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rickard

Everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.

I was recently confronted by a long time viewer displeased that I am not working hard enough these days, particularly on my “blog”. I have never considered the “blog” very important as there are so very MANY people blogging and it is rather easy to do, and particularly effortless to do badly. My personal history actually IS in print publishing and it was a painful decision in 2008 to go after the alternate energy/electric vehicle thing via video.

I was forced to a huge learning curve, on a medium I knew little about, to bring EVTV to life as a video versus a print magazine which I might find much more “comfortable.” But my estimation was that the print ad sale was difficult in a world of Internet. As it so happens the video ad sale is daunting as well. But that’s another story…

In any event, my core competency remains writing. Over the years I’ve become more casual with spelling and grammar, but in the Internet context little enough harm there. It’s actually difficult to stand out in this venue as a grammar violator or pathological  mangler of all things spelling related. Knowbody rillie seamze tew knowtiss.

I also don’t edit over and over as I did when I considered writing an important skill. In a world where everyone with a keyboard is a would-be Mark Twain, I considered it kind of a dated skill – like being able to braid horse halters or something.

But we do have a very small set of our video viewership that seem to enjoy the written rants buried on the EVTV site such as they are. And so I intend to apply myself somewhat more diligently.  But I have to say that the roaring caucaphony of misinformation, presented with such vehemence all around us, doesn’t inspire me to believe we need MORE of that.  One MORE opinion?  One MORE set of selected “facts”?  One MORE viewpoint?  As Garth Brooks said, putting out a forest fire with the moisture of a kiss.

One of the ongoing issues that I am repeatedly called to task over is my violent ambivalence regarding “global warming.”  Naturally, many of those advocating electric cars and solar power, are also strong believers in global warming.  And they find my apathy toward anthropologic climate change disconcerting. I am the beneficiary of a surplus of attempts to get me straightened out on all that

Global warming and environmentalism has given rise to its own atheistic religion complete with chants and incantations – a kind of Gaia worship of the planet that has an intrinsic view of all of mankind as the rapist of the pure and beneficient earth, ignoring entirely that it produced us. Adherents view activism on its behalf as an enormous virtue, but I notice all the activism seems to regard all solutions ideally based on somebody ELSE spending somebody ELSE’s money. At a personal level, it is most often exhibited as an abhorence of plastic grocery bags and perhaps properly disposing of a few shipping foam peanuts. Perhaps the odd compost pile in the back yard. But never any actual commitment of personal treasure.

Present company excepted of course.  The two most profound impacts anyone can have on the environment remain the choice of electric vehicles for personal transportation and home solar for electric power in the home.  One mile drive in an electric car approximately equals 750 billion plastic grocery bags or 70 trillion styrofoam packing peanuts.

Adherents to the cause of electric vehicles and solar energy seem particularly drawn toward cataclysmic global warming climate effects as a flag for adopting electric vehicles and solar power. It validates and enobles their chosen cause.

It IS a powerful image, a planet in chaos and apocalypse because others failed to heed their example.  I get it.

But to my way of thinking, it is a paper tiger  prone to shredding by reality.

Similarly, the alarming prospect of “running out of fossile fuels” is an effective driver of activism for electric vehicles and solar power. I actually view this too as too easy a handle for simple minds. In the first place, I think fossile fuels as a term is a misnomer. Because a few dinosaur skeletons and palm fronds were found fossilized in coal beds, there was an early theory that oil and gas and coal derived from a preposterous number of compressed dead dinosaur bodies. I considered this an absurd proposition at age 6 when it was very popular and I haven’t been won over since.

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It IS a very handy deposit of historical sunlight energy, available for use now. A sun savings bank. But the “fossiles” are more likely fossilized bacteria or at the highest level, plankton. And the amount of it available as I have noted from our first video, is basically unlimited. We will NEVER run out of fossil fuels. It may become more difficult and expensive to extract over time, as we move away from “Uncle Jed out shooting at some food when up from the ground came a bubbling crude.” But for all practical purposes it is unlimited in quantity for any practical purpose. But also unlimited in the price we may be asked to pay to extract it.

King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was quoted as saying that “We didn’t leave the stone age from lack of stones, and we won’t leave the fossil fuel age due to a lack of oil.” This more acccurately describes my position. I have a deep personal resentment at being victimized by large corporations and governments for money. I am annoyed that we are using a 150 year old technology that I view as ridiculously crude for personal transportation. I eschew inelegance in design and form and function. And I think there is a better way.

I AM concerned about vehicle emissions. Global warming hardly scratches the surface. We all know that shutting yourself in a garage with an operating internal combustion engine automobile is a pretty good way to commit suicide as you will be dead in just a few minutes. Where then did the idea that we could simultaneously operate 1.5 billion of them planetwide to good effect as long as they were OUTDOORS??? Did we imagine there wouldn’t be ANY impacts on our health or environment? Would suck starting a coal fired or natural gas power plant through the exhaust pipe be somehow an improvement? Have you SMELLED any of this shit? It is nasty as is readily apparent to any five year-old.

But what if alzheimers, cancer, heart disease, autism, and many more diseases are actually CAUSED by this. How would determine it? Where can you find a non-automotive control environment to compare it to, that concurrently has modern medical facilities and reporting?

This technology has had 150 years to grow from a few experimenters to 1.5 billion units in operation. Who has kept track of what caused what along the way? Our faith in science and medicine is comical. They are barely mixing herbs and letting blood to relieve the effects of miasma and bad humours. Your car could be killing you. How would you know? When do you recall not having one?

If you accept my premise and attempt to prove it one way or another, you will find a huge obstacle to doing that. It is so PERVASIVE and EVERYWHERE that you simply cannot isolate it. But we do know that if you compress an atomized vapor of unknown hydrocarbons mixed with atmosphere and ignite it, it will make a ferocious bang and produce a lot of heat. It might also be a good way to generate about 3000 different chemical compounds and we can not only spew them into the air, but it is mobile. We can drive AROUND the area spewing it into the air to make sure no one is left out.  And the ratio is impressive.  Fourteen of clean air to one of gasoline gives you 21 of dirty air?

I’m incensed that we  smugly allow the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world  – out of our country, to countries we don’t like and don’t like us, in order to feed this monster. The river of cash exiting our country is astounding. We have an $800 billion ANNUAL trade deficient and much of it is oil based. We still import a MILLION BARRELS of oil per day.

I’m even more incensed that we take our children, dress them up like GI Joe, stick a firearm into their hands and with three months training send them halfway around the world to let rag heads shoot at them – mostly to ensure our oil supply. I wouldn’t send feral house cats to Iraq. I wouldn’t round up our rodents to send to Iran. You want to send MY SON?????? I don’t think so bubba. Syria? I doubt 4% of the population of the United States could locate Syria on a freakin map. As a staunch libertarian I must pose the question: “What the hell IS Aleppo?”

So I have good and plenty reason to “advocate” electric vehicles and solar power, not to do it as a hobby, but to live it breath it eat it and dream about it in my sleep, 24×7 for the past seven years and stretching out into the future hopefully another 10. I have no need of “global warming” for validation.

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SO I am a global warming denialist? Well not precisely. Indisputably, our burning of fossil fuels directly alters the chemistry of our atmosphere and to at least the same degree our ever-present world class solvent – water. We can readily detect this with test instruments. We can even examine its deposit over time with core samples of earth and ice. The question is, does this impact our weather?  I have no doubt it does.  Does it do so to the degree that it matters?  My sense is probably not.  Could it be cumulative?  Probably.  To the degree that it matters?  Probably not.

To the child mind, it is the application of a change and so it must have an effect. Adults realize things are rarely that simple. But it might. ANd if over time we study this methodically and dispassionately we could probably reach some further conclusions.

Unfortunately, that option simply isn’t available. And it isn’t available because our scientific community has ingraciously aped our political community and our media community. Instead of become Polititutes and Presstitutes, they have become, apparently, the Church of Scientology. Politics has so invaded the scientific community as to render it wholly whored out to grant funding and peer pressure. A dispassionate scientific examination of anthropologic climate change is simply no longer possible. It is unavailable. Can’t be had for money. Unobtainium.

Too reactionary? In his December 2 Wall Street Journal article, My Unhappy LIfe as a Climate Heretic” researcher and academic Roger Pielke Jr. describes what happened to him in publishing information refuting the claim that violent weather had increased in the last decade. The numbers simply didn’t bare this thesis out.  But as a result, his publisher was pressured by funders to fire him – and they did. His University was pressured, again by heavy financial supporters, to fire him despite his tenured position. Fortunately they did not. But  he wound up leaving the field entirely, in disgust, and today studies sports injuries. Understand he was not CRITICIZED for his position. His arguments were never countered. No refutation was ever made. He was viciously attacked personally and serious attempts were made to destroy his CAREER and his life because he would dare describe findings outside the decreed narrative. And understand he DOES believe in CO2 buildup AND anthropologic climate change.  He just couldn’t find data supporting the claim that we are enduring intensifying weather events because of it.

In other words, he was excommunicated from the Church of Climate Change Scientology as a heretic.

What they don’t see far enough in the future to comprehend is that this rather leaves anyone remaining IN the church as demonstrably unreliable as an information source.  And it implies that most of the “scientists” in the church are most likely LYING for MONEY.   A SINGLE incident of this nature rather irrevocably concedes all credibility of the entire community. That it is NOT a single isolated incident simply makes it obscene.

Bottom line, your 99% scientific consensus have been caught selling blowjobs in the alley at $20 a pop. Now what’s your story?

That said, whether the examiners are faithful or feckless, doesn’t actually have any impact on the facts of anthropologic climate change. It could of course be false. And it could likewise as easily be true – misbehavior of morons notwithstanding. That the basis of your argument turns out to be ridiculous, doesn’t change any of the facts and truth of the matter and you might still get lucky. When you first discover magnetism it doesn’t matter that you were looking for something else and completely mischaracterized your findings. Magnetism just is.

My unease with climate change arguments have to do with scale and geologic time spans. The earth has endured enormous changes in climate and atmosphere over the past 4 billion years and indeed the level of the sea has changed plus or minus 400 FEET in that period. We’ve had numerous ice ages. The geologic record is rather clear on this. Indeed, we seem to be in a 13,000 year period of remarkably benign climate, which just so happens to encompass all of recorded human history and then some – a fraction of a second in the scope of the life of the planet. It is as if someone turned off the power switch. A sudden and violent cessation of climate change. We don’t know what caused it. And I admit we do NOT want to be the cause of its resuming its natural tendency. I’m good with the status quo in this case. The PLANET will be fine but if it assumes its normal climate posture, I personally might get a little too hot, a little too cold, or a little too wet for my own personal preferences.

With all apologies to Al Gore, and understand that I can personally attest to the fact that he actually WAS a key player “back when we created the Internet,” his presentation on carbon dioxide and climate change is, in my unqualified but nonetheless strongly held opinion, just too simplistic to be true in any useful sense. There are too many other larger forces at play that we only sport a basic knowledge of their operation.

The scale of things is a bit daunting. Last January Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched a low earth satellite titled JASON-3 into a 530 mile altitude trajectory that is curiously impressive. JASON-3 is the latest and most advanced satellite in a series started in 1992 with the TOPEX/Poseidon mission. It’s actually operated under the auspices of the National Oceanographic and Atmosperhic Administration – the weather guys. The purpose is actually to measure the level of the sea, sealevel being an important concept. I am comforted to report that researchers have observed global sea-level rise at a rate of 3 millimeters a year, resulting in a total change of 70 mm — or 2.8 inches — in 23 years. I can live with that.  We needn’t forfeit Manhattan just yet.

But that isn’t actually my point. In doing so, they have uncovered a REMARKABLY COMPLEX system driving our climate. And I want to reference and recommend this to all of you. Nova did a stellar two-hour documentary on this using data from the previous JASON satellites three years ago – long before the launch of JASON-3. If you are REALLY interested in climate, you HAVE to watch this.

It turns out the earth’s climate seems to be driven by a 4000 mile diameter hurricane with 200 mph winds that moves ocean currents to a depth of 2.5 miles and is in more or less continuous operation. And Antarctica appears to be the heartbeat of the planet, actually pumping heavy saline through a global circulatory system dictating every drop of rain that falls and every weather pattern in motion everywhere. It is unfathomably complex and that is based on what we know NOW.  JASON-3, launched nearly 3 years after this documentary, promises to up that body of knowledge by an order of magnitude.

What DOES affect climate? Well there are two hugish forces at play that most probably dwarf all that we puny humans can do.

The first is the earth’s magnetic core. Kind of a self-sustaining bit of entropy. The core of the earth is a hot liquid – melted rock and metal. The reason that it is hot is the friction of motion in the liquid induced by the motion of the planet revolving and wobbling about. And of course it has to BE liquid in the first place to have that motion and friction, which causes the heat that sustains it.

This motion causes a magnetic field around the earth. Think of Star Trek’s shields. This magnetic shield deflects most of the rain of particles emitted by the sun. Without this field, not only would we all die of radiation poisoning, but actually our oceans and atmosphere would quickly be stripped from the planet.

What we DON’T know is why it changes so much. Our magnetic “north pole” actually wanders around and the field itself grows stronger and weaker seemingly at random. Indeed, examination of iron deposits in Hawaii’s volcanic lava would lead us to the conclusion that the polarity of the magnetic field has SWAPPED numerous times in the past. The impact of solar radiation is ENORMOUS, almost unthinkable. And the interaction with the magnetic “force field”, evident in the Aurora Borealis light show, is likewise enormous.

On November 19, 2016 NOAA launched the latest in its series of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites – GOES-16.  The GOES series comprises the “weather satellites” providing the images so familiarly presented on the television weather reports.  According to reports from NOAA, this latest satellite will change our view of weather and the comparison analogy presented was that of black and white NTSC television to 4k HD color video.  It also provides an extremely accurate method of monitoring our magnetic field.

And of course the other macro effect is the emissions from the sun itself. Solar emissions drive our weather system and they are extremely variable. The Solar storm of 1859 — known as the Carrington Event — was a powerful geomagnetic solar storm during solar cycle 10 (1855–1867). A solar coronal mass ejection hit Earth’s magnetosphere and induced one of the largest geomagnetic storms on record, September 1–2, 1859. The associated “white light flare” in the solar photosphere was observed and recorded by English astronomers Richard C. Carrington (1826–1875) and Richard Hodgson (1804–1872).

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On September 1–2, 1859, one of the largest recorded geomagnetic storms (as recorded by ground-based magnetometers) occurred. Auroras were seen around the world, those in the northern hemisphere as far south as the Caribbean; those over the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. were so bright that their glow awoke gold miners, who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning. People in the northeastern United States could read a newspaper by the aurora’s light. The aurora was visible as far from the poles as Sub-Saharan Africa (Senegal, Mauritania, perhaps Monrovia, Liberia), Monterrey and Tampico in Mexico, Queensland, Cuba, Hawaii, and even at lower latitudes very close to the equator, such as in Colombia.

Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks. Telegraph pylons threw sparks. Some telegraph operators could continue to send and receive messages despite having disconnected their power supplies.

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On Saturday, September 3, 1859, the Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser reported:

“Those who happened to be out late on Thursday night had an opportunity of witnessing another magnificent display of the auroral lights. The phenomenon was very similar to the display on Sunday night, though at times the light was, if possible, more brilliant, and the prismatic hues more varied and gorgeous. The light appeared to cover the whole firmament, apparently like a luminous cloud, through which the stars of the larger magnitude indistinctly shone. The light was greater than that of the moon at its full, but had an indescribable softness and delicacy that seemed to envelop everything upon which it rested. Between 12 and 1 o’clock, when the display was at its full brilliancy, the quiet streets of the city resting under this strange light, presented a beautiful as well as singular appearance.”

If such an event happened today, it would undoubtedly wipe out a huge portion of our electronic infrastructure. In June 2013, a joint venture from researchers at Lloyd’s of London and Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) in the United States used data from the Carrington Event to estimate the current cost of a similar event to the U.S. alone at as much as $2.6 trillion.

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This is an extreme example of a solar event.  But solar radiation (energy) is the source of power for our very complex earth weather engine, and changes represented by “sunspots” and flares have a direct impact.  Eric Kriss pointed us to another blog, BEYOND LANDSCHEIDT with some intensely interesting work relating the solar flare activity to the position of our gas giants, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus. These large mass bodies of course orbit the sun, but as they do so THEIR gravitation causes the sun to “wobble” a bit and so modulates solar flare activity and emission.

The point being that the largest force driving our weather and climate is of course the sun. It wobbles with the rotation of the planets. And the ameliorating counter force is our magnetic field, generated by the earth orbiting and wobbling and in turn interacting with other solar bodies. Underneath that is a remarkably complex global system driven by huge forces of wind and deep ocean currents.. And all of this operates at an impossibly large scale and over impossibly long time spans compared to our puny lives. Indeed, in the scope of all of this ALL of our activities are the mere scratching and scraping of microbes on the surface of the sphere. They might help. They might hurt. But not likely by very much and any effect would be hugely swamped by the slightest breath of change of any of the large forces. It is demonstrably NOT a delicate system. It is a huge and remarkably complex one.

So while I don’t advocate huge changes in political and economic policy and deeply religious suffering for the sake of the planet, I am receptive to Elon Musk’s position of “why gamble with it.” Indeed there is a better way. Instead of digging up old sunshine from beneath the earth’s surface and crudely burning it in our power plants and automobiles, trains and aircraft, why don’t we harvest FRESH NEW SUNSHINE directly, and use it directly as electricity. Improvements in solar panel science and engineering, battery storage science and engineering, and political/economic stance on the topic, would all be beneficial. Hanging that on global climate change doesn’t make sense to me, because with everything we REALLY learn about it, when not chasing a governmental funding grant or headline, indicates to us how very little we actually know about the weather.

So in the final analysis, I find myself in concert with the global climate ardent believers as to what we should do. But I simply cannot buy into the religion and narrative of why we should do it. It is false science – nearly voodoo, false narrative and just very unlikely to be accidentally true.

I believe this is the heart of the disconnect perceived by our viewers regarding myself and global warming.

I would offer a rule of thumb you can use when uncertain WHAT the truth is. If you are listening to someone who assures you that they know absolutely, and that you really should agree with them if you don’t want to be a buffoon, you are most likely talking to a buffoon and most likely a moronic buffoon at that. Anyone sufficiently intelligent in examination of science to be useful, is never sure of anything. And the more they know, the less dispositive they will be in their assertions. The apex of science is led by a handful of men who “know” nothing, question EVERYTHING, and that’s why they are in science in the first place. And they will be the first to tell you that the more they learn, the more questions they have, and the less positive they become of the answers to the previous questions. I would term it an intelligence paradox. The end product of diligent scientific inquiry is always the same – humility. A humbling realization as to how little we know about so very much.

Jack Rickard

Don McNeely was the KFVS weatherman when I was growing up in Cape Girardeau. He began his broadcasting career in 1943 at the age of 16 as an announcer for KFVS Radio. After Oscar Hirsch founded KFVS-TV in 1954, Don became the news anchor, program director, and weather man for the TV station. In 1982 Don became an AMS certified meteorologist and was the chief weather man for KFVS until his retirement in 1993. Don had a squeeky pen and a white map and he would draw the temperatures on the “board” while reading them to us. Most often sponsored by GRIST-O-FEEDS. Most importantly, he was the man who recited the school closings on the early morning of snowy days.

My father grew up with him and one day in about 1960, I told Dad I wanted to see the movie “Heidi” with Shirley Temple on TV. He picked up the phone and called Don and it was on the air an hour later. Small town and a different time (and media).

Don died November 8, 2014 at the age of 88. He is sorely missed.

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