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Quick look at what’s going on.

My first three days in Greenland were spent in Ilulissat, which is home to one of the world’s fastest flowing Icestreams, which empties into Disko Bay, and, eventually the North Atlantic.  It’s been said the berg that sank the Titanic may well have been birthed here.
There is a UNESCO World Heritage site here, with well marked trails overlooking the ever changing flow of growling ice bergs.
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“Am I really seeing that?” is a common sensation here, as below, what looks like a glimpse from the outskirts of Mordor.

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We watched over 8 years as Republicans railed against the Affordable Care Act, promising that they had a ready alternative, if only the bad people would let them enact it.
Well, now we see the sham that was.

Could something similar be going on in the climate change arena?  To appease rabidly anti-science donors the GOP has railed against action on climate.

Easy to take shots at the President when (you think) you won’t actually be held responsible by history. Now the ball is in your court.

Axios:

Forty-six House Republicans joined Democrats Thursday to protect language in defense policy legislation that calls climate change a “direct threat” to national security and requires new Defense Department analysis of its effect on the military.

  • The House voted 185-234 against GOP Rep. Scott Perry’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have stripped the language in the bill requiring the study.
  • Why it matters: bipartisanship on climate has been in short supply for years in the Beltway, and Thursday’s vote provides a lift for advocates hopeful that Republican views on the importance of global warming are shifting.
  • Reality check: there’s still a massive gulf between the parties on climate change, and scant evidence that GOP lawmakers or the White House are open to emissions-cutting policies that many Democrats support, such as direct regulation of industrial greenhouse gas emissions or carbon taxes.

In their words: Perry said during floor debate that he offered the amendment because climate should not be the priority for military commanders who are dealing with issues like Islamist extremism and North Korea, and that lawmakers should not dictate what matters they focus on.

  • “Literally litanies of other federal agencies deal with environmental issues including climate change,” said Perry, an Army veteran.

But GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen argued against the amendment, noting the threat of sea-level rise on military installations. She said policymakers must be “clear eyed” about the topic. GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik said in opposing Perry’s amendment that “we would be remiss in our efforts to protect our national security” by not accounting for the effect of climate change on the military.

Daily Kos:

Opposition to Trump’s climate blindness from within his own ranks is nothing new. Earlier this year his Defense Secretary, James Mattis, openly contradicted his boss. Mattis said that climate change is “a real-time issue, And furthermore, Mattis isn’t the first defense secretary to hold these views. In fact, six of the past Secretaries of Defense (Mattis, Ash Carter, Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta, Robert Gates, and Donald Rumsfeld) all subscribed to the policy that climate change is one of America’s top strategic risks. And four of the six are Republicans. Especially notable is Rumsfeld, under whose leadership the Pentagon published a report on the subject. It’s title was “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.”    The report warned that threats posed by climate change were even more perilous than terrorism.

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That big Berg just dropped.

Above, I’ve been interviewing ice experts about this over recent months, including Eric Rignot, Jeremy Bassis, and Ted Scambos. They give background detail and implications.

Takeaway – not an unexpected or ominous event in itself, this calving is just another step in a process we are already following, and have been expecting.  Big picture estimates for sea level rise have risen steadily over recent decades as scientists better understand these ice dynamics.

BBC:

One of the biggest icebergs ever recorded has just broken away from Antarctica.

The giant block is estimated to cover an area of roughly 6,000 sq km; that’s about a quarter the size of Wales.

An US satellite observed the berg on Wednesday while passing over a region known as the Larsen C Ice Shelf.

Scientists were expecting it. They’d been following the development of a large crack in Larsen’s ice for more than a decade.

The rift’s propagation had accelerated since 2014, making an imminent calving ever more likely.

The more than 200m-thick tabular berg will not move very far, very fast in the short term. But it will need to be monitored. Currents and winds might eventually push it north of the Antarctic where it could become a hazard to shipping.

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We should do science more like a game show. Everyone would be dumber, but at least it would improve ratings.

MediaMatters: 

In a February 9 Washington Post op-ed, (Radio Talk show host Hugh) Hewitt suggested that Trump should appoint (Radio Talk Show host Rush) Limbaugh to a special commission to study climate change. Limbaugh has long been a promoter of some of the most fringe, over-the-top climate science denial and climate-related conspiracy theories. For example, Limbaugh concocted a conspiracy theory that the federal government was overstating Hurricane Matthew’s severity in order to manufacture concern about climate change; claimed that NASA’s announcement that it had found water on Mars was part of a climate change conspiracy; and distorted a study from Duke University, claiming it shows that “there isn’t any [global] warming going on.” From the Washington Post op-ed:

Imagine, if you will, an August 2017 Post headline: “McChrystal Commission report surprises, energizes and outrages.” The first paragraph reads:

“The much-anticipated and closely guarded final report of the McChrystal Commission on Climate Change released Tuesday shook nearly every interest and player in the capital. The commission, headed by retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and including such luminaries of left and right as Oprah Winfrey and Rush Limbaugh and such captains of industry as Bill Gates and Peter Thiel, kept its work secret and its executive summary short and accessible. President Trump tweeted: “THANK YOU General McChrystal and colleagues. Great work. All must read and think on your report carefully!”

This is a not-yet-established commission, of course, and I don’t know whether the remarkable McChrystal would agree to lead it or if Trump would empanel it. I only know the country needs such a body, just as it needed the National Commission for Social Security Reform more than three decades ago.

[…]

[W]hen it comes to climate change, we don’t know enough about the cost of the premium or the nature of the risk. Thus, a national commission led by men and women of impeccable credentials and also populated with visible and controversial opinion leaders of left and right would serve us well.

[…]

I don’t know who to trust actually on these issues. But I would take very seriously the recommendations of a such a commission … Diverse, smart non-scientists who are going to listen to the scientists — all of them — and report back on what ought to be done. [​The Washington Post, 2/9/17; Media Matters, 2/10/17]

And you thought this was just a dumb idea from an even dumber right wing talker?
You still do not understand the times we live in.

Reuters:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in the early stages of launching a debate about climate change that could air on television – challenging scientists to prove the widespread view that global warming is a serious threat, the head of the agency said.

The move comes as the administration of President Donald Trump seeks to roll back a slew of Obama-era regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, and begins a withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement – a global pact to stem planetary warming through emissions cuts.

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More relevant than ever, Chairman of the House “Science” Committee, Lamar Smith, lauds Donald Trump as the “only source of unvarnished truth.”

Leonard Pitts in the Miami Herald:

We have explored the role of social media, the loss of the Fairness Doctrine and the city/country divide in creating this break. But no one — at least, no one I’ve seen — has explored what seems to me the most glaringly obvious factor. We are not, after all, divided because Americans pulled back from the center and retreated into extremism.

No, we are divided because one party did. And it wasn’t the Democrats.

Our political thinking being as fixedly bipolar as it is, many people will read the foregoing as an endorsement of the Democratic Party. It emphatically is not. Democrats are very often disorderly, disputatious, and downright dumb, not to mention stunningly bad at deciding and conveying what they stand for.

In other words, they are pretty much what they were 30 years ago. The same cannot be said of the GOP. Consider a few recent headlines:

The Republican White House closes press briefings to cameras. The president issues coarse, sexist insults to the hosts of a morning news show. We learn he allegedly threatened them with an unflattering story in The National Enquirer. He tweets a juvenile video of him “wrestling” a cable news network. Oh, and a guest on a “news” program he admires claims America has kidnapped children and used them to establish a secret colony. On Mars.

That’s all in the last few days. And it’s been a pretty average last few days. By next
week there will be a new list, equally outrageous. This is reality now.

A party that once provided a sober conservative counterweight to the Democrats’ more liberal impulses has flat out lost its mind, given itself over to rage, fear, schoolyard taunts and bizarre conspiracy theories. Which leaves me impatient with those who frame our political divide as if the issue were that left and right had equally abandoned the center. No fair observer can believe that.

Inside Higher Education:

Republicans have soured on higher education, with more than half now saying that colleges have a negative impact on the United States.

An annual survey by the Pew Research Center on Americans’ views of national institutions, released this week, found a dramatic attitude shift on higher education among Republicans and people who lean Republican, with the change occurring across most demographic and ideological groups.

Two years ago, 54 percent of Republicans said colleges had a positive impact on the country’s direction, with 37 percent rating higher education negatively. That ratio shifted to 43 percent positive and 45 percent negative last year.

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Best, most soulful version I’ve heard of this beautiful Townes Van Zandt song.