Across the country people have been experiencing hazy skies from big wildfires in Western states. More than 3 million acres have already burned, and fire experts say this is just the beginning. A historic drought and heatwave have primed forests to burn big this year, just like they did last year.
A conservative estimate from the U.S. Forest Service said by 2015, fire season had gotten about two-and-a-half months longer than it was in the 1970s. Scientists say that number is growing even larger. At the same time, wildfires are burning more acres than ever before. The nine largest wildfire seasons since reliable records begin have occurred since 2005.
Nick Mott, editor of the Montana Public Radio podcast, Fireline, sat down with NPR to talk about the role climate change is playing in the west's worsening fire seasons.
Fire season is getting longer because of climate change?
People who study the natural world say it is. Like Cathy Whitlock, a paleoecologist at Montana State University. "I would say 95% of it's climate driven," she told me.
That 95% number is definitely the subject of lots of debate. But she thinks it's the right number because she's been looking back at thousands of years of climate history.
How is that possible?
Whitlock goes out on lakes, and then drills way down into the mud at their bottoms and pulls out these long core samples, because when wildfires burn, they deposit ash and charcoal on lakes, which settles down into the mud - so those cores contain records of wildfires going back thousands of years. She says the record shows that there is always more fire when the climate is warmer.
"When you have warmer winters you have less snowpack," she said. "Snow turns to rain. Earlier in the year, the snowpack that you get melts off faster and so you're left with less water in your high elevations as you go into summer."
Use the link for more text and more audio. Last night's "," I've never felt the need to apologize for a post before but let me apologize for that. I usually pull up a number of articles -- five -- to go through for a post. I'll read all five as I write and include stuff that's good. I had no idea what I was doing last night. I thought it was going to be a light post and then I got to my second pull quote and I just wanted to cry. I think I'm going to have to walk away from posts devoted to how awful our response to climate change is. It's just so depressing. By the third quote, I was telling myself I'd go back in and write around them to add something and the plan was to close with a story about a woman who documented climate change centuries ago. But I just wasn't able to. It was so depressing that I just posted it to be done.
So my apologies for last night's post. That doesn't mean that I think all of my other posts have been brilliant but that one was just an embarrassment. I don't know. I won't be around forever, maybe I shouldn't worry so much? My kids will be though. It's so depressing to realize each day that nothing is being done, nothing serious is being done to address this emergency.
At THE SCROLL, Sylvia G Dee notes:
Long before the current political divide over climate change, and even before the United States Civil War (1861-1865), an American scientist named Eunice Foote documented the underlying cause of today’s climate change crisis.
The year was 1856. Foote’s brief scientific paper was the first to describe the extraordinary power of carbon dioxide gas to absorb heat – the driving force of global warming.
Carbon dioxide is an odourless, tasteless, transparent gas that forms when people burn fuels, including coal, oil, gasoline and wood.
As Earth’s surface heats, one might think that the heat would just radiate back into space. But, it is not that simple. The atmosphere stays hotter than expected mainly due to greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and atmospheric water vapour, which all absorb outgoing heat.
They are called “greenhouse gases” because, not unlike the glass of a greenhouse, they trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere and radiate it back to the planet’s surface. The idea that the atmosphere trapped heat was known, but not the cause.
Foote conducted a simple experiment. She put a thermometer in each of two glass cylinders, pumped carbon dioxide gas into one and air into the other and set the cylinders in the Sun. The cylinder containing carbon dioxide got much hotter than the one with the air, and Foote realised that carbon dioxide would strongly absorb heat in the atmosphere.
That's how I had hoped to end last night's post.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Wednesday, July 28, 2021. Is Joe Biden all there? Is the press?
How sentinent is Joe Biden? At 78, it was never a surprise that people would question his coherence. This is someone who was hidden from the press while campaigning -- as a strategy. Even hidden away, his words weren't connecting. SKY NEWS is building a cottage industry around his questionable moments.
We could go on and on.
Joe was too old to run for president and never should have been given the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. He's 78. How old was Ronald Reagen when he left office? 77. He was elected at 69 and served two terms. It was obvious Reagan wasn't coherent at the end.
Some argue it's already apparent that Joe is incoherent.
That might explain why he's so determined to mislead the American people and why some in the press are so willing to lie.
Garbage like the article credited to "agencies" that Pakistan's DAILY TIMES runs which insists "After 18 years, US announces to end combat mission in Iraq." If you're as senile as many fear Joe Biden is, you might just nod along. If you're mind hasn't gone to mush, however, you'll probably be remembering this was declared in Barack Obama's first term as president.
NBC NEWS allows a little truth to emerge via a column they run online by Daniel R. DePetris:
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's visit to the White House on Monday produced what the Biden administration is marketing as a major announcement about the U.S. troop presence in Iraq: There won't be any U.S. combat troops in Iraq by the end of the year. The U.S. presence in the country will now focus on training, advising and enabling Iraqi security forces to conduct operations independently against the Islamic State militant group.
The Biden administration has framed this shift as a "significant evolution" in the U.S. mission in Iraq, with support personnel and logisticians favored over Apache helicopters and special forces. There's only one problem with this line of thought: The latest announcement won't do much to change U.S. military operations in Iraq, let alone end them.
What the White House is trumpeting as a withdrawal is more like a reclassification, in which combat troops become trainers and advisers in behalf of the Iraqi army. The current U.S. force posture in Iraq, about 2,500 troops, will remain almost the same. The mission U.S. troops are tasked with today is the same mission they were tasked with a week ago, with little sign of letting up: a seemingly endless endeavor to build a perfect Iraqi military.
So that's Daniel R. DePetris, Ruth Sherlock, (NPR) and us. Guess what? We're all still breathing.
Meanwhile, ANTIWAR.COM continues to lie -- most recently in the latest from Jason Ditzy. WSWS just completely ignores the whole issue. Didn't think either of you outlets existed to provide cover for politicians but I guess we can tell by your actions, right?
Look, Daniel, Ruth and us, we're all in the pool. Como on in and join us, you can even stay on the shallow end or visit the kiddie pool.
I'm just sick of this garbage. You self-present as truth tellers but you take a pass time and again. WSWS needs, apparently, multiple days after an announcement (lie) is issued by the government to respond and Ditzy and his ANTIWAR gang just run with whatever the government says.
Do we need to buy them floaties? Would that help.
(Yes, we are fine. I've read the e-mails and was already aware of what happened last night. Their little games do not hurt us and haven't in the past and they're learning that payback is always meted out -- not by me but by UK supporters. That's all we'll say here. If we had a community newsletter today or tomorrow, I wouldn't even say that. This will be addressed in the gina & krista round-robin.)
The front pages of THE PROGRESSIVE, THE NATION and IN THESE TIMES have nothing on it either. Noting that before ________ with WSWS to whine that others didn't cover it.
WSWS has spent how many weeks calling out JACOBIN? For not covering this or that? But it can't cover this lie being spread by the White House via the press?
It really is a garbage media we are being asked to build. Send money, send money!!!!! We are the last tellers of truth!!!!!
What a load of garbage. They're lazy pandhandlers. And they prove it by doing nothing with the money they've been given.
Trudy Rubin is someone I've long disagreed with on many things releated to Iraq. We've included her frequently over the years because she truly does care about Iraq. This is from her latest from THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER:
But he also made clear that U.S. forces — probably most of the 2,500 now in the country — would be rebranded to “train, to assist, to help and to deal with ISIS.”
Unlike his abrupt end to the “forever war” in Afghanistan, Biden wants to deepen a strategic partnership with Iraq.
Moreover, the White House wants to help Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, an unusual Iraqi leader. He is trying to pull together a country fragmented by sectarianism, corruption, and by Iranian meddling, including aid to Shiite militias that challenge the government.
And there it is. The US is trying to rig the election for Mustafa.
Mustafa is a lousy prime minister. But even if he was a great one, the pretense Joe Biden's carrying out is an attempt to influence a foreign election.
Joe should really learn to butt the hell out.
He is the one who negotiated The Erbil Agreement -- the legal contract that threw out the 2010 votes so that Nouri al-Maliki could get the second term that the Iraqi people voted to avoid.
Back then, Susan Rice and Samantha Power were insistent that Nouri al-Maliki had to have a second term. It was the only way, they insisted, to achieve US goals. The man running the secret prisons and torture chambers, the man who saw everyone as his enemy must be given a second term over the objection of the Iraqi people. Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates did object. But Joe sided with Rice and Powers. (Hillary and Robert's stance was what Joe's had been originally in March of 2010 -- that the winner should be named prime minister-designate -- that would be Ayad Allawi.)
Anybody remember how that turned out?
Nouri's second term saw him persecute even more Iraqis and ISIS rose up as a result of his persecution of Sunnis. ISIS, under Nouri, would terrorize the country. It would also do something that terrorists don't generally do, it would seize control of parts of the country.
That's on Joe Biden and the gang who couldn't support democracy or respect the votes.
They just knew better -- in their minds.
We're there again with Mustafa. He has accomplished nothing. The Iraqi people are suffering. But here's the US government yet again trying to influence the government. As noted in the roundtable for POLLY'S BREW with Iraqi community members, there's a feeling of why even bother to vote this go round since Joe's back in the White House and they know he overturned their votes in 2010?
A lot of people are saying that they won't participate in the elections.
Some leaders in The October Revolution have announced that they won't be voting. Some Christians have announced the same. XINHUA notes that there are now three political groups that are also saying they won't participate:
The Iraqi National Dialogue Front announced on Wednesday its withdrawal from the parliamentary elections scheduled for Oct. 10.
It is the third political group, after Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc and the Iraqi Communist Party, that has decided to withdraw from the upcoming Iraqi elections.
"The failure to provide a safe environment for early elections and the proliferation of out-of-control weapons are all factors that confirm that no clear change will happen, and accordingly, the Front decided not to participate in the elections," the Front said in a statement.
The Front, led by Salih al-Mutlak, participated in the 2018 elections as part of the al-Wataniya (National) Coalition led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a veteran secular politician. The coalition won 21 out of the 329 seats in the parliament.
On the withdrawal of Ayad Allawi's National Dialogue Front, Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) notes:
In a press conference on Wednesday in Baghdad, Judge Wael Abdullatif, the deputy of the Forum, announced the decision. The electoral list was headed by Allawi, a former prime minister and seasoned politician.
Abdullatif said he expects very low turnout in the planned elections, which would result in a “weak government.”
He urged other political parties to take the same position.
It is not yet clear how the latest withdrawals by major parties will affect the planned vote. Government officials, including Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi regularly reiterate that the election will be held on time – Oct. 10.
In 2010, Joe Biden tossed aside the Iraqi votes and Ayad Allawi's chance at being the prime minister. Wonder if Joe's position as US President currently had any impact on Allawi's decision?
The CIA estimates that Sunnis make up approximately 34% of Iraq's population -- a significant number -- unless you're ANTIWAR.COM. (ANTIWAR.COM works to disappear the Sunnis the same way WSWS works to disappear the Kurds.) Their votes? It appears that there is a huge enthusiasm gap. ARAB WEEKLY offers a lengthy analysis which includes:
Most Iraqi Sunnis do not trust the political forces and parties that represent them. The tensions between Halbousi and Khanjar have increased that level of mistrust ahead of the parliamentary elections, which are expected to be held next October.
Sunnis, whether displaced or residing in their areas, realise that Halbousi and Khanjar have been picked by the ruling Shia parties to play the role of the community’s representatives.
Khanjar is allied with a number of Iranian-aligned Shia forces, including the Badr Organisation headed by Hadi al-Amiri and the Islamic Dawa Party headed by Nuri al-Maliki, while al-Halbousi enjoys the support of Kurdish and Shia leaders, including former Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani and the leader of the Sadrist movement Muqtada al-Sadr.
After the elimination of most of the supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq, Khanjar made a radical shift in his political position, transforming himself in the process from a radical critic of Iran to ally of the Shia Islamist regime in Tehran.
Halbousi’s supporters say that Tehran wants to reward Khanjar for this political u-turn by giving him the chance to participate in returning part of the Sunni community of Jurf al-Sakhar, 60 kilometers southwest of Baghdad, to their areas. Local media sources have earlier suggested that Khanjar has reached an agreement with Shia militias, according to which he gave up most of the areas in Jurf al-Sakhar in exchange for allowing part of the Sunni population to return to their homes.
Since 2018, no Iraqi official has been able to enter Jurf al-Sakhar after the displacement of its Sunni residents, while sources say that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps directly supervised the transformation of parts of this area into camps for Shia militias, weapons stores and sites for taking off and landing drones. The Shia militias also exploited vast agricultural areas in Jurf al-Sakhar to create farms and fields, raising livestock, poultry and fish.
Independent Iraqi politician Jabbar al-Mashhadani told The Arab Weekly that Khanjar’s alliance with Iran, through Qatari mediation, is his magic recipe for hijacking Sunni votes.
Mashhadani, however, warned the spell could turn on Khanjar if the political situation changes or if regional balances shift.
RUDAW has an important piece that we'll note the opening of:
US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller spoke with Rudaw's Roj Elli
Zalla in Washington DC, discussing developments in the US mission in
Iraq, the upcoming parliamentary elections, and the Kurdistan Workers'
Party (PKK) in the Kurdistan Region.
Echoing other US officials, Tueller reiterated Washington's role in Iraq is to enable Iraqi security forces to fight the Islamic State (ISIS), saying that anyone criticizing the US presence is resisting the state.
The US is also providing financial support to the UN mission in Iraq, and the electoral commission, in preparation for the October elections.
He also refuted claims that the US is "quiet" on the Turkey-PKK conflict, and says Washington wants a strong Iraqi state to contribute to a more peaceful Middle East.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Some of the militia groups are saying combat troops, advisor troops, this is just a change of names and the US is not really withdrawing. What do you say to that?
The security issue has dominated much of the discussion, but let me remind everybody that of course our presence there is at the request and invitation of the Iraqi government, they asked us to come in and lead an international coalition to help the Iraqi government deliver the decisive and enduring defeat of ISIS. We have accomplished much of that mission and we are at a stage now where we can assess what are the capabilities of the Iraqi forces, whether from the Peshmerga, the Iraqi security forces, or the counter terrorism forces and what are their needs. That’s the nature of the discussion. I would dismiss those who are criticizing this or anything because what they are really resisting, is they are resisting an Iraqi state, they are resisting a state that is able to provide security for the Iraqi people, they are resisting an Iraqi state that is able to provide jobs, predictability that is what their resistance is. There is no occupation by any foreign force, certainly not by the US. Our role there, operating within the Iraqi bases and the Iraqi operation centers, is to enable and make the Iraqi forces the most capable they can be.
This agreement between Iraq and the US, do you think this might lead to a better condition for the embassy to open up, and the US bases there that would face less attacks?
Well of course we do not have US bases in Iraq, we have some of our military that are on Iraqi bases whether in Ain al-Assad or Erbil or elsewhere so there are no US bases. We have an embassy, as we have embassies in any country in the world, and it is normal that a host government is responsible for protecting embassies and protecting forces that are in the country of the invitation. So the real question is for the Iraqi government, will they be able to stand up to those forces that as I said are resisting the Iraqi government. Will they be able to hold accountable those who are conducting these attacks, will they be able to deter them, will they be able to chase them down. I have seen some success in that regard and we hail that and we hope that the Iraqi government will continue to pursue very, very aggressively these forces that ultimately are threatening the interest of Iraq and the Iraqi people.
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