Saturday, May 24, 2014

159.4 - Clown Award: Pat Sajak

Clown Award: Pat Sajak

Now for one of our regular weekly features, it's the Clown Award, given for meritorious stupidity.

This week we had two worthy competitors; they were neck and neck for a while, but only one can win the day.

So our runner-up is Florida State Rep. Charles Van Zant.

You may have heard about the Common Core standards, a program being promoted across states with the idea of establishing some baseline education standards, some benchmarks, that would be common nationwide. It's something of a divisive topic in some education circles: The right wing doesn't like the idea because the standards of necessity say things about science and history which they just don't want to hear, while there are those on the left who don't like it because its measure of progress, of success, is weighted far too heavily on standardized testing, which is a lousy way to do education.

But forget all that, Charles Van Zant knows what is the real problem with them. The standards, he said, "will promote double-mindedness in state education and will attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can."

That's right, according to Mr. van Zant, the real goal of the Common Core standards is to turn your kids gay.

In a normal week, that would be a winner. But this is not a normal week.

So the winner of big red nose this week is "Wheel of Fortune" host and all-around rw nut job Pat Sajak, who on Monday tweeted this:
I now believe global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends. Good night.
Now to call this loopy does not begin to do it proper justice. And it's hardly the first buffoonishly stupid thing he's tweeted on the topic.

But this one sets new standards for inanity. Rather than wondering, as some have, just what patriotism and race have to do with the scientific reality of climate change - other than, of course, the fact that poor, non-American, non-whites are going to be hit the earliest and the hardest - I figure Mr. SadSack is just pumping out the current right wing meme that anything they don't like is either unpatriotic or racist and he lacked the wits to come up with anything better than just combining them.

This came the same day that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, announced that worldwide, April 2014 tied for the warmest April on record. It was also the 350th consecutive month with global average temperatures at or above the 20th century average for each month. That's over 29 full years of above-average temperatures. Oh, and if you think we had a cool April, we did - but we are not the world, remember?

That report followed a week in which three separate studies of Antarctic glaciers found increasingly rapid ice loss, raising the specter of a significant, damaging rise in sea level of anywhere from 4 to as much as 15 feet, depending on the breaks. Two of those reports described how the ultimate collapse of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet has become "irreversible" while the other, a week later, showed that the rate of ice loss in Antarctica since 2010 is double that of the period from 2005 to 2010.

I have to note that the recent reports from the IPCC, theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, don't include any sea level rising from melt from West Antarctic or Greenland in their projections because the data wasn't considered rigorous enough - so the rise from this Antarctic melt would be in addition to the 1-2 foot rise in sea levels by the end of the century which the IPCC's most report predicted.

I also have to say, however, that this is not going to happen immediately: There is a reason the word "glacially" means "slowly" and this collapse could play out over a couple of hundred years.

But there are two important points: One, as I said last week, the issue here is the inevitability. In considering the climate, we have to realize that various processes can reach a point of no return, where it is no longer possible to stop it from happening. This is one where we have already passed that point: Even if the world immediately stopped adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, the West Antarctica Ice Sheet is going to collapse. The only question is how long it will take.

We are now approaching points of no return on various processes. We don't have unlimited time.

The other point is that are already seeing the effects of sea level rise. For example, sea level in the New York City area rose by about a foot between 1900 and 2012. As a result, when Hurricane Sandy struck, about 80,000 more people were affected by flooding in New York and New Jersey than would have been without that increase in sea level.

And the Union of Concerned Scientists has just released a report on how some of the United States' most cherished historic sites and national landmarks are as risk from rising seas, floods, and wildfires. The report came with 30 case studies.

Wildfires? Oh yeah, wildfires: another already-visible effect of global warming.

The US Forest Service and Department of the Interior are likely to go $400 million over budget fighting fires this year. Rhea Suh, Assistant Secretary of Policy, Management and Budget at the Department of the Interior, specifically blamed climate change as a cause, noting that fire seasons - the period of time each year when the risk of wildfire is high - are 60-80 days longer than they were thirty years ago.

And in case you forget, again, that it's not all about us, the Center for Naval Analyses Military Advisory Board, a leading government-funded military research organization, stated in a report issued last week that the accelerating rate of climate change acts as a catalyst for global political conflict - for example, climate change-induced drought in the Middle East and Africa is leading to conflicts over food and water, causing existing longstanding regional and ethnic tensions to escalate into turmoil and violence. Put at its simplest, the report, an update of one from 2007, declares global warming to present a threat to US national security.

I'll leave it to you to figure out how a leading government-funded military research organization is "unpatriotic."

Which brings us back to Pat SadSack. There were a number of funny responses to SadSack's tweet. My personal favorite was one that said this:
On one hand 97% of scientists on the other hand a guy that got his job because chuck woolery came across as too intellectual.
Which just nails it down: Pat Sajak, you are such a clown.

Sources cited in links:

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