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Rolla Peace News

June 12, 2018
Dear Friends:

Note from webperson: If you are having trouble reading this, it is posted at

http://tomsager.org/Peaceletters/peaceletter061218.html

          In this newsletter is:

1. NOON VIGIL FOR PEACE: THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 2018
2. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)
          a) 84-Year-Old Dust-Bowl-Era Record Falls
          b) Scientific Modeling
          c) Donald Trump, Kim Jong-Un And The Nobel Peace Prize

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1. NOON VIGIL FOR PEACE: THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 2018

We vigil for peace in front of the Rolla Post Office THIS THURSDAY, JUNE 14, FROM NOON TO 1:00 PM (and most subsequent Thursdays until peace is established). Please try to join us. The temperature is predicted to be around 90. If you do not feel comfortable standing with us in front of the Post Office, please consider driving by and showing your support for our message by honking your horn and flashing a peace sign.

2. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)
          a) 84-Year-Old Dust-Bowl-Era Record Falls
          b) Scientific Modeling
          c) Donald Trump, Kim Jong-Un And The Nobel Peace Prize

84-YEAR-OLD DUST-BOWL-ERA RECORD FALLS
“I'm a dust bowl refugee,
I'm a dust bowl refugee,
And I wonder will I always
Be a dust bowl refugee.”
—Woody Guthrie (Dust Bowl Refugee)

May 2018 was the warmest May in the lower 48 states in recorded history, beating out by a full 0.7° F. a record set in 1934, during the dust-bowl years.

The United States is not the only place setting records for hot and dry. Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia are also setting records, including hurricane strength dust storms. Here are some dust storm photos published by The Atlantic under the title: “The Strange Beauty of Sandstorms.”

Yes, there is a certain deadly beauty to dust storms and sand storms, as there is to all extreme weather events; but more importantly, they remind us of how puny we humans really are.

Northern India experienced freak dust storms last month that killed over 100. Desertification and accompanying dust and sand storms fuel instability and the refugee crisis in large parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Fueled by hot dry weather, we're experiencing dry storms in the southwest United States too.

Here is Woody Guthrie again, singing of the Great Dust Storm of April, 1935.

65 years ago, my middle school American history textbook had a short page on the dust bowl. I can remember my teacher telling us that this could not happen again, because now we are so much wiser and more knowledgeable. Oh! if she only knew. That was a time when we believed in the myth that with science and technology we will build a brave new world. Myths die slowly. In spite of all evidence to the contrary, this myth is still strong today.
“From the south land and the drought land,
Come the wife and kids and me,
And this old world is a hard world
For a dust bowl refugee.”
—Woody Guthrie (Dust Bowl Refugee)

One of the recurrent themes in my writing has been the relationship between Climate Change and War. Climate Change and War both fuel instability. Instability fuels Climate Change, War and other forms of extreme violence in a continuous positive feedback loop. We can see that at our borders where refugees, destitute from War, violence and Climate Change, beat at the gates. I suppose it is to be expected that we, who are most responsible for War and Climate Change, should be the least hospitable, even going so far as to separate young children from their parents in a vain attempt to keep these refugees out.

I think that the difference between now and 84 years ago is both scope and intensity. War and Climate Change are now both worldwide phenomena and have progressed far beyond the levels of the dust-bowl era.

SCIENTIFIC MODELING
“You cannot steer and control an ecosystem but you might be able to dance with one.” —Chip Ward
Back in April, the scientific journal, Nature, published two papers, each showing an unexpected slowing down of the Gulf Stream (AMOC, if you read the scientific journals). Pretty scary! Right? Remember that silly Hollywood movie, “The Day After Tomorrow,” where the Gulf Stream stops, and the northern hemisphere is enveloped in a new ice age? Well, that ain't likely to happen; but I'll tell you the really scary part: The scientific models of the Gulf Stream that climate scientists use underestimated the slow-down, big time. So what else do all their scientific climate models underestimate?

First, lets talk about modeling. A model is simply someone's idea of how a complex system, like the Earth's climate, will react to various stimuli, like increased input of carbon dioxide. A simulation is simply running the model on a given set of inputs, and watching where it goes. It might make more sense to say: Our best guess is that..., instead of, Our models show that ...

So, whom are we to believe? I've got a few rules of thumb. Probably the most important one is what kind of record do they have predicting complex outcomes in the past. Second is can they explain it so it makes sense. Third is who's paying the bill and what's their stake in the outcome.

Here's an example: I've been hearing every year for decades, we have to act now or we'll pass a tipping point, after which there is little hope of doing anything to prevent runaway climate change. Well, after 20 years this gets old. If you say that every year for 20 years, you've been right at best 5% of the time — hardly a record to crow about. And no one ever explains why this year? Why not last year or next year? And if we've already passed the point of no return, what's the sense in all this anyway?

Now, back to the Gulf Stream. So it's slowing down faster than scientists thought. What next? Likely it will slow down even more. Why? Because all the factors that are likely causing the slow-down, like warming of the polar region and melting of the ice, have been accelerating. Then what will happen? Likely a cooling of the North Atlantic since the Gulf Stream no longer brings as much warm water to the North Atlantic. And if that warm water stays in the tropics, likely it will add to the warming of the tropics, which likely means yet more and stronger hurricanes.

Note: I've used the word likely five times in the preceding paragraph. Also note: I did not use the word likely with the warming of the polar region and melting of the ice. It's measurable. It happened. It's still happening.

I've said this before; but I'll say it again. MY OPINION ONLY: We are well past the point of no return, and the question shouldn't be how can we avoid catastrophic climate change? but how far and fast do we fall and how hard do we hit bottom. These are important questions. If we can slow our fall, maybe we can roll when we hit bottom and avoid breaking too many bones. But if we are going to be successful; it will take all of us working together — ALL — including those thousands of refugee children we tear from their mothers' arms and the 1.8 million Palestinians locked up in the open air prison called Gaza.

Bernie Sanders put it so well when he said, “The threat of climate change is a very clear example of why we all need to pull together, we are in this together. The United States can't do it alone, Europe can't do it alone, China can't do it alone, and no one country can do this alone.”

That means we have to stop fighting and learn to work together.

DONALD TRUMP, KIM JONG-UN AND THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.” —Dwight D. Eisenhower
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un got along famously at their meeting Monday night. That's a good thing. Now folks are talking about giving the two of them a Nobel Peace Prize. I'm not against that; but I'll tell you who the prize really belongs to: The Korean People — all of them. The Korean People stood up and demanded Peace. Leaders had no choice but to give it to them.

May the rest of us show the same courage that the Korean people have shown and stand up and demand Peace.

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Rolla Peace News is distributed by email once a week on Tuesday evenings (except on rare occasions) and is posted on the web at http://tomsager.org (click on Grassroots Rolla: near the top of rightmost column).

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Wage peace,

Helen
helenm (at) fidnet.com

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