Here’s a fine kettle of apples you’ve gotten us into . . . cheapskate

October 14, 2012

Apples are an all-American success story-each ...

Apples are an all-American success story-each of us eats more than 19 pounds of them annually. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Noticed any increase in food prices yet?

Here in Texas, all meat prices are up, but especially beef.  Beef ranchers in Texas sold off their herds because they couldn’t feed them during the drought, except with very expensive imported hay.  That held prices down for a while, but now there is a lot less beef to be bought.  Prices rise.

Drought also hammered corn crops this year, and last year.  To keep corn markets growing, corn state legislators had gone whole hog into using corn for alcohol to be added to gasoline.  That demand didn’t drop with the crop decreases, however, and we’ve been hearing for months how corn-into-alcohol pressures food markets.

Lucio Machado picks Golden Delicious apples in a Washington orchard.

Lucio Machado picks Golden Delicious apples in a Washington orchard.

Drought hammers our fruit crops, too.  Comes now news from Washington state about the added wrinkle:  Washington’s apple crops bend the tree boughs — who will pick them?

Two key problems:  First, the crackdowns on immigrant workers reduced supply dramatically.  Second, citizens or documented workers find higher pay in the turnaround in construction.

Result:  Apples may stay in the trees, boosting apple prices to consumers.

Wholly apart from the foolish denial that we need to do something about global warming, the added policy flaws of shutting off immigration flow on the chuckle-headed and wrong assumption that immigration hurts the economy, and the continued denial of our too-modest economic recovery, will now cost you money directly at the supermarket.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

PASCO, Wash.—Washington state is enjoying the second-biggest apple crop in its history, but farmers warn they may have to leave up to one-quarter of their bounty to rot, because there aren’t enough pickers.

“I’m down 40% from the labor I need,” said Steve Nunley, manager of a 3,000-acre apple orchard for Pride Packing Co. in Wapato, Wash. Mr. Nunley said he has 200 pickers right now, but needs close to 400. He has increased pay to $24 for every 1,000-pound bin of Gala apples they pick, compared with $18 last year. Even so, he expects to have to let tons of fruit fall unpicked this season.

Washington’s bumper crop, forecast at 109 million boxes of Red Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith and other varieties, comes as drought and poor growing conditions have led to dismal harvests in parts of the U.S. Michigan lost much of its apple crop this year, and poor conditions have depressed the yields in New York state and North Carolina.


But Washington’s farmers can’t fully cash in on their good fortune. The national crackdown on illegal immigration has shrunk the pool of potential farm workers in the state, while at the same time, the modest economic rebound has given immigrants more opportunities than before in construction, landscaping and restaurants.

*   *   *   *   *

Not far away, outside a church in Pasco, a migrant from Mexico’s Michoacán state, 47-year-old José Carranza, said he planned to skip the fruit harvest this year. Mr. Carranza believes he can do better in construction work, which is picking up.

How bad is it, really?  Take a look at several other pieces on this issue, recently:

How much additional will you be paying for goods this year because of GOP “we-can’t-afford-to-be-great-anymore” policies, or racist immigration policies?  Will your modest tax cuts offset that expense?

Perhaps we should pay a bit more in federal money to help fix the real problems, and stop pretending that the price of everything is the same as the cost.

You know the aphorisms:  A conservative economist is a person who can tell you price of any item or service, but doesn’t know the value of education, parenting, or good social structure, and ignores the costs of doing nothing.

And the Tom Magliozzi Law (of the Car Guys):  The cheapskate always pays more.

Studies from the Federal Reserve indicates immigrants boost our economy greatly; making life tough for immigrants, or hoping they’ll “self-deport,” damages our economy.

How’s that applesauce?


Endangered western forests: The Yellowstone

October 10, 2012

Additional CO2 and warmer weather will help plants, the climate change denialists say.  That’s not what we see, however.  Turns out CO2 helps weeds, and warmer weather helps destructive species, more than it helps the stuff we need and want in the wild.

For example, the white-bark pine, Pinus albicaulis:


From American Forests:

With increasingly warm winters at high elevations in the West, a predator that has stalked forests for decades has gained the upper hand. It is mountain pine blister rust, an invasive fungus. Combined with mountain pine beetles, which kill hundreds of thousands of trees per year in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA), the environmental health of the Rocky Mountains and neighboring regions is in danger. To make matters worse, the species most susceptible to these two threats, the whitebark pine, is also the most vital to ecosystem stability, essential to the survival of more than 190 plant and animal species in Yellowstone alone.

First debuted at SXSW Eco, this video tells the story of our endangered western forests and how American Forests and the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee are working toward their restoration and protection for future generations.

Learn more:


Whitebark Pine

Whitebark Pine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whitebark Pine. Français : Tige et cônes de Pi...

Whitebark Pine, cones and needle cluster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whitebark Pine Français : Un cône de Pin à éco...

Whitebark pine’s distinctive, almost-black cone. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Annals of global warming: Insurance companies note increasing costs of floods, due to climate change

October 1, 2012

Note today in Al Gore’s Journal:

Flooding Costs October 1, 2012 : 10:32 AM

Time cover from April 28, 2008 - how to win war on global warming

Time Magazine cover for April 28, 2008 – How to Win the War On Global Warming

A new report from Swiss Re finds that the financial impact of flooding has doubled in the past decade – climate is a major driver:

“Flood losses are increasing at an alarming rate while the insurability of floods provides unique challenges for the industry, according Swiss Re’s latest report, “Flood – an underestimated risk: Inspect, inform, insure”.” …

“No other natural catastrophe impacts as many people as flooding with an estimated 500 million people affected every year. Insured flood losses are also increasing significantly; 1970’s annual claims were between USD 1–2 billion, whereas insured flood losses amounted to USD 15 billion in 2011. Recent flood events in Thailand, Australia and the Philippines have shown that floods are now rivalling earthquakes and hurricanes in terms of economic losses.” …

“Population growth, demographic change, a higher concentration of assets in exposed areas, greater vulnerability of insured objects and climate change are all contributing to the increasing costs of flood damage. The rising costs of floods are creating challenges for the insurance industry and the economic viability of flood insurance is currently an issue under scrutiny.”


Annals of global warming: Understanding climate change, modeling, glaciers and water supply

September 13, 2012

Even during the sturm und drang and donner und blitzen of a presidential election year, scientists carry on their work to understand our planet, its weather and climate, and help others understand it, too.

Good on them.

Comes this morning an e-update newsletter from the National Academy of Sciences, with news on the study of climate change.


A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling

A new report from the National Research Council concludes that climate models will need to evolve substantially to deliver climate projections at the scale and level of detail desired by decision makers. As climate change has pushed climate patterns outside of historic norms, the need for detailed projections is growing across all sectors, including agriculture, insurance, and emergency preparedness planning.

Despite much recent progress in developing reliable climate models, there are still efficiencies to be gained across the large and diverse U.S. climate modeling community. Evolving to a more unified climate modeling enterprise–in particular by developing a common software infrastructure shared by all climate researchers, and holding an annual climate modeling forum–could help speed progress.

Learn more about the report at a free webinar on September 28 at 1:30 pm EST, where you’ll be able to watch live presentations by the report’s authoring committee and ask questions about the report’s findings.


New Website Provides “101” on Climate Modeling

Earth’s climate system is, in a word, complicated. It incorporates thousands of factors that interact in space and time around the globe and over many generations. For several decades, scientists have used the world’s most advanced computers to both simulate climate and predict future climate. Industries such as those mentioned above increasingly rely on information from these models to guide decision making–and with a changing climate, the information is more important than ever. Along with its new report about advancing climate modeling, the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate has released Climate Modeling 101, a website designed to help the public learn more about the basics of climate modeling–how they work and why they are important. The site features short videos and animations that explain everything from the difference between climate and weather to how climate models are built and verified.


Impact of Himalayan Glaciers on Water Supply Unclear

Another report from National Research Council, released on September 12, 2012, concludes that, although scientific evidence shows that most glaciers in South Asia’s Hindu Kush Himalayan region are retreating, the consequences for the region’s water supply are unclear. The study looks at the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, where several of Asia’s great river systems meet, providing water for drinking, irrigation, and other uses for about 1.5 billion people.

Recent studies show that at lower elevations, glacial retreat is unlikely to cause significant changes in water availability over the next several decades, but other factors, including groundwater depletion and increasing human water use, could have a greater impact. Higher elevation areas could experience altered water flow in some river basins if current rates of glacial retreat continue, but shifts in the location, intensity, and variability of rain and snow due to climate change will likely have a greater impact on regional water supplies.

Along with the report, the NRC has released a slideshow of stunning images and data-rich maps that explain what was learned in the report.


The melting away of climate denialism?

August 2, 2012

Ben Sargent, on 2012 heat wave and views of global warming, Austin American-Statesman, July 24, 2012

Ben Sargent, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, July 24, 2012

If only it were true that heat, weather, or any other data or information, could cause global warming denialism to melt away . . .

Shorter Anthony Watts: Ignore cities, discount all NOAA sites that show warming, and global warming doesn’t look so bad

July 30, 2012

Since he prefers a Kim Jong Il-style commenter policy –“only those who flatter the Premier need comment” — Anthony Watts‘s site doesn’t get the pleasure of my visits much, anymore.  Consequently I missed the announcement he made last week that he was “suspending” his blog, at least temporarily, until some great news came out.

English: Anthony Watts, June, 2010. Speaking i...

Anthony Watts, June, 2010. Speaking in Gold Coast, Australia, on a tour searching to find some place on Earth not affected by global warming. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Now the great news is out.  I think.  Watts may have been right to suspend blogging.  He should have kept the suspension longer.

Watts says NOAA‘s temperature measurement in the U.S. is way off, and that if we ignore all the cities, and if we ignore sites that show the greatest increases in temperature over the past century or so, global warming doesn’t look so bad.

Watts said he is the lead author on a new paper questioning all warming calculations:

This pre-publication draft paper, titled An area and distance weighted analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends, is co-authored by Anthony Watts of California, Evan Jones of New York, Stephen McIntyre of Toronto, Canada, and Dr. John R. Christy from the Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama, Huntsville, is to be submitted for publication.

Wait a minute.  “Prepublication draft paper?”  ” . . . to be submitted for publication?”

Yes, Dear Reader, that claxon you hear is your and my Hemingway III Solid Gold [Excrement] Detectors™ going off.  It may be a false alarm, but still — isn’t this how bogus science is done, isn’t this what Robert Park warns us about?  Indeed, in the Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science, Park says to pay attention to key indicators:  “1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.”  It is, indeed, a press release from Watts, about a paper he hopes to get through the peer review process at some point in the future — but it has not yet been pitched to the science journals.  (Yes, that’s also one of the Seven Warning Signs of Bogus History . . . one discipline at a time, please.)

What’s the rush?  Oh:  Tuesday, July 31, is the deadline for peer reviewed papers to be submitted to the international agency studying climate change, the Internatioinal  (IPCC), for consideration and inclusion in the next report.

Same old stuff, new day.  Watts has been arguing for years that NOAA’s temperature measurements err, but after the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures (BEST) Project determined that warming exists, even using Watts’s modified measurements and accounting for his claimed errors, some of us hoped Watts might turn to blogging about science, instead.

No, Watts turned to finding a hint of a methodology that might support his preconceived notions.  He found one.

So, Watts’s big announcement is that he’s found a methdology which favors his criticisms of NOAA; so we should ignore temperature readings from cities, because cities are hot, and we should ignore temperature readings from suburbs of cities, because suburbs are warm; and if we do that, then warming in the U.S. doesn’t look so bad.

Were I allowed to ask questions at Watts’s blog, I’d ask why we should ignore warming in cities, because are they not part of the planet?  Oh, well.

The Twitter version:

Watts: Ignore city temps (hot!) and ‘burbs (warm!), temps on farms don’t show so much global warming!  Oops – did we say that before?

Anthony, how about you suspend your blog until you get the paper accepted at a good journal?  Make sure you got the numbers right . . .


LCV’s “Flat Earth Five,” targets for election defeat – two named, who are the last three?

July 26, 2012


Naming one of their top five targets per week, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) will name three more Members of Congress to their “Flat Earth Five,” members who not only vote against LCV positions, but also seem to dwell among flat-Earth believers on science, generally.

First two of the Flat Earth Five:

  1. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.)
  2. Rep. Dan Benishek (Mich.)

Who will fill the three remaining slots — and will they survive election?



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