BAN #143: David Koch's legacy: The persistence of evil

August 26, 2019   Issue #143

[Saturn image credit: NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute / Gordan Ugarkovic]


Subscribers cool my heart.


Is it hot in here, or is it just anthropogenic global warming?

Climate change is real, y’all, so here’s a cavalcade of news about it

On Friday, Aug. 23 2019, it was announced that billionaire David Koch died. My opinions on him should be pretty obvious — he was an evil, horrid person who only cared about amassing fortune and power and did so by funding attacks on science which directly led to more global warming… and also funded right-wing initiatives that have put a boot to the throat of millions of people in the United States — but just in case my opinion isn’t obvious, I tweeted about it at the time.

(Click through to read the whole thread.)

But in honor of his passing, let’s take a look around the planet and see what he helped wrought, shall we?

First, the Earth is warming up, and that’s due to fossil fuel burning, and that in turn is in no small part due to Koch funding a lot of climate science denial, like through the execrable Heartland Institute. As usual, Tamino at Open Mind has the goods on the actual warming for the past century or so.

[Credit: NASA]

Second, July 2019 — the last full month Koch was alive — was the hottest month globally ever recorded.

It’s weird how those “hottest month records” all seem to be coming in the past few years, isn’t it? It’s as if the world is heating up, and keeps getting hotter.

Third, how about how much ice we’ve lost from glaciers during the period of 1961 to 2016? In that case, the European Space Agency has it covered. They report that a study published in the journal Nature found that over the planet, during that time period, glaciers lost a total of 9.6 trillion tons of ice.

Just so those in the back got that, let me repeat it: Globally, glaciers lost over NINE POINT SIX TRILLION TONS OF ICE during that time.

[Credit: ESA, adapted from Zemp et al. (2019) Nature, and data courtesy of World Glacier Monitoring Service]

That ice melted due to the Earth warming, and on average raised global sea level by 2.7 centimeters. That’s over an inch, just from glacier loss. I’ll note that Greenland alone accounts for well over a trillion tons of that alone, and it lost about a trillion of those tons just between 2011 and 2014.

Fourth, how about the Amazon rainforest? It’s on fire right now, and not because of natural causes: The Brazilian government is burning it down to a) turn it into pastureland for more profitable farming, and b) to push out indigenous peoples there in a rabidly racist and cruel manner. This article in The Intercept is an excellent resource for information, but take 7 minutes and listen to my friend Hank Green talking about it, because as always he cuts right to the heart of what’s important.

This is very serious. Balsanaro, the Brazilian president, is evil. He’s like the fetid offal filling Trump’s soul without the bumbling stupidity. Imagine how much more damage Trump could do if he weren’t an oaf, and you get the idea here.

By the way those fires are also releasing a lot of dangerous carbon monoxide, too.

[Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]

So I will not mourn David Koch’s death. His epitaph is the state of the planet we are trying to live on.

Despite all this, I don’t think all hope is lost. There is still much we can do. Listen to scientists. Pay attention to the younger generation. Do what you can locally (I put solar panels and batteries in my house, drive a hybrid car (and even then only rarely), cut back on eating meat, and so on) but think regionally and even globally. What do I mean by that?

VOTE.

I keep hammering this because it’s more than just important. It’s vital.

Vote against the populists. Vote against the nationalists, the isolationists, the ones in the pocket of fossil fuel. When elections roll around next year, I’m voting straight blue. The GOP in this country have revealed their game plan over and again, and it drips with venom and oil and blood. Any politician who aligns with the GOP today does not have the best interest of the country at heart. If they did they would be speaking out against Trump, calling climate change an existential crisis, fighting back against the NRA, the racism, the white nationalism, the corporatism. Can you name any GOP politicians who have done this?

No? Yeah. Make your voice heard. It’s the best way to help save our species and countless others.



Blog Jam

What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI

[From Wednesday’s article. Credit: NASA / Gary Glatzmaier / Phil Plait]

Monday August 19, 2019: The Moon is brighter than the Sun … in gamma rays

Tuesday August 20, 2019: Is nuking Mars a good idea? (No)

Wednesday August 21, 2019: Earth’s last magnetic pole flip took 22,000 years to complete

Thursday August 22, 2019: A second planet for Beta Pictoris!

Friday August 23, 2019: A little gorgeousness for you, c/o the spiral galaxy M61


Et alia

You can email me at thebadastronomer@gmail.com (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!