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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cold Wind

 

Cold wind blowing today in the North East, fitting for the first day of winter. The whole country is having a bit of a cold spell. Even the poor folks in Palm Beach might see a frost (raises hell with the begonias).

 

 

I was feeling a bit sorry for the folks in the sun belt before I saw that it was down to –55F in Siberia. That’s cold, a fifty year low.

 

The topic of weather gets me to a story I’ve been following – the continuing drought in the mid-west. The odds say that two years of severe drought is unlikely, but that is what’s happening. The 30/90-day rainfall is a fraction of normal:

 

 

 

The lack of rain has many negative side effects. One is the water level on the Mississippi. The water is so low that ships, sunk and lost twenty-five years ago, are now visible.

 

 

 A number of emergency steps are being taken to keeps the river navigable. Thirty miles south of St. Louis there is a rock formation that was once deep below water. Now it’s a risk to barge traffic, so they’re blasting it apart.

 

 

A more controversial step was taken to drain water from Lake Carlyle. The hope is that the extra water will raise the northern Mississippi by six inches. Not a big deal considering it’s already down by 20 feet. The water drained from Lake Carlyle will keep the upper Mississippi navigable for, at best, another twenty days.

 

 

The river is already impaired; it’s getting worse by the day. There will be economic consequences to this. There are not enough trains and trucks to pick up the volume of goods that go by barge. Everything that goes up and down the river is going to get a fair bit more expensive in the very near future. A hell of lot of “stuff” gets floated up and down the Mississippi, so this is one to watch out for.

 

++

 

There is no connection between this weekend’s weather and climate change (It’ll be back in the 80s down in Boca next week), but I’ll jump to that topic anyway. For those of you who have strong feelings (either way) on matters of climate, there was an important development this week.

 

It appears that a significant motivation for Obama to nominate John Kerry as the next Secretary of State is that Kerry is going to lead a global effort to “Confront Climate Change”The Hill has the story on this today (Link), some snippets from the article:

 

From Twitter:

 

“Confident John Kerry as state sec is good news for climate. Cross fingers his dedication will make climate a strategic priority. ” Hedegaard -  E.U.’s commissioner for climate action.

 

“One of the most pressing challenges is to reverse potentially devastating climate change. Kerry understands the need to work closely with allies on the most pressing topics – including climate change.” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

 

 

Quotes:

 

“I have absolute confidence that Secretary Kerry will be committed to action on climate change as he, is the most knowledgeable, passionate person to break the international logjams on this existential threat.” Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

 

“Sen. Kerry will bring vital expertise and knowledge on the issue of climate change as we endeavor to work toward a meaningful, balanced international agreement in 2015,” – Eileen Claussen, the president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

 

“As Secretary, Senator Kerry will face numerous issues that are crucial to both the security of our nation and the future of our planet, including critical decisions on the Keystone XL pipeline.”  – Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

 

“Senator Kerry could certainly teach the President a thing or two about how to make a clear and compelling case for climate action. That starts with saying no to the Keystone XL pipeline and then continuing to use the powers of the presidency to regulate emissions and promote clean energy.” – Jamie Henn, co-founder of the climate advocacy group 350.org .

 

“We need a leader with John Kerry’s experience and talent at the helm of the State Department. There is much more to do on all of the crucial challenges, from nonproliferation to climate change.” – Hillary Clinton.

 

 

I thought it was interesting that Obama did not mention Kerry’s role as “Climate Defender” when he announced his nomination. I guess Obama understood that this is a very hot topic, and if the plan is for his new Sec. State to put the nix on the Keystone pipeline; he had better keep his mouth shut until after Kerry’s Senate confirmation.

 

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

-Should the Secretary of State be leading a new global charge directed at climate change?

-Is there anything that might be done to influence the climate?

-Are humans responsible for climate change? Are Americans responsible for climate change?

-Does your opinion of Kerry, as Sec. State, change, now that you know that one reason he is getting the job is to push a climate agenda?

 

It’s cold out, I’m just trying to turn up the heat.

 

Comments

  1. A very good topic.

    I never thought of this when kerry was talked about for sec of st, but it all makes perfect sense. I thought he was going to be nominated just because he hates our military power like obama does. But of course when you can add to that that kerry will fight hard to get the US to pay reparations to the world for our so called climate sins, it all makes perfect, complete sense. A real twofer.

    Of course you know that you won’t be invited to certain cocktail parties now for simply mentioning that russia is having the coldest winter in 70 years in your article. That is the kind of thing that is supposed to go unmentioned, unless you can first site a scientist that will provide a theory for why it is being caused by global warming. (like they finally did with the growing glaciers in antartica)

    Face it, the side i represent is going to lose, just like my side lost the election, because my side is outnumbered by the side that wants nothing more than to “spread the wealth”.

    • I actually did hear from a guy who claims to be a scientist on the Russian winter. An interesting bit of info. I especially liked the part about “Lethal Winters”. His words:

      We’ve been seeing a lot of scary winter weather near the Arctic Circle. There is some evidence and supporting analysis that suggests that a temperature-driven slow down in the circumpolar winds (also called “the ring fence”) is allowing Arctic air to break out and descent south, sometimes a long way, into areas not normally subject to raw Arctic air. Conditions up there are inhuman — literally — and even a little bit of that descending into parts of the hemisphere inhabited by humans is clearly a bad thing. If the theory that temperature shifts is driving this phenomenon is anywhere near accurate then “lethal winters” are likely to become a common event, rather than a 100 years rarity.

  2. Happy holidays Bruce. Killing a little time before heading out into the chilly wind.

    I have to point out that those drought charts are highly suspect. I don’t live along the Mississippi river, so I can’t dispute the 20ft below normal levels thing. Here in New England, the 30 and 90 day charts are claiming we are at 50-75% of normal levels? That’s just government statistics, aka nonsense. Many of us are still drying off from hurricane Sandy. The business end of Sandy (the eastern side of a storm spinning counter-clockwise) slammed into the very area of New England that the 90 day chart claims has a shortage? The NYC “news” shows are still showing the lower Manhattan subway tunnels / stations under a lot of water.

    Neither of the two local water companies near my home have issued any warnings about reservoir levels. Several friends I talk to around the holidays, from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts, are exchanging notes on how many inches of rain we got in this week’s big storm. Not one person said “we need the water” or anything close — although one did wish for a full week without any rain. Yes, these are anecdotal bits of evidence — but the point remains that the area I know best is most definitely not having a precipitation shortage as those charts suggest.

    The Mississippi river is apparently far below normal levels. We heard similar stories about the Colorado river as it flowed through various states and barely had anything left as it reached LA’s city reservoir system. Lots of lawsuits between western states — but all agreed the culprit was excessive irrigation use and growth of urban areas like Phoenix AZ and Las Vegas (more people = more drinking water needed). I know that doesn’t play into the big government, big taxes dream of the global warming crowd — but that was the cause. I have to think the growth of cities along the Mississippi (and feeder rivers) has a lot to do with the problem.

    Speaking of New England states … several insurance companies are telling home owners (and local municipalities) that if any more sand dunes are taken down to build McMansions — then insurance will not be available at any price. Yes, they were slightly more diplomatic but that is what they are saying.

    Global warming didn’t make Sandy a bad storm. Building huge (expensive) houses right along the coastline did. Leveling sand dunes so “the view” would not be impeded meant the water wasn’t impeded either. Lots of development further inland forced rivers to get re-routed and/or shoe-horned into concrete aqua-ducts. Cutting down indiginous trees (that retain water in their roots) and replacing them with yuppie gardens causes a lot of run-off.

    The solution to “global warming” is to stop over-development of every nook and cranny of land. have a little respect for mother nature’s natural drainage systems. of course, tax revenues are maximized by lots and lots of McMansions — not respect for nature.

    As for John Kerry … he is going to have his hands full with Asia, if he actually gets confirmed. Europe really doesn’t matter anymore. They are broke, their economies are shit, and they have the same deadweights for leaders that we have in the USA. Who gives a hoot what policies they want? Asia isn’t going to sign off on more European special privileges, and Obama will have to use 110% of his political capital to keep his own regime out of debt house. Canada recently dropped the Kyoto Accord, because they realized their oil sands could not be developed if they adhered to it. Bye-bye Canadian healthcare system. So Kyoto bit the dust instead. Obama’s pandering to eco-terrorists only made Canada realize they need to diversify their customer base, as the folks to their south have gone berzerk. If Kerry wants to kill the XL pipeline, it will mean the US “energy independence” idea has to be dropped. Canada can get much higher prices for their natgas in Asia than from the deadbeats in the USA anyhow. The Saudi’s already shifted the majority of their output to Asia, despite the media’s conspiracy claims.

    Kerry is probably as much of a left wing nut job as your post suggests — but he still faces the same constraints to action as Hilary Clinton did/does. Europe may want climate taxes, but they are bankrupt. Will the EU bureaucrats whine endlessly? of course. But they will toe the line or Putin will let them freeze to death. Europe doesn’t matter anymore.

    Asia needs more energy supplies, and Canada wants to keep their “free” healthcare system paid for by energy exports / royalties. If Obama/Kerry are dumb enough to rock the boat, energy prices in the US will climb. Shale oil/gas depletes many many times faster than conventional plays, not to mention the environmental issues with fracking. US “energy independence” is dependent on Canadian exports to the the US.

    Doesn’t mean the Eurocrats won’t make all sorts of grandiose proposals, possibly even making them to Kerry. It just means the EU has neither the money nor the leadership skills to make them happen. And the folks with the money and the leadership abilities have other priorities.

    And then there are the various issues in the middle east — syria, egypt, israel, iran, iraq, yemen, saudi arabia … not to mention pakistan and afghanistan. Turkey is the obvious ally in the region — except they have different priorities than Obama, and Turks still remember how the EU rejected them.

    Putin has made it very clear that he plans to challenge Obama on multiple fronts. And Putin literally controls the heating gas on/off switch for Europe.

    Latin America, especially Brazil, has not been friendly toward Obama (they seem to hate him). Hugo Chavez may be Obama’s best friend in the region. Mexico is a borderline failed state, and they are not happy about operation fast and furious.

    No matter who the next Secretaries of State and Treasury turn out to be — they face an uphill battle just to keep the US relevant and solvent. They face a lot of geopolitical hot-spots, and a lot of allies outside of Europe that are fed up of being ignored.

    Campaign promises are meant to be broken. Obama may promise the eco-terrorists that Kerry will read his lips or not have sex with his intern … but Kerry will have his hands full fighting fires. Fantasies of changing the world are going to collide with a reality that other regions have other priorities, and the US is no longer in position (military, economics, or geopolitcal) to control outcomes.

    Ask Hilary Clinton if you have any doubts about the size and scope of fires Kerry will have to face on day one. And check out the national debt clock before you post any crazy ideas about what the next Tax cheat is promising. Debtors have to focus on staying solvent, not pissing away more money.

    The more money Bernanke prints to keep DC bureaucrat’s lifestyles going, the less and less relevant Washington is on the global stage.

    Kerry *is* the perfect guy for the State Dept job. Big smiles, lots of promises, lots of stories about how the US used to be really important back in her day. Now please don’t kill our debt markets or call our bluff on military engagements. We can’t afford to go to war anymore.

    Happy holidays Bruce

    • On the campaign trail, George W Bush said he wanted a kindler gentler America, and he wasn’t going to engage in nation building… Then he got into office.

      Obama had a lot of talk about hope and change, and promised he would pull US troops out of Iraq within a month of his inauguration…. then he got into office and pretty much continued Bush’s policies toward big banks and obeyed Bush’s (much longer) Iraq troop withdrawal time table.

      No matter which political party, campaign promises expire the first day in office.

      • Bubba, my theory on this is that it’s easy to make promises from the campaign trail when you don’t have any real knowledge on the depth of issues or access to high level security information that only a select few ever get to see.

        In short, we don’t know what we don’t know.

        So, I think we have to trust at some level that the decisions being made are in the best interest of the country. I hate to say that since I trust the average politician about as far as I can throw him/her but there are things we peons out here in voter-land just don’t know.

        • Um, “we the peons” created the government. We also have to vote/choose between the (usually) two inept idiots to decide which one will have the opportunity to screw things up worse. Its pretty arrogant to assume these bureaucrats are somehow better than the rest of us. I would say those who can, do; those who can’t, teach; and those that are bad teachers become academic department chairs, Fed Reserve chairs or politicians.

          As for all the stuff we the peons supposedly don’t know about? Get real. Many of us peons travel all over the world (our joke IDs on this blog not withstanding). We see the dangers; we often report them to the state department. We see the economic development in competitior / hostile countries. We get out-bid by Chinese developers (or whatever evil-doer / boogie-man of the day you like). We see how ugly American tourists get treated, we see how these arrogant NGO workers behave. We do not travel in armored, escorted convoys like the state department officials and their media tag alongs. We are not as uninformed as you suggest.

          As for the folks you claim “know things” … ha ha ha!!! My company gets approached regularly by government officials who obviously work for intelligence services (they are not hard to spot, for us or for our enemies). Hollywood likes to depict the CIA having all sorts of top-secret information, much like the SEC supposedly knows every little thing that Wall Street is doing. The truth is the CIA knows very little except what they can see on satellite images and/or get from bank wire transfer filings… plus a little bit they get fed to them by US corporations operating abroad.

          That is not just my opinion. Ask the US intelligence services themselves. Read the 9/11 report. They have world class signals intelligence / satellite intelligence. Human intelligence (ie human informants on the ground) is very very lacking. That is their own self assessment.

          And the fiasco in Libya should tell you that, hundreds of billions of dollars later, not very much has changed. Most of the money was spent constructing new buildings outside Washington DC, staffing the “new” central intelligence — ooops the National Center for Intelligence. Another redundant bureaucracy. According to the NY Times, they also beefed up the NSA’s ability to spy on Americans. Supposedly, Americans are not the enemy. Most definitely, the extremists in Egypt and Yemen and Syria and Libya and Iran and so-forth are not making phone calls in the US, and they don’t have social security numbers or US bank accounts. Thus, their activities are completely out of sight from the supposedly all-knowing bureaucracy in Washington.

          That is how the Muslim Brotherhood or al-qaeda or whomever got the jump on the State department in Benghazi. US government officials had absolutely no clue what was happening, and to a large degree they still don’t. Being bureaucrats, they are 100% focused on passing blame onto someone else.

          I am not a Hillary Clinton fan, but if she was the only one out-of-the-loop, then how come none of the dozens of other government agencies saw anything coming? None of them saw Hosni Mubarak getting the boot. None of them foresaw the Assad clan having trouble in Syria. No one forsaw the Emir in Yemen getting an eviction notice. Nor did they foresee US embassy officials getting attacked in Yemen this October, including the embassy security chief getting killed.

          Sure, officials would never announce publicly what they knew or didn’t know — but if they knew something, they would not have their own in the line of fire. Self preservation is the most important element of state craft — and they obviously couldn’t even protect themselves or their immediate staff. Either these people are suicidal, or they don’t know what is going on.

          Many peons in voter-land are kept in the dark by a lame-duck media, but that doesn’t mean that the officials (chosen from the ranks of peons) are not also clueless. And some well traveled peons seem to know as much or more than the officials.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful response. You have a good holiday too.
      b

  3. The best description I have heard for the EU is this:

    “Brussels is like that creepy old lady you meet at a wedding who pinches young mens’ behinds while bragging that she was quite the dish in her day”

    Kerry is a bit of a gigolo, so this sort of thing might appeal to him personally. But selling climate taxes to the rest of the world? And selling the idea to the domestic US audience?

    Canadians thought global warming was important, right up until they got the bill for how much it would cost. Suddenly the Kyoto accord lots Canadian support, both in government and in the populace.

    And (fingers crossed!!) that was about the time when Canada started getting serious about their spending and debt problems. Now Canada is in better shape than both the US and EU. Wonder if the USA will end up following in Canada’s footsteps?

  4. Small.Business.Guy.1 says:

    Obama and Kerry can play the ‘Climate Change’ card when it’s a good economy. Not necessarily a winner, though – even in good economic times. When it’s bad economic times, ‘Climate Change’ is a net loser, because there’s no demonstrable return to voters. You would think they would have learned from ‘Obamacare’.

    Also, ‘Climate Change’ is really dependent upon the financial situation in the EU and other nations. If things blow up economically in different EU nations, they’ll be no time or energy for Climate Change. Even if you are re-elected as POTUS, you only get so much political capital to spend – and it goes quickly.

  5. Happy Holidays, Bruce,

    Seems to me if Kerry is to be placed as SOS for his stance on alleged “climate change”, is this just a distraction while the middle east prepares for nuclear firestorms? That situation would cause even Al Gore to rethink his position.

    Cheers

  6. Global warming is real and its getting worse fast. IMHO, the man cause is all of the hot air coming out of Washington!

    The uniformed will cheer Kerry’s appointment. They will realize, much too late, that their electric bills will skyrocket, industry will flee our country in search of cheap energy and along with it, their jobs

  7. “You would think they would have learned from ‘Obamacare’.”

    They learned that they can cram anything down our throats that they want. We don’t matter one bit.

  8. “No matter who the next Secretaries of State and Treasury turn out to be — they face an uphill battle just to keep the US relevant and solvent”

    My more immediate concerns are the solvency on our European cousins and Japanese allies. The UK is also essentially insolvent, with us not too far behind. I’m kinda amazed the EUtopian economy made it thru this year, Spain especially. This cannot possibly continue. When this unravels, it will do so with Biblical ferocity and God speed. We’ll look back at the “fiscal cliff” and Benghazi and laugh at such meaningless matters.

  9. I’ve preferred to write something related to this hole country is having a bit of a cold spell. Even the poor folks in Palm Beach on my webpage and this has given me a thought.thanks.