Weather a week’s tale

April 20, 2013

old-gas-station-joel-wiseAnother Saturday, another week gone-on-down the road. These past days, though, have been one for the so-called books; a near-literary, five part mini series starting Monday and ending yesterday, tied together by one crazy, weirdly-related, mirror-narrative of a most-violent future.

A time-yet-to-be seen viewed in near-real time and from many angles — anyone with access to any particular form of media could easily follow the tale. The media has become the massage of events — real human horror up close and personal.

(Illustration found here).

How many cellphones in the greater Boston area carry videos of the marathon? Thousands? Thousands and thousands?
And those movie-plot visuals were broadcast so intensely, an old guy sitting at his laptop 3,000 miles away, could quickly grasp the free-flowing storyline of a momentous tragedy as the intrigue ripened. And the old guy seemingly always consumed with a sense more horrific details were rapidly forthcoming.
The LA Times spins the view:

Monday’s bombings, the first major terrorist attack on American soil in the age of smartphones, Twitter and Facebook, provided an opportunity for everyone to get involved.
Within seconds of the first explosion, the Internet was alive with the collective ideas and reactions of the masses.
But this watershed moment for social media quickly spiraled out of control.
Legions of Web sleuths cast suspicion on at least four innocent people, spread innumerable bad tips and heightened the sense of panic and paranoia.
“This is one of the most alarming social media events of our time,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies professor at the University of Virginia.
“We’re really good at uploading images and unleashing amateurs, but we’re not good with the social norms that would protect the innocent.”

The story started Monday in downtown Boston and ended Friday in a suburban backyard boat.
In between a couple of action events, both horrible and shameful.
Wednesday morning, the US Senate acted as if apart from the very country the assholes were supposedly to represent — they shot-down any pretense for any sane gun laws, at least for the near future. All this as Chicago is going through/continuing a murderous spree of gun violence. Two people dead and three wounded just since Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the shame is on those asshole Senators — Erica Lafferty, daughter of the slain principal of Sandy Hook Elementary: “The next time there’s a mass shooting and they’re asked what they did to prevent it, they’re going to have to say nothing.”
Violence does out-perform violence.

Odd, near-CGI effects of reality transferred Wednesday night to the explosion of a fertilizer plant in Texas. An ingredient of fertilizer is used in creating IEDs — now-near-familiar letters for those nasty improvised explosive devices — or just simply, homemade bombs. According to McClatchy, there were 172 US-based IEDs reported in the last six months alone. Abnormal the new sub-normal.

Ammonium nitrate is a way-combustible compound used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer.
Being way-not-smart in math and science, I don’t understand the details for this shit happening, but it does happen.
A couple of specifics from The New Yorker:

But provide it with a source of energy, like a flame, spark, or even mechanical impact, and the results can be explosive.
“The ammonium nitrate has its own fuel, the ammonium, and its own oxidizer, the nitrate,” making the process self-sustained, explained Jimmie Oxley, chemistry professor at the University of Rhode Island.
It’s because of ammonium nitrate’s explosive potential that the Department of Homeland Security proposed an ammonium nitrate registration program in 2011, to regulate transactions involving the sale or transfer of ammonium nitrate at the point of sale.

The combination of unstable nitrogen bonds in the fertilizer, plus heat from the fire, resulted in an explosion as powerful as a 2.1 magnitude earthquake.

This shit is needed to aid in the facilitation in the growth of plants in order for more and more humans to engage in that daily, but basic necessity of having food to eat.
A good,basic look at man-made fertilizers can be found at the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, with this conclusion: We have built our modern food system around these life-giving chemicals, but we overlook their explosive history at our peril.

(Illustration via Think Progress).

Buried under the massive Boston events was a story about oil and climate change that probably didn’t get much attention, beyond the climate watchers. And it occurred yesterday in the midst of all the media-fed joy in getting that 19-year-old kid in custody. Fertilizer for the future.
From the UK’s Guardian:

The so-called “carbon bubble” is the result of an over-valuation of oil, coal and gas reserves held by fossil fuel companies.
According to a report published on Friday, at least two-thirds of these reserves will have to remain underground if the world is to meet existing internationally agreed targets to avoid the threshold for “dangerous” climate change.
If the agreements hold, these reserves will be in effect unburnable and so worthless – leading to massive market losses.
But the stock markets are betting on countries’ inaction on climate change.

Paul Spedding, an oil and gas analyst at HSBC, said: “The scale of ‘listed’ unburnable carbon revealed in this report is astonishing. This report makes it clear that ‘business as usual’ is not a viable option for the fossil fuel industry in the long term.
[The market] is assuming it will get early warning, but my worry is that things often happen suddenly in the oil and gas sector.”

Every so often, I do some kind of oil and climate change post, but it’s been awhile. Even contributing my small part to climate change/global warming — on Wednesday, I put another $20 in my old Jeep Comanche (fresh from the shop) at $4.29 a gallon for regular. Not only is fossil fuels a killer, but it’s an on-coming economic fertilizer-plant explosion.
A a shitload of cash involved with it, too: The six trillion dollar bet is that this calculation remains entirely theoretical, and that fossil-fuel companies will be allowed to keep pumping up the carbon bubble by investing more cash to turn resources into reserves, and continue booking them at full value, assuming zero risk of devaluation. It’s a bet that effectively says to government: “nah, we don’t believe a word you say. We think you’ll do nothing about climate change for decades.”

And Skeptical Science, in a detailed post yesterday, explains that although climate change is irreversible, it is stoppable.
Money quotes:

Since the Industrial Revolution, CO2 from our burning of fossil fuels has been building up in the atmosphere.
The concentration of CO2 is now approaching 400 parts per million (ppm), up from 280 ppm prior to 1800.
If we were to stop all emissions immediately, the CO2 concentration would also start to decline immediately, with some of the gas continuing to be absorbed into the oceans and smaller amounts being taken up by carbon sinks on land.
According to the models of the carbon cycle, the level of CO2 (the red line in Figure 1A) would have dropped to about 340 ppm by 2300, approximately the same level as it was in 1980.
In the next 200 years, therefore, nature will have recouped the last 30 years of our emissions.

Bringing human emissions to a dead stop, as shown by the red lines in Figure 1, is not a realistic option.
This would put the entire world, all seven billion of us, into a new dark age and the human suffering would be unimaginable.
For this reason, most climate models don’t even consider it as a viable scenario and, if they run the model at all, it is as a “what-if”.

The most important distinction to grasp, though, is that the inertia is not inherent in the physics and chemistry of the planet’s climate system, but rather in our inability to change our behaviour rapidly enough.

“Warming in the pipeline” is not, therefore, a very good metaphor to describe the natural climate system, if we could stop emissions, the warming would stop.
However, when it comes to the decisions we are making to build new, carbon-intensive infrastructure, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, the expression is quite literally true.

Life doesn’t look too promising from ground level.

And now back around again to here this Saturday, near mid day, with the cool winds already swirling through the bright sunshine.
I think some French toast is needed, then a nap.

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