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Friday, November 18, 2011

Extreme Weather due to Climate Change • Racists Denying Racism • Fox "News" Lies Again • more

- Extreme weather will strike as climate change takes hold, IPCC warns
    Extreme weather will strike as climate change takes hold, IPCC warnsHeavier rainfall, storms and droughts could wipe billions off economies and destroy lives, says report by 220 scientists
- From Shore to Forest, Projecting Effects of Climate Change
    These possibilities — modeled deep into this century — are detailed in a new assessment of the impact that climate change will have in New York State. If carbon emissions continue to increase at their current pace, for example, temperatures are expected to rise across the state by 3 degrees Fahrenheit by the 2020s and by as much as 9 degrees by the 2080s. That would have profound effects on agriculture across the state, the report found. For example, none of the varieties of apples currently grown in New York orchards would be viable. Dairy farms would be less productive as cows faced heat stress. And the state’s forests would be transformed; spruce-fir forests and alpine tundra would disappear as invasive species like kudzu, an aggressive weed, gained more ground.
- Explainer: How Did Inequality in America Get So Bad? And What Can the Government Do to Fix It?
    In one of the more odd recent pairings, both the wonks at the Congressional Budget Office and the activists occupying Wall Street and beyond have come to the same conclusion: inequality is skyrocketing and one percent of the country is taking home a bigger and bigger share of all the income in the country. The CBO just released a study, years in the making, which confirms that the income for the top one percent has nearly tripled from 1979 to 2007. And not only are those in the top one percent much richer, they also take home a larger share of the economy as a whole than they did thirty years ago.
- Wow. Fox Nation Claims Obama's Would-Be Assassin "Linked" To Occupy Protest
    Here's the stunningly dishonest headline:Man Linked To 'Occupy' Protest Charged With Attempted Assassination of Obama
    The striking part, of course, is that investigators have reportedly found no link between the man in question, Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, and the Occupy movement
- IRONY AWARD GOES TO FOX NEWS Fox Falsely Dubs Alleged White House Attacker As "'Occupy' Shooter", Implies that "Media" would go crazy if Attacker was tied to Tea Party
    Fox & Friends claimed that alleged White House shooter Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez [who claims Obama is the Anti-Christ] had been "tied to [the] Occupy" movement, even calling him the "Occupy' shooter." In fact, investigators have reportedly "found no connection between him and the Occupy protesters."
- Tea Party Claims Obama is the Anti Christ

- Is Israel preparing an assault against Iran?
    The IAEA report on Iran's alleged nuclear programme was surrounded by a media frenzy in Israel supporting an attack.
- College Students, Blackface and How to Talk About Race
    Earlier this week, Colorlines’s Jorge Rivas flagged this troubling story from the University of Southern Mississippi:
        The University of Southern Mississippi confirmed on Monday that six students dressed in blackface for a costume party....Dean of Students Dr. Eddie Holloway, “it was also clear that they had little cultural awareness or competency, and did not understand the historical implication of costuming in blackface.”

    ...why is it so hard for (some) white college students to grasp the core prejudice and disrespect that comes with blackface? After asking friends about this, and their answers were illuminating.

    As one noted, part of this has to do with our national reluctance to engage race like adults. Public schools teach the basics of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction and the civil rights movement, but there’s no attempt to go deeper with the material, and move away from the notion that racism is something reserved for the Bull Connors and Klansmen of the world. It’s not just that students leave history education with a skewed, and often benign, view of American apartheid (in my experience, Jim Crow is reduced to its cultural signifiers—there’s no attempt to deal with the reality of state-condoned terrorism against black Americans), but that they come away with the belief that racism is the sole province of bad people.

    In the minds of many white students, another friend pointed out, racism is something of a Platonic state. Racism isn’t expressed in behavior—if they themselves aren’t racist (meaning, if they believe that they aren’t racist), then none of their actions can be racist, even if they are clear demonstrations of racial prejudice. The flipside of this is a devotion to the idea of “colorblindness” as if racial disparities no longer exist. I’m sure that if you were to poll white university students, you’d find significant opposition to affirmative action, on the view any consideration of race is racist, even if you’re trying to adjust for past disparities.

    Challenging this—and providing students with a more sophisticated understanding of racial prejudice—is much harder than it might look.
- Dog Freezes to Death in Flight
    he last time that John and Julia Von Achen saw their beloved dog, J, alive, they were boarding a flight from Moscow to New York. When the Von Achens disembarked, they discovered that their dog had apparently frozen to death in the cargo hold during the 11-hour flight.
    "It seems the airlines are not equipped and they're not really set up to handle pets, but they take the money anyway," Van Achen said, adding, "I'll never fly with a pet again."

    J was far from the first dog to perish in a cargo hold, and he won't be the last.

Climate Change Will Worsen Extreme Weather
Changes in extreme weather will require governments to change how they cope with natural disasters, a new report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns

By Lauren Morello Friday, November 18, 2011

Climate change is shifting weather extremes, increasing the frequency of drought and heat waves and the intensity of rainstorms -- changes that will require the world's governments to change how they cope with natural disasters, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said today.

The report, written by more than 100 of the world's top scientists, recommends taking steps now to increase the world's ability to adapt and cope with climate extremes.

"The report finds much to be positive about, as far as the chance to make the world a better place at the same time we reduce risk and disaster losses," said Christopher Field, a Stanford University professor who leads the IPCC's working group on climate change impacts.

The key, according to the report, is to focus on what Field called "low-regret" strategies to help reduce future disaster risk while improving people's current livelihoods and well-being.
The report, the IPCC's first in-depth examination of extreme weather, was released in Kampala, Uganda, where researchers gathered this week to finalize their analysis.

IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri said he hoped governments gathering later this month in Durban, South Africa, for U.N. climate talks would pay heed to the report's conclusions.
"We need to sensitize the global community to the scientific reality of climate change, because therein lies the basis by which society can take action," Pachauri said. "If we do not give science the primacy it deserves ... I'm afraid you're not likely to get any action."

Tracking human-driven changes since the 1950s

The analysis describes wide-ranging changes in climate extremes since the middle of the last century, and says there is good evidence that some of those changes have been driven by human activities.

Those changes include an overall decrease in the number of cold days and nights, and an overall increase in the number of warm days and nights, worldwide -- a shift that researchers said was "very likely," which in IPCC terms signifies 99-100 percent confidence in that conclusion.

The report says it is "likely" -- or a 66-100 percent chance -- that human activities have contributed to that shift.

There have been "statistically significant" changes in the number of heavy precipitation events in some areas, with more areas experiencing increases than decreases.

Researchers say they have "medium confidence" that humans have influenced those changes, and "medium confidence" that parts of the world, including southern Europe and West Africa, have seen more intense and longer droughts. Other areas, like central North America and northwestern Australia, have seen droughts becomes less frequent, less intense or shorter.

Researchers say they have low confidence of any long-term shifts in hurricane and tornado activity, and there is sparse evidence available to determine whether climate change has altered the magnitude and frequency of flooding.

Those trends are likely to continue and intensify through the end of the century, [without efforts to cut the world's output of greenhouse gases], the report says.

It predicts "substantial warming" of temperature extremes by 2100, with the length, frequency and intensity of heat waves increasing over most land areas.

Extreme heat expected by century's end

Extreme heat now considered a 1-in-20-year event will occur every 1-2 years by the end of the century in most parts of the world. In high northern latitudes, such heat waves will occur every 1-5 years by 2100, the report says.

Very hot days now considered 1-in-20-year extremes will grow 1.8-5.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by mid-century and 3.6-9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by the end of the century.

The number of heavy rainfall events and the proportion of annual rainfall that falls during those events will also increase, the report says. Very rainy days that now occur once every 20 years will occur once every five to 15 years by the end of the century.

Even in places that appear likely to become drier as the planet warms, there is "medium confidence" that individual rainstorms will become more intense, the report says.

There is also "medium confidence" that droughts will grow more severe in a broad swath of the globe, including southern and central Europe, the Mediterranean, central North America, Central America and Mexico, northeastern Brazil and southern Africa.

Hurricanes' average maximum winds will grow stronger in many ocean basins, although the number of storms will remain steady or decrease slightly. That change in wind speed, coupled with a "very likely" increase in average sea level, is a concern for small tropical island nations, the report says.

The analysis also says there is "high confidence" that changing rainfall and temperature extremes will increase the likelihood of landslides in high mountain regions and flooding caused by the rapid release of glacial meltwater from mountain glaciers.

Scientists are less certain about climate change-driven shifts in flooding and natural climate patterns like El Niño, the report says.