer winter than usual, not a drop of snow in sight, but plenty of wind and rain, and occasionally a tree goes down. Down southwest way, however, it’s another story. Somerset is experiencing horrific flooding—as are Devon and Cornwall. Entire towns are now being evacuated following a series of storms that show no signs of ending.
Gates Foundation and KFC initiatives are better news than many understand.
Rural villages in Africa are not just poor, their demography is hollowed out. Continue reading
I’ve never quite understood the conventions surrounding the terms “midsummer” and “midwinter.” Each is used to describe the solstice – June 21st or so and December 21st or so – which are, as you know, the beginnings of summer and winter, not the middle.
Today is Imbolc, which we popularly celebrate as Groundhog Day.(I’m not sure whether Punxatawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, but if he were in Seattle with me he wouldn’t be able to see as far as his nose for all the fog, never mind his shadow.) In Gaelic cultures it’s called St. Brighid’s Day and the Catholics, in their campaign to appropriate all things pagan, call it Candlemas. Whatever you call it, today is the middle of winter.
Pagans of all sorts, both historical and contemporary, celebrate Imbolc as one of the eight Sabbats, or high holy days. Continue reading
Playing fast and loose with both climate science and logic in a Supreme Court brief is a good way to destroy your own credibility.
Click here for the other posts in this series
In June, 2012, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruled that the Clean Air Act permitted the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) as pollutants. Multiple industry groups and states appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court in March, 2013, and the Court agreed to hear part of the appeal in October, 2013. Specifically, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments on whether or not the Clean Air Act automatically required the EPA to regulate stationary sources like power plants as a result of the EPA finding that motor vehicles were a source of pollution. The Court refused to hear arguments on whether or not the EPA had the authority to find greenhouse gases a pollutant, or to regulate them as pollutants.
Even though the Supreme Court refused to hear arguments related to the EPA’s science-based endangerment finding, a group of 12 self-described “experts” submitted a Brief of Amici Curiae, also known as a “Friend of the Court” brief [hereafter "the brief"], to the Court on December 16, 2013. The brief asks the Supreme Court to overturn the DC Appeals Court ruling and the entire endangerment finding even though the Court refused to hear arguments on those issues. Continue reading
I first became aware of Ellen MacArthur in 2001, along with everyone else, when she launched her first solo round-the-world sailing adventure. She was a sailor, all right, so I could empathize. Actually, she had been a terrific sailor for a number of years before that, but who pays attention but other sailors? She came in second that year in the Vendee Globe round the world sailing race, a pretty remarkable achievement for a 25-year old woman. She kept racing, picking up an MBE along the way. Along with having an asteroid named after her. In 2004, she nearly broke the record for a transatlantic crossing, falling short by an hour and a quarter. More to the point, at age 29, and still only 5’2” tall, she established the world record for the fastest circumnavigation in 2005. Continue reading
“Countdown” by Alan Weisman: required reading for earthlings.
In his highly acclaimed book World Without Us (Picador, 2008), Alan Weisman speculated on how the earth would fare in our absence (even worse … then much better, thank you). In his most recent book, Countdown (Little, Brown and Company, 2013), Weisman chronicles the impact of population growth on the earth. He attempts to determine its ― in technocrat speak ― “carrying capacity” and reports on what forces are working towards and against that end. As you can imagine, much of it revolves around agriculture, resources, and climate change. Countdown is required reading for all earthlings. Continue reading