Taking Real Steps To Protect Transgender Kids: A Bridge Too Far For The LGB Community?

From The New Civil Rights Movement:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/taking-real-steps-to-protect-transgender-kids-a-bridge-to-far-for-the-lgb-community/politics/2013/08/25/73766

Brynn Tannehill
August 25, 2013

Earlier this month, the transgender community achieved a seemingly improbable win. Governor Jerry Brown of California signed AB 1266 (The School Success and Opportunity Act) into law. The fact that this was a bill directly aimed at the transgender community only was remarkable in itself. Bills for transgender people, much less a subset of the transgender population, usually are DOA (see GENDA in NY for details). Facilitating its success was the fact that many different organizations actively worked to see its passage. Sponsors of the bill included the ACLU, NCLR, Equality California, Gender Spectrum, GSA Network, and the Transgender Law Center.

You would think that an improbable win by a grand coalition of progressives on behalf of transgender children against the collective might of the religious right in the most populous state in America would have been something to shout from the rooftops. This was the political equivalent of blowing up the Death Star with a snub fighter.

The news was met mostly with crickets by progressives.

However, if getting the bill passed and signed into law was like taking out the Death Star, the aftermath was “The Empire Strikes Back.” Fox News and CNN both trained their guns on the transgender community. Their satellite networks became platforms for an orbital bombardment of anti-transgender misinformation and animus. Adam Housely on Fox News. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Sean Hannity of Fox News. CNN legal analyst Paul Callan.  Fox host Martha MacCallum hosting Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council. Mike Huckabee on Fox. Fox and Friends piling on and opining that being transgender is so crazy it is unfathomable. Greg Gutfeld filling in on Bill O’Reily’s show. CNN host Brooke Baldwin invited on certified hate group leader Randy Thomasson, and allowed him to openly insult her other guest, Masen Davis, the executive director of the Transgender Law Center. Steve Doocy on Fox promoted the baseless allegation that the law will lead to more sexual assaults. (h/t to Media Matters.)

It’s almost as if the right wingers decided they can’t beat up on lesbians and gays anymore (and get away with it), and they decided they needed a new straw man to vilify and blame for everything that they see as wrong with America. They need a group they can abuse all they want in perfect safety because they know no one would ever feel sympathetic towards them. If only the right wingers would let slip that this really is their plan.

Oh, wait. They did. Last week. Twice.

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/taking-real-steps-to-protect-transgender-kids-a-bridge-to-far-for-the-lgb-community/politics/2013/08/25/73766

Of course the Christo-Nazis and rabid right wing nuts think transkids should be subjected to abuse and torment, denied a normal life.

See:

Life Site News: 6-year-old girl living as ‘transgender’ boy

American Spectator: No Restroom for the Virtuous

World Net Daily: Bathroom wars transgenders get Flushed

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We’re Not Safe Until All LGBT People Are Safe

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-m-schaefer/new-york-genda_b_3786108.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

08/29/2013

Paola moved to New York from Puerto Rico to further her education and make a better life for herself. What she wasn’t expecting was the discrimination she encountered.

As a student with part-time work, Paola was not able to afford rent on her own and found a shared apartment with roommates in the Albany region. When her housemates found out she was transgender she was met with verbal harassment and threats to her physical well-being. Frightened for her safety, she reached out to her landlord, who rather than protect her, told her she had 30 days to leave and find a new home.

What happened to Paola is still perfectly legal in New York today. She could lose her job for being transgender and in many parts of the State that would be within the legal rights of her employer to do. This discrimination persists and many in our community are victim to it because there is no statewide law in existence in New York to protect our transgender and gender non-conforming friends and family.

Stories like Paola’s are unfortunately not uncommon. In a state that is a leader on the civil rights front on many issues, New York still fails to provide the most basic protections to its transgender residents. There are currently 17 other states that have statewide laws protecting on the basis of gender identity and expression, including places like Illinois, Iowa and Nevada. New York has not been a leader when it comes to fighting transgender discrimination.

The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) is a bill that was introduced more than a decade ago in New York State with the Pride Agenda leading the campaign for passage. When passed, GENDA will prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression and include offenses regarding gender identity or expression under the hate crimes statute. Essentially, the law will protect transgender New Yorkers from being kicked out of their homes or fired from their jobs simply for being themselves. The bill will also hold accountable those who commit crimes against others based on their gender expression.

The State Assembly passed GENDA six years in a row, including in 2013, though tragically, did not get signed into law in New York State because the Senate failed to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Despite the failure to sign GENDA into law, support for the bill made historic progress in 2013.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-m-schaefer/new-york-genda_b_3786108.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Dangers of traveling while female

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/08/27/dangers_of_traveling_while_female/

I wanted to be a fearless adventurer like my male heroes, but a voice kept warning me: Don’t get yourself raped

By
Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013

When I was younger, I wanted to travel like Patrick Leigh Fermor, who famously spent 1934 walking from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul. I envisioned myself sporting leather satchels and lace-up boots, doffing Panama hats, spouting demotic Greek. I fantasized about riding horses through the Caucasus and letting falcons loose upon the Black Sea, about “living up in the mountains, dressed as a shepherd,” as Fermor had done. It was a fantasy cobbled together from all the books of all the travel writers I loved — the great writer-scholars of a certain generation, who saw the whole world as raw material: shifting, uncertain geography for them to shape and create anew in their words.

Then I turned 15, and traveled alone for the first time to Paris, a city I had once lived in, and which I knew well. I laid out maps. I made plans. I would bolt down every alleyway. I would say yes to every invitation. I would lay lilies at Oscar Wilde’s grave. I would sit at cafes in Montmartre until some itinerant, velvet-trousered poets came to scoop me up out of my innocence; they would take me with them to secret courtyards, up the stairs to hidden salons, and there we would drink absinthe and I would scribble down my experiences and then, at last, I would know what it meant to have an adventure.

I never had an adventure.

I was skittish, awkward, hardly capable of forming words to boys my own age, let alone 40-something men well-practiced in the art of knocking gawkish girls out of their comfort zone. I spent my week in Paris squirming out of conversations, stuttering out fake phone numbers, learning all too quickly to avoid those places where I might be considered a target. Cafe terraces, park benches, crosswalks of city streets. My desire for experience, for openness, for adventure, had been overpowered by a stronger imperative, one I had internalized without realizing it: Don’t get yourself raped.

* * *

Even today, my male friends look at me with confusion when I try to explain how powerful, how completely prevalent is don’t-get-yourself-raped in my everyday life. It’s the reason I get my keys out a good 10 minutes before I reach my apartment, keeping them between my fingers in case I need to use them as a weapon against an assailant. It’s the reason I take taxis instead of walking home alone late at night. It’s the reason I always walk in the middle of the road, steering well clear of alleyways or obscured corners.

But it’s the reason, too, for more subtle variations in behavior. I’m no longer 15, and I am far more capable of turning away aggressive strangers than I was that ill-fated summer, but as a travel writer, I am painfully conscious of how easy it is for a moment’s lapse to turn me from an observer – an all-seeing eye, freely taking in a Tbilisi hilltop or a Turkish terrace – into a target.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/08/27/dangers_of_traveling_while_female/

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The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again

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Austerity Is for the Little People: Syria Edition

From The Nation:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/175997/austerity-little-people-syria-edition#

Allison Kilkenny
on September 3, 2013

Schools, libraries, post offices and other public services are closing across the country in the wake of budget cuts, and Congress may have just voted to cut $1.5 trillion from programs like Head Start over the next decade, but many officials still feel confident the US is positioned to fund yet another expensive military operation in Syria.

Obviously, current and former officials aren’t debating the moral implications of killing human beings in order to “save” other human beings as part of a murky plan that essentially boils down to underwear gnome logic (cruise mussels + something = Assad is gone and democracy!), but these same officials brazenly claim that the cost of a military operation in Syria will be “relatively easily absorbed.”

This rhetoric is familiar. A report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction called the Iraq reconstruction effort back in 2008 “a $100 billion failure,” and alleged that the Pentagon “simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up” failures. The report details how Jay Garner, then-head of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, warned then–Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that the military operation in Iraq would be costly.

“What do you think that’ll cost?” Mr. Rumsfeld asked of the most expansive plan.

“I think it’s going to cost billions of dollars,” Mr. Garner said.

“My friend,” Mr. Rumsfeld replied, “if you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.”

According to a recent study, the Iraq was cost more than $2 trillion, and with benefits owed to war veterans added in, could ultimately cost more than $6 trillion over the next four decades.

Of course, there are arguments to be made that Iraq and Syria vastly differ both in scale and scope, but the point is that officials have a track record of underestimating the time, commitment and cost such lofty military procedures require, especially when the goal of said operation remains unclear.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/175997/austerity-little-people-syria-edition#

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How Intelligence Was Twisted to Support an Attack on Syria

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18559-how-intelligence-was-twisted-to-support-an-attack-on-syria

By Gareth Porter
Tuesday, 03 September 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry assured the public that the Obama administration’s summary of the intelligence on which it is basing the case for military action to punish the Assad regime for an alleged use of chemical weapons was put together with an acute awareness of the fiasco of the 2002 Iraq WMD intelligence estimate.

Nevertheless, the unclassified summary of the intelligence assessment made public August 30, 2013, utilizes misleading language evocative of the infamous Iraq estimate’s deceptive phrasing. The summary cites signals, geospatial and human source intelligence that purportedly show that the Syrian government prepared, carried out and “confirmed” a chemical weapons attack on August 21. And it claims visual evidence “consistent with” a nerve gas attack.

But a careful examination of those claims reveals a series of convolutedly worded characterizations of the intelligence that don’t really mean what they appear to say at first glance.

The document displays multiple indications that the integrity of the assessment process was seriously compromised by using language that distorted the intelligence in ways that would justify an attack on Syria.

Spinning the Secret Intelligence

That pattern was particularly clear in the case of the intelligence gathered by covert means. The summary claims, “We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N. inspectors obtaining evidence.”

That seems to indicate that U.S. intelligence intercepted such communiations. But former British Ambassador Craig Murray has pointed out on his blog August 31 that the Mount Troodos listening post in Cyprus is used by British and U.S. intelligence to monitor “all radio, satellite and microwave traffic across the Middle East … ” and that “almost all landline telephone communications in this region is routed through microwave links at some stage [and] picked up on Troodos.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18559-how-intelligence-was-twisted-to-support-an-attack-on-syria

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Noam Chomsky: Bombing Syria Would Be a ‘War Crime’

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-syria-attack

The nation’s leading left-wing thinker had harsh words on the plans to bomb Syria.

By Alex Kane
September 3, 2013

A U.S. strike on Syria without a United Nations mandate would be a war crime, Noam Chomsky told the Huffington Post. The nation’s leading left-wing thinker made the comments after President Barack Obama announced that he would go to Congress to ask for authorization for an attack on Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack.

As international support for Obama’s decision to attack Syria has collapsed, along with the credibility of government claims, the administration has fallen back on a standard pretext for war crimes when all else fails: the credibility of the threats of the self-designated policeman of the world,” said Chomsky. “[T]hat aggression without UN authorization would be a war crime, a very serious one, is quite clear, despite tortured efforts to invoke other crimes as precedents.”

Before he decided on a Syria strike, President Barack Obama weighed in on the UN mandate issue in an interview with CNN.Obama said that “ if the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it.” While the president has presented evidence that he says shows the Assad regime carried out a chemical weapons attack, there’s no chance of a UN resolution authorizing force. Russia and China are adamantly opposed to striking Syria.

Chomsky’s comments come as Congress is debating whether to approve Obama’s resolution that would authorize a Syria strike. The legality of the strike under the laws of war, though, is not something that has been a key point of debate.

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The Lumineers – Charlie Boy

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Organized labor’s decline in the US is well-known. But what drove it?

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/02/labor-unions-decline-can-turnaround

To secure gains for working people requires a social transition that puts them in charge of producing society’s services


theguardian.com, Monday 2 September 2013

Organized labor’s decline in the US over the past half century is well-known; what drove that decline, less so. The New Deal‘s enemies – big business, Republicans, conservatives – had developed a coordinated strategy by the late 1940s. They would break up the coalition of organized labor, socialist and communist parties: the mass base that had forced through the 1930s New Deal. Then each coalition member could be individually destroyed.

One line of attack used anti-communist witch-hunts (McCarthyism) to frighten socialists and labor unions into dissociating themselves from former communist allies. Another attack targeted socialists by equating them with communists and applying the same demonization. Still another attack, the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, directly weakened labor unions, their organizing capability and their alliance with the left.

Business and political leaders, mass media and academics cultivated a paranoid anxiety among Americans: suspect anything even vaguely leftist, see risks of “subversion” everywhere, and avoid organizations unless religious or loudly patriotic. Legal, ideological and police pressures rendered communist and socialist parties tiny and ineffective. Destroying unions took longer. The unionized portion of private sector workers fell from a third to less than 7% now. Since 2007, conservatives used crisis-driven drops in state and city tax revenues to intensify attacks on public employee benefits and unions. Both were denounced as “excessive and unaffordable for taxpayers”. That plus public worker layoffs reduced public sector unionization.

Nor did labor unions or the left find or implement any successful strategy to counter the 50-year program aimed to destroy them.

To reverse organized labor’s decline and to rebuild the left requires either reviving the old New Deal coalition or forming a new comparably powerful alliance. That means confronting and outwitting the long demonization of unions and the left. It requires a strategy that engages and wins struggles with employers. More importantly, it requires a strategy to reposition labor unions and their allies as champions of broad social gains for the 99%. To escape the label of “special interest” unions must work for far more than their own members.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/02/labor-unions-decline-can-turnaround http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/02/labor-unions-decline-can-turnaround

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Work Is Undervalued in Society’s Obsession with ‘Stuff’

From The Toronto Star:  http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/09/02/work_is_undervalued_in_societys_obsession_with_stuff.html

While the media is packed with material about consumer rights, there is seldom mention of workers’ rights.

By: Gary Engler
Mon Sep 02 2013

Why is there so much attention paid to people as consumers, but so little to people as workers?

Is it because the mere mention of our rights as workers suggests uncomfortable truths that threaten the very ideological foundations of the current economic system?

As we celebrate Labour Day, these are important questions to ponder.

The vast majority of us are wageworkers. Wages are our primary source of income. Or we collect a pension because we and/or our spouse were once workers. Or we are dependants of workers.

In fact, a huge proportion of the money spent by consumers in our economy comes directly or indirectly from our wages as workers.

Despite this obvious reality, while the media is packed with material about consumer rights, consumer choice, ads claiming the best price for consumers and politicians such as the industry minister claiming “to do what’s best for consumers,” there is seldom mention of workers’ rights except when it concerns strikes or other “disruptions” to the economy. It’s as if workers are mere cogs in a giant machine, only worth discussing when a breakdown occurs. There’s no profit to be made promoting workers’ rights; in fact, we are seen primarily as a cost.

Occasionally there is some lip service given to workers as a resource; words to the effect that “we’re all in this together” might be spoken, but if workers were truly valued as people, wouldn’t there be at least some semblance of democracy at work?

Instead, the master-servant relationship is the legal framework that dominates under our current economic system.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/09/02/work_is_undervalued_in_societys_obsession_with_stuff.html

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Annie Leonard: How to Be More than a Mindful Consumer

From Yes Magazine:  http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/the-human-cost-of-stuff/annie-leonard-more-than-a-mindful-consumer

The way we make and use stuff is harming the world—and ourselves. To create a system that works, we can’t just use our purchasing power. We must turn it into citizen power.
by

Since I released “The Story of Stuff” six years ago, the most frequent snarky remark I get from people trying to take me down a notch is about my own stuff: Don’t you drive a car? What about your computer and your cellphone? What about your books? (To the last one, I answer that the book was printed on paper made from trash, not trees, but that doesn’t stop them from smiling smugly at having exposed me as a materialistic hypocrite. Gotcha!)

Let me say it clearly: I’m neither for nor against stuff. I like stuff if it’s well-made, honestly marketed, used for a long time, and at the end of its life recycled in a way that doesn’t trash the planet, poison people, or exploit workers. Our stuff should not be artifacts of indulgence and disposability, like toys that are forgotten 15 minutes after the wrapping comes off, but things that are both practical and meaningful. British philosopher William Morris said it best: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

The life cycle of a simple cotton T-shirt—worldwide, 4 billion are made, sold, and discarded each year—knits together a chain of seemingly intractable problems, from the elusive definition of sustainable agriculture to the greed and classism of fashion marketing.

The story of a T-shirt not only gives us insight into the complexity of our relationship with even the simplest stuff; it also demonstrates why consumer activism—boycotting or avoiding products that don’t meet our personal standards for sustainability and fairness—will never be enough to bring about real and lasting change. Like a vast Venn diagram covering the entire planet, the environmental and social impacts of cheap T-shirts overlap and intersect on many layers, making it impossible to fix one without addressing the others.

I confess that my T-shirt drawer is so full it’s hard to close. That’s partly because when I speak at colleges or conferences, I’m often given one with a logo of the institution or event. They’re nice souvenirs of my travels, but the simple fact is: I’ve already got more T-shirts than I need. And of all the T-shirts I have accumulated over the years, there are only a few that I honestly care about, mostly because of the stories attached to them.

My favorite (no eye-rolling, please) is a green number from the Grateful Dead’s 1982 New Year’s Eve concert. To me this T-shirt, worn for more than 30 years by multiple members of my extended family, is both useful and beautiful, not only because I attended the concert but because a dear friend gave it to me, knowing how much I would treasure it. The label even says “Made in the USA,” which makes me smile because so few things are made in this country anymore, as brands increasingly opt for low-paid workers in poor countries.

Continue reading at:  http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/the-human-cost-of-stuff/annie-leonard-more-than-a-mindful-consumer

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The Real Reason Kansas Is Running Out of Water

From Mother Jones:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/09/corn-and-beef-sucking-high-plains-dry

By Tue Sep. 3, 2013

Like dot-com moguls in the ’90s and real estate gurus in the 2000s, farmers in western Kansas are enjoying the fruits of a bubble: Their crop yields have been boosted by a gusher of soon-to-vanish irrigation water. That’s the message of a new study by Kansas State University researchers. Drawing down their region’s groundwater at more than six times the natural rate of recharge, farmers there have managed to become so productive that the area boasts “the highest total market value of agriculture products” of any congressional district in the nation, the authors note. Those products are mainly beef fattened on large feedlots; and the corn used to fatten those beef cows.

But they’re on the verge of essentially sucking dry a large swath of the High Plains Aquifer, one of the United States’ greatest water resources. The researchers found that 30 percent of the region’s groundwater has been tapped out, and if present trends continue, another 39 percent will be gone within 50 years. As the water stock dwindles, of course, pumping what’s left gets more and more expensive—and farming becomes less profitable and ultimately uneconomical. But all isn’t necessarily lost. The authors calculate that if the region’s farmers can act collectively and cut their water use 20 percent now, their farms would produce less and generate lower profits in the short term, but could sustain corn and beef farming in the area into the next century.

And that would be great.

But I think it’s also worth asking what, exactly, they’d be sustaining. The following chart, pulled from the study, shows the amount of corn grown in the region since 1980—both irrigated and un-irrigated (i.e., grown without added irrigation water), as well as the amount of corn that has been consumed by cattle in the region’s feedlots. The latter metric, denoted by the red dots below, is a pretty good proxy for just how teeming those feedlots have gotten over the decades.

Continue reading at:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/09/corn-and-beef-sucking-high-plains-dry

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We can’t blame everything on climate change: Soot melts glaciers too

From Grist:  http://grist.org/news/we-cant-blame-everything-on-climate-change-soot-melts-glaciers-too/

 

The world’s glaciers are wasting away at a cracking pace — but it’s not just because the climate is warming.

 

Soot and other black carbon is settling on ice and snow, attracting the sun’s rays and causing frozen water molecules to melt. It can be hard to tell how much of the melt to attribute to warming and how much to soot.

 

But researchers have pinpointed a period shortly after the Industrial Revolution when black carbon alone appears to have caused glaciers to melt in the European Alps.

 

During the middle of the 19th century, the filth from fossil-fuel burning was starting to blanket parts of Europe. “Housewives in Innsbruck refrained from drying laundry outdoors,” said Georg Kaser, a glaciologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria and coauthor of a paper published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But temperatures weren’t yet rising; if anything, it was still getting colder.

 

Yet in 1865, more than 40 years before temperature records started showing warming in the Alps, the region’s glaciers began a retreat that has continued until this day, marking the end of a 500-year ice age.

Continue reading at:  http://grist.org/news/we-cant-blame-everything-on-climate-change-soot-melts-glaciers-too/

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Why Global Warming Will Be Far Worse, Far Sooner, Than Forecasts Predict

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/03-0

by John Atcheson

The International Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report on global warming – dubbed AR5 – is due out in 2014, but information is leaking out already, and once again, it is likely to be outdated on the day it’s released.

Worse, it will substantially understate both the rate and pace of warming, and it’s consequences.  Here’s why.

Outdated on day of release: The IPCC process virtually assures that all the research used in the report will be several years old.  Since it only uses peer reviewed work and a consensus process, it has a long lead-time and a least common denominator data set.  The latest research and any research that challenges established theory is left on the cutting room floor.

For example, in the AR 4 – released in 2007 — the IPCC forecast sea level rise to be, at most, 59 centimeters. Conventional wisdom up to that time suggested that continental ice sheets took thousands of years to melt.  But well before that report was issued, research had revealed that dynamic forces were causing these ice sheets to melt much faster.  As a result, even as the AR4 was being released, some researchers were forecasting sea level increases of as much as 3 meters – nearly 5 times the worst-case AR4 estimate.

These excessively conservative forecasts are baked into the IPCC process.  In fact, some suggest that’s the point of the IPCC – to take control of the scientific debate out of the hands of scientists and turn it over to governments.

Ignoring known feedbacks: But that’s only part of the reason the IPCC reports have been out-of-date-on-date-of–issue: for the most part, they still ignore the effects of positive feedbacks on warming.

For example, the AR 5 will not consider the potential warming from methane released from melting permafrost and volatizing clathrates.  Yet we know this could add more than 2F to projected warming by 2100.

Indeed, when we look at the geologic record, we see sea level increases, extinctions and climate shifts that are at or beyond our most extreme predictions from models. The amount of carbon causing these geologic events was comparable to what we’re releasing now, but we’re releasing it far faster than occurred in even the worst of these ancient warmings.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/03-0

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