Monday, November 25, 2019

The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery - Become Informed and Involved in a Good Way

I figure if one is going to have an opinion about climate change, it had better be an informed opinion. I thought I was well informed but there is always something to learn too.

The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery was published in 2005 just after Hurricane Katrina. Fifteen years later not much has changed – the North American politicians continue to dither.

The book delivers as advertised. The 356 pages detail exactly how we are changing the climate and what it means for life on the only planet we know. It is thorough and accurate. The earth and atmosphere system is indeed complicated with many feedback mechanisms that swing both ways. The research and science devoted to how humans are interfering with this delicate natural balance has been peer reviewed and closely examined for weaknesses. Simply, there are none. Any unknowns are clearly stated. We have reached the “Act of God” tipping point.

A.P. Herbert defined in “Uncommon Law” in 1935 that an Act of God was “something which no reasonable man could have expected.” The impacts of climate change are no longer Acts of God. Science can prove it and “the judiciary will be faced with apportioning quilt and responsibility for human actions resulting from the new climate”.

The rich and powerful have been polluting the atmosphere and oceans for profit. Simple greed with disdain for nature everything else too. You might also read “Dark Money” described as “The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016). “Dark Money” is a non-fiction book written by the American investigative journalist Jane Mayer about a network of extremely wealthy conservative Republicans, foremost among them Charles and David Koch who have together funded an array of organizations that work in tandem to influence academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress, and the American presidency for their own benefit.”  Their game plan is simple and has been played without variation on many occasions when their self-centred profits where threatened.  (from “The Optimistic Environmentalist” by David R. Boyd )

Deny the existence of any problems.
Pay charlatan scientists to lie and claim that their products or emissions are safe.
Finance scientific journals with official-sounding titles to publish bogus articles based on junk science.
Buy the support or acquiescence of politicians and bureaucrats.

Far worse has been done as well but few have been held responsible which is concerning about the independence of the judiciary. Politicians have been known to call judges...

There are many other books that cover similar material. In 2000 Jack Doyle published “Taken for a Ride: Detroit’s Big Three and the Politics of Pollution” in which he exposed the fight and miss-information campaign resisting the creation of clean transportation.  This was in response to the London air pollution disaster of 1952 and the public outcry about air pollution in general. Ford argued in 1953 that automobile exhausts “are dissipated in the atmosphere quickly and do not present an air pollution problem”. President Reagan declared in 1981 that “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles”.  Corporations clearly have enough money to even buy democracy.

Flannery also investigates “the corrupt relationship between government and industry. And it is into this cesspit that we must now leap.” as he described Chapter Twenty-Six entitled “People in Greenhouses Shouldn’t Tell Lies”. The campaign of deceit and spreading misconceptions has been very successful though as employed by the transportation, tobacco, DDT, CFC’s, asbestos and GMO industries to name just a very few.  The result has been decades of indecision when the viable solutions are readily available. The net results being that those funding the bogus science and confusion continue to profit.

The issue returns to one of greed and power. As Flannery explained in 2006, the Act of God Defence will no longer work. The science and knowledge explaining climate change are established just as it was for the other harmful industries. Those profiting from promoting fossil fuels can be held accountable by law.

Real change though apparently needs to come from the people. Elected followers closely study the polls to ensure they remain in power. Power is paramount and it can control you like greed. When the polls tip toward green innovations as they surely must, the politicians will eventually follow. The transition to a circular green economy will not be politically supported until the polls reflect that the public want it.

The impacts of a changing climate could sway public opinion. Hurricanes, floods, droughts, wildfires and heat waves can be very persuasive.  I always thought that becoming informed and prepared would be better than waiting for the catastrophes. That is what weather prediction is all about. Being proactive is much more affordable than simply being uninformed and reactive. Meanwhile species are going extinct as the result of our inability to act.

“The Weather Makers” is an important read if you want to have an informed opinion regarding climate change. Time for real, pre-emptive action is long past but better late than never. This needs to get done even if only to tell your children and grandchildren that you tried to make a difference. The school presentations, letters to the Editor, MP, MPP and PM have yet to bear any fruit.  But it is important to remain optimistic for the sake of the generations yet to come.

Canada has a very, very long way to catch-up on the Scandinavian countries that are leading the way forward into a greener future. Meanwhile our politicians are still debating the pros and cons of dumping billions of litres of raw sewage into the nation’s waterways. Shame.

You might also consider reading “The Optimistic Environmentalist” by David R. Boyd published in 2016. Some parts of the world are actually proving that the circular, green economy is the way forward. Indeed people and the planet can profit while preserving the environment and the habitats of the creatures that also share the globe. This almost happy note is a good book to leave until the last in your efforts to remain informed and involved for a brighter future.

These reads are very important... they are not fake.

Phil the Forecaster

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Weather Machine A Journey inside the forecast By Andrew Blum

As scientists of the Atmospheric Environment Service (AES) and then Environment Canada (EC, ECCC), we all lived inside the Weather Machine. Most retirees portably even saw the “Golden Age” of meteorology first-hand. I define that as the era when meteorologists could look at new data sources, wonder what it was revealing and produce some scientifically sound answers. Satellites and Doppler came on stream just as I entered the AES. Curiosity and keenness were what it took to provide a quality service. It was fun and creative. The understanding and science of meteorology was growing exponentially. Most of us probably never even noticed when meteorology was quietly renamed “atmospheric sciences” – we were too busy learning and creating predictions. Then came the cuts of the 1990’s and beyond… Where we fit into this narrative has evolved during the Golden Age and the Weather Machine by Blum does a credible job pf describing those transitions.
The image shows the library copy that I read but this time I used sticky tabs to mark titbits that I found interesting. There is some very interesting history that soaked up a lot of tabs. Art critic John Ruskin (the very first coloured tab on page 14) wrote in 1839 about building “perfect systems of methodical and simultaneous observations” to create a vast global weather map which he called “a vast machine” aka the Weather Machine. Robert Fitzroy who captained Charles Darwin’s ship the Beagle would call later these “synoptic charts” in 1859.

The story of physicist and meteorologist Vilhelm Bjerknes (1862-1951) deserved more space. Bjerknes wrote to Arctic explore Fridtjor Nansen (featured in The Ice at the End of the World and the first to traverse Greenland) and stated “I want to solve the problem of predicting the future states of the atmosphere and ocean”. Vilhelm then constructed the seven equations of seven variables that had to be solved to make those predictions “like brushes that sketched the different ways in which air can move around.”

In the Bergen School after the Great War, assistants would gather and plot data maps of Norway. Bjerknes would ask every morning “What discoveries have we made today?” This reminded me of the operational phrase “concern du jour” which I liked to use. They were looking for patterns and they found many. Sverre Petterson arrived in Bergen in 1923 and was thrilled with this approach to meteorology. The big names in meteorology were on the job!

Another World War came and went and the essential importance of weather became even more obvious. In 1946 a camera inserted into the nose of a captured German V-2 rocket showed what the earth and weather really looked like. Weather was not the intersection of Venn Diagrams.  A 1951 United States secret report bore the title of “Weather Reconnaissance from a Satellite Vehicle”. The satellite age of global observations was about to dawn. Observational data was flowing like a fire hose.

Apparently United States President Kennedy was very keen on the weather which resulted in the 1966 opening of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. Computers were also starting to advance exponentially. The creation of a simulated model of the earth-atmosphere system became feasible. Numerical weather prediction was not only practical but was growing at breath-taking speed.

Blum goes into detail about the ensuing atmospheric model race and “the Euro” forecasts from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWH). Ongoing advances in the numerical modelling of the earth-atmosphere system are certainly astonishing. These advancements when coupled with the Web and Internet have spawned the creation of weather applications. These apps know where you are and can deliver weather information suited to your needs 24/7. The provision of weather services continued to transform.

The final chapter entitled “The Weather Diplomats” details the work of the World Meteorological Organization. The tactful and congenial efforts of our own David Grimes are positively highlighted as the WMO steers towards maintaining global sharing and cooperation that is required to allow the Weather Machine to perform its vital work.

There is a thread of art and creativity woven through “The Weather Machine”. Meteorologists started as visionary dreamers of what could be. The data sources and computing tools that they created turned those imaginings into reality. The almost independent numerical prediction system now encourages meteorologists to be simply overseers of the forecast loop and to get involved only when things go bad…  Supercomputers, instant global communication and worldwide weather monitoring and weather apps have made human opinions on the evolution of the weather superfluous. The Golden Age of meteorology has created this machine and now maybe is the time for me to go and paint the weather instead…

The Weather Machine” was a quick read. I was a bit disappointed and expected more content and maybe even some philosophy. This book could have been a magazine article.

I figure if one is going to have an opinion about climate change, it had better be an informed opinion. I always thought I was well informed but there is always something to learn too.

Phil the Forecaster
Eco-artist :>))

Fine Art America

The holiday season is almost here and we have a number of promotions that we're running on Fine Art America in November. There are 1820 works on art on this site as of this morning. Here we go...

November 18th
25% Off All Greeting Cards

November 19th
50% Off All Apparel (T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, Tank Tops, Onesies, etc.)

November 20th
25% Off Home Decor (Throw Pillows, Duvet Covers, Shower Curtains, Bath Towels, Coffee Mugs, and Fleece Blankets)

November 21st
25% Off Tote Bags, Weekender Tote Bags, Zip Pouches, and Yoga Mats

November 22nd
25% Off Phone Cases

November 23rd and November 24th
Free Ground Shipping on All U.S. Orders

November 29th and December 2nd
25% Off Wall Art (Canvas Prints, Framed Prints, Posters, Wood Prints, Metal Prints, Acrylic Prints, and Tapestries)

All of the promotions begin at 12:00 AM Eastern U.S. time on the listed start date and end at 11:59 PM Eastern U.S. time on the end date.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Leeds and the Thousand Islands Township Offices

I have been showing my art in the new LTI Township offices every year since it was built. Sometimes I forget to take the pictures but not this time. Those recent paintings are on display until New Years.
For this and much more art, click on Pixels. Thank you.