Climate Consensus or Climate Variation?

Although I am frequently accused of being a “denier” of various stripes, I don’t deny climate, climate change or Global Warming. I don’t even deny the so-called “consensus” of scientists/climate scientists and/or others who hold that climate change is real. On the other hand, while the consensus may be real, the conclusions drawn may not be an accurate reflection of reality.

As an archaeologist and dendroclimatologist, it is my experience and professional conclusion that human beings do not “cause” observed climate variation, but instead, humans may influence natural climate variation in various ways. Furthermore, climate variation is not uni-directional, unilinear nor predictable on greater than annual time frames and local geographic scales. Therefore, it is impossible to predict the effects both of human contributions to natural climate variation, and, perhaps more importantly, the effects of reducing or removing human influences on natural climate variation.

I’ve read a lot of the on-going literature on both sides of the climate change argument, popular and scientific, regarding the debate on the causes and effects of climate variation. In the following article,  Philip Jenkins artfully echos my experience and my informed opinion on the nature and reality of climate variation and the human relationship to the future of our climates.

History and the Limits of the Climate Consensus

Source: History and the Limits of the Climate Consensus | The American Conservative

1960s Assassinations and the Deep State

On November 22, 1963, I sat in my 9th Grade classroom in Jefferson Davis Junior High School in Hampton, Virginia, when the school Principal announced over the public address system that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been murdered in Dallas, Texas. Classes were let out and we all went home to the weekend that no one alive at the time will ever forget.

I was too young to understand the forces that were at play that resulted in the murder of President Kennedy. Just a little more than a year before, those of us sitting in those seats had confronted our imminent death, as the Cuban Missile Crisis played itself out internationally, while we who lived in the cross hairs in the largest concentration of military facilities in eastern North America went home from school to a blood red sunset that we knew for certain was to be our last.

Since 1962, an entire old growth forest of technical reports and popular books have been written about that day, the days before it, the days that followed and the effect of that one event on the history of the United States and the world. The technical details are myriad, hard to understand, poorly explained. Government officials immediately declared Lee Harvey Oswald as the “lone assassin,” before the dust had settled at Dealy Plaza, before any semblance of due process was even attempted. Jack Ruby’s bullet forever ended the opportunity for an open trial to discover the how and why of this terrible tragedy.

The killings continued. Malcom X was murdered in 1965. Then, in quick succession in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. and John’s brother Robert Kennedy were brutally murdered by so-called “lone assassins.” In 1969, Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were shot repeatedly by 14 Chicago police officers as they lay sleeping in their apartment.

The world seemed tipped over into madness.

Decades have gone by, my knowledge and perceptions of government and politics, industry and economics have increased and deepened. I now know there was indeed a connection among those horrible events of the 60s that transformed John Kennedy’s vision of a world of peace into the permanent war footing of the military/corporate oligarchy that rules the United States today and exports violence and economic oppression throughout the world.

What did John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Fred Hampton and Mark Clark  have in common that made them all the targets of assassins within an astonishingly short period of six years? What was happening in the United States that triggered these insane killings, that forestalled any meaningful investigation and revelation of their geneses?

What these men had in common was their unwavering resistance to the growing power of the United States military (the Pentagon) and its corporate contractors, the illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Vietnam, the burgeoning domestic security establishment (CIA, FBI, NSA, military intelligence), worldwide organized crime and the increasing influence of these forces in United States politics.

What happened to United States government policy after these men were murdered?

The United States government turned away from President Kennedy’s moves to pull out of Vietnam and work toward general disarmament in cooperation with Cuba and the Soviet Union. The Johnson administration accelerated the invasion and occupation of Vietnam and the expanded Pentagon budget. Pentagon contractors gained a windfall in government contracts for the manufacture of military equipment and supplies. The CIA and organized crime gained access to Southeast Asian drug sources and used them to fund further covert activities in other countries.

When the United States military was defeated in 1975 and forced to flee Vietnam, the “War on Drugs” replaced the War against Communism. At the same time the CIA and organized crime were actively engaged in building up illicit drug availability in the United States, as a source of continuing funding for covert CIA activities and for the pacification (a military term) of poor urban minorities.

The security establishment treated the United States internally as it had treated foreign governments that were uncooperative to United States “interests,” through  manipulation, disruption and destabilization of the opposition. The CIA used assassination, disinformation and cover stories; the FBI used COINTEL-PRO programs, as well as outright murder, to disrupt and marginalize opposition members and groups who became “too effective.”

Cui bono? Just look at the world of January 20, 2016 compared to the world of November 21, 1963. In 1963, the Kennedy administration presided over a culture of optimism and hope for a future free from war, from the drain of military spending on social support for those most in need. United States science stood on the threshold of space, boldly going where none had gone before. Though still in struggle, human rights were at the forefront, with African Americans and Native Americans awakening to the possibility of a future of political and economic equality after centuries of oppression. The world was bright with promise.

Today, in 2016, social support systems and public infrastructure are crumbling as United States imperialism increasingly draws public money into the black hole of the Pentagon. The CIA has become a rogue agency, engaged in uncontrolled kidnapping, torture and assassinations. Local and state police forces are increasingly militarized and turned against the people, treating the very citizens they are dedicated to protect as guilty before proven innocent. A police culture of oppression and defensiveness has replaced the friendly policeman on the community corner. Fears of Global Warming have replaced concerns for conservation of critical habitat, as environments around us decline and degrade.

I live in a much poorer world today than I did in the 9th Grade. Quality of life for many has declined, not improved. A tiny minority are unfathomably rich and powerful while a growing majority sink into poverty and despair. This is not the world we dreamed of while listening to President Kennedy’s speeches.

Cui bono? and cui amittit? Who is in control now? Who benefits from the world the way it is today? Who loses and why and how?

How did those in control of the events of the 1960s effect our lives today? Who are the heirs of power today?

Most importantly, what can we do about it now?

Idaho Fish and Game illegally collars wolves in Wilderness

c0239-wolvesWhen I lived in Alaska, I spent several years working with, but not a member of the Wolf Management Planning Team, who were responding to demands from hunters and hunting guides to allow Alaska state aerial hunting of wolves in a mistaken attempt to increase caribou and moose numbers.

The meetings I attended were frightening gatherings of yokel rabid hunting advocates, playacting their “rugged individualist,” conquer-the-wilderness roles, replete with wolf head hats, aggressive demeanors and the usual lack of science based information on real life predator/prey relationships.

That died down, finally, and has revived periodically since I left Alaska, but I had the impression that some degree of scientific reality had come to the fore in our state and federal fish and wildlife agencies.

Turns out I was wrong:

Idaho Fish and Game used helicopter landings to collar wolves inside the Frank Church Wilderness

Source: Idaho Fish and Game used helicopter landings to collar wolves inside the Frank Church Wilderness | The Wildlife News

Deniers, NIMBYs and Conspiracy Theories

I’ve been swimming upstream in the river of culture as long as I can remember. I once questioned my third grade teacher about the myth of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow in the Great Chicago Fire. She was not amused.

But at least she didn’t call me a conspiracy theorist or a history denier. She just smiled indulgently and went on with her story.

It seems to be a common reaction to perceived criticism to strike out against the critic with name-calling and meaningless pejoratives. Those who cast doubt on human causation of climate variation are labeled “deniers,” worse yet, “climate deniers” and  “science deniers,”  as if anyone could deny climate or science. Those who question the “Lone Nut” assassin claims for the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King, Jr and  Malcom X are called “conspiracy theorists,” thus denigrating conspiracies, which are very real, and theory, which is an important component of the scientific method.

It’s difficult enough to seriously research significant historical events and current cultural trends without constantly having to respond to such ignorant accusations. It would be bad enough if they were restricted to the unknowing and unwilling to learn.

In the volatile world of public information, the casting of conspiracy and denier labels can have a significant cooling effect on the acceptance of ideas alternative to those professed by official organizations and mainstream media. Don’t think that this hasn’t escaped the notice of those whose reputations, fortunes and access to power and control are at risk to self-enlightened, critical thinkers with their own ideas and who are willing to publicly express them.

Where does the extensive and coordinated campaign to label opponents of “Global Warming” as “climate deniers” (similar to Holocaust deniers) originate? Where did the idea of “conspiracy theory” come from, and how and by whom has it been used?  James F. Tracy and Cass Sunstein have some interesting ideas about that:

Having read JFK and the Unspeakable several years ago, I’ve been thinking about assassinations for quite a while and I’ve seen how “conspiracy theory” is used to shut off debate, to signal that we’re entering “the unspeakable” zone. So I began to wonder if the use of the term Conspiracy Theory might be a conspiracy itself.

Source: The Term “Conspiracy Theory” — an Invention of the CIA | Project Unspeakable

Fascism or Business as Usual?


On the surface, the current political campaign for President of the United States looks like an inept and garish circus, a caricature of an election in a demented novel by a 60s, drug-besot author. Cartoon figures grimace and gesticulate from the pulpit, with earnest and  eager supporters artfully arranged in the background. Meaningful content is minimal, emotive display is de rigueur.

If it weren’t so comical, it would be frightening. No, it really is frightening, especially when one considers that anything that appears on the political scene is as intended by those in control. There are no accidents nor coincidences in something as critical to power as elections.

Elizabeth Drew has written an interesting and potentially enlightening essay about the current political scene:

In the presidential campaign, both parties are so divided as to raise the question of whether any victor will be able to govern. The anger, fear, resentment, racism, and frustration that are playing into the current political climate make for a situation prone to undermining our democratic system.

Source: The New Politics of Frustration by Elizabeth Drew | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

I find it unfortunate that Drew used the word “fascism” to describe the potential effects of this trend. “Fascism” is a thoroughly misunderstood word, hanging out there in popular awareness with “anarchy” in the world of the misperceived. It’s difficult for me to equate the 1930s concept of political and economic fascism to today’s world. The United States is indeed a corporate oligarchy, but without the overt oppression and authoritarian zeal of World War II Germany and Italy.

If we are moving toward fascism in the United States, it is more the Friendly Fascism of Bertram Gross than the Fasci of Revolutionary Action of Benito Mussolini.

Looking back over the past sixty-six years of my life, it’s clear to me that the United States has changed drastically in character since World War II. Harry Truman inherited a totalitarian military culture, and a power structure that sought to maintain the “military-industrial complex” as the basis for the US economy and political process. The Kennedy brothers were the first, and the last, politicians to challenge that power structure. With their murders, the power elite took hold of the reigns of power and has succeeded ever since in holding them in their velvet-mailed fists.

What we see on the garish stage of global media is the control system in action, carrying out its program of newsertainment in support of domestic pacification and international imperialism.

“What’s past is prologue…” William Shakespeare, The Tempest