Obama: Western wildfires have a lot “to do with climate change”

james1

While I’m generally no hardline presidential apologist, I do have to praise Obama for acknowledging that the record-setting Carlton Complex wildfire, along with other ongoing western blazes, can be attributed to climate change.

“A lot of it has to do with drought, a lot of it has to do with changing precipitation patterns, and a lot of that has to do with climate change,” the USA Today quoted the president as saying during a recent visit to Seattle.

Unfortunately since then, the media has been silent about the president’s statement, omitting it in any subsequent article about President Barack Obama signing a federal emergency declaration for the areas affected by the wildfires. The declaration authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate disaster relief and help state and local agencies with equipment and resources.

That’s good news for this particular weather event, but it hardly trumps the fact that the planet is sure to experience this scale of catastrophic wildfire again and again in the future.

Perhaps the reason we’re not hearing about the climate change connection has to with the results of a recent survey revealing that Americans are more skeptical of climate change than others polled across the globe.

According to an ABC News article, when asked if they agreed with the statement, “The climate change we are currently seeing is largely the result of human activity,” just 54 percent of Americans surveyed said yes. Although this number indicates a majority, the United States still ranked last among 20 countries in the poll.

Meanwhile, China topped the list, with 93 percent of its citizens agreeing that human activity is causing climate change. Large majorities also agreed in France (80 percent), Brazil (79 percent), Germany (72 percent) and other countries.

Similarly, 91 percent of those from China agreed with the statement, “We are heading for environmental disaster unless we change our habits quickly.” Only 57 percent of Americans thought so — again, last among 20 nations surveyed.

What Sort of Dweeb Needs an AR15?

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Back in December of 2012, while America was reeling in shock over the senseless shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and mourning those lost in a volley of peacetime machine gun fire, I asked the question, “Who the Hell Hunts With a Machine Gun Anyway?” While the papers were rehashing the same questions they pose whenever a mass killing makes the news: “Why did this happen?” and “How can we prevent this kind of thing in the future?,” we did not hear any mention in the mainstream media of the leading role that sport hunting plays in promoting guns and perpetuating violence.

So, who the hell hunts with a machine gun? The shocking answer is, more people than ever before. Okay, for you hair splitters out there, assault rifles are not technically considered machine guns because you have to hit the hair-trigger with each shot—but they still send out bullets at a damn high rate. The .223 semi-automatic for example (the rifle used by school shooter, Adam Lanza, and the D.C. Beltway snipers, John Mohammad and John Malvo, can fire 6 rounds per second. But what makes it so deadly is the way the bullet reacts on impact: it’s designed to bounce around inside the body once it makes contact with bone.

Why is such a lethal attack rifle legal for non-military civilians to own? According to the manufacturer, they are intended to be used for hunting animals. As the NRA well knows, hunting has been used to justify the private ownership of some of the most destructive weapons ever invented.

Assault rifles are not big on accuracy—their sole purpose is to send out a rapid-fire hail of bullets in the general direction of whatever they’re pointed at. Those who mass murder coyotes seem to feel entitled to the deadliest of armaments they can

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

get their hands on. A recent “contest hunt” offered up a free shotgun or a pair of semi-automatic rifles to whoever murdered the most canines. The terms of the competition were simple: hunters in New Mexico had two days to shoot and kill as many coyotes as they could; the winner got their choice of a Browning Maxus 12-gauge shotgun or two AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. (The AR-15 is the civilian version of the military’s M16 that has been in production since Vietnam.) “Nothing’s gonna stop me,” said Mark Chavez, the hunt’s sponsor, and the owner of Gunhawk Firearms “This is my right to hunt and we’re not breaking any laws.”

Bushmaster describes their .223 as a “Varmint Rifle.” Oh really? That shines new light on what some of these politicians really mean when they say they only hunt “varmints.” I’ve never been an invited guest at George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford Texas; therefore I can only guess that this is the type of weapon the self-proclaimed “varmint” hunter uses when he goes up against a family of scary ground squirrels, marmots or a town of talkative prairie dogs.

Larger caliber Bushmaster models are categorized, ominously, as “Predator Rifles.”

Why are more and more people using military style weapons for hunting lately? I don’t know offhand, but I have a theory. If someone were to look into it, I’d bet they’d find a marked increase in assault rifles since Barack Obama was elected president. Not only are people trying to get themselves a semi-automatic or two before a feared government ban on assault weapons, but at the same time, they see wolves as a symbol of the government they fear and loath.

Now that the federal government has handed wolf “management” over to hostile states, we’re seeing a war on wolves, with AR 15s, .223 “Bushmasters” and the like being the new weapons of choice.

Well Ted, We’re STILL Waiting…

In 2002, the website Right Wing Watch reported that at the NRA’s national convention, Ted Nugent called President Obama a criminal and denounced his “vile, evil, America-hating administration” which is “wiping its ass with the Constitution.”

It seems to me it’s time for die-hard bowhunting fanatic, Ted Nugent, to live up to (so to speak) a promise he made back in April when Nugent swore that: “If Barack Obama becomes the President in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” If Nugent’s a man of his word, he’s got only around two more months to either die or go to jail.

Well, Ted, we’re STILL waiting…

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Well, Ted, We’re Waiting…

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Paul Ryan proved he was true to his word (unfortunately) and made good on his promise to see that his 10 year old daughter kills her first deer this year.

Now it’s time for his fellow die-hard bowhunting fanatic, Ted Nugent, to live up to (so to speak) a promise he made back in April. According to the website Right Wing Watch, Nugent swore that: “If Barack Obama becomes the President in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

It seems to me, if Nugent’s a man of his word, he has only five months to either die or go to jail. Well, Ted, we’re waiting…

Right Wing Watch reports that at the NRA’s national convention, Nugent called Obama a criminal and denounced his “vile, evil, America-hating administration” which is “wiping its ass with the Constitution.” And he concluded a video stumping for Mitt Romney with, “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. Any questions?” Meanwhile, Romney stated on a radio show, “It’s been fun getting to know Ted Nugent.”

With friends like Ted, who needs enemies?

 

The People Have Spoken: Global Warming, Real—Magic Underpants, Not

Well, the votes are in and counted; a decision has been made. The people have spoken: global warming is real—magic underpants are not. And bowhunters are not fit to hold higher office, much to the disappointment of Paul Ryan and his role model, Ted Nugent. By shunning the diehard deer hunter, the voters have made it clear that the animals of the Earth are not mere playthings for the rich and famous, the powerful and perverse.

Perhaps now that the election is over we can forget about magic underpants and begin to focus our attention on the real issue that affects all our lives—namely, how human actions are changing the planet’s climate.

According to Kevin Knobloch, with the Union of Concerned Scientists, “President Obama has won another four years in office. In the wake of destruction left by Hurricane Sandy, the country may have experienced its first election disrupted by global warming. What makes this even more troubling is that the urgent crisis of climate change was never meaningfully discussed in the debates or on the campaign trail. After a year of punishing droughts in our nation’s breadbasket, extreme heat across most of the country, and wildfires that devastated our forests and property, it is now time to turn up the heat on our political leaders. Even with the continued polarization in Washington D.C., there is much President Obama can do to adopt science-based solutions that permanently drive down our carbon emissions and more effectively prepare for the climate-related disasters that will continue to threaten our lives and livelihoods.”

The trick will be making sure our lives and livelihoods don’t compound the problems of global warming. For example, shipping freighter-loads of coal across the ocean to be burned in Chinese power plants might provide a few jobs here for some, but is it worth the trade-off of carbon emissions produced?  Is the hedonism of the Western diet worth the continued suffering of billions of animals and the methane they produce? “Real change” will take real commitment and real innovation, rather than business as usual.

Cartoon © Rob Tornoe, 2012. All Rights Reserved

It’s Not Rocket Science, Warmer Oceans = Stronger Hurricanes

Meteorologists have for the most part been ducking the topic of global warming in relation to Hurricane Sandy in the same way that biologists try to steer clear of the subject of animal sentience or the AMA avoids any mention of the link between the consumption of animal products and the increased rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancers in this country.

History’s greatest scientists have all been free-thinkers, unafraid of pushing the limits of human understanding. But it seems most out there today are content in their mediocrity—let’s not have anything groundbreaking or earthshattering interfere with business as usual, interrupt the flow of funding or threaten a precious reputation.

Yet, a few scientists are beginning to tip-toe gingerly into the fray by tentatively linking “Superstorm” Sandy to the effects of the unprecedented anthropogenic increase of carbon in the atmosphere and the subsequent weather extremes we’ve been seeing in recent decades.

According to an October 30th blog post in Scientific American, “Scientists have long taken a cautious stance, but more are starting to drop the caveat and link climate change directly to intense storms and other extreme weather events, such as the warm 2012 winter in the eastern U.S. and the frigid one in Europe at the same time. They are emboldened because researchers have gotten very good in the past decade at determining what affects the variables that create big storms.”

In answer to just how Hurricane Sandy was intensified by global warming, Scientific American explains: “Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us.”

Additionally, climate scientists, such as Charles Greene at Cornell University, have recently shown that as more Arctic sea ice melts in the summer—because of global warming—the Jet Stream is more likely to take the kind of big southward dip in the U.S., Canada and the Atlantic that occurred during hurricane Sandy.

The term, “global warming,” adds to the confusion of naysayers who point to wintertime cold temperatures and freak blizzards as “proof” that the Earth is not really getting warmer. A clearer name for the contentious phenomenon would be “atmospheric warming” or “ocean warming,” since that’s what’s really happening and because that’s scientifically indisputable. Warming ocean temperatures are responsible for the climate changes affecting us all on the land, but of course, one overly-successful species, who shall remain nameless (okay, it’s Homo sapiens), is ultimately responsible for heating up the atmosphere and the oceans to begin with.

Humans can no longer plead ignorance. Back in 2007 a Scientific American article by Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, wrote an article titled, “Warmer Oceans, Stronger Hurricanes.” He concluded that although the number of Atlantic hurricanes each year might not rise, the strength of them would. And according to Munich Re, one of the world’s largest insurance firms, “Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity.”

Oliver Stone, the acclaimed writer/director of pioneering films such as Platoon, JFK, Nixon, and W, called Sandy “punishment for Obama and Romney ignoring climate change.” In an interview with HuffPost Live on Tuesday, the filmmaker expressed dismay that neither presidential candidate has been willing to talk about global warming, either before or after the superstorm that ravaged the entire East Coast and beyond. Stone hopes the storm’s silver lining is that President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, pull a U-turn on climate change.

“I was a little disappointed at the third debate when neither of them talked about climate control and the nature of the situation on earth,” Stone said. “I think there’s a kind of a weird statement coming right after it. This is a punishment. Mother Nature cannot be ignored.”

To Wildlife, They’re All Assault Weapons

During last night’s debate, the president accused his opponent of pandering to the NRA by changing his stance on so-called “assault weapons.” The accusation is valid—former Governor Mitt Romney also pandered to the pro-gun lobby big-time by tapping die-hard “sportsman,” Paul Ryan, as his running mate. But at the same time he made the accusation, President Obama pandered to the NRA himself.

Though Barack Obama has never been a hunter (to his credit), he was quick to give oral tribute to hunters and “sportsmen” who use their weapons regularly and repeatedly (albeit “legally”) to assault the non-human citizens of this country. At the risk of showing his hand, I’d speculate that if it wasn’t for the power of the National Rifle Association to make or break an election, the president, deep down, would ultimately prefer to see all dangerous weapons banned.

Though they tiptoed gingerly around the subject, both candidates agreed that all guns are dangerous in the wrong hands. From the point of view of the wildlife, all weapons are assault weapons—and all hunters are the “wrong hands.”

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Celebrate National Anti-Hunting Day

Forget Watergate, the worst crime committed by President Nixon was his proclamation commemorating the first annual National Hunting and Fishing Day in 1972. Since then all the successive presidents have dutifully followed suit, including Barack Obama, who has declared September 22, 2012, yet another National Hunting and Fishing Day (despite a steady slide in hunter participation since the ‘70s and a Change.org petition urging the President to end the misguided tradition).

In the spirit of fairness and equality, I, as the self-appointed dis-honorary president of the Cleveland Amory Memorial Hunt the Hunters Hunt Club, by virtue of the authority vested in me (by myself and I), hereby declare September 23rd, 2012, to be the first annual National Anti-Hunting and Fishing Day.

To commemorate this sacred occasion, a family-oriented affair will offer fun and educational hands-on activities that every non-hunter can enjoy. It will be a great way to introduce young people and newcomers to the pursuit of anti-hunting, while teaching them about the important role that anti-hunting plays in true wildlife protection.

A lively outdoor festival (held on an anti-hunting compound at an undisclosed location) will feature such activities as a “trap-shoot” (or, if you don’t have a gun, a trap-smash-with-a-heavy-object) event, and time trials to see who can dismantle duck blinds, tree stands and bait stations the fastest.

If you happen to have any old Ted Nugent albums or CDs that you bought before knowing what a rabid, frothing bowhunter he would turn out to be, bring them, along with a shotgun and we’ll use them in lieu of clay pigeons for a traditional skeet shoot.

Sign up for workshops on how to identify plain-clothed hunters during the off-season, and how to avoid them. You can also learn the best method to secure a freshly harvested trophy hunter to the hood or roof of your car, along with the fine art of flagrantly flaunting your hunter harvest for the benefit of your favorably-impressed fellow anti-sportsman or anti-sportswoman.

There will be fishing pole and arrow-breaking contests and a Tarzan movie marathon (sponsored by the NBRA*) where you’ll witness Tarzan-tested techniques for bending poachers’ and trophy hunters’ rifles around trees (*naturally, NBRA stands for the National Bent Rifle Association). And vegan body-builders will be on hand throughout the day to demonstrate their prowess at tearing Cabela’s catalogs in half.

Kids, be sure to bring your pink and purple paints for the color-over-the-camouflage-clothing contest. Other festivities for the young and young at heart include: pin the arrow on the bowhunter, throwing pies at the cammo-clad clown and the ever-popular bashing the life-sized, orange-vested nimrod piñata.