ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Stand By Truth–

Around a fortnight ago I heard that Alarmist sites were proclaiming that the big guns were being rolled out to blast Skeptics, in order to convince the general public that Global Warming was a “fact” and not a theory, and that only wicked people (like me) denied such “facts”. In actual fact the Alarmists have rolled out pop-guns; not cannons. There has been a shortage of facts, and primarily we’ve seen raving and ranting by young people who are “on strike” because grown-ups are “destroying their world”, (which is basically a delusion, for it is likely there has never been a generation as physically well-off).

(Emotionally, such youth may well be destroyed, but their teachers are to blame for that. The climate itself is beyond reproach. And I could warn such foolish teachers what eventually happens to the teachers in socialist revolutions, but that would take me down a long, sad sidetrack and far from the subject of sea-ice.)

I will only go so far, playing this silly game Alarmists play, wherein they steer far from the facts while pretending they are the realists. As long as the person I am debating is willing to calmly discuss the facts, (and also whether the facts are “raw data” or so-called “adjusted data”, [which is data that has been fiddled-with and therefore can no longer can be called true data]), I can enjoy the conversation. However there are certain conversations that seem highly unlikely to involve any enjoyment.

Having raised two daughters, I am familiar with young women’s extremes of emotion, (though by age sixteen mine were showing some signs of returning to earth). But with daughters one at least owns the love which sees one through feminist storms, and daughters return some degree of that love, even when they’re furious at you. In the case of Greta Thunburg one is faced with a veritable iceberg of antipathy.

And “icebergs” returns me to the subject of sea-ice. Which is what people need to do, when faced with political nonsense. Otherwise one risks being dragged down by the sheer ugliness of untruth. In such situations it is often wise to go for a hike and absorb the beauty of the view. Become aware of the wonder.

This was actually all I was doing, when I first posted about sea-ice back in July of 2013. I was merely sharing a beautiful escape I had found, which offered relief to the heat of July.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/north-pole-ice-melt-watching-the-summer-thaw/

But that post embroiled me in the Climate Debate on my own site. (I did visit the “subject”, in a political sense, on other sites, but my own site was for my personal, poetic wanderings, attractive to some 10-20 viewers a day.) Abruptly I had over 500 viewers a day, and all sorts of interesting comments.

My first sea-ice post made me aware of what a huge hubbub surrounded sea-ice, and that, though the subject seems inane, it can get you more attention than driving a Mercedes. Gosh! If I only knew I could get so much attention talking about icebergs I surely would have started much younger, back when I still had the lungs and stamina necessary to chase women. However, because I am largely past such pursuits, I am not as impressed as I once was by superficiality. In fact I am interested in things that didn’t interest me at all when young, such as “peace”.

When I was young I was more interested in stimulation and excitement, but even then I was aware of a richness and depth which could be found in quietude. I even pursued peace, sitting cross-legged and chanting “Aum” for an entire fifteen minutes, when swept up by spiritual zeal, but soon that seemed too boring, and I bopped away from meditation along an erratic path towards gratifications that never were lasting. To be honest, the course of my life displayed a sort of Brownian motion, despite the great gift of owning free will in a free country. Yet one thing did seem to come along with me and to be lasting, namely a sort of intangible and highly subjective sense of beauty.

Beauty is most definitely in the eye of the beholder. One time I was swept into a sort of rhapsody by the beauty of a sunrise, but when I asked a depressed and cynical friend if the sunrise was beautiful, he stated it looked like a vomited egg. For that reason I sometimes am in no hurry to share beauty with sourpusses.

As one gets older one’s initial attraction to mere superficial beauty (which is why people wear make-up) evolves. One is hurt when a person externally beautiful turns out to be cold-hearted, and one is touched when an ugly person turns out to have a heart of gold. One then becomes more aware of a thing that is an “inward” beauty. This in turn seems to have a relationship with a thing called “Truth”.

For some odd reason I have always had the ability to see beauty in situations that few would call beautiful. My depressed and cynical friend once told me, “You could face a pile of stinking shit, and you’d find something positive to say about it.” I had to laugh. It was the Truth. But that only annoyed my cynical friend, for I was finding something beautiful about his insult.

One time I was in an alley of a slum, and rather than be upset by the ugliness and decay all around me, I was entranced by the way a sunbeam found its way into that gloom, and how beautiful the old, orange bricks looked in the sunlight. Also I noted that, in some forgotten past before the slum was a slum, the bricks had been laid with extraordinary care by a skilled mason, at which point my cynical friend accused me of smoking dope without sharing any with him.

I actually did hope, when young, that legalizing marijuana might allow others to see the way I saw. After people smoked they would say things like, “Wow, man, the sky is so blue.” Unfortunately their revelations weren’t lasting, and the long-term consequences of using drugs seemed to lessen revelation, rather than stimulate revelation. Not that there was a definite decrease in intelligence. People remained the same. At age fifty they sounded the same as age seventeen.

When I look back and try to find some logical reason for my ability to see beauty, (rather than just calling it a “gift”), one thing I remember is an amazing collection of old and ugly people. My parents were both wealthy and very active, and chose to delegate the rearing of their children to others, and this tendency was exacerbated when they both were bedridden by polio in 1954. The first “nanny” I recall was an old French woman, the daughter of a French composer, who had no fear of polio germs because she was a Christian Scientist. She looked very much like the face on a box of Quaker Oats: Not exactly the face of a Hollywood movie star, but a person who was very beautiful, simply because of all she had endured in France during years of hardship, without losing faith and hope, nor losing her ability to suffer little brats like myself.

Someday I’ll hopefully write a post called “My Nannies” about the entire collection of fascinating refugees who I was cared-for by, by age nine. All were fired, as not one fully achieved the high standards my parents desired for their children, but they were all fascinating in my eyes. They didn’t ever tell me about the hells they had endured, the lynchings in America’s south, the barbaric behavior of Hitler and Stalin in Europe, but, though I later learned they had endured such ugliness, instead, in their wrinkled faces, was a triumph over evil, the victory of simple, good people over horribly astounding adversity. They shone with an “inward beauty” I was somehow able to see, despite being a naive and gullible child, and I think it stuck with me. Being old and wrinkled has never since seemed the slightest bit ugly to me.

Unfortunately, now that I myself am the old and wrinkly person, some young people do not look upon me with any fondness.

Greta and her ilk shows no sign of having the slightest interest in respecting any elders beyond those who indoctrinated her. She is as prejudiced against old people with differing views as some white people were when they listened to Louis Armstrong’s music at a nightclub, but wouldn’t allow him to drink at the same bar with them. Yet Louis wasn’t soured, nor convinced the world was doomed, but instead sang with hope in his old age:

There is an irony in watching Greta, (who has just sailed across the sea in a boat owned by monarchy), wrinkle her nose and insist her future has been stolen, and comparing her sourness with the sweetness of a man whose life was full of reasons to be bitter, yet who refused to be bowed, and persisted, and insisted on joyous song.

What makes the difference? To me it seems to be a difference between imagination and fact, between a dismal distortion of hope into despair, as opposed to an acceptance of what the present tense holds. Where Greta gripes about a forecast, Louis accepts the weather right now and, if it is raining, sings in the rain.

Greta complains her dreams have been stolen, but what are dreams? Even in a better world there is no guarantee dreams will come true. Nor is there any certainty worries will manifest; in fact they usually don’t, and even when they do they’re often not nearly as hard to endure as one envisioned. All in all, it is better to attend to today and allow tomorrow to tend to itself; even five-day-forecasts are often wrong, and few lives unfold anything like what we had scripted at age sixteen. We may plan for a pension, but “the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray”. Conversely, even when one seemingly assures oneself a miserable future by being utterly morose in the present, unexpected fortune can befall one out of the blue. Even Greta’s sour face might tomorrow be the glowing face of a young woman who has fallen in love.

One reason it is better to focus on the present is because it is all we really have. It is where Truth exists. It is filled with beauty, if you only look for it. Sadly, people often miss what they have because they hanker for what they haven’t. It is not only heroin addicts who writhe in their cravings, despite the fact the sun is shining and birds are singing.

This at long last brings me back to the subject of sea-ice. It is a beautiful and wonderful subject, if one simply looks at the Truth, and has no need to distort with bias and “adjustments”, nor any need to advocate some political cause. Even though the sun has stopped shining at the Pole, and arctic birds have fled south, the starry polar night has a beauty all its own.

It is a time of great changes, from perpetual sunshine to perpetual darkness, from melting ice to freezing salt water. The flooding arctic rivers, glutted with meltwater, abruptly shrink to a trickle as melting ceases to the south, and even the south winds become cold, when they come north over a tundra which has abruptly changed from being a swampy ooze to being as hard as iron.

This time of transition is fascinating to watch, as it never happens the same way, because a great many variables are involved. Allow me to skim over the surface of this highly complex subject, to give you an idea of how wonderful it is.

One variable is the amount of sea-ice in the marginal seas, which seems dependent on the state of the AMO and PDO. This year the ice-cover is low and the passage along the coast of Siberia is open. What this in turn creates is the likelihood of air rising over those open waters, for the waters “remember” the summer sunshine in a more lasting way than the sea-ice to the north and the tundra (already snow-covered in places) to the south, which makes the air above those waters both milder and moister than the air to the north and to the south. Because the air is rising low pressure is encouraged, and lows tend to ramble from west to east, from Barent’s Sea through the Kara, Laptev, and East Siberian Seas, all the way to Bering Strait. In the map below (for September 29) the blue areas are places where pressures are lower than normal, (especially along the Siberian coast), and orange areas are where pressures are above normal (especially over Greenland and the Central Arctic.) You can see the suggestion that the open water is effecting the pattern. (Maps courtesy of Weatherbell Site.)

When we switch to the temperature maps of the same time (Sept 29) we again can see the effect of the open water, as compared to colder lands to the north and south. (I prefer the Celsius Weatherbell map because the difference between below freezing (white) and above freezing (purple) is so clear.) Of especial interest to me is the above freezing area towards Bering Strait over the East Siberian Sea, as usually the East Siberian Sea is colder and first to freeze.

Also of interest is the below freezing air just inland of the Laptev Sea coast in Central Siberia. It looks so cold one doesn’t see it is actually warmer-than normal, unless one looks at the temperature-anomaly map for the same time:

In the above map the area inland of the Laptev is so cherry red one is tempted to forget temperatures are in fact below freezing, and get carried away and step outside in a bathing suit. (One has to be careful with anomaly maps.) What the anomaly demonstrates is the after-effects of a large storm that stalled over western Russia, drawing cold air south over Scandinavia and pulling warm air north over central Russia. But remember the warm air is only relatively warm, has chilled as it came north, and is in fact below freezing and far colder then the air it displaces over the Laptev Sea, when it is sucked north because the air over the Laptev Sea is rising.

Also notice the above map shows colder-than-normal air plunging south in Western Canada, as Eastern Canada is above-normal. This is indicative of a loopy, “meridienal” jet-stream, (which is what you look for if you like exciting winters). A flatter “zonal” jet stream has troughs and ridges that are barely bumps, and on the surface beneath have meeker lows that travel west to east without much ado. But it is when the jet stream gets loopy that the fun starts. The storms beat their chests and roar. They can start down at the edge of the tropics and come northeast intensifying constantly until they are full fledged monster-gales as they approach the arctic, actually drilling up into the upper atmosphere and altering the steering currents. This is great fun to attempt to visualize, though it can leave you a bit cross-eyed. How can the steered control the steering? It messes up computer programs, for it is like unruly peasants marching to the castle with torches and scythes to tell their boss they aren’t going to follow his orders.

What you have to watch for is storms stalling, and the upper-air pattern getting stuck in a certain position (or sometimes looking like it is going to pull out of a certain position, but then relapsing back to its former pose.) As the storms stall they often occlude, which means the warm front has caught up with the cold front, and the “warm sector” is hoisted off the ground and starts messing around with the upper atmosphere. Though some take the attitude an occluded storm is “cut off” from the juice that feeds storms, at times an occluded front represents a pipeline of juice still feeding the gale, but feeding-in up a few thousand feet. The massive gale remains massive, and often slows, stalls, and then curves back to the west. What the heck is going on in terms of “steering currents”?

The most elegant explanation for the looping of high latitude gales is that they have escaped the influence of mid-latitude westerlies and nudged into the influence of polar easterlies. And, as is the case with many beautiful explanations, this idea works, but only to a certain degree, after which elegance is thrown to the wind like a rich, fat banker slipping on ice and falling on his butt.

In the most elegant scenarios all the might of the primary gale fades as a secondary storm grows new might, usually to the southeast where the occluded front meets the warm and cold fronts. In the most pretty examples, as the secondary explodes into predominance the primary low’s occluded front turns into a secondary cold front of the secondary gale, and the primary gale just vanishes. This happens often enough to be something I watch for, and it fails to happen often enough to cause me to think inelegant thoughts. Politically incorrect thoughts. Thoughts often begun with the three words, “I wonder if…”

There is stuff going on up there on the arctic coasts that bears further study. I fear we may have a sort of west-to-east prejudice, due to living in mid-latitudes, and that this prejudice manifests as a sort of blindness to ripples that move east-to-west, like our sun. What’s more, polar weather is capable of trickery impossible at lower latitudes, for a cross-polar-flow can make a south wind a north wind in one inch, which can’t happen anywhere else (except the South Pole). This messes with simple concepts such as “Coriolis Effect”, to say the least. But it makes the Pole a splendid place, if you like to wonder.

One thing I’ve been wondering about is what causes a jet-stream to get stuck in a certain location. This is important, because a stuck jet-stream has led to our most remarkable winters. For example, the winter of 1976-1977 saw the jet stream get stuck in a pose where the coldest Siberian air took a cross-polar flow north of a balmy Alaska and then across a frigid Yukon and straight down to where I lived in Maine, and far further, to freeze oranges in Florida and cause “Time” magazine to wonder if an ice-age was starting. But what the wonder should have been was: Why did the jet stream stay stuck? It is a small wonder if the jet stream assumes that position for a week in an ordinary winter, and we get a blast we call “winter’s worst.” But that year the blast began in November and stayed stuck until February. It was amazing how the cold just wouldn’t quit that year, and fortunately I was young and hot-blooded and enjoyed it to the hilt.

Now I’m more than forty years older and would likely call the same weather a pain in the ass, but I remain curious about why the jet-stream stayed stuck. Because it seems scientists are too busy trying to get paid by showing CO2 is the cause of everything, no one has the time to wonder why jet-streams stay stuck. Therefore I have to think all alone, (without the help of those who are supposedly educated, but chose to be slaves).

One thing I have wondered is that, if I was going to push around a jet-stream, I wouldn’t chose to do so when it was charging north, like giant surf that flattens swimmers, or sucking south like undertow that can drag swimmers out to sea, but instead would chose the moment when the mighty wave is reduced to a ripple, at the top of the beach. That “top” is the coast of the arctic. It occurred to me that seemingly small things, along that coast, may effect the jet stream when it is at it’s weakest. Just as a little pebble can start an avalanche that flattens an army, small events on the arctic coast may effect the entire Northern Hemisphere winter.

Not that I can say what the events are, but I do think we should study what happens, and not CO2-caused events that don’t happen. We should study what usually happens, and also study the unusual.

What usually happens is the East Siberian Sea freezes first, followed by the Laptev, and then the Kara, and lastly by Barents Sea to a varying degree. And “usually” as the waters freeze the low pressure systems passing over them lose the addition of heat and moisture, and therefore weaken, first over the East Siberian Sea, and later over the Laptev, then Kara, and lastly Barents Sea.

At this point I am launching into sheer conjecture. It seems to me that the point where a jet stream stops moving north and starts moving south may be a sort of “hinge” which can be moved this way or that way, by small things, and have huge effects on the world’s weather. The swing of a huge gate is determined by a little hinge, and that “hinge” is moved east or west by a scrawny little man with a screw driver.

God willing, I’ll find time to venture some of my ideas about who (or what) the “scrawny little man” that determines our winter might be, in a future post. However the point of this post is not to announce some grand theory, but rather to stress the importance of simply watching the Truth. The Truth knows all about the grand theory long before we get around to discovering it, and Truth toys with it.

PERSEPHONE SONNET


Like Hades, I clutch and will not set free
The warmth of sweet summer’s soft honeydew.
I won’t trade Florida for Persephone
Though what’s good for me may not be for you.
When Pandora opened that blasted box
All good but hope soared far overhead
And left us down here with evil that mocks
Our desire, in a sad underworld’s dread.
Some say hope lives far off;  lives far above
In heaven; postpones joys ‘til  tomorrow,
But it’s today crying children need love.
I open my arms when darkness breeds sorrow.
I clutch sweetest hope and won’t set her free.
Winter can’t harm, with such warmth holding me.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Do Warming Spikes At Pole Chill Earth?–(Updated)

An interesting development occurred at the Pole during the last day of summer and first day of fall. As the sun sank beneath the horizon at the Pole for six months, no further warmth could come from the sun, and all warming could only come from the unfrozen waters, or be imported from the south. When the warmth comes from the south I look for spikes in the DMI temperature graph (for the area north of 80 degrees latitude) and we have seen the first such spikes of the autumn:

It should be noted that, while the red line in the above graph indicate temperatures are averaging well above the green line of “normal”, they still indicate temperatures well below freezing and cold enough to freeze the open areas of sea-water.

I like to look at the DMI temperature map of the Pole, to learn the specifics of exactly where temperatures are above normal.

The isotherms in the above map show a pointed area of milder temperatures pushing north from the Atlantic over Svalbard and right over the Pole. I call such impulses “feeder bands”, because they often feed an anomalous area of low pressure over the Pole I’ve dubbed “Ralph”. In the map below the “Ralph” is located north of the Canadian Archipelago.

It is interesting to watch the maps as the winter progresses for other examples of such “feeder bands.” See if you notice what I have noticed:

First, those who own a bias towards favoring the idea the planet is warming tend to become excited when such surging “feeder bands” spike north. My favorite example involves a time a big North Atlantic gale brought a splendid surge north in December, creating a feeder band that lifted temperatures from minus thirty to near freezing at the Pole. In fact one data-buoy, close to the Pole on the Svalbard side, was briefly above freezing for around two hours. This gave the press a wonderful opportunity to indulge in hyperbole involving midwinter melting at the Pole. Because I, as a writer, tend to enjoy hyperbole much more than dull facts, I got a good laugh out of one headline which stated Santa Claus was drowning on Christmas. However I suppose some children were permanently scarred, (which is a good reason not to let children watch the news.)

But then the dull facts rear their ugly head, which involves a second thing to watch for, and that is how swiftly the “feeder band” loses its heat. For example, here is the isotherm map of the Pole 24 hours after the above map:

What I like to do is to open the two maps to new tabs, and then switch back and forth between the two tabs. This makes the changes very clear. It is obvious the heat is lost. Where did it go?

Likely it rose, (which creates low pressure and “Ralph” at the surface.) Because cold arctic air is incapable of holding more than a tiny amount of moisture, the rising and cooling air drops the Atlantic moisture it holds. Occasionally this can be rain, especially down towards Svalbard, but even when it is rain the phase-change from gas to liquid releases latent heat. If the moisture freezes to snow the next phase change releases more latent heat. While the snow or rain may fall without the flakes or drops warming much, the air holds all the released heat. Therefore when the air descends it theoretically should be much warmer due to the released latent heat it holds. Also, while the air chills at a moist adiabatic rate of 3.5 °F / 1000 ft as it rises it should warm at the dry adiabatic rate of 5.5 °F / 1000 ft as it descends. Therefore we can confidently look about the Arctic Sea for warm, descending winds like a Chinook, or the Foehn winds of the Alps. But (cue Twilight Zone music) we see no such warm winds, (except sometimes where winds descend from the heights of Greenland). Where has the heat gone? (Turn up Twilight Zone music.)

I assume it has been lost to outer space. But you watch, next winter, and see if you notice the same thing.

There is another chilling effect of these “feeder bands” that I watch for. I take the view that when these warm surges rush up to the Pole they “bump” the cold air off the Pole, like two children playing king-of-the-mountain. (I suppose the cold air surging south could just as well create a vacuum that sucks the warm air north as it departs, but never mind that.) Watch for displacement of cold air masses far to the south (where the cold doesn’t show on the DMI graph of temperatures north of 80° latitude), next winter. One invaluable site to use, when looking for cold air to the south, is the Ice Age Now site.

https://www.iceagenow.info/

Currently, if you go to that site, you can learn that, as warmth spiked to the Pole, there was record-setting cold in Southern Alaska, early frosts in the southern Volga River valley down towards the Caspian Sea, and an early blizzard in Montana. (Don’t look for such news to be front-page in the Mainstream Media.)

Such news interests me, for, while I hold strong views about snow minding its own business and staying up at the Pole where it darn well belongs, I am well aware early snow-cover is a force to be reckoned with. Around here you can feel it even when the snow-cover is a hundred miles to our north, because the north wind suddenly has a cruel and bitter edge to it. Therefore I keep an eye on the snowcover maps.

https://www.natice.noaa.gov/ims/index.html

One thing that occurs to me that doesn’t seem to occur to Alarmists is that the albedo of fresh snow-cover is not only higher than that of dirty ice, but it is likely to have a more powerful effect in the south where the sun is still relatively high in the sky, than it has at the Pole where the sun is down at the horizon or completely set. Therefore my ears perk up at early snow in Siberia and Alaska and northern Canada.

In conclusion, when the temperature spikes at the Pole, it may not be a warming event. It may be indicative of southern heat squandered to outer space, and northern chill bumped south to cool southern landscapes. But use your own eyes, and see what you see, as winter draws nigh.

UPDATE The Finnish Meteorological Institute’s graph of the Northern Hemisphere’s “Total Snow Mass Excluding Mountains” shows that we are off to an early start, when it comes to accumulating snowfall. It looks like we are roughly three weeks ahead of schedule.

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE —Pigtails—

The “Death Spiral” theory is again debunked, for, according to its premise, lack of sea-ice leads to sunshine warming more water, which leads to decreased ice the following year. However reality begs to differ. Despite a summer highly favorable for the melting of sea-ice, with the PDO warm and the Pacific’s “warm blob” making the temperature of waters in Bering Strait well above average, and the AMO warm as well and the Norway Current (a northern tendril of the Gulf Stream) sending above-normal waters north on the Atlantic side, and high pressure over the Pole creating lots of lovely sunshine when the sun was at its highest and most able to melt sea-ice, sea ice failed to set a new record low.

At this point you might think there would be some calm and level-headed discussion about why the “Death Spiral” has failed to manifest. But this discussion already occurred, back in 2008, when the “Death Spiral” failed to progress after the 2007 lows. There was some “further discussion” after the 2012 low set a new record, but that is now seven years ago. The facts show the sea-ice is failing to fit the definition of “spiral”.

Sadly, rather than level-headed discussion it seems Alarmists are abandoning science in favor of highly-charged emotional rants and riots. A sixteen-year-old girl in pigtails is invited to lecture (or rave) before the U.N. in favor of a qualified zoologist such as Susan Crockford. Is it any wonder the error about polar bears becoming extinct, which has been debunked, continues to be accepted as a fact? The protesters even dress as polar bears.


Let’s just pause briefly on the subject of bears, which highlights the appalling ignorance of some Alarmists. The fact of the matter is that the bears are dependent on gorging on helpless baby seals in the spring, and the sea-ice situation is very different in the spring. To demonstrate the difference let us use the PIOMAS “volume” graph (which Alarmists seem to prefer). What does it show us?

What this graph shows us is that the sea-ice will more than quadruple by April. Places like Hudson Bay, which appear as “open water” now (despite scattered icebergs) will appear as “totally ice-covered” by April (despite scattered air-holes and leads.)

The scattered air holes and leads are very important to both seals and bears, because seals can’t be born underwater and must be born on the ice, where they lay utterly helpless for a time, as the mothers nurture them. This is when the bears gorge. Bears don’t even have to sneak up, for there is no way for the baby seals to escape; they can’t even swim yet. Polar Bears become very fat, and actually live off their accumulated fat for much of the rest of the year.

However we have records going all the way back to the 1600’s, for the Hudson Bay Company, and such records tell us there have been some very cold years, including some years when the trading posts could not be resupplied by ships due to thick ice. During such cold years there are few air-holes and leads, and such a situation is disastrous for both seals and for polar bears. Their populations crash when there there is too much ice, which is exactly the opposite of what Alarmists are led to believe.

In order to learn the truth about arctic zoology it would pay to turn to a Zoologist, (and avoid “Climate Advocates” who are dependent on funding from advocacy groups.) One such Zoologist is Susan J. Crockford, who created the site “Polar Bear Science.”

https://polarbearscience.com/

I highly recommend her site, for news about sea-ice as well as about seals, walruses and bears. Here is a video she produced:

You might think that the U.N. would ask a qualified Zoologist to speak, but apparently they prefer emotional teenaged girls in pigtails. Because I doubt we can convince Susan to wear pigtails, I suppose it is up to me. To get a fair hearing, all I need to do is self-identify as a teenager, and grow my wispy gray hair until I can braid pig tails.

The problem is, I don’t look all that good in pigtails.

https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwonderopolis.org%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2014%2F02%2Fdreamstime_xl_13974528-custom.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

ARCTIC SEA-ICE —The Refreeze Begins—(UPDATED)

The summer has been rather ordinary up at the Pole, (all Alarmist vs. Skeptic hoopla notwithstanding). The sea-ice remains at very low levels, which is to be expected with both the AMO and PDO in their “warm” phases.

Not that things are boring. There is always something fascinating going on at the Pole, partly because we know so little about that region. In essence we are all novices, (and don’t be fooled by certain men in white lab-coats who like to put on airs and pretend otherwise). We haven’t passed all the way through a single, entire cycle of the AMO since we started getting satellite observations, and are actually watching what occurs as the AMO moves from its “warm” phase to its “cold” phase for the very first time.

What gets boring is having to deal with the drag of politics. The really spectacular claims of Alarmists, (that the world will end in 12 years, or that all the sea-ice will vanish at the North Pole leading to catastrophic warming), (among others), have largely been debunked as hysteria, through careful research and pedantic logic, and all people who dig a little for facts are quite aware of it, (both Skeptics and Alarmists.) It therefore seems crazy to keep insisting such blather is “settled science”, and also that stating the exact opposite of such blather makes one a “denier”. Such debate is like arguing with a wall, (which I know, for a fact, gets boring, as an old, retired wall-banger).

I heard a good description of such discussions recently. It was described as being like playing chess with a pigeon. Even if you make a brilliant move, the pigeon just knocks your chess-pieces over, poops on the board, and then struts around like it won.

I’m tired of playing chess with pigeons, and yearn for the good old days when there were lively debates among Skeptics and Alarmists in the comment-sections of websites. In particular I recall, back around 2005-2006, Brett Anderson hosted a Global Warming website at Accuweather which he initially moderated very loosely, and an Alarmist who went under the name of “Brookline Tom” and a Skeptic who went under the name of “Patrick Henry” went at each other, day after day, week after week, month after month. What was great was the fact they supplied links to make their points, and if you bothered to read their links you could not help but learn a lot. I think I learned more during those brief years than at any time since. Unfortunately Brett Anderson eventually felt compelled to rein-in the more pugnacious comments, and then swiftly most Skeptic were banned, and the site became an echo chamber for parrots, (or perhaps a site where two pigeons played chess, nodding to each other that the other was brilliant). (Not that some Skeptics haven’t been dragged down to the level of pigeons, on other sites, as they reply to Alarmist pigeons).

I long for a return to the sense of wonder we once had, studying the arctic. For there is a lot to wonder over, at, and about.

One major reason for the current low ice extents is the warm PDO, which brings warmer water up into Bering Strait. This makes a huge difference in total sea-ice “extent”, because during a “cold” PDO the strait remains clotted with ice, and sea-ice can even remain south of the strait. During a “warm” PDO Bering Strait tends to melt out completely, with open water even far north of the strait.

It is at this point my sense of wonder is stirred, because the PDO has failed to follow the cycle I expected it to follow. Rather than working like clockwork, and switching from “warm” to “cold” in the manner a sixty-year-cycle would predict, the PDO was very rude to amateur scientists like myself, for it “broke the rules”.

I am reluctant to mention what I observed, as Alarmists tend to seize upon any anomaly, (and especially an anomaly that leads to less sea-ice), and shriek that it proves Global Warming has been verified. However I am confident that the few who visit this obscure website will not leap to conclusions in that manner, and instead that they will rest content to wonder, along with me. (I’ll add, as a prelude, that I think we may be seeing unexpected effects of the “Quiet Sun”.)

What we were expecting, back around 2000, was for the “warm” cycle of the PDO to swing to the “cold” cycle, and for a time all went as predicted. But then late in 2013 it swung back back to “warm” again, and has remained “warm” ever since.

This spike in the PDO is an “inconvenient truth” for those of us expecting sea-ice to increase in Bering Strait, especially those of us who pointed out sea-ice indeed was increasing in Bering Strait after the low-ice year of 2012. When the PDO abruptly became warm in late 2013 we had to eat our words. However if you have dealings with predicting weather you get used to being humbled in this manner, and rather than sulking you wonder, “What is going on? What didn’t I see? How was I caught so off guard?”

If you look back in the above graph you can see a slightly similar (though smaller) spike around 1957-1962, during the last “cold” PDO. This spike preceded some very cold winters that became part of the “Ice-age-scare” of the late1960’s and early 1970’s. While this observation does not address the dynamics involved, it does suggest such a warm spike in the PDO might be a sign of incipient cooling, and isn’t automatically a guarantee of further warming.

There was another example that does not show up very well in the above graph, but showed up more clearly in the graph I was using back in 2013. (PDO graphs with different authors do differ to a surprising degree, from graph to graph, especially as you move back into the murk of the past, where records become more dubious.) The above graph shows a weak “cold” PDO cycle 1908-1925, with a weak spike 1918-1919. In the graph I was looking at in 2013 this spike was sharper and more pronounced, and caught my eye because I knew the following post-World-War-One winter was very cold in eastern North America. Once again warming in Bering Strait had not resulted in warming in New England.

My attention was further grabbed because, soon afterwards, the winter that followed, (2013-2014), was very cold in the eastern USA, (in many locales a “top ten” winter, in terms of the severity of cold temperatures.) A hypothesis was encouraged.

Such observations tend to counter the Alarmist contention that less sea-ice, especially in Bering Strait, means the world is getting warmer, because in my neck of the woods it seems to indicate the exact opposite: That a very cold winter is more possible than not. Such a lack of sea-ice seems to cause a loopy jet stream, with mild air brought north to west Alaska, but cold air draining south through east Alaska and east of the Rocky Mountains, sometimes all the way to Florida.

While such indicators seem to work best just after the PDO flips from “cold” to “warm”, I am made nervous by any sign of a “warm blob” in the Gulf of Alaska, and open water north of Bering Strait. So I am thinking of getting extra firewood, looking at the current SST anomaly map.

Noting this correlation may be a handy tool to have when purchasing firewood, but it doesn’t address the dynamics of why it happens. And it is here where wondering becomes truly enjoyable, unless you are an Alarmist and must suffer the knee-jerk reaction of ascribing CO2 to be the cause of everything. Even then, one should be able to add numerous other variables to the equation, and enjoy great fun wondering, but all too many Alarmists spoil such fun by denying other variables have power, or even exist. (For example, many Alarmist dismiss the idea the sun can have any effect, stating changes in the TSI (Total Solar Index) are too small to fuss about, and neglect noting larger changes in invisible UV radiation (not included in TSI) and other radiations, and lastly dismissing Svenmark’s observation that when the sun gets weak more cosmic rays are able to pelt Earth from deep space.)

Currently I’m having fun wondering about a counter-intuitive effect the Quiet Sun may be having. Most assume less solar energy must result in lower temperatures, but I surmise it may initially raise them. How? Because less energy from the sun may mean less energetic winds, and when the Trade Winds slacken there is less up-welling of cold water from frigid depths to the west of continents. Less frigid water at the surface allows warmer surface waters to have a greater influence. Because oceans have a far greater influence on temperatures than land does, temperatures (and humidity) may rise worldwide, even though less energy is arriving from the sun.

However I imagine this is a robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul situation which cannot continue forever. As the earth warms due to decreased Trade Winds it is not gaining in terms of total heat, but is withdrawing from its bank-account-of-stored-past-sunshine, which is held in the oceans. As most of have experienced, at least once in our lives, you cannot withdraw more than you deposit for long without getting a notice from the bank.

At this point we are dealing with both tiny and enormous numbers. The entire “warming” that Alarmists are so alarmed about is less than half a degree, and can barely be noticed on an ordinary thermometer or felt by the skin, and, in like manner, variations in the TSI can’t be seen by ordinary eyes. Therefore you may dismiss such variations, if in the mood, but if you are in the mood to be wild-eyed you have only to multiply these small numbers by the vast expanses of mountains and plains and forests and seas our planet possesses, and the result is big numbers. The Press then likes to reduce these big numbers to baby-talk, talking in terms of “Manhattans” and “Hiroshimas”, or (to generate alarm and sell newspapers) by using big numbers like “billions” (in terms of melting ice on Greenland) without bothering to mention the “billions” that melted are only 1/30,000th of the total ice, or that the “billions” will be more than replaced by “trillions” of snowflakes the following winter. (In fact Greenland’s ice would build up clear to the tropopause if the ice wasn’t plastic, and didn’t squeeze out to sea as glaciers and calve off as giant icebergs.)

My own take is that tiny things indeed can result in big reactions. Shifting one small piece of paper on my paper-heaped desk can create an avalanche and a mess on the floor. Also I remember playing in a swamped rowboat as a boy, and how being slightly to the port side would result in such a surge of water towards the port side that, even if you scrambled up the starboard gunnel you could not keep the boat from flipping over. (Great fun, when you are ten years old, but watch out that you don’t lose the oarlocks, or catch an oarlock on your skull.) Using this as an analogy, the flip from El Nino to La Nina conditions is caused by changes so subtle that the world’s best super-computers are constantly embarrassed, attempting to predict such flips, yet the resultant changes cause massive shifts in weather patterns world-wide.

Is this not wonderful? Is there not ample room for wonderment? How boring it must be to believe “the science is settled”, and that there is nothing more to wonder about. To me, admitting ignorance is far more fun than being a know-it-all.

One thing I notice, looking at the above map of SST anomalies, is that, while Bering Strait may be warmer, cold seems to be building in the southern hemisphere. In fact the planet seems out of balance, with far more warmth to the north and far more cold to the south. If this planet were a wallowing rowboat, I would suspect the schoolboy was on the port side and had better shift to the starboard, or else experience a flip.

Also I notice cold water anomalies appearing not only west of South America, (indicative of an incipient La Nina), but also west of South Africa and west of Australia. Perhaps the pumps are primed for a flip? (I’m just wondering.)

It is important to remember we are talking about anomalies, and not actual temperatures. The uneducated look at the above map and say, “Well, of course its colder in the Southern Hemisphere; its the end of winter down there.” They need to be reminded that the above map shows it is colder than winter usually is, in the Southern Hemisphere, and warmer than summer usually is, in the Northern Hemisphere.

It is also important to understand most temperatures are within a degree of normal, in the above map. I have seen times when a shift in the pattern of winds, perhaps associated with the MJO, can shift a vast area of sea-surface from a tenth of a degree one side of normal to a tenth of a degree the other side of normal, and this results in a vast portion of the map shifting from red to blue, or from blue to red. It also results in an outcry from Alarmists and Skeptics alike; if the colors shift in a manner that “supports their view”, it is taken as proof and reason to gloat, but if colors shift in a manner “opposed to their view” there is suspicion, and accusations of fraud. I sometimes think life would be far more peaceful and simple if all anomalies within a degree of normal were white in the above map…….but then, what fun would that be?

One good effect of having a small shift in temperatures create a dramatic shift in colors on the map is that it can alert you to a change you might otherwise overlook. For example the waters around New Zealand were above normal last May

But they have gradually chilled the past hundred days. I hadn’t noticed, until the dramatic shift from yellow to blue alerted me.

In case you are wondering why the heck I am looking at the southern hemisphere in a post about the North Pole, it is because a wondering mind is a wandering mind, and I am notorious for failing to stick to the subject. But also most of the planet’s heat is held in the oceans, and most of the oceans are in the southern hemisphere. If the southern hemisphere chills it is bound to eventually effect the north.

I should also point out a couple of distortions in the above maps. First, the areas in the north look larger than they are, in relation to areas at the equator, which look smaller than they are; IE: Greenland is not in fact the size of Australia. Second, more of the northern hemisphere is shown than the southern hemisphere; the northern margin is at roughly 83 degrees north while the southern margin is at roughly 79 degrees south. This distorts the red area in the arctic and gives one the impression it is larger than it actually is.

But the red area is definitely there, and there is much open water north of Bering Strait, which one might expect would create a low extent even lower than the low levels of recent years. Instead we are about the same as we’ve been, and do not seem to be headed in the directions of the dramatic plunges we saw in the record low years of 2007 and 2012:

In 2007 the low extents were due to a lot of ice being flushed south into the Atlantic, leaving thin and patchy ice behind in the Arctic Ocean. This summer some ice was flushed south, and sea-ice crushed up against Svalbard in a manner we didn’t see last year, which increases extents on the Atlantic side. However that flow was countered by a “wrong-way” flow north, especially the second half of the summer, which actually pushed ice north and away from the north coast of Greenland, condensing ice in the Central Arctic (and making it harder to melt.)

In 2012 the low extents were caused by a big August gale which churned the sea-ice and mixed milder sub-surface water with the thin layer of ice-water at the surface. This mixing involves many variables currently being studied by dedicated scientists, (despite the fact funding isn’t as easy to find as it was ten years ago). The mixing involves things as seemingly disparate as Siberian rivers, polar sunshine, and how solid the ice-cover was the prior year, all of which effect the layering and temperature and mixing of subsurface water. My assumption is that there has been more mixing at the edges of the Arctic Ocean, and consequently there is less subsurface warmth in the Central Arctic, and also there has been no major August Gale at the Pole (though there have been some decent storms at the edges.)

Just to give you a hint of the complexity of the subsurface situation, and all the variables involved, I’ll scan some of the inflows: There are some wandering northern tendrils of the Gulf Stream on the Atlantic side; there is inflow of Pacific water through Being Strait; there are huge inflows from arctic rivers such as the Mackenzie, Ob and Lena (and others) which flow at a trickle in the bitter cold of winter and then surge to mighty floods in the summer thaws, and which also vary in temperature from month to month; and there is the inflow of melting ice atop the ice, which has variations all its own, involving how much salt is involved, which involves a whole bunch of other variables.

As the seawater freezes it exudes salt, which some assume sinks as brine down through the ice and leaves the ice behind as freshwater ice. However, as arctic explorers discovered, (because they had to melt the ice for drinking water), things weren’t so simple. Rather than downwards some salt is exuded upwards when temperatures are bitter cold, and when the ice sublimates the remaining salt blows about as powder, unable to melt the ice because it is too cold. Therefore, when temperatures first start to rise as the midnight sun first rises on the equinox, this salt melts the ice and forms brine, there can be some very salty downward inflow, but then, as the summer progresses the meltwater becomes increasingly fresh. (Arctic explorers looked for “blue ice” for drinking water, which was multiyear ice.)

Just imagine attempting to include all these variables in a computer model! For example, this summer the west of Russia was much colder than normal, which would make the waters of the Ob River colder than normal as they poured north. You have to have that part of the “freshwater lens” be colder than normal, while the Lena River’s contribution is closer to normal. And if you miss a single thing, a mere butterfly flapping its wing, your modeled result is completely kaput.

If I’m going to be wrong, I prefer to use wonder over using a computer. I observe all the variables, churn them about in the washing machine of mental wonder, and produce an answer that starts, “I wonder if…” It may be wrong, but it is both humble and fun.

One interesting thing about the weather patterns over the Pole the past summer was that often high pressure dominated. The anomalous low pressure over the Pole I dubbed “Ralph” during the past few years was seldom seen, and instead storms marched around the periphery of the Arctic Sea in a more traditional and orderly manner. As I watched this go on, I wondered if the fact it was sunnier at the Pole would make it warmer, and wondered if all the churning around the edges of the Arctic Sea would break up the freshwater lens and the creation of a warm layer, and when the waters north of Bering Strait became more open I wondered if the PDO being warm might make it easier for winds to mix those waters, whereas a cold PDO would create a layer of ice that would allow waters to layer more.

From time to time I allow reality to intrude upon my wondering. For example, despite all the sunshine, it wasn’t all that warm at the Pole. Although it was above normal initially, and seemed to be trending more towards normal than recent years at the start, it was dragged below normal:

I wonder if the temperatures drifted below normal despite all the sunshine because the sun was spotless all summer and the TSI was low. It seems to me that, if there was anyplace on earth the slight dip in TSI would be seen, it would be the Pole during the summer, where the sunshine is constant and the effects of oceans are largely clamped under the ice, until August.

In August the pattern changed, as it always does, usually in a way that fascinates me and gets my “I wonder if…” going. August involves a huge flip in the situation, which it seems to me few properly recognize.

The flip is this: For roughly 300 days the Pole loses energy to outer space, but then for roughly 60 days it gains energy. In fact, if the Pole was a low, flat desert, it would get quite hot, because the sun would constantly be adding heat and never would set. Cold fronts would have had to come up from the south. It would be a bizarre situation worthy of science fiction. Our Creator was wise to put an ice-filled ocean up there.

It is due to this non-stop addition of heat that things get so slushy and there can even be thunderstorms, at the Pole in July, (as has been noted as long as people have gone up there, and not only recently, as some Alarmists claim.) But in August it is over. Abruptly the-gaining-of-heat shifts to the-losing-of-heat, and while the transition is sometimes smooth, like a wave moving up a beach turning around and sucking back down the beach, sometimes the turn-around seems less smooth, like the crack of a whip. Or so I imagine, and I always watch for gales in August, as the flip occurs.

I have only been focused on August gales since the big one in 2012 led to a record low extent in terms of sea-ice, and I likely should research history further and not take the media as gospel, (because the use of the words “Unprecedented” and “Worst” have been abused), but as best as I can tell there have been many more sub-960 mb storms the past few years, with four of the five worst August storms occurring since 2012. But our history does not go back very far, which leads me to another, “I wonder if…”

I wonder if such storms are in part fueled by open waters around the periphery of the Arctic Sea. The coastal waters are shallow and warm rapidly once they become ice-free, at times assisted by floods of fresh, summer-warmed river-water and temperatures up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit on the nearby swampy, mosquito-filled Tundra. This ring of warmer water would create a ring of moisture that could feed into a storm forming over the abruptly cooling Pole. Furthermore, such a situation would be most likely to occur when both the AMO and PDO were in “warm” phases. To verify this “I wonder if” I should look backwards.

The last cluster of polar gales should have occurred around 1960, which was the last time the PDO and AMO oscillations were in synchronized movement from “warm” to “cold”, but which was a time without satellites and almost no human observers out on the Arctic Sea, so such gales would have gone unnoticed.

Now that we are able to use satellites toobserve astutely, (to some degree), there is the ever hungry desire to observe even more astutely. For example, the 2012 gale melted a lot of ice yet the 2013 gale melted far less. Why? I wonder if the waters under the ice were chilled by the first storm and subsequent events, so the 2013 gale couldn’t tap into warm subsurface waters nor have the same ice-melting effect. (We need more funding of research of waters under the ice, not less.)

But now allow me to let reality drag me back from the wonderful world of wondering to what actually happened. This year there was no big, sub-960 mb August gale. However I did note a change in storm tracks, (dramatic to me, if not to others). The low pressure systems, which had been parading around the pole in a humdrum manner, especially along the Siberian coast, abruptly hooked north and crossed the Pole. None was all that big, though the last one became fairly large as it arrived in the Canadian Archipelago. As each crossed the Pole they briefly activated my “Ralph” wonderment.

I am tempted to skip this wonderment, and remain grounded in the facts of what actually happened. In fact I encourage all sensible people to skip the next 4 paragraphs. However if you like fun, read them.

The existence of a “Ralph” crossing the Pole demolishes some lovely ideas which I find beautiful and elegant, but my mind survives this trauma, arises from the ruins, and launches off into new worlds of wonder.

The first elegant idea has air descending on the Pole, flowing south, and then meeting the boundary with the Ferrel Cell, where it is uplifted and heads back north to the Pole. This idea of a “Polar Cell” works fine and dandy when there is a high pressure at the Pole, but the existence of a “Ralph” is a wrench in the works of elegance. Trying to figure out the “circulation” in such “Ralph” events is a serious problem, and a possibility even must be considered that sometimes air doesn’t circulate. Though stating this is an anathema to some, sometimes air may just go up and down like a yo-yo.

The second idea involves the Coriolis Effect bending winds one way as they head north and another way as they head south, and explains why northern hemisphere highs are clockwise and northern hemisphere lows are counterclockwise. But here too a “Ralph” is a wrench in the works. Because, if you strictly adhere to this theory, then, as a north wind arrives at the Pole and, upon crossing the Pole, becomes a south wind, then a counter-clockwise low must instantly become a clockwise high. Doesn’t happen. And when you apply your sense of wonder to why it doesn’t happen, all sorts of delightful possibilities, (even including anticyclonic low pressure and cyclonic high pressure), mess up your mind. But I’ll spare you the details, (until some future post).

The point I am trying to make is that the Pole is not like other places, and challenges concepts that work in other places. To say anything as idiotic as, “the science is settled”, in the face of such challenges is to miss a opportunity to greatly broaden the mind. It is sad, and a reason for pity.

Hello. (I’m speaking with those who skipped the last 4 paragraphs). In terms of reality there is so little sea-ice north of Bering Strait that, had the same situation existed in 1883, the Jeanette would not have been crushed by sea-ice, and its crew would not have had to suffer and in some cases die trying to get back to civilization. Instead they would have sailed open waters. However north of Fram Strait the ice early in the summer crushed south in a manner which would have prevented Willem Barentsz sailing where he sailed in 1596, and despite south “wrong-way” winds it still hugs the coast of Svalbard in a manner that has completely silenced those Alarmists who last year stated polar bears were doomed, because waters by Svalbard were ice-free.

One event I watched with interest was the very swift disappearance of thick sea-ice in the East Siberian sea, especially northwest of Wrangel Island. The large amounts of melting sucked up a lot of heat, and the water remains quite cold and will likely refreeze swiftly.

There are some leads of open water near the Pole, but generally the ice is thicker in the Central Arctic, as was noted by the captain of a Swedish ice-breaker this summer, who had to turn back on a trip to the Pole. Another icebreaker had a slow passage of the Northwest Passage, due to clots of ice larger than in recent years. However the Northeast Passage looks wonderfully clear, and I imagine Russia’s efforts to develop a northern trade route are doing well, for the time being.

We have reached the time of year when surface thawing ceases, and any further decrease in “extent” occurs due to melting from beneath the ice. Already the DMI isotherm map shows subfreezing temperatures all over the Pole, where a month ago nearly all temperatures were above freezing.

Although the above map is of air temperatures, it also reflects the temperatures of waters just beneath the air. It shows the imprint of milder waters brought north by the Lena River’s floods to form the “freshwater lens” in the Laptev Sea, and the Ob River doing the same thing in the Kara Sea. It shows the reflection of a Gulf Stream tendril warming the west coast of Norway, with a branch snaking up to the west coast of Svalbard, while also showing the cold currents descending along the east coasts of Greenland and Svalbard. I am particularly interested in the warm waters brought through Bering Strait by the “warm” PDO, which is creating an unusually large area of open water on that side of the Pole.

What some Alarmists seem to fail to recognize is that the open water is not necessarily “warming the planet”, and indeed may cool it. The Alarmist theory is that open water is dark and has an albedo that sucks up heat which white ice would reflect, but, while this may be true in June, the water isn’t open in June, and by late August, when open water appears, the sun is so low on the horizon it glances off the sea-water, and sea-water, (especially when it is glassy), can have an albedo that reflects sunlight as well as, or even better than, sea-ice (especially when the ice is dirty.)

Secondly, open water loses heat more efficiently than water-protected-beneath-a-lid-of-ice does. The sea-surface not only loses heat directly, through exposure to the arctic sky, but loses even more heat as it freezes, for latent heat which exists in water is released as it goes through the phase-change from liquid to solid. Such heat is not so easily lost to the void of outer space if it is released under a lid of ice, as thin ice grows thicker.

In conclusion, if we are rooting for a warmer world, perhaps we should be dismayed when so much heat is transported to the Pole, for it is basically squandered.

This idea counters the “Death Spiral” theory, which suggested less ice at the Pole would result in the Arctic Sea absorbing more heat, which would melt more ice, which would allow more heat to be absorbed, and melt more ice, etc., etc., etc. It was expected to be a vicious cycle, but it simply hasn’t happened.

Instead we are seeing that the summer melt, even with everything going for it, (even with the sun shining and both the PDO and AMO warm), can’t make any headway. In fact, looking at the DMI “extent” graph above, one might even suggest the drop of the graph is flattening-out early, and we might not eve have less sea-ice at the minimum than we last year, and our minimum certainly won’t match the low extents of 2007 or the record set in 2012. The “Death Spiral” has become a snarled slinky.

Microbial Lifestyles: Must remember to turn up to my lectures!

The next few weeks usually see a lot of hoop-la about the open water around the Pole. I hope people will mind their manners. Don’t play chess with pigeons.

Keep your eyes open for the wonder. For example, when the “Ralph-like” feature crossed the Pole last week, and became a decent storm over the Canadian Archipelago, the south winds to its east side drew a fascinating, “feeder band” of mild air north through Baffin Bay, Nares Strait (between Canada and Greenland), and up into the sub-freezing air over the Pole, making a narrow slot of above-freezing air clearly seen in the isotherm map. What was especially interesting was there was a second slot of above-freezing air thrusting north from the other side of Greenland, up through Fram Strait. What does it mean? ……..I wonder…

Stay tuned.

(Note: I seem to have offended Google in some way which has resulted in my not appearing when “Arctic Sea Ice” is typed into its search engines. I used to appear in the first few pages. Therefore I would appreciate the reader sharing links to this post, if they like it.)

UPDATE: Over on WUWT the blogger “Javier” linked to this helpful comparison of our current sea-ice melt with the low years 2007 and 2012:

I think this graph demonstrates why some Alarmists were so excited, up until a week ago. The problem seems to be that all the thin ice that could melt has already melted, and only thicker, more stubborn ice remains. Such thick ice can also have an annoying (to Alarmists) habit of even increasing “extent” without any new freezing occurring. This happens when a thick jumble of ice collapses and is spread out like a pat of butter on bread. The “volume” of the ice remains the same, but the “extent” goes up.

This matters little, in terms of the “Death Spiral” theory. According to some, the entire Arctic Sea was suppose to be ice-free several years ago. At the very least the sea-ice minimum should be far below 2012. But, “ain’t happenin”.

I would also like to thank the many who have visited my obscure site today. I had ten times as many views today as usual. This had nothing to do with Google, and likely represents a failure of Google. Instead it had everything to do with ordinary people moving from one site to another, using their own minds as a “search engine,” and telling other seekers where the interesting sites are. I am flattered some think my ruminations are worthy of linking to.

I especially would like to thank “Robert”, who created the wonderful “Ice Age Now” site. He did me the honor of noting this post with a link to this site. I am humbled, for in the past I think I have been less than welcome at his site. Not that I don’t constantly learn enormous amounts by visiting his site, but sometimes the foot in my mouth steps on people’s toes. Despite my blunders, he did me an honor, and the least I can do is return the favor.

Robert’s site, “Ice Age Now”, is an invaluable tool. Why? Because the mainstream media has become too one-sided. An example?

Last summer weather patterns brought warmth north in some places and cold south in others. Paris experienced air up from the Sahara and sweltered, as Moscow experienced air from the Arctic and shivered. The mainstream media only reported Paris and never reported Moscow, likely because Paris supported the Global Warming political narrative, and Moscow didn’t. But where could one turn to learn about cold weather? To “Ice Age Now”.

Robert’s site is not obscure like mine is. People all over the world turn to his site to report, and to learn about, the cold events the mainstream media is downright silly about failing to report. I’m not talking about a few thousand people. His site has generated over 42 million views.

Therefore, when you type “ice age” into the Google search engine, “Ice Age Now” should appear on page one or page two. And back when Google was the best search engine “Ice Age Now” usually could be found on the first page of results. Now it has vanished from the first ten pages (and who searches further than that?) Obviously Google has chosen to become a search engine that has a blind spot, and therefore to become an inferior product. Sad.

I think God gave us two eyes because having two views creates something neither eye owns, called “depth perception”. We are supposedly made in God’s image, and apparently God isn’t a myopic cyclops. Therefore a two-party-system is more Godly than a one-party-system.

In like manner, society should be able to report both sides, both warm temperatures and cold temperatures. There is something downright silly about only reporting hot spells and frowning at those who mention cold spells. It is a parody, like an event occurring in “Gulliver’s Travels“, and yet it is a silly reality we are actually faced with.

How are we to respond? Well, obviously Google, (or the bigwigs behind the scenes), think they are able to control us, and to keep us from talking about cold-spells. I think we should respond by continuing to talk about cold-spells. And one way to do this is to continue to visit “Ice Age Now”, and also to tell friends about Robert’s excellent site. In this manner we become our own “search engine”, and effectively tell Google where they can go. Where they should go is to:

https://www.iceagenow.info/

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Disingenuous Declines–(UPDATED)

I have been posting less about sea-ice because my main reason for posting was that I derived great pleasure from the cameras on buoys in the Arctic Sea. First and foremost, the views were beautiful. Secondly the views supplied a way of double-checking on the maps produced from satellite data, which often were simply incorrect. (For example, the maps might state the sea-water was three degrees above normal, when the cameras showed the water was choked with ice, and therefore had to be right at freezing.) Once the cameras went unfunded and the views vanished I found the topic far less enchanting.

In any case, after watching the sea-ice since the low-ice summer of 2007 it became obvious there was no “Death Spiral” occurring. The extent is basically the same, year after year, with slight variations. Due to the warm AMO and warm PDO, ice is at lower levels than when the AMO and PDO are cold, but there is no long-term “trend” towards less ice. In essence, watching sea-ice is about as exciting as watching moss grow on a rock. There is nothing wrong with such witnessing, if one can see the beauty of moss, but without the cameras I decided I could find better use for my eyes. I’d rather watch the pumpkins grow in my own garden.

For some time my old posts about sea-ice continued to gather “views”, (some have been viewed by several thousand people, numbers that uplifted their status on “search engines.”) Then such visits ceased. I discovered Google has “disappeared” me on its search-engine. I imagine Google in some manner recognized me as a “Skeptic” and “Global Warming Denier”. I now have a hard time finding my own website, using Google. While this does seem foolish, (as they are making a fine search-engine malfunction), it does not really discourage me. Writers have a craving for attention, and being “disappeared” makes me feel recognized. Also it makes me want to write about sea-ice, when, if they hadn’t tried to silence me, I would have moved on from writing about sea-ice to writing poetry about pumpkins.

I continue to scan the DMI charts and graphs, and to glance over the arctic weather using Weatherbell maps. I just don’t devote time to jotting down observations. There have been no drastic changes this summer, but a few things do interest me.

One thing of interest was a push of sea-ice south towards the Atlantic. In 2007 such flushing of sea-ice south through Fram Strait led to low sea-ice-extent totals. However what I noted this year was ice crushed up against the shores of Svalbard, not merely on the cold east coast but at times even on the west coast, often kept open even in the winter by a northern tendril of the Gulf Stream.

In fact there was more sea-ice this June around Svalbard than in 1596. How do I know this? Because I love history and know Willem Barentsz discovered Svalbard in June, 1596, and that he saw less ice in the same waters.

This sort of trivia does make it hard to get excited about any sort of “Death Spiral”. Of course you will never see a headline, “More Arctic Ice Than 400 Years Ago”, because that doesn’t fit the “narrative”.

There is something so disingenuous about the media’s coverage that it is increasingly becoming just plain silly. It also seems increasingly useless to attempt to have a sane conversation. If you bring up a perfectly true and interesting bit of trivia about the three amazing voyages of Willem Barentsz some people get bug-eyed and purple-faced. You can’t tell them to calm down, for the words “calm down” always seem to have a completely opposite effect.

In any case, if they knew what they were talking about, they would point out a lot of sea-ice around Svalbard may indicated the sea-ice is being flushed south to melt in the Atlantic, and could lead to a low extent like in 2007. Unfortunately they seldom know what they are talking about.

A perfect example was the recent fuss about the “heat wave” in Greenland. Yes, more melted than most years, but the prior two years were cold and stormy and far less melted. But the “narrative” is to beat the drum about melting ice-caps and rising seas, so big numbers were thrown about, such as “11 billion tons melted in a single day” and “217 billion tons melted in July”. These numbers are tossed about without any reference to increases the prior two years, nor any attempt to compare the numbers to the total bulk of Greenland’s huge icecap. They fail to mention that, at that rate, it would take 25,000 years to melt the entire icecap. They also fail to mention there was greater melting the last warm summer, in 2011. Instead they attempt to generate brainless hysteria about “the worst ever.”

image

Delingpole uses sarcasm to attempt to defuse the panic, and does a fairly good job here:

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/08/04/delingpole-greenland-ice-melt-shock-the-terrifying-truth/

In any case, there was a big hubbub about the shores of Svalbard being ice-free a few years back, for people feared Polar Bears would have no place to raise cubs, but now that subject has been dropped. The ice is back. But now the winds have shifted to the south, and the ice may be blown north, and the hubbub may reoccur. I am expecting it any day, for the “wrong way” winds in  Fram Strait have shifted the sea-ice away from the north coast of Greenland. It is (I think) the third time this has happened in two years. (Twice in the summers and once in February.) I expect hoopla about how Polar Bears will drown without ice, although Susan Crockford at “Polar Bear Science” gently pointed out, during the last hoop-la, that Polar Bears are rare along the north coast of Greenland, because they need open water, and open water is too uncommon up there for them to rely on.

Here again study of history is helpful. In 1817 a whaling ship apparently circumnavigated Greenland after a huge amount of sea-ice was flushed through Fram Strait, leaving the Arctic Sea amazingly open. More recently, the original 1950 U.S. military studies (regarding the creation of a base at St. Nord on the northeast tip of Greenland) mention St. Nord likely could only be supplied by sea once every five years. In other words, open water was uncommon, but certainly not unheard of. However such history does not fit the “narrative”, so the press has to be silly, and hysterical, and disingenuous.

In fact, if you are rooting for a decline in sea-ice, you want the ice pouring south through Fram Strait. “Wrong way” flows keep the ice in the arctic and increase the volume. You want the sea-ice crashing into northern Greenland and then being swept into Fram Strait, following the route of O-buoy 9:

http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor#buoy9/movie

Temperatures this summer have been a little below normal at the Pole, north of 80º latitude.

DMI 190807 meanT_2019

I personally feel the slightly-lower-than-normal temperatures we’ve seen at the Pole during recent years is caused by the “Quiet Sun”, but Joe Bastardi, who I greatly respect, suggested it may simply be caused by melting ice “sucking up heat”. I wonder. While it is true the phase-change from solid to liquid does result in available heat becoming latent heat, melting occurs ever summer at the Pole. Any who have ventured on the ice in the summer, back through history, have commented on the slush and melt-water pools. But Bastardi may have a point about this summer, because this summer was especially sunny at the Pole. High pressure has dominated, and only in the past few days have I seen anything approaching a “Ralph”. (Anomalous low pressure at the Pole.) I keep an eye on such lows, because in August they can become gales (I think due to the building contrast between summer warmth and autumnal cold) and in 2012 a gale resulted in record low sea-ice extent.

DMI 190807mslp_latest.big

Even though there is a weak “Ralph” at the Pole, you can still see the high pressure extending from Greenland to Alaska. I have already mentioned the melting on Greenland, but Alaska has seen drought and some big forest fires. Meanwhile low pressure systems, rather than hooking up to the Pole as a “Ralph”, have tended to progress east along the coast of Siberia. The current low over west Siberia is drawing south chronic cold to the Moscow area (not mentioned by the media) and the low over central Siberia is drawing summer heat north on its east side, (likely to be soon mentioned by the media.) During the past weeks I noticed two things about these Siberian coastal lows.

First, they often involved below-freezing temperatures, even as the Pole baked in sunshine. Often these temperatures occurred south of 80º north, and so were not included in the above graph. (I likely should have saved those isotherm maps, but my pumpkins required weeding.) The current map has a hint of what I’m talking about:

DMI 190807 temp_latest.big

 

(I should note that in early July there are almost no below freezing temperatures on isotherm maps, yet we are now already seeing the advance of autumn on the ice. (I’ve been told by men who worked up there that even in early August one starts to see a skim of ice on the water pail in the morning.) Explorers and adventures up there all seem intoxicated by the heady warmth of July, and then get suddenly serious in August.

In the above map the below-freezing pockets of temperature, seen extending from Fram Strait east to East Siberia, have been seen before, though earlier this neckless was more displaced south of 80º. The below-freezing temperatures in Beaufort Sea, however, are new. The chill is building, and from now on most of the melt of sea-ice will come from the sea below, and not the air above. The sun is sinking lower, and has less power, even when it is up 24 hours a day.

The second thing I noticed about the low-pressure-systems moving along the Siberian Coast was that they often were offshore, which resulted in west winds to the south of them along the coasts. This at times shifted the sea-ice east, which is a “wrong way” flow, as the Beaufort Gyre ordinarily pushes ice west. This likely has resulted in a pile-up of sea-ice in the East Siberian Sea, perhaps like the situation that sunk the Jeannette in the same area in June, 1881.

In other words, there are two areas of “wrong way” flow and “piled up sea-ice”, one north of Greenland and one in the East Siberian Sea. My guess is that these areas will be difficult to melt, and may result in a flattening of the decline of the “extent” graph, such as we saw last year. I don’t expect a new record low, despite hoopla in certain circles about some days recently where we have been “Lower than 2012” on the extent graph. (Remember, 2012 involved a big storm in August.)

DMI 190807 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

I could go on, but my pumpkins are calling. I just posted this to annoy certain people at Google.

*******

UPDATE:

I came across an interesting article about a glacier down towards the southeast tip of Greenland called the Jakobshavn Glacier. This huge glacier, which dumps enormous amounts of ice into Disco Bay, was long a sort of Poster Child for Global Warming, for it had experienced substantial retreat. Then in 2016 it disgraced itself, and has been banned from the news ever since. Its sin was to advance. Some attempts were made to explain the advance as being due to “warming” speeding up the already speedy glacier, whereupon the leading edge of the contrary ice screeched to a halt, but continued to thicken. This thickening has continued for three years. and, because the glacier is enormous, the thickening is also enormous, and amounts to an increase roughly matching that of a thirty-story-tall building.  Yikes.

What was particularly interesting to me was that the thickening seemed to have little to due with air temperatures, but rather was due to the temperature of the waters of Disco Bay that the ice rode out over. The Bay was a little colder, and little less effective at melting the bottom of the glacier, and the result was the glacier got thirty stories thicker.

I think this observation can be extrapolated out to include sea-ice in general. I feel there is too much emphasis on sunshine and albedo and air-temperatures, and not enough on the water under the ice. I strongly suspect that, as our knowledge increases, we will learn of oscillations in currents, perhaps as measurable as El Ninos and La Ninas, that play a predominate role in whether ice increases or diminishes. It certainly seems to me, looking back at the history of explorers, whalers, sealers, and fishermen in the arctic, that the ice goes through year to year changes too dramatic to be explained from above. As nine tenths of an iceberg is underwater, the real drama happens out of sight.

I also found it quite refreshing that the NASA scientists involved dared even mention that the waters of Disco Bay were colder. Anything anywhere getting colder does not support the “narrative”, and perhaps the NASA scientists paid the price and were “disappeared” from Google. Yet I entertain a slim hope that the so-called “swamp” is being drained, and some good fellows at NASA are getting back to the business of honest science. In any case the post is here:

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/145185/major-greenland-glacier-is-growing

UPDATE 2:

It is interesting how the weak “Ralph” at the Pole has created the first below-freezing temperatures of the late summer, at the Pole.

This morning Ralph hadn’t yet had this chilling effect. The only below-freezing temperatures were a necklace arrayed around Ralph’s periphery.

 

Grasshoppers

(Note: This is largely Part Three of my “Weeder Wars” post, which I like and think can stand alone, and may try to publish elsewhere.)

The original farmers of the United States were different from modern “agribusiness”, in that they were not in the business of farming to get rich, as much as they were in it for a quite different reason, (basically to live free, and raise a family, which involved raising the crops that would feed that family).

Farming was way of life, a deed men did without thinking deeply about why they did it, just as we get dressed in the morning without thinking deeply about why we wear clothes. What’s more, they didn’t have the time to think about it. Physically they worked more than twice as hard as we do. This is shown by the fact they ingested more than 4000 calories a day and didn’t get fat, while some us can get fat on less than 2000. In many ways they were a very different people.

It is hard for modern psyches to grasp the fact more than half of all Americans could feed (often large) families without working for any boss other than themselves. Not only did they feed themselves, but they also were forced to be artisans: They spun wool and cured leather and clothed themselves, built their own cabins and made their own furniture and sheltered themselves, burned tallow candles for light and burned wood for heat, and had absolutely no need for government welfare or food stamps. They were the “Yeoman Farmer” Thomas Jefferson admired and called crucial to democracy, and were the “Kulak” Stalin despised, and sought to “purge” from Russia, even if millions starved in the process.

Because I in some ways see myself as a “Kulak”, I can’t help but notice that nothing irks a Socialist more than an individual who is self-reliant, for he is proof we do not need bureaucrats (who make a living off telling us how to live our lives). In many cases independence on my part threatens a bureaucrat’s very livelihood. For example, if you are a social worker, and families are self-reliant and happy, of what use are you? In such a case it is the social worker who needs food-stamps and welfare, and not the people he or she imagines is dependent on him or her.

Not that the original American farmers had an easy life. I could go on in great detail about centuries of conflicts between an immigrant people who could feed a family with 60 acres (New England) or 250 acres (Prairie States) and a native people who wanted to feed their families utilizing 100,000 or 1,000,000 acres. But let me simplify matters by mentioning conflicts between farmers and a grasshopper called Melanoplus spretus.

Melanoplus spretus was North America’s locust. A locust is a grasshopper which can undergo a Jekyll-Hyde transformation. For years, even decades, it can hop around like an innocent grasshopper, but some sort of trigger can cause it to amazingly change, whereupon it looks physically different and it reproduces differently as well. The innocent grasshopper becomes a voracious swarm, darkening the sky and not only eating all your crops, but the wool off the backs of your sheep, and even the leather of your shoes. Although Melanoplus spretus lived in the Rocky Mountains, when triggered by drought or over-population into its locust form, huge swarms traveled east all the way to the farms in my homeland of New England.

It is difficult to imagine how gigantic and devastating these swarms were. The largest could cover an area the size of California and number over ten trillion insects. In a matter of hours, months of a farmer’s hard work vanished. Using a boxing analogy, it was as if, in the tenth round, one’s opponent abruptly morphed into King Kong. And then?

Then farmers fought like hell, as if their lives depended on it, because their lives did. The tales of how they fought back are amazing, but the fighting seemed basically useless. Worst was the fact that, at the end of the summer, these huge swarms would hunker down and lay trillions upon trillions of eggs.

This was hugely depressing to farming families. As the locusts ate everything above ground, farmers knew they might eek by on the incompletely-formed crops that grew below ground: Undersized potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, onions, sweet potatoes and rutabagas might help a family struggle through a hungry winter, but the following spring they would not be able to even plant such root crops, for the soil was infested with locust eggs, and they’d hatch in the spring and eat the first sprouts of every crop you planted. Then, when they had eaten everything in sight, the swarm would arise en-mass and head east, always east. Melanoplus spretus never returned home to the west with trophies of conquest, but continued east until the Atlantic Ocean proved an absolute end to a swarm, and fishes got fat.

It is difficult to see what ecological advantage Melanoplus spretus derived from these banzai charges to the east. As they left the arid west they increasingly moved into lands they were not suited for. Early Mormon history speaks of farmers falling to their knees in prayer when a swarm threatened their crops, and how their prayers were answered by a huge flock of voracious gulls, (which apparently followed the leading edge of the swarm all the way up from the Gulf of Mexico to Utah.)  Also, even when Melanoplus spretus laid trillions of eggs, a very wet spring with standing puddles in the fields could kill every egg. Therefore, not every swarm made it to the Atlantic. No colony was ever established in the east, and the swarming seems a sort of extravagant waste, on the part of Mother Nature.

Melanoplus spretus was but one form of ruin faced by the early American homesteaders. They also faced droughts, floods, hail, and the simple fact their eastern farming-practices were not suited for the naturally-arid western lands. They faced stampedes of buffalo, and the arrows of a native population who did not much like squatters who killed their buffalo.

Lastly, they faced misinformation from callous people who sought to financially gain from the mass migration of millions of basically ignorant farmers. These dishonest people included those investing in railways and farm equipment, and the banking institutions that financed such endeavors. What such profiteers tended to do was make farming look like an idyll, and to fail to mention it is a war. The advertisements in the eastern newspapers of that time look comical, in the way they describe a paradise out west.

One concept that seems strangely modern was the idea of Climate Change. What homesteaders imagined would change their arid 250-acres was not virtue-signaling by buying curly candles or riding electric horses, (or throwing a virgin into a volcano), but rather was through their sweat, as they busted the thick sod, and also planted an acre of trees on their 250-acre-farm. The “climate scientists” of that time, with pompous authority, stated “farming brought rain”, and the naiver farmers believed them, and planted the required acre of trees in an arid landscape. Optimism abounded during the wet years, but then the climate did what it always does, and there came drought and ruin and, with the dryness, Melanoplus spretus.

It is easy for us to look back and smugly criticize, for the farmers made many mistakes. (Remember many were gutsy fathers fleeing sweat-shop factories in cities, seeking a better life for their children, and some had little experience of farming outside of what they read in pamphlets.) Before we are too scornful of them, we should understand that someday people will look back at us, and smugly criticize us for all the dunderhead things we do in the name of “Climate Change.” But what amazes me is how the farmers fought, against daunting odds, and how they became an unrecognized and vital (and very necessary) “part of a process”, which did profoundly change the world, in a way we all benefit greatly from.

It is easy to criticize the changes as being ruinous to the ecology of the prairie, and to the indigenous people dependent on that ecology. The slaughter of the buffalo was appalling, and the fury of the Sioux understandable, but that is because we can sit in ivory towers, blessed by our ability to indulge in a leisurely appraisal. We forget the people of that time were within the fog of war. Even the Sioux were a culture going through radical changes, for they had formerly hunted buffalo on foot, but now were an amazing, new people on horseback.

To the farmers in the fog of war there was little time for leisurely appraisal, for they had children to feed, and often the situation was desperate enough in a mere drought, even before Melanoplus spretus appeared. When the trillions of grasshoppers then descended the way farmers fought insects, back before pesticides, is both laughable and courageous. They built fires and created thick clouds of smoke, and hammered together gadgets that knocked flying grasshoppers into trays of kerosene, which they pulled through their stripped fields with their horses. To kill the grasshopper’s eggs, they would churn the soil with plows, even plowing soil they had no intention to plant.

When they turned to the government for help, moronic politicians wrote a law that punished farmers with a fine, if they didn’t devote two days a year to killing grasshoppers. (I wonder who spied on the farmers, and who dared collect the fines.) The government also offered a bounty for every bushel (35 liters) of dead grasshoppers the farmers turned in. In March, when the baby grasshoppers were small, a farmer might make a dollar a bushel, but by June, when the grasshoppers got big and fat, the bounty shrank to a dime. But even a slender, silver dime was better than zero, when you had a family to feed. To feed their families desperate farmers fished for the smallest hornpout, and hunted rat-like prairie dogs, and even fried the grasshoppers themselves.

The most effective help came from fellow farmers, via churches. Farmers in areas outside the reach of a swarm sent food and fodder to those afflicted. Often the favor was returned in only a few years. When the climate swung from dry to wet the grasshoppers vanished, and the empty fields abruptly held bumper crops even as farmers to the east suffered floods, and then the farmers who had been helped became the generous helpers.

One way or another the farmers got by. It is easy to scorn and sneer at them, for they knew little about soil erosion, or that, by busting the sod, they were creating the loose soil that would blow as enormous clouds in the Dust Bowl. During the Dust Bowl over a million farmers lost everything and became refugees, and we can now sit back in our ivory towers and say “tsk tsk” about their ignorance, but perhaps we display a certain ignorance by forgetting that much we know about soil erosion came through mistakes they made. They were the ones actually learning from their mistakes, and actually suffering in the fog of war.

Some of the things they learned had benefits of a magnitude they likely could never imagine. For example, when dealing with Melanoplus spretus some farmers hit upon the idea of planting crops that matured in the spring, when the grasshoppers hadn’t hatched or were still small. Refugees from Russia then remembered stuff they planted in the late summer in Siberia they could harvest the next spring, called “winter wheat”. It would form a turf in the late fall, and in the spring swiftly send up fruiting shoots. Tiny, baby grasshopper might stunt this fruition, but they couldn’t stop it. This Kulak idea took off, spreading from farmer to farmer until, even when the grasshoppers were around and the crop was lessened, enough was salvaged so that people had, at least, a little bread.

Environmentalists and Sociologists without callused palms, who often can’t even mow their own lawns, do like to repeat “tsk tsk” about the mistakes made by those farmers. The buffalo very nearly did become extinct, but through the Grace of God and the alertness of early environmentalists, they were saved. The Sioux nearly became extinct as a people, but through the Grace of God and their own innate toughness, they survived. Thick prairie sod nearly became extinct, and only remains in scattered parks.  A type of grouse farmers called “the prairie chicken” did become extinct, which was sad even for farmers, who liked to hunt and eat them, but that extinction is now is used as a reason to condescend, “tsk tsk”. Yet I almost never hear ecologists mention another extinction.

As the year 1900 approached there was a drought, and farmers anxiously looked west for the skies darkening with Melanoplus spretus, but the grasshoppers didn’t come. Farmers were too busy with drought and hail and bankers to pay much heed to this good fortune, but up in the mountain valleys a few looked around, and could see no Melanoplus spretus. Perhaps due to cattle being driven up mountain river floodplains and changing the habitat, the grasshoppers had not merely become scarce. They vanished from the face of the earth. The last one was seen in Canada in 1902.

The extinction of Melanoplus spretus likely contributed to a new and unexpected disaster that hit those struggling farmers, which was the phenomenon of bumper crops. So much wheat was produced that, due to the economic principle of “supply and demand”, the price of wheat fell so low that farmers couldn’t make any money selling it. Of course, even with prices at rock bottom, some profiteering people got rich. (Don’t get me started on the moral decrepitude of such people. They like to claim they “fulfill a need”, but whores “fulfill a need”, and it doesn’t make them one bit moral.) In any case, railways stood to make money by holding a monopoly on the shipments of grain, and commodity markets made money even as prices crashed, and sellers of farming equipment made money repossessing equipment, and bankers made money repossessing farms. At times it seemed the only ones who didn’t get fat off the bumper crop was the farmers who actually created the plenty.

 

The farmer is the man.
The farmer is the man;
Lives off his credit ‘til the fall,
Then they take him by the hand
And they lead him from the land
And the banker is the one who gets it all,
Yet the farmer is the man.
The farmer is the man.
Some people disagree
But it’s obvious to me
That the farmer is the one who feeds us all.

        (Song from “Farm Aid” concert, circa 1976)

Farmers are the salt of the earth, for without them we all starve, but as a rule they barely subsist, in materialistic terms. On the great American plains they came and went like dust in the wind. (And I am not talking about a few, but rather millions of families.)

One reason Abraham Lincoln was elected (with less than 40% of the popular vote) was because he offered poor people “free land” via the “Homestead Act”. This act offered any man, from any slum or eastern, hardscrabble farm, 250 acres out west, for not a penny down. All a man needed to do was head west, make his claim for a particular plot, and live there for five years. A no-brainer, right? Millions of families with little to lose ripped up what roots they had and headed west to lay claim to 250 acres for free.

We can still look at the records kept by those long-ago bureaucrats, and one appalling thing is that roughly half of the families couldn’t even fulfill the stipulation that they live on the land for five years. Therefore, right off the bat, we have over a million families defeated by the fog of farming’s war. What became of all those families?

Continue on through farming history, through disaster after disaster, to the Dust Bowl, when more than a million more farming families were driven from the land. The 250-acre-farm largely became a thing of the past, and entire communities basically became ghost towns. And one wonders, “Who in their right mind would ever want to be a farmer?”

What this fails to measure is intangible to Socialists, (and also many Capitalists), who measure all in terms of status and money.

Millions of American families came to the prairies, and millions left, and almost none saw a long-term material profit, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some farmers were so amazingly tough that not even the Dust Bowl’s temperatures of over 110 degrees Fahrenheit could defeat them. These survivors were heroes.

Back in my drifting days I had the good fortune to be befriended by a retired farmer from Garden City, Kansas, who liked to sip beers and become garrulous, and regale me with tales of how his family survived the Dust Bowl.

His father was a Polish refugee who was too smart to ever enter an agreement that would allow a bank to take his farm, or to ever buy equipment on an installment plan that would allow his equipment to be repossessed. Perhaps he didn’t modernize as swiftly as other farmers, but he completely avoided debt. Even when he experienced complete crop failure, he didn’t owe anyone anything.

The gruff father’s practicality is perhaps best shown by the fact that, when he became aware he had contracted tuberculosis and likely would soon die, he moved to a barn so his children would not be exposed to the bacteria. However he was too ornery to die, and from the barn he commanded his family with the discipline of Captain Bligh. Between dust and tuberculosis, he could barely breathe, but neither man nor beast wanted to see him emerge from the barn in a rage, for he was ruthless with his whip. Modern “animal rights” people would likely sue him, and he’d also likely be in jail for “child abuse” for how tough he was on his many sons, but he got his family through the Dust Bowl, to the blessed day the rains returned. (My farmer-friend told me that, because the heat and drought had been so chronic in the 1930’s, his childhood created the impression that Dust Bowl conditions were simply were how the world always was, and that, when the rains returned, it then seemed downright bizarre to look around in the spring and see all the Kansas fields be green.)

When the rains returned their farm, which had somehow managed to survive without an income, suddenly had an income. At this point the father seemed to feel he had won his private war, and passed away, but his strapping sons were not happy, having an income. As best as I can tell, life was too easy. After a decade fighting for survival, bumper crops were like a life without battlefields for a Viking, or life without football for a linebacker. After Pearl Harbor all the brothers rushed off to fight Japan and Germany. Only one son, my friend, remained to run the farm with his mother, because he was too young to enlist, and also because the American government basically ordered him to stay.

My friend was a bit ashamed that he, the “baby”, stayed at home and didn’t fight Hitler, but I pointed out someone had to “feed the fighters”. I said he was the “hero” who fed the “war effort”, both the soldiers overseas and the workers toiling in munitions-factories at home, but my flattery fell flat. He said he was uncomfortable because he had made enormous profits during the war. He could handle poverty, and even derive joy from such a rugged life, but wealth made him strangely miserable.

Something about this tough farmer’s attitude seems utterly beyond the capacity of most socialists, (and also many capitalists), to comprehend. They cannot conceive of people who are not enthralled by money and status, and who live for something else.

When I asked him what he did with all his money, he laughed. He said that when the rains returned, and Kansas farmers got rich, they traded-in their beat up, old Model-A Fords and drove Cadillacs. Then, when the ground was frozen in the winter, they would go roaring across the wheat fields around Garden City in their fancy cars. Sometimes they’d tie the hood of an old truck to a long rope, upside down, as a sort of sled they pulled behind their Cadillacs, and would drag bunches of gleeful children behind them. When I asked the old wheat-farmer if any children got hurt, he shook his head, and stated the experience educated children about the importance of holding on for dear life.

When I asked if farmers did economically sensible things, such as reinvest their profits, he looked bored, and said “Yes”. So many farmers had lost their farms in the Dust Bowl that there were lots of 250-acre-farms to buy dirt cheap, especially if they abutted your farm, but such successful expansion seemed to bore him. He could fluently discuss a mini-Dust-Bowl drought in the 1950’s, and high prices during the Korean War, but he always seemed ready to yawn as I pestered him with such pragmatic questions.

Instead what seemed to really animate him was the subject of his children. When I asked if any of his children became farmers, he sat forward and eagerly told me they were too smart to become farmers, and then began to tick off the colleges they had attended, proudly stating how much smarter they were than he was. After college they all had gone on to prestigious corporations and big businesses he could brag about. It seemed all had become very successful, but to me it seemed his children’s success was due to the “character” inherited from the farming life, even among children who desired to leave farming far behind. Yet I confess that, when I first looked at the old farmer, I didn’t suspect there was any iron under the rust; he appeared to be just an old Yahoo; one might suspect he was a character without suspecting he had any.

I eventually gave this old farmer credit for “defeating Hitler”, even though he stayed “home with his Mommy”. You can’t judge a book by its cover.

It also seems to me that the millions of farmers from families who lost their farms in the Dust Bowl (or earlier) also deserve a degree of deference.

Why? Because even as they became homeless, they saved millions in Africa, Asia and Europe. They were “part of a process” that turned an obscure Siberian wheat into a huge American surplus, shipped far and wide in fifty- or hundred-pound sacks, labeled “USA”, often for free as “foreign aid”. As much as ecologists gripe about the diminished ecosystem of the buffalo, there are many people alive in Africa, Asia and Europe who might never have been born, had not American “winter wheat” arrived in time to prevent their grandparents from dying of famine.

When I speak of being “part of a process” I should stress this process is largely unforeseen, and almost never part of a Socialistic “five-year-plan”. When politicians debated the Homestead Act in 1859, winter wheat was not mentioned, and no one stated a consequence of the Act would be that devastated parts of Europe would receive food ninety years later.

Indeed, when I speak of being “part of a process” I am trespassing into mystic territory, involving beliefs such as “Manifest Destiny”. Basically, I am stating small people, merely struggling to “get by”, and perhaps only successfully holding a homestead for a few generations, have a huge effect, greater than that of governments. This may be why Stalin was so determined to eradicate the Kulak. He intuitively saw the Kulak represented power, though they themselves felt small.

Hopefully a few Sioux see that the flood of American settlers onto the Great Plains, as a crazy, pale-faced people who basically wrecked the Sioux’s ecosystem and way of life, and then largely vanished over the horizon, was “part of a process”. The suffering of the Sioux is at least in part made bearable because millions in Asia, Africa, and Europe were benefited. (It is also made bearable because, in some areas, where the Sioux once became a minority, they now have regained the majority, because they persisted as the farmers fled).

But what did the farmers themselves get out of their struggle?

“Character”.  A wonderful classiness, immeasurable by those who seek mere money and status and who are consequently not much different from old-fashioned Hindu enslaved by their ancient caste-system, where some are deemed “Brahman” and some “Untouchable”.

Socialists often fall prey to such typecasting, and can be as enslaved to class as the most ardent royalist, though Socialists usually seek to make the royal (and the successful) the “bad guy”, who unjustly “oppresses the poor”. Socialists see the solution to such injustice as being to crush the upper class (the “bourgeoisie”) and the middle class (the “petite bourgeois”) (and this includes Yeoman farmers), and to make the poor (the “proletariat”) a sort of new upper class. Yet such socialists only perpetuate the caste-system, though they howl they oppose it. They resemble a person opposed to promiscuous sex, who cannot get his mind off the topic. They cannot escape the trap of dividing people into categories, nor grasp the liberating concept of, “All Men Are Created Equal”.

One of the best tales about the tough times the farming families endured is John Steinbeck’s “Grapes Of Wrath”, which I was required to read in school in 1968. I particularly remember Steinbeck’s amazing, vicious description of the man buying broke farmer’s cars, profiteering from their misfortune. The description was so brilliantly effective that it caused me to become hugely bigoted towards used-car-salesmen for decades, (until I actually befriended one). But Steinbeck ends his tale failing to mention what happened next. He leaves one with the sense that the poor Dust Bowl “Okies” were forever ruined.

Indeed they did suffer a nasty downfall, from a people with middle-class houses and 250 acre farms and state-of-the-art tractors and other farm equipment, to being homeless migrant farm-workers, picking grapes, (before Mexicans with green-cards picked the grapes), and living in rented tar-paper shacks. But that was not the end, because, though disdained and belittled as “Okies”, they were people with “character”, who raised fine children and grandchildren who changed the world in a way absolutely nobody saw coming. Their children and grandchildren now make far more money than they could ever have made, back on the farm, working on things called “computers” in a place called “Silicon Valley”. Steinbeck never foresaw this, and instead seemed prone towards Socialist solutions. Yet what raised the ruined farmers called “Okies” to plush suites in Silicon Valley was not socialist food-stamps, but rather was “character”.

This “character” seems to be a thing that can be lost, if you become too divorced from the farming life that brought it about in the first place. It does not seem to matter if you are rich or poor. It happens to the rich grandchildren of Okies in Silicon Valley, and to the impoverished grandchildren of sharecroppers in America’s inner cities. Once this difficult-to-define “character” is lost, then even a beautiful, golden state like California, richest in the nation with the best educational system, can crash in flames to one of the poorest and most ill-educated, with an entire new group of “Okies” homeless on its streets.

Certain kind people take pity on children in slums, and their charity allows such youths to spend a summer on a rural farm. The host-farm is usually not an agribusiness, but a more old-fashioned farm. I have even read of inner-city youth being sent to Indian Reservations in the Pacific Northwest, where they learned to harvest salmon from rivers and abalone from the sea. In nearly all such cases the children are permanently, positively changed.

Not that they change in the manner some desire: They don’t abruptly wear suits and attend church, if Christians sponsored their escape from slums, and in fact they may go right back to the gangs and drugs they briefly escaped, but they are different; they are changed; they own the odd thing called “character”. People who study such things have discovered, through “follow-up-studies”, that more than a decade later many of the now-mature recipients of such experiences still claim a brief vacation on a farm was “the most influential experience of their life.” But what was the influence?

As the owner of a back-to-nature Farm-Childcare I am into my eleventh year of dealing with clueless children. Not that such children, even at age three, are not far smarter than I am, when it comes to the subject of how to operate a computer or a cellphone. However, they haven’t a clue where food comes from. They are amazed (and delighted) to learn carrots and potatoes come from “dirty dirt”. They are amazed (and delighted) to discover eggs come from a chicken’s “stinky butt”. Sometimes, to the horror of their parents (and requiring amazing diplomacy on the part of my wife), these children are delighted (and amazed) to see that meat involves “killing”.

Although parents are vaguely troubled by a political-incorrectness inherent in “dirty dirt” and “stinky butts” and “killing”, in the end the parents thank me. Why? Because they have seen an undeniable blossoming in their child. But I try to tell them I am not the cause. I did not invent the fact carrots come from “dirty dirt”. I did not invent the fact that eggs come from a “stinky butt”. I did not invent the fact all meat comes from “killing”. I am not the Creator; I am just showing what He has already done.

I did not create the pines, and I did not create the wind, but when I take a frenetic kid out and he gets dreamy and far calmer, looking up and listening to the wind in the pines, parents treat me like I changed the child. It actually was something far greater than I. All I do is show children what already is.

But it is not merely the children in slums, and the children of overworked parents who use a computer for a babysitter, who stand to gain from being reintroduced to the farm and the outdoors. It is also the grandchildren of Okies who work in Silicon Valley. They are as deprived as the ghetto-abiding grandchildren of sharecroppers who have never plowed or planted, and who see only asphalt. (The difference may be that, rather than only asphalt, they see only computers.) But, sadly, the deprived of Silicon Valley are blind to their deprivation, and sometimes scorn the heartland’s earthy citizens as “Deplorables.”

Many in Silicon Valley embrace socialism, some with the fervor of Mao’s “Red Guard”. They have either forgotten, or never studied, their own Socialist history.

When Mao felt the Red Guard had outlived their usefulness, what did he do with their youthful zeal? He had the army round them up and shipped them off to rural areas to be “reeducated.” (In essence the result of Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” was that China became a police state.) There is a delicious irony in the way Mao then praised the benefits of “life on the farm”, though he disliked the Yeoman Farmer as much as Stalin did, and strove to replace the self-reliant farmers and artisans, whom Jefferson admired, with the “collective”.

Sometimes I like to play the devil’s advocate, and to ask how my Farm-Childcare is any different from a Gulag. Am I not snatching children from the video games they desire? Initially many children loudly express their dislike of the outdoors, and announce an unwillingness to walk even fifty yards. Am I not a sort of brutal Mao to urge them onward, and isn’t my “reeducating” a sort of brainwashing? I can only answer that the children seem to quickly adapt, and that they wear smiles, and sometimes they don’t even want to go home, which isn’t observed too often in Gulags.

When I think more deeply, I enter debatable territory, but will throw a few ideas out to be mulled over. One idea is that I allow far more freedom than a Gulag, and in fact freedom is at the root of what I attempt. While children seem made nervous by a complete lack of boundaries, they like freedom within certain limits; IE: They don’t want to be left alone to meet a bear or coyote in the woods, but they like being left alone to build their own forts.

Children like having a rough idea of the rules under which a sport is played, but also like having the freedom to spend half their time arguing about the rules (which is how I played baseball as a boy.) Rather than “organized” sports, my Childcare has “disorganized” sports. While I do oversee the sports, to prevent bloodshed, I try to stand back as I oversee freedom. And, as I stand back and watch, it seems to me that one important quality of freedom is that it involves experiencing and playing-with limits and limitations.

It is quite fascinating to watch children play with limits and limitations, (even when the limit they are testing and playing-with is me.) Sometimes, for example when building a fort, they are dealing with a physical limitation and are young engineers, attempting a Tower of Babel, and then bursting into tears when it falls down and they are confronted with “Murphy’s Law”. Other times they are dealing with social limitations, for example when determining the ownership of a particular stick which looks perfectly ordinary to me, and certainly not worth arguing about. Sometimes they ask for help and sometimes they want to “do it themselves”, but always they are “part of a process”, involving a subject and an object.

As I stand back and watch I notice a difference between the children who “get along” and those who “don’t get along”. It seems to involve the difference between a willingness to be “part of a process”, and a craving to “control the process”, and this often seems to involve whether the child’s faith has been nourished or shattered. (Unfortunately, we have a severe drug-problem in New Hampshire, and some small children have witnessed parents become unconscious or even die, and these unfortunate tykes are raised by grandparents who send them to my Childcare.)

Of course as soon as I broach the topic of “faith” I risk provoking broadsides from both Atheists and Believers, but I must say that a child who has had their faith nourished tends to be cheerful and to trust others, while a child who has had their faith shattered tends to be a bit of a bully, (in several different, manipulative ways), and to chronically distrust others. The first tends to trust being “part of the process”, whereas the second is suspicious and wants to “control the process”. The first has a hard-to-define “character” which the second lacks. Lastly I should stress that the “faith” does not seem to be encouraged by constant flattery and “participation trophies”, but rather by the actual experience of ups and downs, accompanied by the security of knowing they are watched over by people who will help if asked.

At this point I likely should come completely out of the closet and return to the point I made earlier, when I stated I am not the Creator; I am just showing what He has already done. Furthermore, He is not done; He is still doing, and will help if asked.

While it may be politically incorrect in the minds of some to say so, I’ll coda my conclusion by stating this: Children are very small and helpless, playing under a Sky that is giant and can be merciless, yet they often play as if with a close friend, whom they trust more than any mortal. As a “Child Care Professional”, I often just stand back and watch “the process” in awe.  It is a process all should yearn to be part of, but only a fool thinks he controls.

Sadly, though I offer a beautiful witness, Silicon Valley does not want to hear my witnessing. Google has in some ways “disappeared” me from its search engine. Likely their action is due to my past “Sea-ice” posts, which dare to point out certain Alarmist “proofs”, (that Global Warming is a threat), are failing to manifest in the predicted manner. This makes me a “Global Warming denier”, and Google apparently feels this justifies them basically enacting a childish censorship, tantamount to the children at my Childcare shouting, “La-la-la! I’m not listening!”

This is sad because Google was formerly the best search engine, but now they are choosing to make their engine malfunction. They soon will be surpassed by another, for even a competitor slow as a turtle can pass a rabbit, if the rabbit lays down on the job.

I am not particularly hurt by Google’s disdain. I’ve been an obscure poet all my life, so obscurity is a landscape I’m familiar with. I don’t feel “marginalized”, for I’ve experienced margins are important and “part of the process”. Even if Google seeks to bully me with the power of a trillion grasshoppers, I am not a victim. I am a beneficiary. Why? Because I am gripping with white knuckles the Thing that made Okies great, while Google, (the Okies who became great), have lost their grip, and may well be like a trillion grasshoppers soon to become extinct.