Monday, July 20, 2015

Whether Report

El Nino Update 2 (7/24): A Washington Post article is more positive on this being declared a strong one, officially perhaps by the end of July, and on track to be one of the strongest ever recorded-- though of course they haven't been recorded for all that long, but since 1996-7 was our first winter here, we know what it could mean on the North Coast: lots of rain, with some very heavy rains and flooding.  With less hillside logging but more drought-depleted soil, there still could be major mudslides this winter, as there will likely be in southern CA.

It's like summer here.  Hot sun, a bit sticky and close inside, the doors swelling in the humidity.  A Sunday lethargy reminding me of summer afternoons in Pennsylvania, with temps a good deal higher than here.

We had some light rain and foggy days in June and July, in our coastal microclimate.  Within sight on certain days were somber clouds dumping torrents of rain on Blue Lake, a few miles inland.  Further inland the temps get quite high.

In southern California over the weekend, remnants of Pacific hurricane Delores doused LA and environs.  The San Diego Padres had the second rainout in their ballpark's history. Beaches were closed!  And out in the California desert, the rain crumbled supports under a major highway, closing "the 10" all the way to Arizona.

Surfers in the Bay Area and up here on the North Coast report warmer ocean water, a bit of anecdotal support for the talk of a strong El Nino.  Water temps are tracking to continue rising to a peak by winter, and so the feeling here is getting pervasive that we're in for a wet winter, and quite possibly a stormy one.

Meanwhile, the annual International NOAA report just issued shows that 2014 broke records to score the highest yearly surface temperatures, highest ocean surface temperatures, and highest upper level ocean heat content.

Also the highest atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide--the greenhouse gases.  Whether or not the world gets control of this in the next few years with hopes to save the far future, the weather is going to keep being strongly affected by the greenhouse effect for decades.  That's what this report really says: we're starting to feel it, and more is coming.

Update on El Nino: The LA Times published a kind of primer that's probably a bit more conservative and sensible at this stage about El Nino this year.  Namely that while it is building, it isn't big enough yet to say for certain that a rainy winter will extend up this far north, or more to the point for the state as a whole,  even into the Sierras where the snowpack is crucial.  It notes that there are differences with this El Nino, including the warmer coastal water I mentioned, that make this less predictable.  But that's climate change.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Avarice Rewarded

Sixteen--count 'em!--sixteen candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, or there will be by Tuesday.

Why so many?  The way I explain it is--well, why listen to me?  Gabriel Sherman says what I mean succinctly, and besides, he's more important and New York Magazine publishes him.  Basically:

"What this year's primary shows is that — at least when it comes to presidential elections — the GOP is at risk of becoming less of a political party and more like a talent agency for the conservative media industry. Jumping into the race provides a (pseudo)candidate with a national platform to profit from becoming a political celebrity. "If you don’t run, you’re an idiot," a top GOP consultant told me.

And the money is nothing to sniff at:

Since January 2014, Ben Carson has earned as much as $27 million from delivering 141 speeches and publishing three books including You Have a Brain: A Teen’s Guide to T.H.I.N.K B.I.G. Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina made nearly $1 million in speeches last year and published a memoir. Mike Huckabee’s Fox News contract was worth $350,000 a year before he left to join the race, according to sources. This year he also released a book God, Guns, Grits and Gravy. Ted Cruz made a reported $1.5 million for his book A Time for Truth.

Just becoming a candidate can double your lecture fee, and these days that can be big money.  That is, like a lot of things, it's either very big money or no money at all.

So why aren't a dozen Dems cavorting for their piece of the action?  While it's true that the Clintons command big lecture fee bucks, there are fewer lucrative sources, among other factors that Sherman neatly summarizes:

The disparity between the size of the two primary fields is driven by political and structural forces. The rise of billionaire donors and Super PACs enable more fringe GOP candidates to fund their campaigns. Conservatives’ palpable sense of cultural victimhood encourage them to embrace (and reward) their former candidates even if they lose badly. “The people on the right are heroes to their supporters and that’s how their books sell,” Shrum says. And, conservatives who promote free-market gospel on the lecture circuit, can get easily booked by deep-pocketed corporations who benefit from their message. "A bank is never going to hire Bernie Sanders to speak, but it might hire Rick Perry," says one GOP adviser.

Seldom do I agree with an analysis so completely as when it confirms precisely my own observations.