I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Bidder 70)


Image by: Steve Rhodes

Grist.org published Tim DeChristopher’s first letter from prison today.  In the letter, Tim shares the shares the story of the opportunity for freedom which he forgave to stand firm on his principles.

Side note: If you’re not familiar with his plight, I recently wrote a post covering Tim’s story.   If you don’t want to dig in on the post, at least go read his statement, which I reproduced in its entirety at the end of that post. (Check it out.  It’s a powerful, hope-filled piece from an inspiring leader of the environmental movement.)

Tim’s first jail cell missive cuts through the din of the day’s political clatter.  At a time when many surreptitiously repudiate their beliefs for personal gain, Tim stands firm with his principles.  His actions stand in stark contrast to those of political candidates who knowingly deny the consensus of climate science.  When given the chance to recant his earlier statements, and thereby avoid jail time, Tim stood firm.  Here are his words:

If I had ever doubted the power of words, Judge Benson made their importance all too clear at my sentencing last month. When he sentenced me to two years in prison plus three years probation, he admitted my offense “wasn’t too bad.” The problem, Judge Benson insisted, was my “continuing trail of statements” and my lack of regret. Apparently, all he really wanted was an apology, and for that, two years in prison could have been avoided. In fact, Judge Benson said that had it not been for the political statements I made in public, I would have avoided prosecution entirely. As is generally the case with civil disobedience, it was extremely important to the government that I come before the majesty of the court with my head bowed and express regret.

(The rest of Tim’s letter is available here.  I assure you, it is well worth your time.)

I’ll close today’s post with the impetus for today’s title, Maya Angelou’s poem of the same name.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

By Maya Angelou

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Day 5: #noKXL Rundown


Plenty to take in now that Day 5 of the Keystone XL pipeline protests has come and gone.  Twitter is awash with positive news from those involved.

Here are a few of the day’s highlights:

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Climategate: Case Closed


A new MIT study which will soon be released, “concluded that the (IPCC) forecasts were significantly off: Arctic sea ice is thinning, on average, four times faster than the models say, and it’s drifting twice as quickly.”  I’ve been thinking about this news the past couple of days and its potential implications.  The past two years have seen a steady diet of attacks on climate science and its practitioners.

For those who are not familiar, Climategate, as conservative media outlets lovingly referred to it, was the “controversy over emails stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.”

I was digging through Brad Johnson’s (climatebrad of ThinkProgress.org) YouTube feed earlier and ran across the following interview of Stephen Dubner, the co-author of Freakonomics. (I normally link out to all the books I reference, but couldn’t bring myself to do so here.)

(Btw, I highly recommend subscribing to Brad’s posts on YouTube.  He regularly posts relevant content for those concerned with climate science and politics.)

The interview irked me for multiple reasons.  First, the interviewer, David Asman, opened with:

Well, politicians distort the truth all the time, but scientists are not supposed to do that. Still, it does happen. Stalin used to demand results from scientists that weren’t supported by evence — evidence, and of course Hitler did the same. But surely, we are above that, aren’t we? Well, “It can’t happen here,” as many people have said, but apparently it has.

Hat tip to Brad for calling this out in his response to the interview,  “After Asman compared climate scientists to Stalin and Hitler — we’re not kidding — Dubner jumped in to accuse “potent” scientists of “colluding” to “tell Al Gore what to say,” and “distorting evidence” to “make their findings be right for their position”:” (Emphasis here is mine.)

Next, Dubner admits that the emails were “hacked” (i.e. they were illegally stolen), before positing two potential reasons for this:

“Someone either wanted to get in there because they knew there was something that you know should be read, or maybe there’s a whistle blower, at this point we really don’t know.”

With this statement, Dubner suggests that there is only one possible reason for the emails to have been stolen,  wrongdoing by the scientists whose emails were stolen, the only question is whether it was an inside job.

Asman then tees up the opportunity to wholly discredit the IPCC and Dubner swings for the fences.

ASMAN: Bottom line, we’ve got to cut to the chase. Who do you think is doing what to the evidence? Do you think that supporters of global warming and the UN are distorting evidence to prove their point?

DUBNER: Distorting evidence, probably yes. To what degree with don’t really know yet. We’re going to find out a lot more about that. Here’s what I think.

ASMAN: But doesn’t to any degree discredit their theories?

DUBNER: Yeah. You can’t —

ASMAN: If something has been made up you can’t rely on anything else.

DUBNER: You can’t read these e-mails and feel that the IPCC or the major climate scientists’ findings and predictions about global warming are kosher. You can’t. They may be, but if you read these you have to have a whole lot of skepticism about that.

Dubner does give himself the safe out at the end with the “they may be” comment, but the damage was done when he said that their findings and predictions didn’t feel kosher.

“Climategate” Debunked

In the past two years, several investigations were launched to review the stolen data.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has a nice rundown of the results:

Investigations Clear Scientists of Wrongdoing

If you want to take a deep dive on the subject, check out the full UCS writeup, “Debunking Misinformation About Stolen Climate Emails in the “Climategate” Manufactured Controversy.”  Along with the links shared above, the site features additional background information, links to press releases and further fact checking information, analysis from the UCS, and quite a bit more.

And What of the Accused?

The Climatic Research Unit (CRU), the group whose emails were stolen maintains three things on the home page of their website.
First, they list the list the outcomes of the following investigations:
  • “the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact” (House of Commons Science and Technology Committee)
  • “we saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit” (Lord Oxburgh Science Assessment Panel)
  • “their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt” (Sir Muir Russell Independent Climate Change Emails Review)
  • “careful examination of the e-mails and their full context shows that the petitioners’ claims are exaggerated and are not a material or reliable basis to question the validity and credibility of the body of [climate] science” (US Environmental Protection Agency)
For further information and the latest news, please see the Media and Communications site.
Next, they have the detail the organization’s purpose:
The aim of CRU is to improve scientific understanding in:
– past climate history and its impact on humanity
– the course and causes of climate change during the present century
– prospects for the future
Finally, they share a graphic which displays the average global temp since about 1850.  This seems a nice comeuppance (Something I’m a big fan of.) as they are displaying the data which received such close scrutiny.  To me this screams, “here it is, do your worst.  We can take it!”

Time For One More Investigation?

I had planned to make a case for investigating the embattled News Corp organization, but a quick Google search told me the Joe Romm had beaten me to the punch by nearly a month.   I highly recommend reading his insightful take on the case for further investigation into the hacking incident, “Could Murdoch’s News Corp be behind Climategate too?”  It’s not hard to mentally connect the dots with News of the World’s hacking escapades and illicit dealings with Scotland Yard going on at the same time that Fox News was hammering away at the IPCC over the stolen emails.  I’m not aware of a shred of evidence, so call this rampant speculation if you like, but recent events tell me it’s worth a look.

Closing the Door on Climategate

I opened this post with the news that arctic sea ice is melting four times faster than the IPCC scientists had predicted.  This is just one aspect of the IPCC’s research, but it is an important one as the melting ice has serious implications on global climate.  One study suggests that the melting ice could change ocean currents and severely impact the climate in Europe and North America.  “In any case, all researchers can agree that the Arctic ice has decreased by a third since 1979, and that Arctic ice hit a new monthly record low this past month.

The Forbidden Fruit?


image

I was planning to write a pithy article on the many things which have gotten my goat this week, but I’ve had it up to here and the relevant angles have been covered by far better writers.  I’ll just leave you with a picture of my boys thumbing their noses at the City of Oak Park, Michigan for their decision to fine a homeowner for violation of  “a code that says a front yard has to have suitable, live, plant material.”   Continue reading

Franke James » Ending the Climate War


Grist.org, one of my favorite sites, posted “What Can one person do” today, the visual essay by Franke James which I highlighted here last week.  To celebrate this great exposure, I thought I’d feature another of her works.  Today’s selection is another visual essay.   This one, centered around Eric Pooley’s “The Climate War,” seems a perfect lead in to tomorrow’s elections.  I’ve posted the first several images here and there’s a link to the full essay at the end of this post.

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