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July 16, 2023


I know exactly what I want: More snow in winter, less heat in summer. It has been years since we had snow that lasted for a week or more. Now it tends to be (at best) snow late at night, melted away in the morning.
And when I was a kid, temperatures of 30°C were a rarity around here. Now it has become normal. If it was up to me, it would be capped at 25°C.

Lovely image up there! I begin to long for Norway again.

I can definitely remember when
- winter was just rain, rain, and (for variety) drizzle turning to rain. A warm day was one where we hit 70.
- summer was hot (although then, "hot" was merely in the 90s) and dry. Very dry: no rain since May Day, and not likely to see another storm until mid-October.**

But now?
- last year it stopped raining by New Years, so everything had lots of time to dry out. And burn.
- this year, in February we had several days in the mid-80s.
- June was so cool, that the neighbors were celebrating when we had a day in the 80s, so it was hot enough that the kids could go swimming. Rather than maxing out at 70. Oh yes, and we had measurable rain several days.
- when it does get hot, we push 110.

On balance, I'm OK with the new regime here. (Having AC.) But I'm also aware that it's between difficult and disasterous for most of the world. Overall, too high a price to pay.

** Actually, we would get a bit of rain the first week of September. Every year. Which somehow seemed to come as a surprise to everyone anyway.

On balance, I'm OK with the new regime here. (Having AC.)

On balance, much of the world be OK if everyone had AC.

I keep telling myself: **Feel** the weather right now; stamp in your sense memory, so when the opposite season comes and you're complaining about that weather, you can dip into the memories and remember/feel this weather.

It never works, for some reason.

Charles, you did read the rest of the paragraph, right?

Open thread, so - an excellent piece by Andrew Rawnsley in today's Observer, in defence of the BBC, with which I wholeheartedly agree. He reminds his readers that the Murdochs, whose Sun is pushing the latest "scandal", are open enemies of the BBC.

The pile-on by them has been joined by Conservative politicians. Rishi Sunak had no opinion to offer about Boris Johnson after the Commons found his disgraced predecessor guilty of serially lying to parliament. Yet when it came to this, the prime minister found time in the middle of the Nato summit to tell reporters that he found it “shocking” and “concerning”. Lee Anderson, the brutish deputy chairman of the Tory party, had the brazen temerity to smear the BBC as a “safe haven for perverts” just days after his fellow Tory MP Chris Pincher was recommended for an eight-week suspension from parliament over allegations of sexual assault. Alex Chalk, the justice secretary, told the BBC “to get their house in order”. Anyone in need of good housekeeping tips wouldn’t be sensible to seek them from members of the party that has generated a deluge of scandals as well as inflicting the premierships of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss on Britain.


Exploitation of the BBC’s travails by Tories is in service of their agendas. The near-term one is about the run-up to a general election that they expect to be extremely tough for them. The Conservatives can usually count on the majority of the newspapers to megaphone Tory messages and take lumps out of their opponents. That makes it highly important to the health of our democracy that our media ecosystem has non-partisan broadcasters. It will suit the Conservative machine if the BBC becomes too cowed to perform its vital function of scrutinising all the parties without fear or favour.

It is not novel for the ruling party to have a combative relationship with the BBC. Winston Churchill battled with John Reith, the first director-general, over coverage of the 1926 General Strike. Margaret Thatcher was furious about the way the BBC reported on Northern Ireland and the Falklands war and her husband, Denis, called it the “British Bastard Corporation”. Tony Blair’s Number 10 had an epic confrontation, which cost the director-general and the chairman their jobs, over the Iraq war. For all that, previous governments have not contemplated dismantling the corporation. It has only been in recent years – since the Brexit referendum – that this idea has advanced up the agenda of one of our major political parties. What’s new today is that there is a significant faction on the right who are not satisfied with merely bashing the BBC. They want to emasculate and even obliterate it as a universal service dedicated to impartial reporting.


Basically, we're all carrying on as if there wasn't a climate / extinction disaster happening already and getting worse every year - and yeah, what's an individual supposed to do? But still: where's the outrage? This article was interesting:


novakant, do you mean "we" here? If so, I'll just speak for myself and say that I'm all outraged out. I can't even count the number of things I'm tempted to be outraged about every day of the week, but I've gradually realized that my outrage debilitates me and makes me not only miserable, but less, rather than more, fit to try to do anything about the state of the world. (Which I think is the goal of some of the people perpetrating the outrages.)

Wendell Berry:

Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.

See also Annie Dillard's essay Teaching a Stone to Talk: "We are here to witness."

Also the title essay of this book.

"We are here to witness": what if the single thing that is now within my power to do, in trying to take the kind of "action" that I think novakant is implying, is to record the beauty of the world in pictures, to remind people of what we are losing? I'm not saying it is, I'm just saying that I don't think "we" -- okay, I -- really have any idea what any given individual can do to move the world.

Basically, we're all carrying on as if there wasn't a climate / extinction disaster happening already and getting worse every year - and yeah, what's an individual supposed to do? But still: where's the outrage?

I realize that some folks have a burning need to feel outraged. (For some, present company excepted, what they are outraged about is secondary to the outrage itself.) But it seems to me that at least some of us are doing what we can to chip away at the problem.

For example, when I put solar panels on my roof, some 20 years ago, the ROI was large enough to pay the capital cost plus installation in about 6 years. So perhaps I get no props for virtue, since it was economically reasonable for me personally. Still, it's something an individual can do.

Will one individual installing solar panels make a noticeable difference? No. But then, one car's internal combustion engine doesn't make a noticeable difference either. Doesn't mean it's not worth moving towards electric vehicles.

So, some of us are not "carrying on as if there wasn't a climate / extinction disaster happening," Even if we aren't having visible/audible conniption fits over it.

Sorry, I didn't want to tread on anyone's toes, by "we" I meant something like "humanity".

The New Yorker article is interesting, because it examines the psychological impact the climate crisis had on several people and how they dealt with it. I think this is an important and neglected topic.

I hear you Janie. Michael E. Mann makes the very valid point, that nobody is helped by personal despair and that putting the blame on individuals has been a tactic of the fossil fuel industry and others since the 70s. He suggests focussing on exerting political pressure.

And yet, I feel quite strongly the disconnect between the urgency of the matter at hand and the slowness of our collective response - after all, emissions are still rising steadily (after the Covid dip) and the goal of the Paris Agreement:

"To limit global warming to 1.5°C, greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest and decline 43% by 2030."

is already out of reach.

The projections for failing to reach this target don't look very appealing to put it mildly.

I took novakant's comment not to refer to "we here", but to the world in general. I am sympathetic to Janie's "all outraged-out". Yesterday I saw a picture of an Afghan bakery, with about twenty completely shrouded women sitting or squatting outside, begging for bread. It upset and angered me more than anything has for a while. That upset has nowhere to go. Be joyful/though you have considered all the facts seems a worthwhile aspiration, although personally I despair of ever being able to achieve it.

nobody is helped by personal despair

This is very true. It's hard to surface though. No wonder gurus do such a roaring trade....

Gurus and guns...

Seriously, though, steward your outrage. Use it only when it serves to accomplish something concrete that cannot be accomplished without it. We are never at our best when the amygdala is doing the driving. All our most pressing problems require more bandwidth than the outrage side of the brain will allow through its circuits.

Mostly what outrage gets you is burnout.

Pick things to do that are within your power. Lean heavily on education, compassion, helping those less fortunate, and prioritizing the needs of future generations. Make the people of the future your work and build a space for them.

It's always better to focus on what remains to be done, rather than on what was not done in its time.

And flow around any bastard that gets in your way.


Make the people of the future your work and build a space for them.

nous -- as so often, thank you. The quoted bit made me cry, all the more readily since I'm spending the day with that person of the future, my grandchild. I will print out your comment and tack it to the bulletin board for handy reference when I lose my way.

nous -- as so often, thank you.

I agree. A really useful, and incidentally beautiful, comment. Thank you, nous.

My comment is basically my mantra for the Climate Migrant/Refugee class that I teach. My students come in bitter and disillusioned, with their minds full of the things that we are doing nothing to prevent. I point them towards people problems and try to get them thinking about the things that we can do to mitigate the coming desperation and give them a sense of agency.

I encourage them to look for programs and projects that don't require international consensus, that can be implemented on a local level - things that they can get started on right now, even without much in the way of power or resources. And I let them go to find their way and to argue with each other, and try not to spend all my time steering them.

It's actually been pretty encouraging for both me and them. Far better than my grievance work with the union, which had me so burned out on outrage that I've had to step away.

I need my advice too. I write it to remind myself to keep looking forward.

I went through a period about ten years ago when I cried all the time about the death of nature and the state of the world. At that time, I wasn't expecting to see the worst myself. I thought the tipping points were twenty years or so in the future.
Anyway, I worked through the constant sadness to a sort of embittered resignation. I keep my focus on my higher Maslow needs. I try to keep in mind that it is a big universe and humans are fucking up only a tiny part of it.
I think the fuck up comes from human nature. We evolved enough brains to be obscenely destructive but not enough to be wise.
So yes, it is weird to watch the apocalypse hit while everyone acts like bad weather is just bad weather. Here in the US thirty-five percent of the population is having hysterics over "woke".
I told a Trump neighbor that he had the privilege of wallowing in faux outrage over stupid nonsense because he has no real problems (yet). I told him that the moral outrage expressed by Republican voters was just the self-indulgence of people who are too cowardly and selfish to deal with any real problems.
Meanwhile the Puget Sound is one of the last remaining livable areas of the US, but we are developing a fire problem.
I am full of bitterness and despair but at the same time I am writing GOTV letters, donating to campaigns, volunteering at a sanctuary for cats, I trap, fix and place feral cats, and I just adopted a dog.
I guess I just keep on going because the alternative is suicide. And, having chosen to remain alive (for now), I try to be happy and to do things that will make others be better off.

For those remembering winters past for this open thread, we have this.

The Michigan Attorney general has filed charges against the state's 2020 fake electors.

In Michigan, each Trump elector was charged with eight criminal counts, including forgery, conspiracy to commit forgery and election law forgery. Some of the counts carry sentences of up to 14 years in prison.
It will be interesting to see which other states' fake elector slates face state charges. A couple more of those could be a disincentive to participate in that particular variety of shenanigans next time.

I'm feeling the way a lot of you have related, though the feeling here in Japan is unassertive acceptance. A lot of talk about SDGs, and news reports about how bad the weather is. I can't imagine what it would be like if I had to deal with neighbors like the ones wonkie mentions.

I've probably mentioned this before, but I would advise my children not to have children of their own. I guess adopting would be one thing, since they wouldn't be bringing people into a degrading world, just providing a better life for children who were already here.

But they'd still have to deal with worrying about their children's futures either way, which at least in the case of adoption is a selfish concern, though still a very real one. I know that sounds hopeless, but I don't see any way around that assessment right now.

It's very screwed up. That's about as eloquent as I can manage to be about it.

This BJ post by TaMara on "climate doomerism" seems like it would fit this discussion. I'm tied up right now but will tackle it later today....

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