MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/wp-login.php/sites/all/modules http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Mexican Government: Freight Trains Are Now Off-Limits to Central American Migrants http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/mexico-central-american-migrants-train-beast <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Thursday, a <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/10/us-usa-immigration-mexico-idUSKBN0FF03M20140710" target="_blank">freight train derailed</a> in southern Mexico. It wasn't just any train, though: It was <em>La Bestia</em>&mdash;"the Beast"&mdash;the infamous train many Central American immigrants ride through Mexico on their way to the United States. When the Beast went off the tracks this week, some 1,300 people who'd been riding on top were stranded in Oaxaca.</p> <p>How do 1,300 people fit on a cargo train, you ask? By crowding on like this:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/la-bestia-on-board.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Central Americans on the Beast, June 20 </strong>Rebecca Blackwell/AP</div> </div> <p>After years of turning a blind eye to what's happening on La Bestia, the Mexican government claims it now will try to keep migrants off the trains. On Friday, Mexican Interior Secretary Miguel &Aacute;ngel Osorio Chong <a href="http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=376951" target="_blank">said in a radio interview</a> that the time had come to bring order to the rails. "We can't keep letting them put their lives in danger," he said. "It's our responsibility once in our territory. The Beast is for cargo, not passengers."</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/migrants_225.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More <em>MoJo</em> coverage of the surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-252671"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america"> 70,000 Kids Will Show Up Alone at Our Border This Year. What Happens to Them?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-252866"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/unaccompanied-kids-immigrants-deported-guatemala"> What's Next for the Children We Deport? </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-253266"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/06/surge-unaccompanied-child-migrant-shelters"> This Is Where the Government Houses the Tens of Thousands of Kids Who Get Caught Crossing the Border</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255056"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/06/map-unaccompanied-child-migrants-central-america-honduras"> Map: These Are the Places Central American Child Migrants Are Fleeing </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255721"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/texas-we-dont-turn-our-back-children"> "In Texas, We Don't Turn Our Back on Children"</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>The announcement comes on the heels of President Obama's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/obama-emergency-appropriations-unaccompanied-child-migrants" target="_blank">$3.7 billion emergency appropriations</a> request to deal with the ongoing surge of unaccompanied Central American child migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border. Many Central Americans take the trains to <a href="http://www.fronterasdesk.org/content/8932/riding-la-bestia-immigration-train" target="_blank">avoid checkpoints</a> throughout Mexico&mdash;and the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/americas/02/24/mexico.migrant.kidnappings/" target="_blank">robbers and kidnappers</a> known to prey on migrants. But riding the Beast can be even more perilous. Migrants often must bribe the gangs running the train to board, and even then, the dangers are obvious: Many riders have died falling off the train, or lost limbs after getting caught by its slicing wheels.</p> <p>Why, though, hasn't the Mexican government cracked down sooner? Adam Isacson, a regional-security expert at the nonprofit Washington Office on Latin America, says the responsibility of guarding the trains often has fallen to the rail companies&mdash;who usually turn around and argue that since the tracks are on government land, it should be the feds' problem. (Notably, the train line's concession is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/homero-aridjis/migrants-train-of-death-america-_b_5568288.html" target="_blank">explicitly for freight</a>, not passengers.)</p> <p>In his radio interview, Osorio Chang also signaled a tougher stance against Central American migrants, in general. "Those who don't have a visa to move through our country," he said, "will be returned."</p> <p><strong><em>For more of </em></strong><strong>Mother Jones<em>'</em></strong><strong><em> reporting on unaccompanied child migrants, see all of our <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/topics/child-migrants" target="_blank">latest coverage here</a>.</em></strong></p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Immigration International child migrants Sat, 12 Jul 2014 17:20:14 +0000 Ian Gordon 256001 at http://www.motherjones.com Here Is a Video Of a Crane Destroying a Truck http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/here-video-crane-destroying-truck <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So, as the <em><a href="http://www.dailydot.com/lol/crane-operator-smash-truck/" target="_blank">Daily Dot</a> </em>points out, <a href="http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ccd_1405124702" target="_blank">this video</a> is almost certainly staged, but who cares? It's nuts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="http://www.liveleak.com/ll_embed?f=96e4f3a03272" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Sat, 12 Jul 2014 16:37:25 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 256011 at http://www.motherjones.com Designer Butterflies, See-Through Frogs, Giant Neural Networks…and Other Works of Modern Art http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/inquiring-minds-arthur-miller-art-meets-science <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>American artist Deborah Aschheim makes the "invisible visible": In one series of works, she created <a href="http://www.deborahaschheim.com/projects/neural-architecture/6" target="_blank">room-size installations</a> that allowed art lovers to walk through a nervous system, with each subsequent installation becoming "smarter" than the previous one. The sixth and final piece in the series was the most like a real brain&mdash;using motion sensors, closed circuit TVs and baby monitors, the network responded to the movement of its audience, capturing their actions and encoding "experiences" into "memories." (For images of the fourth installation in the series, see below.)</p> <p>Ascheim's work calls into question an idea that was once widely accepted: That no two disciplines differ more greatly than science and art. The scientifically trained British novelist C.P. Snow crystallized this notion in his famed <a href="http://s-f-walker.org.uk/pubsebooks/2cultures/Rede-lecture-2-cultures.pdf" target="_blank">1959 lecture about the "two cultures.</a>" Scientists and those in the humanities, Snow said, just couldn't communicate.</p> <p>But to hear Arthur I. Miller tell it, that's an antiquated point of view. Miller is a physics Ph.D., a science historian, and a philosopher&mdash;and an art aficionado to boot. And in his new book, <a href="http://www.collidingworlds.org/" target="_blank"><em>Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science is Redefining Contemporary Art</em></a>, he makes the case for the existence of a "third culture" that, today, is mashing together art, science, and technology into one big domain. "There are still people who think science is science, and art is art," says Miller on this week's episode of the <a href="http://bit.ly/15fno2h" target="_blank"><em>Inquiring Minds</em> podcast</a>. "But that is very far from the situation because it is very, very common and meaningful today for artists to indulge in science and technology in doing their work."</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F158193435" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Miller's argument is supported not only by the myriad examples of artists who, like Aschheim, are highly reliant on science, but also by the surprising symmetries between how artists and scientists go about their work. One of his most important points: Scientists not only appreciate, but are in some cases driven by, aesthetic considerations. And artists don't just pull ideas out of their imaginations: They engage in detailed work that often resembles scientific research.</p> <p>"There's aesthetics in biology: form is beautiful in biology, but it's form as adapted to nature," says Miller. "And when one gets into the physical sciences, one can even quantify aesthetics even more, in that, for example, we've heard the phrase, 'This is a beautiful equation.'" Einstein, famously, put it like this: "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science."</p> <p>At the frontier of this new culture, there is a blossoming of workshops and events in which artists and scientists are thrown together into a room and forced to interact. The thinking is that cross-pollination will occur and new creative ideas will emerge. The CERN laboratory, home to the Large Hadron Collider, even has an <a href="http://arts.web.cern.ch/" target="_blank">artist in residency program</a>.</p> <p>Here are five artists who are using cutting edge science and technology to change the landscape of contemporary art:</p> <p><strong>Deborah Aschheim&mdash;Neural Architecture.</strong> <a href="http://www.deborahaschheim.com/projects/" target="_blank">Aschheim</a>'s installations are inspired by her personal connection to neurological disorders; her focus has been on investigating memory, both autobiographical and collective&mdash;in part because memory disorders like Alzheimer's disease run in her family. She's worked as an artist-in-residence at several academic institutions, and she immerses herself into the science behind her pieces. (At the University of California, San Francisco, she and I worked together on a piece that explored the subjectivity of neuroimaging.)</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp; <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/na4-1_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Panopticon (neural architecture no. 4). </strong>Deborah Aschheim</div> </div> <p>In the work pictured here, entitled <em>Panopticon, </em>Ascheim used 260 light cells on motion sensors, 23 pocket televisions, 3 DVDs, 3 closed circuit TV cameras, 14 nanny cams, and 4,000 feet of clear PVC tubing to create a series of "cells" in a type of neural network. This work was the fourth installment in her <em>Neural Architecture </em>series, in which each subsequent piece was "smarter" than the previous one&mdash;in essence, the architecture was "learning." As people walked through the <em>Panopticon</em> installation, they triggered motion sensors that altered which cells were "on," as lights in the nodes would turn on and off depending on the signal from the sensors. (See a video <a href="http://www.deborahaschheim.com/collections/view/356" target="_blank">here</a>.) Then, monitors inside the piece screened video footage from external galleries at the college, as well as a live feed of viewers from embedded spy cameras. This installation was not only responsive, it could also "remember": monitors played short animated "memories" from the previous installation.&nbsp;</p> <p>Here's a close-up of the Panopticon:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/panopticon.jpg"></div> <p><br><strong>Marta de Menezes&mdash;Modified Butterflies.</strong> <a href="http://martademenezes.com/portfolio/projects/" target="_blank">Menezes</a> creates "designer" butterflies: Not through genetic engineering, but by "interfering with the normal development of the wing, inducing the development of a new pattern never seen before in nature." Her work of "art," then, is actually the live animal that was altered by her vision. For examples of these butterflies see the lead image above, or below:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="366" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-07-11%20at%203.16.25%20PM.png" width="628"><div class="caption"><strong>Modified butterfly. </strong><a href="http://martademenezes.com/portfolio/projects/" target="_blank">Marta de Menezes</a>.</div> </div> <p>"They're not genetically modified at all," explains Miller of Menezes' butterflies. "That's the big thing about them. [Menezes] takes a hot needle and probes into the caterpillar. And out comes butterflies with asymmetrical wings." Here's Menezes's description of her work:<em> </em></p> <blockquote> <p>These wings are an example of something simultaneously natural, but resulting from human intervention. The artistic intervention leaves the butterfly genes unchanged. Thus, the new patterns are not transmitted to the offspring of the modified butterflies. The new patterns are something that never existed before in nature, and that rapidly disappear from nature not to be seen again. These artworks literally live and die. They are an example of art with a lifespan&mdash;the lifespan of a butterfly. They are an example of something that is simultaneously art and life.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong><a href="http://brandonballengee.com/" target="_blank">Brandon Balleng&eacute;e</a>&mdash;Ecological Art</strong>. <a href="http://brandonballengee.com/" target="_blank">Balleng&eacute;e</a> is an artist, activist and ecological researcher. He participates in biology field studies, works in a lab and uses his art to document the changes that are happening in various ecosystems. His artistic products put his biological specimens on display, and his most common subjects are frogs, toads and salamanders. In his book, Miller quotes Balleng&eacute;e as saying that "amphibians are a 'sentinel' species, the environmental 'canaries in the coal mine.'"</p> <p>In some pieces, like the one pictured here, Balleng&eacute;e uses biological technology to "clear and stain" a specimen, making it transparent and highlighting certain parts. DFA186:Hades, below, was created using more than 10 different chemicals and dyes.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="856" src="/files/Brandon_Ballengee_DFA186_Hades_0.jpg" width="630"><div class="caption"><strong>Hades. </strong><a href="http://brandonballengee.com/" target="_blank">Brandon Ballengee</a></div> </div> <p>According to Balleng&eacute;e's website, his work is designed to "re-examine the context of the art object from a static form (implying rationality and control) into a more organic structure reflecting the inherent chaos found within evolutionary processes, biological systems and nature herself."</p> <p><strong>Mark Ackerley&mdash;DNA Melody.</strong> <a href="http://www.markackerley.com/" target="_blank">Ackerley </a>is a composer and former employee of <a href="https://www.23andme.com/howitworks/" target="_blank">23andMe</a>, a biotech company that pulls genetic information out of a sample of your spit and helps you research your ancestry. While working at 23andMe, Ackerley developed an algorithm that translated snippets of DNA into music. Using four different musical parameters&mdash;rhythm, pitch, timbre and key signature&mdash;he turned genes into melodies. To hear an excerpt of a DNA melody played by a string quartet, click <a href="http://blog.23andme.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/string_quartet_Ackerley.mp3" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p><strong>Ken Perlin&mdash;Perlin Noise. </strong>At NYU's Media Research Lab, <a href="http://mrl.nyu.edu/~perlin/" target="_blank">Perlin</a> invented a new way of making animation more life-like. His technique, called Perlin Noise, is used by animators world-wide, including in Pixar movies. He's even won an Academy Award for his work. "Which is something pretty good for somebody who has an undergraduate degree in physics and a graduate degree in computer science," comments Miller.</p> <p>Watch this video to see how Pixar used mathematics and Perlin Noise to create life-like moss in the film <em>Brave:</em></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="357" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/EnaA9ZRPXiE" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>"When I asked Perlin what he considers himself to be&mdash;either an artist or a scientist&mdash;he said neither," recalls Miller. Rather, Perlin identifies himself simply as "a researcher."</p> <p>"In other words," argues Miller, "the labels 'artist' and 'scientist' are becoming increasingly irrelevant."</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F158193435" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p name="6dc5"><em>This episode of </em><a href="http://t.co/CQ9WZRPMFO" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Inquiring Minds</a>, <em>a podcast hosted by neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas and best-selling author Chris Mooney, also features a short discussion with Joe Hanson, writer and host of the "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/itsokaytobesmart" target="_blank">It's Okay to Be Smart</a>" video series, about <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch_videos?feature=c4-overview-u&amp;type=0&amp;video_ids=xdWLhXi24Mo%2CdwJ-wwF9XVs%2CUtu-LpJn3Is%2CJl9DwNOonOA%2CfUot7XSX8uA%2C4Gf9mtXnJfM%2CTekbxvnvYb8%2C2WuB8BhUJrc%2CfWc46NCnldo%2CJd9328AW64g%2CZWW5OuxlKec%2Cmtg9p6A6xnY&amp;more_url=&amp;title=Popular+uploads&amp;index=2" target="_blank">the science of Game of Thrones</a></em>, <em>what <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Gf9mtXnJfM&amp;list=UUH4BNI0-FOK2dMXoFtViWHw" target="_blank">blowing on Nintendo cartridges</a> has to do with your cognitive biases, <a href="http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/07/01/yeti-bigfoot-dna-hair-study-science-animals-himalaya/" target="_blank">new evidence disproving Bigfoot</a>, the <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21605918-everything-you-need-know-about-ufos-0" target="_blank">relationship</a> between seeing UFOs and alcohol consumption, why men born in winter are <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140703102940.htm" target="_blank">more likely to be left-handed</a>...and more.</em></p> <p name="b990"><em>To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to </em>Inquiring Minds<em> via </em><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>iTunes</em></a><em> or</em> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>RSS</em></a><em>. We are also available </em><a href="http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>on Stitcher</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/swell-radio/id557048779?ls=1&amp;mt=8" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>on Swell</em></a><em>. You can follow the show on Twitter at </em><a href="https://twitter.com/inquiringshow" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>@inquiringshow</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://www.facebook.com/inquiringmindspodcast" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>like us on Facebook</em></a><em>. </em>Inquiring Minds <em>was also recently singled out as one of the "Best of 2013" on iTunes&mdash;you can learn more </em><a href="http://www.itunes.com/bestof2013" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/environment/2014/07/inquiring-minds-arthur-miller-art-meets-science"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Media Interview Podcasts Climate Desk Science Top Stories Inquiring Minds Sat, 12 Jul 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Indre Viskontas 255611 at http://www.motherjones.com There's New Information on What Happened in Benghazi and It Discredits GOP Claims http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/benghazi-stand-down-corn-hardball <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>David Corn and Michelle Bernard joined Chris Matthews on <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/hardball-with-chris-matthews/watch/new-benghazi-information-hurts-gop-claims-302555203939" target="_blank">MSNBC's Hardball</a> to discuss the latest Benghazi scandal bubble burst.</p> <p><iframe border="no" height="500" scrolling="no" src="http://player.theplatform.com/p/2E2eJC/EmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_hardball_4bengh_140711_259101" width="635"></iframe></p> <p><em>David Corn is </em>Mother Jones'<em> Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/authors/david-corn">click here</a>. He's also on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/davidcorndc">Twitter</a>.</em></p></body></html> MoJo The Right Sat, 12 Jul 2014 10:00:07 +0000 256006 at http://www.motherjones.com The Polar Vortex Is Coming Back Next Week http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/mid-july-looking-more-mid-september <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><head><script type="text/javascript" src="http://assets.motherjones.com/embeds/mjcd_pixel.js"></script></head><body><div> <p><em>This <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/07/10/polar_vortex_weather_mid_july_will_be_as_cool_as_mid_september_in_east_and.html" target="_blank">story</a> originally appeared in </em><a href="http://www.slate.com" target="_blank">Slate</a> <em>and is republished here <em>as part of the <a href="http://climatedesk.org/" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration</em></em>.</p> <p>Remember the polar vortex? Weather so cold that <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/01/07/people_are_burning_themselves_throwing_boiling_water_into_the_air_in_cold.html">boiling water froze in midair</a>?</p> </div> <div> <p>Well buckle up, America. We're getting another dose of polar air next week, and just in time for what is normally the hottest week of the year.</p> </div> <div> <p>While next week's mid-summer cold snap won't send you rushing for the nearest space heater, its origins are similar to the cold snaps that defined the brutal winter just past.</p> </div> <div> <p>The same basic large-scale weather pattern has been settled in over North America for months now, and it even has a name: <a href="http://www.weatherwest.com/archives/tag/ridiculously-resilient-ridge" target="_blank">the ridiculously resilient ridge</a>. Coupled with the occasional cut-off low pressure center dawdling over the Great Lakes region (next week's will camp out over Quebec), it's been a recipe for extreme warmth on the West Coast and colder than average weather out East. On the west side of the Rockies, tropical Pacific air gets funneled northward from around Hawaii toward Alaska while California dries out and roasts; on the other side, cold air from the Yukon cascades southward toward the Midwest and East Coast.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/PV1a.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Winter 2013-14: The result of multiple polar vortexes </strong>NOAA National Climatic Data Center</div> </div> </div> <div> <p>But before I go any further: North America's polar vortex-filled winter was almost certainly overhyped. I'll probably get loads of hate mail from fellow meteorologists for even invoking it here&mdash;and in a strict sense, they're right. The polar vortex <a href="http://ametsoc.org/amsnews/2014polarvortex.html" target="_blank">isn't a new phenomenon</a>, nor was it behind every cold snap of the past six months. According to NOAA, while last winter was <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2014/2" target="_blank">below average</a> (by one degree Fahrenheit), winters are warming for <a href="http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/images/us/2014/feb/trend-avgt.png" target="_blank">virtually every corner</a> of the continental United States (save one corner of southwest Louisiana).</p> </div> <div> <p>This winter was an aberration, not the rule&mdash;a dip in the long-term trend of global warming. Further proof: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2014/5" target="_blank">the first five months of 2014</a> were collectively the fifth&nbsp;warmest such period globally since records began. This winter was a temporary cold blip in a small corner of the Earth. We just happen to live there.</p> </div> <div> <p>As for the polar vortex itself, its resonance within the American zeitgeist is proof that sometimes it helps us cope to have something special to blame for all the crazy weather (even if it&rsquo;s not always totally scientifically correct in popular usage). That's OK. For the science purists, there's a <a href="http://www.wunderground.com/news/polar-vortex-plunge-science-behind-arctic-cold-outbreaks-20140106" target="_blank">great explainer of the phenomenon</a> by Weather Underground's Jon Erdman and perhaps an even better one (<a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/02/19/nasa_offers_mind_bending_visualization_of_the_january_polar_vortex.html">with stunning visuals</a>) by NASA's Eric Fetzer. As crazy as it sounds, <a href="http://qz.com/163636/how-global-warming-can-make-cold-snaps-even-worse/" target="_blank">there's even a line of scientific evidence</a> that connects an increasing frequency of extreme weather events (like the cold snaps of earlier this year) to abnormal shifts in the jet stream caused by melting Arctic sea ice and global warming. It's a <a href="http://e360.yale.edu/feature/is_weird_winter_weather_related_to_climate_change/2742/" target="_blank">hot topic of debate</a> right now among climate scientists.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/PV1b.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The forecast for mid-July: look familiar? </strong>NOAA Climate Prediction Center</div> </div> <div> <p>As for next week's weather, polar air will again be spilling southward from the Arctic Ocean. That'll be good enough to convert what's typically Chicago's hottest week of the year to an unseasonably pleasant early Autumn-style respite that will have folks begging for more. Chicago's forecast high of 72 degrees Fahrenheit next Wednesday is historically much more likely to happen on September 16th than July 16th.</p> </div> <div> <p>Cooler than normal weather is expected across much of the eastern two-thirds of the country as well, with mild temperatures from Boston to New York City to Washington, though not nearly as dramatic as in the Midwest. All in all, you really can&rsquo;t ask for much better weather than what's on offer next week.</p> </div> <div> <p>Though at some point, enough is enough. A <a href="http://ready.arl.noaa.gov/HYSPLIT_traj.php" target="_blank">reverse trajectory model</a> shows the air supplying next week&rsquo;s mid-summer Chicago cold snap is currently (as of Thursday) sitting over Canada's far North. Let's hope the atmosphere gets all this out of its system before December. But for now? Long live the polar vortex.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/PV1c.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA Air Resources Laboratory HYSPLIT model</div> </div> </div> </div></body></html> Environment Climate Desk Top Stories Fri, 11 Jul 2014 20:19:39 +0000 Eric Holthaus 255986 at http://www.motherjones.com Don't Call Them "Climate Deniers." Call them "Climate Optimists." http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/climate-optimists-not-climate-deniers-heartland-institute-conference <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2014/07/heartland_institute_climate_change_conference_optimism_is_the_new_denial.single.html" target="_blank">story</a> originally appeared in </em><a href="http://slate.com" target="_blank">Slate</a> <em>and is republished here as part of the <a href="http://climatedesk.org" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration.</em></p> <p>Las Vegas is parched. A 14-year drought has left Lake Mead, the local water source, dangerously low. It has dropped 100 feet in the past decade. If it drops 12 more feet, <a href="http://www.popsci.com/article/science/last-straw-how-fortunes-las-vegas-will-rise-or-fall-lake-mead" target="blank">federal water rationing rules will kick in</a>. Some climate scientists predict that will happen in the next year. And most believe the situation will only worsen over time.</p> <p>The view from inside Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, however, is considerably rosier. That's where scientists, activists, and bloggers have assembled this week for the Heartland Institute's <a href="http://climateconference.heartland.org/" target="blank">9th International Conference on Climate Change</a>, which I've been following via live stream. It's the world's largest gathering of "climate skeptics"&mdash;people who believe, for one reason or another, that the climate change crisis is overblown.</p> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://assets.motherjones.com/embeds/mjcd_pixel.js"></script><p>It's tempting to find irony in the spectacle of hundreds of climate change deniers staging their convention amid a drought of historic proportions. But, as the conference organizers are quick to tell you, they aren't actually climate change deniers. The majority of this year's speakers readily acknowledge that the climate is changing. Some&shy; will even concede that human emissions are playing a role. They just think the solutions are likely to be far worse than the problem.</p> <p>"I don't think anybody in this room denies climate change," the Heartland Institute's James M. Taylor said in his opening remarks Monday. "We recognize it, but we're looking more at the causes, and more importantly, the consequences." Those consequences, Taylor and his colleagues are convinced, are unlikely to be catastrophic&mdash;and they might even turn out to be beneficial.</p> <p>Don't call them climate deniers. Call them climate optimists.</p> <p>They aren't an entirely new phenomenon. Fossil-fuel advocates have been touting the advantages of climate change since at least 1992, when the Western Fuels Association put out a pro&shy;&ndash;global warming video called "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep5ptrPN6ns" target="blank">The Greening of Planet Earth</a>." (It was a big hit with key figures in the George W. Bush administration.) Naomi Oreskes, co-author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1608193942/?tag=slatmaga-20" target="blank"><em>Merchants of Doubt</em></a>, traces this line of thinking even further back, to a 1983 report in which physicist Bill Nierenberg argued that humans would have no trouble adapting to a warmer world.</p> <p>As global warming became more politically polarized, however, coal lobbyists and their shills largely discarded the "global warming is good" approach in favor of questioning the science behind climate change models. &nbsp;These days the liberal stereotype of the climate change denier sounds more like James Inhofe, the Republican senator from Oklahoma who dismisses "<a href="http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/06/3125531/inhofe-winter-climate-change/" target="blank">the global warming thing</a>" as "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1936488493/?tag=slatmaga-20" target="blank">the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people</a>." (He still appears to believe that.)</p> <p>There are still a good number of Inhofe types at the Heartland Institute's conferences. But the pendulum of conservative sentiment may be swinging away from such conspiracy theories. Over the past few years, a concerted campaign by climate scientists and environmentalists, backed by mountains of evidence, has largely succeeded in <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/04/30/epa_chief_slams_climate_deniers_for_their_anti_science_shenanigans/" target="blank">branding climate change denial as "anti-science"</a> and pushing it to the margins of public discourse. Leading news outlets <a href="http://io9.com/bbc-institutes-changes-to-prevent-false-balance-in-sc-1600207025" target="blank">no longer feel compelled to "balance" every climate change story</a> with quotes from cranks who don't believe in it. Last month, the president of the United States mocked climate deniers as a "radical fringe" that might as well believe <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/06/14/obama_mocks_climate_change_deniers_at_uc_irvine.html" target="blank">the moon is "made of cheese."</a></p> <p>The backlash to the anti-science movement has left Republican leaders unsure of their ground. As Jonathan Chait pointed out in <em>New York </em>magazine, their default response to climate change questions has become, "<a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/05/why-republicans-always-say-im-not-a-scientist.html" target="blank">I'm not a scientist</a>."</p> <p>It's a clever stalling tactic, allowing the speaker to convey respect for science without accepting the scientific consensus. But it's also a cop-out, and it seems unlikely either to appease the right-wing base or to persuade <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/167972/steady-blame-humans-global-warming.aspx" target="blank">the majority of Americans who have no trouble believing that the climate is changing</a> despite not being scientists themselves. At last count, 57 percent told Gallup they believe human activities are to blame for rising global temperatures. That's up from a low of 50 percent in 2010. &nbsp;</p> <p>Eventually, then, top Republicans are going to need a stronger answer. And they might find it in the pro-science, anti-alarmist rhetoric exemplified by the climate optimists. Those include Richard Lindzen, the ex-MIT meteorology professor who spoke at the institute's 2009 conference and is now a fellow at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute.</p> <p>In <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/01/science/earth/clouds-effect-on-climate-change-is-last-bastion-for-dissenters.html" target="blank">a 2012 <em>New York Times</em> profile</a>, Lindzen affirmed that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and called those who dispute the point "nutty." But he predicts that negative feedback loops in the atmosphere will counteract its warming effects. The climate, he insists, is less sensitive to human emissions than environmentalists fear.</p> <p>Fellow climate scientists have found serious flaws in his work. Yet it retains currency at events such as the Heartland conference, where skeptics' findings tend not to be subjected to much skepticism themselves. (While several of the speakers are in fact scientists, few are climate scientists, and their diverse academic backgrounds make it difficult for them to engage directly with one another's research methods.)</p> <p>And the idea that the Earth's climate is too powerful a system for us puny humans to upset holds a certain folksy&mdash;not to mention religious&mdash;appeal. Still, the Heartland crowd is careful to frame its arguments in terms of science and skepticism rather than dogma.</p> <p>The climate-optimist cause has been aided immeasurably by a recent slowdown in the rise of the Earth's average surface temperatures. There are <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21598610-slowdown-rising-temperatures-over-past-15-years-goes-being" target="blank">several potential explanations for the apparent "pause,"</a> and most climate scientists anticipate that it will be short-lived. But it has been a godsend for those looking for holes in the prevailing models of catastrophic future warming.</p> <p>"Skeptics believe what they see," said Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast. "They look at the data and see no warming for 17 years, no increase in storms, no increase in the rate of sea-level rise, no new extinctions attributable to climate change&mdash;in short, no climate crisis."</p> <p>Meanwhile, the optimists point out, more carbon in the atmosphere means greater plant productivity and new opportunities for agriculture. In fact, Heartland communications director Jim Lakely told me in a phone interview, "The net benefits of warming are going to far outweigh any negative effects." Indeed, the institute recently published <a href="http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2014/03/25/benefits-global-warming-greatly-exceed-costs-new-study-says" target="blank">a study arguing just that</a>.</p> <p>The climate-optimist credo aligns neatly with public-opinion polls that show most Americans believe climate change is real and humans are causing it&mdash;they just <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/04/22/earth_day_pew_research_poll_shows_how_little_americans_care_about_the_planet.html" target="blank">don't view it as a top priority</a> compared with more tangible problems like health care costs. You can imagine how eager they are to be reassured that their complacency won't be punished.</p> <p>Again, not everyone at the Heartland conference is a climate optimist. Many are still focused on disputing the basic link between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures. As I watched the conference, it became clear that some have little trouble flipping between the two viewpoints. "This is what they always do," Oreskes told me in an email. "As the debate shifts, they shift."</p> <p>That makes it easy for liberals to dismiss self-professed climate skeptics as industry shills in scientists' clothing, especially since many of them, like the Cato Institute's Patrick Michaels, do in fact <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2010/08/16/113717/oil-fueled-pat-michaels/" target="blank">receive funding from the fossil-fuel industry</a>. For their part, the Heartland academics tend to view most mainstream climate scientists as conflicted by their reliance on government grants.</p> <p>In fact, it's not unreasonable to see the climate fight as part of a much broader ideological war in American society, says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. The debate over causes is often a proxy for a debate over solutions, which are likely to require global cooperation and government intervention in people's lives. Leiserowitz's research shows that climate deniers tend to be committed to values like individualism and small government while those most concerned about climate change are more likely to hold egalitarian and community-oriented political views.</p> <p>That doesn't mean, of course, that the evidence on both sides is equal. There's a reason the climate deniers are losing the scientific debate, and it isn't because academia is better funded than the energy industry. All of which helps to explain how climate optimism might be a more appealing approach these days than climate denial. Models of how climate change will impact society and the economy are subject to far more uncertainty than the science that links greenhouse gas emissions to the 20<sup>th</sup>-century warming trend. The costs of mitigating those emissions are more readily grasped: higher energy bills, government spending on alternative energy projects, lost jobs at coal plants. &nbsp;</p> <p>There are, however, a few pitfalls for conservatives who would embrace climate optimism as an alternative to climate change denial. Touting the recent slowdown in global average surface temperatures, for example, implies that such temperatures do in fact tell us a lot about the health of the climate. That will become an awkward stance in a hurry if the temperatures soon resume their climb.</p> <p>More broadly, shifting the climate change debate from causes to outcomes will put the "skeptics" in the Panglossian position of continually downplaying the costs of extreme weather events&mdash;like, say, the Las Vegas drought&mdash;even as their constituents are suffering from them. In the Heartland conference's opening keynote speech, meteorologist Joe Bastardi scoffed at the devastating wildfires that have swept across the Southwest far earlier than usual this season. "We had the wildfires in San Diego, right?" he said in a derisive tone. "I think it destroyed 80 houses, 90 houses. They had a wildfire back in October 2007 that took out <em>1,500 </em>houses&hellip;When people tell me things are worse now, I say, 'You can't be looking at what has happened before.'"</p> <p>It's one thing to tell people global warming isn't the source of their misery. It's a lot harder to look them in the eye and tell them their problems aren't that bad&mdash;especially if you're relying on them to vote you into public office.</p></body></html> Environment Climate Change Climate Desk The Right Fri, 11 Jul 2014 19:43:05 +0000 Will Oremus 255971 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 11 July 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/friday-cat-blogging-11-july-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>For a variety of reasons, fresh catblogging just didn't happen this week. So I'm going to do what everyone else does when they fail to meet an editorial deadline: run some old stuff and pretend it's an extra-special feature. So here you are: rarely seen archival footage from January 14, 2007, Domino's first day at home after we picked her up from the shelter. As you can see, she immediately made her way to a book about a magical cat who refrains from eating its shipmate. This was a good influence, I think.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_domino_2014_07_11.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 68px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 11 Jul 2014 18:53:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 255976 at http://www.motherjones.com This Is How HBO Makes the World of "Game Of Thrones" So Spectacularly Real http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/how-hbo-makes-world-game-thrones-so-spectacularly-real <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Season four of "Game of Thrones" is up for <a href="http://www.emmys.com/sites/default/files/Downloads/66th-nominations-list-v2.pdf" target="_blank">19 awards</a> at the 66th Emmys, including Outstanding Special and Visual Effects. This <a href="http://vimeo.com/100095868" target="_blank">recently released video</a> shows how HBO's visual effects wizards&mdash;led by VE Supervisors Joe Bauer and Joern Grosshans&mdash;make George R.R. Martin's books not only come alive but truly jump out of the screen.</p> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/100095868" target="_blank">Watch</a>:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" mozallowfullscreen="" src="//player.vimeo.com/video/100095868" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="630"><br></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:42:11 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 255951 at http://www.motherjones.com A Progress Report on "Reform Conservatism" http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/progress-report-reform-conservatism <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Does the new generation of "reform conservatives" represent real change for the Republican Party? In policy terms, not really. They've offered up a few variations on popular conservative themes (reducing taxes via child tax credits instead of cuts in top marginal rates, for example), but for the most part they've just nibbled around the edges. David Frum, however, <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/07/dont-knock-the-reform-conservatives/374247/" target="_blank">says this is still a good start:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>What matters most about the reformers is not the things they say but the things they don&rsquo;t. They don&rsquo;t abuse the long-term unemployed. They don&rsquo;t advocate tighter monetary policy in the midst of the worst slump since the 1930s. They don&rsquo;t urge an immigration policy intended to drive wages even lower than they have already tumbled.</p> <p>They don&rsquo;t pooh-pooh the risks of a government default on its obligations, as many conservatives did when radicals in the GOP forced debt-ceiling confrontations in 2011 and 2013. They don&rsquo;t blame budget deficits for the slow recovery from the crisis of 2009. They don&rsquo;t shrug off the economic and social troubles of 80 percent of the American nation.</p> </blockquote> <p>Fair enough. At the same time, there have always been successful conservatives who were tonally distinct from the tea party. Paul Ryan is the best-known example. He's mild-mannered and speaks in the language of an accountant. He always seems reasonable and willing to engage. He doesn't participate in tea party histrionics. In short, he doesn't say any of the things Frum mentions above.</p> <p>And yet, Ryan remains a tea party darling, and for good reason: his budget is a radically right-wing enterprise. Perhaps the most genuinely radical, genuinely right-wing enterprise in all of Washington.</p> <p>So the question for the reform conservatives is: What's next? Are they trying to build credibility with conservatives so they can later nudge them in a new direction? Or are they mostly just trying to put a friendly veneer on an essentially tea partyish agenda? We don't know yet, because so far they haven't been willing to take many risks. And with good reason. As a friend emailed just a few minutes ago, "The reformers are one bad suggestion away from being fully Frumanized out of the party."</p> <p>I wish the reformers luck. And I don't really blame them for their timidity so far. Still, it's far too early to tell how serious they are. We'll just have to wait and see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum The Right Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:40:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 255966 at http://www.motherjones.com Lebron James Is Going Back to Cleveland http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/lebron-james-going-back-cleveland <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.si.com/nba/2014/07/11/lebron-james-cleveland-cavaliers" target="_blank">Boom. </a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Sports Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:39:17 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 255961 at http://www.motherjones.com