In Tuesday’s Sun: warm, with a chance of scattered extinction

Media expert on climate change, I am not.

You want columnist climate connoisseur? Go read Lorrie Goldstein or Ezra Levant.

“Humanity’s burning of fossil fuels is having a warming effect on the climate,” Goldstein has written. “But that it’s not as dramatic as we were initially led to believe.”

Levant is slightly less nuanced. Climate change is a “hoax,” he says, and global warming “isn’t happening.”

There are others like Lorrie and Ezra, mostly on the conservative side of the ideological spectrum. There are columnists, think tanks and academics. To them, too, climate change isn’t happening.

On the other side are progressive columnists, think tanks and academics. They do battle with the conservative side on newspaper op-ed pages and on talk radio and at conferences.

As with the abortion debate, or the Middle East, or gun control, or any number of other subjects, these implacable climate change foes debate incessantly. They agree on little, if anything. It goes on and on.

The public, for their part, tend to tune out the quarrelling. To them, it is noise. It is what American thinker David Shenk called (ironically, in this case) “data smog.”

In the modern era, Shenk posits, Joe and Jane Frontporch receive too much conflicting information, too often. They lack the time or the expertise to sift through all of the competing theories and factoids about, say, climate change. So they just give up.

For someone wishing to preserve the status quo, “data smog” is their friend. It is a tried and true method to win. In a political context, it is like vote suppression: if you conclude you can’t change Joe and Jane’s mind about something, persuade them to give up.

That strategy has certainly worked on lots of people: there is so much flatly contradictory information out there about climate change, that many folks just don’t bother to talk about it.

Now, I grew up in Calgary, and I worked in the oil patch. I don’t regard the energy industry as Satanic. I thought the NEP was an unmitigated disaster, and I think Keystone XL is a lot better than shipping oil by rail cars (because they go through places like Lac Megantic) or by boats (because boats sink).

But, that said, I wonder. I look at the pages of the New York Times, as I did yesterday, and I wonder if we might be making a big mistake.

“The nations of the world have agreed to try to limit the warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which would require that emissions slow down and then largely stop in the next 30 years or so,” wrote the Times writer Justin Gillis, who has won a fistful of awards for his work, and who has gone to MIT and Harvard.

“If they continue on their present course through the century, scientists say, the Earth could warm by as much as ten degrees Fahrenheit above the preindustrial level, which would likely be incompatible with human civilization in its current form.”

Now, I’m guessing the next step will be for the conservative columnists, think tanks and academics to do their utmost to discredit Justin Gillis. Overwhelmed by the resulting data smog, Joe and Jane Frontporch will then shrug, and give up.

But that last bit – “incompatible with human civilization in its current form” – kind of makes you sit up and think, doesn’t it? It did me.

I’m no expert. And I’m no anti-Keystone extremist. But, some days, I still have that line from the Clash’s ‘London Calling’ running through my head:

“You know what they said? Well, some of it was true.”


Race and transit

Interesting. Hopefully nobody says any of this, you know, out loud anywhere in Toronto.

“In short, the community got the burdens, but not the benefits, of all that investment. This was true not only of the freeways, but also of BART. In 1977, the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the regional transportation agency which oversees BART, conducted a study to determine if people of color were benefiting from the region’s new rail service. That report found that low income minorities used the system little, even though BART traversed many minority communities, because of the very way it was designed: to carry long distance suburban commuters (who are predominantly white) to jobs in downtown San Francisco and Oakland, not to meet the local travel needs of the residents of those minority communities.

The BART experience exemplifies a common legacy of the urban renewal era, and one that is still operating in many cities today: costly rail systems designed primarily for service from the outlying areas of a metropolitan area are promoted and expanded, despite the fact that they are likely to provide few travel advantages for low-income communities of color, and often come at the expense of the local bus service on which they rely.”

Last sentence in this essay, too.


[Name redacted] Case: guilty

I’ve been following this important case for quite some time. From her Dad, this morning, som,e important news:

This morning I sat in a Halifax courtroom and listened as one of the young men involved with my daughter’s case change his plea to guilty. He is guilty of producing child pornography. He is the person who clicked the button on that cellphone, and as simply as that, he ended her life.

It’s a bittersweet moment. I’m sure some will hope our family can find some peace but the truth is that plea opens the door to some serious questions.

Why did the RCMP originally tell us the production of this imagine wasn’t a police matter when it was? Why did they do nothing to protect a victim of child pornography for almost two years when they knew this image was out there, who had it, and who was spreading it. Why did they arrest no one when it would have made a difference to do so? Why did the tell us it was not a police matter but rather a “community issue” when that was obviously not the case?

Why did Cole Harbour High knowingly allow child pornography to be openly distributed throughout the school and do nothing about it? This went on for months. Is that the response we want from school officials when it comes to a crime like this?

Most importantly, why would any of us think it would be different if it happened again? What measures have been taken? Are the same people in the same positions and are they going to show the same indifference to the next victim?


Attention Team Propellerhead: Warren’s free commentary on iOS8

I thought about inserting this web posting into the hard drive of your Mac, iPad or iPhone while you slept – without your permission, gratis! – but thought that would be a really ignorant and possibly illegal thing to do. But, in my ongoing quest to impress my annual 2.2 million page viewers with my technical know-how, I decided to give you my review of iOS8, which Apple is billing as The Biggest Thing They’ve Done© since the last Biggest Thing They’ve Done©. You’re welcome.

Cons

• It takes up a ton of room in your device, which necessitated a lot of folks having to purchase more iCloud space. If you keep all of your naked selfies and sex tapes in iCloud, like I do, remember how the leak of a sex tape harmed the career of Pam Anderson and Paris Hilton. Poor girls.

Pros

• There are plenty – and you guys know how much I hate singing the praises of big, grasping, Satanic conglomerates like Apple. The iOS8 thing is a good thing, even.

• When it’s hooked up to its power source, you can holler “Hey, Siri!” – who came up with that dumb name, by the way? – and it will unerringly do anything for you without you having to look at, or touch, your iPhone. Why’s that the best thing about iOS8? Because it will actually save lives, that’s why. If you use it right, for everything, no more distracted driving. It will actually save lives. Always good.

• They’ve made the voice recognition stuff way, way better. I realize this means all of my verbal quirks and peccadilloes are in Cupertino, now – along with several sex tapes – but you can thusly dictate emails, messages, etc. for hours, without the thing rendering “marinating” as “masturbating” or “auditioning the kids” as “auctioning the kids.” Helpful.

• In messages, you don’t need to type stuff any more. There’s a little button that allows you to embed taped messages instead, and you can send ’em with a single finger swipe. Per above, this eliminates the chances of you saying “I’m bringing some cold hermaphrodites over to tame” when you really mean “I’m bringing some cold Heinekens over for the game.”

• Typing stuff is way, way better. If you have maladroit, misaligned stubby sausage fingers like me – why do you think I’ve played bass in punk bands for 40 years, and not the Philharmonic? – the Apple folks have helped you out. They call it “QuickType,” but I call it “Makes Fewer Mistakes.” It apparently learns your writing habits over time, and helpfully stores that information in the Cloud, along with your sex tapes and naked selfies.

• They’ve made the photo stuff better, meaning you now officially no longer need a camera. You can adjust brightness, contrast, whatever, and you can edit the pix of you and Paris Hilton with ease. There’s also a time-lapse mode, and a timer so you can now be in that family portrait before Uncle Fred is sent off to Millhaven.

• There’s a “Family Sharing” thing, now, but don’t do it. See “naked selfies,” above.

Anyway, those are the things I liked. For fun, I dictated an entire chapter of my new book while driving to the lake yesterday. After 500 words, it did not make a single mistake. Not one. Wow.

Now, get thee to the Cloud. You have sex tapes to delete.


Meet my little friend

Spotted him up at the lake, as I was trimming back my modest patch of grass for the last time this year. Sigh.

Just me, the dog and a steak: that’s all that’s up here tonight. Oh, and the frog.

Wish y’all were here.

 

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