Underselling Climate Change?

Over at Vox.com, David Roberts points out that for over 30 years, climate scientists have been telling the public, “We’re running out of time; we’ve only got five or 10 years to turn things around, but we can do it if we put our minds to it.”

The obvious problem here:  We’ve now passed several five- and 10-year cut-off marks.

Have climate scientists been crying wolf for three decades?

No, says Roberts. Let your mind wander the other direction:

The obvious truth about global warming is this: barring miracles, humanity is in for some awful shit.

Roberts’ (via Oliver Geden) contends that climate scientists have been comforting us with climate models that rely on “increasingly unrealistic assumptions” concerning mankind’s future ability to remove vast amounts of CO2 from the Earth’s atmosphere.

PicardFacePalm-SmallerBut why?

It may be that climate scientists feel pressure — somewhat akin to a journalist’s struggle with self-censorship? — to provide the best climate prognosis possible; because they know that politicians, even the ones most sympathetic to the scientific consensus on climate change, want to hear the best news possible.

Roberts drives the point home quite well:

There is not a politician on earth — no, not even Bernie Sanders — who wants to tell his or her constituents, “We’ve probably already blown our chance to avoid substantial suffering, but if we work really hard and devote our lives to the cause, we can somewhat reduce the even worse suffering that awaits our grandchildren.” [crowd roars]

So, while climate deniers are fiddling as Rome burns, the Titanic has left the harbor.

And climate scientists could be banking on its passengers’ ability to build new lifeboats.

Rubio And The Rube-Wing Media:

I find it hilarious that Marco Rubio’s team thought it could confuse certain right-wing media, however briefly, by questioning the accuracy of a Spanish-to-English translation of Rubio’s recent Univision interview.

Here’s Jonathan Chait:

Rubio has renounced his own [immigration] plan, but he is being very cagey. In an interview with Univision last month, he promised not to overturn Obama’s executive [immigration] action until a legislative solution would be put in its place. (Rubio’s advisers initially told conservative media that his interview, which took place in Spanish, was mistranslated, but ultimately conceded that the initial interpretation was fundamentally correct.)

As daunting as conservatism’s Latino problem may be, it appears its partisan media is at least up to the task of properly verifying a Spanish translation.

Though I’m not sure Rubio should be blamed for underestimating them… heh.

Pale Blue Dot:

Happy Earth Day, fellow Earthlings!

Happy #EarthDay! Today, we’re all bein’ green.

A photo posted by The Muppets (@themuppets) on

Dumbledore’s Army:

I refreshing exchange on Twitter this morning between author J.K. Rowling and a fan:

J.K. Rowling Tweet Lest Potter Fan Ana Kocovic be misunderstood as homophobic, she immediately replied:

amazing answer… Yes you are absolutely right. Such an inspiration!!!

And followed up again with additional context for her question:

I wish that McGonagall and Dumbledore are couple

So, innocent question.  Teaching moment.

Ted Cruz is Runnin':

There are some things my native state of Texas shouldn’t export.

Ted Cruz is one of them.

More Matthew McConaughey, less Cruz.

But here’s Kevin Drum this morning flagging a fresh bit of news from The Los Angeles Times:

For years, business lobbyists complained about what they derided as “job killer” laws that drive employers out of California. Rival state governors, notably former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, made highly publicized visits to the Golden State in hopes of poaching jobs.

But new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tell a different story. Total jobs created in the 12 months ending Jan. 31 show California leading other states. California gained 498,000 new jobs, almost 30% more than the Lone Star State’s total of 392,900 for the same period.

Yes, as Drum points out, that’s “bad news for Ted Cruz on his very first day as an official presidential candidate.”

Meanwhile, another embarrassing export in today’s news:  the Supreme Court is hearing a case that will decide whether the Confederate flag can be displayed on Texas license plates.  Texas, thankfully, is against allowing the flag on its license plates.

Even Rick Perry is against it (though he has a well-known weakness for secession humor).

Another Historic Low:

When Arctic sea ice peaked this winter, it was the lowest maximum on record:

Flippers Crossed:

A Gray Seal, waiting patiently.

(Or perhaps signaling for a relief pitcher…)

Photo by @BrianSkerry A Gray Seal folds its flippers and poses underwater in the Gulf of Maine. Extending from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia, the Gulf of Maine and its surrounding waters have been the economic bedrock of New England’s coastal communities, supporting a wide variety of commercial and recreational activities. Unfortunately, many factors currently threaten the vitality of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem today. Decades of pollution of our marine waterways, coastal habitat destruction, overfishing and bottom trawling have wrought havoc in the form of extensive habitat loss and diminished biodiversity. Restoring health to these important resources as rapidly as possible is an imperative. @thephotosociety @natgeocreative #newenglandoceanodyssey #gulfofmaine #maine #nikonambassador #seals

A photo posted by Brian Skerry (@brianskerry) on

It’s All Happening At The Zoo:

Fort Worth Zoo LogoMy mother-in-law once gave my wife an incredibly unique birthday present: a commissioned painting by an elephant.

A resident of the Fort Worth Zoo, the elephant is named Rasha.  She’s over 40-years-old, a proud grandmother, and, as you will see — an artist.

Some creative souls agonize over their work.  Not Rasha.

Her brush is brandished quickly and decisively, with no hint that she’s ever displeased with a stroke.

This particular session at the easel occurred in August of 2000:

“Overt Bigotry Against Muslims”:

Sadly, here we are:

Media outlets, particularly on TV, are increasingly promoting overt bigotry against Muslims, stating over and over that Islam is an inherently violent religion and that peaceful Muslims are somehow to blame for ISIS. Hateful stereotypes are treated as fair game; the question of whether Muslims are somehow lesser human beings is raised as a valid or even necessary debate.

There’s more, of course. Vox’s Max Fisher continues:

Elements of the Republican party have been hijacked, at state and national levels, by a fringe group of anti-Muslim activists who see Islam itself as a threat. While some leading Republicans resist their agenda, others embrace it; Louisiana Governor and presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal has falsely claimed that Muslims in the UK have set up “no-go zones” that police refuse to enter and where sharia law prevails, and that Muslim immigrants coming to the US are an “invasion” and “colonization.”

Thankfully, Adam Walker provides a sane counter to this rampant bigotry, writing in The Independent that a “majority of Muslims have a peaceful reading of the Koran”:

The verses that are often quoted by critics are … cherry-picked context-dependent verses. They were only applicable at a time when war had been openly declared against Muslims because of their faith. They were being driven out of their homes and routinely assassinated. “Fight them until there is no persecution and religion is freely professed for Allah”, says the Koran. But if they stop oppressing you, it warns, then remember that “no hostility is allowed except against the aggressors.

In a Washington Post op-ed, Fareed Zakaria confronts Islamist violence said to avenge blasphemy. He points out that the word blasphemy never appears in the Koran (though it certainly does in The Bible’s Old Testament):

On several occasions, Muhammad treated people who ridiculed him and his teachings with understanding and kindness. “In Islam,” [Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan] says, “blasphemy is a subject of intellectual discussion rather than a subject of physical punishment.”

As a Christian who believes that Jesus’ example is a non-violent one, I can certainly sympathize with the frustrations of Muslims who live in a culture (indeed, a world) in which, more and more, their faith is perceived to be aggressively militant.  And I pray for them: that their faith will give them the strength to continue to pursue peace.

Violence is a temptation — to us all.  Christians have wrestled with it since Jesus admonished Peter for his use of the sword.

And Christendom has struggled with its connections to state-sanctioned violence since the time of Constantine:

But let’s return to Fareed Zakaria, whose warning is surely intended for all governments — self-proclaimed “Christian” and “Muslim” — that would attempt to co-opt the worst elements of religion for secular gain:

When governments try to curry favor with fanatics, eventually the fanatics take the law into their own hands.

Full Moon Setting (From Space):

Via NASA’s Instagram account…