U.S. soldiers who served in Korea know how cruel the winter gets, when the monsoon shifts winds to the north in November, and brings bitter air from Siberia south.
To the west of Korea is the Yellow Sea, shallow and stained yellow because it is filled with the nutrients and silt of great rivers. Formerly it was excellent fishing grounds but now is over-fished, formerly it possessed coastlines of rich marshes but now, with much of that land reclaimed, marine species are in danger. Environmentalists cringe, with oil rigs popping up to the north on the coasts of both China and North Korea, and crowded Chinese ports bustling with trade for densely populated areas on the west coast. However, winds from Siberia can throw a wrench into all the bustling, by creating sea-ice, though the Yellow Sea is at the latitude of Chesapeake Bay and Washington D.C.
Struggling with the sea-ice tends to be part of life. Here is a picture from Bonhai Bay two January’s ago:
The struggles created involve energy supplies, as both coal and natural gas must be unloaded, and the oil rigs can have problems if too crunched by ice. Here is an article from the Financial Post, describing the struggles in 2021:
This winter I heard there was record-setting cold in northeast China, so of course I wondered how they were getting along in Bonhai Bay. Unfortunately the people who map sea-ice care little for either Bonhai Bay or Chesapeake Bay. For example, look at the map below.
You can barely see Chesapeake Bay in the lower left corner, and Bonhai Bay is pressed against the very top, in the upper right. Furthermore, they don’t bother to put any white sea-ice in Bonhai Bay, though I suspect it is there. Why? Call me a suspicious old coot, but I don’t see how that water cannot freeze, when they get hit by record-setting Siberian air.
Even Bloomburg, not noted for reporting cold waves, reported on the cold in China. Of course, they do not call cold, “cold”, though they do call hot, “hot”. They can be depended upon to waffle up a sentence like this: “Indeed, climate change is causing an increase in both average temperatures and the frequency of extreme weather events around the world.” Get it? Rather than “cold” they say “Extreme Weather Event.”
Be that as it may, at least they did report the cold in China.
Also, I can go to the Weatherbell Site and look at the anomaly for the past ten days in the Bonhai Bay area, using their excellent maps.
The docks may not be as far below normal as inland sites, but even normal can freeze the Yellow Sea. The influx of river water makes the water less salty to the north, and easier to freeze. And the computer models show no sign of the cold easing. American soldiers who served in Korea remember how relentless the northern monsoon was, and this year eastern Siberia seems particularly loaded with cold air.
Suppose the cold continues. (And indeed, computer models show no above-normal temperatures for northeast China well into March.) Suppose the sea-ice gradually increases, bit by bit. Eventually it becomes annoying, even creating situations such as the situation a decade ago:
Considering there is an extra-large demand for propane and coal due to the extremely frigid temperatures in inland areas, this is a winter where the oil rigs need to operate at peak efficiency in the northern Yellow Sea, and the unloading at the docks must proceed smoothly. Otherwise, China may have problems keeping its people warm.
I understand we are at war with China, in a weird way; a way like no other war. But that does not mean I wish that the people of China have problems staying warm. I don’t wish such discomfort on any man anywhere. However, there are a few men, likely way up in skyscrapers, who are cold to begin with, way down in their hearts, and they perhaps could do with a ride in an elevator down to a place where it is said to be very warm.
What a difference a day makes. First, here is my woodpile before the snow.
And here is the same woodpile this morning:
This is the sort of heavy, wet snow that causes weathermen to have fits, because it’s flakes are right on the verge of melting into rain, and in fact, if they fall a couple hundred more feet through above freezing air, then they are rain. For example Wilton, roughly eleven miles to our north, only had a couple inches of snow mixed with rain, and they are only a couple hundred feet lower. Meanwhile due south eleven miles, down much lower (where the “Flatlanders” live) in Townsend, Massachusetts, they saw no snow at all until at the very end. But we got a foot and a half (46 cm).
The snow was so sticky it took down branches and even entire trees, and as I start this post we have no power and my laptop is down to 20% power. I have no connection to the web, though my phone can still deliver texts, albeit very, very slowly. My oldest son, who snowplows in the winter, said Peterborough is a shambles, and he was one of the last trucks to weave through the fallen limbs and arcing electrical lines before route 124 was shut down. He had to travel to Jaffrey, which wasn’t much better, to come home. In essence the communities on the shoulders of Mount Monadnock were just high enough to get snow rather than rain, and got clobbered.
It might not seem fair that we get clobbered while people ten miles away get off Scot free, but it goes with the territory. People who live here long enough adapt. For example, as I began this post I was warm by my man-cave wood-stove, with my coffee cup atop the stove (rather than in the microwave) to rewarm my brew. My wife had pots of snow melting on both wood-stoves to flush the toilet with, plus a pot melting beside the wood-stove to wash dishes with. She could cook because, even though the electric “sparker” doesn’t light the burners of our propane stove, we can use a match to light them. We have candles for light. So having no power doesn’t slow us down much.
What slows me down is the thought of shoveling the front walk. Such snow is like wet cement. I’m pushing seventy and smoked too much when younger, so my armchair has its charms.
I did eventually push myself to dodder outside and shovel a pathetic path down the very center of the steps, and then walk through the deep snow to my jeep. It’s embarrassing to admit, but even walking through deep snow gets me huffing and puffing. I shoveled the plow-created snowbanks in front of my Jeep a minimum amount, and then clambered in. A good thing about a Jeep is that you don’t have to shovel much; you just put the vehical in four-wheel-drive, and go!
I drove to the nearby town center to see if they had power, and if I could make my weekly deposit at the bank. It’s not much of a center. It doesn’t even have a traffic light. But it does have a blinking orange light, and it was dark. I knew that meant the power was off and the bank would be closed. Oddly, there was a line of cars going through its ATM machine; I suppose the automatic teller runs by a battery.
Both the local market and local gas stations knew better than to be closed at a time when business was bound to be especially good, (for no one wanted to drive far). Both had generators humming. The market was doing a brisk business in “breakfast sandwiches” for the people who couldn’t cook at home, and the gas station was doing a brisk business in gasoline for those who did have generators. There are plenty of people who are prepared for power outages, but even those who lack generators need gasoline for their snow blowers. Driving further I saw snow blowers in action, and have to admit they looked sad. Rather than shooting powdery snow thirty feet away they were barely able to curve a limp arc of white molasses five feet.
Plows weren’t doing much better. They would get halfway down a drive and the weight of the snow would be so great the truck couldn’t budge it. My son said the trick was to angle the plow and swerve to the side halfway down the drive, and then back up, and then proceed straight ahead until you needed to angle the plow again. Plowing took much longer.
As the snow came down heavily yesterday it became obvious the plow wasn’t going to make it to my Childcare in time to clear the entry and drive for the parents who would soon arrive to pick up their children. When younger I might have gone out and shoveled like a madman, but now I’m too old for such heroics. What I did instead was drive to and fro and back and forth and in and out until the tires of the Jeep had packed all the snow down. The lot was a bit slippery, but nobody got stuck.
I bring up all these anecdotes just to demonstrate how people can respond to calamity, especially if they have seen the calamities before. But as I brag a bit about how self-sufficient the local people are, I do notice when fossil fuel is involved. If the Green New Deal fanatics have their way, there will be no gas for the plows or for the generators, and the testing will become far more rigorous.
For this reason I was hoping for a mild winter. The milder the better. (If you don’t use much oil or propane or electricity, there is less of a chance you will run out.)
One of the mildest winters I personally recall was 1975-1976, when it seemed all the storms headed north to the west of New England and we were always in the warm sector, on the warm side of storms. I think there were records set for snowfall in Minnesota that year, for they were on the wrong side of all the storms, but that was their problem. Here, even up in Maine, where I lived back then, it was relatively snow free. Because, this year, all the storms were going up to our west at the start of this winter, I hoped we were in a pattern similar to what we saw back then.
This is mere memory on my part, and one problem with personal recall is that it tends to be a general impression, without much foundation on fact. When one recalls one must confess they neglected to save weather maps from the papers, or record temperatures day by day. And what I actually recall about 1975-1976 was how disappointed I was. I was young and wanted a wild and crazy winter, and thought such a winter would be more likely up north in Maine, but instead I labored through a winter which would have seemed mild even down in Massachusetts. So that is what I remember. However I do like those meteorologists who are far more specific, and have past maps on their fingertips.
One such weatherman is Joe Bastardi, who was forecasting a cold December, and, midst the slew of examples he gave, he happened to mention a cold December in 1975-1976.
Cold December? I prodded my memory, and realized there was evidence I wasn’t paying attention. Why? Likely I was writing the Great American Novel or some such thing. I was only jarred from my inward contemplation by the arrival of my nemesis for Christmas. (At that time my nemesis was a big brother.) As my brother and I practiced the high art of dysfunction I awoke to the fact early December had been so cold even the salt water had frozen. There was a big slab of sea-ice in the Harraseeket River in front of my parent’s abode.
The following will show you how different my memory is from that of a tried and true meteorologist:
I only recall that slab of sea-ice because my older brother was too lazy to row a rowboat around it. It was only fifty feet across but perhaps three football fields long. Therefore, after testing the ice with an oar, he got onto the ice, pulled the boat onto the ice, and then pushed the boat across. The ice was so thin, and so rotted by thaw, that it cracked under his feet, but he didn’t fall through because he supported his weight on the stern of the rowboat. As he reached the far side of the floe the ice completely disintegrated beneath his feet, and the boat wallowed down through the slushy ice, but he did a sort of push-up on the stern, with his feet above the water, and then swung his feet around and into the boat. A local lobster man, who had watched the spectacle, commented, “That fellow is off his f—– rocker,” likely because the lobster man knew the water was so cold it could all but paralyze a person plunging into it, and kill a man in five minutes.
I liked hearing my brother was “off his f—— rocker”, because we were intensely competitive at that point in our lives, and he often expressed the opinion that I was the one who was “off his f—— rocker.” I liked hearing the lobster man suggest it might not be me who was the nut. What does this have to do with meteorology? Absolutely nothing. But it does suggest December 1975 was cold.
Joe Bastardi had been going on about the cold December for a long time, literally since August, and I was amazed to see things develop in a way very much like what he had predicted. While the cold might be bad for the energy situation in the short term, I still had hopes it would give way to a warmer winter in the long run.
How can cold lead to warmth? Well, sometimes the stormy spell will climax with a gigantic outpouring of arctic air that leaves the arctic so depleted that no cold can follow, so what follows is a lovely winter thaw. But I was also aware there are different, particularly nasty patterns, which do manage to swiftly reload, and to hit southern lands with successive arctic blasts. I was aware of this because 1976-1977 was so unlike 1975-1976. What caused the difference?
Usually any southward movement of arctic air involves a dip in the jet-stream. (Back when I was young, meteorologists called this dip a “low pressure trof”. The fact meteorologists spelled “trough” incorrectly was proof they were practical Science majors, and not nit-wit English majors like myself. They would spell a word like it sounded, and dictionaries could be damned. Out of great respect for those vanished scientists I will spell trough, “trof”, for the rest of this post.)
Ordinarily low pressure is centered at at the Pole in the upper atmosphere, with higher pressures to the south. Winds swing around and around the Pole, west to east, and if those winds remain west to east the flow is called “zonal”. A zonal flow tends to trap the cold at high latitudes. However sometimes the west to east flow gets perturbed and wavy, and when a wave pokes north it is called a high pressure ridge and when it pokes south it called a low-pressure trof. But sometimes the trof gets so huge it actually moves the the center of the polar rotation south along with it. That is when newspapers scream about the “Polar Vortex” coming south, (without a clue what they are screaming about.)
These super-sized trofs involve storms and cold outbreaks which often are remembered in the record books, but involve such a derangement from the normal state of affairs that they are often followed by a period of dull weather. The polar vortex has to regrow back up where it belongs, and before it is regrown the jet stream circling the Pole lacks its ordinary vigor. The arctic has “shot its wad”, and has nothing left to send south. The south takes advantage, sending thaws north. Occasionally this can brew up a decent storm, when a vast area of snow-cover creates enough “home grown” cold, and that cold needs no reinforcements from the Pole, and is able to clash with the thaw in a wintry way. However such storms don’t tend to stress people as much; temperatures are just below freezing, and often they are bracketed by thaws. For the most part a mind numbing arctic outbreak involving the Polar Vortex is a reason to hope. One hopes that, if you just hang in there, you’ll see a prolonged thaw, and can eventually stand in the sun, and even stick your neck up from your scarf a little.
However the most severe winters don’t involve the Polar Vortex being uprooted and coming south. It may wobble, or drift to one side of the Pole, but it stays home. And from its home it directs successive pulses of arctic air down one channel, created by a trof which somehow gets locked in place, or else wobbles to and fro at roughly the same longitude. Down at the bottom of such trofs people at lower latitudes experience the worst winters of their lifetimes. The hoped-for thaw never comes. The cold never quits.
I found myself remembering such a winter when I chanced across a Seth Borenstein article titled, “December Serving Up Baked Alaska…”
I have been rolling my eyes over Seth’s Alarmist take on weather for over a decade. (Heck, it might even be two decades by now.) But, even though he tends to use information to leap to preposterous conclusions, he does tend to use actual facts as his springboard. In fact I tend to like his writing the way I once liked Robert Felix’s site Ice Age Now. At Robert’s site I could learn of cold waves and snowstorms no one else reported about, and in Seth’s articles I read about warm spells and thaws every Alarmist wants to report, but often Seth is the first.
However as he talked about warmth in Alaska it triggered my Way-back Machine.
The winter of 1976-77 was one of the coldest I can remember, on the east coast of the USA. That was back during the “Ice Age Scare”. And one thing I remember was that it was hot and very dry in California, and mild in western and central Alaska, because the jet stream looped far to the north, off the west coast. But then it turned sharply south, drawing a cross-polar-flow of bitter cold air from Siberia to Eastern Alaska and the Yukon, and then down the east side of the Canadians Rockies and southeast, spreading out across the USA clear down to Florida.
I remember Pacific storms would head north, missing drought-afflicted California, and then crash into the wall of arctic air, dwindling into a little ripple of low pressure that came down the boundary between Pacific and Arctic air formed by the Rockies. I’d watch these “Alberta Clippers” carefully, because usually they just delivered the next installment of arctic air, but some hooked north on the east coast of the USA and became gales and gave us snowstorms.
I was young and hot blooded and cold didn’t bother me, and the winter had all the misery I wanted (and had been so disappointed about not seeing the winter before). I had a wonderful time that winter because, despite twelve foot tides twice a day, Casco Bay froze so solidly that you could walk for miles and visit islands. I think the start of my interest in sea-ice was simply due to spending so much time upon it. Here is a picture of me upon the salt water in January 1977, writing on sea-ice (with my dog Zeus.) (Picture taken by my friend Joe Nichols.):
One lesson I learned from that winter was that warmth in western Alaska is by no means a sign of a warm winter overall. In fact it may be a sign that we in eastern USA need to be on guard. Hold onto your hats, and pile your firewood near the door. Have a back-up plan for when the power goes out, or the oil and/or propane isn’t delivered.
In actual fact our government’s hate of fossil fuels made me heap firewood even though I am reaching a point in my life when lugging firewood has lost its appeal. I’d much rather just sit back and turn up a thermostat. But without fossil fuels a thermostat will not work. And even during a mild winter, this far north, you either want the thermostat to work, or want to have a heap of firewood.
The question I have is whether this winter will be cold or not. I’d like a mild winter, for then I’d have firewood left over and wouldn’t have to buy as much next year. But a mild winter like 1975-1976 would put me on guard for a monster winter like 1976-1977.
But I just don’t see a sign the arctic will send the “Arctic Vortex” south and “shoot its wad.” Even the December chill seems very balanced with the Polar Vortex remaining at the Pole and having trofs rotate around it. Look at the map I’ve used in prior posts of what computer models see for the situation round Christmas.
Despite how deep the trofs are, the situation looks very balanced. If you include the cold in the mid Atlantic and mid Pacific, the trofs look like the five arms of a starfish. There is no sign (yet) that the Polar Vortex prefers one trof to another, and is going to surge down on one side of the Pole and “shoot its wad”. Rather the pattern looks sustainable. It looks able to reload and repeat. In which case the thaw I hope for would be less likely, and the worst-case-scenareo (for a world which foolishly has fossil fuels in short supply) seems more possible.
I confess my inability to state which option will come to pass. All I want to do is point out what we might look for. If the worst-case-scenario develops, knowing it is about to happen might be helpful and allow one to make preparations which seem appropriate, “in time” and not “too late”.
What I am going to be looking for is the “reload”, and a map that looks like the above map again in January, and again in February, and again in March, and even in April. That is a development I very much hope NOT to see.
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
P.S. The power is back on and I again can link to the web. One of the first things I did was to peruse the long term forecasts, and immediately noticed the snow forecast for Christmas weekend has been changed to rain. The storm looks likely to go west of us, which gets me remembering 1975-1976 again. This is good news if you like low energy bills in New England. The news is not so good in Minnesota, or even down in Texas. I can see temperatures as much as twenty degrees below normal forecast for Christmas, to our west.
It doesn’t seem fair that we get off Scot free, but the weather plays by its own set of rules.
I nabbed the picture below from Joseph D’Aleo’s excellent blog on the Weatherbell website. He was describing a triple-arctic-outbreak hitting China, Europe, and the USA, which some models suggest will climax around Christmas. (A kindly Christmas present may be to invite an elderly person on a fixed income into your house, if you can afford warmth.) But what I noticed was how warm the arctic was.
It might seem like common sense that, if the cold air comes charging south from the Pole, some warm air must be sucked up behind it to replace it. I suppose you could say it is a “chicken-or-the-egg thing”, and argue that the warm air pushing north is what caused the cold air to come charging south. But, if you are going to use old sayings, you might as well say it is “six of one or a half dozen of another.” Cold air and warm air are what they are, and add up to the same total, no matter where they are placed.
However the placement of the cold air does make a difference in terms of our heating bills. A “zonal flow” keeps the cold air up at the Pole and keeps our heating bills low, whereas a “meridienal flow” allows arctic outbreaks (such as the above modeled temperatures illustrate), and high heating bills.
Heating bills, (and whether one can get fuel at all), matters to people. Arctic sea-ice does not. However it long had been the policy to attempt to scare the public with the prospect of an ice-free arctic, as if that was a bad thing. (I have argued it is not, but let’s skip that for now.) So let us scrutinize the arctic briefly and determine whether all the red on the above map is causing the Arctic Sea to have open water.
First, the DMI temperature map shows spikes, as the warm air comes north.
Remember that the freezing point of water is shown by the blue line on the above graph. (273.15 degrees Kelvin = 0 degrees Celsius). The peaks in the temperature spikes are at roughly -17 degrees Celsius, or zero Fahrenheit. You are not going to see much melting at such temperatures.
However, the above graph is a “mean” of all the high arctic, a sort of blend and average, and if you cherry pick you surely can find places where the warm air coming north was above freezing. So I conducted a search for articles emphasizing such cherry picked warmth. They are not as easy to find as they used to be, but here is one from the Associated Press:
To find counter cherry picking one once could go to the Ice Age Now site, which sadly is no more. However here is a counter from No Tricks Zone, which was reprinted on Watts Up With That:
So which is it? Is it very warm or very cold?
Well, it is the North Pole and close to the winter solstice. The sun don’t shine. So mostly it is cold. And incursions of warm air getting that far north don’t stay warm long. Look how swiftly the spikes in the DMI graph plunge back down to levels closer to “normal”. So where does the warmth go? It doesn’t melt any sea-ice. Largely it is lost to outer space. Not only is the warmth of the air lost, but further heat is lost as the southern moisture in that air goes through two phase changes, first to liquid and then to ice, and the potential energy (“latent heat”) in vapor is freed, and then lost.
I would argue this is a bad deal for the energy budget of the planet. We’d be better off if that heat stayed south and was retained here on earth. Instead it comes north and is lost to outer space, as the cold heads south and spreads snow further south than normal. This snow falls where there actually is sunshine, and nothing reflects sunshine back to outer space (“albedo”) quite as well as freshly fallen snow. So this is bad for the planet’s energy budget as well. And here is a graph from a prior post showing the snow-cover at record levels.
Lastly, when we check the DMI “extent” graph to see how low the sea-ice level is, we notice it is higher than other recent years.
Now, for the fun of it, let us return to the Associated Press article, and laugh at some of the language they used.
‘“The entire Arctic is hot except for small portions of the central and eastern Canadian Arctic and a very small portion of Siberia,” Thoman said from a warmer than normal Fairbanks.’
I love the use of the word “hot”. DMI says the mean temperature up there is -17 Celsius, (zero Fahrenheit) and the Associated Press uses the word “hot”.
‘Sea ice matters because in areas of the Arctic there’s no sun in the winter and the atmosphere is cold. But if there’s open water, that’s usually warmer than the atmosphere.
“Think of that as a heating pad and it’s just emitting heat into the atmosphere,” Thoman said.’
Open water? The Arctic Sea froze over a couple weeks ago, and now increases in the extent graph involve waters outside the Arctic. Hudson Bay is just completing its yearly flash freeze, and the Sea of Oshkosh is starting, and soon places as far south as the northern Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence will be included in the “extent” graph. But open water in the arctic? Did the Associated Press bother to look at the Naval Research Lab graph of the Arctic Sea’s ice-thickness?
I could go on, but I think my point has been made. The Associated Press is propaganda, which I think people are getting tired of. More and more roll their eyes. Furthermore, the unclear funding of such balderdash seems to be shifting away from arctic sea-ice, which no one really cares about (except oddballs like me), to other subjects which are the “front line” of current politics. The poor scientists who have been susceptible to a sort of bribery, and produced malarkey to gain grants, are seeing their funding dry up.
Some sort of problem is occurring far away, due to the fact the money used to bribe people is basically created out of thin air. Either it is printed with nothing to back it, by irresponsible governments, or it is virtual money on the internet, which is currently creating the fiasco called “The FTX crisis”. Money which people thought was so very important is simply vanishing into thin air. That is because it was created out of thin air.
I prefer Truth. When you study nature you are dealing with something solid. Meteorology is a study of thin air which is more solid than the money some slaver over and are bribed by.
I’m going to keep my sea-ice posts shorter than they used to be. Hopefully I’ll make them more frequent. The next I hope to write will be about the yearly Hudson Bay refreeze.
Withdrawal and escapism isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve noticed quite a number of people mentioning, recently, that the network news seems bad for their mental health. Though ordinarily they are people who like to stay up-to-date on current affairs, they simply find the news too aggravating.
One person stated that nowadays the news seems carefully crafted to offend. For example, a recent prisoner-exchange with Russia involved an offensive (to patriots) celebrity who had been convicted of possessing illegal drugs being rescued, as a decorated marine was left behind. News such as this seems designed to infuriate. (One bitter person suggested that the only good that could come from such an exchange was that perhaps many more celebrities would be kidnapped and incarcerated in foreign jails, held hostage forever, because we’ve nothing left to exchange.) In any case, rather than walking about infuriated, some people simply have cut back on their consumption of news. They state their health has greatly improved.
My personal escape is to go back in time. I was reading that even Winston Churchill was forced to do this, even on the cusp of World War Two. He didn’t actually want to escape, but he had to earn a living, and therefore he had to crank out a history book he was contracted to write. He’d already received (and spent) the advance he negotiated. Even as Hitler marched into Poland Churchill had to write about Joan of Arc in 1430. He stated it took a supreme act of concentration to rip his mind from politics and do his writing. It is far easier for me.
My recent escapism has involved reading about Henry the Navigator during that same time period, because I love reading how the Portuguese sailors learned to stop hugging the coasts, and became men who could spend days and even weeks out of sight of land. The records of where those sailors went were very well kept, and the libraries in Lisbon were some of the world’s greatest. Apparently several contained over 20,000 books by the 1700’s, but all was reduced to ashes by a terrible earthquake in 1755. The earthquake occurred on All Saints Day, when it was a tradition to have lit candles in houses, and this caused so many house fires to break out that the inferno turned into a terrible firestorm. For that reason much that the Portuguese sailors did vanished from the world of verifiable history, fading into the mists of wonderful lore.
As I sat by my wood stove, contemplating things that occurred hundreds of years ago, so far from reality I was like a sailor out of sight of land, I heard an ominous siren in the distance, starting at the fire station and slowly crossing the unseen horizon. I wryly thought to myself someone else’s wood stove wasn’t as well behaved as mine, and had gotten out of hand. Our local fire department tends to see a cluster of chimney fires every autumn, when the weather first gets cold, because people neglected to get their chimney’s swept over the summer.
I did better than that. I replaced my entire stovepipe. The old pipe was a top-of-the-line, double-layered, insulated pipe, but thirty-five years had beaten the bleep out of it. Falling branches in a terrible ice-storm dented it, and at the dents corrosion had set in, and also, despite sweeping, a gradual growth of creosote harder than coal, (which a sweep’s bristles couldn’t budge), were clotting it like a fat man’s arteries. It had to go.
Wincing slightly I paid $1500.00 for the sections of new pipe, and then, huffing and puffing more than slightly, I clambered up my ladder and replaced the entire thing. Now the stove has a wonderful draught. When the stove is open full-bore it practically sucks in the furniture, and the stove glows wonderful warmth.
Despite all precautions there’s inherent dangers in burning wood, and insurance agents can get downright nasty about wood-stoves, referring to books of carefully calculated “risk”. They tire me. “Risk” is all over the place, and even if you bundle everything in bubble-wrap, a Lisbon-Earthquake-of-1755 is liable to befall you. Then, if falling walls don’t crush you, and the huge tsunami doesn’t drown you, and the firestorm doesn’t cook you, and the lack of oxygen near the fire doesn’t asphyxiate you, the crazed populace is liable to blame the entire event on you, and burn you as a witch. Risk is always around us, and sometimes the obsession on “risk” makes me wish insurance agents would all trip on little children’s runaway marbles and….. and…. have a sense of humor.
In actual fact I think the real reason people moved away from wood fires is all the work involved, not the danger. There is the hauling the wood in, and the hauling the ashes away, and the sweeping up afterwards. All this effort is avoided with gas heat. Of course, gas causes incredible explosions, which is why oil heat was originally advertised as being “safest.” But, of course, now people get all bent out of shape about fossil fuels, and say oil heat causes the oceans to rise, icecaps to melt, and songbirds to sing out of tune. They insist that, to be safe, we all need to freeze. To be safe fuel prices need to soar through the roof. The ironic mantra I now hear a lot is, “Heating or Eating; you can’t have both.”
With the focus on fretting so much, I can see why people turn off the news. We have a need to sometimes sail out of sight of land. If you are not told over and over and over again how dreadful and awful and terrible fire is, maybe then you can see it as a friend.
I'm up when all is hushed to feed the fires
But don't go back to bed. Something about
The quiet quells my sluggish, yawned desires.
I sip coffee and help the fire not go out.
Or, to confess, I'm playing with my old friend
And memory looks back sixty-five long years
To when I got scolded. It doesn't end:
This long relationship with what dries tears
And has warmed me when I had no lover.
It puts up with a poking scientist
And allows my balked mind to discover
Unknown avenues. My warmed cheek is kissed.
In deserts, by oceans, through hot spells and snows
I feed and am fed and companionship grows.
Before fossil fuels, mankind lived very close to the edge. This was especially true of people who lived in the north and faced winters that could kill. Of course, southern peoples faced their own dangers, which could also kill. In fact, saying “especially northern peoples” likely makes me a sort of racist. So be it. I am of the north, and have a sort of grandfatherly fondness towards anyone so foolish as to live up at latitudes where you can freeze your tush off for a quarter, and sometimes half, of every year. What knuckleheads we are! But one can’t help but be fond of their own family, even if it makes one prone to nepotism.
Anyone stupid enough to live in the north must be smart in other respects, because cold does kill. Also famine kills, and famine, (brought on because one has been a “grasshopper” and not an “ant”), is closely associated with fever. Cold and hungry people have little resistance to disease. During the various Irish famines, statistics show few died from starvation itself, but rather from a whole slew of associated illnesses. In like manner, when a Native American prophet (called different names by different tribes) went to visit the North Wind, Fever and Famine were a couple of ugly attendants (witches?) of the North Wind, sitting and cackling outside the doorway to the North Wind’s wigwam.
When the climate shifts dramatically colder, as it has been prone to do, northern people have seen terrible decreases in their populations. Events such as the Little Ice Age resulted in crop failures, in which case even those who worked like “ants” had as little as “grasshoppers” when the weather got abruptly cold earlier than usual in the fall. Then as much as 20%, or even 50%, of a local population could die. This caused desperation, but also an ingenuity appeared in terms of trying new foods. A couple of common “famine foods” it is good to know about are the inner bark of trees (especially elms and pines) and lichens.
Ordinarily such foods were abandoned as soon as times improved, but sometimes people remembered odd benefits such foods had, and continued using them, (albeit on a limited basis.) For example, powdered slippery-elm bark turns out to be a good food for those with delicate stomachs. Pine bark is a good wintertime source of vitamin C, if you live far from orange groves. And willow bark contains what pharmacists call “aspirin”. In fact the value of bark was so recognized that some Finns carefully saved the bark of trees they cut, even if current situations didn’t warrant it. They fed the preserved bark to livestock if the future held a good harvest. However the Finns had experienced some awful famines, and saved bark on general principles, to “play it safe.” If the harvest failed, they had the bark to fall back on.
Such foods require skill, to be edible. There is a certain local lichen in New England which can kill you if you eat it raw, for it will cause diarrhea nearly as bad as cholera’s. However if you “toast” the same lichen by a fire (it is the lichen which is like big, flat, rubbery, dark-green scales on the sides of rocks, looking more like some sort of seaweed than like ordinary lichen,) then you will wind up with green, crispy stuff you can crumble into a flour that keeps you alive.
In like manner, pine bark must be properly prepared. I lack such skill. My attempt to make pine-bread produced a horrible poison which tasted like gasoline. However Native American women were much smarter than me and made a bread that was apparently quite tasty. In certain high-altitude parts of New England growing corn became impossible for the Algonquin, because the Little Ice Age shortened the growing season, and whole tribes became so focused on gathering bark that the first Europeans described entire groves of white pines standing stripped of their bark. The rivals to these Algonquin were Iroquois who could just barely manage to grow corn, most years, because they lived at a lower altitude, and they were scornful of people who ate bark. They called them “tree eaters”, from which we get the noble and respected word, “Adirondack.”
The Iroquois may have had a point, in mocking people who live where you can’t grow corn, but I am from the north, and my nepotism causes me to admire people like myself, who live where you can freeze your tush off. Why? Because we figure out how to live where others can’t.
The current policy of “green” energy-thinkers seems to want to kill a lot of people. By snatching away fossil fuels, they are removing the benefits fossil fuels made possible. But they do not provide a way to go back to the way it was before.
For example, before there were mills there were woman working at home at spinning wheels. But now, if we close down the mills, women can’t go back to spinning wheels. Heck, if you handed many a woman a needle nowadays she’d be in danger of poking her eye out.
In like manner, before there were huge combines harvesting vast acreages there were men walking over single acres wielding scythes, cutting grain by hand. Any chance of modern computer geeks doing that? I don’t think so. Most haven’t a clue where food comes from, and gag a little when you show them bright orange carrots come from filthy, wormy dirt, and practically upchuck if they see smooth, white eggs come from a chicken’s filthier butt. Any chance such uneducated “educated” men can swiftly get back to the manly art of providing for the family by providing the food? Forgive me, but I have my doubts.
Basically we live in a society where most can’t grow their own food, build their own shelters, spin their own clothing, or even raise their own children. This has created a blissfully ignorant intelligentsia which can come up with socially suicidal ideas like “The Green New Deal”. And now they are about to see just how idiotic their idealism is. They have created a situation where many could freeze and starve.
My only hope is that there are some who, like me, saw the idiocy of the intelligentsia fifty years ago. I was partially seduced by smooth talkers twice my age, (“LSD will expand your mind”), but when push came to shove I rejected the seductions of spiritual con-artists, and preferred a more Truth-based, (and therefore in some ways archaic), vision of what Truth was.
And what was that Truth? It was respect for the food I ate, the clothing I wore, the roof that sheltered me, and the warmth that allowed me to avoid freezing.
It’s amazing how forgetful people can be, and how they forget to count their blessings. When they put on a cotton shirt, do they thank the one who grew the cotton, or the person who spun the fabric? Usually not. When they eat a ham sandwich do they thank the one who grew the bread, or raised the pig, or smoked the ham, or baked the bread (not to mention all those we should be thanking for mayonnaise)? Usually not. And when they walk to a wall and twirl a little dial and expect to be warm?
Sadly, that little dial has no power to warm you. You can click it five, ten, fifty, five hundred times, and your house may just get colder.
So who has the power?
Currently those who have power are idealistic idiots. I very much fear we are about to see them learn the hard way that they are idiots. The sad thing is that it is we too will suffer, if we rely on idiots.
Me? I don’t. Not that I didn’t rely on idiots when young, but they betrayed my trust. But….not that I could trust myself, either. I saw I was an idiot as well. I was especially an idiot to trust idiots. So who could I trust? Basically it came down to “In God We Trust”, but as a teenager I couldn’t honestly say I believed in God. Therefore it was distilled into, “In Truth I Trust.”
Truth is not all that highly regarded, currently, which is why mainstream media and quasi-mainstream-media make millions with “Fake News”. They pretend to be “both sides” of an issue but actually represent one side of a propaganda that is false. They have been false about Global Warming, false about corona virus vaccines, false about Trump, false about Biden, and in fact there is very little they have been truthful about. In fact, if God is Truth, and the mainstream media is not truth, then in some ways that makes the media the “Antichrist”.
There is a section of the Bible where a seer named Daniel got to peek into the future, and saw stuff so upsetting that he wound up sick in bed for around a week. Not that Daniel didn’t see that God and the good guys won in the end, but there was a time (or times) before the end when evil had great power. Perhaps Daniel got glimpses of Hitler, and Stalin, or other despots who despised the godly, such as Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who made it politically correct to slaughter pigs on the alter of the holy temple in Jerusalem. And of course (then as now) there are those who “go along to get along”. There were Jewish priests who basically were saying slaughtering pigs on the alter respected cultural diversity. Of course, they used different words back then, but they were amenable to evil, even when a Jew named Jesus appeared. There are always people who behave like complete morons in the name of “political correctness”, and who are responsible for giving correctness a bad name. They are why people detest priests and religion. It’s not God’s fault. Don’t blame Truth for the chicanery of liars.
If you are a stickler for Truth you can find yourself in positions where you are not “politically correct”, and frustrate friends by “failing to take advantage of opportunities offered.” As a young poet I perhaps could have made good money by writing rhymes that sold Chocolate Sugar Bombs breakfast cereal, but I simply couldn’t join an industry that rotted children’s teeth and caused their metabolisms to go haywire. I also could have been successful if I slept with a creepy old publisher. But I was virtuous and my reward was to sleep in my car. (Look back to old posts on this site for the tales of my trials.) But my point is that, if you are a stickler for Truth, you can wind up sleeping in a car in a campground in the autumn, and you then need to face the fact the weather is getting darn cold. You would resort to using your car’s heater if you could, but that involves gasoline, and your car’s tank is near empty and you haven’t got a job. How, then, do you stay warm?
You do what even Neanderthal knew how to do. You build a fire. But this involves gathering fuel. Where does one find fuel in a campground? Well, the first place to look is in the campfire-hearths of other sites, after other campers have departed. Every morning sees a great exodus of campers from campgrounds, and after such people left, and before newcomers arrived, a great poet (yours truly) once could be seen wandering about the campground gathering unused and half-burned logs.
And when there was no such fuel available? Then one must be a true Neanderthal, and go into the sagebrush, or wander the dry gulches and gullies of desert waterways, and collect what the Great Spirit has provided. Then, when the twilight fades and the desert heat switches so dramatically to cold, you warm in the orange light of a crackling fire. And then you notice something odd. The light does not attract moths. It attracts tourists, who gather by your fire and are delighted to share a beer with a genuine starving artist, and to talk with someone who knows how to talk. Some evenings I had the sense that I, little old me, a broke bum sleeping in his car, was a high point of other’s dreary vacations. Why? Because, after dreary tourist trap after dreary tourist trap, they stumbled upon a garrulous fellow who yammered away about what was beautiful and rich, with delight and humor. And why was it as warming as the fire? Because it was Truth.
Not that those trials were not trials, at the time, but now I can look back and call them the best of times. I was a bachelor. I was free of a wife, free of kids and, (eventually), grand-kids. I was free! Free! Free! But God knows the Truth about such freedom. I was haunted by a thing called “Lonely.”
Then I married a woman with three small kids, and sure didn’t need to worry about the thing called “Lonely” any more. But I did need to worry about keeping the bunch of us warm. I had my doubts about the ability of a mad poet like myself to be a good father and keep children warm. Temperatures can get very cold in New Hampshire. You can expect below zero spells every winter (minus seventeen Celsius) and I have seen numerous day-breaks below minus twenty (minus twenty-nine Celsius).
To make matters worse, the woman I married insisted we move into an abode with “charm”. She did not want to move into a tight, modern place with insulation so complete that it pops your ears when you slam the front door. Instead she desired one of the oldest cottages in town, built when insulation was unheard of. As we went upstairs I saw the nails sticking down from the ceiling, and knew darn well they got frosty in December. I tried to talk my wife out of bringing children into such a place, but she could only see the “charm” of antiquity. For a mad poet I became surprisingly practical, and pointed out “charm” can mean “drafty”, but I was romantic enough to believe women know more about “home” than men, and therefore, if she wanted to live in a 250-year-old place which should be condemned, so be it. But I, as the man, should keep the place warm, despite the fact the place was as drafty as…as…the army in Vietnam.
It seemed impossible. The place once was heated by coal, but the coal furnace in the basement had been replaced by a roaring, rattling propane furnace. It was only an “improvement” because propane made no ashes and didn’t require shoveling and was incredibly cheap. But the furnace had an efficiency rating of less than 50%. It wasted so much heat it required a chimney to vent all the wasted heat through the roof. Yet the place also had three wood stoves, to “supplement” the furnace.
The first thing I became aware of was that I couldn’t afford the propane. I might set the heat at fifty and leave home with my three new children left behind bundled in wool, but they knew how to adjust the thermostat, and when I returned the kids would be running about in their underwear and the heat would be set at eighty. When I checked the propane tank I saw this single, innocent transgression had used up half the tank. Besides the house we likely were warming half the neighborhood. As my lawn-mowing business made no money when grass stopped growing, I was hard pressed to even make enough money for food, let alone filling a propane tank once a week, even back when prices were low.
At this point I was told I might qualify for government “heating assistance”. It sounded like free heat, so I went to the office. The visit was a bit embarrassing, because the other people in the waiting room were elderly and frail, or else gaunt mothers with clinging kids. The mothers were, if not widows, abandoned by their men. And there I was, a musclebound poet, glowing with health. What the heck was I doing there?
I did qualify, because I had three kids and my income was low and my wife was pregnant. But filling out the forms became absolutely absurd. I had to provide paper proof my income was low. For most this involves getting a single form from a single minimum-wage-paying boss, stating they had laid the person off, but I worked no such minimum-wage job. I was instead a local handyman, hustling about town mowing lawns, but also doing a slew of other little jobs.To feed three kids, I had to work for roughly seventeen bosses. What the bureaucrats demanded was that I go to all seventeen and get them to sign statements that they had laid me off.
The amazing thing was that I actually complied with the demands of the bureaucrats. I went to all seventeen people and confronted them with the fact that they had “laid me off.” It was in some ways fun. (I prefer sipping a coffee with people and chatting, to actually working.) But it did occur to me that the “heating assistance” I was going to get would only buy enough propane to last about three weeks in January. (In fact it lasted less, because the kids kept cranking up the thermostat when I wasn’t home.)
Then it occurred to me that all the time I was spending getting “heating assistance” was time I could have been spending doing what I had once done, staying warm in a campground. I could have spent the time gathering firewood. So I began gathering firewood. At times, I blush to confess, I took advantage of ignorant people, and charged them for gathering firewood from their property, calling it “a clean up” or “landscaping.” And then?
And then…year after year passed, and we never used that propane furnace again. It broke, and I never fixed it. I planned to update, and get a better furnace, but was so busy with three, and then four, and then five children, that I never got around to it. It was easier to burn wood, which was all about and often free. Only when I hit age sixty did I get around to pausing, and concluding wood involved work, and I was getting old, and it might be nice to just twirl a dial if I wanted the house warmer in a blizzard, rather than going out into the swirling snow for an armload of wood.
And so it was we at long last purchased a wonderful new furnace that hardly made any noise, and rather than working at 50% efficiency worked at nearly 90% efficiency, so it didn’t need a brick chimney, but rather a slender, plastic “waste gas” pipe.
I thought my wife would approve of this concession to old age, because firewood involves a lot of dirt and dead leaves coming into the house along with the firewood, with even bugs and spiders hitching a ride. Then there are ashes which must come out. She’d put up with a quarter century of my messiness. Propane avoids that. However propane heat also involves a faceless register on the floor exhaling heat, which has no “charm”. And my wife likes to charm and gather people, for reasons which don’t make a lick of sense to a banker, but make sense if you care about a thing called, “home.” Despite the fact she could just turn up the propane heat, she preferred the wood stove. It had “ambience”, which is another word for “charm”. (If you want the honest truth, I think the source of “ambience” was actually her fresh baked cookies, and one must concede an overworked oven does make a chilly, winter house warmer.)
In any case, what this all means is that I am a man pushing seventy, yet still dealing with firewood. I huff and puff over single logs which I once could have flipped with my little finger. I am not aging gracefully, resent my own weakness, embarrass myself when no one witnesses, and my ego is constantly punctured, but…I keep the home fires burning.
One gratifying thing about being an old anachronism is that I am able to scoff at others for caring about oil, propane, wind-power or solar heat. I don’t let people forget the one time we had a terrible ice-storm and went ten days without power. We, in our drafty old house, were warm with our wood-stoves, which also provided us with hot water and cooked stews and even melted pails of snow to flush the toilets with. We didn’t have leave town and move in with relatives like some more “modern” people did, nor did we experience water damage from frozen pipes.
When I belabor this topic, ranting about how helpless “modern” people are, listeners tend to roll their eyes, or they did so until Fraudulent Biden set out to destroy all domestic production of fossil fuels. People up north tried not to panic, but there seemed a chance, just a chance, that the Green New Deal would be like an ice storm, and there might again be frozen pipes and water damage in modern houses.
Even before last winter was over I was taking steps to make sure we were ready to use wood, if there was no propane, this winter. I wanted to buy the wood before the prices went through the roof. The prior winter I sawed and split my own wood, and had arrived at the conclusion that I’m getting too old and slow. I managed to save a lot of money, but only just barely. So this year, older and weaker, I couldn’t be such a tightwad and had to spend actual money on wood.
I went to an old-timer who sells wood. His family has been around town for centuries, and he is the last of them. Hills and brooks and a road is named after his family, but he has no son. He is a vast repository of knowledge that soon will be lost, so I always try to make purchasing wood an occasion to gab with him. On this occasion he invited me to see his new gizmo.
Unlike me, he does not cut wood and split it the way we did it back in 1988. He has, over the years, had all sorts of machinery built to simplify the process, and to reduce the manpower involved. His latest contraption cost a pretty penny (and definitely utilized the power of fossil fuels), but it could easily cut and split a cord of wood in half an hour. (A “cord” is a woodpile four feet wide, four feet tall, and eight feet long.)
Proudly he showed me how the gizmo worked. He drove his lumber truck up to the gizmo and used the truck’s “arm” (a sort of small crane) to pinch, lift, and swing thirty-foot-long logs from the truck to the gizmo and lay them in a enormous tray. Once he had ten logs in the tray he clambered down from the truck and into a cozy, climate-controlled cabin with big windows, and turned his gizmo on. A huge circular blade hummed, and could cut through a log eighteen inches across in two seconds. (It would take me at least a minute with my sharpest chainsaw.) Then that log, precisely measured, fell into a holder and a wedge shaped like the symbol for number (or tic-tack-toe) crunched into the log and split it into nine pieces of firewood. (It would take me eight swings of a spitting maul to reduce the same log to nine pieces, and every swing would need to be perfect.) The nine pieces of wood then plopped down onto a conveyor belt which lifted them up and dumped them into a dump truck. It was amazing: Zip, crunch, nine pieces of wood; zip, crunch, nine pieces of wood; zip, crunch, nine pieces of wood. And the fellow doing all this work wasn’t even breaking a sweat. He just sat in a cabin and worked levers. I decided the old fellow was aging a lot more gracefully than I was.
Because I’d ordered early and the wood was green I got a decent deal. Six cord for $2000.00. Basically I paid this winter’s heating bills all at once, last summer. It took two dump-truck deliveries, which annoyed me slightly, for I wanted four cord at my house and only two at my Childcare, but his driver delivered three and three. That meant I’d have to transport a cord from the Childcare to my house in my jeep. That sounded like a lot of huffing and puffing to me. But I loaded the jeep (roughly eight Jeep-loads make a cord.)
And drove to my house and lugged wood up the steps to stack it on the front porch. Where once I’d dashed up and down those steps, I now paused at the top after each load, serenely gazing over the landscape (to hide the fact I was huffing and puffing). (Note teal propane tank by steps, full of propane, and yellow snow shovel next to it; I’m ready for the hounds of winter.)
I did my best to pace myself. Though I placed my order in April the wood hadn’t arrived until August. One load a day seemed about right. A load lasts only a couple of days when the weather is fiercely cold, but it was far from cold in August. At first we used no wood at all, and then a Jeep-load lasted a week when the mornings first grew nippy. The porch was soon full and I didn’t need to lug wood every day. But there still was the stacking of the rest of the woodpiles, and there were two whole dump-truck loads to stack. (I had to stack it because wood doesn’t dry well if left in the heap the dump-truck deposits, especially when the trees cover the pile with fallen leaves which then are drenched by rain.) I needed to get cracking, but procrastinated due to other chores, until winter did what it always does: Freaks me out with a dusting of early snow. Snow before Thanksgiving always melts away, but it never fails to jolt me into motion.
It was at this time I began to feel I had bitten off more than I could chew. The incremental weakening caused by aging sneaks up on you. It made me angry in a way. A man likes to be able to respond to an emergency, but I was getting so slow I felt like an obstacle, an old geezer just getting in the way. Not that anyone was so rude as to say such a thing; I just muttered it to myself. I wasn’t keeping up with a schedule I had in my head.
Then Thanksgiving came, and a sudden small swarm of children and grandchildren appeared and in an amazing 90 minutes stacked the entire three cords of wood.
I was out there helping, constructing the cribbed lower corner near the steps, but I didn’t even need to lean over for logs. They were handed to me. Meanwhile everyone else rushed about, throwing logs into the front bucket of a small (fossil fueled) front-end-loader, driving them down to the woodpile, and stacking them up. (The measured pile actually added up to 3 and a half cords; my old friend had given me a good deal).
As I watched all the man-power (and woman power) in action I found myself thinking back 34 years, to a day in 1988 when my stepmother had rubbed my fur the wrong way, by asking me to bring wood upstairs to her stove in a way I found bossy and presumptuous. (I was busy writing a poem at the time.) I put my ire to good use, dashing up and down the stairs and bringing up three times the wood she needed, stamping and clunking wood down loudly and concluding with a curt, “There! Happy now?” She pouted back at me, (as we were involved in a war wherein we each tried to make the other feel more guilty), but we were distracted by my father, who wore a look of real appreciation and simply exclaimed, “Isn’t strength a most wonderful thing!?”
I felt a little sheepish, for I was 35 and strong as a horse, and when he was 35 he lost his strength all at once due to polio. But he wasn’t trying to “out-guilt” me. He really did appreciate what he had lost.
And now its 34 years later all of a sudden, and my turn to really appreciate what I have lost. But I have a feeling other people are going to really appreciate fossil fuels, once they’re lost, as well.
The “green” agenda of his fraudulency, Biden, is having the consequences which people like me, (people who are dubious [to say the least] about “Global Warming”), have been warning about. We were warning twenty years ago. Ten years ago. Last year.
Basically, we were saying fossil fuels might have a bad side, but they also had a good side. Before we banned them, we should be sure we had a viable alternative, or we would lose the “good side”.
Well, we are losing the “good side”, as Biden does his best to prevent the production of coal, oil and gas. The “good side” was warm houses in winter, cheap fertilizer for our crops, cheap transport of essential goods, mobility of labor at low costs, low costs for the manufacturing of goods, to begin a partial list of benefits, (not mentioning plastics.) Now, with even a small part of that “good side” removed, we are seeing how much more expensive life is.
Is it worth it? At best, using the most biased models, abandoning fossil fuels might decrease the warming of the planet .05 degrees a year. (And there is debate about whether a warmer planet might be a better planet, more like periods of prosperity called “The Medieval Warm Period” and “The Roman Climate Optimum”.)
Now that we are just beginning to feel the pain of Biden’s green agenda, the answer seems to be “this is not worth it.” But, sorry to say, it is too late. Elections have consequences, even if they are rigged, and we now are witnessing the bleep hit the fan. It will get worse before it gets better.
For the trusting individuals who believed Biden was “moderate” I imagine it is a great shock to witness the destruction of the stability Trump had established, and to furthermore realize the destruction reaches levels unseen even in the lifetimes of our great-grandparents. Not that our great-grandparents knew of the modern miracle called “baby formula”; (they used a “wet nurse” instead,) but our great-grandparents never witnessed a government so inept that it manufactured a shortage of wet-nurses. For trusting, suburbanite housewives, (who apparently formed a sold block of Biden voters, women certain Biden was sane,) it is jarring to see he is not.
For trusting people who worked tedious jobs for decades, trusting their pension would mean something, it is a shock to see inflation erode their fixed income. It will be sad if they find it hard to afford heat next winter. It will be sadder if there is no heat to be had, and oil must be rationed.
Me? I lost faith early in life, when it came to authorities, and I had little belief any pension would be worth it. I was certain the bleep would hit the fan decades ago. This freed me from ever needing to stick with a job for the attached pension, for I “knew” the national debt was too high during the time Jimmy Carter was president, and was “certain” the inflation, (which was pretty bad back then), would spiral completely out of control. I was wrong. Some of my friends who had more faith in the system than I did retired at age fifty with fat pensions and have lived comfortable retirements, as I’ve had to go on working, and working, and working.
Now some of those friends, who retired at age fifty, are thinking maybe they need to go back to work at age seventy. That’s how bad the “green energy” inflation is. They look at their bills for lighting their houses and keeping the furnace going, and inflation is 50%. They could handle bills of $500.00, but $1000.00 wreaks their budget, and they consider rejoining the world of a working man. Welcome back.
Me? I’ve gone on working, and working, and working, but never for one boss. I’ve been free. I work for people I like, but, should the rot set in and a boss start to reek, I have always been free to say, “Sorry, Charlie”, and depart. So what if I lost health insurance? I was hale and hearty without it. So what if I lost a potential pension? I was sure the world would never pay the pension when it was due.
Now it seems I was right, after all. Politicians do not respect their elders in the manner scriptures command, and rather look for ways to avoid paying what they promised. Their breaking-of-promises is most ugly when their way of avoiding payments is to exterminate the elderly they promised to pay.
The most obvious and odious example of such filthy behavior was when President Trump made-available hospital ships and convention centers for people stricken with the coronavirus, but Governor Cuomo refused to send the ill to such highly equipped places, and instead sent the ill to ill-equipped old soldier’s homes and senior citizen facilities. This spread the corona virus among the very elders who should have been most protected, and roughly 10,000 died. Yet this in turn saved New York State roughly a billion dollars, because if those elders lived it cost roughly $100,000 per person per year to honor elders. 10,000 dead “saved” a billion. Killing elders may not be honoring them, but modern politicians know little about honor when a billion dollars is involved.
This didn’t surprise me, for, as I stated, I had little trust. I grew up in a rich town and knew how vile and fetid bigwig fat cats can be. I was repelled, and, though my disgust forced me to become downwardly mobile, I discovered the opposite of fetid is the fragrance of freedom. Money was not my master, and the blandishments of insurance and a pension could never seduce me into working for a boss who was not righteous. So what?
So…I lacked insurance and a pension. I’m still working at age 69, and qualify as poor, but I have ten grandchildren, while Bill and Hillary Clinton have zero. (And they are still working, too.)
Considering I’m sixty-nine, some ask me why I don’t apply for social security. Even though I keep working and working and working, friends say I should collect the benefits and then let the government take them back when I pay my taxes. But I find it hard to stomach asking. I have never thought Social Security was secure. I assumed the politicians had itchy fingers and would plunder the funds. The little I knew, investigating Social Security, seemed to affirm my distrust.
When President FDR created Social Security in 1935, he imagined the money collected from workers would go into a fund which the government would care for. The fund would grow, for the hardship of the Great Depression caused the life expectancy of men to sink to 56.6 years, which meant that most men paid into the fund and never collected a cent. They didn’t mind, (much), for Newspapers highlighted the first, prune-faced elders gratefully collecting their Social Security checks, even though they had paid little or nothing into the fund. A working man could feel good he helped elders.
Despite initial subtractions for elders who paid little into the fund, for the most part the fund grew, with more people paying in than collected. The life expectancy of women never surpassed 70 years until 1949, and as recently as 1969 the life expectancy of men was 66.8 years. This meant men collected for less than two years after paying in for forty-five or even fifty years. The fund was bound to grow. Basically, most people who collected in 1969 were widows, stay-at-home Moms who could expect to live to be 74.3 years as their husbands died at 66.8. Social Security was a good deal, a kind deal, a mercy for widows, but a doomed deal, because the fund grew too large.
1969 also marked a huge increase in the amount of people paying into Social Security, as the “Baby Boom” generation began to work, (albeit erratically.) The fund expanded, and politicians felt such an enormous amount of money should be invested wisely, but I think the investments were unwise, for rather than the fund now being more enormous, as it should be after the “Baby Boomers” made payments for a half century, the fund is basically bankrupt. Where did all that money go?
Ask the politicians. It will take a bit of sodium pentothal to get an honest answer.
Basically, to be blunt, they used up the money for bribes. They like to make bribery sound altruistic, “preforming services for constituents”, but, basically, they gave the money to people who had not paid into the fund, and who had no reason to expect benefits. The politicians would always claim they were “helping the poor”, but in truth they were bribing voters to vote for them. And now the money is all gone and the only way to pay the Baby Boomers will be to print money, which causes inflation and makes a Social Security check basically worthless. Where’s the “security” in a check that barely pays for heat and electricity in January, and leaves nothing for food?
I hate to say, “I told you so”, but I told you so. I wish I’d been wrong. In fact, I thought I was wrong, when my friends were retiring twenty years ago with cushy pensions, and I had to keep working and working and working. They had trusted what I didn’t trust, and they were reaping what I didn’t sow. I was the grasshopper, and they were the ants. But now….they face bankruptcy, as I’ve been bankrupt, (or at least hand-to-mouth), all along. Welcome back, fellows! Hope you enjoyed your long vacations, but its time to get back to work.
Just today, besides running my Childcare, I huffed and puffed out in a cold rain in my garden hoeing together thirty hills to plant winter squash in. God willing, each hill will bear three vines and each vine will produce three to ten squashes. Assuming only three per plant, that’s nine squashes per hill, and 30 hills will give me 270 winter squash. Assuming an average weight of 4 pounds, that’s more than half a ton of squash.
I doubt I can eat half a ton of squash next winter. In fact, I’ll have an excess to feed others with. Hopefully they’ll have something to trade in return that I desire, and we can call it “barter”. But if my neighbor is broke, unable to pay for (or find) oil to heat his home, (due to Biden’s policy) and unable to afford squash at the store-with-empty-shelves, because berserk inflation has a squash costing fifty dollars, I’ll not call it “charity”, but “hospitality” to invite him over to my warm wood stove to roast squash seeds on that stove, with some squash soup and squash pie. And hopefully we’ll be able to laugh at the irony of me, an old coot who has no pension, providing for him, an old coot who has one. It is like the grasshopper providing for the ant.
Of course, neighbor will not get off Scot free. He will have to pay a price for my hospitality. Hopefully the cost will not be too much to bear: He will have to listen to me recite some of my poetry, going back sixty years.
Here’s a couple of sonnets from over forty years ago. (1979 or 1980). I think that, despite the fact I was in my twenties when I wrote them, they have aged well. They give me the strange sense that all our lives we’ve sensed the impending crisis. There was just nothing we could do to stop it. Whatever will be will be. My old sonnets are like mouse-squeaks of warning.
THE GRASSHOPPER SONNET
When I was young, I was told a fable
About a grasshopper and one good ant.
The good ant gathered grain for its table.
The grasshopper fiddled the following rant:
"Man can't live on bread alone; all need song,
Yes, all need song. Life, without its tune
Is wrong; yes, utterly hopelessly wrong,
That grasshopper came to ruin
Or at least that is what the fable states.
I guess that means next spring will be silent
Without the sweet chirping a grasshopper makes.
I guess that means all the ways that I went
Will lead me to death, while you'll never die.
Either that or else all the old fables can lie.
THE ANT SONNET
The poor ants work while the grasshoppers fiddle.
The ant looks up to the sky with trust.
The ant can't see God stands in the middle.
The ant is shocked by the first locust.
The locusts swarm and the fields are stripped.
The ant's outraged, and it seeks its peers.
Army ants march in tight ranks, grim lipped.
Soon the last locust disappears.
Thus there's no fiddling. Thus there's no grain.
Thus we have nothingness. Thus we're insane.
Thus all our efforts breed flourishing pain.
Thus does humanity go down the drain.
Pray for ecology; then there's a chance
That grasshoppers will get along with the ants.
As a man who never married until he was certain he was too old for marriage, (age thirty-seven), I know the bliss of a joy deferred. So, I am happy for my eldest daughter, who is getting married this June. However, there are times it seems to me girls get too giddy about marriage.
In my own case I really didn’t see why marriage was anyone else’s business. I was planning on a quiet ceremony at some Justice-Of-The-Peace’s, but a wonderful old woman (who had been something of a matchmaker) would have none of that and vetoed my practicality. She insisted my future wife have all the frills of a bachelorette party, and a shower, and a big, church wedding.
Now thirty-two years later I’m going through the same process with my daughter. Once again, I am the drab, practical party-pooper. Of course, I’m a little older and wiser. I may still try to fight City Hall, but I don’t fight girls when they get giddy. Let them pick flowers if they insist; I will plant the beans.
At times I confess to feeling a little sorry for myself. After all, I see myself as a poet, and that is supposed to mean I get to be impractical: I am the grasshopper fiddling as the ants all toil. But somehow my study of Truth flipped things around, and rather than spending other people’s money I’m the one making the money others spend.
A wedding is a short celebration, compared to the non-stop party going on in the Swamp. They are spending money they didn’t make, though they think they can make money by printing it, but that makes inflation (which is a sneaky way of taking the value of my money and making it less without an official tax). This makes me feel even more sorry for myself.
The sheer stupidity of the Swamp’s behavior wears me down. While women get giddy about marriage, which is a very real thing, they deny marriage is a real thing, but insist Global Warming, which is not what they say it is, must be attended to.
His Fraudulency, Biden, while visiting Japan, actually was honest, and admitted the increase in fuel prices is not due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but was an intentional policy intended to make fossil fuels so expensive that we stop using them, and therefore, (theoretically) stop warming the world. But guess what? The world looks like it is cooling all by itself. The La Nina has come roaring back for a third straight year, chilling the Pacific.
And computer models are showing a cool June world-wide.
So basically, the Swamp is making fuel too expensive to use, in order to halt warming that isn’t happening. This deeply concerns me. I wasn’t going to have a garden this year, but now am worried shelves may be empty in the fall. So, I’m out toiling in my potato patch, even as all my help vanishes for a bachelorette party. Seems a good reason to tune up the violins of self-pity and be a poet.
Look what they've done to your poet, Lord.
I came with skipping glee, lacking the guile
They employed, innocently looking toward
My triumph, explaining with a bright smile
How all should honor my sparkling wit,
But they did not concur: "Who gave this brat
The right to rule? The loud fool does not fit
Our ugliness, and we must teach him that
The beauty that he sees is not allowed."
Why do they rule that You must not be seen?
Why be blind to silver in a cruising cloud?
You're so generous, while they are so mean.
I've been singing to the deaf, but now long
To return where men don't say right is wrong.
Where can one retreat to? I sort of like the simplicity of Psalm 123. One is just a child going to their Dad after enduring the contempt and ridicule of an arrogant bully. There is no belaboring justification, no analysis of whether one deserved to be bullied, no stressing of what one might have done better. One just brings a hurt heart, seeking healing.
Even after amazing victories it seems that King David, as a “man of the blood”, suffered some sort of Post-Traumatic Stress, and rather than victorious felt a need to retreat to a hiding place and basically adopt a fetal position and suck his thumb. All arrogance and egotism was put aside.
Lord, may I pay a visit? Hide in folds
Of fabric in the skirtings of Your throne?
Be hid in your brilliance? No despot holds
Power in such presence. No children groan
Bathed by such light, swaddled by fabric
So ornate. I need to find a safe retreat
For I have no excuse. I'm not sick
Nor poor, but suffer some strange defeat
I do not understand, and want to hide
Someplace safe and beyond all banal thought;
Someplace tucked in close to your warm side
Where David retreated after he'd fought
When his bones and heart ached. To You he turned
For You alone hold the peace we have spurned.
I have to confess there is healing in such retreat, even though I can roll my eyes at the “Safe Spaces” set up in colleges for the exceedingly tenderhearted, and the “mental health days” such tenderhearted people expect for the most commonplace trials. There is a difference between simpering retreat and King David’s retreat, revolving around how spattered by blood you are.
A sort of insult was added to injury, as I tottered about my potato patch, and the insult was a drought. The weather swung from bone-chilling east winds off the cold Atlantic to sweltering heat up from Georgia, and then back, and then forth, so it was seldom comfortable, yet I had to water my seedlings. When seeds first sprout and have a single root like a thread, a dry day can kill them. Usually, my complaint in New Hampshire springs is too much rain, and mud, and seeds rotting, but this year I’ve had to haul about kinking hoses and an old watering can. This gives me one more reason for violins, but I was very glad to see rain in our forecast after a long, hard workweek. The air had shifted back to muggy heat from Georgia, and the sunset was obscured by gray, so I trusted the forecast and skipped the final watering at sunset, muttering TGIF and heading home.
The next morning I awoke before the sun, and, looking outside, saw the driveway was still bone dry. It was warm enough to walk outside barefoot and feel the dust between my toes, yet so humid my hair was lank, but there was no mist and no heat lightning flashing from afar. I sighed and knew my weekend must start with watering, which was an extra chore on my list. But first I’d sip a coffee and attempt a sonnet:
Early summer heat sneaks into mild May
And the night strangely swelters without crickets.
Drought makes the frogs sparce. I want skies of gray
And raindrops, not crisp leaves in the thickets.
My seedlings yearn for drenching thunder-rain;
They feel my watering can is too meager.
The humid night only hears an upstairs fan
Drone electrically, when trees seem eager
For flashes of lightning drawing nearer.
All is awaiting relief, wet winds that croon
Rain's drumming; rainbows when skies get clearer,
Like India before the yearned monsoon,
Yet I am not only awaiting the rain.
A Savior is coming to heal our great pain.
Just as I finished the sonnet, I heard a wonderful noise outside. After a long winter of leafless trees, there is no sound quite so sweet as the first platting of raindrops in young leaves, growing as a sigh from a sweetened darkness before dawn, and surrounding you with mercy.
I called it “a sign” and crossed out “water seedlings” from my Saturday-list.
Some of the world’s biggest rivers drain north into the Arctic Sea, and are one of the amazing “variables” one needs to wonder about, in order to understand the many reasons arctic sea-ice varies so much.
First, one needs to focus on the fact that the flow of such great rivers, (the Lena into the Laptev Sea, the Ob and Yennisey into the Kara Sea, and the Mackenzie into the Beaufort Sea), varies enormously, for the obvious reason that, in the summer, snow and ice melt, and, (because waters cannot drain downwards and feed a “water table” due to permafrost), they feed the entirety of the thaw into rivers, but then, in the winters, the entirety of that water freezes, and rivers go unfed. In the case of the Lena River, in places the river can rise sixty feet in the spring floods, and as much as 100,000 times as much water is pouring into the sea in June as did in early April.
The infusion of fresh water into a salty sea creates a freshwater “lens” near the deltas, because the waters do not immediately mix. Fresh water is less dense than salt water, so it tends to be at the surface, and fresh water freezes more readily, because it has a higher freezing point. Therefore water by the deltas and close to the shores tends to freeze first.
“But wait”, you may ask, “Is not the water close to shore warmer than water further out to sea?” Yes, but only initially. During June the river water is made less icy by long summer days, however by September the tundra such rivers wander through is swiftly freezing over, not only dramatically reducing the amount of water entering the rivers, but also the temperature of the water within the rivers. Also the water that has already reached the sea is rapidly losing its heat to the darkening sky overhead. This tends to create an updraft over the coastal waters, which allows the colder air over the tundra to flow out to sea to replace the air that has risen. This “land breeze” becomes more likely as the temperature difference between the ocean and the tundra becomes more dramatic. For example, this year October 12 temperatures over the Kara and Laptev and East Siberian Seas hovered close to freezing, while (due to fresh snow-cover and radiational-cooling) temperatures just inland in Siberia were far colder.
The swift refreeze of inshore waters was noted by both whales and whaling ships, who fled such waters in early September, (the whales because they cannot breathe under ice, and the whaling ships because sail-powered boats were lousy ice-breakers and could be stopped by as little as an inch of new ice). However scientists of that time, far from the actual situation, came up with an interesting theory, due to their study of the density of salt water as opposed to the density of fresh water.
Water is wonderful stuff, in that it gets less dense as it freezes. If ice behaved like substances such as iron or gold it would sink as it solidified, and the bottoms of our oceans would gradually fill with sunken iceburgs, likely eventually preventing life from continuing, (or even evolving), on earth. However our ingenious Creator made ice float.
Furthermore the process of water becoming less dense as it chills starts before the water actually freezes, so water at thirty-three degrees Fahrenheit will float above water that is thirty-five, if the water is fresh. But scientists noted that as soon as water gets salty this characteristic is lost, and water at thirty-three degrees will sink below water that is thirty-five.
Therefore it seemed obvious to scientists in the days of whaling ships that, as you moved away from the arctic coast, the process of diffusion would cause the “freshwater lens” atop the sea to become more salty, until the salinity reached the magic point where the coldest water was no longer less dense than slightly warmer water, whereupon the sea could not possibly freeze. Why not? Because, as the saltwater at the surface approached the freezing point, it would sink and be replaced by rising warmer water. It became “settled science” that the sea at the North Pole must be open.
It was believed that the constantly sinking cold water at the Pole drew a branch of the warm Gulf Stream at the surface north from the Atlantic, and also drew north a branch of the warm Kuro-Siwo current from the Pacific, and provided access to the Open Polar Sea. This “settled science” was the basis of the expedition of the Jeannette in 1879, which involved the Jeannette getting stuck in the ice for two years before being crushed by the sea-ice. Although all of the crew successfully evacuated the sinking ship onto the surrounding ice, less than half made it back to civilization alive, whereupon “settled science” received some needed revisions.
“Settled science” continues to need revisions, even to this day. (It would require revision even without the stupidity of a politically predetermined result, arrived-at before data is even gathered, let alone processed, due to the needs of nitwit politicians.) It requires revision because, although the laws of nature do not change, our understanding of how such laws play-out does change, especially in cases where many variables are involved.
For example, it still is somewhat theoretically baffling that vast stretches of open water freeze in the Arctic Ocean in a matter of days and sometimes hours. After all, the laws of nature do not change, and salt water at thirty-two degrees will sink below salt water at thirty-three, and therefore it should be theoretically impossible for the surface water to get cold enough to freeze, especially as the temperature of the water must sink below twenty-nine to freeze, because of the salt involved. Yet the edge of the sea-ice can extend miles during “flash-freezes”, and the entirety of Hudson Bay can skim with ice in a mere week. How does nature defy science with such brazen chutzpah?
When I was a young man I lived on the coast of Maine, and got to watch during the very cold winters of the late 1970’s as sea-ice formed and made life difficult for the fishermen, lobster-men, and clammers, who paid their bills by being able to access open waters.
Such men have to deal with brutal realities, and tend to keep their eyes wide open for “bad omens”, and, (even though they at times forecast incorrectly and are then “false prophets”), they do observe things that indoor people never notice, and they tend to have an uncanny ability to foresee oncoming bad weather even when the Weather Bureau is still oblivious. (For example, a mere glimpse, through low scud from the east, up to high clouds veering to the south, alerts them to the fact “steering currents” are bringing the storm causing the east winds straight up from the south towards them.) From such observant men I learned it was a bad omen when a winter sea took on “that oily look”.
“That oily look” was a bad thing because it often indicated a situation where spray froze on the gunnels and rigging of their boats, and, in a worst case scenario, this would make the top of the boat heavier than the keel, at which point the craft would turn upside down, which made life difficult.
I suppose it is because Climate Scientists do not get out enough, and must labor long hours indoors by hot computers, that I have never heard them describe seawater as “taking on that oily look”. For the most part the refreeze of arctic waters, as they describe it, begins with slushy stuff they call “pancake ice”, which doesn’t address the problem created because, if cold water sinks, the surface water should never get cold enough to freeze and make “pancake ice” in the first place.
The refreeze would be sensible if the ice only extended out from preexisting sea-ice that was already floating, but, as we now watch the yearly refreeze, we will often note “islands” of sea-ice popping up on the maps, far from any other ice. How is this possible, if cold saltwater sinks? How can the water get cold enough to freeze?
My take is that the water gets cold enough to freeze by becoming airborne. Often arctic situations arise where the air rushing above the water is far colder then the water is, and a speck of spray uplifted into such air becomes super-cooled, and will immediately freeze if it hits the rigging of a ship, but, if no ship is available, it falls to the surface of the water, and immediately freezes.
Because that speck of spray is now ice it doesn’t matter that going through the phase-change from liquid to solid released heat. Ice at thirty-two will bob merrily atop colder water, even if the water is twenty-nine. And, as soon as that speck of spray exists as the tiniest iceberg, it can be a sort of seed-crystal for the growth of more molecules of ice. Water chilled by gales in the proximity of the tiny iceberg, rather than sinking, attaches to that microscopic “edge” of floating sea-ice. And it is at this point the water takes on “that oily look”.
In essence “that oily look” is nature’s way around the fact that cold saltwater should sink, and that it should be impossible for the North Pole’s salty waters to freeze in the manner freshwater lakes do. “That oily look” indicates a microscopic layer of slush exists on the surface of the sea. Because the very cold winds persist, it doesn’t take all that long for the layer to become more than microscopic, and for the slush to thicken and for “pancake ice” to form.
Now, before I become too puffed up and swagger about bragging that I have the refreeze all figured out, I have to confess I have witnessed the refreeze occur without the “pancake ice” stage. Not only did I see it from afar, (through the eyes of the wonderful O-buoy cameras), but I witnessed it first hand during a record-setting cold spell at the start of February on the coast of Maine (I think in 1979). The weather made fools of fishermen that year, for they had stated with great authority, “If the hahbah hasn’t fruz up by January 15th it tain’t goin’ t’fruz at all,” and then the harbor promptly did what they said it couldn’t.
The weather was dry with a steady north wind for days, and at one point we experienced something like a week without temperatures getting above five (minus fifteen Celsius), and the sea froze not as lumpy grayish pancake ice, but as black ice, smooth as glass and surprisingly transparent, and with a slight white dust of salt exuded from the ice and drifting across the the black surface. It is completely beyond my ability to explain the physical dynamics of such a flash freeze, but it was not beyond my ability to take advantage of the rarity, and go skating on the smooth sea. In fact my older sister and I skated from the Harraseeket River in South Freeport down to the Royal River in Yarmouth, (primarily over shallow mudflats and only occasionally [and very nervously] across tidal streams). The fishermen’s wives stated we were fools and were risking our lives, but I prefer to modestly think it was a feat never done before nor since. (I should also mention the salt wasn’t too good for my skates.) Lastly, it is this sort of first-hand observation that teaches one that nature has nuances one doesn’t consider, when contemplating natural laws indoors by a warm computer.
One fisherman shared a first-hand observation, (IE: told a tale), describing something I have never myself witnessed. He was motoring slowly through bitter cold, to avoid making any splash that would get ice on his decks. There was no wind and no spray, and the water, though it had “that oily look”, was steaming like a cup of tea, so great was the temperature-difference between the water and air. Fishermen call such steaming “sea smoke”, and it made the day gray. Then it started to snow fat, lazy flakes. These flakes, when they landed on the water, didn’t melt. The water temperature was around twenty-nine, and the melting point of snowflakes was thirty-two. For a while the snow got heavier, and the fisherman stated the snow atop the water continued to accumulate until it was more than an inch deep. He was motoring slowly through white fluff as unsubstantial as froth.
Here again we have the first-hand experience of a man with no scientific training, which might give people sitting by computers an inkling of how ice can form atop the arctic sea even though cold water sinks.
Many such men existed in the 1870’s. They had existed for centuries, because back then the way to get oil was to drill whales rather than bedrock. Whales had grown more scarce due to the growing need for oil, and to find them, more ships ventured into the arctic than currently do. They followed the whales, and noticed no whales ever headed north towards a supposed “open polar sea”, even when the sea-ice was disgorged to the south into the Atlantic (as was the case in 1817) and the waters to the north were wide open. Whalers also knew from experience open waters one year were no guarantee there would be open waters the next, and also that gales from the north could bring crushing sea-ice south, and they had best be ready to turn tail and flee like the whales did, in such situations, or their ships would be crushed. But so great were the profits the risks were deemed worth it, and crushed ships were a supply of firewood for the Eskimos of that time. In 1871 31 ships were trapped and lost all at once, and 1219 people, including some women and children, successfully escaped and eventually made their way to Hawaii.
Considering this vast amount of crushing ice came from the north in 1871, during the time of the sea-ice minimum, a certain amount of skepticism regarding existence of an “open polar sea” likely existed among whalers. Tapping into these first-hand observations might have saved the men aboard the Jeannette a lot of trouble in 1879. Instead, the “authority” of that time was consulted, a mapmaker named August Heinrich Petermann.
The irony of August Heinrich Petermann’s maps was that he did seek out whalers as well as explorers and gleaned as much information as he could. He lived at the end of decades of daring exploration in the arctic, fueled partly because Britain had a 600-ship-navy sitting idle after Napoleon was defeated, and partly because the Arctic passed through a period of low sea-ice extents. Not only was there the phenomenon of the practically-open Arctic Ocean of 1817, due to sea-ice being shifted down into the Atlantic to a degree where it grounded icebergs on the coast of Ireland, but there apparently were low amounts in the Northwest Passage as well. In 1819 William Parry was able to sail further west in the channel that now bears his name than was possible for many years afterwards (and was impossible to do last summer.). The sea-ice then recovered with a vengeance, leading to the doom of the Franklin expedition in 1845, and also leading to a gradual shift towards searching for different routes across the Pole. Seeking a new route was a reason for the complete debacle called the “Polaris Expedition”, 1871-1873, up in Nares Strait between northwest Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago, (wherein the captain was likely poisoned by a jealous rival for a beautiful young woman they’d left behind in New York City). All these expeditions, both the well-run ones and the doomed, (and even the rescue efforts to find the doomed), increased information about coastlines, and August Heinrich Petermann was brilliant when it came to gathering all this coastline-data and producing the world’s best maps. However he was a bit of a dullard when it came to gathering a different sort of data, namely the first-hand observations of whalers who knew the actual nature of the actual sea, and likely should have been consulted, regarding the possibility of an “open polar sea”. Such homespun wisdom was dismissed, because the whalers were not scientists nor cartographers. Instead those who said “polar seas must be open because cold salt water sinks” were consulted, and August Heinrich Petermann’s maps contained an “open polar sea” because…well…because he drew the maps.
Let us be unkind, and rather than calling the maps “mistaken”, let us call them “fraud”, used by Petermann to lobby one of the richest men in the world, James Gordon Bennett Jr., to fund a Jeannette expedition doomed to failure, for it was seeking open water where open water wasn’t. (This noble and tragic adventure is described in great detail by the historian Hampton Sides in “In The Kingdom of Ice“).
One sadness of the Jeannette expedition is that the men hauled the scientific records they had collected back, as they grimly fought their way over ice and open water and frozen tundra, towards the safety of civilization, and those records survived even when many of them didn’t. Therefore Petermann’s thirst for more knowledge was in fact fed, but at a great cost, and it didn’t produce the answers he expected. (An irony was that, though the Jeannette sank, strewn about the hole its sinking left on the sea-ice were items, left behind as the crew headed south, and these items eventually showed the drift of the sea-ice. The items crossed the arctic, atop sea-ice which then flowed down the east coast of Greenland to Cape Farewell at Greenland’s southern tip, and lastly a bit up the west coast of Greenland to near Julianehåb, where the items were flotsam identified as being from the Jeannette, in 1884. This in turn led to Fridtjof Nansen’s marvelous exploits, attempting to drift across the Pole locked in sea-ice aboard the Fram, between 1893 and1896.
Due to the adventures and misadventures of early whalers and explorers, we actually have quite a lot of first-hand observations of where the edge of the ice was and how the sea-ice moved, from the past. Unfortunately there seems to be the same problem today that afflicted August Heinrich Petermann 150 years ago. First-hand observations from the past are ignored because they do not come from Climate Scientists, nor satellites, and instead misleading concepts are put forth because…well… because they affirm the misleading concepts.
Let us continue to be unkind, and rather than calling the misleading concepts “mistaken” let us call them “fraud”. However, rather than using the mistaken beliefs to lobby James Gordon Bennett Jr. for money, modern men now use their mistaken concepts to lobby bloated governments. Worst, rather than sending a mere 33 men aboard the Jeannette into danger, the modern mistaken views may be sending billions of people into unnecessary danger.
It seems to me no one should perpetuate such a fraud if they love their fellow man. First, who willfully lies to those they love? And second, who willfully places those they love in danger?
The closest I have seen to an attempt to look remotely loving, while justifying the perpetuation of mistaken concepts, contains a dismal assumption. The dismal assumption is that mankind is going exhaust its resources, and we are therefore all doomed to begin with. Consequently, considering seven billion are going to die anyway, we might as well “cull” the seven billion in an orderly manner. Hmm. I suppose the death of seven billion is acceptable if it is unavoidable, but is it unavoidable? Or is it merely a product of pessimism?
Such gloomy views have been around at least since Thomas Mathis wrote “An Essay on the Principles of Population” in 1798, and they have constantly been proved incorrect. Sadly, while it is no sin to be incorrect, such cynicism has all too often been an excuse for subjecting others to various forms of slavery and disadvantage, and, when one blithely talks about reducing the world population by seven billion, such gloomy assumptions also seem a thinly veiled justification for massive and unprecedented genocide.
Rather than expressing faith, hope, and love towards fellow man, such gloom demonstrates deep distrust towards man’s ability to solve problems, when in fact one especially lovable quality of free people is their ability to invent gadgets and techniques which do solve the very problems that the gloomy see as absolutely insurmountable.
I have lived long enough to see quite a number of doomsdays come and go, involving not merely the alignments of planets and the prophesies of Daniel and Nostradamus, but concepts such as “peak oil” and “peak population”. It is fascinating to now look back at the published ideas of “The Club of Rome” in 1970, and to see how utterly incorrect some of their assumptions were. Much that was seen as “unsustainable” has been merrily sustained. Third world nations such as India have not devolved into the wastelands-of-mass-starvation which the gloomy so confidently foresaw, but rather are better fed and better off.
What the gloomy failed to foresee was Ingenuity Manifested, within things such as “The Green Revolution”, yet their failures-to-foresee do not cause the gloomy to alter their forecasts, for they see such progress as merely “delaying the inevitable”, and they double-down on their pessimism. At it’s worst, their pessimism actively creates poverty. It is as if they are so irked by troubles not arriving in the manner they foresaw that they make trouble, just to prove themselves correct.
For example, back in the days when I was skating on sea-ice along the coast of Maine, we were supposedly “running out of oil”. Jimmy Carter was president, and appeared on television at the White House wearing an absurd sweater, telling us we needed to all turn down the thermostats in our houses. The “oil producing nations” had demanded higher prices for oil, and the United States was no longer a member of that club. There were long lines at gas stations, and traffic on highways slowed to 55 mph, by law, to save gas. In a “National Geographic” I saw a graph which authoritatively stated “peak oil” would occur in 1980. Because we were “running out of oil” we dutifully did what smart people do, which is to prepare for the inevitable. We put wood stoves into our houses, and, to heat our water, we put solar panels on our roofs (to this day the smartest use of solar power, because a tank of hot water in your basement stores solar energy far more cheaply after sunset than a battery does, especially when it comes to running your hot-water-heater.) But…
…But the simple fact of the matter is that we did not “run out of oil”. This seemed to peeve some people. Prophets of doom dislike being proved false prophets, and drag their feet in the face of progress.
When new oil was discovered, the pessimists did everything they could to make oil-exploration difficult, (with new regulations), and then, when “fracking” made it possible to glean more oil and gas from areas which were assumed to have been largely “exhausted”, they did everything possible to make “fracking” a dirty word. But me? I am amazed such pessimists can gripe. Why? For I am utterly amazed and deeply impressed by the ingenuity displayed over the past forty years. If you had told me, when I skated sea-ice in Maine and Jimmy Carter was president, that, in forty years, the USA would be exporting oil and gas, while an oil-producing OPEC nation like Venezuela would be in a state of ruin, I would have laughed in your face. I was wrong, and am somewhat glad I was wrong, but others seem irate they were wrong.
I am aware I am starting to rave, and seem to be drifting far from the subject of sea-ice, but have no fear. I will revert to sea-ice shortly. However I must discuss “the irate” a bit, because they even enter discussions about sea-ice.
I think “the irate” are those who are sure things are “unsustainable”, and are equally afraid they may be the ones who will eventually suffer, when we run out of food and fuel. Consequently they become ruled by fear, rather than love. They are so sure famine is coming that they see it as frugal common-sense to be misers of food, blind to differences between being sensible and being stingy. Clinging to what they have, they see others as a threat, rather than seeing others as brothers and sisters who we can work together with, to avoid famine.
In actual fact the word “sustainability” involves sustaining all people, not just those who have a selfish viewpoint wherein “sustainability” only sustains their position of privilege.
The fact of the matter is that “sustainability” is one of those tricky words, able to be used to justify evil because it sounds so good. Another such word is “non-violent”. Surely “non-violent” is usually a good word, but a man who stands by and does nothing violent as his mother, wife and daughter are raped by a stranger is not a saint; he is a yellow coward. In like manner, a man who talks about “sustainability” when primarily interested in preserving a status quo wherein he has, even as others are “have-nots,” is not a saint; he is greedy.
One quality of those trapped within such a state-of-mind is that they tend to propose rationing, rather than proposing increase. (Quite often the “rationing” is hypocritical, where “have-nots” need to cut back even as the elite “haves” continue to enjoy lavish lifestyles). The royalty wishes to remain royal and prefers the poor to remain peons.
This seems a bad attitude, like that of a man so concerned about a shortage of potatoes that he hoards them rather than planting any in the spring. It is the antithesis of the attitude of a man like Norman Borlaug, whose work with improving strains of wheat may have saved a billion people from starvation. Instead it is a “bad attitude” which not only failed to help a “Green Revolution” occur, but at times even was a stumbling-block attempting to prevent “the Green Revolution’s” manifestation. It remains a bad attitude that not only fails to help a “Fracking Revolution” manifest, but is a stumbling-block attempting to prevent its manifestation. Tragically, souls with this attitude not only fail to love, but are a stumbling-block that seeks to prevent the beauty of love from manifesting.
What an odd state-of-mind! In the name of “rationing” it allows one to deny others, enslave others, even exterminate others, all in the guise of “becoming sustainable”!
I think I know this selfish state of mind, having experienced it myself as a young man on the coast of Maine. My experience was as follows:
I knew of a small beach which was usually deserted, especially after school let out for the summer, because the secluded cove was owned by a small college. After the college closed in June I took a young woman to the beach with nefarious motives. When we got there another couple was strolling the same beach. I found their presence annoying and even frustrating (perhaps for biological reasons), and noticed my mind became crabby and began producing intellectual discussions about the problems of over-population and crowded beaches. My view was that the world would be a better place if the other couple could be “disappeared”. The young lady I was with was somewhat shocked by my negative attitude towards my fellow man. Instead of being warm towards me, she shot me a look of distaste and walked over to the enemy, involving the other couple in a conversation. Though initially glum about involving myself with anyone besides the young lady, I went along with her, and somewhat to my surprise discovered I had a wonderful time swimming with strangers. (Perhaps the cold water of Maine had the same effect as a cold shower.) The strangers turned out to be fascinating people who broadened my mind, and also told us of a good, nearby snack-bar. So we went and got an excellent lobster roll. It may not have been the roll I wanted, but at least the afternoon was not a total loss.
Such experiences were quite common during my misspent youth. My attempts at seduction were a long series of debacles and fiascos, (and explain why I first became a father at age 38, rather than at age 18 as I planned), (and also why I was at times a very crabby young man). I did not get what my ulterior motives desired, but sometimes perhaps we should feel sheepish about our ulterior motives, and count our blessings for what we actually get.
I bring this up to own the fact that, because I did once wish two very fine people could be “disappeared” from a small beach, I should be included with those who wish seven billion very fine people could be “disappeared” from a small planet. However hopefully I was a little different, in that I recognized my logic was ruled by lust’s frustration, and was not exactly the sort of logic that scientists dub “objective.” Others seem sadly less self-aware. They seem ruled by ulterior motives without the awareness they are ulterior.
What is “ulterior”? The definition of the word “ulterior” is “lying beyond that which is evident.” “Ulterior” therefore is that which is undiscovered, and should be of interest to all researchers.
However an interesting thing about human nature is that we often are unaware of the value of things until we are deprived. Subjectivity has its value, for we never value water until it is a hot day and we have none. A person with lots of water could call fighting for a sip of of water “silly behavior”, but only until they themselves were subjected to extreme thirst. Then they discover they too can be “silly”. It is only when confronted by such desperate impulses within the self that one faces truly spiritual dilemmas, regarding how one will respond. Will one punch a small child to gain a sip of water? Or will one suffer, so the child can drink?
For this reason the people who, one way or another, experience great thirst, can be the people who through subjective suffering gain objective wisdom. This is not to say they always make the right choices. They may have even punched a child one time, and faced great chagrin before, the next time, they did better, and allowed the child to drink first. However in the end they have an awareness of thirst which people who have always had water lack. For such people thirst is a reality they understand, while, for those who have never thirsted, thirst remains “ulterior.”
Blessed are the poor and they who suffer, for they are down-to-earth and are aware of essentials. Pity the rich, for they have little idea of the “ulterior” that motivates them. Like a cigarette smoker who has never run out of smokes, the rich are unaware of how crazy they would become if deprived, but such craziness rules them all the same.
The wealthy sometimes become aware that something is missing, and feel depressed despite having everything they could possibly obtain (in material terms). They then can afford to hire very expensive psychiatrists to help them look within for “subconscious” causes for their depression. Basically they are halfheartedly seeking to become more self-aware of “ulterior motives”, but often they don’t really want to see what the psychiatrist attempts to point out, and put up a fight, and the psychiatrist then can become quite rich by prolonging the battle. Psychiatrists use all sorts of fancy words for how people deny the truth, and their clients have all sorts of clever ways of arguing that the fancy words do not apply to them and their particular case, and all of this expensive talking, and talking, and talking, can seem very humorous to the poor, who have managed to become aware of “ulterior motives” without spending a dime.
In the worst cases the wealthy, despite seeking education in fine institutions and colleges, and despite being under the guidance of the best professors and psychiatrists and gurus, have no real reason to call the uneducated “stupid” or “deplorable”, (though too often, in their vanity, they do exactly that.) Why? Because sometimes the poor are far smarter. Why? Because sometimes, in seeking to avoid the pains of life, we avoid the very Truth that teaches. It matters little if you avoid pain with heroin, or by accepting a corrupting bribe, or by marrying a rich person you detest, or by disdaining good advice; if you successfully avoid pain you are possibly ruled by your “ulterior motives”, and are potentially much less likely to become aware of such “ulterior motives”. Meanwhile, in this sort of worst-case-scenario, the poor face pain every day, and become far more aware of “ulterior motives”. Therefore the poor can become far more able to rule such cravings and desires, while their so-called “rulers” are basically addicts ruled by a fear of withdrawal. In such a topsy-turvy society we can sometimes see what seems utterly impossible occur, wherein the underdog abruptly stuns the champion; the small David defeats the huge Goliath. History is full of examples of small nations seemingly appearing out of the blue and rising to a sudden prominence that shakes the mighty. (The Mongols were just a bunch of feuding Hillbillies, and then along came Genghis.)
Yet, although history is replete with such examples, and although the wealthy often adore historical novels, movies and plays, they too often miss the point, the underlying narrative, which is that Truth matters, and is a joy to those who can bear the pricks of pain involved with seeing Truth. Instead some become so lost in avoiding pain that they become comfortably numb, and wander midst an attitude of unawareness.
This “unaware attitude” seems comical, in an ironic way, to the poor and aware. I recall the fishermen of Maine used to joke about the attitude of wealthy people who retired to Maine. The fishermen stated, “The moment them wealthy folk gather up their loot ‘n’ move, from makin’ money in them big cities, t’down east here in poor, old Maine, they want to burn the bridge at Kittery behind them”. (Kittery is at the southern border of Maine).
The “unaware attitude” often seems a sort of selfish, NIMBY attitude that deprives others after satisfying the self, and even a strange and sad proof of Henry Ford’s statement, “If you say ‘I can’, or say ‘I can’t’, you are right.”
Why? Because it is people who love who make a better world, who beget a “Green Revolution” and a “Frakking Revolution”, while it is pessimists who deem love impossible who make the world worse, and who fight progress, and desire deprivation.
One of the pricks of Truth I’ve felt was seeing I too was such a pessimist: If I’d had my way, back when Jimmy Carter was president, a rogue wave would have swept two strangers out to sea just before I arrived at the small beach, and I would have had my way with a young woman. And then? I suppose that, (because the purpose of sex is procreation), I might have become a father far earlier than I actually did. Yet, as a young father, after increasing the “overpopulation” myself, I might have then insisted the population of earth (back then) was too high at 3.5 billion, and, with a flippant disregard for others, claimed that any further “overpopulation” was immoral, and that the 4 to 5 billion conceived since were somehow “unsustainable.” (It was beyond my ken, at that time, that a future increased-population of 4 to 5 billion could possibly be enjoying bigger meals and a longer life-expectancy than had ever before occurred on earth.) (The word “liberal” supposedly means “generous”, but the “liberals” of my youth wished to “ration”. What is so generous about cutting back?)
But I confess I was of that mind-set. I sowed in a negative manner, and reaped negativity in many ways. But, unlike some other liberals, I was honest about my experiment, and my personal motives were not quite as “ulterior” as the motives of others now seem to be. I may have utterly failed when it came to seducing a young woman on a beach in Maine, but I succeeded in discovering there is life after such failure. In like manner, I discovered there is life after the world-population surpassed 4 billion, 5 billion, 6 billion, even 7 billion. Rather than the hell predicted, billions of children were born, enjoyed decent childhoods, and became young adults full of the hopes young adults have.
Let me put it this way: Do you believe in democracy? What chance would my former belief have, in an election today? I claimed that the billions born in my lifetime should not be born, but here they are. Now suppose we vote about whether they should have been born. Who will win that election? Me, or the billions of vibrant young people? And, after the results were tabulated, who should change their views? Me, or them?
The answer was fairly obvious to me, even before the four to five billion were born. Even before Jimmy Carter stopped being president I sensed my so-called “liberal” views were not truly liberal, because they were motivated by greed and not generosity, and lust and and not love. I needed to shed greedy and lustful “ulterior motives”. It was painful not to get what I desired, but in the long run my life was better for putting my desires aside, and accepting the Truth even when it didn’t fit the “script” I had written for myself, about how my life should be. Truth is always better.
How? Well, explaining that would involve explaining how things worked out over the next forty-five years. It would be a long and involved answer, take pages upon pages, and is not the question you should be asking. Instead you should be asking:
What does this have to do with sea-ice? Well, there are two main reasons.
The first is that some involved in the subject of sea-ice seem to have ulterior motives. Their motives are not the simple ulterior motives that August Heinrich Petermann had, when he lobbied for money to discover the “open polar sea”, but are much greater whoppers.
Even though Petermann was deluded, at least he yearned to map the arctic better. Such betterment could be hoped to end his delusion with hard facts. But modern arctic investigators? They own ulterior motives which, when push comes to shove, could care less about any further discovery in the arctic. Therefore there can be no betterment and no end to delusion.
What many modern arctic investigators seemingly care most for is “funding”. Perhaps the funding was originally seen as a way to further research, but at some point the research was neglected, and finding funding became the focus. In some ways money became such an ulterior motive that researchers entered a strange reality wherein the motive became more real than the science, and in order to justify this motivation they went so far as to attempt to replace what is real with what is false.
I don’t think, even in my misspent youth, I was ever quite so absurd as that. I may have had unrealistic dreams, but I could be brought down to earth by a woman’s disapproving glance, and then was forced to recognize the difference between what was hopeful fantasy and what was false. I might be extremely annoyed when my attempt to seduce a young woman on a Maine beach was interrupted by another couple. However, if I had attempted to “replace the reality”, what would I have done? Shoot those two innocent people dead, and then attempted to proceed with my seduction? I was never close to becoming that evil, because such behavior owns an ugliness utterly unlike what my nefarious activities desired. “Disappearing” others was too ugly to be included in my beautiful fantasy of seducing a beautiful babe. However, among certain arctic researchers, “disappearing” the data of other researchers has been acceptable, and even has been tantamount to what they were hired to do.
Going into the dreary details of such destruction of data is depressing, and I don’t want to linger long on such a subject. However it has been widespread. The cause has seemingly been because the poor, or even the not-so-poor, are susceptible to bribes.
For example, when parts of the temperature-record of Iceland was “disappeared” the chief meteorologist of Iceland threw a fit, until he met with those who had lots of money. Then he abruptly was OK with parts of the temperature-record of Iceland being “disappeared”. I fear he was bribed.
I myself have never been the chief meteorologist of Iceland, and therefore have never been subjected to bribes. I’ve never had my “ulterior motives” tempted to such a degree. Therefore I will not criticize a man in whose shoes I haven’t walked. (Maybe he used the money to pay for a friend’s expensive cancer treatments. Who am I to judge?) But I will say that the altered record is bullshit, and arctic record-keeping seems full of such bribery-induced nonsense. So many arctic records are obviously incorrect (if you have studied the subject) that you need to screen the data with the assumption you are dealing with a pack of liars.
For example, just look at the old records and compare them with the modern “adjusted” records. Here is the sea-ice “extent” graph from 1976, when Jimmy Carter was president.
This graph documents very low extents in 1945, 1953 and a record-setting low in 1960. This was followed by an extraordinary “recovery” by the winter of 1962-1963, but then sea-ice again began melting away to far lower levels.
The above graph represents a lot of hard work done by many dedicated scientists, yet is currently spurned. Why? Because they did not have satellites back then, and therefore the hard work of decent men is deemed “inadequate”.
OK, OK, OK. Be that way (though it seems snobby and dismissive to me.) Let us look at only the “satellite record”, as it was graphed in 1980, (beginning in 1973, though we have pictures from the first Nimbus satellite going back to the mid 1960’s).
There are some interesting differences between the early 1970’s in this graph and the prior graph. It would be fascinating to learn the reasons, which would involve looking at the data. However both graphs agree sea-ice was at low levels, in the early 1970’s, much like today’s. Down near 6 million km2. Certainly not up around 8 million km2. Yet look at the modern, “adjusted” graph, for the same period.
How is it possible to “adjust” the sea-ice totals for a very low year upwards roughly 2 million km2? Are such “adjusters” aware what they are saying about the dedicated scientists who worked back at that time? They are in essence calling them idiots, for recording the data they recorded, (even as the past experts often worked in extreme and dangerous arctic conditions).
Before I myself dismiss such scientists who lived in the past I need to see a clear analysis of their data which shows exactly why they were in error. None has been forthcoming. In fact all the analysis of data I myself have done seems to show that the ones in error are the modern “adjusters”. They claim sea-ice was thick in cases where we have first-hand records, and sometimes photographic evidence, that the waters were open. The “adjusters” have no business adjusting the records of honest and decent men who are no longer around, and cannot defend themselves. In fact, if anyone needs adjusting, it is the “adjusters” themselves.
I rest my case: You cannot deal with modern arctic data without sensing you are dealing with liars. You are dealing with people who accept bribes, perhaps because they feel Truth doesn’t make them enough money, and even feel that Truth might be a bad thing, because Truth might put them in jail for forgery.
I do feel a certain pity for such people. Perhaps they spent years studying the arctic in college, burning the midnight oil, and when they graduated they discovered the general public could care less about arctic sea-ice, and no jobs were available, and they faced working an ignoble job in a fast-food restaurant, flipping burgers. Oh, the pain! But just then they got tempted by a bribe. They could skip flipping burgers, if only they conceded to becoming an “adjuster”.
The problem with such pity is that perhaps all people deserve such pity. Few get paid for what they most enjoy.
I too burned the midnight oil, but rather than arctic sea-ice I studied poets. I studied Shakespeare and Milton and Shelly and Chatterton and Keats and Dylan Thomas and Frost and Dr. Seuss. And when I graduated I discovered the general public had no use for my knowledge, and no jobs were available, and I faced working in a fast food restaurant, flipping burgers. Oh, the pain! But in my case no one tempted me with a bribe. So I had to flip burgers.
Flipping burgers wasn’t so bad, nor were the hundred other jobs I had to take that were “beneath me.” In fact, the pricks to my ego were a gateway to the ordinary life of those who are the salt-of-the-earth. In some ways it was an honor to be humbled, because I became part of what makes life possible. Your roof doesn’t leak? Don’t thank experts about poetry or arctic sea-ice. Thank the roofers, and I got to join their ranks for a little while.
Not that I didn’t whine. What poet wants to quit a composition about beautiful clouds because he has to work under a blistering sun, hammering nails on a hot, noontime roof? Only now, many years later, do I feel honored that, (even though many are not thankful for what doesn’t happen), I am why your roof doesn’t leak.
I am also why roofers have nails, because I worked in a nail factory. And when you look at the label on a bottle of wine or ketchup or a can of sardines, understand I have made those labels. When you open the sardines, understand I worked in a cannery. When you ride a high horse, understand I shoveled the stables. I have worked making and lubricating ball bearings large and small, and even computers need ball bearings. And that is only six jobs of a hundred, and each was an insult to my ego, for I felt I should instead be paid for my poetry. Yet each insult made my poetry better, more down-to-earth, more real. In the end I feel my so-called “bad fortune” is far better than the fortune of a so-called “sea-ice expert”, who thinks he is better off accepting bribes to perpetuate propaganda. I wouldn’t like to be in his shoes, when he looks in the mirror.
This brings me to my second point, which is that such negative behavior never results in good. It may seem “right”, but it is the negative side of Henry Ford’s statement, “If you say ‘I can’ or say ‘I can’t’, you are right.” The side-of-the-negative is the side that states, ‘I can’t’. It states “starvation will be widespread by 1980” and denies the “Green Revolution” will happen. It states “the United States will be an oil-importer forever” in 1974, and can’t imagine the United States exporting oil due to the “Fracking Revolution” in 2019. In essence it is a negative shadow, which cannot face the light of Truth.
Opposed to this depressing power is, I would like to suggest, a positive power that affirms Truth. Not that Truth needs affirming. Truth remains perfectly true even if every person on earth denies It. In fact reality is the other way around: We do not sustain Truth; Truth sustains us. And it is for this reason that underdogs can display such an ingenuity and prowess and even power, if they honor integrity and honesty, that they unseat the mighty. It is why little David could defeat huge Goliath. In a sense truthfulness taps into the greatest power on earth, Truth itself, releasing benefits which those who cling to power and money don’t believe can ever come about, and therefore don’t include in their financial forecasts, (and all other forecasts as well.)
The difference between Truth and dishonesty is symbolically like the difference between a bud that is grafted to a root, and a bud that isn’t. The first will thrive while the second will wither. The pity is that some see the fruits the bud produces and seek to hoard such produce, (money, power, the admiration of others,) in a manner disconnected from the root. By doing this they in essence seek a byproduct of growth even while cutting themselves off from growth’s nourishing root.
The irony is that we can see the foolishness of such behavior when others do it, but tend to be blind to examples of our own foolishness, (or we excuse our own foolishness as being some sort of “necessary evil”). For example, we’d call it foolish if we saw a farmer who so overvalued a byproduct such as manure that he spent all his money on manure and none on feeding his animals, yet at the same time we might be maxing out our credit cards and running a deficit budget all our own. In like manner Communists see the irresponsibility of Capitalists while Capitalists see the irresponsibility of Communists. All too often both fail to look within to see if they are securely grafted to the root of Truth, or are merely seizing upon byproducts.
One quality that seems associated with those cut off from Love’s root is a sense of impending doom. Madame de Pompadour stated, “Après nous, le déluge,” and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez states “The world is going to end in twelve years.” Often the sense of doom leads to drastic measures, guillotines and purges and genocides, which seem a self-fulfilling prophecy, bringing about the very dooms they seek to avoid. Hitler’s hate of Jews and Slavs did not save Germany from ruin, and Stalin’s hate of farming Kulak did not save Russia from starvation. All of Maurice Strong’s dishonest manipulations to “save the planet” left him an exile, an old man hiding from justice in a Peking apartment. To me all these examples seem proof of the second half of Henry Ford’s statement: If you say “I can’t”, you’re right. The greatest irony is that some basically waste fortunes, pouring money down a rat hole, unaware all their efforts are cutting themselves off from the root that creates fortunes in the first place. In my view George Soros has literally expended billions to say, “I can’t”. (I’ll never understand how he could pour such fabulous amounts down a rat-hole, when he might have spent it on me).
At this point I’d like to suggest the chilling effect of cutting yourself off from the root of Truth is like the chill now descending upon the arctic tundra, freezing things up and shrinking the flow of arctic rivers to a trickle.
(There. I told you I’d get back to the subject of sea-ice, and I’ve done it).
What seems to happen to arctic researchers is that a compromise which initially seemed slight becomes acerbated. They felt a little compromise, perhaps 5% of the time, would result in funding which would allow them to conduct honest research 95% of the time, but such compromise turned out to be like a small spot of cancer which spread. How did it spread? Well, if the honest research discovered a Truth which went against the “Arctic Sea-Ice Death Spiral Theory”, they needed to hush it up or they might offend their patron. And, because the “Death Spiral Theory” was like the “Open Polar Sea Theory”, it was dead wrong, and all research would tend to disprove it. Therefore all research, not 5% but 100% of research, would need to be hushed.
It would be absurd to conduct good research only to crumple up and throw away the honest results. Why bother even fund the research? Why even bother have science or scientists? Yet such absurdity may explain why we now have a sixteen-year-old girl speaking before the United Nations as an authority on sea-ice, as scientists sit on their hands and are mum.
Cynical Sophists seem to resort to such sentimental tactics when the bankruptcy of their belief has been revealed, in all its sophisticated sterility. (When logic fails, resort to emotion.) Surprisingly, such tactics can be effective, primarily because young women do have heart, which many Sophists lack. However, once the heart is involved, there may be consequences Sophists never intended. The heart is closely associated to Truth, and can veer a person’s path from safe topics into political-incorrectness. It can therefore be dangerous to involve a teenage girl in political calculations, for they can be like a loose cannon on board a pitching ship.
In terms of Truth, the hope which young girl’s hearts bring to “the equation” can be like the hope of a sunrise-tundra in the spring: A dark, cold tundra suddenly lit by light: tundra moving towards a time when, under the warmth of 24-hour summer sunshine, the trickle of an arctic river becomes an amazing flood and the water rises 60 feet.
Of course the young woman involved should be careful; (after all, Joan of Arc did wind up burned-at-the-stake); however there is at least a chance the young woman’s appearance is an indication the Sophist Alarmists have quit pretending to be scientists, and scientists will therefore be let alone, and allowed to do what they do best, (study Truth). This may result in a Renascence, a revival of Truth, and a surging flood of beneficial knowledge which the negative, cynical and sour never expected.
Initially there may be some hard times for arctic researchers, and some may even have to flip burgers for a while. Why? Because much funding formerly came from people who prefer propaganda to Truth, and who prefer rationing and deprivation to progress and increase. Such people become peeved when ideas such as “The Arctic Death Spiral” are not supported by hard evidence, and I surmise that may explain why the wonderful arctic cameras we once had bobbing on buoys ceased being funded, even as the cost of creating and maintaining such camera-buoys became less. Such cameras undermined the “narrative.” Also further funding may dry up because pouring money down a rat-hole isn’t productive, and even spiritually unwise people recognize a bad bet is a bad bet. But arctic research will continue, even if not funded.
Why? Because some recognize what a frontier the arctic is, and own a craving to be pioneers. This thirst to penetrate the boundaries of the known, and expand the horizons of knowledge, can cause some to strive even when they are not paid for striving. Just as some work fifty weeks just to blow all their savings spending a two-week-vacation climbing mountains, some work long days flipping burgers, and then, in the evening, study charts and graphs involving arctic sea-ice, just for the fun of it. And the wonders of satellites and the internet allow even someone from the Congo to study sea-ice, if so inclined. Older meteorologist stand amazed, for with a click of a computer we now can gather data that took them six months of grueling field-study to gather, in their youth, followed by six months of analyzing heaps of paper in the lab. Consequently we now have no idea where the next genius will appear, or what next marvel will manifest through the study of Truth. Perhaps the next revolution will be called “The White Revolution”, and involve sea-ice.
The Russians seem to have ideas along those lines, and furthermore do not seem to expect sea-ice to vanish, considering they have built so many billion-dollar icebreakers.
Nor does Russia seem inclined to bow to members of Greenpeace, who seemingly desire that the arctic becomes a vast National Park, preserved for the enjoyment of extremely wealthy cross-country skiers. When Greenpeace activists attempt to protest in a politically-correct manner by “seizing” an arctic oil-rig, they run into Russian political-incorrectness.
Russia apparently insists upon control of its northern coast, (15,000 miles of undulating shoreline north of the Arctic Circle), and horrifies environmentalists by replacing diesel-fumes with smokeless nuclear ice-breakers. They plan on developing a northern sea-route, and upon their northern ports being developed, and upon northern resources being exploited. They even have the audacity to plan to build massive nuclear ice-breakers-with-helipads like the world has never seen, within five years.
Not that Russia cares all that much for Truth, or Freedom of Speech, but at least they have the old-fashioned pragmatism which deals with facts, rather than with unfounded idealism and with fabricated theory such as “The Arctic Death Spiral.” And, because they deal with facts, there is at least a chance they will someday receive the bounty that comes from honoring Truth.
Personally I am more interested in a different bounty, which is the wonderment that comes from looking at sea-ice, (and the associated weather), with eyes unclouded by bias or any need to be politically correct. Not that simply reporting what your eyes witness doesn’t get you in trouble. In certain circles you can cause a deathly silence to fall, simply by stating a truth, such as, “Arctic sea-ice isn’t decreasing. There was more arctic sea-ice this September than in September, 2007.”
In some ways I’m getting tired of offending people with Truth. This is especially true when the people I offend are beautiful women. It hasn’t just occurred when I was a young man in Maine, (and the Truth involved was that the woman was beautiful and I was lustful). It’s been going on since I was knee high to a grasshopper, and the beautiful woman I was offending was a young schoolmarm and I was a young truant. You’d think I would learn, but in some ways I seem worse than Rodney Dangerfield when it comes to getting any respect. This has led me to suspect the problem may not lie entirely in myself.
After all, I know better than to bring up the subject of arctic sea-ice at either a Conservative church supper or a Liberal cocktail party. I don’t go looking for trouble. But, when someone brings up the local bad weather in a most casual manner, and someone else responds, “Yes, this Global Warming is really getting terrible”, Truth always compels me to state, “There was more arctic sea-ice this September than in September, 2007.” And then beautiful women look at me aghast. It’s not fair. The situation even seems a sort of set-up. (WARNING: Rant Alert.)
I feel it is high time for old geezers like myself to stand up and be counted. After all, old geezers have rights too, y’know. “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” It is high time to form some sort of blaring political noise, some loud and objectionable “Codger Power”, able to be equally annoying as everyone else.
Life is cruel to us boys. (Yes, another sidetrack from sea-ice has begun, but it involves why the subject of sea-ice is so side-tracked even among scientists of the arctic; IE: I’m not the one who started this sidetracking from Truth.)
I’ve been involved with raising children for decades as a father, coach, and finally, over the past decade, through running an outdoors-oriented Childcare on a farm, and I have seen various child-rearing fads come and go. For a time “experts” stated discipline stifles a child, but then (when “permissiveness” blew up in their faces), they did an 180 degree swivel and the same “experts” then stated “lack of boundaries” make children feel “unsafe”.
Recently an interesting development has involved a seeming realization that Childcare play-areas are set up in a manner which is preferential to the needs of girls. Apparently most girls focus more on “fine motor skills”, while most boys focus on “gross motor skills”, and most indoor play-areas focus more on sitting than on tumbling. Also most teachers are female, and, if asked to be honest, state they prefer teaching small girls, who tend to be more complacent and obedient, than small boys, who tend to be brats.
When it comes to getting-in-trouble, roughly 80% of all children expelled from Childcare situations are boys, and this causes further damage to boys because small children have a deep need to be included. In essence small boys are placed in a situation hostile to what they require, creating a Tom-Sawyer-vs.-Aunt-Polly dichotomy from day one.
Childcare professionals have been aware of this problem for two hundred years, and in fact the word “kindergarten” comes from “children’s garden”, meaning that it was a garden that “grew” children, but also included the idea children didn’t learn by rote at rows of desks, but in “gardens”, through activity and movement called “play”. The originator, Friedrich Froebel, had bad experiences in school and was expelled from many, but eventually became an academic who attempted to define why “play” was important, identifying first ten, and then twenty, categories of “play”.
Considering Froebel’s German ideas came to the United States before the Civil War, we should know better by now than to think children learn by rote at rows of desks, whether such regimentation is called “a class” or “circle time”. But we haven’t learned. Instead schoolmarms are placed in the position of being wicked witches, banning recess and drugging small boys for being boys. It seems little wonder that boys often hate school. The drop-out levels of boys have increased (along with drug-addiction), and girls now are more likely to seek college than boys are. And yet we are supposed to pity feminists? What about old-codgerists? Shouldn’t old boys like myself get a chance to march about and be irate and offended, too?
When I myself was a boy I detested school but loved learning. I could hardly wait to leave school so I could learn something. One reason I opened my outdoors-oriented Childcare was because I did most of my learning while roaming forests and fields, and wanted to share the joy I felt. Yet, as I watched the children at my Childcare, I became aware they were learning a huge amount without me, simply through hands-on experiences while romping.
Call such learning “field-studies” if you will, but such learning required no thesis to be written, and, in the cases of the youngest, it required no words, as they hadn’t fully learned to talk. They would just point at something, and look at me with their eyes glowing delight. It was obvious they were learning, and also obvious they loved learning. School was not a bitter pill. Wisdom was not a thing to be measured by tests. More was learned during recess than in the classroom.
It seems to me that it is later that small children start to ask “why”, and do it to such an excessive degree that it can drive you bonkers. Even when you answer “I don’t know” they immediately inquire, “Why don’t you know?” Sadly, in some classroom situations asking “why” earns one a look of disapproval from the schoolmarm. Perhaps this is one reason I myself began to look out the classroom window. The answers to my “why” questions were not on the blackboard.
It is interesting to note that among the places I liked to wander, when the final bell rang and I bolted out the school’s door, was a place you would not expect a “bad student” to go. When the whim hit me, I’d stop in at the town Library on my way home from school, and wander about looking for something interesting to poke through. Sometimes I’d find a book and become so engrossed the Librarian would have to tap my shoulder and show me the door, at closing, and I’d be late home for dinner. The next day I’d be “kept-after” school for having failed to do my math homework, but perhaps my homework was undone because I had learned more about the Greenland Vikings than my teacher knew, even when she was five times my age.
Skip ahead three decades, to a time when I had children of my own, and became aware that the teachers were teaching my children things about Greenland Vikings (and arctic sea-ice), (and other things), which I knew to be false. What to do? I went to the teachers to have a chat, and lo and behold! Thirty years made little difference; I got a look of deep disapproval from the schoolmarm.
They taught by-the-book, and what the book said was not to be denied. I politely inquired, “Which book are you referring to? I’ve read many on the subject, and many articles in various magazines.” They then became slightly defensive, for the book they were teaching-by was “the textbook”, which had a single paragraph about Greenland Vikings, and a single paragraph about the danger of the “Arctic Death Spiral”, (and some hundred paragraphs suggesting that man was destroying the planet). A bit of delicate, further inquiry informed me that, back in college, the schoolmarm had never studied either Greenland Vikings or sea-ice. But, rather than humbly admitting I might be older and wiser, the young whippersnappers did what schoolmarms always do to me: They sent me to the principle.
As I sauntered down a hallway to his office (thinking, “This is just like the old days”) I could see this wasn’t like the old days. The hallways seemed to reverberate with a lack of discipline, and the noisy classrooms I passed were largely out of control. One boy grabbed a teacher’s chair, which had little wheels, and rolled it out of a classroom, across the hall, and tumbled it down a staircase, laughing his fool head off. Then the boy saw me. I didn’t say a word, but the boy slumped and stopped laughing, and trudged back into his classroom pouting, and took his seat.
I then had a interesting talk with the principle, who was a seemingly jolly, spineless man who informed me that the problem wasn’t the children; it was the parents. We didn’t talk about Greenland Vikings or sea-ice very much. Instead I agreed parents should be more helpful. I proposed having some parents simply walk up and down the hallways, as it seemed to make boys behave better. Being spineless, he agreed this was a good idea, which led to the formation of CARE ( which was an acronym which stood for “Concerned About Responsible Education”) and for a time I wordlessly walked the halls in shifts with two other fathers. It seemed to have a positive effect. I later learned the principle despised me, and said bad things about me behind my back, though he always spoke to me with sympathetic eyebrows, high in the middle and low outside. He was sympathetic even when I stated I had decided to withdraw my children from his madhouse, and to “home-school”.
Home-schooling was my chance to learn what it is like to be a schoolmarm. Although I never wore the clomping, fat-heeled shoes that teachers wore in my youth, I felt I walked in their shoes, and I consequently have far more respect for schoolmarms. (Even your own children can come up with the most fabulous excuses for undone homework.)
One thing I wanted to do was to make school different than I remembered it being. I wanted learning to be joyous, as it was when I learned by hiking through forests and fields (and by browsing libraries and, later, back alleys.) But I was confronted by a harsh reality: Some aspects of learning are not “fun”, namely the stuff old-time teachers called “drill”.
Some things are fairly boring to learn. For example, multiplication tables. Such things are vital to further learning, but I was never very good at learning things unless they were part of some larger logic. For example, I did badly in foreign languages because at the start it was vital to learn a list of meaningless words. However I could manage to learn a phrase or two when it had some sort of value to me: To this day I can say “The woman is very beautiful” and “You are a stupid ignoramus” in Russian (but not much else.)
In like manner I did learn some math, due to good teachers who interested me in figuring out the batting average of baseball players, and how many boards it would take to roof a fort I was building. But I had a hard time learning things that had no personal context or reference point. If I could see no reason, I had a hard time “applying myself”. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “You have a good mind; why, why, why won’t you learn?” and, “You are an underachiever.”
In actual fact I was an overachiever, when it came to being a stubborn donkey and refusing to allow my mind to budge unless I was interested. In many cases the rare teachers who managed to teach me things I wasn’t interested in were the old-fashioned sort, who had no mercy, and who answered my “why” questions with, “Because I said so.”
The weapon such old-fashioned teachers wielded that worked best (on me) was to threaten to keep me from the forests and fields and libraries and alleys I loved, and one Science teacher got me to do an astonishing amount of dull homework because the alternative was to go to school with her all summer. Another old English teacher was more gentle, but simply forced me to do the same paper over and over until I handed in a draft with every word spelled correctly. (No spell-check back then). (Interesting to note I had a big vocabulary for my age, but couldn’t be bothered to learn to spell even simple words correctly.)
One thing that made those old-school teachers different was their emphasis on “completing your work”. It didn’t matter so much if the work was an “A” or a “D”, but that it was done. There was no “participation trophy” for merely showing up, and “trying” wasn’t an excuse for failing to complete an assignment. Even if you did a poor job, the job must be done. Nor did you necessarily earn approval, even when the job was done. You might earn a smile if you did “A” work, but not if it was “D” work. But even the the glower you got for “D” work was better than what you got for “incomplete” work. Looking back, such severity seems an afterglow from some former time, some echo of “The Puritan Work Ethic.”
At the same time there were new ideas and new approaches younger teachers thirsted to try out. I’ll gloss over these efforts, because for the most part they were ineffectual, and allowed me to escape “drill”. “Permissive” teachers allowed me to skip the rigors “Old School” teachers forced me to face, and let me play hooky. It didn’t matter if they called the work “arithmetic” or “new math”, and it didn’t matter if they called the work “history” or “social studies” or even “social science”. If they didn’t crack the whip, I’d prefer forests and fields to “drill”, and all their blathering about what-to-call-what-they-taught didn’t teach me one iota.
But one element of “permissiveness” did seem especially wrong to me, (and to many other schoolboys), and that was the unspoken need permissive teachers had to be popular. Me and my chums actually preferred the Old School teachers who knew we disliked them, for forcing us to “drill”, and we didn’t much like teachers who felt they had to be our best friend. The word “permissive” somehow meant they had to be “cool” and “popular” and “hip”.
Looking back, it seems to me the kids who were “cool” and “popular” and “hip” were a definite minority at my school, and the rest of us were a thing called “not so hip”. (Or perhaps “normal”). Therefore the efforts of some teachers to be popular looked like they were trying to woo a minority.
For the kids like me it seemed fairly obvious that such teachers were not the cream of the crop; they had not been “cool” or “popular” or “hip” when they themselves were our age, if only because they were not remotely handsome or beautiful, or particularly athletic, or all that smart. (That was why they were teachers, and not something better). Yet they had this odd wish to be what they never were, and thirsted to hang out with the “cool” and “popular” and “hip” kids.
Even to a twelve-year-old such behavior seems a bit pathetic, and is a sight that even seems pitiful: A thirty-year-old man or woman seeking acceptance from a minority of thirteen-year-olds who deem themselves classy, even as many of their classmates deem them otherwise.
A reason classmates disliked some peers who excelled (besides envy) was because some who excelled sneered at fellow classmates who didn’t do so well. But this meanness was dealt-with among peers by peers. We had our juvenile ways of separating the wheat from the chaff, the generous from the mean, and the genuinely admirable from those chasing the veneer of status. We may not have had words such as “politically correct” and “virtue signaling”, but we did have the words “real” and “phony.”
In some ways school involved much grouping and regrouping of small gangs, much shifting from superiority to inferiority to equality, as youth figured out where they were comfortable and where their gifts “fit”. Among athletes one might feel puny but five minutes later among Freshmen one might feel like a giant. Moods soared and moods crashed as hormones ran riot and roughshod, yet midst this chaos there was an awareness that some “got too big for their britches” or “took things too far.” Call it intuition if you will, but it was tantamount to detachment among youth you might deem incapable of anything but reactionary moodiness. Often it popped out of someone’s mouth in a way that resulted in gales of laughter, and a bully blushing (and promising to pound the jester later). Status was a precarious perch, like a game of king-of-the-mountain, and the “uppity” could expect a “comeuppance”. Yet for some status was the end-all and be-all of school, far more important than classes. For others the exact same status was proof the possessor was “phony”, and a person to be pitied. (Epaulets do not make the man).
If even youth can see past status symbols, and pity their peers when they crave such status too insanely (and look like shoppers madly fighting over an object at a sale) then youth can become downright horrified when teachers become equally eager to be included among the “cool” and “popular” and “hip”, and teachers act juvenile too. Such antics are hard to forgive or forget.
I recall when I was at my most awkwardly nerdy I was sneered-at by such a teacher. I likely deserved the sarcasm, but the rebuke was not what irked me. What seemed unforgivable was how the teacher turned away smiling towards the “cool” kids as the “cool” kids laughed at me, drinking up their small-minded approval. It was embarrassing. Grown-ups are suppose to be better than that, yet it was what was called “permissive” in 1964, and is called “politically correct” in 2019. Despite all the talk about “zero tolerance” for any form of “bullying”, it is a form of bullying. If you don’t believe such bullying exists, send a child into a classroom with a hidden camera, and have the child tell the teacher “Global Warming is a fraud.”
The pursuit of popularity at the expense of Truth may have a lot to do with the antics seen in Hollywood and among politicians, but it’s a dead end. It is Much Ado About Nothing. It involves the IQ of a bunch of clucking chickens figuring out their pecking-order. It is sad when people have to spend so much time and energy dealing with such nonsense, when what they really want to do is study sea-ice.
Also the pursuit of popularity has little to do with the true challenge of teaching, which involves the glaring difference between “drill” and the joy of learning. “Drill” may be necessary and be good for you, but so is cod-liver-oil. “Drill” is difficult to swallow. Either one must adopt the lantern-jawed mercy of a boot-camp sergeant, or be a sort of Mary Poppins singing about how “a teaspoon of sugar makes medicine go down in a most delightful way”, but in either case there is an acceptance that drill is, by itself, not delightful.
I thought long and hard about this subject while home-schooling my own kids, as they were forever asking me why should they do what they hated. I had no good answer, so I told them, “Because I said so.” However after I put them to bed I’d stay up late, sipping beer and wondering, “Why do I do what I hate?” I wanted an answer better than, “Because I have to.”
The answer I came up with involved seeing “drill” differently. Rather than seeing it as a bitter pill one was forced to gag down, I saw (or attempted to see) “drill” was the result of another’s joy.
A person in the faded past had endured the hardship, the sweat and strain and pricks to the ego, which led to the joy of revelation. And they then handed you all they worked so hard to achieve across the chasms of time, for free.
What such past people offer may be a thing as mundane as the “multiplication tables.” Learning such tables may be as dull as dust, but we should be thankful we don’t have to start from scratch and figure them all out for ourselves.
In like manner, when faced with a long and dull list of vocabulary words, we should be glad we are not faced with the task of coining such words. Most use words without any understanding of the Herculean efforts made by all sorts of word-smiths across the ages to hammer, distort and anneal the word into its current shape and definition.
One unusual aspect of my childhood was that my mother didn’t desire, (as a feminine equivalent of a man’s “den” or “man-cave”), a kitchen and pantry cluttered with cooking paraphernalia, or a sewing room, or a craft room, or a gym, but rather a library. She was a bibliophile, and even had a massive dictionary on an ornate stand in the dining-room. During the best days of my childhood (when my parents still got along) I sometimes was allowed to join the grown-ups during dinners that included foreign dignitaries, to whom English was a second language, and quite often the massive dictionary was consulted to see if a word was “used correctly”. Sometimes these visits to the dictionary were brief, but on other occasions (perhaps because my Dad could mix a powerful “old fashioned”), the conversations digressed in delightful ways into the various shades-of-meaning the same word might have, the origins the word had, how the meaning had changed over the process of time, and how shades-of-meaning could be different in different lands. (For example, in 1959 the word “fantastic” had a positive connotation in the United States but a negative connotation in India.) Even during dinners without company my mother tended to feel the definition of a word was chiseled on stone, while my father tended to look for loopholes, and the dictionary would be consulted. The result of all this was that, for me at least, the “drill” of learning a list of boring vocabulary words was less distasteful than it might have been for other children.
Drill is made distasteful when it becomes divorced from the amazing people who made the dull facts important. This is never more obvious than in the case of History. One is too often forced to memorize dull dates, but not told the full story. It is amazing how much passion and wonder can be lost through the study of dull dates. After such dreary memorization a bored boy is expected to write, on a test, “Valley Forge occurred in 1776”, without any real understanding of what occurred, or even that George Washington was involved. Where David McCullough’s book “1776” devotes chapter after chapter to what fueled that amazing moment in time, the schoolboy is just given a dull place-name and a dull date. Little wonder some rebel, and call history stupid. History is not stupid, but little wonder some think it is.
If you then add the fact some teachers deeply want to be popular, you can even have teachers who nod, and agree history is stupid. Rather than adding the joy-of-learning to the dull “drill” of history, they throw the baby out with the bathwater, and feel history itself is the problem. They then attempt to find a better way, something other than what actually happened.
Such a revision of Truth, of what actually happened, is called by some “revisionist history” and by others “progressive.” I call it “denial of fact”, and think, if you study history, you can see it often leads to a terrible end.
Inherent with thinking that history itself is the problem is the idea “old-fashioned” ideas are a weakness, and can be replaced by “better ideas”. Yet what happened is what happened; it is the Truth. When you attempt to replace Truth with a “better idea” you venture into the quicksand of utter folly.
I do not mean to suggest all attempts at social reform are folly. History shows us examples where attempts to reform society were beneficial, and where they were not. Therefore the measure of social reform should be the crop it reaps. Does the social reform result in the betterment of all, or disaster?
One of the saddest things to see, looking back in history, is how some so-called “progressive” people came to see their fellows, who had stood by their side as they fought “traditionalists” and rose to power, as being “not-progressive-enough”, and as holding them back. Stalin only rose to power due to the helping hands of many “bedfellow” communists, yet he came to see them as too “old-fashioned”, and “purged” them, (idiotically killing his best generals on the eve of World War Two.) In like manner Mao, after his “Great Leap Forward” had proved to be a leap backwards, had to deal with criticism he deserved from his fellow revolutionaries. Rather than humbly accepting what recent history taught, he instituted the “Cultural Revolution” which saw criticism (recent history) as evil (“counterrevolutionary”), and basically attempted to purge not only all of his best friends, but all of China’s best teachers.
The idea behind this sort of hatred towards tradition and history is the concept that tradition is a sort of weed, and that if you remove the weed something beautiful will grow. I honestly believe that both Stalin and Mao believed they were justified to kill, because something beautiful would result. Each morning they hopped out of bed, expecting that killing best friends and schoolmarms would result in roses. It never did. Apparently weeding isn’t enough. You must also plant.
The process of “planting” involves treating best friends and schoolmarms better than Stalin and Mao did, even when they disagree with you. Rather than seeing Truth as a backwardness and an enemy, it accepts the fact that even when Truth hurts, it is better than the alternative.
If you can follow my logic, you may glimpse Truth is not the dry lists of dull facts one grits their teeth to learn during “drill”. Rather Truth is a relationship. Rather than inanimate like stone Truth is alive. A inanimate stone just sits there. It cannot hurt you unless you go out of your way to fall on it head-first. However animate Truth can hurt you, even when you are minding your own business.
At this point I am moving into mystic territory. I don’t want to go there. I just want to lift the veil slightly, and hint at something. (Whether you choose to explore further is your own business). Let it suffice to say that I feel Truth is not a thing. It is a relationship we all are embarked upon, with whatever It is that made us.
I will say this: Our relationship with Truth is contentious. We all are social reformers in one way or another, and do not believe reality is as it should be. Though we may be like specks of dust upon a very small planet by a small sun in a small galaxy in a infinity giant universe, there are days we dare presume to grab the even huger Creator by the scruff of His neck and demand answers. (Confess. You’ve done it.) What amazes me is that, rather than being immediately incinerated by a bolt of lightning, we get answers. “Seek, and ye will find.”
In his long poem “A Lesson For Today”, the poet Robert Frost ends by suggesting he wants the epitaph on his gravestone to read, “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” In other words, if you seek Truth, do not expect an easy road lined with roses.
What holds true for students of poetry also holds true for students of arctic sea-ice. Truth is no outing for the feeble. Often those who stand by Truth win no earthly popularity, nor wealth, and seem to be proof honesty is for losers who want to wind up crucified, hanging from a cross upside-down like Saint Peter. Yet in the long run, even in earthly terms, who was the loser? In Rome, now, a huge building is called “Peter’s”, while “Caesar” is a name we give to dogs.
I often state “Stand by the Truth and the Truth will stand by you”, but this may not play out in the short term, which at one point in my life had me saying “Righteousness is never rewarding.”
For example, at one point the honest meteorologist Dr. William Gray advised the politically-calculating Vice-president Al Gore that Gore’s ideas about Global Warming were not scientific. Rather than being rewarded for his honesty, Dr. Gray saw his funding cut and was marginalized. Meanwhile Gore received awards and made millions for a movie (that British courts stated could not be used to educate British children with, because it included many falsehoods), ironically titled “The Inconvenient Truth.” In such situations it may seem there is no justice, and that the final Truth is that this world is made exceedingly disagreeable (because otherwise we would not seek a better place). But time will tell. Dr. Gray reached the end of his life with dignity, whereas Gore exudes such a halitosis of corruption one dislikes the thought we breathe the same air. (Not that I expect to be invited to his birthday party and stand in the same room, but we breathe the same air even if I flee to the far side of the planet.)
Gore is no different than the rest of us; he too has a relationship with Truth. In the harsh light of hangovers his eyes must seek their corners, amazed over how far he has fallen to become bloated with power and wealth. Yet none of us compare all that well with Perfection. In our relationships with Truth we all receive pricks to our fat egos, but none has fallen so far as to be beyond redemption; (it is said the thief on the cross next to Jesus walked the avenues of paradise only hours later).
In our relationship with Truth we are always teetering, with our hearts and heads never quite in balance: Our heads tend to be too dry and intellectual even as our hearts are too emotional and impulsive. That is why we need Truth to lend us a hand. We need something better than we are, to refer to. The amazing thing is that Truth is always there, offering.
Lastly allow me to repeat myself and state Truth is bountiful. One may not get the money they desire or the fame they desire or the power they desire, (or the beautiful girl on a Maine beach they desire), but in the end they get the best thing, which is Truth. In our constant and sometimes ludicrous efforts to reform society and change the world, Truth is our constant companion and lodestone, offering us feedback in the form of the harvests we reap, which can defy all odds and amaze us. (For example, Jonah felt preaching about Love to the merciless Assyrians was an exercise in futility and complete waste of time and might even get him killed, yet, (when he finally got around to giving being-an-advisor a shot), he saw, to his amazement, the entire bloodthirsty Assyrian nation repented and reformed [and postponed their eventual downfall by some fifty years.])
Truth has power we can’t imagine, which gives us every reason to study it. Under its beneficent sunshine rivers that barely trickle can rise sixty feet.
In terms of arctic sea-ice we need to stop the silliness of “adjusting” the Truth in a way that denies what we already know, and get back to studying what is actually occurring up there. Even a rank amateur like myself can see hints of mysterious powers, atmospheric waves that move the wrong way or cross the Pole, and these ill-defined shapes may be far more than the swirling aftereffects of storms to the south. I like to toy with the idea they may be hinges capable of pivoting vast atmospheric rivers, trapping cold air in the north with a “zonal” pattern or unleashing arctic outbreaks far to the south with a “meridional” pattern. Such changes make a huge difference to farmers, and understanding such changes would be an advantage to all people, for if farmers in Iowa knew a cold year was coming that would kill their corn, they could plant winter wheat instead. In like manner history informs us that massive shifts can occur to the currents of the North Atlantic, making rich fishing grounds sterile and barren seas bountiful. At the very least fishermen could save a lot of gas used searching for the fish, if they knew such a shift was coming and the fish would be moving.
Considering such drastic changes to the ecology of the Atlantic occurred even before light bulbs were invented, it seems silly to now blame such changes on incandescent bulbs, and to imagine we can move the seas by buying curly ones. Rather than thinking we control the weather we should be more humble and see the weather controls us, and seek to understand it. And such understanding does not come by seeking to replace Truth with adjustments, but rather by studying what actually is occurring, irregardless of whether it is politically correct or whether it confirms some preconceived bias. Arctic research deserves greater funding not because it benefits some political party, but rather because Truth benefits all mankind.
In any case, here we sit, having wasted decades preparing for Global Warming that shows no real sign of manifesting. Billions have been squandered attempting to prove something that isn’t true, deranging our energy infrastructure in the process, and leaving us ill-prepared for the onslaughts of winter. And winter is coming.
The “warming” seen on various charts and graphs is largely due to adjustments, but some warming is genuine and cannot be denied. However it may well be due to a completely counter-intuitive cause: Less energy, due to the so-called “Quiet Sun”, may initially have a warming effect.
Ever since I first began paying attention Alarmists have been pish-tushing solar variations, stating they’re incapable of having much effect. They often point out the variations in TSI (Total Solar Irradience) is roughly only a tenth of 1%. Or one part of a thousand. Yet then these same Alarmists turn right around and and say one part in a million can have a huge effect, when it involves the composition of the atmosphere. They can’t have it both ways.
My own take is that a change of only a tenth of 1% in the amount of sunshine striking the earth may seem small, but is actually a stupendous amount. After all, the sun is no small thing, even though you can cover it with your thumbnail as it crosses the sky. Here’s some trivia from “Cool Cosmos”:
“Compared to Earth, the Sun is enormous! It contains 99.86% of all of the mass of the entire Solar System. The Sun is 864,400 miles (1,391,000 kilometers) across. This is about 109 times the diameter of Earth. The Sun weighs about 333,000 times as much as Earth. It is so large that about 1,300,000 planet Earths can fit inside of it. Earth is about the size of an average sunspot!”
Currently the sun has become more quiet than at any time since the Dalton Minimum (roughly 1790-1830). At times the TSI has sunk to “unprecedented” levels.
The problem I run into, when dealing with the TSI, is that there are variations from graph to graph, and discussions involving things above my head, such as brief drops involving sunspots rotating around and facing the earth (which makes me think a spotless “Quiet Sun” should have a higher rather than lower TSI) and also arguments concerning the sensors used and “adjustments” made to the sensors used in the past. In the end I tend to fall back onto the observations from the Dalton Minimum, before the TSI was measured.
While the start of the Dalton Minimum was fairly quiet, after a decade things became “interesting”: Two of the largest volcanic eruptions of the past millennium occurred in 1810 and 1815, parts of the subtropics experienced summer snows and frosts, and there were extreme variations in the location and amounts of sea-ice, (including the amazing phenomenon of icebergs grounding on the coast of Ireland, that I mentioned earlier.) It seems a “Quiet Sun” had a significant effect, even if we haven’t been able to figure out the practical plumbing of its causes and effects.
One current observation that seems counter-intiuitive to me is that the SST (sea surface temperatures) have become warmer even as the sun has become less energetic. Though the southern hemisphere may now be hinting at some cooling, the northern hemisphere continues well above normal. (Below is the current anomaly map, not showing actual temperatures but rather whether temperatures are above or below normal.)
How could a less energetic sun cause warmer seas? After brooding a bit, it occurred to me that, besides measuring energy with thermometers, we could focus on the energy measured by anemometers. If a less-energetic sun slacked winds, especially Trade Winds, there would be less up-welling of cold water from the sea’s icy depths, resulting in warmer water at the surface, warmer and moister air above the seas, and consequently warmer and moister air working its way to the Pole (where only a small change in moisture jolts temperatures upwards to a far greater degree than the same amount of moisture alters temperatures in the tropics.) This would explain why winter temperatures have been warmer at the Pole, (and much of the slight “Global Warming” we see in honest statistics has been due to winter-warming at the Pole). However in the summer, when above-freezing temperatures at the Pole make slight rises in humidity less influential, the summertime Pole has actually trended cooler than normal by a small degree, which could be caused by slightly decreased sunshine 24-hours-a-day.
The idea that a slight thing like a decrease in TSI could warm the entire Northern Hemisphere may seem a bit preposterous, but if you think of it there are plenty of examples in life of small things having big consequences. Kingdoms can be lost “all because of a horseshoe nail”, a gain of sand can start an avalanche. In terms of meteorology the phrase “tipping point” is often used, (both correctly and incorrectly), and in some cases a hair can make a huge difference. It is like a marble rolling slower and slower up to the peak of a rise, at which point it can either fail to crest the rise and roll backwards, or crest the rise and accelerate forwards. In terms of a computer model and a weather forecast, this can be the difference between a ridge of high pressure being pumped and pleasant weather, or a trough digging and a gale. (Just as an example, there is currently some concern here in southern New Hampshire about winter snows getting off to an early start, and Joseph D’Aleo discussed the topic on his site at Weatherbell, and in the process he looked at fifty “runs” of the European Model, describing how much snow we might get over the next two weeks. Here are 25 of the runs:
Basically what the “runs” state is that we might get two feet of snow or might get none. Not much of a forecast. I suppose it does show storms will be whizzing by, maybe out to sea or maybe to our north or maybe hitting us, (but, because this is November in New England, we already knew that). However what I wanted to emphasize was how small things can make big differences. The reasons the “runs” of the model are so different are caused by quite minor tweaks to the initial data. A “butterfly flapping its wing” can totally ruin a superb forecast.
This is especially true concerning whether the Pacific will generate an El Nino or La Nina. Some sort of “tipping point” is involved, but no meteorologist seems able to pinpoint what it is, for the forecasting is persistently poor. Yet the difference between an El Nino and a La Nina is huge, and has worldwide consequences.
In a La Nina the warm water is “piled up” towards Australia and cold water upwells towards South America, and the world tends to be colder and drier, while in an El Nino the warm water spreads out and cold water sinks, and the world tends to be milder and moister. The Trade Winds are involved, and it is a case where less-is-more. Less winds creates more heat.
In like manner, I suspect a lower TSI might create a less-is-more situation where less heat from the sun initially makes the planet milder. But I stress that word “initially”.
To me it seems that spreading out the heat over a larger area could cause the heat to be lost more efficiently. It would be like your tea being too hot, so you pour it in the saucer to cool it. (Not that I’ve ever done this, but as a boy I asked an old lady what saucers were for.)
(It may not merely be fishermen who own first-hand-experiences that certain Climate-scientists should attend to; old ladies drinking tea may know a thing or two Climate-scientists don’t, as well.)
The spreading-out of milder water not only loses heat to the atmosphere (which then loses heat to outer space), it also moves north to the northern reaches of the Atlantic and Pacific, and melts sea-ice. Alarmists felt the resultant open water in the Arctic Sea would absorb sunlight and cause the “Arctic Death Spiral”, but the open water largely does not appear while the sun is high, but rather appears when the sun is getting low in late August and setting in September. In such situations the open water is not absorbing sunshine, but losing heat to the arctic night. Heat is not merely lost directly, but through the latent heat released during the phase-change from water back to sea-ice, which is far greater during years like this one, which saw more open water, and has already seen much open water swiftly refreeze.
Where some Alarmists suggest that the recent rise in the planet’s temperatures by a few tenths of a degree is a sort of irreversible one-way trend, I tend to see it as an action which will result in an equal and opposite reaction. For example, if you put a small pea on a balance, first it will swing down but then swing back up, as it gradually gets back to a state of poise.
It seems to me our planet is constantly attempting to achieve a state of poise, but constantly subjected to peas that make the balance swing. Even the yearly shift in summertime sunshine from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere and back north again knocks things out of whack to some degree, but the planet keeps working to bring things back into balance. Because the swings have a certain regularity to them, the balancing-work tends to develop a regularity of sorts, and we speak of “cycles”, whether they be the cycles of seasons, or sunspot cycles, or the supposed 60-year-cycles of the AMO and PDO. But these cycles can also get knocked out of whack by things such as especially explosive volcano eruptions, or even asteroids (not to mention things I know little about, involving an “electric universe”, or the 12,000 year cycle of “magnetic excursions” mentioned on the “Ice Age Now” site, or in scary videos such as this one:
One constant, while considering the blows our planet has received in the past and may receive in the future, is our planet’s toughness and resiliency. It is like a boxer who can be pounded but cannot be knocked out. The idea of a “tipping point” being triggered that turns the planet into a hothouse like Venus is patently absurd, (but the idea of a society being triggered into absurdity is perhaps not so absurd), (and may be happening.) There is a tremendous power dragging the earth back towards equilibrium.
At times I think the swings back towards equilibrium manifest in ways that strike us as anything but peaceful. For example, a summer thunderstorm may not seem peaceful, but gets rid of excessive heat and brings things back into balance. In like manner, when some volcano reduces the amount of heat arriving on the planet’s surface, a “zonal” pattern may shift to a “meridional” pattern with the jet-stream contorting into fabulous loops, yet this may just be the planet’s way of redistributing the heat to get things back in balance.
I think this is what we should be watching for, and may already be seeing, in terms of the “Quiet Sun”. But one thing we need to be wary of may be glimpsed to the old (and now “adjusted”) records I showed earlier, which showed a dramatic increase in sea-ice between a record low in 1960 and a high during the winter of 1962-1963. It was a rapid increase of 1.5 million km of ice. Here is that illustration again:
It seems to me that a reappraisal of Vinnikov’s data would be fascinating. What was he witnessing, and what were the causes, and what were the effects? There does seem to be evidence that the world saw quite a dramatic period of cooling at that time, resulting in the “Ice Age Scare” which is so well documented by Tony Hellar’s collection of old Newspaper articles from that time.
The question I ask myself is, “Could we be on the verge of seeing history repeat?” Personally I loath the prospect, as my circulation is not fond of cold winters. I’m not the hot blooded dude I was in Maine, back when Jimmy Carter was president. However whatever will be will be, and it pays to keep an eye to the north in November.
Currently things look a bit ominous. Three weeks ago (October 11) the waters north of Siberia were wide open and snowcover was just starting to expand in Canada.
Now (November 4) the waters north of Siberia have swiftly skimmed with ice, Canada is largely snow-covered, and many of the smaller lakes in Canada have frozen (blue above but yellow below).
I’m now watching for the large Canadian Lakes and Hudson Bay to flash-freeze. As long as they are open they moderate arctic air, creating a sort of landlocked “maritime effect”, but as soon as they freeze, bitter cold can build. Also the pattern is worrisome due to a persistent ridge up the west coast of North America. That may bring warmth to western Alaska (note less snow there) but it tends to drain cold air into the heartland of USA and eventually effects our east coast. During the worst winters it drags frigid air from Siberia across the Arctic Sea, so I’m watching for the waters north of Bering Strait to flash-freeze as well. During the winter of 1976-1977, back when Jimmy Carter was president, we got stuck in such a pattern from November all the way into February. So I’m keeping my finger’s crossed that the west-coast-ridge breaks down, for now that I’m an old geezer I’m more of a wimp. (However if you’re young and like snow it is something to hope for).
If you are an Alarmist, and are stoically hanging on to the “Arctic Death Spiral” theory, what you should likely do is shift to sea-ice “volume” graphs. The DMI graph currently shows surprisingly low “volume”.
The low “volume” is likely reflecting the low overall extent of the past summer and the fact the new ice is still thin, though it may be indicative of a surge of sea-ice exiting south through Fram Strait (which will be interesting to watch as it approaches Iceland in December.) Also it may have something to do with fewer arctic gales piling up fewer pressure-ridges of ice. Whatever the cause, it helps the cause of Alarmists, especially the young whippersnappers who are looking for a good reason to avoid getting a Real Job flipping burgers to pay off giant loans to a Federal Government that printed money to pay colleges that printed worthless degrees. Who would want to face that? I don’t blame some young people for preferring that the world end in twelve years.
As for the rest of us, who pay the taxes and elect the individuals who perpetuate such shenanigans, we expect the unexpected. Just about the only thing safe thing to forecast is that Alarmist forecasts will prove incorrect, for they involve so much that is not Truth. The best we can do is focus on Truth, and have faith that it can produce some wonderful surprises. The climate can change, and dry gulches can fill with living waters, and deserts can bloom.
Stay Tuned…….And stand by the Truth and the Truth will stand by you.
Personally I don’t feel we control the Truth. Truth is real and something we respond to. If the Truth is that it is cold I don a jacket. Yet some think Truth is something they control. They feel that if they control the media, and the media says it is warm, people won’t need jackets and won’t notice they are shivering, when they obey those in control.
This never works. It always results in social breakdowns such as the one that we are witnessing in Venezuela. For a government “plan” to work it must follow the Truth. If it strays from honesty all sorts of odd “bad luck” seems to occur that torpedoes the “plan”.
For example, a former president of the USA had a “plan” to take control of energy production, and predicted government control would result in a “necessary” increase in the price of gasoline and heating oil, but what came about was a totally unexpected increase in the availability of oil and gas, and crashing prices, which ruined the former president’s “plan”, (which I suspect was more about government control than about allowing Truth to control.) This unexpected turn of events (brought about by fracking) may have been “bad luck” for those who thirsted for control, but was “good luck” for those who thirst for freedom.
When the Jews were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses gave Joshua a bit of advice about following the Truth:
” The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. “
It can be frightening to stand up for the Truth in situations where it is politically incorrect, and you may suffer scorn or lose money, but such losses are actually gain when it means you have amazing Power at your side.
Those who think they control Truth often are in for an embarrassing surprise:
Truth is like a fire-hose. You have to grip it firmly or you wind up drenched.
Stand by the Truth and the Truth will stand by you.
The reporter was only attempting to add a bit of drama to his report, but likely was not on the best of terms with the man holding the camera. If it were not for the two people casually strolling by in the background (which an adept cameraman would have made sure not to include) his acting job would have been quite convincing. Instead he will be held up as yet another “epitome of fake news”, (and also will likely have to bear some nickname such as “Staggers” for the rest of his life).
This hype is old news in many ways. Here is Anderson “pooper” Cooper reporting from the gutter during Hurricane Ike.
The accompanying hysteria seemed to be reaching “jump the shark” proportions. I cannot help but wonder how many take the media claims that “It is all Trump’s fault” seriously.
The level of inanity astonishes me, and demands some sort of push-back. I was glad to see the “Watt’s Up With That” website immediately produced a series of posts countering the politicized editorials spewed by the mainstream media. Especially encouraging was a parody of media hype produced by firemen, for it seems to indicate ordinary people are not gullible “sheeple”, and see through the hype, and find the media laughable.
Besides reducing the hysteria of the media to absurdity, it is important to factually counter their wild claims. I think Dr. Tim Ball did an excellent job in the following post, first by examining Hurricane Florence from a meteorological standpoint, and showing it was in many ways a fairly normal September hurricane at landfall, and second by pointing out how insurance companies stand to profit from hysteria. (Especially interesting and informative were his insights about how such storms “flatten” as they come north.)
I feel it is important to arm yourself with facts and figures, despite the fact some Alarmists will simply shout you down by screeching you are a “Denier.” Admittedly it can be scary to face a mob, and some elements of current politics has the definite feel of a witch hunt. One wants to duck for cover, for one feels like Dr. Frankenstein facing villagers bearing pitchforks and torches. But during such times I remember the importance of the character “Jojo” in the classic “Horton Hears A Who”, by the great American poet and master of anapestic tetrameter, Dr. Seuss.
Yes, it is important for every voice to be heard, for a grain of sand can start an avalanche. Do not allow yourself to be shouted down.
I’ll admit the struggle does get tiresome. It’s been going on for decades. I myself was first jolted awake to the element of nonsense within “Climate Science” when I opened the November, 2006 issue of National Geographic, as it was devoted to hurricanes and I had a long-time interest in such storms, and came across a article by “weepy” Bill MCKibben called, “A Deeper Shade Of Green”. It began,
“This is the year we finally started to understand what we are in for. Exactly 12 months ago, an MIT professor named Kerry Emanuel published a paper in Nature showing hurricanes had slowly but steadily been gaining in strength and duration for a generation. It didn’t gain widespread attention for a few weeks — not until Katrina roared across the Gulf of Mexico and…”
I knew enough trivia about hurricanes to recognize the article contained sheer balderdash misinformation, and began attempting to correct the record in small ways, but my efforts seemed to have no effect. Bill McKibben got lots of publicity generating hysteria that failed to verify, while I was either ignored or rebuked as a “denier.” However 2006 marked a clear increase in the number of “Skeptic” sites where you could be heard. As McKibben’s nonsense went on and on, year after year, he faced increasing push-back. I finally got a long and detailed rebuttal to his hysteria published at WUWT in 2012.
Long and detailed rebuttals didn’t seem to have the slightest effect on Weepy Bill himself, or on the more ardent Alarmists. They simply refused to respond. But this refusal to respond made their arguments look increasingly like they lacked any substance. They were like those hollow paper tubes that hold rolls of toilet paper. More and more they seemed to be using empty political slogans rather than any points that were remotely debatable. Getting hit by these empty slogans was like getting bopped over the head by a paper tube. All they did was rob you of a degree of your dignity, but they failed to make the attacker look civil, and did make them look a little insane.
The ineffectiveness of political slogans, and the failure of such propaganda to fool indoctrinate the public became apparent with the Brexit election, and the election of Donald Trump. At this point a certain degree of desperation set in, felt by those whose livelihood is dependent on empty slogans. However, if you only have empty slogans to use, using them more and more frantically persuades no one.
At this point I think it might be interesting to go to a network noted for slogans, MSNBC, and examine the introduction to a so-called “analysis” of the news. Usually such an introduction passes quickly as a stream of blather, but we shall slow it down and parse the sentences. If we analyse the analysis we can see if it is connected to reality, or not.
The speaker is Katy Tur and she begins,
“President Trump says FEMA is ready for Hurricane Florence but mounting evidence suggests it could be incredibly difficult to deal with this disaster if climate change deniers are on the front lines…”
Excuse me? Is there anything an Alarmist can do that a Skeptic can’t, on the “front lines?” Does an Alarmist have a witch doctor’s wand they can shake at the waves to make them retreat? No. In fact even the UN’s highly politicized IPCC report can see no “trend” in hurricanes, either increasing or decreasing, in recent years. If there is no “trend” there can be no “trend” caused by man, which therefore suggests there is no way puny humans can turn these mighty storms left or right.
In terms of the present tense, when Hurricane Florence battered our shores we didn’t need Climate Scientist’s theory from ivory towers, which accomplishes absolutely nothing, but rather we wanted hard-nosed people who understand the logistics of coping with a hurricane’s effect on our infrastructure. As is the case on battlefields in the fog of war, or on ships at sea in storms, it doesn’t matter if you are black or white, Republican or Democrat, religious or atheist, or even Alarmist or Skeptic. All that matters is the capability and grit you display, under the stress of a hurricane.
Katy’s next sentence is this appeal to authority:
“…A new study from the Princeton University is echoing the findings of previous research showing climate change as the cause of ocean conditions that produce fast storms like Hurricane Harvey…”
Oh brother! Hurricane Harvey was a slow storm, not a fast storm. Harvey’s excessive rainfall would have been less devastating if it was spread out over several states. However the hurricane stalled over Texas, and all the rain fell in one place.
In actual fact I doubt people at Princeton University are so ignorant, nor that they “echoed” any other “study” so ignorant, that that called Hurricane Harvey “fast”. Rather this is an example of atrociously bad reporting, and the above point is an attempt of an imbecile to look like they hang around with college professors. It is as silly as the video of the man staggering in a calm that began this post. It is an appeal to authority by a moron attempting to look like a genius by donning a white lab coat. (I won’t blame Katy, but rather the writer who wrote the balderdash she mouthed.)
(By the way, I fully expect to soon see a report stating that slower storms are caused by Global Warming.)
Her next sentance is:
“…NOAA is suggesting it’s 3 degrees Fahrenheit above average…”
The “it’s” Katy is referring to is the “ocean conditions that produce fast storms like Hurricane Harvey”, however NOAH doesn’t need to suggest. The have actual satellites that produce actual data. So let’s look and see if the ocean is three degrees Fahrenheit above average.
Oh! I see. The “it’s” Katy says NOAA is referring to isn’t the entire ocean. “Its” an area off the Northeast USA coast extending towards Europe. Elsewhere, the southern hemisphere is largely below normal. And Hurricane Florence actually formed over below-normal waters over towards West Africa. But never mind that. Let us proceed to the point she was driving at.
“…Where does the Trump Administration stand on climate change?…”
Eh? How does that follow? A sort of leap in logic has occurred. Is this a case of the-hand-is-faster-than-the-eye?
As best as I can figure, Katy has leaped from NOAA “suggesting” that some vague “it” is three degrees above normal, to politics. The assumption must be that “it” proves Global Warming is real, and now we should hurry on to how Trump is dealing with this “reality”. However we will need to come back later, and look more carefully at the “it” she has so hurriedly hastened away from.
“…President Trump rolled back Obama era mandates for leaks and oil and gas wells…”
Now we have completely left the topic of meteorology. We are into the fields of economics and energy production, and also public safety. The state of our infrastructure is a topic of interest to me, and well worth discussing. On September 13 a leaky gas line, (and perhaps a foul-up in the pressure in the lines), caused 60 fires and chaos not far from where I now sit and type.
I will return to this subject later. (But please note the solar panels on the above house.)
For the time being, let us continue with Katy’s logic:
“…These rules were part of Obama’s three part strategy for combating climate change.”
Whoa! Wait a minute. How did we get back to meteorology? I thought we were talking about leaky gas mains and infrastructure.
All in all Katy Tur has provided us with a splendid example of an intellect that fails to think deeply, or move cautiously. Instead she leaps from topic to topic with a splendid disregard for investigative reporting. In this manner she avoids that which would give a more ordinary thinkers reason to pause. It ignores the advice, “The buyer beware.” (I could likely sell her the Brooklyn Bridge).
I don’t really want to take Katy to task. She’s putting on a show for the cameras, just like the reporter in the video at the start of this post was putting on a show for the cameras. The above quotes were from Katy’s intro to an interview with “Bill Nye the Science Guy”, who also is hard to take to task, for he too is putting on a show for the cameras. And then Katy moved on to interview the former “White House Climate Change Task Force’s Director Of Communication”, (a position that paid a six-figure taxpayer-funded salary, which President Trump has abolished.) But what, may I ask, is a “Director Of Communications”? It is not someone in charge of putting on a show for cameras?
All these people putting on shows for the cameras are merely doing the job they are paid to do. If they show a falsehood, don’t blame them (though they must bear a certain shame for doing the job they do). Blame those who create the job, hire them, and pay them.
But the so-called “infrastructure” does not care how you look on camera. It must obey a fundamental reality or it fails. If you put too much pressure into the gas mains, big troubles can ensue. Allow me to be redundant and repost this picture:
This poor home-owner lost his house despite his virtue-signaling solar panels. Was his loss due to “Climate Change”? No, for the weather was nice. Was it due to “Climate Change Politics”? I suggest the answer is “Yes”. Why? Because too much focus has been on how things look on camera, and too little attention, time, and money has been placed on the basic facts of basic engineering. The infrastructure is not a thing thing that cares for cameras. A politician’s blandishments and pretty talk mean nothing to a rusting pipe. You cannot bribe a gas main.
Look again at the virtue-signaling solar panels. They are not very effective when the sun sulks down by the horizon, this far north, in December. Nor can wind turbines replace them, for our coldest weather occurs when the Arctic Highs are cresting, and the “Montreal Express” ebbs to a dead calm. At that point both solar power and wind turbines supply the infrastructure nothing, and we must turn to fossil fuels, or freeze. As coal power plants were “phased out” by the prior administration, natural gas became increasingly important as a “back-up” for “sustainable” energy (which isn’t sustainable, because it can’t sustain itself in a midwinter cold spell.)
But when neglected infrastructure, (neglected because Alarmists demanded attention be elsewhere), breaks down, the usual suspects reappeared, including the nemesis of sanity “Weepy” Bill Mckibben. (He tends to show up after every disaster, licking his chops like a vulture). Within hours of the Massachusetts explosions and fires he tweeted, “The Massachusetts gas explosions are a good reminder of the many reasons we need to get off fossil fuel.”
I am so sick of this “progressiveness”. In any disaster it holds the helpfulness of a hyena. It waves hands vaguely at some future prospect, and does absolutely nothing to remedy the current crisis, and (what is most annoying) it gets rich doing so.
What McKibben was suggesting in “A Deeper Shade Of Green”, way back in 2006, was that Katrina was the first of many massive hurricanes that would smash into the USA, due to mankind’s production of CO2. Time has proven him completely wrong. There actually have been fewer major hurricanes in the past thirteen years than his dramatic article, (containing the same appeals-to-university-authority that Katy employed), warned us to expect. In actual fact there have been fewer hurricanes than a ordinary scan of history would lead us to expect.
Can he be held accountable? According to some readings of the Old Testament, when a man stands before other men and states he is a prophet, and then, when what he prophesies does not come true, he has proven himself a “false prophet”, and the societal remedy is to haul him to the town green, and stone him to death. Fortunately for Weepy Bill we don’t follow this practice any more, perhaps due to Jesus stating, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” This is not to say he doesn’t get stoned, but if so it his own doing, perhaps due to what it is now legal to smoke in Massachusetts.
What annoys me is that some continue to heed such people, taking them as an authority despite the fact they have proven themselves persistently wrong. It does not help us with the real task at hand, which is to keep our infrastructure is the best possible shape, and to repair it after benchmark storms.
Rather than hype, the public should be informed about what is possible, which involves a clear comprehension of what a “benchmark hurricane” is.
A benchmark hurricane a worst-case-scenario. It is the worst storm a particular area has a record of.
As one moves up and down any coast one discovers the “benchmark hurricane” differs, because the worst winds and storm surge associated with a hurricane are in its eyewall, (usually the part with onshore winds), which in some cases can be a surprisingly tight area. For example, driving south of Myrtle Beach in November, 1989 I witnessed, moving through Surfside south towards Murrell’s Inlet, the devastation rapidly increased as one neared the place where Hurricane Hugo’s path plunged inland. Driving north, on the other hand, to North Myrtle Beach, (to where I once lived), there was only slight damage, and the relieved residents were joking about how they hadn’t needed to evacuate. But I could point out to them a place where I had put in a garden, behind the house where I had formerly lived, and explained that as I dug I found scattered bricks, from a hotel a hundred yards down the beach that Hurricane Hazel smashed in 1954. I stated they were wise to evacuate, for the weather bureau can never be exactly sure where a storm will make landfall, and if Hugo had veered fifty miles north the situation in North Myrtle Beach would have been entirely different. In any case, Surfside had Hugo as its “benchmark,” while North Myrtle Beach had Hazel. (An area between was spared the worst of both).
The word “benchmark” came from a mark a workman might put on his workbench as a handy reference point, so he would not have to take out a tape measure and re-measure over and over. It serves the same purpose for engineers, who must design structures to handle bad weather. They look to see what is the worst Mother Nature has dished up in the past, using it as a reference point, and then look to see if they can design anything that can withstand such fury.
The answer is seldom, “No”, which surprises some people. The Bible advises against building on sand, but the engineer’s answer is “Yes, you can build there, but it would be extremely expensive; do you have a couple billion dollars handy?” In such cases they are not building on sand, for they put in a deep concrete foundation, and build a sort of bunker.
The buyer, (and often the taxpayer) beware. Often the engineer is disappointed, and rather than a billion dollars only gets a hundred thousand. For example, there are rivers in Texas that are usually dry, but occasionally rampage due to tropical storms. An engineer could design a costly suspension bridge over the gully, or a cheap ford over the river bottom which would be closed when the river was in flood, and likely need to be replaced on a regular basis. The customer then looks in his wallet, and makes a choice.
There are some sections of coast that, for whatever reason, are luckier than others, and have dodged the bullet and therefore have less devastating “benchmark hurricanes”. In these cases engineers raise the benchmark, for they think the luck will not last. Perhaps they studied a channel cut through a nearby marsh, and noticed that within the layers of peat there were occasional layers of sand, washed all the way inland from the beach, during massive storms that occurred before records were kept. With the help of geologists they can determine the likelihood of such huge hurricanes, and advise customers about the likelihood of such a storm, giving us terms such as “once-every-500-year-storm”.
In Europe, where records have been kept longer, there are records of times the North Sea went on a complete rampage, and villages and parts of entire counties vanished, and on maps areas went from being land to being shoally seas. Because this is actual history the Alarmists should not use the word “Unprecedented” for modern storms in Europe, but history never seems to stop Alarmists from being overly dramatic (and therefore inaccurate) about the present.
Engineers need to be economical. A small road in a small town can’t afford a giant culvert for a small brook, to handle a once-every-500-year-storm. The taxpayers will pay for a small culvert, and then pay to fix the road if they have to. For this reason a wisely devised emergency-management-plan seeks to predict damages, not to prevent any and all damage from ever occurring.
When I was living in Myrtle Beach I was a bit scornful of everyone building on land that was only three to six feet above high tide, and one time I haughtily informed a construction worker that another Hurricane Hazel would wash away all his work with a twelve-foot storm surge. He smiled cheerfully at me and stated, “That will be great for construction workers, for we’ll have to build it all back again. You’re not going to stop people from enjoying the beauty of this beach.”
A few years later I returned to inspect the damage after Hurricane Hugo, and down past Surfside came to a stretch of beach where nothing but pilings remained of the beachfront homes. They had all been built atop twelve foot pilings, and only the pilings remained. Each and every house was a block or two back from the beach, smashed into other houses. But then I noticed a lone beachfront house remained. The garage beneath the house was gone, and the staircase up to the house dangled brokenly in mid air, but the house remained. As I looked at it and scratched my head a local fellow came up to me and asked, “Wondering about that house?”
“I don’t know why, but that fellow paid a bit extra for longer pilings, and his house’s floor was three feet taller than the rest.”
Surfside was a terrible mess, but now it is all cleaned up and people are enjoying vacations at the beach again.
And what is the moral of all this? It is to be practical. It isn’t to ban beautiful resorts in beautiful places, but to enjoy the best while being ready for the worst, with a wise contingency plan.
We also need a plan of how to deal with the Alarmists who have become addicted to a way of making money from the imaginary danger of Global Warming. They may number in the millions, if you include all government jobs, and they are facing a hurricane of their own making. They have mortgages to pay, children to clothe and feed, car-payments to make, but are facing homelessness, for the political construct they depended on is going to be swept away.
Either it will be swept away by wise choices and sane behavior, or by the social insanity of civil war, but it simply is not a sustainable construct, despite all the bather about “sustainability.”