Never underestimate insects

Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia are being hit hard by massive clouds of locusts — would you believe a mass of insects 37 x 25 miles in area sweeping across East Africa? And that’s only one of multiple swarms.

Also troubling — this is a side-effect of climate change.

The swarms are reaching such an unusual size now because of cyclones that rained on the deserts of Oman last year, the FAO’s senior locust forecasting officer Keith Cressman tells Reuters’ Nita Bhalla.

“We know that cyclones are the originators of swarms – and in the past 10 years, there’s been an increase in the frequency of cyclones in the Indian Ocean,” Cressman tells Reuters. Eight cyclones occurred in 2019.

“Normally there’s none, or maybe one. So this is very unusual,” Cressman says. “It’s difficult to attribute to climate change directly, but if this trend of increased frequency of cyclones in Indian Ocean continues, then certainly that’s going to translate to an increase in locust swarms in the Horn of Africa.”

I used to raise Schistocerca, and they are amazingly, scarily prolific when given good conditions, which is what these cyclones are providing.

They’re going to need a lot of spiders — big spiders. Locusts are impressively large and well-armored.

Homero Gómez is dead

Gómez was a hero who fought to educate people and protect the Monarch butterfly in his native Mexico, and now his body has been found thrown down a well.

This is a tragic loss. It’s still under investigation, but he was probably murdered by local gangs.

Rights groups had earlier said they feared that Gómez might have been targeted because of his fight against illegal logging, one of the activities that criminal gangs in the area are involved in.

Gómez was last seen in person attending a meeting in the village of El Soldado on the afternoon of 13 January, and his family reported him missing the next day. Relatives told local media the conservationist had received threats from an organised crime gang.

Fighting to preserve natural habitat is a dangerous cause.

Why hasn’t Rush Limbaugh collapsed into deflated pile of canvas & sticks?

Ian Marsden

Like an empty gasbag should? I guess he’s still ranting on the radio, but I haven’t heard from him in years, and apparently he hasn’t mellowed or acquired the wisdom of age yet. He’s still one of those people who is responsible for some of the worst science denialism, like this:

The first thing to notice about Greta Thunberg is that she’s 16 years old. She claims she has Ansperger’s type — Ausperger’s — or autism — Asperger’s — some kind of problem in that area.

And so she is made the Person of the Year by Time magazine, which is what? A political news magazine. Greta Thunberg has been introduced into the political arena by the worldwide left, including the Democrat Party. They have made her a political figure. They do this on purpose.

So she’s out tweeting and politicizing, and she is free to lie and say whatever she wants to say about climate change and who’s responsible for it. And nobody is permitted to question her, you see, because she has — what did they call it? She is in the autism spectrum, so you can’t disagree, you can’t question, because she’s not well.

So. Much. Wrong.

Yes, Time Magazine’s person of the year is popular fluff chosen to sell magazines. It doesn’t mean much, except that it throws a certain kind of person into a tizzy. There is no “worldwide left”, it’s very disorganized, and the Democratic Party is a centrist political party at best, not at all aligned with the Left. Time Magazine is right-centrist outlet that is not controlled by the Left, nor does it lean Left by any sensible meaning of the word.

Greta Thunberg has achieved notoriety because she ably represents a scientific consensus, and is angry and vocal about the way the Old Guard has wrecked the environment and set us on a path to environmental catastrophe. This shouldn’t be an exclusively Leftist awareness; the only reason it has a political dimension is because the Right, including decrepit gasbags like Limbaugh, have made a refusal to recognize the consequences of our technological/industrial/capitalist society. Reality ought to be apolitical. Our process for dealing with reality is most definitely a political concern. But the Right is simply refusing to deal, denying the observable phenomena looming on the horizon and sweeping in fast.

Thunberg is autistic. That is simply a different way of thinking, and to label it as a “problem” or “not well” is disgraceful. She has made her autism a strength and has used her personality to present her ideas forcefully to the world community, and has constantly demonstrated her effectiveness as an advocate. Never has she hidden behind her nature to refuse to answer questions or to disallow any questioning. However, flatly declaring her ill to avoid addressing the problems she presents is not questioning her — if you want to criticize her, go ahead, discuss the evidence against global climate change.

Limbaugh can’t, because there isn’t any, and also because he’s an ignorant coward who’d rather label someone with a syndrome so he doesn’t have to face his shortcomings.

Stop talking to billionaires, start listening to climate scientists

A gang of billionaires — Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson — were asked why they were spending so much of their ill-gotten gains on space travel. They answered that they’d been inspired by the space programs of the 1960s, and then, the usual stupid bullshit.

“We humans have to go to space if we are going to continue to have a thriving civilisation. We’re in the process of destroying our planet. We’ve sent robotic probes to every planet in the solar system; this is the good one. We have to preserve this planet. We can do that using the resources of space.”

That’s Bezos. He seems to have a superficial understanding of the fact that we’re wrecking our home, but his excuse is that we can go get stuff from space to reduce our drain on the system, which is nonsense. There’s no oil in space. Mining is always going to be more difficult, expensive, and dangerous on asteroids. The kinds of resources that drive the material development of society are going to be more destructive to the environment if we haul in more of them. If you’re serious about saving Planet Earth, work to end capitalism and build sustainable, renewable institutions.

But I don’t give a damn what self-serving excuses greedy rich fucks give for their profligacy. Skip to the end where Michael Mann (not a billionaire) gives his rebuttal.

“I’ve confirmed that Mr Bezos carries the collected works of the great Carl Sagan on his website. I would advise that he read what Carl Sagan had to say on this topic,” says Michael Mann, a climate expert and professor of Earth sciences at Penn State University.

“Sagan loved space exploration as much as anyone, and he envisioned us eventually travelling out into the cosmos. But he harboured no illusions about the near-term prospects for making that happen. That’s why he devoted the latter decades of his life advocating for the protection of this planet.

“Mr Bezos needs to absorb the sage advice of Sagan and invest his funds in efforts – environmental preservation and, especially, action to avert catastrophic climate change – that might actually accomplish his stated goals.”

He’s polite not to mention that we should also end the concentration of wealth in the hands of people who only believe in concentrating wealth even more.

UMM is #1 in something!

Environment America has noticed that my campus has made a big accomplishment in renewable energy.

The University of Minnesota (UMN), Morris leads in producing renewable electricity on its own campus. The university produces about 60 percent of its electricity needs with two commercial-scale wind turbines, and also powers one of its residence halls with a 20-kW solar PV installation.

Switching to renewable energy sources is a very big deal at this campus. I know one of our goals is 100% energy independence, and the turbines are just the beginning — we also have a biomass gasifier on campus, which has been off to a slow start, but it’s part of a grand plan to lead the way in sustainable energy production.

You can read more at our page on Renewable Energy Initiatives.

That’s the Pinwheel of Doom

Oh, what a pretty pinwheel! Until you look at what it illustrates. The height of each bar is the approximate number of hazards to the human concern listed from the impact of climate change. We’re in big trouble because each hazard compounds the others — it’s saying that if one thing doesn’t get you, something else will, and here’s an objective attempt at real risk assessment.

Six different aspects of human systems are shown (health, food, water, infrastructure, economy and security), with their subcategories for which impacts were observed. The heights of the bars indicate the number of hazards implicated in the impacts. Here we analysed ten climate hazards. The complete table of climate hazards and human aspects impacted is available at

The authors conclusion could be shorter. They could have just written “We’re fucked.”

Given the vast number of components in coupled human–climate systems, assessing the impacts of climate change on humanity requires analyses that integrate diverse types of information. Contrasting temporal and spatial patterns of climate hazards, compounded with varying vulnerabilities of human systems, suggests that narrow analyses may not completely reflect the impacts of climate change on humanity. Our integrative analysis finds that even under strong mitigation scenarios, there will still be significant human exposure to climate change, particularly in tropical coastal areas; such exposure will be much greater if GHG concentrations continue to rise throughout the twenty-first century and will not differentiate between poor or rich countries. The multitude of climate hazards that could simultaneously impact any given society highlights the diversity of adaptations that will probably be needed and the considerable economic and welfare burden that will be imposed by projected climate change triggered by ongoing GHG emissions. Overall, our analysis shows that ongoing climate change will pose a heightened threat to humanity that will be greatly aggravated if substantial and timely reductions of GHG emissions are not achieved.

Every election from here on out is going to be all about who is going to save my grandchildren from onrushing doom.

Camilo Mora, Daniele Spirandelli, Erik C. Franklin, John Lynham, Michael B. Kantar, Wendy Miles, Charlotte Z. Smith, Kelle Freel, Jade Moy, Leo V. Louis, Evan W. Barba, Keith Bettinger, Abby G. Frazier, John F. Colburn IX, Naota Hanasaki, Ed Hawkins, Yukiko Hirabayashi, Wolfgang Knorr, Christopher M. Little, Kerry Emanuel, Justin Sheffield, Jonathan A. Patz & Cynthia L. Hunter (2018) Broad threat to humanity from cumulative climate hazards intensified by greenhouse gas emissions. Nature Climate Change

Once again, I am embarrassed to be an American

I have really been looking forward to seeing David Attenborough’s latest, Frozen Planet, here in the US. I’ve seen brief snippets of the show on youtube, and like all of these big BBC nature productions, I’m sure it’s stunning. And then I hear that the Discovery Channel has bought the rights! Hooray!

But wait, experience cautions us. Remember when American television replaced Attenborough’s narration with Sigourney Weaver? And <shudder> Oprah Winfrey? ANd when the Oprah version dropped the references to evolution? What kind of insane butchery would they perpetrate this time around?

Well, the word is out. The Discovery Channel only bought 6 of the 7 episodes. They dropped the seventh because…it talks about global climate change.


It’s not just our dimbulbs in government, it’s active collusion by the media to suppress scientific evidence because it might be unpopular with our undereducated booberati. Jerry Coyne suggests that you contact the Discovery Channel’s viewer relations page and express your displeasure. I will not be watching a neutered version of the program on Discovery; instead, I’ll wait until I can pick up the BBC DVDs.

You know what else is annoying about this? My wife and I are having a pleasantly quiet evening at home, and what she’s been doing is watching youtube videos…of David Attenborough. She’s been gushing over these spectacular videos all night long, and I swear, I’m beginning to feel pangs of manly jealousy. At least I get to tell her that the American media has decided that he’s seditious and dangerous.

And that will probably make him even more attractive. I can’t win.

Just to end on a more pleasant note, Mary almost orgasmed over this one. You’ll like it too. Too bad the Discovery Channel thinks you hate reality.

(Also on FtB)

Like a deadly lightning bolt made of treacle

Somebody clone Attenborough, quick — the British nature program must continue forever! His latest documentary is Frozen Planet, and all I’ve seen of it is short clips on youtube and various other sites…which just makes me want to see more.

Here is a time lapse video of a brinicle forming: a column of cold water descending from the surface which is saltier than the surrounding sea, so it both sinks and remains liquid as it oozes downward, but it freezes the less briny water around it. It’s slow, but if you’re a slow-moving echinoderm, it’s like the icy finger of a vindictive god reaching down to destroy you.

(Also on FtB)

A little sliver of restoration

Hey, I know the Elwha river! I think we stopped there on my honeymoon. Lovely place, the Olympic Peninsula. And getting even lovelier if they are ripping out unneeded dams and restoring the rivers. There’s something so satisfying about a timelapse of a dam being demolished.

Next, restore the watershed and the salmon runs. Whatever, I’ve got to find an opportunity to relax on the peninsula someday again, before I die.

(Also on FtB)