Have I mentioned my distress at what I refer to as the ‘bumpkinification’ of America? I will explain in a minute. But, I am just as disgusted with our wimpification too. So, before I get going, let’s take a look back at this week before zeroing in on this post.
In a word, this week was all about snow. First of all, I have been sharing a set of pictures I took when we ran up to Wrightwood (see recent post). I hope this is not leaving you all snow-bored. Second, my parents were snowed out of their place in Stockbridge, switched from their annual pilgrimage to the Belmont Shores relatives down in shangrila who are marooned in Cape Cod as it turns out and instead, came to visit us for a few days, and so in addition to work, we’ve had to entertain them.
This is the winter, my time of year when I, as a native East Coaster, feel like reveling in wintery things, like snowflakes and cold and icicles and woodsy/cabiny/sweatery interiorized features. These are the collectively unconscious symbols for a drawing in of the earth and of ourselves for contemplation. Rudolf Steiner talked about this in a Jungian/Campbell archetypal and mythological vein. Each season has its own nature. One thing that truly offends me is seeing people in summer clothes in the middle of February (even in SoCal) – or out and around playing as if it were July. In the olden days, especially back home, no one would dream of being sleeveless or wearing cotton in the winter. And 70F temps like we had here all January really annoy me. OK, so I won’t belabor this.
Another reason for all this snowiness is the non-stop, round the clock, over the top, snomigosh coverage of the “snow bomb” -“thundersnow”-“snowpocalypse” -“arctic clipper”-“white-out” blizzard this week that even had a name (Juno — why, I wonder that particular name?), for heaven sake. It was so strange that every station was covering it that I almost wondered if there was some big world-shaking event that they didn’t want us to think about, while they literally blanketed us with snoverage. They predicted a monster storm for Yankee territory and while New England proper did deliver, NYC got by with a mere 8 inches. That is nothing, in my snow country lexicon.
So, this post turned in a different direction than I had planned when it drifted across my mental landscape early this week. I never get tired of trudging through this topic, so bear with me.
I was originally going to recount some anecdotes about my first year in lake-effect snow in Upstate New York, going to school. It is truly hilarious and I am sure I will toss it into a future post so you can get a kick out of how little prepared I was for the realities of six month winters, when I first arrived with my citified gear. Nope, I just have to get this off my vest first.
The planet is warming, the climate is changing, we are responsible for enough of it that changes we can make can reverse this trend before it is too late. Please, if you are going to challenge me with what the Koch network thinks about this I ask only that you can prove it with established fact from respected scientific, not propaganda sources. This is where the interpolation of ideology and belief with actual, measurable, demonstrable fact is so dangerous. I just heard a former mayor of Boston say he relied on ‘instinct’ and ‘prayer’ to meet weather emergencies. Un, no! As a private citizen, go ahead and pray. I am a supporter of prayer, which works and helps in our personal lives for many reasons. But if they are responsible for the safety and well-being of millions of people, our leaders absolutely must turn to technical experts as well as to their trained teams of responders.
Oh, and if we are not clear about the distinction between weather and climate, we need to educate ourselves. I will summarize the answer I gave one BIL when he quoted me chapter and verse of Limbaughology, i.e., that a. it was arrogant of us to think we could alter the environment (ever heard of extinctions? take a look at what is happening to our bee populations, thanks to Monsanto et al.) and b. how can the earth be warming when there are so many serious blizzards. Its simple: the heat is being absorbed by the oceans and the extra moisture evaporating up into the atmosphere is mixing with the greenhouse-induced heat and producing more storms.
The increased gas emissions from a variety of man-made activities are altering the earth’s wind and water current conveyor belt system, marooning the jet stream far to the north and reshaping its arc. That is why the wet places are getting wetter and the dry, hotter and more arid. These last few years have been the hottest for thousands of years. How do we know? Not by record keeping alone, which is relatively recent (although that measurement is consistent with others) but by things like ice core dating, sedimentary analyses, carbon dating, ocean temperature readings, mass marine extinctions (yes, hot oceans means no more fish!), etc. The data is out there. Find the science experts and read what they have to say. Unless you are a coupon-clipping Davos-card-carrying member of the highest magnitude (i.e., billionaire), you really are mistaken to subscribe to their disinformation.
And this leads me back to bumpkinism. If I were from an environment that kept me blessedly isolated in a safe bubble of immediate surroundings, I would consider myself lucky to have been sheltered by blissful ignorance and the contentment it often provides. Sometimes I get so fed up with the disturbing events swirling around us that I want to step right into a Kincaid painting and never come out. But if I came from such a safe Igloo, then, I would go out and find the world and its latest knowledge on any subject about which I had been ignorant. That could be done in many ways and is the primary reason people often leave the country for the city: to get up to speed. The best way to do that is to study the latest and best knowledge of experts. That does not mean being uncritical of them or swallowing everything one reads. In fact, when you go to good schools, they teach you how to be discerning and to sort out the valid from the sham. And, you can retire to the country later on, either actually or virtually, after you’ve been ‘schooled’ in what is, not what someone believed in the 19th century. In fact, I love rural America — where else is land affordable any more, anyway.
That used to be the way we were all raised to think. We respected those who were trained in subjects about which we were largely uninformed. Those specialists who went through the best, most learned institutions were held to be experts. I, as a psychologist, would never argue with a physicist. Today, however, there is a movement in this country to glorify obdurateness and oversimplification. Everyone runs around boasting about how backward they are, admitting they are not scientists but then spouting a facile opinion anyway! While I don’t think we should put any human being on a pedestal, clearly we need to be respectful of those who have earned the right to hold professional opinions and not hide behind a veil of stupidity as if it is somehow purer and better than being smart. You don’t even have to leave home to do this anymore, either. The information is at our fingertips all the time from the remotest village. It is a wonderful era in which to be intellectually curious.
So, when people point with glee to the fact that many of our leaders got this snowstorm ‘wrong’, it is as if to say that there was no way to know what was going to happen, that the models which turned out to be good but imperfect, were wrongly constructed and that meteorology is beyond our ken. They are playing right into the hands of the diabolical corporatists who want to keep plundering our brains and resources for their own aggrandizement. It is no different, I heard a scientist say yesterday, than knowing who is going to win the Super Bowl. There are many statistics and models that could help predict the outcome, but none of them are 100 percent certain. He went on to say, any simpleton can tell us what happened, but it takes a higher order of analysis to tell us what is going to happen.
Being so incurious is lazy. It takes courage to entertain the unfamiliar, but it is a sign of uniquely human intelligence. If that is scary, too bad! We need to human up and be willing to face unattractive facts about ourselves, both individually and as a species.
When I want to know what is likely to come, because I want to be prepared, or to help prevent an undesirable outcome, I am going to look to people who have spent their lives training in that subject. I am not going to champion my own or anyone else’s ignorance. To me, that is playing into the hands of people who want to snow us with myths and leave us bewildered or snowbound — if you don’t mind my straining the analogy!
P.S.: This just in! How timely…
Images: Beth Byrnes archives; Mountain High in early January
Gorgeous photos and lots to think about in the post, my Nana called me earlier in the week she thought I’d be buried in snow in Glasgow because of the news reports but it was mild and today it’s sunny :).
How I envy you your weather there, Charlotte, you have no idea. Thank you!! 😀
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And the congregation says… Amen!
Thank you!! 😀
Yes. To all this. I’ve seen so many ‘commentaries’ using the snow/cold as a counter-‘argument’ to global warming that I just, can’t. even.
This especially: ‘We respected those who were trained in subjects about which we were largely uninformed. Those specialists who went through the best, most learned institutions were held to be experts.’ What the heck is up with the change to that rational way of living in the world?
Seriously. When did we start believing that anyone with an opinion (or ‘belief’) is an ‘expert’? We have so many forums that let people speak their minds- and yet we haven’t been taught the critical thinking skills to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Thank you for joining me in tilting against this particular windmill.
As to the whole winter thing… it’s freakin’ cold hereabout today. I was ‘aided’ in my walk to work this morning by the incredible winds blowing off our Great Lake. Brrr. You can have it. I’m considering hibernating until Spring. xo
Mein gott, is it that way in Canada too? I thought it was just here. Sigh, it is circling the globe, I guess. We have to restore sanity and humility. I find it amazing that Christ counseled being the last among men and yet everyone here professing to be his followers only values elbowing to the top, by any means.
As for the weather, I totally understand, having visited Toronto (“Tranno” — see? I get it, LOL) this time of year. But, when you are starved for winter weather as I am here, you start dreaming of nothing else. We should do an Airbnb swap, Cole! I thank my lucky stars for you, by the way. xo
“and yet we haven’t been taught the critical thinking skills to separate the wheat from the chaff.” I SO agree with you, which is why many cannot separate true experts from talking heads who spout political opinions and call them facts. Honestly, the most frustrating part of being a teacher was attempting to teach critical thinking skills and being knocked down by administration and parents alike because I was teaching beyond the proscribed curriculum. AAAaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhhh!!!!!!!
I hear that, Susan. So very frustrating when curriculum is all- regardless of its inability to impart common sense and critical approaches to information intake.
It’s epidemic- and no one seems concerned enough to be doing anything about it. As Beth always says, it benefits our leaders (political and corporate) to have a population filled with sheeple- so why encourage anything that will mess with that status quo- and their bottom line(s)?
Well if that isn’t one of the nicest things anyone has said to me, lately… back at you, Beth. Such a treat reading your thoughts and getting to know you. Makes me feel so much less alone in this world of credulity run amok.
There are climate change deniers everywhere- but in Canada they seem to be concentrated in Alberta- and in support of our current PM, who has invested our economic future almost solely in fossil fuel production (which, in light of the recent drop in oil costs means he’s scrambling to re-message right now. He has chosen to focus on the ‘threats’ we face due to terrorism- and increasing our presence in the ‘global war on terror’. Oh how I despise that man and his government…).
Torono (it isn’t, actually, Tranno- there is no ‘a’ sound- we just choose to make the second ‘t’ silent. You can eliminate the first ‘o’, if you wish, but that tends to be more of a suburban take on the pronunciation. Don’t mind my urban snobbery- I’m well aware of it, so it’s less offensive than it might be otherwise ;P ) would welcome you with open arms any time you choose to visit! xo
I am going to work on this Cole. I should have written “Trahhnno” because that’s how I remember it. It is like people here saying “Or-gun”, when I was raised to say “Or-eh-gone” or “Ne-vaaaa-da” and “Color-aaaaado”. I don’t believe we had anything like that where I grew up! As for your PM, this tar sands straw deal makes me ill, but I have to blame our greedy politicians here for their indifference, otherwise Canadian corporations couldn’t have pressed it on us the way they have. 😀
Beth, really? Because it’s snowing global warming is a myth? OMGosh! Don’t you just want to slap someone upside the head? And not being able to predict all this is mind boggling. Unfortunately, people believe what they want to believe and stick their head in the sand when they don’t. We’re supposed to be caring for this planet that God created, yet we trash Him in so many ways by simply turning our backs, not caring, denying reality. Those who worship the god of greed are leading too many down a wide path – and He is not pleased.
It’s infuriating, but that is how effective a job the disinformation purveyors have done in muddying the waters. We no longer have Walter Cronkites or Edward R. Murrow’s reporting the news. We now have hired flunkies of the fossil fuel industry and they are destroying this planet with the help of our gullible citizens. Soooo glad to know we agree on this, among so many other things, Susan. Thank you! 😀
So true, Beth. I remember them both, knowing they were trustworthy an stood for non-biased, honest reporting. Quite sad, really. Yep, you’re preachin’ to the choir.
Good to know we all feel this way. After a while, I begin to doubt my sanity! 🙂
Oh yes, down here I’ve even heard science teachers point to snow and say, ‘see, there’s no global warming.’ WTF? I think it’s completely willful – whatever people WANT to be the truth they can find supported by some pundit on TV or the internet. And what people want to believe is politicized, even when science and facts should trump politics. Why the hell is global warming political anyway? Why is it viewed as a ‘liberal’ belief rather than simply an occurrence that is factually proven and needs to be slowed/stopped? Because it goes back to those pundits again, I guess, telling people what side to be on every single issue. Ah well, I am rambling again…
There is no reason for it to be political, except the fossil fuel industry doesn’t want us to believe their products could be harming the environment. That is why they go to such lengths to put out false information about wind and solar energy, a battle they are losing as more and more people realize how much smarter we would be to harness these free and clean elements, once they are completely self-sustaining.
You just gave me an idea though.. I wonder what Pope Francis thinks about all this. He is usually on the right side of history on such matters. I have a hard time believing he thinks it is all a hoax. I am going to google it and see what I can find.
You are not rambling. You always leave thoughtful comments. Thank you!! ❤
Beth: we’ve had a long and friendly go-round on this topic some months ago. I can’t
qualify your explanations here for exactly the reasons you so properly present here.
However I have one BIG exception GEOLOGY — CORNELL has probably the finest
Geology /science studies in the Nation. As you know , your campus has a whole
separate campus and beautiful building devoted to this science. Have you ever
visited it?? In the study of the history of the earth, Geology contradicts our current
concerns about “global warming”. A walk through the Cornell Univ. geology hall/,bldg.
has a wonderful physical display of the history of the earth as best it can be determined
by many fossil and others to numerous to mention, that walks you up to the present
right there at Cornell , evidenced by many examples from the immediate area
surrounding Cornell itself. Which happens to be located in/on a very unique “geologic”
area. At the end of your tour, Cornell in this Department , denies global warming
happening as is popularly stated. So I’m leaving my contrary opinion in place, per
the science of those at Cornell University. Your concerns are valid in themselves.
And certainly we should all be concerned with any sort of pollution impacting
with harm our climate or environment. I’m with you 100% here. We have many,
many examples of us attending to this and correcting it to our mutual benefit.
I hope I contribute to some degree.
Bob, we have discussed this haven’t we and I appreciate your dedication to this topic. I have been all over the Cornell campus, of course. But, while I wasn’t focused on it during my years there, I find it impossible to believe the geologists at Cornell would be found among the fewer than 1% of respected scientists in the world who leave the door open to the possibility that warming is not occurring, mostly because they are paid to do so by the fossil fuel industry — whose motives are not scientific, but financial. I cannot go with that group, Bob, because they are wrong, both scientifically and morally. They are on the wrong side of history.
While you may have a sincere belief, they do not. Every time I have followed the thread of a science denier, it has led back to the vast Koch network. I think their disinformation campaign borders on the criminal.
But, I certainly want you to keep voicing your opinion. Every person dedicated to the truth wants that. By the way, that is the motto of Caltech, the school I am featuring this month on my Flickr photostream. “The truth shall make you free”. That is the highest value to me, not preserving an antiquated industry.
Shall we kiss and make up? LOL. I so appreciate you Bob. You have no idea!
Beth: One more….I beg of you please, read this article by S. Fred Singer , Univ, Va.,
expert science & environmental policy project. Expert in remote sensing & satellite
director U S Weather Satellite Service and more—–
Thanks in advance.
Please, another very important perspective/ point of view to consider:
Hi Beth: So nice of you to continue the “discussion”. As for Cornell’s conclusions,
these weren’t something I picked up at college 50 years ago ! (and Cornell was a
great party school we visited as often as we could) But rather Aughust 2013 at
a wedding and reception at the Geology Campus per some in-law Alumni of Cornell.
A somewhat very recent observation. I can’t agree it’s “impossible” to believe that
these “scientists” came to their conclusions. As stated over and over , I (with a small
background in Geology) believe in this “science” and its conclusions. I don’t
disagree with your conclusions. Rather I’m waiting for you to send me the specific
references you support. I’m not about to believe the Koch Bros. are some how
responsible. It’s not logical even by your standards. Lastly , one more article
I beg you to read. Not that it will “change your mind” , rather it might help you tolerate
other opinions. I find your opinions very compelling. And I certainly respect your
commitment to help stop any damaging human behaviors.
Bob, thanks for all the responsive ideas. What you are relating ala Cornell, is anecdotal, not evidence. I am sure there are alumni in every school who believe in the hoax theory — 54% of all Republicans believe it, so are there some people who graduated from Cornell who believe this? Probably. It really doesn’t change facts much.
Here is where I would suggest someone begin reading about this topic to find real research by real scientists, the number one journal in the world for Science:http://www.nature.com/news/global-warming-outlook-for-earth-1.13756
As for the American Thinker, it is a right-wing editorial blog with people like Ann Coulter writing for it. Their opinion on global warming is just political propaganda. I am sorry, but no scientist would give their opinions any credence, other than to know what they are telling a fatuous public.
Thanks Beth. I’ll be sure to go to your ref and give it a read. I beg of you the same
courtesy re. my articles directed to your attention. They were not written by Ann Coulter
or any other Politician , right, left or middle. They are by reputable scientists and
academics, per the credits on the articles. I’m mystified by your reluctance to allow
yourself at least a quick read. Certainly your conclusions would be YOURS and valid
by your own standards.
I think I didn’t make myself clear about Cornell. The information I mentioned was not
“anecdotal” coming from some comments of an Alumni in attendance at the
reception in the Geology Hall/Campus/Building. The “conclusion” is stated publicly
visually at the end of the huge museum quality walk through display. A magnificent display worthy of any well qualified museum and surely proudly attributed to Cornell
and this science they so strongly endorse and have such a fine reputation thereof.
Thanks once again for your special attention to my opinions.
Hi Beth. I checked into Nature.com per your suggestion. Quite frankly, they didn’t
show anything. The article was dated 18 Sept. 2013 (one month after my visit to Cornell)
and spent the whole time about IPCC.. no specific data , just mainly notes of future
IPCC up coming events and responsibilities. Fact is today , IPCC’s validity has been
seriously questioned at the UN and by other Major Countries. GW is certainly still a
major world wide concern, but there hasn’t been any unanimous scientific confirmations.
Statements of “consensus” among scientists is not “science”. There is no consensus
on settled science. It is unanimous without exception. 2 + 2 = 4 is not a “consensus”
within the science of mathematics . Shoot me another article close to today’s date.
Bob, the consensus among respected scientists is reached through solid research, not opinion. In that respect scientists distinguish themselves from other intellectuals. They go where evidence leads them. All of this research is available for scrutiny by peers in worldwide scientific journals and at symposia. There is no debate about this.
I think at this point we will let this go. You have convictions that stem from your life experiences and ideology that I am unlikely to change, nor do I have any wish or need to do so. I am comfortable with your dissent.
I have thrown my lot in with the scientific community and 75% of Americans who do conclude the planet is warming and that we can take affordable steps to turn back this dangerous trend.
I can think of nothing more to add on this topic at this time.
Hi again Beth: I’ve been very negligent with /about my admiration of the Cornell
Geology sciences program –at Cornell — please go to www,eas.cornell.edu for
their very thorough over view of their program. See first hand the very high caliber
of their program, and surely, personally,you must be very proud of re. Cornell Univ. Thanks
Thanks Beth . So much “fun” our contretemps . But please one last request—
My “ideology” has absolutely nothing to do with this. It was my background in
Geology — and the confirmations provided by Cornell University — which
totally coincidentally is your alma mater. Again, please visit their/your site
http://www.eas.cornell.edu. It is so impressive and deeply involved in all your expressed
concerns. Truly “wonderful” to see Cornell’s efforts in this realm.
I really enjoy you posts and narratives . Specially those of a personal nature and
relating to your past “experiences”. I think it’s presumptive of me to imagine
this –but as the saying goes , I would bet there is the “six(6) degrees of separation”
about your time and mine back east. If we ever sat down over a glass of wine, I’m almost sure we would know of mutual acquaintances from Red Bank to Phila and beyond .. Just sayin.
It’s always good to find common ground, Bob. Thank you!
Bob, what specifically do you refer to on this EAS site? I see nothing that indicates there is any debate about the earth’s elevated temperatures.
Beth: Correct. I didn’t see any “specific issues” covered in this site and its overview
of the science and it’s department at Cornell. I noted something I saw at their actual
campus at Cornell. I wanted you to note how impressive Cornell’s commitments are
to “Earth Sciences” which I thought covers all the topics of your concerns listed very
specifically on the site. I’m still greatly impressed way beyond my limited exposure to
One last–last –last reference on our topic, please go to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/global/warming.
And again, thank you for your continued dialog and sincere courtesy throughout.
Uhmmm : My ref. didn’t work ! Try again-www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/globalwarming/ Sorry,
Not that I need add anything, since the Nature article summarizes research done to date by credible scientists, and since this is a blog, not a journal article itself here, but this is something from today:
per Kevin Trenberth, “a climate expert at the National Center for Atmospheric Research”.
And we need not keep litigating this. It’s done. The research even from 15 years ago was sufficient evidence, so the need to keep looking for newer proofs is a fool’s errand. Leave that to the Koch brothers in their desperate attempt to keep on the feed bag of American gullibility.
At some point, Bob, we have to discard the 2% paid deniers and go with the 98% respected experts. There is no reason not to. Neither you nor I will benefit from the climate warming, and if it turns out they were too fearful in their concern that the tipping point (of no return) is imminent, we will feel good that we staved off that disaster a bit early.
I loved when my son found a video about the ice caps melting and it was a subject of a post awhile ago on my blog. I just get so upset at ignorance and cannot help but try to straighten people out. Yes, we are losing our climate and good air, we still need to be more careful of Earth and our resources. No, just because it snows doesn’t mean we don’t have Global Warming… On it goes, … I work in a warehouse, not even a Union factory, just a bunch of average joes and janes. I have two or three really displaced professionals, which I am not saying there isn’t some element of intelligence in the place, but truly the Presidents’ two Inaugurations proved to me who I was working with. We were given a choice to have a longer paid lunch, sitting in a large room with the Inauguration playing or have our regular 1/2 hour lunch. One woman, three managers and the H.R. person were there out of over 300 workers, watching the first one, the second one they set up a smaller conference room.
My friend, (African American) held my hand and cried. Just sobbed, saying she just never thought in her lifetime Cheryl is 62 years old, she would see a black president. I cried as the people around the world were shown celebrating and the music and arts world were incorporated into the ceremony.
Anyway, got off track, Beth… I just think the smart ones are not being represented in the news and information field, we have become a whole world of people thrilled by the media. I enjoy movies, many times I go to the ones which are meaningful, but am also guilty from time to time, of incorporating some of the popular culture in my own blog. Sorry to all who probably skip those, but on the other hand, my kids and grandkids are part of this culture and their idea of entertainment still interests me, too.