Right-wing media are laughing about President Barack Obama mentioning climate change in his fifth State of the Union address because it is cold in D.C. But the wobbly polar vortex bringing cold air to much of the contiguous United States is simultaneously causing record warmth in Alaska, a state often seen as the nation’s “ground zero" for climate change.
On January 28, Alaska’s largest newspaper, the Anchorage Daily News, ran this remarkable headline: “Record warmth, confused plants: An Alaska January to remember.” The article noted that it was 62 degrees in one town, tying the January state record, but did not allude to the long-term warming trend. In November, the newspaper did briefly invoke the possibility of climate change while expressing disbelief that strawberries were growing “In Anchorage. In November.”
Yet just a year ago, right-wing media claimed the state was headed toward “an ice age.” The Alaska Dispatch, a prominent online news site, ran the misleading headline, “Forget global warming, Alaska is headed for an ice age.” The report was promoted by the conservative British tabloid, the Daily Mail, and the climate denial site,WattsUpWithThat, which highlighted the state’s relatively lower average temperature in 2012.
As the chart above also shows though, cherry-picking a short-time period is misleading — natural variation can mask the long-term trend. Contrary to claims of an “ice age,” studies project that average annual temperatures in Alaska will increase “an additional 3.5 to 7°F by the middle of this century,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Warming in Alaska already has caused highways to buckle and homes in areas such as Shismaref, pictured above, to sink, as the EPA explained:
Many of Alaska’s highways are built on permafrost. When permafrost thaws, roads buckle. Vehicles are only allowed to drive across certain roads in the tundra when the ground is frozen solid. In the past 30 years, the number of days when travel is allowed on the tundra has decreased from 200 days to 100 days per year.
Along Alaska’s northwestern coast, increased coastal erosion is causing some shorelines to retreat at rates averaging tens of feet per year. Here, melting sea ice has reduced natural coastal protection. In Shishmaref, Kivalina, and other Alaska Native Villages, erosion has caused homes to collapse into the sea. Severe erosion has forced some Alaska Native Villages’ populations to relocate in order to protect lives and property.
Definitely past that point where I am willing to entertain negative people in my life. There is too much pain out here, too much decisiveness, too much bigotry, and too much uncaring to let all that displace the genuine building we as communities need to do. Give me a few intense people, powerful with compassion and love, over legions of shallow acquaintances, and we’ll create the foundations of our future. If I had a dream, to this I aspire.
It is the capitalist industries which are destroying the world, whether or not you or I turn off our lightbulbs at home.- Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervine (via neuriot)
The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.
According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.
West Virginia families, billed for smelly water they didn’t use, bill water company right back | The Raw Story ⇒
Last week, as we were having a collective discussion on this blog about moms in the workplace, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong was blaming company-wide 401k cuts on women who had “distressed babies” that allegedly strained the company’s health insurance budget. Despite the company reporting record profits last quarter, two sick babies meant the company was going to change 401k contributions. The mother of one of those babies wrote this piece, which is fantastic. (Though, fair warning, there’s a pretty scary premature birth story in it.)
Tim Armstrong defended his remarks by saying the costly newborns were just one example of extra healthcare spending by the company. But it says something that those were the examples he chose. He made mothers - those two mothers, and all mothers by proxy - into scapegoats for corporate cost-cutting. Gee, we’d love to help you retire one day, but you know those wimminz makin’ babies!