Luke’s Last Stand???

Good day, Regina! it’s -7 right now (5:00) and it’ll get down to -9 tonight. The sun arose, so I am told, at 8:45 and will plop at 5:37. On this day in history the first Frisbees went on sale. I’ve always thought Wham-O toys (best name ever) bought the plans from the U.S. military, which developed the basic concept at its Roswell base and sold it, like other patents based on alien tech, to raise funds for its off-the-books expedition to the hollow earth’s interior. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments.

1. WOMEN SAVE THE WORLD Hey, how about those protests? Read about them in The Toronto Star, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Globe And Mail, The Guardian, NowThe Stranger, The Guardian and The Guardian again. Also, check out CBC, SalonNPR and Slate (and cartoons!).

2. TRUMP DID NOT “DELETE” CLIMATE CHANGE AND LGBTQ RIGHTS FROM THE WHITE HOUSE PAGE It’s just a new page. The old page went here. That’s how it works. Come on guys, we’re supposed to be Team Fact. I mean, Trump’s obviously still a homophobic ass hair and climate science nitwit. (See? See how I stuck to facts there?)

Anyways, here’s a good New York Timesstory with a misleading headline.

3. I GUESS THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP IS DEAD But this might not be a bad thing. Investors’ rights clauses have made many a trade deal sketchy.

4. “ALTERNATIVE FACTS” Trump and his people are either lying or unable to separate reality from fantasy. Take your pick! Got proof their inauguration turnout was lower than either of Obama’s? They just say it’s the bigliest!

5. TRUMP REINSTATES RULE TO HURT WOMEN IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES Evil. More here. Who said “women’s rights are human rights”, again? That person should’ve run for president. I bet Americans would’ve elected her.

6. TRUMP’S WHITE MALEOCRACY Trump’s cabinet is the least diverse since Reagan’s.

7. BORDER THUGS BLOCK TRUMP PROTESTERS Apparently some U.S. border agents are power-abusing ideologues who hate women. Assholes. Almost as bad: “Jeepers, we’d better not raise a fuss,” says Canada.

8. I HOPE ANNA MINARD IS OKAY She seems depressed for some reason. You should read this issue’s American Underpants.

9. NOW WHAT? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leads a cabinet retreat to figure out how to handle President Fucko.

10. ALBERTA FARMERS DON’T LIKE CARBON TAXES File this one under “boo hoo”. Hearing farmers parrot oil industry propaganda (“wealth redistribution”, “tax grab”, “won’t help anything anyway”) while ignorantly dismissing the reality of climate change would test any reasonable person’s patience. I would think farmers would prefer a carbon tax to a hard cap on emissions, which could have them scrambling and spending a fortune to get into compliance. Carbon taxes are a market-based response to climate change, not a wealth redistribution scheme. If people want to whine, they should complain we didn’t start to address this 30 years ago. Jerks.


12. BEST OF FOOD AND DRINK VS. 2017 We’re working on our draft category list for this year’s pool which goes live in a week! Got a suggestion? Put it in the comments! Here’s last year’s Best Of Food for reference.

13. THE LAST JEDI That’s the just-released name of the next Star Wars movie. Why is the title in Sith red? If they off Luke, it’ll be my LAST Star Wars movie.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth was carried to Regina in a swarm of bees. He's been with Prairie Dog since May 1999 and will die at his keyboard before admitting his career a terrible, terrible mistake.

14 thoughts on “Luke’s Last Stand???”

  1. #10 Last sentence, why didn`t they address global warming 30-40 yrs. ago? Because scientists were preaching a second ice age was coming in the 70`s & 80`s. We studied it in school even. There`s a big article about it in a copy of Time magazine. The science is never settled!

  2. Good to see your progress, indy 428! And yes, you’re right; even in grad school, the coming ice age was de rigeur.

  3. I’d love to hear more about what you guys were taught and (in Indy’s case) what grade level this was at. Global cooling was played up by the media in the early-mid ’70s and it’s still used today to discredit scientific consensus. I remember having an argument with one of my mom’s teacher friends in the late ’90s about this, so it looks like the idea got absorbed by at least two educators in two provinces. Interesting.

    While I recall a brief hullabaloo over global cooling, I remember a lot more coverage of the “greenhouse effect” in the ’70s. By the mid-late ’80s it was clear that scientists had a good idea what could happen. I remember being furious when Reagan rolled back fuel efficiency standards (so more U.S. oil could be sold) because of what it meant for global warming.

    The first big treaty to reduce GHG emissions was signed in 1992. Kyoto was 1997. It’s 2017 and we didn’t do enough, thanks to anti-science propaganda from an industry that wanted to keep making money and didn’t care about the consequences. Too bad so many (including some teachers, apparently) fell for it.

    It infuriates me that Alberta farmers still argue the science in 2017. Between that and their evident unreasoned hatred of any non-Conservative politician, they are earning contempt. Some stewards.

  4. Thank-you Barb. Stephen, seems to me it was early high school, grade 10 possibly. At that time, a second ice age seemed possible because the winters we had in Regina during that period were just brutal, so much snow with -40 temps. Sorry don’t know a lot of the details from my science classes on this topic but seems teacher used the Time magazine article as a reference.

  5. Indy, pretty sure what happened there was that scientists were expecting an ice age based on the cyclic nature of the planet and one being “due” according to the historical data. But the ongoing recent data wasn’t supporting this hypothesis, and thus global warming – at this time, at this point in earth’s usual cycle – was really super weird. So they went looking for the cause. Not that hard of a story to follow.

  6. A lot of the ice age prediction material came from Reid Bryson. His book “Climates of Hunger” came out in 1977, but he’d done a lot of research and published dozens of articles on historic/prehistoric climates. He had a lot of traction with archaeologists, who in the 1950s and 1960s took far more interest in what meteorologists, palynologists, biologists, palaeontologists, zoologists, palaeo-botanists and other environmental scientists had to say about the conditions in which ancient peoples made a living.

  7. Between 1965 and 1979, there were seven scientific papers predicting global cooling. Over the same period, there were 42 predicting global warming.

    It’s true, there were articles in Newsweek and Time magazine in the mid 70s about global cooling. But calling those “what all the scientists were saying” ignores all the articles over the same period talking about global warming (like this New York Times article from ’79: “Experts Tell How Antarctic Ice Could Cause Widespread Floods” — found that with a single google search).

    It also leaves out how even the articles on global cooling that you’re remembering actually discussed the possibility that CO2 in the atmosphere might overwhelm the cooling effect and cause warming. Those articles were aware that there was a debate occurring within climate science. They weren’t the pronouncements of settled science.

    Oh, and that Time magazine cover feature about the coming ice age? That’s a fake.

    As for Bryson, he was one scientist. And he was wrong. Sort of…

    Actually, back in the 60s and 70s, there were a couple legit reasons to think that global cooling could be a problem. The globe had been experiencing a slight cooling trend since about the 40s. That was mainly due to atmospheric aerosols from industry (ie, smog). And that’s what a lot of those papers on global cooling focused on.

    Funny thing, atmospheric aerosols aren’t a problem any more because we passed a bunch of legislation to control air pollution. (Kind of like we coulda/shoulda done with CO2.)

    (Oh, a little later, we also stopped the destruction of the ozone layer by passing a bunch of legislation to limit the use of CFCs. Damn. It’s almost like heavy-handed government intervention can actually prevent environmental disasters. Who’d’a thunk?)

    Industry hated all that clean air regulation, by the way, and fought tooth and nail to stop it. Their efforts failed though because the nascent science-denial industry was otherwise occupied rescuing tobacco. Plus, the American government was far more science-friendly then than it is, say, this morning.

    Beyond the aerosols, Bryson’s claim about the cyclical nature of the climate is true. And based on archaeological and geological and other evidence, we are coming off a slight warming period. (Though, even saying that doesn’t tell the whole story. The oft-cited medieval warming period was largely a regional phenomena. Measurements of pre-historic climate are more widespread now than they were when the MWP was first proposed.)

    Thing is, if you were to strip away all the human-caused forcings and just look at that “natural cycle” (whatever that means… humans are nature), if anything, we should be in a global cooling phase right now.

    But we’re not.

    All the temperature data shows that — without a doubt — the planet is warming at its fastest pace.

    So, the planet has taken its foot off the warming pedal. Warming should be slowing down. But it isn’t. it’s speeding up. Dramatically. That’s our reality. So Bryson was correct that the climate goes through natural cycles. But we’ve disrupted that natural cycle.

    Anyway… I’m drifting from the main point…

    The idea that the scientific consensus in the 70s was global cooling is just plain wrong. There was no established consensus in the 70s (unlike now). But even though climate science was in flux and unsettled at the time, the science was already starting to orbit around CO2 emissions being the stronger force in the atmosphere and global warming being our real future.

    Over the last couple decades, though, the importance of that “global cooling” story has been greatly exaggerated by the science-denial industry. And they’ve been so successful that even people who lived through the 70s are misremembering the state of the science at the time.

    Regardless, those climate debates of the 60s and 70s were largely resolved by the late 70s through to the early 80s and should not influence policy discussions of the present (beyond acting as a cautionary tale about how dishonest media actors can exploit legitimate scientific debate for malicious ends).

    Science changes. That’s a feature, not a flaw.

  8. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Interesting reads. To me, Barb’s anthropologist seems a benign echo of that contemporary phenomenon/cliche, the climate-change denying geologist.

    Here’s Time on it’s alleged “the coming ice age” issue. TL:DR: they never published it.

  9. Good comments, Paul. While there may not have been a “consensus” about global cooling, as you put it, it was obviously enough in the public mind to have filtered down to school science courses, as a possibility.
    As to your comment, Stephen, archaeologists who used or cited Bryson’s and Bryson and Baerris’s work (among others) were not denying climate change: cooling, after all, is change. Your objection is to the direction of change.

  10. In science classes as a possibility? Maybe. But that isn’t what Indy wrote.

    “…scientists were preaching a second ice age was coming in the 70`s & 80`s. We studied it in school even. There`s a big article about it in a copy of Time magazine. The science is never settled!” — Indy

    Scientists weren’t preaching a second ice age. They were debating the relative impacts of aerosols vs CO2 in the atmosphere. Time’s article wasn’t a massive feature (the cover feature was about Nixon) and it included reference to the question of global warming. And, I doubt very much that Indy “studied” it in school. He may recall that a teacher mentioned it one day in school but if his class had actually plumbed the depths of the science and if he had accurately remembered what they learned, he wouldn’t have written what he did above.

    A story: 11 years ago I had a conversation with a climate scientist at a math party my wife had taken me to. He told me that “the only debate in climate science is how much impact humans are having on the climate,” not whether or not they’re having an impact. That bit I put in quotes is the only thing I remember him saying even though I’m pretty sure we were talking for a long time at that point and continued talking a while longer. That conversation is all I remember from that math party. And I can’t even say for sure if it was 12 years ago or 9 years or 15 because I’ve been to a lot of math parties with a lot of different people from a lot of different science disciplines since my wife and I got together.

    But I would never use that memory fragment as evidence of the scientific consensus from the early 2000s because I recognize how utterly unreliable my memory is. And compared to when Indy was in school, that is a comparatively recent memory.

    So to take a recollection of a teacher bringing a Time magazine (that might have been Newsweek) into a class and from there extrapolate that this is what was being taught in school as dogma or that “scientists were preaching a second ice age” is a mistake.

    And, my point was also that we have to be especially mistrustful of this claim that “second ice age was 70s science” because there has been a massive effort by some nasty dudes to retroactively re-write what science was and wasn’t saying back then.

    And the memories of anyone who’s been immersed in anti-climate-science websites for the last decade are especially suspect because those memories have probably been affected by reading more recent stories about what was going on 40 years ago.

    Brains are suuuuuuper plastic. And memories are easy to sabotage. That’s science.

  11. It’s up to indy to reply (if he thinks it’s worth the time) to your declaration that he can’t possibly remember what he says he does. Indeed, memory can be misleading, but because yours isn’t good doesn’t mean others’ isn’t.

  12. Actually, it’s not me saying memories are corruptible. It’s science.

    Here’s one from 2010

    “The act of remembering, says eminent memory researcher and psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, is “more akin to putting puzzle pieces together than retrieving a video recording.” Even questioning by a lawyer can alter the witness’s testimony because fragments of the memory may unknowingly be combined with information provided by the questioner, leading to inaccurate recall.”

    The science on the unreliability of human memory has only gotten stronger in the last seven years.

  13. “And I doubt very much that indy ‘studied’ it in school”. Sure sounds like you talking. If you quibble with indy’s choice of words, be prepared to have that method turned back on you. Hiding your arrogance and your sense of superiority over indy behind science is not a new tactic, but it’s still pretty transparent.

  14. Barb: my objection wasn’t to the direction of the change. It’s to the fact global cooling, as Paul said, has been used to deny climate change, which is happening.

    Your insulting characterization of Paul as “arrogant” is unfortunate.

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