Friday, September 19, 2014

Fall Hiking # 1

One of the aspects of living in the mountains that I really, really like is the ability to get up in the morning, see what the weather is like and then make the decision to go hiking or not.

This Friday looked OK so in an hour we were at the Gibson Lake trail head to Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park.  In less than hour, we were near tree-line where the sub-alpine meadows are in their fall colors of yellows and reds.  

The weather was the usual mountain variety - cloud, a couple of showers, blue skies and cool temperatures.  It was a great day for hiking.

Last Tree of the Season

It's always a bit nerve-wracking to cut down some of the trees around our place.  Some of them are very tall and some are close enough to the house that if things didn't go just right... well, you get the picture.

The other day I felled the last one for this season, a 90-100 ft fir with a slightly worrisome lean.  I always use some ropes to put some tension on the tree in the right direction.  Once those are in place, it's really just the work of a few minutes with the chainsaw and the wedges and it's over.  This one came down in exactly the right place.  It will become firewood for some future winter but it won't need to be cut up or split until next spring.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Exchanges with a Climate Changer Denier

I'm certainly aware that there are many out there who don't accept the human-caused climate-change scenario, variously known as AGW (anthropogenic global warming), ACC (anthropogenic climate change), climate change, global warming.  But until recently, I don't think I'd ever had an extended conversation with anyone from that camp.  In my mind, it was almost like meeting someone who didn't believe in the germ theory of disease but was convinced that the evil spirit theory of illness was a valid explanation or still insisted that the earth was flat.  I had to remind myself quite often that in the final analysis, neither his beliefs nor mine will really make much difference.  Events that are predicted to unfold over the next decades will drive our responses.  So why did I find the exchanges frustrating, exasperating and discouraging?

Responses to anything related to climate change or global warming were reduced to some or all of the following:  "the earth hasn't warmed for 17 years"; "it's all a hoax perpetuated by scientists who are looking for grant money"; "there is NO overwhelming evidence for climate change"; "it's all political"; "bigger fish to fry for humanity than climate change"; "the climate has always been changing - this is nothing new"; "it's solar cycles"; "the glaciers aren't melting"; "arctic (or antarctic) ice is expanding" ....  There are many more, but the most common ones have been listed and discussed on Skeptical Science, a website I visit occasionally.  I haven't heard anything that hasn't been mentioned on that site.

For some reason, sites like the so-called "Real Science" seem to spend all of their time attacking (and I use that term because I believe that's what it is) the whole global warming evidence (or non-evidence, as they put it).  I don't know if most people bother to notice, but the graph featured at the top of that post is supposedly of US Winter Temperatures.  I don't see a source mentioned either.  Since when did the variations in US winter temperatures equal global temperature averages or climate trends?

The near-unanimity among climate scientists is dismissed as not overwhelming, not unanimity, a hoax, relying on fudged numbers... etc.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has issued several reports.  They are all dismissed out of hand, claiming they have been completely discredited.  The real truth, according to some, is that the IPCC has been, if anything, too conservative in it's predictions.

Here in Canada, our Prime Minister (sorry - he's not really MY Prime Minister nor the PM of almost 66% of Canadians, but there you are...) seems keen to discover the final resting place of the Franklin Expedition but refuses to take any action on climate change because it would "kill the economy", despite studies that have shown economic opportunities in that direction.  And then there's the dinosaur who is currently the PM of Australia....

Anyhow, this whole thing has helped convince me that there is really no hope.  As a species, we seem incapable of recognizing crises that are further ahead than the next election cycle.  We are conducting a global experiment and don't seem to understand that there are always consequences to our actions.  I guess that's what I find so unsettling.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Human Caused Climate Change

Sigh.  No, the "debate" isn't going anywhere.  It's just soooo stupid.  So, instead of trying to rely on facts and information which the skeptics don't believe anyway, let's turn the whole matter over to the comedians.  John Oliver has one way to deal with this:

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Wither the World Economy

I don't claim to be an expert in this field, or even all that knowledgeable, but the picture painted by the charts and graphs in this article is concerning.  That sock under the mattress is looking more attractive all the time.

The Growth of a Leaner, Meaner Society

A recent Federal Court ruling slammed the Government's policy on medical care to refugees as being "heartless and shameful".  Journalist Christie Blatchford spent some time pointing out why this 268-page ruling was a good decision, and an indictment of the government's policy.

The trolls were immediately out in force, spouting off about how Canada is giving all their hard-earned tax dollars away to "furriners" who had no right to any of it.  The Government's Minister, Chris Alexander, vowed to appeal the ruling, claiming that the policy was reasonable and prudent and that there needed to be a way to deal with all the "bogus refugee claimants".  Reminded me of the government's recent claims of "thousands" of cases of voter fraud.  Not that they could come up with any REAL examples, but it made for a good bit of "fear and smear", happily practiced by this government every time they don't have any evidence to back up their claims.

Quite frankly, I am getting quite annoyed by the tone of these claims.  There have been many more of them lately floating around in social media spheres and the comment section following the article noted above had it's fair share.

I like how selective some of these posts are on the topic of what governments should spend money on. There is outrage that the government should provide basic humanitarian aid to a few people who can't afford it but there is no mention of the BILLIONS wasted on other boondoggles being aggressively pursued by this government. So, let me throw out a few possibilities here:

I dislike the political agenda publicly espoused more and more by many churches, especially the so-called evangelical groups. Their positions on many issues clearly stray into the political sphere.  I want their charitable, tax-exempt status canceled. I see NO reason why they should get a free ride on MY tax dollar. You want to support a church or some other religious organization?  Great.  Do it on your own dime.  What this costs Canadians is somewhat difficult to discover, but I read one estimate that tax exemptions in the USA for religious organizations was worth about $71 Billion each year.  I have no idea how accurate that might be or what it might be in Canada, but the real amount is clearly a big number.

I'm also against the, what is it now - $65 billion? - fighter jet scam. You will recall Peter Mackay's early claims that these things would "only" cost about $16 billion.  The real cost is obviously going to be much higher.  Military toys that likely will have little use for our "traditional" role as UN peacekeeper, not that we're doing much of that lately.  Our Prime Minister prefers demonization of his enemies instead of diplomacy and has little use for the United Nations, preferring to tag along behind whatever unilateral decisions the USA makes.

I'm also completely against tax breaks and various subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.  Correction: that's the "grossly profitable oil and gas industry" as well as the coal industry, one of the worst polluters in the energy business.  In Canada, those subsidies have been estimated to be as much as $34 billion every year.

By a very rough count, then, these three examples represent a cost of about $170 billion, some of that is a yearly cost, some not, but you get the picture, and that's just the tip of a huge financial iceberg.

Although I'm not in favour of these spending priorities, I'm forced, like everyone else (other than the very rich who seem to pay a lower tax rate on total income compared to the rest of us) to pay for these freeloaders. Billions.  This is where your hard-earned tax dollars are going.  Cut the tax breaks.

The few dollars spent actually helping people and countries in need and making the lives of real people better is an insignificant pittance by comparison. When did we become a nation of selfish, self-centered, uncaring twits? I think it was right after Harper was first elected. It's not a country I recognize any more. Shame on us.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Prairie Road Trip

A chance for a little wander down memory lane this week. 

The school in which I spent most of my working career is closing, finally, at the end of this week.

When I first went to Landis, in 1975, I think it was, there were about 240 students.  When I left, 10 years ago, in June 2004, we were less than 90.

I've stopped for the night, finally just inside Saskatchewan.  Some things don't change: dusty, small, prairie towns, flat, straight  roads.  Crops on display.  Hawks.  The smell of clover and canola.

Going through Alberta, the exploding size of Canmore, Cochrane and Airdrie were only too apparent.  A different fate from the town I will visit tomorrow and Saturday, after dropping in on some former teaching colleagues en route.

Still time for a little bike ride on the prairie before dark.