The Thom Hartmann Program - Aug 30th 2018

It seems it's all racism, all the time w/the GOP...Neo-Nazi robocall hits Iowa on Molly Tibbett’s murder: “KILL THEM ALL. ” Richard Wolff drops by about the National Debt. Is it a disaster or an OK thing? Also - Trump & The National Enquirer - Is the Economy Here To Serve Us Or Are We Here to Serve the economy? Has America Become a "Grifter" Country? Check out our short podcast today



deepspace's picture
deepspace 1 year 38 weeks ago

Shirley Chapian (below) fits Óinseach/Gobshite/MentalAge3 to a T.



The Washinton Post - "Democracy Dies in Darkness" - 11/18/18 (fair use)

‘Nothing on this page is real’: How lies become truth in online America

By Eli Saslow:

[image by Jabin Botsford/Washington Post -- Christopher Blair, 46, sits at his desk at home in Maine and checks his Facebook page, America’s Last Line of Defense. He launched the political-satire portal with other liberal bloggers during the 2016 presidential campaign.]

NORTH WATERBORO, Maine —The only light in the house came from the glow of three computer monitors, and Christopher Blair, 46, sat down at a keyboard and started to type. His wife had left for work and his children were on their way to school, but waiting online was his other community, an unreality where nothing was exactly as it seemed. He logged onto his website and began to invent his first news story of the day.

“BREAKING,” he wrote, pecking out each letter with his index fingers as he considered the possibilities. Maybe he would announce that Hillary Clinton had died during a secret overseas mission to smuggle more refugees into America. Maybe he would award President Trump the Nobel Peace Prize for his courage in denying climate change.

A new message popped onto Blair’s screen from a friend who helped with his website. “What viral insanity should we spread this morning?” the friend asked.

“The more extreme we become, the more people believe it,” Blair replied.

He had launched his new website on Facebook during the 2016 presidential campaign as a practical joke among friends — a political satire site started by Blair and a few other liberal bloggers who wanted to make fun of what they considered to be extremist ideas spreading throughout the far right. In the last two years on his page, America’s Last Line of Defense, Blair had made up stories about California instituting sharia, former president Bill Clinton becoming a serial killer, undocumented immigrants defacing Mount Rushmore, and former president Barack Obama dodging the Vietnam draft when he was 9. “Share if you’re outraged!” his posts often read, and thousands of people on Facebook had clicked “like” and then “share,” most of whom did not recognize his posts as satire. Instead, Blair’s page had become one of the most popular on Facebook among Trump-supporting conservatives over 55.

“Nothing on this page is real,” read one of the 14 disclaimers on Blair’s site, and yet in the America of 2018 his stories had become real, reinforcing people’s biases, spreading onto Macedonian and Russian fake news sites, amassing an audience of as many 6 million visitors each month who thought his posts were factual. What Blair had first conceived of as an elaborate joke was beginning to reveal something darker. “No matter how racist, how bigoted, how offensive, how obviously fake we get, people keep coming back,” Blair once wrote, on his own personal Facebook page. “Where is the edge? Is there ever a point where people realize they’re being fed garbage and decide to return to reality?”

Blair’s own reality was out beyond the shuttered curtains of his office: a three-bedroom home in the forest of Maine where the paved road turned to gravel; not his house but a rental; not on the lake but near it. Over the past decade his family had moved around the country a half-dozen times as he looked for steady work, bouncing between construction and restaurant jobs while sometimes living on food stamps. During the economic crash of 2008, his wife had taken a job at Wendy’s to help pay down their credit-card debt, and Blair, a lifelong Democrat, had begun venting his political frustration online, arguing with strangers in an Internet forum called Brawl Hall. He sometimes masqueraded as a tea party conservative on Facebook so he could gain administrative access into their private groups and then flood their pages with liberal ideas before using his administrative status to shut their pages down.

He had created more than a dozen online profiles over the last years, sometimes disguising himself in accompanying photographs as a beautiful Southern blond woman or as a bandana-wearing conservative named Flagg Eagleton, baiting people into making racist or sexist comments and then publicly eviscerating them for it. In his writing Blair was blunt, witty and prolific, and gradually he’d built a liberal following on the Internet and earned a full-time job as a political blogger. On the screen, like nowhere else, he could say exactly how he felt and become whomever he wanted.

Now he hunched over a desk wedged between an overturned treadmill and two turtle tanks, scanning through conservative forums on Facebook for something that might inspire his next post. He was 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds, and he typed several thousand words each day in all capital letters. He noticed a photo online of Trump standing at attention for the national anthem during a White House ceremony. Behind the president were several dozen dignitaries, including a white woman standing next to a black woman, and Blair copied the picture, circled the two women in red and wrote the first thing that came into his mind.

“President Trump extended an olive branch and invited Michelle Obama and Chelsea Clinton,” Blair wrote. “They thanked him by giving him ‘the finger’ during the national anthem. Lock them up for treason!”

Blair finished typing and looked again at the picture. The white woman was not in fact Chelsea Clinton but former White House strategist Hope Hicks. The black woman was not Michelle Obama but former Trump aide Omarosa Newman. Neither Obama nor Clinton had been invited to the ceremony. Nobody had flipped off the president. The entire premise was utterly ridiculous, which was exactly Blair’s point.

“We live in an Idiocracy,” read a small note on Blair’s desk, and he was taking full advantage. In a good month, the advertising revenue from his website earned him as much as $15,000, and it had also won him a loyal army of online fans. Hundreds of liberals now visited America’s Last Line of Defense to humiliate conservatives who shared Blair’s fake stories as fact. In Blair’s private Facebook messages with his liberal supporters, his conservative audience was made up of “sheep,” “hillbillies,” “maw-maw and paw-paw,” “TrumpTards,” “potatoes” and “taters.”

“How could any thinking person believe this nonsense?” he said. He hit the publish button and watched as his lie began to spread.

[image by Jabin Botsford/Washington Post -- Shirley Chapian, 76, sits in a lot near her home in Pahrump, Nev. She is more than a decade into retirement.]

It was barely dawn in Pahrump, Nev., when Shirley Chapian, 76, logged onto Facebook for her morning computer game of Criminal Case. She believed in starting each day with a problem-solving challenge, a quick mental exercise to keep her brain sharp more than a decade into retirement. For a while it had been the daily crossword puzzle, but then the local newspaper stopped delivering and a friend introduced her to the viral Facebook game with 65 million players. She spent an hour as a 1930s detective, interrogating witnesses and trying to parse their lies from the truth until finally she solved case No. 48 and clicked over to her Facebook news feed.

“Good morning, Shirley! Thanks for being here,” read an automated note at the top of her page. She put her finger on the mouse and began scrolling down.

“Click LIKE if you believe we must stop Sharia Law from coming to America before it’s too late,” read the first item, and she clicked “like.”

“Share to help END the ongoing migrant invasion!” read another, and she clicked “share.”

The house was empty and quiet except for the clicking of her computer mouse. She lived alone, and on many days her only personal interaction occurred here, on Facebook. Mixed into her morning news feed were photos and updates from some of her 300 friends, but most items came directly from political groups Chapian had chosen to follow: “Free Speech Patriots,” “Taking Back America,” “Ban Islam,” “Trump 2020” and “Rebel Life.” Each political page published several posts each day directly into Chapian’s feed, many of which claimed to be “BREAKING NEWS.”

On her computer the attack against America was urgent and unrelenting. Liberals were restricting free speech. Immigrants were storming the border and casting illegal votes. Politicians were scheming to take away everyone’s guns. “The second you stop paying attention, there’s another travesty underway in this country,” Chapian once wrote, in her own Facebook post, so she had decided to always pay attention, sometimes scrolling and sharing for hours at a time.

“BREAKING: Democrat mega-donor accused of sexual assault!!!”

“Is Michelle Obama really dating Bruce Springsteen?”

“Iowa Farmer Claims Bill Clinton had Sex with Cow during ‘Cocaine Party.’ ”

On display above Chapian’s screen were needlepoints that had once occupied much of her free time, intricate pieces of artwork that took hundreds of hours to complete, but now she didn’t have the patience. Out her window was a dead-end road of identical beige-and-brown rock gardens surrounding double-wide trailers that looked similar to her own, many of them occupied by neighbors whom she’d never met. Beyond that was nothing but cactuses and heat waves for as far as she could see — a stretch of unincorporated land that continued from her backyard into the desert.

She’d spent almost a decade in Pahrump without really knowing why. The heat could be unbearable. She had no family in Nevada. She loved going to movies, and the town of 30,000 didn’t have a theater. It seemed to her like a place in the business of luring people — into the air-conditioned casinos downtown, into the legal brothels on the edge of the desert, into the new developments of cheap housing available for no money down — and in some ways she’d become stuck, too.

She had lived much of her life in cities throughout Europe and across the United States — places such as San Francisco, New York and Miami. She’d gone to college for a few years and become an insurance adjuster, working as one of the few women in the field in the 1980s and ’90s and joining the National Organization for Women to advocate for an equal wage before eventually moving to Rhode Island to work for a hospice and care for her aging parents. After her mother died, Chapian decided to retire and move to Las Vegas to live with a friend, and when Las Vegas become too expensive a real estate agent told her about Pahrump. She bought a three-bedroom trailer for less than $100,000 and painted it purple. She met a few friends at the local senior center and started eating at the Thai restaurant in town. A few years after arriving, she bought a new computer monitor and signed up for Facebook in 2009, choosing as her profile image a photo of her cat.

“Looking to connect with friends and other like-minded people,” she wrote then.

She had usually voted for Republicans, just like her parents, but it was only on Facebook that Chapian had become a committed conservative. She was wary of Obama in the months after his election, believing him to be both arrogant and inexperienced, and on Facebook she sought out a litany of information that seemed to confirm her worst fears, unaware that some of that information was false. It wasn’t just that Obama was liberal, she read; he was actually a socialist. It wasn’t just that his political qualifications were thin; it was that he had fabricated those qualifications, including parts of his college transcripts and maybe even his birth certificate.

For years she had watched network TV news, but increasingly Chapian wondered about the widening gap between what she read online and what she heard on the networks. “What else aren’t they telling us?” she wrote once, on Facebook, and if she believed the mainstream media was becoming insufficient or biased, it was her responsibility to seek out alternatives. She signed up for a dozen conservative newsletters and began to watch Alex Jones on Infowars. One far right Facebook group eventually led her to the next with targeted advertising, and soon Chapian was following more than 2,500 conservative pages, an ideological echo chamber that often trafficked in skepticism. Climate change was a hoax. The mainstream media was censored or scripted. Political Washington was under control of a “deep state.”

Chapian didn’t believe everything she read online, but she was also distrustful of mainstream fact-checkers and reported news. It sometimes felt to her like real facts had become indiscernible — that the truth was often somewhere in between. What she trusted most was her own ability to think critically and discern the truth, and increasingly her instincts aligned with the online community where she spent most of her time. It had been months since she’d gone to a movie. It had been almost a year since she’d made the hour-long trip to Las Vegas. Her number of likes and shares on Facebook increased each year until she was sometimes awakening to check her news feed in the middle of the night, liking and commenting on dozens of posts each day. She felt as if she was being let in on a series of dark revelations about the United States, and it was her responsibility to see and to share them.

“I’m not a conspiracy-theory-type person, but . . .” she wrote, before sharing a link to an unsourced story suggesting that Democratic donor George Soros had been a committed Nazi, or that a Parkland shooting survivor was actually a paid actor.

Now another post arrived in her news feed, from a page called America’s Last Line of Defense, which Chapian had been following for more than a year. It showed a picture of Trump standing at a White House ceremony. Circled in the background were two women, one black and one white.

“President Trump extended an olive branch and invited Michelle Obama and Chelsea Clinton,” the post read. “They thanked him by giving him ‘the finger’ during the national anthem.”

Chapian looked at the photo and nothing about it surprised her. Of course Trump had invited Clinton and Obama to the White House in a generous act of patriotism. Of course the Democrats — or “Demonrats,” as Chapian sometimes called them — had acted badly and disrespected America. It was the exact same narrative she saw playing out on her screen hundreds of times each day, and this time she decided to click ‘like’ and leave a comment.

“Well, they never did have any class,” she wrote.

[image by Jabin Botsford/Washington Post -- Chapian’s newsfeed awaits her return. She says she doesn’t believe everything she reads online, but she also is distrustful of mainstream fact-checkers and reported news.]

Blair had invented thousands of stories in the past two years, always trafficking in the same stereotypes to fool the same people, but he never tired of watching a post take off: Eight shares in the first minute, 160 within 15 minutes, more than 1,000 by the end of the hour.

“Aaaaand, we’re viral,” he wrote, in a message to his liberal supporters on his private Facebook page. “It’s getting to the point where I can no longer control the absolute absurdity of the things I post. No matter how ridiculous, how obviously fake, or how many times you tell the same taters . . . they will still click that ‘like’ and hit that share button.”

By the standards of America’s Last Line of Defense, the item about Michelle Obama and Chelsea Clinton was only a moderate success. It included no advertisements, so it wouldn’t earn Blair any money. It wasn’t even the most popular of the 11 items he’d published that day. But, just an hour earlier, Blair had come up with an idea at his computer in Maine, and now hundreds or maybe thousands of people across the country believed Obama and Clinton had flipped off the president.

“Gross. Those women have no respect for themselves,” wrote a woman in Fort Washakie, Wyo.

“They deserve to be publicly shunned,” said a man in Gainesville, Fla.

“Not surprising behavior from such ill bred trash.”

“Jail them now!!!”

Blair had fooled them. Now came his favorite part, the gotcha, when he could let his victims in on the joke.

“OK, taters. Here’s your reality check,” he wrote on America’s Last Line of Defense, placing his comment prominently alongside the original post. “That is Omarosa and Hope Hicks, not Michelle Obama and Chelsea Clinton. They wouldn’t be caught dead posing for this pseudo-patriotic nationalistic garbage . . . Congratulations, stupid.”

Beyond the money he earned, this was what Blair had conceived of as the purpose for his website: to engage directly with people who spread false or extremist stories and prove those stories were wrong. Maybe, after people had been publicly embarrassed, they would think more critically about what they shared online. Maybe they would begin to question the root of some of their ideas.

Blair didn’t have time to personally confront each of the several hundred thousand conservatives who followed his Facebook page, so he’d built a community of more than 100 liberals to police the page with him. Together they patrolled the comments, venting their own political anger, shaming conservatives who had been fooled, taunting them, baiting them into making racist comments that could then be reported to Facebook. Blair said he and his followers had gotten hundreds of people banned from Facebook and several others fired or demoted in their jobs for offensive behavior online. He had also forced Facebook to shut down 22 fake news sites for plagiarizing his content, many of which were Macedonian sites that reran his stories without labeling them as satire.

What Blair wasn’t sure he had ever done was change a single person’s mind. The people he fooled often came back to the page, and he continued to feed them the kind of viral content that boosted his readership and his bank account: invented stories about Colin Kaepernick, kneeling NFL players, imams, Black Lives Matter protesters, immigrants, George Soros, the Clinton Foundation, Michelle and Malia Obama. He had begun to include more obvious disclaimers at the top of every post and to intentionally misspell several words in order to highlight the idiocy of his work, but still traffic continued to climb. Sometimes he wondered: Rather than of awakening people to reality, was he pushing them further from it?

“Well, they never did have any class,” commented Shirley Chapian, from Pahrump, Nev., and Blair watched his liberal followers respond.

“That’s kind of an ironic comment coming from pure trailer trash, don’t you think?”

“You’re a gullible moron who just fell for a fake story on a Liberal satire page.”

“You my dear . . . are as smart as a potato.”

“What a waste of flesh and time.”

“Welcome to the internet. Critical thinking required.”

Chapian saw the comments after her post and wondered as she often did when she was attacked: Who were these people? And what were they talking about? Of course Michelle Obama and Chelsea Clinton had flipped off the president. It was true to what she knew of their character. That was what mattered.

Instead of responding directly to strangers on America’s Last Line of Defense, Chapian wrote on her own Facebook page. “Nasty liberals,” she said, and then she went back to her news feed, each day blending into the next.

A Muslim woman with her burqa on fire: like. A policeman using a baton to beat a masked antifa protester: like. Hillary Clinton looking gaunt and pale: like. A military helicopter armed with machine guns and headed toward the caravan of immigrants: like.

She had spent a few hours scrolling one afternoon when she heard a noise outside her window, and she turned away from the screen to look outside. A neighbor was sweeping his sidewalk, pushing tiny white rocks back into his rock garden. The sky was an uninterrupted blue. A mailman worked his way up the empty street. There were no signs of “Sharia Law.” The migrant caravan was still hundreds of miles away in Mexico. Antifa protesters had yet to descend on Pahrump. Chapian squinted against the sun, closed the shades and went back to her screen.

A picture of undocumented immigrants laughing inside a voting booth: like.

“Deep State Alive and Well”: like.

She scrolled upon another post from America’s Last Line of Defense, reading fast, oblivious to the satire labels and not noticing Blair’s trademark awkward phrasings and misspellings. It showed a group of children kneeling on prayer mats in a classroom. “California School children forced to Sharia in Class,” it read. “All of them have stopped eating bacon. Two began speaking in Allah. Stop making children pray to imaginary Gods!!”

Chapian recoiled from the screen. “Please!” she said. “If I had a kid in a school system like that, I’d yank them out so fast.”

She had seen hundreds of stories on Facebook about the threat of sharia, and this confirmed much of what she already believed. It was probably true, she thought. It was true enough.

“Do people understand that things like this are happening in this country?” she said. She clicked the post and the traffic registered back to a computer in Maine, where Blair watched another story go viral and wondered when his audience would get his joke.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 1 year 38 weeks ago

Wired - Science section - 11/9/18 - (fair use)


By Mat Simon:

[image by JOSH EDELSON/GETTY IMAGES -- It used to be that fires destroyed exurbs or scattered enclaves. Now they plow through cities.]

Editor’s note: This is a developing story about California’s Camp Fire, Hill Fire, and Woolsey Fire. We will update it as more information becomes available.

At 6:30 am on November 8, a wildfire of astounding proportions and speed broke out in Northern California. Dubbed the Camp Fire, at one point it was burning 80 acres a minute.

When it hit the town of Paradise, home to 27,000 people, those buildings became yet more fuel to power the blaze. It has destroyed almost 13,000 structures. For perspective, the previously most destructive wildfire in state history, Tubbs Fire that raged through the city of Santa Rosa last year, destroyed 5,500 total structures.

The death toll so far stands at 76. That makes it by far the deadliest wildfire in California history. Almost 1,300 people are still missing. And the blaze is 60 percent contained, with an estimated full containment date of Nov. 30.

“We're seeing urban conflagrations, and that's the real phase change in recent years,” says Stephen Pyne, a wildfire expert at Arizona State University. It used to be that fires destroyed exurbs or scattered enclaves. “But what's remarkable is the way they're plowing over cities, which we thought was something that had been banished a century ago.”

The Camp Fire horror show, which burned 70,000 acres in 24 hours, and has now reached 150,000 acres, is a confluence of factors. The first is wind—lots of it, blasting in from the east. “We have a weather event, in this case a downslope windstorm, where, as opposed to the normal westerly winds, we get easterly winds that are cascading off the crest of the Sierra Nevada,” says Neil Lareau, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Nevada, Reno.

A windstorm barreling from the east set the stage for this disaster. It’s a normal phenomenon that comes from the jet stream, which this time of year grows stronger. North and south “meanders” in the jet stream, known as troughs and ridges, get amplified. These cold air masses travel through the Great Basin in Nevada and spill over the Sierra Nevada Mountains in eastern California. Big meanders set up very-high-pressure areas that accelerate winds.

“Then they get local accelerations on top of that as they flow down the mountain ranges, kind of like water over a dam,” Lareau says. Some areas in California are particularly prone to downsloping winds. “Unfortunately, right where the Camp Fire is is one of those places.”

“I always like to say nothing good comes from an east wind in California,” Lareau adds.

As the air descends at an accelerating pace, it warms up and drives the relative humidity down. Which brings us to our second factor in the horror show: fuel—lots of it. It may be November, but California is still extremely dry, which means plenty of vegetation that’s primed to go up in flames.

The east winds further dehydrate the vegetation. This is where something called the evaporative demand drought index comes in. “You can think about it as how thirsty the atmosphere is,” Lareau says. “How strongly does the atmosphere want to pull water out of the vegetation and out of the ground?”

Very strongly, in the case of the Camp Fire and those downslope winds. So it isn’t just a matter of things being generally dry for the season in Northern California—ground and vegetation moisture fluctuates day to day, too. Scientists can calculate this in part by going out and cutting vegetation, weighing it, drying it out, and weighing it again.

“This tells us those fuels have been drying out really, really rapidly over the past few days and into this event,” Lareau says. Just take a look at the eerily prescient tweet below from meteorologist Rob Elvington the day before the Camp Fire broke out.

[image graph -- "Worse than no rain is negative rain. Evaporative Demand Index (EDDI) is maxing out for some areas for the last 4 weeks." #CAwx -- Rob Elvington​]

So you’ve got hot, dry gusts of 40 or 50 miles per hour from the northeast pushing the fire, and the fire is itself creating wind, further accelerating the conflagration. As it moves along, embers fly out of the front of the fire. “As the fuels get drier, a smaller and smaller spark can leapfrog the fire through the landscape,” Lareau says. “That's just another way this thing comes up and bites you.”

“It's hot, dry, and windy, are your ingredients,” he adds. “We checked off all three here.”

That’s probably why the city of Paradise has suffered such astonishing losses. Urban areas aren’t supposed to burn, at least they haven’tbeen supposed to since San Francisco in 1906. They’ve been designed and built with better materials (read: a whole city isn’t made of wood alone anymore) and more defensible spaces. But with a conflagration like the Camp Fire, it can overwhelm an urban area by setting off hundreds or thousands of tiny fires, perhaps miles ahead of the main fire itself. There’s no single line to put up a fight, so firefighters are overwhelmed.

“It looks like it's another case where you've got billions and billions of embers riding with the wind,” Pyne says. “It only takes one ember to take out a house or a hospital. If there's any point of vulnerability, all those embers will find it.”

Shortly after the Camp Fire broke out, the Hill Fire erupted in Southern California near Thousand Oaks. And yet another, the Woolsey Fire, has burned 100,000 acres and destroyed at least 1,130 structures.

It was no coincidence that these fires landed all at once. “Literally the same air mass is what's causing the beginnings of a strong Santa Ana event ongoing now, as this air mass sags south through California,” Lareau says.

North or south, the state is extremely dry already. But these warm winds ripping through the Sierras are only making matters worse, siphoning what little moisture California’s vegetation has left. While the winds will likely die down a bit over the next few days, they’re due to pick back up again Sunday, which could bring still more fires.

This is what a climate change reckoning looks like. “All of it is embedded in the background trend of things getting warmer,” Lareau says. “The atmosphere as it gets warmer is thirstier.” Like a giant atmospheric mosquito, climate change is sucking California dry.

The consequence is fires of unprecedented, almost unimaginable scale. California cities are no longer safe from fire, and with climate change, things are only bound to get worse from here. Consider that seven of the 20 most destructive fires in state history have burned just in the last year.

“Mass shootings and mass burnings,” Pyne says. “Welcome to the new America.”

deepspace's picture
deepspace 1 year 38 weeks ago

The Hill - 11/18/18 - (fair use)

"Congress cannot ignore climate change as California burns"

By Shahir Masri:

[UPI Photo]

It was only a year ago that California experienced its most intense wildfire season in the state's history. In October came the TUBBS Fire, which became the state's most destructive wildfire, claiming some 5,600 structures. It was followed shortly by the Thomas Fire, scorching over 280,000 acres and becoming California's largest wildfire on record. Though a devastating year, 2018 has proven even worse. With summer came the state's new "largest" wildfire - The Mendocino Complex Fire - which out-burned the Thomas Fire by over 180,000 acres. And just this month we saw the Camp Fire become California's new "most destructive" wildfire - destroying 2,000 more homes and structures than the TUBBS Fire, and taking almost twice as many lives. What's going on with the Golden State?

Climate scientists will tell you that what we're witnessing is unusual, but not unexpected. That is, scientists have predicted these disasters - wildfires - to become more rampant in the West as global temperatures rise. Based on the U.S. National Climatic Data Center, average temperatures in California have been steadily increasing since the early 1900s. As drought conditions become more frequent and vegetation drier, the risk of major wildfires has grown.

What about the notion that California has always been a fire-prone state? While true, the severity of recent fires is extreme, even by California standards. Within a single three-month period last year, California experienced five of its 20 most destructive wildfires on record. In fact, if you look at the 10 largest wildfires in the state's history, the list is not a mixed bag of infernos dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. Far from it. Nine of the state's 10 largest wildfires occurred in just the last two decades. This is not your ordinary California. To the contrary, it's something new. Frighteningly, it may also be the "new normal," to echo California Gov. Jerry Brown's words in the wake of last years Thomas Fire.

In a recent tweet, President Trump blamed California's growing wildfire epidemic on "poor" forest management. "Remedy now, or no more Fed payments," he threatened. Never mind the fact that most of the state's forestland is federally owned, and therefore not managed by state or local agencies, Trump's statement was misguided and even ironic. In 2015, the U.S. Forest Service published a report, which acknowledged its reduced attention to programs that "help prevent catastrophic fires." However, this lack of attention has not been by choice, or due to negligence. Rather, the agency's resources have become increasingly consumed by one single activity - fighting wildfires.

In just a 20-year period from 1995 to 2015, the fraction of the agency's budget that is spent fighting wildfires has grown from 16 to 52 percent. Since the agency's budget has not seen a proportionate increase from the federal government, this shift has been accompanied by a 39 percent reduction in all non-fire personnel - some of whom would otherwise work on forest restoration projects that help prevent wildfires.

The report goes on to describe the effects and costs of wildfires as being amplified by "changing climatic conditions" that are "driving increased temperatures" and "unpredictability in precipitation." According to a 2006 study of wildfires in the western U.S., recent decades have seen a four-fold increase in major wildfires, compared to the period from 1970 to 1986. The area burned by such fires has increased a staggering six-fold. The study implicates four climate-related factors to the increased fire activity: earlier snowmelt, higher summer temperatures, a longer fire season, and an increase in vulnerable areas such as high-elevation forests.

To address the growing threat of U.S. wildfires, Congress recently passed a budget that will help the U.S. Forest Service contend with catastrophic wildfires - treating them as other natural disasters are treated, such as tornadoes and hurricanes. While we must applaud this necessary action, it's important to realize that this step only places a Band-Aid on a much deeper problem: the growing problem of global warming.

To remedy the longer-term threat posed by rising global temperatures, Congress must pass meaningful legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Such policies should put a price on carbon emissions and reduce subsidies offered to fossil fuel companies. This would level the playing field so that non-polluting renewable energy technologies can compete more fairly in the marketplace, and would give rise to new entrepreneurs who benefit society and the planet.

In recent years, Democrats in Congress have pointed to their colleagues across the aisle when explaining the absence of important congressional climate action. With a Democratic House majority now moving in, a new opportunity may be at hand. Whether this will translate to meaningful climate policy, however, remains to be seen. One thing can be assured. Congress will not act if Americans don't ask them to. Thus, the role of constituents in demanding climate action will remain essential if we're to see the right kind of change take place and further disasters averted.

Shahir Masri is the author of "Beyond Debate: Answers to 50 Misconceptions on Climate Change." He is an assistant specialist in air pollution exposure assessment at the University of California at Irvine, and also teaches at Chapman University. Masri recently launched "On the Road for Climate Action," a public outreach project to communicate the crucial message of climate science and solutions in over 35 different states. Follow Masri on Twitter at @shahirmasri.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 1 year 38 weeks ago

The Intercept - 11/7/18 - (fair use)


By :

[Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/Getty Images -- An oil derrick pumps oil near a subdivision roundabout looking west on June 7, 2017 in Dacono, Colo.]

PATRICIA NELSON WAS eager for a fresh start when she moved her family from Louisiana back home to Weld County, Colorado, in 2016. Soon after, Nelson’s friend encouraged her to come out to a meeting where Lisa McKenzie, an environmental chemist and epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health, was presenting her research on the health impacts of oil and natural gas drilling.

Weld County has one of the highest concentrations of oil and gas wells in the country — 23,000 within county limits. Its air quality carries an “F” rating from the American Lung Association, with infant mortality rates twice as high as those in surrounding counties. With around 50,000 active wells overall, Colorado just surpassed California to become America’s third-largest oil and gas producer after Texas and North Dakota.

“It was a crash course in fracking,” Nelson told me by phone. Colorado law, she learned, states that drilling operations have to be 1,000 feet away from school buildings, but that ordinance — known as a setback — doesn’t include surrounding school properties, like playgrounds or soccer fields. There, as McKenzie would explain, kids playing and running around breathe harder and heavier, increasing the amount of poisoned air that enters their lungs and bloodstream.

All of this hit too close to home: As she also learned, oil companies had just been approved to open 24 new drill sites near her then-4-year-old son Diego’s school, the kindergarten through third grade campus of Bella Romero Academy; the drilling would take place just behind the fourth through eighth grade campus, where her niece and nephew were students. The decision to drill near Bella Romero at all — where 87 percent of attendees are students of color, and 90 percent fall below the poverty line — was made after parents at an overwhelmingly white school refused to have the same rigs in their kids’ backyards.

Shocked by what she discovered, Nelson joined a coalition that would later become known as Colorado Rising and traveled around the state, telling people about the stakes at her son’s school. Colorado Rising’s work included a push for Proposition 112, a ballot measure to mandate a 2,500-foot setback zone between drill sites and homes, schools, and other vulnerable areas. That measure was defeated 57 to 43 on Tuesday night, in large part thanks to a full-fledged freakout by the fossil fuel industry, which, with $40 million, outspent Prop 112 proponents by at least 40 to 1.

“This is much farther than we’ve gotten before, and we’re no longer going to accept this industry bullying us,” Nelson told me last night, celebrating the fact that Prop 112 even made it on the ballot. “We had a pretty good shot, but they definitely had way more resources than we did. I guess the oil and gas industry is just another example of money buying elections.”

Environmental initiatives on the ballot elsewhere in the country, vehemently opposed by industry groups, also flopped. A ballot initiative in Washington state to levy a $15 per ton carbon fee on polluters and invest the revenue in job creation, green infrastructure, and more was defeated 56 to 44 thanks to over $30 million from the oil and gas industry. In Arizona, electric utilities spent $31 million against Prop 127, which would have upped the state’s renewable portfolio standard, requiring the power sector to generate at least half its power from renewables by 2030. The proposition was largely bankrolled by liberal donor Tom Steyer via NextGen America, which poured $24 million in support, but it failed resoundingly, garnering just 30 percent of the vote.

[Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/Getty Images -- Ann Lee Foster, center, and Suzanne Spiegel, right, proponents of Proposition 112, hold back the tears as they concede defeat during the watch party for Proposition 112 at Big Trouble Restaurant on Nov. 6, 2018 in Denver, Colo.]

TUESDAY WASN’T AN unambiguous win for the industry, though — even in Colorado. Amendment 74 — polling high before the election and far better than Prop 112 — would have allowed property owners to sue local governments and the state for any infringement on their profits, but fell short of the 55 percent of votes needed to be grafted into Colorado’s constitution. The campaign for Amendment 74 was small compared to the fight against Prop 112 but still sizable, with $11.2 million raised by backers — about $10 million from oil and gas — and $6.3 by opponents under the banner Save Our Neighborhoods.

Still, one clear takeaway from the midterms ballot initiatives is that fossil fuel money can buy elections. Apparently, $100 million can buy four of them. “They’re putting up big numbers,” said Edgar Franks, a Bellingham-based labor organizer who helped draft and campaign for I-1631 with the environmental justice group Front and Centered. “You can tell that where this is actually a threat to the way that they do business, because they know it’s going to work.”

While Washington Gov. Jay Inslee backed I-1631 — having failed to get his own carbon fee through the legislature this spring — his Colorado counterpart was on the opposite side of the fight in his state. Prop 112 failed amid opposition not just from the oil and gas industry, but also from now-outgoing Colorado governor and former oil industry geologist John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, along with governor-elect Jared Polis and his Republican opponent. The Colorado Democratic Party, however, supported it. Polis’s opposition was ironic, given that he himself had spearheaded the push for a 2,000-foot setback rule several years ago before eventually withdrawing it from the ballot.

Despite Polis’s opposition to Prop 112, Colorado Rising is cautiously optimistic about working with his administration, a position bolstered by the fact that Democrats managed to flip the state legislature last night. “Polis clearly understands that fracking is dangerous near communities,” said Micah Parkin, a board member of Colorado Rising and executive director of 350 Colorado. “He may not agree with us on 2,500 feet, but he clearly gets that it doesn’t belong near our children’s schools and homes and water sources.”

The bar for improving Hickenlooper’s record on extraction has been set pretty low. The outgoing governor had threatened to call a special lame duck session of the state legislature in the event of Prop 112’s passage.“ It’s incredibly undemocratic,” said Parkin in advance of the vote. “The very idea that he would think it’s OK to turn around and ignore the will of the people, when thousands of his own constituents have worked so hard.”

The statement wasn’t unprecedented for Hickenlooper. In 2013, he openly threatened to sue any city that banned fracking within its borders and in fact, did sue Longmont and Fort Collins after they implemented restrictions on fracking. The state’s suit also undermined the legal standing of three other bans and moratoria. “Topics like these,” Nelson told me, “are the ones that enable the true colors of our representatives to come out. It just shows that he’s never been on the side of the people, he’s been on the side of industry.”

Predictably, then, the fight over Proposition 112 got ugly. Oil and gas interests painted the measure as an attempt to ban fracking in the state, though it in fact only added on to policies that already exist, which require a 500-foot setback from homes and 1,000-foot setback from schools. In collecting signatures this summer to get Prop 112 on the ballot, canvassers were followed and surrounded by paid protesters. “It would be between two and four of us who would plan out where to collect signatures,” Nelson said. “We would get there and 15 or 20 minutes later, these kids would show up with their signs. Unless they were following us, how would they know where we were?” She suspects at least some of them were University of Colorado students and had awkward encounters with them around town after encountering them while petitioning.

A political consultant hired by Colorado Rising this summer to help collect signatures also walked out of the state with 15,000 signatures, which were only retrieved after the group filed a lawsuit to have them returned.

The industry also publicly — and knowingly — overstated the impact of the measure. As Denver’s 9News found from a leaked report that industry groups had seen a report from the consultancy RS Energy stating that their losses would be far less than what they projected out over airwaves. The industry-friendly state regulator, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, had instead claimed in July that some 80 percent of non-federal land in Colorado — the only land covered by Prop 112 — would be off-limits to drilling. Yet the RS Energy report shows that companies would maintain access to 61 percent of the state’s oil and gas reserves. That’s partially because although companies would be barred from drilling within setback zones, horizontal drilling techniques — where the well mouth is within permitted drilling areas — could still access minerals under off-limits areas from up to a mile away.

While it would have been the country’s most ambitious regulatory check on the fossil fuel industry, Parkin and Nelson both emphasized that Prop 112 was a kind of method of last resort. Those looking to place more regulations on the oil and gas industry had tried to get bills passed through the legislature and appealed to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission — all to no avail. “People have tried so many different ways to protect themselves over the years,” Parkin said, “and this was the last recourse.”

[Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP -- A supporter of Initiative 1631 holds a sign referencing the Nisqually Indian Tribe, on Oct. 17, 2018, during a rally supporting I-1631 in Lacey, Wash.]

IT WAS A similar story in Washington, where the legislature failed earlier this year to get a somewhat similar carbon tax measure through the legislature, falling short by “one or two votes.” A 2016 ballot initiative had failed to — by a margin of 20 percent — after drawing fire from the same groups now pushing for I-1631 over its lack of both investment in green projects and attention to the demands of climate and environmental justice groups. The campaign this time around was comparatively massive, drawing in a huge coalition of labor groups, indigenous communities, climate nonprofits, and more.

The biggest limiting factor to commonsense climate policies like Prop 112 and I-1631 isn’t either old school climate denial or bad design, but the sheer force of the fossil fuel industry’s seemingly endless capacity to pour money into elections. While theoretically supportive of carbon pricing and some vague sense of climate action, fossil fuel interests this cycle showed their cards: If it poses a threat to their profits, it’s going down. Fightbacks like the one posed to Amendment 74 are possible. Yet with Democrats taking the House — with several climate hawks now in their ranks — any push on climate there will have to reckon with the colossal funding might of the industry, and the kind of opposition Prop 112 faced from members of their own party sponsored by them.

On the heels of the latest IPCC report — which makes the need to decarbonize every sector of the economy painfully clear — there isn’t really an alternative to going toe to toe with those companies, no matter how much of a David and Goliath fight it might be.

“This isn’t over for me, personally. We have had a warning,” Nelson said, referencing that report, “that we either end our dependence on fossil fuels or things are going to get extremely rough for mankind. For me, it shows that it’s just about greed and money for this industry.”

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deepspace 1 year 38 weeks ago

truthdig - Drilling Benerath the Headlines - 11/18/18 - (fair use)

"Support Grows for a 'Green New Deal' to Address Climate Issues"

By Jon Queally / Common Dreams:

As the debate within the new House Democratic caucus continues to grow over the demand to create a New Green Deal select committee, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) came out on Saturday to say that not only should Nancy Pelosi create such a committee, she should appoint newly-elected New York freshman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to be its chairperson.

“Pelosi should not only create this committee, but also appoint ⁦@Ocasio2018⁩ as Chair,” Khanna tweeted. “That is the boldness voters want. We need to shake up Congress & give the millennial generation a chance to lead. They have the most at stake re climate change.”

[David Sirota on Twitter]

While the energy behind the demand has come from grassroots youth activists, led by groups that include the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats, Ocasio-Cortez generated numerous headlines—and nearly a week of Capitol Hill chatter—after she joined protesters staging a sit-in at Pelosi’s office on Tuesday.

Since then, as many have noted, the arguments for and against making a bold climate plan a top priority of Democrats have put a spotlight on the tensions between the more centrist establishment figures in the party—as well as those who have taken the most from the fossil fuel industry over the years—and the ascendent progressive wing that is calling for much more aggressive policies and visionary solutions.

[Kate Aronoff on twitter]

Describing her engagement with the Pelosi sit-in and the activists who staged it as “good trouble,” Ocasio-Cortez said there’s a reason that Democrats, not the climate-denying GOP, are targeted on this issue at this point.

“I got a lot of heat when I joined these amazing activists on Tuesday,” she wrote in an Instagram post on Saturday. “‘Go protest Republicans,’ we were told. ‘You’re being disruptive and unhelpful,’ we were admonished. But the thing about protesting Republicans is that none of them listen to their constituents. We learned that w/ the Kavanaugh fight and so many before that. Democrats, on the other hand, do listen. So when everyday people show up in numbers and ask for change with commitment and consistency, we can get somewhere. And we are.”

[Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter]

According to the Huffington Post:

"The Green New Deal committee, meant to include six Republicans, would be charged with drafting a 10-year federal infrastructure and jobs plan to neutralize the United States’ output of greenhouse gas emissions, adopt 100 percent renewable electricity and reduce widening income inequality. The resolution would likely seek to bar lawmakers who have accepted donations from fossil fuel companies from serving.

"Maloney, Serrano and Khanna joined incoming House members Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) to support the proposal. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) did not return a request for comment, but told protesters on Friday he supported the Green New Deal."

Since Tuesday, the number of Democratic House members supporting the creation of the committee has continued to grow:

[Sunrise Movement on Twitter]

As Aaron Huertas of the progressive advocacy group Swing Left said on Saturday: “All the pundits who admonished @Ocasio2018 and @sunrisemvmt for pushing Democrats on climate showed that they’re still thinking like it’s 1999. But our politics have changed. Dramatically. Get with the times.”

According to Jamie Henn, co-founder and U.S. program director for, it’s ridiculous that the creation of this committee is even up for debate:

[Jamie Henn on Twitter]

Writing in the New Statesman, columnist Grace Blakeley argued that the newly-elected progressive headed to Congress, and others calling for the Green New Deal, are putting forward “the most transformative economic proposal” since the era of FDR.

But it’s not just the economic stimulative effect of such a program that makes it so vital, writes Blakeley. There are much “more far-reaching aims” in the Green New Deal than just that boosting GDP or creating new jobs.

“As the IPCC’s recent report warned, and as the ferocious fires in California have demonstrated,” she writes, “the world is edging towards climate apocalypse. If we fail to fundamentally change the basis of production, there won’t be an economy by the end of this century. As such, the GND doesn’t simply aim to boost demand, it aims to transform the nature of the US economy.”

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deepspace 1 year 38 weeks ago

Truthout - 11/17/18 - (fair use)

"California Wildfires: Where Is the Climate Change Outrage?"

[photo - JOSH EDELSON / AFP / GETTY IMAGES - In this aerial photo, a burned neighborhood is seen in Paradise, California on November 15, 2018.]

By , :

Unprecedented droughts, fires and floods are not the “new normal”: Climate change gets nonlinearly worse from here on out. Like an avalanche, the physics of warming determines that a little more warming doesn’t create a little more extremeness, but a lot more. Until we reduce greenhouse gas warming, it gets a lot worse every year. Reducing emissions alone does not reverse warming until after 2300. To reduce warming, we must eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, plus remove near 1,000 gigatons of already emitted greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, according to the new 1.5°C report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change.

Meanwhile, a third unprecedented wildfire in California has happened in the last 12 months. At the time of writing, nearly 12,000 structuresand 71 lives have been lost in Paradise, California, to the “Camp Fire” that began November 8. Before that, the July 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire burned 459,000 acres and set a record for the state’s largest fire. But the largest fire record before that was set by Thomas Fire, which burned 281,000 acres in December 2017. More than 10,000 structures have been lost in 2018 so far in the state, and more than 9,300 structures were lost in 2017.

The record-setting increases of these unheard-of extreme weather events continues to horrify the public. What will it take to allow us to treat climate change like it is the most important issue our society has ever faced, as top scientists say it is?

[image - graph - This list of California’s worst fires was compiled from Cal Fires top 20 lists for the largest, most destructive and deadliest wildfires back to 1914.]

Research from the University of California, Irvine tells us that, “The occurrence of extremely large Santa Ana (wind-caused) fires has increased abruptly since 2003.” Since then, burned area in the most extreme fires has increased by 70 percent and structures lost have increased by more than 200 percent, according to Cal Fire statistics (see list above). California’s population however, increased by only 12 percent since 2003. Why has this out-of-balance increase in fire behavior occurred?

A Longer Warm Season

Many of these recent astounding fires in California are human-related, but why has damage and burned area increased so much lately, when firefighting efforts have also proportionally increased?

Human-caused ignition is a compelling argument, but if so, impacts would be only slightly elevated from pre-2003 times because of the 12 percent population increase. Area burned since 2003 has nearly doubled and structures burned has nearly tripled, however. The reason for all of these catastrophes is plain and simple: It’s warmer now.

Warming has immense implications relative to increasing extremes. Basic physics tells us that warming increases evaporation nonlinearly. That is, a little warming creates a lot more drying of fuels. A longer warm season allows drying to compound, amplifying already-increased extreme fire behavior.

Anthony Westerling at the University of California, Merced, published US forest wildfire statistics across the country from 1970 through 2012 in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B in May 2016. Here’s what he had to say:

  • US wildfire season has increased by more than 60 percent since the 1970s, from 138 days to 222 days, because of earlier onset of spring.
  • The average burn time has increased nearly 800 percent, from six days to 52 days, because of deeper drying.
  • Burned area increased 1,271 percent.
  • Human-caused ignition has played a very small role in increasing wildfire trends.

The fingerprint of warming is unmistakable. It’s not increasing population. It’s not increased human-caused ignition sources. Is there anything else that it could be?

President Trump wrongly blames California’s forest management for the increase in extreme fires. Brian K. Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters, has responded, saying that, “[N]early 60 percent of California forests are under federal management and another one-third under private control. It is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management, not California.” Forest management doesn’t even apply to almost all of Southern California. For example, the Woolsey Fire in Thousand Oaks is in scrub typical of southern California, not timberlands.

The prevailing academic thought on forest management is that more dead fuels litter our forests from the Smokey-Bear-era of fire suppression efforts, and this allows more extreme fires. This is good science and certainly played a role in increasing burn behavior before climate warming rose above natural variation 10 or 15 years ago when these unprecedented extremes began to become so numerous.

Today, however, warming has consequences. One of them is that warming creates a drier world; and in a drier world, wildfire is more extreme. Another of these consequences is increased duration of Santa Ana wind events on a warmer planet. The Santa Ana wind that created the Thomas Fire was the longest Santa Ana wind event on record. Santa Ana winds are hot, dry, down-sloping winds from the continental interior that blow offshore in southern and central California, can reach speeds in excess of 70 mph and generally occur in the fall.

If all of the above is not enough to say that climate disruption caused these catastrophes, why do catastrophes happen?

Catastrophes happen when natural event extremeness exceeds a threshold, and extreme fire behavior is just one of these thresholds. Flooding, wind damage, drought mortality, beach erosion, beetle kill, permafrost melt, ice sheet collapse, Gulf Stream shutdown — all of these things are not a problem until a threshold is crossed. We have crossed that threshold with wildfire and all of the above-mentioned impacts because our leaders have delayed action on regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

Without passing through a catastrophic threshold, catastrophes don’t happen. It’s time to stop believing these events are only enhanced or plausibly caused by climate change.

A little bit of warming makes a lot of difference. Nicholas J. Nauslar’s research on Southern California fires tells us that we’ve seen the most acute fire weather in more than two decades, the longest duration Santa Ana wind event in the 70-year record, the most extreme drought on record, the lowest fuel moisture on record and the driest March through December since 1895.

Pushing Back Against the Fairness Bias

The good news is that emissions can be managed; there’s plenty of science that says so. But we have been delayed for 30 years by economic, social, psychological and political forces that have prevented our leaders from acting.

There are players, or organizers of the climate change denial and delay movement, who are directly responsible, as is so well described as the “climate change counter-movement” by professor of sociology and environmental science Robert J. Brulle from Drexel University in 2014, and then detailed by Ruth McKie in 2018 at De Montfort University in 2018. These players have egregiously given license for citizens and leaders to dispute, deny and delay. It’s not just the political conservatives, but they brought it to the table.

The perceived debate, so roundly and unwittingly promoted by the media’s false balance, has influenced our society from stem to stern. This “false balance” is where journalistic norms of presenting both sides of the story equally and fairly allow inaccurate information to be presented with the same weight as accurate information. When all but just a few individual climate scientists agree but a little more than halfof Americans believe climate change is human-caused, there’s some powerful deceit going on.

All of us are influenced by false balance, from laypersons to advocates to leaders. Even climate scientists are impacted by the false balance because climate scientists are specialists. They focus on their own research agenda, whether it be ocean biochemistry, ice sheet geomorphology, dendrochronology, paleotempestology or scores of other disciplines.

Climate scientists don’t know it all, and many scientists don’t even know climate science. Scientists get their non-specialist information from the media, in general, just like the rest of us.

Logic will give us the correct answer, but we must be able to trust logic when the media is telling us differently. Logic will allow us to overcome the “fairness” bias propagated by the climate change counter-movement, so that the exact science can be understood by non-experts, and we can begin to address climate change before it becomes nonlinearly worse.

Bruce Melton

Bruce Melton is a professional engineer, environmental researcher, filmmaker, author and CEO of the Climate Change Now Initiative in Austin, Texas. The Climate Change Now Initiative is a nonprofit outreach organization reporting the latest discoveries in climate science in plain English. Information on his book, Climate Discovery Chronicles, can be found along with more climate change writing, climate science outreach and critical environmental issue documentary films at Images copyright Bruce Melton and the Climate Change Now Initiative except where referenced otherwise.


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pikchu68 1 year 38 weeks ago

Great, thank you for sharing this information happy wheels

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deepspace 1 year 38 weeks ago



Creation of the IPCC Data Distribution Centre

The DDC has been established to facilitate the timely distribution of a consistent set of up-to-date scenarios of changes in climate and related environmental and socio-economic factors for use in climate impacts assessments. The intention is that these new assessments can feed into the review process of the IPCC.

The initiative to establish a DDC grew out of a recommendation by the IPCC Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA). This Task Group was itself formed following a recommendation made at the IPCC Workshop on Regional Climate Change Projections for Impact Assessment (London, 24-26 September 1996).

The establishment of the DDC was approved by the IPCC Bureau at its Thirteenth session (9-11 July 1997) and it was subsequently determined at the XIIIth IPCC Plenary (Maldives, 22-28 September 1997) that the DDC would be a shared operation between the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in the United Kingdom and the Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum (DKRZ) in Germany. In 2003 a third centre, the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) in the USA, joined the DDC collaboration. From February 1st, 2007 British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC) has replaced CRU as the United Kingdom partner.

TGICA Mandate and DDC Governance

The conduct of TGICA is governed by its mandate, which can be downloaded here as an Adbobe pdf document. The TGICA has established a set of procedures for managing content on the DDC as described in the DDC Governance document, which can be downloaded here as an Adbobe pdf document.The conduct of TGICA is governed by its mandate, which can be downloaded here as an Adbobe pdf document. The TGICA has established a set of procedures for managing content on the DDC as described in the DDC Governance document, which can be downloaded here as an Adbobe pdf document.


The observational record:

The IPCC Data Distribution Centre provides access to observed data covering the physical climate (e.g. global distributions temperature and rainfall), atmospheric composition, socio-economic information (e.g. national population and income data), and impacts of climate change. Use the links below to reach these 4 sections:



Data available thorugh the DDC

  • Data used in the AR4 assessment report: four datasets were used in the report to evaluate trends over the past century. These are available either as global and hemispheric aggregates or as low resolution (5 degrees by 5 degrees) spatial fields.
  • High resolution climatology: a high resolution data set prepared by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU). This dataset is not, however, considered to have the same reliability for studies of long term trends as the low resolution CRU dataset which was included in the AR4 assessment (see above). This dataset is available in NetCDF and GeoTIFF (GIS compatible) format.
  • Previous version of CRU data: these data have been superceded by the new versions above, but are preserved in the archive.

Links to other Public-Domain Observed Climate Datasets:

A list of external climatological datasets is also included in the DDC. The list is not comprehensive, and is continually being updated.


Carbon Dioxide: Projected emissions and concentrations

Storylines and emissions

The greenhouse gas forcing used by the AR4 models are derived from SRES emissions scenarios. The SRES report discusses emissions projections produced by a range of Integrated Assessment Models for a range of socio-economic storylines. Four `marker scenarios' are recommended as the basis of climate model projections, together with two further `illustrative scenarios':

Storyline Integrated Assessment Model Status
A1 (A1B) AIM Marker
A2 Marker
B1 IMAGE Marker
A1T MESSAGE Illustrative
A1FI MINICAM (A1G) Illustrative

The projected emissions for the marker scenarios and other scenarios discussed in the SRES report are available here. Note that the A1FI set of scenarios was formed as a union of the A1G and A1C scenario groups: in some documents the A1FI MINICAM illustrative scenario is referred to as the A1G MINICAM scenario.

Recent increase and projected changes in CO2 concentrations

The modern increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration is shown in the Manua Loa time series in figue 1 below. The annual means are plotted, and can be downloaded (here). More data and information on CO2 monitoring is available from the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Global Monitoring Division, including monthly data from Mauna Loa.

For each of the illustrative and marker emissions scenarios, CO2 concentration projections calculated by two different carbon cycle models were reported in IPCC (2001) and used as the bases for climate model projections there and in the Fourth Assessment Report. Thes are also shown in Figure 1. The carbon cycle models, ISAM and BERN, are described in Box 3.7 of IPCC (2001). The projected concentrations are given in Annex II of the IPCC Third Assessment WG I report (the `reference' projections were used). The data can be obtained as plain text files here: ISAM, BERN.

[image - graph - Figure 1: Atmospheric CO2 concentrations as observed at Mauna Loa from 1958 to 2008 (black dashed line) and projected under the 6 SRES marker and illustrative scenarios. Two carbon cycle models (see Box 3.7 in IPCC, 2001) are used for each scenario: BERN (solid lines) and ISAM (dashed).]

As shown in figure 2, atmospheric CO2 concentrations since 1990 have risen in line with projections from the SRES report, lying close to the highest of illustrative/marker scenarios predicted with the BERN model, and towards the lower limit of the ISAM illustrative/marker scenario projections. The ESRL "annual average marine surface air CO2 concentrations" shown in figure 2 is of shorter duration (starting in 1980), but gives an accurate estimate of the global mean CO2 concentration. The concentrations at Mauna Loa are generally 1 to 2 ppmv lower that the ESRL values. In the time period shown in figure 2 the difference between the carbon cycle models is comparable to the difference between the two extremes of the illustrative/marker scenarios, but later in the century (figure 1) the difference between scenarios dominates. Uncertainties in CO2 concentrations due to the range of possible climate - carbon cycle feedbacks in the BERN and ISAM models are larger than the differences between these two models.

[image - graph - Figure 2: Observed and projected atmospheric CO2 concentrations since 1990. Triangles show annual average marine surface air CO2 concentrations for the period 1990 to 2008 downloaded from the NOAA ESRL web site ( in September 2009. The red and green lines shows annual average CO2 concentrations for the SRES A1B (red) and B2 (green) marker emissions scenarios projected using the reference version of the Bern carbon cycle model (solid) and the ISAM model (dashed). These two scenarios give the upper and lower limits of the 6 illustrative/marker scenarios in the period plotted. The blue shading shows the range from low to high climate - carbon cycle feedbacks. All SRES projections are taken from Annex B of the 2001 IPCC Working Group I Report.]

Carbon cycle models and GCMs

The carbon cycle model used to generate the forcings used by various AR4 General Circulation Models are listed in the table below:

Carbon Cycle ModelGeneral Circulation ModelISAMMRI:CGCM2_3_2; NASA:GISS-AOM, GISS-EH, GISS-ER GFDL:CM2 GFDL:CM2_1BERN-CC


Changes in CO2 in the distant past

The observed and projected changes in CO2 concentrations can be put into context by comparing them with measurements of past variations. The levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the distant past can be determined from bubbles of air trapped in ice. Data from the Antarctic sites Vostok and Epica ice cores (see Fig. 6.3 of the IPCC AR4, the physical science basis are plotted together in figure 3. Also shown are the AD2007 annual mean concentration measured at Mauna Loa and the the projected concentrations for AD2100 under 6 SRES marker and illustrative scenarios. The 50 year period of Mauna Loa observations and the century covered by the projections span less than the thickness of a line on this graph.

[image - graph - Figure 3: CO2 concentrations derived from EPICA and Vostok ice cores. The red bar at the side indicates the evolution of the Mauna Loa measurements. On this time scale, the 50 years of measurements span less than the thickness of the line, so it appears vertical.]

Content last modified: 04 April 2014


Socio-Economic Baseline Dataset

An evaluation of climate change impact requires the establishment of some baseline period against which changes will be measured. Baseline data are required for the relevant climate variables and also for non-climatic information (for example, carbon dioxide concentration, soil characteristics, population, income levels, etc.). Ideally, these various baseline datasets should all refer to the same time period, whether 1961-90 averages or the 1990 value. We provide here a set of country and regional-level indicators of socioeconomic and resource variables as estimated at the beginning of the 1990s. These data are reproduced from the IPCC report on The Regional Impacts of Climate Change: An Assessment of Vulnerability published in 1998 by Cambridge University Press (Appendix D). These data were collated from a variety of sources such as the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

These baseline data have been organized into nine major world regions: Africa, Australasia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East/Arid Asia, North America, Small Island States, Temperate Asia, and Tropical Asia. They can be viewed (and downloaded) following the links below.

Data Tables

Data tables in HTML-format
Data tables in Excel-format


R. T. Watson, M. C. Zinyowera and R. H. Moss (Eds), "The Regional Impacts of Climate Chamge: An Assessment of Vulnerability", 1998, Cambridge University Press, UK.
Available online at:

Content last modified: 14 May 2018


IPCC AR5 Observed Climate Change Impacts

Recent warming around the world has caused changes in many physical and biological systems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth and Fifth Assessment Reports (AR4 and AR5) documented observed responses to climate change across a wide range of systems as well as regions.

Figure 18.3 of the Working Group II report of AR5 summarizes a range of impacts observed around the world based on a detailed analysis of the peer-reviewed literature. This set of web pages reproduces Figure 18.3 and Tables 18-5 to 18-9 from the Working Group II report and the references explicitly mentioned in the tables. The published tables in the AR5 can be found here.

[image - chart - Figure 18-3. Global patterns of observed climate change impacts reported since AR4. Each filled symbol in the top panels indicates a class of systems for which climate change has played a major role in observed changes in at least one system within that class across the respective region, with the range of confidence in attribution for those region-wide impacts indicated by the bars. Regional-scale impacts where climate change has played a minor role are shown by outlined symbols in a box in the respective region. Sub-regional impacts are indicated with symbols on the map, placed in the approximate area of their occurrence. The impacted area can vary from specific locations to broad areas such as a major river basin. Impacts on physical (blue), biological (green), and human (red) systems are differentiated by color. This map represents a graphical synthesis of Tables 18-5, 18-6, 18-7, 18-8, and 18-9. Absence of climate change impacts from this figure does not imply that such impacts have not occurred. It means, instead, that it has not yet been (or perhaps never will be) detected and/or attributed. (High resolution graphic is available here)



Guidance documents and support materials


Cramer, W., G.W. Yohe, M. Auffhammer, C. Huggel, U. Molau, M.A.F. da Silva Dias, A. Solow, D.A. Stone, and L. Tibig, 2014: Detection and attribution of observed impacts. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 979-1037.

Data Citation

IPCC. 2017. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Observed Climate Change Impacts Database Version 2.01. Palisades, NY: Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), Columbia University. Available at (date of download).


IPCC AR5 Chapter 18:
Coordinating Lead Authors:
Wolfgang Cramer (Germany/France), Gary W. Yohe (USA)
Lead Authors:
Maximilian Auffhammer (USA), Christian Huggel (Switzerland), Ulf Molau (Sweden), Maria Assunção Faus da Silva Dias (Brazil), Andrew Solow (USA), Dáithí­ A. Stone (Canada/South Africa/USA), Lourdes Tibig (Philippines)
Contributing Authors:
Laurens Bouwer (Netherlands), Mark Carey (USA), Graham Cogley (Canada), Dim Coumou (Germany), Yuka Otsuki Estrada (USA/Japan), Eberhard Faust (Germany), Gerrit Hansen (Germany), Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (Australia), Joanna House (UK), Solomon Hsiang (USA), Lesley Hughes (Australia), Sari Kovats (UK), Paul Leadley (France), David Lobell (USA), Camille Parmesan (USA), Elvira Poloczanska (Australia), Hans Otto Pörtner (Germany), Andy Reisinger (New Zealand)
Review Editors:
Rik Leemans (Netherlands), Bernard Seguin (France), Neville Smith (Australia)
Volunteer Chapter Scientist:
Gerrit Hansen (Germany)

We also thank Robert S. Chen, Xiaoshi Xing, and Alyssa Fico (The Center for International Earth Science Information Network - CIESIN, Columbia University, USA), Rachel Warren (University of East Anglia, UK), Stewart Cohen (Environment and Climate Change, Canada), Gregory Insarov (Institute of Global Climate and Ecology, Roshydromet and Russian Academy of Sciences), Timothy R. Carter (Finnish Environment Institute - SYKE), Bruce Hewitson (University of Cape Town, South Africa)

Content last modified: 14 May 2018


IPCC AR4 Observed Climate Change Impacts

Recent warming around the world has caused changes in many physical and biological systems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report and Rosenzweig et al. (2008) documented observed responses to climate change across a wide range of systems as well as regions [1, 2]. In the database, responses in physical systems include shrinking glaciers in every continent, melting permafrost, shifts in spring peak river discharge associated with earlier snowmelt, lake and river warming (with effects on thermal stratification, chemistry, and freshwater organisms), and increases in coastal erosion. For terrestrial biological systems, changes documented in the database include shifts in spring events (e.g., earlier leaf unfolding, blooming date, migration, and timing of reproduction), species distributions, and community structure. Database observations also demonstrate changes in marine-ecosystem functioning and productivity, including shifts from cold-adapted to warm-adapted communities, phenological changes and alterations in species interactions. In each category, many of the data series are over 35 years in length.

For the database, observations were selected that (1) demonstrate a statistically significant trend in change in either direction in systems related to temperature or other climate change variable as described by the authors; and (2) contain data for at least 20 years between 1970 and 2004 (although study periods may extend earlier or later). For each observation, the data series is described in terms of system, region, longitude and latitude, dates and duration, statistical significance, type of impact, and whether or not land use was identified as a driving factor. System changes are taken from ~80 studies (of which ~75 are new since the IPCC Third Assessment Report) containing >29,500 data series. Observations in the database are characterized as a ?change consistent with warming? or a ?change not consistent with warming,? based on information from the underlying studies.

The locations of the observed physical and biological changes were overlaid on observed temperatures from 1970-2004 using two different gridded observed temperature data sets: HadCRUT3 [3] and GHCN-ERSST [4]. A spatial analysis showed that the agreement between the patterns of observed significant changes in natural systems and temperature change is very unlikely to be due to natural variability. Thus, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report and Rosenzweig et al. (2008) concluded that it is likely that anthropogenic warming has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems at a global scale.

[image - chart - Figure SPM.1. Locations of significant changes in data series of physical systems (snow, ice and frozen ground; hydrology; and coastal processes) and biological systems (terrestrial, marine, and freshwater biological systems), are shown together with surface air temperature changes over the period 1970-2004. A subset of about 29,000 data series was selected from about 80,000 data series from 577 studies. These met the following criteria: (1) ending in 1990 or later; (2) spanning a period of at least 20 years; and (3) showing a significant change in either direction, as assessed in individual studies. These data series are from about 75 studies (of which about 70 are new since the Third Assessment) and contain about 29,000 data series, of which about 28,000 are from European studies. White areas do not contain sufficient observational climate data to estimate a temperature trend. The 2 x 2 boxes show the total number of data series with significant changes (top row) and the percentage of those consistent with warming (bottom row) for (i) continental regions: North America (NAM), Latin America (LA), Europe (EUR), Africa (AFR), Asia (AS), Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), and Polar Regions (PR) and (ii) global-scale: Terrestrial (TER), Marine and Freshwater (MFW), and Global (GLO). The numbers of studies from the seven regional boxes (NAM, …, PR) do not add up to the global (GLO) totals because numbers from regions except Polar do not include the numbers related to Marine and Freshwater (MFW) systems. Locations of large-area marine changes are not shown on the map. [Working Group II Fourth Assessment F1.8, F1.9; Working Group I Fourth Assessment F3.9b].]

The related IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) WGII Summary for Policymakers (923 KB PDF) and the Technical Summary (10.3 MB PDF) are available online.

Disclaimer: Questions regarding this database should be addressed to Cynthia Rosenzweig. Part of the European data [5] was contributed by Annette Menzel. Users should contact her regarding these data. Their contact emails are included in the data description of the database.

The data can be viewed (and downloaded) following the links below.

Data Tables

Data tables in HTML-format
Data tables in Excel-format


1. Rosenzweig, C., G. Casassa, D.J. Karoly, A. Imeson, C. Liu, A. Menzel, S. Rawlins, T.L. Root, B. Seguin, and P. Tryjanowski. 2007. Assessment of Observed Changes and Responses in Natural and Managed Systems. In M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden, and C.E. Hanson (eds.), Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

2. Rosenzweig, C., D. Karoly, M. Vicarelli, P. Neofotis, Q.G. Wu, G. Casassa, A. Menzel, T.L. Root, N. Estrella, B. Seguin, P. Tryjanowski, C.Z. Liu, S. Rawlins, and A. Imeson. 2008. Attributing Physical and Biological Impacts to Anthropogenic Climate Change. Nature, 453(7193): 353-357.

3. Brohan, P., J.J. Kennedy, I. Harris, S.F.B. Tett, and P.D. Jones. 2006. Uncertainty Estimates in Regional and Global Observed Temperature Changes: A new data set from 1850. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 111, D12106.

4. Smith, T.M. and R.W. Reynolds. 2005. A Global Merged Land and Sea Surface Temperature Reconstruction Based on Historical Observations (1880?1997). Journal of Climate, 18(12): 2021-2036.

5. Menzel, A., T.H. Sparks, N. Estrella, E. Koch, A. Aasa, R. Ahas, K. Alm-K�bler, P. Bissolli, O. Braslavsk�, A. Briede, F.M. Chmielewski, Z. Crepinsek, Y. Curnel, �. Dahl, C. Defila, A. Donnelly, Y. Yolanda Filella, K. Katarzyna Jatczak, F. Finn M�ge, A. Antonio Mestre, �. Nordli, J. Pe�uelas, P. Pirinen, V. Remi?ov�, H. Scheifinger, M. Striz, A. Susnik, A. Vliet J.H. van, F.-E. Wielgolaski, S. Zach, and A. Zust. 2006. European Phenological Response to Climate Change Matches the Warming Pattern. Global Change Biology, 12(10): 1969-1976.

The original database was constructed at GISS with contributions from IPCC AR4 WGII Chapter 1 Authors. This version 1.0 of the database was compiled by a GISS-CIESIN team and was reviewed and approved for publication at the IPCC Data Distribution Centre (DDC) by the IPCC Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA) 15th meeting at Geneva, Switzerland, on 19-21 November, 2008.

Data Citation

Rosenzweig, C., P. Neofotis, M. Vicarelli, and X. Xing (eds.). 2008. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Observed Climate Change Impacts Database Version 1.0. Palisades, NY: Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), Columbia University. Available at (date of download).


IPCC AR4 Chapter 1 Authors who contributed to the development of the database include: Gino Casassa (Centro de Estudios Cient�ficos, Chili), David J. Karoly (University of Melbourne, Australia), Anton Imeson (3D-Environmental Change, Netherlands), Chunzhen Liu (China Water Information Center, China), Annette Menzel (Technical University of Munich, Germany), Samuel Rawlins (Caribbean Epidemiology Center, Trinadad and Tobago), Terry L. Root (Stanford University, USA), Bernard Seguin (INRA Unit� Agroclim, France), Piotr Tryjanowski (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland), Nicole Estrella (Technical University of Munich, Germany), and Qigang Wu (University of Oklahoma, USA).

We also thank Robert S. Chen, Marc Levy, Alex de Sherbinin and Maria Muniz (The Center for International Earth Science Information Network - CIESIN, Columbia University, USA), Richard H. Moss and Jose Marengo (Co-Chairs of IPCC TGICA), Timothy Carter (Finnish Environment Institute - SYKE, Finland), Gao Xuejie (Climate Modeling Center, China Meteorological Administration), Martin Manning (Climate Change Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), Tom Kram (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Netherlands), Martin Juckes (IPCC Data Distribution Centre at British Atmospheric Data Centre, UK), and Michael Lautenschlager (IPCC Data Distribution Centre at World Data Centre for Climate, Germany).

Content last modified: 14 May 2018


Environmental Data and Scenarios

Welcome to the Environmental Data Section of the Data Distribution Centre (DDC) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Acknowledging that changes in environmental conditions other than climate may need to be considered when conducting climate change impact and vulnerability assessments, the Environmental Data pages of the DDC provide access tobaseline and scenario data for a range of non-climate conditions in the atmospheric, aquatic and terrestrial environments. These include data on atmospheric composition (e.g. carbon dioxide, ozone), land use and land cover, sea level, and water availability and quality. Most projections are consistent with the driving factors and emissions presented in the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES).

Explanations and illustrations of procedures for incorporating this information in impact and vulnerability assessments can be found on the DDC Guidelines pages. Data for other environmental variables will be added in due course.

Scenario data for the atmospheric environment

Carbon Dioxide

A number of gases and other atmospheric constituents may have important effects on the exposure unit. Perhaps the most important of these is carbon dioxide. CO2 is well mixed in the atmosphere, so observations of concentrations from a single site are adequate for most impact applications.

CO2 concentration is commonly required as a direct input to models of plant growth, since it can affect both the growth and water use of many plants. Since it is also a major greenhouse gas associated with global climate change, the CO2 concentration adopted should be consistent with concentrations during the climatological baseline period.

Conventionally, the baseline CO2 concentration is assumed fixed at a given level. This might be the reference concentration in which plants have been grown in CO2-enrichment experiments. Alternatively, it might be the default value assumed in an impact model, usually a value representative of the late 20th century. However, a word of caution is necessary when testing impact models for conditions over a 30-year or longer baseline period. CO2 concentrations have increased rapidly during the 20th century, and if the exposure unit is responsive to CO2, this temporal trend should be accounted for.

Further information and data relating to CO2 is available here.

Tropospheric ozone:

Another gas of importance in some impact studies is tropospheric ozone. This is toxic for a wide range of living organisms, its concentrations being highly variable in space and time, registering its highest concentrations over industrial regions under certain weather conditions. Time series of ozone concentrations are available for some regions, especially in developed countries. They are usually expressed in terms of background concentrations and peak concentrations. Global model estimates of ozone abundance and gridded model results are available from the DDC.

Stratospheric ozone:

Concentrations of stratospheric ozone have been measured operationally at many high latitude sites in recent years, especially following the discovery of the seasonal "ozone hole" over Antarctica in 1985. Ozone depletion is associated with increased ultraviolet radiation, which can be harmful for life on earth. Daily forecasts of exposure risk to UV-radiation are issued in many countries at mid to high latitudes, especially during the spring and early summer when levels of stratospheric ozone are generally at a minimum.

Sulphur and nitrogen compounds:

Concentrations of sulphur and nitrogen compounds, which are both major contributors to acid precipitation in many parts of the world, are also measured in some regions. Furthermore, it has been estimated that sulphate aerosol concentrations in industrial regions have contributed a cooling effect on climate in some regions in past decades, which has counteracted the warming effect of greenhouse gases.

Smoke and particulates:

Smoke and other particulate matter in the atmosphere, bi-products of fossil fuel burning, land clearance or other human activities, can have important regional impacts on visibility and human health. These are increasingly being observed using satellites as well as ground based instruments.

Sea level:

One of the key factors to evaluate for many impact studies in low lying coastal regions is the current level of the sea relative to the land. Globally, eustatic sea level (the volume of water in the oceans) appears to have been rising during the past century. However, there are large regional deviations in relative sea level from this global trend due to local land movements. Subsidence, due to tectonic movements, sedimentation, or human extraction of groundwater or oil, enhances relative sea-level rise. Uplift, due to post glacial isostatic rebound or tectonic processes, reduces or reverses sealevel rise. The main source of information on relative sea level is tide gauge records, and the major global data source is the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level.

As a reference, most studies of vulnerability to sea-level rise use the mean sea-level at a single date. For instance, studies employing the IPCC Common Methodology use the level in 1990. However, to assess coastal vulnerability to sea-level effects, baseline tide gauge and wave height observations are required. These reflect tidal variations in combination with the effects of weather such as severe storms and atmospheric pressure variations.

Inland water levels:

The levels of lakes, rivers and groundwater also vary with time, usually for reasons related to the natural balance between water inflow (due to precipitation and runoff) and losses (due to evaporation and seepage). Human intervention can also affect water levels, through flow regulation and impoundment, land use changes, water abstraction and effluent return and large scale river diversions. Sometimes these fluctuations in levels can be very large (often much larger than mean changes anticipated in the future). Thus, where time series are available, it is important to be able to identify the likely causes of fluctuations (i.e. natural or anthropogenic), as this information could influence the selection of an appropriate baseline period.

Scenario data the terrestrial environment (land use and land cover - SRES)

Land cover and land use:

On land, data on land cover and land use change are of great importance in many impact studies. Geographical data and time series have been compiled by a number of research groups working at national, continental and global scale, based on satellite imagery, aerial photographs and ground survey. Many datasets have been collected as part of a major international research effort - the Land Use and Land Cover Change Programme (LUCC) of the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP). For instance, a global integrated model, IMAGE 2, has been used to study the dynamics of land use change. The model was initialised using baseline land use data from 1970. A continually updated time series of observed global land use up to the 1990s can then be used to test the model's predictions during the period after 1970. National land cover/land use statistics have also been tabulated by the IPCC and are available from the DDC.


Baseline information is also commonly required on the state of the soil where this has been changing over time, for example, nutrient status, pH and salinity. Data sources for this information tend to be national or regional in scope.

Agricultural practices:

In agriculture, data on farm management practices are of vital importance in describing the reference conditions. This covers, for instance, fertilizer applications, use of pesticides and herbicides, tillage practices, stocking rates and irrigation. Baseline information on these is important, not only because they have been responsible for dramatic increases in productivity in many regions in recent decades, but also because they have contributed to soil erosion or pollution of soils, surface waters and groundwater in many regions. Data for different countries are collected annually by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.


There has been considerable concern in recent years about the endangerment and loss of natural species, mainly attributable to human activities. There have been a number of national and international initiatives to document and catalogue biodiversity, andbaseline statistics representative of the 1990s have been compiled for each country by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, were published for an IPCC report on Regional Impacts of Climate Change (available from this page).

Page last modified:

Content last modified: 18 June 2013


Data from computer simulations and projections

Computational models play an increasingly central role in underpinning our understanding of the environment, society. The DDC contains data produced from Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs), Carbon-cycle Models, General Circulation Models, and Earth System Models.

IPCC IS92 Scenarios

Six alternative IPCC scenarios (IS92a to f) were published in the 1992 Supplementary Report to the IPCC Assessment. These scenarios embodied a wide array of assumptions affecting how future greenhouse gas emissions might evolve in the absence of climate policies beyond those already adopted. The different worlds that the scenarios imply, in terms of economic, social and environmental conditions, vary widely and the resulting range of possible greenhouse gas futures spans almost an order of magnitude. The assumptions for the IS92 scenarios came mostly from the published forecasts of major international organisations or from published expert analyses. Most of these were subject to extensive review. The premises for the IS92a and IS92b scenarios most closely resemble and update those underpinning the original SA90 scenario used in the First Assessment Report of the IPCC in 1990. IS92a has been widely adopted as a standard scenario for use in impact assessments, although the original IPCC recommendation was that all six IS92 emissions scenarios be used to represent the range of uncertainty in emissions. Population rises to 11.3 billion by 2100 and economic growth averages 2.3 % per annum between 1990 and 2100, with a mix of conventional and renewable energy sources being used. The highest greenhouse gas emissions result from the IS92e scenario that combines, among other assumptions, moderate population growth, high economic growth, high fossil fuel availability and eventual phase out of nuclear power. At the other extreme, IS92c has a CO2 emissions path that eventually falls below its 1990 starting level. It assumes that population first grows, then declines by the middle of next century, that economic growth is low, and that there are severe constraints on fossil fuel supply.

These scenario data can be viewed (and downloaded) following the links below.

Data Tables

Data tables in HTML-format
Data tables in Excel-format


  • J. Leggett, W.J. Pepper, R.J. Swart, J. Edmonds, L.G. Meira Filho, I. Mintzer, M.X. Wang, and J. Watson. 1992. "Emissions Scenarios for the IPCC: an Update", Climate Change 1992: The Supplementary Report to The IPCC Scientific Assessment, Cambridge University Press, UK, pp. 68-95
  • W. J. Pepper, R.J. Leggett, R.J. Swart, J. Wasson, J. Edmonds and I. Mintzer. 1992. "Emission Scenarios for the IPCC An Update, Assumptions, Methodology, and Results", US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

Content last modified: 14 May 2018


SRES emissions scenarios

The IPCC published a new set of scenarios in 2000 for use in the Third Assessment Report (Special Report on Emissions Scenarios - SRES). The SRES scenarios were constructed to explore future developments in the global environment with special reference to the production of greenhouse gases and aerosol precursor emissions. They use the following terminology:

  • Storyline: a narrative description of a scenario (or a family of scenarios), highlighting the main scenario characteristics and dynamics, and the relationships between key driving forces.
  • Scenario: projections of a potential future, based on a clear logic and a quantified storyline.
  • Scenario family: one or more scenarios that have the same demographic, politico-societal, economic and technological storyline.

The SRES team defined four narrative storylines (see Figure 1), labelled A1, A2, B1 and B2, describing the relationships between the forces driving greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions and their evolution during the 21st century for large world regions and globally . Each storyline represents different demographic, social, economic, technological, and environmental developments that diverge in increasingly irreversible ways.

[image - graph - Figure 1: Schematic illustration of the four SRES storylines]

In simple terms, the four storylines combine two sets of divergent tendencies: one set varying between strong economic values and strong environmental values, the other set between increasing globalization and increasing regionalization . The storylines are summarized as follows (Nakicenovic et al., 2000):

  • A1 storyline and scenario family: a future world of very rapid economic growth, global population that peaks in mid-century and declines thereafter, and rapid introduction of new and more efficient technologies.
  • A2 storyline and scenario family: a very heterogeneous world with continuously increasing global population and regionally oriented economic growth that is more fragmented and slower than in other storylines.
  • B1 storyline and scenario family: a convergent world with the same global population as in the A1 storyline but with rapid changes in economic structures toward a service and information economy, with reductions in material intensity, and the introduction of clean and resource-efficient technologies.
  • B2 storyline and scenario family: a world in which the emphasis is on local solutions to economic, social, and environmental sustainability, with continuously increasing population (lower than A2) and intermediate economic development.

After determining the basic features of each of the four storylines, including quantitative projections of major driving variables such as population and economic development taken from reputable international sources (e.g. United Nations, World Bank and IIASA), the storylines were then fully quantified using integrated assessment models, resulting in families of scenarios for each storyline. In all 40 scenarios were developed by six modelling teams. All are equally valid, with no assigned probabilities of occurrence. Six groups of scenarios were drawn from the four families: one group each in the A2, B1 and B2 families, and three groups in the A1 family, characterising alternative developments of energy technologies: A1FI (fossil intensive), A1T( predominantly non-fossil) and A1B (balanced across energy sources). Illustrative scenarios1 were selected by the IPCC to represent each of the six scenario groups.

The DDC provides quantitative listings of the SRES scenarios, as well as an interpretation - using the same simple models as were used with the IS92 scenarios above - of what these different scenarios signify for future global temperature and sea-level change. The assumptions underlying these emissions scenarios (i.e. population, economic growth, etc.) are also described.

The final and complete SRES scenario data can be viewed and downloaded following the link below. (Version 1.1 of the GHG emissions associated with the 40 SRES scenarios provided here are not completely identical to those in Appendix VII of the SRES report as published by Cambridge University Press (2000). In a small number of cases slight corrections were made after the publication of the document to prevent negative emissions which occurred as a result of the standardization procedure. The changes, which were necessary in just a few scenarios and future years, were relatively small. The corrected numbers presented here are recommended for use in further impacts, adaptation and mitigation analysis. The final gridded emissions data for sulfur dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, and non-methane VOCs in the six illustrative scenarios were based on the version 1.1. emissions.)

SRES Final Data Tables

SRES Final Data Tables in HTML-format and Excel-format


Nakicenovic, N. et al (2000). Special Report on Emissions Scenarios: A Special Report of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 599 pp. Available online at:

Content last modified: 14 May 2018


Global Climate Model Experiment Data Archive

Welcome to the Global Climate Model Data Archive section of the Data Distribution Centre (DDC) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This page is the main entry point for users who want to retrieve either data (FAR to AR4 monthly mean; AR5 in different frequencies) available at DDC or information on the models used.

About DDC GCM data archive

The DDC uses the CERA database which is run by the World Data Center Climate (WDCC) at DKRZ. Detailed information on the CERA database is available on the Web. You can look here to get more information.

The data is stored on a tape archive which is associated with the (local) database CERA. A data request will initiate a retrieval mechanism that will take some time to transfer the data from tape to disk, therefore users may have to wait before the requested data is transferred.

Data is provided in NetCDF for AR5 and otherwise in GRIB format (machine independent, self-descriptive binary formats). If you need data in GZIP (compressed ASCII) format you'll have to convert the binary data locally.

Information on both formats and the internal data structure is given here.

You can select between:

* You can get a subset of these IPCC-DDC data on storage medias here.

Download Statistics

Annual statistics and reports are available starting for 2014 at Annual IPCC-DDC statistics. Monthly statistics of the number of downloads and the download volume for IPCC-DDC data are available online:

GCM data validation

One of the criteria commonly used in selecting a GCM to be used in constructing regional climate scenarios for impact assessment is the performance of the GCM in simulating the present-day climate in the region. This is evaluated by comparing the model outputs with observed climate in the target region, and also over larger scales, to determine the ability of the model to simulate large scale circulation patterns. Examples of graphical comparisons between GCM outputs and observed climate for the 1961-1990 period for subcontinental world regions can be found here.

AR5 Scenarios

AR5 Scenarios are based on scenarios of the CMIP5 (Climate Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5). Details on CMIP5 Scenarios can be found in:
Taylor, K.E., R.J. Stouffer, G.A. Meehl (2012): An Overview of CMIP5 and the experiment design. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 93, 485-498, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00094.1.
And details on the RCP Emissions and Land Use scenarios used in AR5 are described here.

Content last modified: 09 April 2018


AR5 GCM data

Climate model results provide the basis for important components of IPCC assessments, including the understanding of climate change and the projections of future climate change and related impacts. The IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) relies heavily on the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, Phase 5 (CMIP5), a collaborative climate modelling process coordinated by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).

The CMIP5 archive has evolved through and beyond the IPCC 5th Assessment process, with modelling groups eager to contribute their best available data to the research community. The IPCC DDC provides access to two snapshots of the CMIP5 archive in the World Data Center Climate (WDCC):

The IPCC WGI snapshot was collected at ETH Zurich to support the IPCC WGI AR5<

deepspace's picture
deepspace 1 year 38 weeks ago

And now comes the troll storm from Trumpland where "truth isn't truth" and "alternative facts" are the coin of the pussy-grabber realm...

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 1 year 38 weeks ago

Morning HotCoffee,

Interesting that all the vote counting is over and Brenda Snipes was unable to find enough extra voters to get her candidates to the finish line. The leftie/socialist in GA is another story. You will find this interesting. A great example how leftie/socialists twist numbers to suit their screed.

"Democrats Claim The GA Governor’s Race Was Stolen From Stacey Abrams. One Fact-Checker Completely Destroys That Theory."

Catch you later.

Coalage3 1 year 38 weeks ago

At least Gillum and Nelson conceded their races in Florida with a little bit of class. However, you can't say the same thing about Ms. Adams in Georgia. Too bad. And now we have the idiots from Hollywood saying they should boycott Georgia. What??? Perhaps viewers should boycott their movies and TV shows?

This is what the democratic party has now evolved into. Don't like an election result? Well there must be a nefarious reason why we lost. Surely it cannot be because the voters rejected the democratic agenda.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 38 weeks ago

Good morning DianeR,

I'm getting a late start...I stopped by Thom on TV this morning and could only spend a couple minutes...just so patronizing. So I went to link TV and actually saw Van Jones trying to explain to libs why their whinning & hatefulness doesn't work. I thought he should give his message to Don the Lemon! At times Van can be more reasonable than most libs. I like him as a person, just do not agree with his politics.

See how much trouble I can get into during commercials!!!

Meanwhile have a good laugh.....

Stormy Daniels Claims Trump Has ‘Ruined’ Her Pornography Career

Anyway I have much to be back later as well.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 1 year 38 weeks ago

Coalage3, correct on the Hollywood types. Hard to find any conservatives in that bunch. If they are there they aren't working.

Look at the link I provided regarding GA. Every one of the leftie/socialist arguments is debunked. The freakin laws cleaning up the voting logs were put in by democrats. This Georgia loser just needs to justify her existence so she is being a crybaby. Sad bunch with no end in sight.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 1 year 38 weeks ago

HotCoffee, never watched Thom Hartman on television. Don't listen to him on radio unless something really big happens. I tire of the commercials and repetitious nature of his presentation.

Stormy has problems, her creepy porn lawyer, the once darling of the alt-lefties, has been kicked out of his building for not paying rent, he owes one of his partners $10 million dollars, he will be in court over punching a lady, I suspect the new attorney general will go after him for the Swetnik/Kavanaugh lies he constructed, and lastly there is that old thing called gravity when assisted by two giant silicone balls glued to her chest make for a very unhappy lady of the evening.

Perhaps she can author a book about how her lawyer and the lefties dumped her like a hot rock during the Kavanaugh hearings? Not very nice those little socialists.

See ya!

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 38 weeks ago

And then there's.....

Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez revealed this weekend that she has no idea what the three branches of the U.S. government are during a conference call with prospective far-left political candidates."If we work our butts off to make sure that we take back all three chambers of Congress — uh, rather, all three chambers of government: the presidency, the Senate, and the House," Ocasio-Cortez said on Saturday while on a call with Justice Democrats.The three branches, not chambers, of the U.S. government, are the executive, legislative, and judicial.WATCH: Ocasio-Cortez then thought it would be a good idea to bring more attention to the video so all of her followers on Twitter could see that she does not know what she is talking about."Maybe instead of Republicans drooling over every minute of footage of me in slow-mo, waiting to chop up word slips that I correct in real-tomd [sic], they actually step up enough to make the argument they want to make: that they don’t believe people deserve a right to healthcare." Ocasio-Cortez urged people to join Justice Democrats' #OurTime campaign on Saturday to help them identify Democratic House incumbents that are "demographically and ideologically out-of-touch with their districts," the Huffington Post reported. In other words, Ocasio-Cortez endorsed a campaign that says that people can't represent those who are "demographically" different from them, which is the very definition of racism.

I used to think you had to at least have a high school education before you could run for office!

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 38 weeks ago

more .....

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez: Winning Friends and Influencing People

So how is Social Justice Warrior Princess and congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio Cortez finding her reception in her new workplace?

One word: Frosty.

She’s very, very upset that other congressional Democrats are being mean to her.

By why would they be mean to poor little her? Well, except for the tiny fact that she wants to primary fellow Democrat House incumbents who aren’t hard enough left for her:

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday threw her weight behind a new national campaign to mount primaries against incumbent Democrats deemed to be ideologically and demographically out of step with their districts.

The incoming star congresswoman from New York again put the Democratic establishment on notice that she and activist groups on the left aren’t content with a Democratic-controlled House: They are determined to move the party to the left.

“Long story short, I need you to run for office,” Ocasio-Cortez said Saturday on a video conference call hosted by Justice Democrats, as the group launched a campaign dubbed “#OurTime.” Justice Democrats supported Ocasio-Cortez’s primary campaign against powerful Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.).

“All Americans know money in politics is a huge problem, but unfortunately the way that we fix it is by demanding that our incumbents give it up or by running fierce campaigns ourselves,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “That’s really what we need to do to save this country. That’s just what it is.”

The incoming congresswoman’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, a co-founder of Justice Democrats, was blunter.

“We need new leaders, period,” he said on the call. “We gotta primary folks.”

Gee, I can’t imagine why here fellow Democrats are not welcoming her with open arms!

The group said they want Democratic members of Congress to be representative of their diverse communities and support liberal policies like Medicare for all, abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement department, implementing a “Green New Deal,” and rejecting corporate PAC donations. On the campaign trail, Ocasio-Cortez talked about forming a “corporate-free caucus” as a means to push for reform. That type of group, if it forms, could turn out to be the left’s counterpart to the Freedom Caucus, which pushed Republican leadership to the right.

Tiny problem there: The Freedom Caucus didn’t make its name by primarying ideological opponents within the party. That sounds more like what the Senate Conservative Fund or various Tea Party groups did, with limited success.

It also ignores the fact that Democrats accomplished their 2006 takeover of the House by running conservatives and moderates in red states and swing districts. Thanks to the hard left turn under Obama, almost all those Democrats have been defeated in subsequent Republican wave elections.

Maybe Congressional Democrats, faced with the keenness of Social justice Warrior demands to gore their own oxen, might do something about the victimhood identity politics cancer that has metastasized across their party. Unfortunately, I suspect they simply lack the balls to openly defy Miss Flavor-of-the-Month…

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 38 weeks ago

Saved the best for last......

Victor Davis Hanson Discusses President Trump…Posted on November 18, 2018 by

Victor Davis Hanson appears for an interview with Mark Levin to discuss his support for President Trump and current political challenges. The affluence of America driving the influence of Marxism by demanding equality of outcome.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 1 year 38 weeks ago


I saw that levin segment. I turn to catch Levin whenever I can. He is a very smart man.

As for occasional cortex, she will make this next couple of years fun to watch, in fact all 50 or so of the leftie/socialists that will announce they are running for president in 2020 will make for a very entertaining year.

Harris comparing ICE to the KKK and Spartacus making a total ass of himself at the Kavanaugh hearings coupled with fauxahontas and her 1/1048th native American are probably already toast. Old timers like crazy uncle Joe and Mad Maxine have too much dirt that is easy to uncover. I will save a full dozen videos of old uncle Joe grabbing and smelling the hair of 12 year olds for later.

The young starry eyed newbe's have to go a long way before anyone will pay serious attention. Starry eyed Kirsten Gillibrand is a punching bag with her nativity and then there is BILLIONAIRE Robert Francis O'Rourke from TX who took in well over $70 MILLION from outside the state and when asked if he would share any with his fellow democrats that were in tight races, "go get your own" he told them. Bear in mind he lost to Ted Cruz who was voted the most disliked Senator in DC. Don'[t get me wrong, Cruz would make a great Supreme Court justice but he has a god given smirk and dull personality to match.

Whatever happens is fine with me because in the next two years, Trump could have 150 judges permanently on the bench and I am a happy camper knowing the lefties can try what they want but many in the courts will overrule their BS. My kids should be safe for a very long time.


HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 38 weeks ago

Take A Look At This Picture And Decide For Yourself If America’s Priorities Are Out Of Whack

Change of plans today. ...hanging around!

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 38 weeks ago


I've seen plenty of OLD WHITE MAN Uncle Joe mauling children !!! How come being White, Old or a MAN is ok if it's a DEM???

I really share your opinons regarding the Judges...of course they're trying to stop Trumps picks for the CA 9th circut. Even if they do stop the 9th they can't stop all of them. A major win for us. I didn't realize there were 150 though!

I'm actually more concerned for the fire victims than anything the self absorbed libs do...what a way for them to spend Thanksgiving.....very sad.

Trump is right about them closing down all the sawmills....and putting all the loggers out of work. The Dems do love one extreme or the other.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 1 year 38 weeks ago

Sad to see those tents and to make matters worse, one camp in a Walmart parking lot was having trouble with outsiders (non fire victims) coming in and stealing what little the fire victims had.

We had our home flooded out and know what is is like to be without a place to live for awhile. No insurance coverage because homeowners did not cover a flood and when we bought the property we could not buy flood insurance from the government because we were 10 feet from the edge of a 100 year flood plain. One year later we were knee deep in wetlands in our lower level. We rebuild ourselves and did everything, plumbing, electricity, sheetrock, and finish work. Learned a lot but never complained. I am proud of our family.

pikchu68's picture
pikchu68 1 year 38 weeks ago

Your article is very meticulous and impressive for me, I hope to receive more excellent articles. slither io

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StephenSSmith 1 year 38 weeks ago

Personal essays, also known as personal narratives, allow the writer to express himself in a rather bold manner. Such essays help gauge the writer's ability to write on a given topic in an engaging manner.

click for info As the name suggests, a personal essay is more or less a personal perspective. While writing a personal essay, ensure that the rhythm and pace of the essay is smooth. There should be more opinions than facts. Try to avoid using philosophical rants to impress the reader.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 1 year 38 weeks ago

HotCoffee, Good morning, What is CA learning from those terrible fires? Are they considering preventative measures?

On the lighter side more on Jim Acosta

Coalage3 1 year 38 weeks ago

More gender idiocy:

"I wanted to bring this to your attention. My husband had a conversation with a young friend of ours who is a recent college grad. He has been working at [a major retailer] for the last year. I’m not sure what his title is, but we have encountered him at the store. He is a great worker and has earned a number of company awards for his performance. He related to my husband that he had had a conversation with a friend at work about the use or non-use of transgender pronouns. He took the position that he would not feel comfortable doing this."

"He was later called into his manager’s office and reprimanded. The manager told him that someone had overheard his conversation (manager wouldn’t say who), and that he had made this person feel “unsafe”. Our friend was written up for this, transferred to another store a long distance away, and suffered other severe sanctions! He was a bit naive to have engaged in this conversation at work, but good grief!"

And the so-called party of science supports this nonsense.

Because my self-esteem is at issue here, I have come to a major life decision. I have decided that I now want to be addressed as Your Highness. Or Your Excellency will also do I suppose. Oh, and please bow down when you see or address me from now on. After all, I can be anyone or anything that I choose, and you must go along with it. Or else you are a bigot. After all, my feelings are the most important thing. So please start practicing your bows and curtsy. Thank you for your support.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 38 weeks ago

Good Morning DianeR,

I will look later today for info on the fire situation.

I have to do some last minutes shopping for Thanksgiving.

Have an awesome day!

back later!

deepspace's picture
deepspace 1 year 38 weeks ago


The Thom Hartmann Program (Full Show) - 11/19/18


deepspace's picture
deepspace 1 year 38 weeks ago


The Thom Hartmann Program (Full Show) - 11/20/18


deepspace's picture
deepspace 1 year 38 weeks ago

[5 Parts]

(Part One)

10/22/18 from Truthdig / Axis of Logic (under Fair Use; Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107)

"American History for Truthdiggers:

Original Sin"

By Maj. Danny Sjursen:

(Truthdig editor’s note: The past is prologue. The stories we tell about ourselves and our forebears inform the sort of country we think we are and help determine public policy. As our current president promises to “Make America great again,” this moment is an appropriate time to reconsider our past, look back at various eras of United States history and re-evaluate America’s origins. When, exactly, were we “great”?

The “American History for Truthdiggers” series, which begins with the installment below, is a pull-no-punches appraisal of our shared, if flawed, past. The author of the series, Danny Sjursen, an active-duty major in the U.S. Army, served military tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and taught the nation’s checkered, often inspiring past when he was an assistant professor of history at West Point. His wartime experiences, his scholarship, his skill as a writer and his patriotism illuminate these Truthdig posts.)



American Slavery, American Freedom (Colonial Virginia 1607-1676)

Origins matter. Every nation-state has an origin myth, a comforting tale of trials, tribulations and triumphs that form the foundation of “imagined communities.” The United States of America—a self-proclaimed “indispensable nation”—is as prone to exaggerated origin myths as any society in human history. Most of us are familiar with the popular American origin story: Our forefathers, a collection of hardy, pious pioneers, escaped religious persecution in England and founded a “new world”—a shining beacon in a virgin land. Of course, that story, however flawed, refers to the Pilgrims, and Massachusetts, circa 1620. But that’s not the true starting point for English-speaking society in North America.

The first permanent colony was in Virginia, at Jamestown, beginning in 1607. Why, then, do our young students dress in black buckle-top hats and re-create Thanksgiving each year? Where is the commemoration of Jamestown and our earliest American forebears? The omission itself tells a story, that of a chosen, comforting narrative (the legend of the Pilgrims), and the whitewashing of a murkier past along the James River.

The truth is, the United States descends from both origins—Massachusetts and Virginia—and carries the legacy of each into the 21st century. So why do we focus on the Pilgrims and sideline Virginia? A fresh look may help explain.

The Age of ‘Discovery’

When it comes to history—like any story—the starting point is itself informative. I taught freshman history at West Point, a far more progressive and thoughtful school than many readers probably imagine. Nonetheless, with cadets required to take only one semester of U.S. history, we had just 40 lessons to illuminate the American past. So where to start? The official answer—as in so many standard history courses—was Jamestown, Virginia, 1607.

That, of course, is a fascinating, perhaps absurd, choice. Such a starting point omits several thousand years of Native American history, of varied, complex civilizations from modern Canada to Chile. Time being short and all, 1607 remains a common pedagogical starting point. As a result, from the beginning, our understanding of U.S. history is Eurocentric and narrow (covering only the last 400 or so years). Consider that Problem No. 1.

Next, contemplate the language we use to describe the “founding” of new European colonies. This is, say it with me, the “Age of Discovery.” In 1492, Columbus discovered (even though he wasn't first) America. Now, that’s a loaded term. Isn't it just as accurate to say that Native Americans discovered Columbus—a lost and confused soul—when he landed upon their shores?

When we say Europeans discovered the “New World,” we’re—not inadvertently—implying that there was nothing substantial going on in the Americas until the Caucasians showed up. Europe has a dated, chronological history, reaching back at least to the Greeks, which most students learn in elementary school and later on in Western Civilization classes. Not so for the Native Americans. Their public history starts in 1492, or, for Americans, in 1607. What came before, then, hardly matters.

Inauspicious Beginnings

Englishmen came neither to escape religious persecution nor to found a New Jerusalem. Not to Virginia, at least. No, the corporate-backed expedition—by the Virginia Joint Stock Company—sought treasure (think gold), to find a northwest passage to India, and balance the rival Catholic Spaniards. But, first and foremost, they pursued profit.

The expedition barely survived. That should come as little surprise. They chose a malarial swamp for a home. The first ships carried mostly aristocrats—“gentlemen,” as they were then labeled—with a few laborers and carpenters for good measure. Gentlemen didn't work or deal with the dirty business of farming and settling. But they did like to argue—and there were too many “chiefs” on this voyage. The first party did not include any farmers or women. Only 30 percent survived the first winter. Two years later, only 60 out of 500 colonists survived the “Starving Time.” Over the first 17 years, 6,000 people arrived, but only 1,200 were alive in 1624. One guy ate his wife.

So why the disaster? Why the poor site selection and early starvation? First off, the colonists chose a site inland on the James River because they feared detection by the more powerful Spanish. But mainly the disaster came down to colonial motivations. Jamestown was initially about profit, not settlement. Corporate dividends, not community. This was the private sector, not a permanent national venture. In that sense, matters in early Virginia were not unlike modern American economics.

Saved by Tobacco, the First Drug Economy

They never did find much gold, or, for that matter, a northwest passage. Then again, they didn't all starve to death. Rather, the venture was saved by a different sort of “gold”—the cash crop of tobacco. Tobacco changed the entire dynamic of colonization and control in North America. Finally, there was money to be made. The Englishmen shipped the newest vice eastward and pulled a handsome profit in return. Our beloved forefathers were early drug dealers. More migrants now crossed the Atlantic to get in on the tobacco windfall.

The plentiful “gentlemen” of Virginia sought to re-create their landed estates in England. Despite significant early conflict with the native Powhatan Confederacy, large tobacco plantations eventually developed along the coast. Who, though, would work these fields? Certainly not the landowners. The burgeoning aristocracy had two choices: lower-class English or Scots-Irish indentured servants (who worked for a fixed period in the promise of future acres) and African slaves. Whom to choose? Unsurprisingly, ethics played little role, and cost was the defining factor.

When mortality was high in the colony’s early years, plantation owners favored the cheaper indentured (mainly white) servants. But as more families planted corn, kept cattle and improved nutrition, death rates fell and slaves became more appealing. After all, though expensive in upfront costs, slaves worked for life, and the slave owners got to keep their offspring. Nevertheless, for the first several decades, an interracial mix of slaves and servants worked the land in Virginia.

Bacon’s Rebellion and the American Future

The problem with the tobacco economy was one of space. To be profitable, cash crops require expansive acreage, and in Virginia this meant movement inland. This expansion set the Englishmen on a collision course with local Native Americans. Furthermore, what was plantation society to do about those indentured servants who survived and matriculated? Land would have to be found somewhere. (Though not near the coasts and early settlements. The “gentlemen” weren't about to divide up their own large estates.) In order to maintain their chosen societal model—landed aristocracy—in which the wealthiest 10 percent possessed half the wealth and the bottom 60 percent held less than 10 percent of accumulated wealth, new land would have to be found further west—in “Indian territory.”

Thing is, after some bloody, early wars with the Powhatan, most “gentlemen” preferred a stable, secure status quo. (Not another war. That’d be bad for business.) However, falling tobacco prices, increased competition from nearby colonies and the relentless search by the former indentured class for more land brought frontier Virginians into conflict with an easy scapegoat: nearby Native Americans. Frustrated lower-class men—both white and black—rallied behind a young, discontented aristocrat, a firebrand named Nathaniel Bacon. Bacon led his interracial poor-people’s army in attacks on local Natives and, eventually, on Gov. William Berkeley and the establishment “gentlemen.” In 1675 and 1676, Bacon’s throng destroyed plantations and even burned Jamestown before Bacon died of disease (the “bloody fluxe”) and the rebellion petered out.

Bacon’s Rebellion was one of the foundational—and most misunderstood—events in American history. Here, a populist army savagely assaulted hated Native Americans and aristocrats alike. A mix of black and white former indentured servants demonstrated the fragility of Virginian society. The planter class was terrified. In order to avoid a repeat at all costs, the landed gentry made a devil’s bargain. To ensure stability, they realized they must co-opt some of the poor without ceding their own privileged status.

Enter America’s original sins: racism and white privilege. Plantation owners simply hired fewer indentured servants and became more reliant on (black) African chattel slaves for their labor force. The planters also threw a bone to the middling whites, lowering some taxes and allowing more political representation for white male Virginians.

The implications were as disturbing as they were enduring. White unity became the organizing principle of life in colonial Virginia. To be fair, poor whites lived difficult lives and always outnumbered their aristocratic betters. Nonetheless, these lower-class Caucasians benefited from the new, racialized social system. Pale skin became a badge of honor—life may not be optimal, but “at least we are white.” Black freemen became a thing of the past, and soon “blackness” became inseparably associated with slavery and the lowest of social classes. Black skin became a brand of slavery, and runaways could no longer blend into colonial society. Slaves were easily spotted by virtue of their color.

Bacon’s Rebellion linked land, labor and race together in nefarious ways. Land (ownership) remained the path to freedom. Labor remained essential to profiting from the land, and race came to define the relationship between land and labor. After 1676, a class-based system morphed into a race-based system of labor and social structure. The demand for African slaves rose and a triangular trade developed among North America, Africa and Europe. It seemed everyone benefited from slave labor—it became an Atlantic system. The American South had transformed from a society with slaves to a slave society. It would remain so for nearly two centuries. Race became a prevalent fact of life in the Americas—and still is, 342 years later.

There’s nothing simple about America’s origins, and it is well that this is so. In that way, the United States is like most other modern nation-states. Leaving behind exceptionalist rhetoric and exploring uncomfortable truths signify intellectual maturity. Should this country wish to move forward, be its best self and fulfill the dream of its finest rhetoric, then the citizenry must dispense with reassuring myths and grapple with inconvenient truths.

What, then, do Jamestown and early Virginia have to tell us in 2018? Perhaps this: American slavery arose alongside and intertwined with American freedom. Our society descends from a sinister original sin: the development of a race-based caste system along the banks of the James River. Race, class, labor and slavery were inextricably linked in our colonial past. They remain so today.

PART TWO 10/29/18 - Truthdig

American History for Truthdiggers:

Roots in Religious Zealotry

By Maj. Danny Sjursen:

Truthdig editor’s note: The past is prologue. The stories we tell about ourselves and our forebears inform the sort of country we think we are and help determine public policy. As our current president promises to “Make America great again,” this moment is an appropriate time to reconsider our past, look back at various eras of United States history and re-evaluate America’s origins. When, exactly, were we “great”?

Below is the second installment of the “American History for Truthdiggers” series, a pull-no-punches appraisal of our shared, if flawed, past.


It is the image Americans are comfortable with. The first Thanksgiving. Struggling Pilgrims—our blessed forebears—saved by the generosity of kindly Native Americans. Two societies coexisting in harmony. If Colonial Virginia was a mess, well, certainly matters were better in Massachusetts. Here are origins all can be proud of.

Our children re-create the scene every November, and we watch them with pride through the lenses of our smartphones. But is this representation of life in Colonial New England an accurate portrait of Anglo-Native relations at Plymouth, or, for that matter, in the larger Massachusetts Bay Colony? Of course it isn't, but nonetheless the impression—the myth—persists. That’s a story unto itself.

Consider this: How many Americans even know there was a difference between Pilgrims and Puritans? The distinctions matter. The Pilgrims, of course, arrived first. Calvinists of humble origins, the Pilgrims were Protestant separatists who believed the mainstream Church of England was beyond saving. They fled England for the Netherlands in the early 17th century, and then, in 1620, about a hundred boarded the Mayflower to go to North America. It was they who landed on Plymouth Rock.

The far more numerous Puritans were also pious, dissenting Protestants, but they initially believed the Church of England could be reformed from within. They were generally wealthier, more prominent citizens. In about 1630, about 1,000 Puritans formed the first wave to settle the area claimed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They were, indeed, fleeing the persecution of King Charles I, but—unlike the Pilgrims—they received a royal charter for their colony. They hoped to found a “New Jerusalem” in the New World.

Stark Contrasts: Virginia vs. New England

These weren't the gold-hungry aristocrats of Colonial Virginia. The Puritans (and Pilgrims) came as families—they included women. The Massachusetts climate and natural population growth made for far lower mortality than that experienced at early Jamestown in Virginia. Everyone was willing to work, and the productive family units made, eventually, for bountiful harvests. This was not a land of “gentlemen” and cash crops, as in Virginia, but of dutiful families tilling the land.

The motivations and origins of the two English colonies affected the social structure of each. Differing goals set the tone from the first. Virginians sought to exploit the land, mine its resources, compete with the Spanish and turn a quick profit. Not so the Puritans. They strove to settle, to put down roots and thrive in an idealized community. Their middling origins combined with communal goals and resulted in familial plots with widespread land ownership—another contrast with the tobacco plantations of Jamestown. All this translated into a rough economic equality, at least in the early years. There was also a near total absence of chattel slavery: The climate didn't support the most common cash crops, and so there was little incentive to import Africans to New England.

God Wills It: The Motivations of the Puritans

It all sounds harmonious, idyllic even. Yet something lurked below the surface, something dark and unpleasant to modern eyes. These were fundamentalist zealots! These insufferable, millenarian Calvinists held themselves in shockingly high esteem. They were chosen, they would transform the world by their example. If the Pilgrims sought separation from a world of sin, the Puritans meant to create a New World, an example for all to emulate. It briefs well, and makes for an agreeable origin narrative, but isn't there something disturbing about such a people, about such overbearing confidence?

Ponder the words of John Winthrop, an early governor of the Bay Colony:

"… wee shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when he shall make us a praise and glory, that men shall say of succeeding plantations: the Lord make it like that of New England: for we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us. …"

These were people on a mission, the Lord’s mission, come what may. Such people would seem to be on a collision course with the region’s natives and Anglo nonconformists. And this would soon come to pass.

The Puritans’ motivations and goals raise some salient questions. What does it say about, and what are the implications for, a society founded on such colossal self-regard? Is it, ultimately, a good thing? That’s certainly a matter of opinion, but the questions themselves are instructive. Americans must make such queries to get an honest sense of themselves and their origins. This much is hard to argue with: Here, in Massachusetts, we find the geneses of American exceptionalism—the blessing and curse that has shadowed the United States for more than three centuries, driving domestic and especially foreign policy. Divergent modern political figures, from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, stuck carefully to an American exceptionalist script, in rhetoric if not in deed. One wonders whether this “City on a Hill” milieu, on the whole, has been a positive attribute. This author, at least, tends to doubt it. Perhaps we should mistrust such pride, and conceit, in even its most American forms.

Stifling Dissent: Life in Colonial New England

Could you imagine living with these people, comporting with their way of life? It sounds like a nightmare. Yet we Americans hold these antecedents in high esteem. Perhaps it’s natural, but this much is certain: Such veneration requires a certain degree of willful forgetting, a whitewashing of inconvenient truths about Puritan society.

Sure, Massachusetts avoided the worst famines of Jamestown’s early years, but life in Colonial New England was far from serene. It rarely is in repressive religious societies. Remember, the Puritans constructed exactly what they said they would, a theocracy on the bay. The Massachusetts Bay Colony may indeed have more in common with modern Saudi Arabia—executing “witches” and “sorcerers”—than it does with contemporary Boston. Our ancestors were far more religious than most Americans can fathom. But there’s also a problem of framing; we’ve omitted the uncomfortable bits to fashion an uplifting origin narrative.

There were many subgroups that certainly didn’t enjoy life in early Colonial Massachusetts: religious dissidents, agnostics, free thinkers and, well, assertive women. We’ve all heard of the infamous Salem Witch Trials, but nearly four decades earlier the widow Ann Higgins was executed, hung for witchcraft, after having the audacity to complain that hired carpenters had overcharged her for a remodeling job on her house.

All told, 344 citizens were accused of witchcraft in 17th-century Massachusetts. Twenty were executed. The accused had commonalities that are indicative of the nature of gender relations in the Bay Colony. Seventy-five percent were women. Most of those women were middle-aged or older and demonstrated some degree of independence. Many were suspected of some sort of sexual impropriety. The point is that Colonial New England was inhabited by zealots—conformist and oppressive fundamentalists who strictly policed the boundaries of their exalted theocracy. Forget the Thanksgiving feast: This was Islamic State on the Atlantic!

If life was as idyllic as the settlers intended in hail-the-Protestant-work-ethic Massachusetts Bay, then why were so many colonial “heroes” kicked out? Roger Williams, for example, founder of Rhode Island, promoted religious toleration and some separation of church and state, and asserted (gasp) that settlers ought to buy land from the native inhabitants. His thanks? A ticket straight out of Massachusetts. Slightly less well known was Anne Hutchinson. She had the gall to organize weekly women’s meetings to discuss theology and even contemplated the concept of individual intuition as a path to salvation. She too was banished. There was simply no room for dissent in Puritan society.

‘We Must Burn Them’: Puritan and Native Relations

This, naturally, brings us to the native peoples of New England. If nonconformist Englishmen fared so poorly in Massachusetts, then what of the Indians? You can probably guess.

Once again, as in Virginia, the Native Americans did not, or could not, wipe out the nascent colonial community, even though, initially at least, there were fewer soldiers among the settlers in Massachusetts. The explanation for the settlers surviving among the native Americans is far more complex than the simple myth of the noble, benevolent savage. The Puritans were the “beneficiaries of catastrophe,” for New England native communities had recently been ravaged by infectious European diseases that spread up and down the coastline. The thinned-out native populations thus posed less of a demographic threat to Massachusetts.

Far from the serene images of Thanksgiving amity, Anglo-Indian relations quickly turned from bad to worse. Land was a factor, but not the only one. A permanent settler community such as the Puritans’ would require inevitable expansion and rapidly grow, to be sure. As in Virginia, land ownership cohered with “freedom”—Anglo land and Anglo freedom, that is. Still, in New England, ideology was as much of a stimulus for war as land, wealth or further economic motives. The native tribes, swarthy and “unbelieving” Pequot, Wampanoag, Naggaransetts and others, simply did not fit into the Puritan’s messianic worldview. Conquered or converted were the only acceptable states for local Indians.

Early colonial wars in Massachusetts were as brutal and bloody as wars anywhere else on the North American continent. Here there was a direct connection between the Puritan religion and the cruelty seen in the Pequot War and King Philip’s War. In the Pequot War, Massachusetts militiamen attacked a native fort at Mystic, Connecticut, and through fire and fury burned alive 400 to 700 Indians, mostly women and children. The survivors were sold as slaves.

The militia relied on allied native scouts. Observing the ruthlessness of the Puritan fighting men, one native auxiliary asked Capt. John Underhill, “Why should you be so furious? Should not Christians have more mercy and compassion?” Underhill’s reply was as instructive as it is disturbing:

"I would refer you to David where, when a people is grown to such a height of blood, and sin against God and man … sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents; some-time the case alters: but we will not dispute it now. We had sufficient light from the word of God for our proceeding."

Should, from time to time, a tinge of doubt betray the Puritans’ devout certainty, faithful zeal quickly assuaged the guilty conscience. Consider the words of another participant in the “Mystic Massacre,” William Bradford: “It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire … and horrible was the stink … but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the praise thereof to God.”

Nearly simultaneous to the Virginian Bacon’s Rebellion, the Puritans fought King Philip’s—or Metacom’s—War in Massachusetts. Mercilessly executed on both sides, this was a war of survival that forever broke native power and independence in New England. Nearly one in 50 colonists were killed in what was by far the bloodiest war in American history, with 11 times the death rate of World War II. The native leader Metacom, known to the settlers as King Philip, was betrayed by an informer and killed, and his head was displayed on a pole in Plymouth, Mass., for decades. Such was the savagery of colonial war that the tactics and symbolism bring to mind Islamic State in today’s Syrian civil war.

When it came to Native American affairs, the Puritans hardly set the “City on a Hill” example. Or did they? After all, John Winthrop believed the “God of Israel”—a jealous, smiting deity if ever there was one—was among the Puritans, guiding their every move. As noted here earlier, Winthrop claimed this God provided the colonists such strength that 10 of their number could “resist a thousand enemies.” Viciousness and intolerance toward racially distinct, heathen natives were actually at the heart of “City on a Hill” teleology from the start. What Americans now decry in the Greater Middle East is but an echo of their colonial past. That much is worth remembering.

Not So Different: What Virginians and New Englanders Shared

When considering the two origin-societies of Virginia and Massachusetts, the differences are stark and effortlessly leap forth. More difficult, but just as relevant, are their significant commonalities. For it is in the overlap that we find our shared heritage, that which is universal in the American past, and, perhaps, the past of all settler-colonial societies.

Anglo dominance—and arrogance—acutely pervaded both colonial civilizations. In Massachusetts, as in Virginia, conflict and brutality toward the native peoples were regular features of settler life. In each setting, though to differing extents, a fever for land combined with exceptionalist ideology to conquer slave and native alike. For Englishmen, property ownership corresponded with liberty, but all along the Eastern Seaboard, Anglo liberty portended native death and displacement.

If Colonial Virginian society was fundamentally based on white unity at the expense of African slaves, then perhaps Puritan Massachusetts was founded upon Anglo zealotry at the expense of a “savage” Indian “other.” As proud descendants—some of us literally, most figuratively—of these twin settler-colonial enterprises, Americans must grapple with their inconvenient past. Here there’s much work left to be done.

The exceptionalism and chauvinistic Protestantism of the Massachusetts Puritans long influenced the American experiment. From the “City on a Hill” it is but a short journey to Manifest Destiny and the conquest of a continent—native inhabitants be damned!

Again, origins, and origin stories, matter. They inform who we were, and who we are, in stark contrast to who we’d like to think we were and are. America is its best self when it searches its soul and reforms from within. When, that is, it confronts its demons and seeks a better, more inclusive and empathetic future.


(Part 3)

Axis of Logic - Truthdig - Monday, Nov 5, 2018 (fair use)

American History for Truthdiggers:

"Whose Empire?"

By Maj. Danny Sjursen:

Truthdig editor’s note: The past is prologue. The stories we tell about ourselves and our forebears inform the sort of country we think we are and help determine public policy. As our current president promises to “Make America great again,” this moment is an appropriate time to reconsider our past, look back at various eras of United States history and re-evaluate America’s origins. When, exactly, were we “great”?

Below is the third installment of the “American History for Truthdiggers” series, a pull-no-punches appraisal of our shared, if flawed, past.


If Americans have heard of the Seven Years’ War—a truly global struggle—it is most certainly under the title “The French and Indian War” (1754-1763). Popular images of the conflict are likely to stem from the 1992 movie “The Last of the Mohicans,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis. When Americans think of this war at all, or discuss it in school, they generally situate the central theater of the conflict in the northeast of North America. Yes, the savage Indians and their deceitful French allies were beaten back along the wooded frontier, allowing pacific English—soon to be American—farmers to live in peace. Ending in 1763, and saddling Britain with debt, the French and Indian War is often remembered as but a prelude to a coming colonial revolt over excessive taxation. Perhaps it was, but not in a direct, linear sense. Nothing historical is preordained. Chance and contingency ensure as much.

In reality, though the fighting began in North America—western Pennsylvania to be exact—the American theater (just like the simultaneous campaigns in India) was often a sideshow to the main event unfolding in Europe. That was a global war, fought on several continents between Britain and Prussia on one side and France, Russia and Austria on the other. It’s important to remember that events in America—then and now—did not unfold in a vacuum but rather shaped and were shaped by global affairs. And, while it is true the American Revolution kicked off just a dozen years after the Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years’ War, nothing about the revolt was inevitable. In fact, in 1763, at the close of the French and Indian War, the vast majority of colonists saw themselves as Englishmen and Englishwomen, invested in and proud of their British Empire.

How to Kick Off a Global War

It started over land and money. The “Ohio Country,” just west of the Appalachian Mountains, covered much of what is today the state of Ohio, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Rich in lumber, with fertile farmland and plentiful game, the Ohio Country presented a tempting find. Though mainly inhabited by native tribes, the region also just happened to sit on the contested border between France and Britain’s empires in North America.

Both sides (and, no doubt, the native inhabitants) coveted this land. The French saw the Ohio Country as a strategic buffer against the encroaching Brits, and to the Indians, well, it was home. The English settler population of the 13 Colonies was, however, rapidly expanding westward. The stage was set for conflict. All it took was the right spark. Count on the profit motive as a reliable catalyst.

A few decades earlier, some prominent Virginia families, including those of both the royal governor and a young militia officer named George Washington, established the Ohio Company of Virginia. This being a land speculation outfit at heart, the company’s investors hoped to claim land in the Ohio Country, buy it cheaply from the Crown and sell at a profit to westward-bound settlers. Buy low, sell high—enrich the already wealthy plantation families of Virginia—same old game!

So, when the time came to seize and hold the land in western Pennsylvania once and for all, guess who Robert Dinwiddie, lieutenant governor of Virginia—himself an Ohio Company investor—sent in? A young lieutenant colonel of the militia, George Washington. Washington took a militia company and some allied Mingo Indians and headed toward Fort Duquesne, a French installation near present-day Pittsburgh. The French command sent out from the fort a smaller party under Joseph de Jumonville, with strict orders to avoid a fight unless provoked.

What happened next is contested in the few existing accounts. The most credible sources agree that Washington’s force surrounded the French party and opened fire, killing several. Most surrendered, however, at which point Washington’s native counterpart, known as the “Half King” wielded a tomahawk to Jumonville’s head, killing the Frenchman. This was supposed to have been as much a diplomatic as a military mission, and no state of war had been declared. Washington’s choice to open fire was strategically and ethically questionable; however, his inability to control his native allies and the assassination of a prisoner must certainly constitute a war crime.

Early Setbacks, Stillborn Unity

Things didn’t go so well for the British early on. Despite exponentially outnumbering the military and settler population of New France, the Brits and their colonists suffered some disconcerting early defeats. Soon after the “Jumonville Affair,” the French dispatched hundreds of troops and allied natives to dislodge Washington’s force, which had built a ramshackle defense known as “Fort Necessity.” A military novice in his 20s, Washington placed his fort in an indefensible location and was forced to humiliatingly surrender.

Soon after, a large British column commanded by Gen. Edward Braddock was ambushed and nearly destroyed, and Braddock was killed. Washington, barely escaping several near misses, would experience his second consecutive defeat in battle. For the next few years, the British knew mostly defeat and the colonists suffered under brutal French and Indian raids up and down the western frontier.

As the settlers’ confidence deteriorated under the weight of defeats and frontier insecurity, some leaders began to argue for increased colonial unity as a desperate, defensive panacea. Representatives from the various colonies met in Albany, New York, to discuss the prospect of confederation. The result was disappointing. Although it is true that the first colloquial usage of the term “American” seems to have begun in this period, the diverse and fiercely independent colonies were—despite the vicious frontier attacks—not yet ready for unification. Little was settled, less was agreed to. Contrary to the deterministic interpretations of the French and Indian War as a prelude to the American Revolution, the fact is that individual colonial identities were far too strong and the threat from France and the Indians far too uneven to prompt any meaningful confederation.

Celebrating Empire

By 1759, the tide began to turn. The British, under the governmental leadership of William Pitt, changed strategy and responded to French onslaughts in clever ways. The British already had massive advantages in colonial manpower and naval power. Now, they began to follow the French lead and recruit their own Native American allies. The British bankrolled the Prussians under Frederick the Great to do the heavy lifting of ground battle on the European continent and shifted resources to the colonial theaters in India, the Caribbean and North America. The Brits also imposed an effective naval blockade on New France (roughly analogous to modern Canada) to cut off French reinforcements.

After Gen. James Wolfe (depicted in the painting at the top of this article) famously defeated the French on the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec, momentum clearly shifted to the British. Though this is indeed remembered as the seminal battle of the French and Indian War, one could just as plausibly argue the French actually lost Canada—and the Seven Years’ War—in a battle fought in modern Poland on the European continent. Such was the global, interconnected nature of warfare, even in the 18th century.

How, then, did the English colonists view themselves and define their identity in the wake of British victory? Were they indeed the unified Americans on the cusp of independence, as is so often remembered? Hardly.

Sometimes a painting, a period work of art, has much to impart to the observant historian. The artist who created “The Death of General Wolfe,” Benjamin West, was a colonist, an “American,” from Pennsylvania, in fact. West’s painting was a hit, paraded around the London Royal Academy after its completion. So what, exactly, did West hope to communicate with his famous painting? Pride. In victory and in empire. In the sky he depicts the light of British conquest overcoming the dark clouds of French rule in Canada. A Native American, clearly of a British-allied tribe, crouches in stereotypical dress and in the reflective pose of a truly “noble savage.” And, at center, there is the martyred Gen. Wolfe, held by his comrades in the ubiquitous Christ-like “lamentation” pose (see below) of so many famous Western religious depictions. Here was the new Christ, a general, a British general who sacrificed so America could be free (of the French and their native allies, that is).

West, the Pennsylvania colonist, memorialized the French and Indian War not as a prelude to independence but as a celebration of empire, British empire. At the close of this brutal, costly war (2.5 percent of the men of Boston had been killed), West and most other American colonists did indeed share a common identity of sorts: as proud Britons.

An Unhappy Peace: Conflicting Lessons, Divergent Expectations

Both the colonists and metropolitan Britons emerged from the long, vicious conflagration with contrasting expectations. As is so often the case, many of these desires ran at cross-purposes. The British imperial officials wanted, most of all, to consolidate their gains (France had ceded all of Canada and the Ohio Valley) and ensure stability.

“Peace will be as hard to make as war.”—William Pitt (1759)

Above all, this meant protecting the newly gained territory and separating English settlers from the native tribes west of the Appalachian Mountains. Toward the end of the war, a confederation of Ohio Country Indian tribes realized the French were losing and they would probably soon find themselves alone to check the expansionist Brits. The crisis of extended war and impending French defeat begot a spiritual awakening among the natives led by a holy man named Neolin.

Neolin’s call for native unity influenced an Ottawa war chief known as Pontiac to attack British forts up and down the frontier in a conflict that took his name, Pontiac’s Rebellion. Though the British eventually prevailed, they incurred heavy casualties, and the demonstration of native unity had spooked imperial officials. To avoid a repeat rebellion and preserve the status quo, the British announced the Proclamation Line of 1763, which ceded land west of the Appalachians to the Ohio Country tribes and forbade further settler expansion. They also hoped to raise funds from the (presumably grateful) colonists to help pay down Britain’s crippling war debts. That meant taxes—and taxes, eventually, meant discord.

None of that jibed with colonists’ expectations. They had started the war—for land, for expansion, for profit! How, then, could their British protectors deny them their destiny: ample farmland and security from native savages across the Appalachians. They, too, had fought in the key battles of the conflict, as militiamen alongside the British redcoats. Nor did most colonists expect to bear the burden of debt relief for the crown: Hadn’t they already borne the brunt of a war fought adjacent to their land and endured Indian raids on their homesteads? The stage, so to speak, was set for future confrontation.

The Real Losers: Dwindling Hope for Native Empowerment

If colonial and metropolitan Britons emerged from the war with divergent lessons and expectations, so too did the local native tribes. The Ohio Country, which the French had ceded without native permission, was the tribes’ home. Pontiac’s Rebellion demonstrated just how serious the Indian claims were. Nonetheless, unsurprisingly, the natives proved to be the war’s great victims.

For years, decades even, native tribes had counted on the imperial rivalries between British, French and Spanish claimants to North America as a way to divide, conquer and survive. Though the Indians were generally weaker than the great European empires, they had become adept at balancing between the differing poles of imperial power and played the part of spoiler in countless colonial wars. Now, with New France vanquished and the Spanish empire increasingly anemic, the native tribes could no longer rely on tried and true past strategies. They stood alone in the face of a powerful, populous and insatiably expansionist British Empire. Pontiac’s Rebellion was a desperate response to the new reality, but the more prescient chiefs could see the tragic writing on the wall.

Some Indians must no doubt have felt expendable as the French abandoned them to their fate. Could natives ever truly trust any Europeans? In the end, were these white men not all cut from the same cloth, as they arrogantly traded Indian land as spoils in a deadly imperial game?

Consider the above painting—also by colonist Benjamin West—in which a “civilized” British officer restrains his “savage” ally from killing their ostensibly common enemy. The message is instructive: Yes, the French were their foes, but both (European) sides at least adhered to common rules of gentlemanly warfare. View this painting out of context and it is far from obvious that the red- and white-clad Caucasians are actually enemies. Viewed through the lens of Benjamin West, it seems the real enemy of civilization is the “savage”—that anachronistic native who most certainly has no place in the North American future. Though many Native Americans surely couldn’t yet foresee it, they were already doomed. It was they, not the French, who had truly lost the Seven Years’ War!

* * *

In 1763, American colonists felt little sense of—the term was yet to be coined—common nationalism. Despite contemporary memories to the contrary, in the coming revolution against Britain the colonists hardly rebelled against the concept of empire itself. Rather, they desired a new, expansive American Empire, unhindered by London and stretching west over the Appalachians and deep into native lands. If the Seven Years’ or “French and Indian” War was the first conflict for North American empire, well, then, perhaps it helped set the stage for the second: the American War for Independence.

Of course, all attempts by historians—this author included—to periodize and categorize the past run the risk of determinism and distort the inherent contingency of events. Still, a fresh look at the French and Indian War raises profound questions about the course of early American history. It is, perhaps, appropriate to exchange the standard narrative of these events for something at once more accurate and, for many, more disturbing. Instead of a simple prelude to the coming revolution, couldn’t it be that the Seven Years’ War was itself a pivotal turning point in American history—the moment when the balance shifted and native power irreversibly waned? If so, it is long past time to replace the comforting American narrative of a transition from (British) empire to liberal republic with a more accurate and complex progression: from empire to revolution to a new, American empire. We live in it still.

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(Part 4)

Axis of Logic - Truthdig - - Monday, Nov 12, 2018 (fair use)

American History for Truthdiggers:

Were the Colonists Patriots or Insurgents?

By Maj. Danny Sjursen:

Truthdig editor’s note: The past is prologue. The stories we tell about ourselves and our forebears inform the sort of country we think we are and help determine public policy. As our current president promises to “Make America great again,” this moment is an appropriate time to reconsider our past, look back at various eras of United States history and re-evaluate America’s origins. When, exactly, were we “great”?

Below is the fourth installment of the “American History for Truthdiggers” series, a pull-no-punches appraisal of our shared, if flawed, past.


“Who shall write the history of the American Revolution?” John Adams once asked. “Who can write it? Who will ever be able to write it?”

“Nobody,” Thomas Jefferson replied. “The life and soul of history must forever remain unknown.”


Compare the tarring-and-feathering scene at the top of this article with the 1770 painting “The Death of General Wolfe” (immediately below this paragraph), which was featured in installment three of this Truthdig series. Painted by colonist Benjamin West, it shows North American colonists among those devotedly and tenderly attending the mortally wounded British general, who lies in a Christ-like pose. How did (at least some) North American colonists evolve from a proud celebration of empire into the riotous, rebellious mob portrayed in the illustration above? It’s an important question, actually, and it deals with an issue hardly mentioned in standard textbooks. Even rebellious “patriots” saw themselves as Englishmen right up until July 4, 1776. Others remained loyal British subjects through the entire Revolutionary War.

Most of the lay public tends to view the coming of the American Revolution as natural, predetermined, inevitable even. After all, “we” are the descendants of patriots with a special, anti-monarchical destiny. The British crown, with its intolerable taxation, merely stood in the way of American providence and thus was of course shunted aside in a glorious democratic rebellion. At least that’s the myth—the comforting preferred narrative.

The reality of the pre-revolt era was far more complex, influenced by diverse forces, motives, individual agency and contingency. The truth, as often the case, is messy and discomforting. Still, simplicity sells. Want to earn a bundle in royalties? Well, then avoid publishing an intricate analysis of lower-class colonial motivations. No one reads that stuff! It’s easy—just write another flattering biography of a “Founding Father.”

But just who were these “patriots”? What motivated them to seek open conflict with a powerful empire? How pure were their motives? Did they even represent a majority of colonists? And what of their tactics—did the ends justify the means? Only a fresh, comprehensive examination of this untidy, chaotic era promises satisfactory answers to these questions, the questions at the root of the United States’ very origins. Still, rest assured: The lead-up to the American Revolution has been, and will always be, a contested history. Perhaps Jefferson was right after all, and the soul of this history must remain unknown.

A Reassuring Tale: Common Explanations for the American Revolution

Americans hate them with a unique national passion. After all, ours is a nation founded in opposition to insufferable, imperial taxation. Wasn’t it? One group certainly thought, and thinks, so. If you see the American Revolution as only a relic of the past, please note that in 2009, soon after the election of Barack Obama, a new conservative political movement arose and brought its version of history to the public square. The “tea party” was suddenly everywhere. Its supporters, mostly Republicans, even liked to dress up as colonists, adorning themselves with tricorner hats and carrying signs with anti-tax slogans. For these Americans, the past was immediate and President Obama was the new King George. However, as historian Jill Lepore has written, the Tea Party Revolution was more about nostalgia than serious scholarship. In the tea party’s telling—which coheres with the popular understanding—the revolution was surely all about taxes.


This is equally anathema to the citizenry and inextricably tied to authoritarian taxation. Surely, our revolution was also a Manichean battle between tyranny and democracy, between royalty and republicanism. Despite generations of critical scholarship, some version of these basic, twin explanations pervades Americans’ collective memory of revolution and independence.

We all know the basic economic and political chronology of the rebellion. It’s usually told in a nice, neat sequence: Stamp Act, Boston Massacre, Tea Act, Boston Tea Party, Intolerable Acts, Lexington and Concord. New tax, colonial protest, British suppression, next tax, etc. This is an altogether linear, cyclical narrative, and it emphasizes the anti-tax and anti-monarchical components of colonial motivation. We hardly consider the British side, and it appears self-evident that all colonists were patriots. Who wouldn’t be? The Brits were “intolerable.”

It’s not that taxation didn’t factor at all in rebel motivations—it most certainly did. Still, there are some awkward questions worth raising; like, if taxes directly caused the war then how do we explain that just about every new tax was repealed before 1775? Besides, the colonists paid far lower taxes than metropolitan Britons. In fact, the Sugar Act of 1764 actually lowered the tax on molasses—it simply sought to more stringently enforce it. The Tea Act didn’t upset colonists so much for the economic cost as for the mandated monopoly it granted the British East India Co.

Surely, other, political and cultural factors must have contributed to a rebellion that men were willing to die for. An honest analysis of the coming of revolution must grapple with the varied, complex motives of individual “patriots.” Indeed, the rebellion was as much social revolution as political quarrel.

What Makes a “Patriot”?

There’s just one problem: Probably no more than one-third of all colonists were actually anti-imperial “patriots.” Our Founding Fathers and their followers weren’t even in the majority. That’s not so democratic! Furthermore, the motivations of the patriots were multifaceted, diverse and—largely—regional.

If only one in three colonists became dyed-in-the-wool patriots, then what of the others, the silent majority, so to speak? Well, most historians estimate that another third were outright pro-empire loyalists. The rest mostly rode the fence, too engaged in daily survival to care much for politics; those in this group waited things out to see which side emerged on top.

That story, that reality, is—for most Americans—rather unsatisfying. Maybe that’s why it never caught on and is hardly taught outside of academia.

As discussed, this was much more than just a quarrel between Americans and Britons; it was an intense debate over what British identity meant for those residing outside the home islands. The slogan “No taxation without representation!” has caught on as a prime explanation for rebellion, but even that reality was far more complex. It wasn’t just colonists who were taxed and had no proper voice in Parliament, but also many urban Britons within the United Kingdom. Tiny, rural aristocratic districts—so-called “rotten boroughs”—could count on a seat in the assembly while densely populated towns like Sheffield and Leeds went without representation. Metropolitan Englishmen no doubt had rights that were denied to their colonial cousins, i.e. a free internal trade market and the right to do business with foreign countries. However, colonists had benefits unknown in Great Britain, such as lower property taxes. In addition, there was slavery, from which some colonists profited handsomely at the suffering of fellow humans.

The varied class-based and regional motivations for patriot or loyalist association could be seen in New York’s Dutchess County, to consider only one example. In many cases, the primary motivation was the desire of middling tenant farmers to oppose their oppressive landlords. Thus, the battle lines of tenant riots in the 1760s became the dividing lines between patriot and loyalist a decade later. In Dutchess County’s south, the landlords were loyalists and, consequently, the tenants became avid patriots. Conversely, just a few miles north at Livingston Manor, the landlord was a member of the Continental Congress. Unsurprisingly, his tenants bore arms for the British.

Why We Fight—the Complex Motives of Colonial Rebels
Ideology or economics?

This question about the primary cause of the American Revolution has raged among scholars for the better part of a century. There is persuasive evidence on both sides. Still, the strict binary is itself misleading. Patriot sentiment emerged for countless individual and communal reasons. Some colonists were avid readers of John Locke or British commonwealth-men like Thomas Gordon and John Trenchard. For them, it was all about ideology and independence—life, liberty and property. They were also obsessed with alleged conspiracy and corruption at the top ranks of Parliament and the monarchy.

Another group, especially in the Northern urban centers, abhorred what they saw as unfair taxation or imperial mercantilism that suppressed both free trade and a lucrative smuggling economy. Indeed, no less a figure than John Hancock himself was a famous smuggler! Still others, mainly in the Chesapeake region, desired more land and westward expansion beyond the Appalachian Mountains into “Indian Country.” This had, after Pontiac’s Rebellion, become illegal due to the British Proclamation of 1763 that granted these lands to various native tribes.

Nor can we underestimate the class component of protest and rebellion. Merchants, artisans and laborers in Northern cities, such as Boston, tended to identify with the protest movement. These working and middle-class urbanites were egged on by firebrands like Samuel Adams—the failed tax collector and sometime brewer of beer. Adams founded a newspaper, the Independent Advertiser, which overtly pitched to the laboring classes the notion that “Liberty can never subsist without equality.” In the South, conversely, the landed gentry tended to be patriots, and it was the smallholders who were often loyalist. Still, any description of patriot motivations can hardly ignore class and the impulses of the uncouth urbanites, those whom historians have labeled “the people out of doors.”


Standard interpretations of the American revolutionary movement generally make no mention of religion. This is strange considering the profound religiosity of 18th-century colonists. While prominent Founding Fathers such as Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine were deists or agnostics, the vast majority of the population was devoutly Christian. Part of what accounts for the dearth of religious analysis among historians is no doubt the secular bias within the academic community. Still, religious fervor in the wake of the mid-18th-century Great Awakening certainly had influence over the rebellion. In comparing the religious proclivities of metropolitan Britons and English colonists in North America, one distinct difference stood out. While most Britons in the United Kingdom were members of the state’s Anglican Church, the preponderance of colonists were Protestant dissenters—Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers and Congregationalists—who had broken with the Church of England. One would be right to expect this inverse religious situation to influence colonial protests in the 1760s and 1770s.

New Jersey stands out as a representative example, at least among the Northern and Mid-Atlantic colonies. Most yeoman farmers were highly influenced by the Great Awakening’s revivalist teachings and became Protestant dissenters. The landed gentlemen, on the other hand, stayed loyal to the hierarchical Anglican Church. The messages of revivalist preachers were distinctly anti-authoritarian and anti-materialist, resonating among the smallholders who felt threatened by landed proprietors. When imperial taxes increased and British officials sought to assert increased control, the battle lines, unsurprisingly, cohered with religious preferences.

Colonists were fiercely chauvinistic Protestants with an intense hatred of Catholics. Thus, when Parliament passed the Quebec Act in 1774, allowing religious freedom to French-Canadian habitants, many colonists threw a fit! The crown, they assumed, must be beholden to a papist, Catholic conspiracy. Such religious tolerance was unacceptable and convinced many patriots that perhaps independence was the preferred path. The old spirit of intolerable Puritan zealotry was alive and well.


Some colonists simply resented military occupation. The British decision to send uniformed regular army troops to rebellious hotbeds like Boston had an effect opposite to what was intended. This is an old story. American soldiers in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq have learned this lesson again and again as foreign military presence angered the locals and united disparate political, ethnic and sectarian groups in a nationalist insurgency. Nor were British troops—generally drawn from the dregs of English society—held in high esteem by the colonists. Most Bostonians were appalled by the uncouth manners of soldiers they described as rapists, papists, infidels or, worst of all, “Irish!”

The presence of thousands of soldiers also worsened a pervasive economic depression. Back then, off-duty soldiers and sailors were allowed to seek side work in the local economy to supplement their meager wages. They thus flooded Boston’s job market. Protests against the occupation sometimes got out of control when soldiers, thousands of miles from home in a strange land, made mistakes or overreacted. In one incident—sound familiar?—an 11-year-old Boston boy was shot dead by a trigger-happy trooper. A local journal wrote of the British occupation, “The town is now a perfect garrison.” It was not meant as a compliment.

However, no incident so inflamed the local consciousness—and our own historical memory—as the so-called Boston Massacre of 1770. In popular remembrance, and countless paintings, the event is depicted as a veritable slaughter perpetrated by heartless redcoats against peaceful patriot protesters. But hold on a moment. Was this really an accurate label? Do five dead men a massacre make? And what prompted the “slaughter”?

What started as snowball and rock throwing at British sentries quickly escalated into a raucous crowd shouting insults, a crowd armed with clubs and, in the case of one man, a Scottish broadsword. Some protesters grabbed at the lapels of a British officer’s uniform, several other rebels screamed “Fire, damn you!” no doubt confusing the enlisted soldiers. Finally, Benjamin Burdick, he with the broadsword, swung the weapon with all his might down upon a grenadier’s musket, knocking him to the floor. The soldier climbed to his feet and fired his musket at the crowd. Several fellow troopers did the same. The rest is history.

The soldiers and their officer were put on trial, certainly a strange allowance from a supposedly tyrannical regime. None other than a local lawyer, John Adams, defended the British troops and, taking mitigation into account, won their freedom. Adams took the case at great risk to his reputation, but he believed in equal justice for all, even redcoats. This narrative, no doubt, complicates the entire episode, and well it should. The revolutionary fairy tale to which we’ve grown accustomed is in distinct need of some nuance.

No one explanation exists for patriot motivations. Individual preferences, incentives and decisions are difficult to unpack. These were diverse peoples divided among themselves by class, religion and region. How, then, could one synthesize their countless motives? The historian Gary Nash offers an apt summary. The coming of the revolution was a “messy, ambiguous, and complicated” story of a “seismic eruption from the hands of an internally divided people … a civil war at home as well as a military struggle for national liberation.”

Revolutionary Tactics: Venerable Protest or Mob Rule?

When I patrolled the mud villages of southwestern Kandahar province in Afghanistan, we sought to “protect” the population from the loc

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Here's how Republicans hijacked a bill designed to 'Help America Vote' — and used it to block people from voting

GOP voter suppression is the best answer to significant discrepancies between exit polls and actual vote counts.

By Thom Hartmann / Independent Media Institute
November 20, 2018, 7:20 AM GMT

There’s a fascinating history to what Joe Madison calls “James Crow, Esq., voting suppression”—and that history tells us what we can do to solve the problem of Republicans using the Help America Vote Act to block people from voting in largely Democratic areas.

It started with the 2000 election “debacle” in Florida.

The real debacle, of course, was the 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court that counting every vote in Florida would “cause irreparable harm to plaintiff George W. Bush,” so even though it was determined in late 2001 that Al Gore got more votes in Florida, Bush had already been installed in the White House.

But the debacle discussed in the media had to do with chads. After all the “hanging chad” folderol that year, Maryland Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer reached out to Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Ney to collaboratively write legislation that would ensure that our elections could, after 200-plus years of mostly race-based “shenanigans,” actually make it easy and convenient for every eligible voter in America to both vote and have their vote counted. The result was the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, aka HR 3295.

While the goal was noble, it hasn’t worked out as planned. Instead, the most pernicious actors in the GOP have found a way to completely reverse the intent—and defy the actual language—of that law, to make it much, much harder for people to vote and virtually guarantee that “some people” wouldn’t have their vote, even when cast, counted at all.

For example, in the last election, millions of people showed up at the polls (most famously in Georgia and Florida, but this was pervasive across red states) and were told that they weren’t on the voter list.

Although Secretaries of State purged an estimated 14 million people from the voting rolls in the 12 months leading up to the 2018 election, with virtually all of the questionable purges taking place in Republican-controlled states, HAVA requires that people who show up but are not listed on the voter rolls (almost always because they were purged) be given a “provisional ballot.”

The law specifies that people should be informed that the ballot may not be counted unless they can be verified as being filled out by a legitimate voter, and that it’s the responsibility of state election officials to do that verification in a timely manner so those votes can be counted.

“The main reason we did that,” former Congressman Bob Ney, the principal author of the bill, told me, “was because, particularly across the Deep South, people were simply being turned away at the polls. In most cases it was because they were Black, but in many cases it was also being done in districts where the opposition party controlled most of the election apparatus, typically Republicans turning away people in Democratic districts.

“We wanted to make sure,” he added, “that every eligible voter had both a chance to vote and some level of certainty that his or her vote would be counted after they went to all the trouble of voting.”

Thus, the law explicitly requires voters whose names are not found on the current rolls be offered a provisional ballot, and requires voting officials to make an effort to verify the voter’s identity so their vote can be counted in a timely manner.

But, as BBC/Guardian/Rolling Stone/Salon/independent investigative reporter Greg Palast found when he accompanied Martin Luther King Jr.’s 92-year-old cousin, Christine Jordan, to the polls in Georgia, poll workers repeatedly refused to give her even a “provisional” ballot.

After voting for half a century in the same place, she’d been purged from the rolls by Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, who was running against the African-American State Senator Stacey Abrams.

Eventually, after multiple tries, Jordan got a provisional ballot, although the story doesn’t end there.

Palast also witnessed and videotaped numerous people in other majority-Black precincts being turned away without being offered provisional ballots, and when several people demanded one, they were turned down repeatedly (you can see the video on Greg’s site) before Greg got a lawyer on the phone and threatened them on her behalf. Even after that, though, Palast reports that election officials continued to illegally turn away people whom Kemp had purged from the rolls, and even the threat of calling lawyers didn’t always sway Georgia elections officials to give provisional ballots to African-American voters.

Across Georgia on Election Day, numerous people reported being refused provisional ballots; of the half-million or so Georgia voters purged in the previous year by Kemp, Palast’s reporting finds that a large number, if not a majority, of voters in Black and Hispanic precincts weren’t even offered a provisional ballot when they showed up and tried to vote.

But that’s only half the battle.

Once Ms. Jordan cast her provisional ballot in the district where she’d voted every year since her cousin (MLK) was assassinated in 1968, if she wanted it to be counted, she then, because she’d been purged, had to go to a county elections office and prove that she actually was who she said she was, and provide all the proper types of ID that red states now require. This is because Georgia, like most red states, has adopted variations on Koch-backed ALEC voter ID “model legislation.”

These ID laws typically suppress the votes from people of color, urban dwellers and poor people (who don’t own a car and therefore don’t have a driver’s license), the elderly (who no longer can drive—most ALEC-type laws will not recognize an expired license), and students (who may not yet have driver’s licenses and whose state-university-issued ID isn’t considered as “real” as a concealed carry permit, for example, in Texas).

What these targeted voting groups have in common, of course, is that the majority of the people in them vote Democratic.

At 92, Ms. Jordan asked Greg if he could find somebody to accompany her to help her stand in the line the day after the election to show her ID and prove she was a legal voter. But in Kemp’s Georgia, even that didn’t guarantee that her vote would be counted.

This process—which has spread across red state America like a cancer since 2003—flips American notions of due process on their head.

The foundation of American law is that people are “innocent until proven guilty.” It’s a concept that goes back to the Roman Republic’s dictum ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (“the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies”).

Instead, the way the HAVA law has been interpreted/implemented is that voters whose names have “disappeared” from the rolls are guilty—and, therefore their vote won’t be counted—until they go through the arduous and time-consuming process of proving that they’re innocent/legitimate voters.

“You’re presumed guilty until you prove your own innocence” was the system used in feudal Europe for a millennium, specifically to advantage the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor. To use it against American voters, after all the blood shed to gain the right to vote, is obscene.

When I asked former Congressman Ney about how the law he helped write had been turned on its head, and pointed out that it was soon after 2002 that the GOP started darkly (pun intended) rumormongering about “voter fraud,” he told me he’d been furious about it for years.

Ney said, “Ken Blackwell was doing this sort of thing in Ohio—which I represented—in the 2004 election, and when I confronted him about it he was very upset with me. But they kept at it.”

And now it’s spread all across the nation, to virtually every single Republican-controlled state.

The consequence is that America is the only developed country in the world where exit polls can no longer reliably predict election outcomes within minutes of the polls closing. We (and the UN) used exit polls in Ukraine, Serbia, and the nation of Georgia to flip elections in the past two decades, pointing out that the “official” outcome was more than 2 percent different from the exit polls, a clear and reliable indicator of fraud having been committed by the people running the elections.

From the early exit polls of the 1950s until the 2004 election, exit polls were also a reliable indicator of who won elections in the U.S., and news organizations frequently used to call elections even before all the votes were counted based on the exit poll outcomes.

But then this weird thing called “red shift” began to happen here, starting in a small way in 1998 but exploding after HAVA was passed in 2002.

For example, in the 2016 election, the exit polls showed Hillary Clinton carrying Florida by 47.7 percent to Trump’s 46.4 percent, although the “actual” counted vote had Trump winning by 49.0 percent to 47.8 percent. Trump gained 2.5 percentage points... somehow.

In North Carolina, exit polls showed Clinton winning 48.6 percent to 46.5 percent, but the votes that were counted turned out at Trump 49.9 to Clinton’s 46.1, a red shift of 5.9 percentage points for the GOP.

Pennsylvania’s exit polls showed Clinton won 50.5 percent to Trump’s 46.1 percent, but when “eligible” votes were counted, Trump carried the state 48.8 percent to 47.6 percent—a red shift of 5.6 percentage points.

In Wisconsin, it was Clinton beating Trump in the exit polls 48.2 percent to 44.3 percent, but the “real” count put Trump over the top 48.8 percent to 47.6 percent, a red shift of 5.1 percentage points.

Perhaps even more interesting, in blue states not run by Republican Secretaries of State, there is virtually no shift at all, either red or blue. The election results typically comport with the exit polls in those states.

An article by Jonathan Vankin at Heavy documents all these numbers, and includes a handy chart, which Greg Palast tweeted out after the election.

[Graph: 2016 Presidentiaal Election - Exit Polls versus Reported Vote Count]

Red shift has been known among both Democratic consultants and election integrity workers since it was first publicized widely after the elections of the early 2000s, and generally the finger of blame was pointed at either maliciously programmed or “faulty” voting machines (although if it was “faulty” machines, there should also be an equal amount of blue shift, which has never been documented in any consequential way).

While insecure, privatized, no-paper-trail voting machines like those used in Georgia may well play a role in red shift, it’s far more likely, given how aggressive Republicans have been about voter purges since the passage of HAVA, that voter purges are the main cause.

In June, the Roberts Supreme Court said, in a 5-4 decision involving Ohio, that Kemp and other GOP elections officials could use a voter skipping two elections as evidence the voter had moved away—and therefore could be purged from the rolls. The result: “Address hygiene” experts hired by Palast found no fewer than 340,134 Georgians wrongly purged for relocating when they’d never moved. This was repeated throughout the red states.

Thus, the biggest cause for exit poll anomalies is almost certainly purged voters who show up at the polls thinking they’re still on the rolls, voting a provisional ballot not knowing it won’t be counted, and then telling exit pollsters as they leave polling places that they voted for the Democrat.

The exit pollsters, thinking this was a “real voter who cast a real vote,” duly record it, and end up shocked when their polls don’t reflect “reality.”

This has become so problematic in the United States—uniquely among the world’s 36 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) advanced democracies—that since 2004, several polling companies have either gone out of business or quit the business of exit polls. The few remaining have shifted their focus from, “For whom did you vote?” to “What issues influenced your vote?”

Thomas Paine famously said, “The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case.”

It’s profoundly ironic that the descendants of slaves are the principal victims of this nationwide GOP effort. Legislation is needed immediately to criminalize such behavior on the part of state election officials.

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

Coalage3 1 year 38 weeks ago

The only thing I can figure out is that DS must be getting paid by the word.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 1 year 38 weeks ago

This blows the leftie/socialist voter fraud meme clean out of the water. The party of hate is at it again.

"L.A.'s skid row got homeless to sign fake names for cigarettes and cash, D.A. says"

"Using cash and cigarettes as lures, the defendants approached homeless people on skid row and asked them to forge signatures on state ballot measure petitions and voter registration forms, the district attorney’s office said."

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 37 weeks ago


I'm just scolling past all that...just no point to it other than to take up space. I quit reading when he/she/whatever starting posting his/her/whatever family album in blue links.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 37 weeks ago

Good morning DianeR,

I agree....voter ID seems to be the only way to have fair elections.

We finally have rain!!! A mixed blessing ..we need it so much...but hoping there will not be mud slides in the fire zones. If I disappear for a couple days it's not unusual for the power to go out after the first rains.

2 stray cats showed up yesterday..gave them a small dish of food and the bear showed up to finnish it off. I haven't seen him since last fall...but I did see the pear tree he broke.

Pot growers leave after harvest and abandon their pets!....sad.

Life is interesting!

more later!

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 1 year 37 weeks ago

HotCoffee, There is no rational argument to oppose showing a valid ID before you vote. I won't repeat the hundreds of reasons one needs to own an ID but the leftie/socialists fear this more than anything so I think it is pretty good proof they are rigging elections.

Show an ID, trim the early voting down to one day, and make it a national holiday with the polls open either 24 or 48 hours.

I read your stray cat story and jumped to the bear f"inishing it off "and for a brief second I thought the cats had become bear food. I assume the bear will go into hibernation pretty soon. Be weary of those creatures.

The news said there could be as much as three inches of rain there. Hopefully it will come over a few days and get a chance to soak in a bit.

Our power lines come through the woods so we have had a few outages during ice storms or very high wind blowing down branches.

We solved that with a large enough portable generator and wired it do a transfer box off the electrical panel so if the need be we have lights, refrigerator, freezer, and furnace working. with just one line into the fuse box. Not really hard to do by yourself and has proven handy more than I thought.

I will try to get back but Happy Thanksgiving in advance.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 37 weeks ago


The cats are fine. I'm always aware of bears & mountian lions!

Have a generator...old honda thats a pain in the butt...we usally just wait it out.

Will get a new one later on.

We have butane stoves and camping type stuff to be comfortable.

So far so good!

A very blessed Thanksgiving to you as well!

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 1 year 37 weeks ago

Sorry for the long quote but it is dead on point.



Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Franklin Graham was speaking at the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, when he said America will not come back.

He wrote:

"The American dream ended on November 6th, 2012. The second term of Barack Obama has been the final nail in the coffin for the legacy of the white Christian males who discovered, explored, pioneered, settled and developed the greatest republic in the history of mankind.

A coalition of blacks, Latinos, feminists, gays, government workers, union members, environmental extremists, the media, Hollywood, uninformed young people, the "forever needy," the chronically unemployed, illegal aliens and other "fellow travelers" have ended Norman Rockwell's America.

You will never again out-vote these people. It will take individual acts of defiance and massive displays of civil disobedience to get back the rights we have allowed them to take away. It will take zealots, not moderates and shy, not reach-across-the-aisle RINOs to right this ship and restore our beloved country to its former status.

People like me are completely politically irrelevant, and I will probably never again be able to legally comment on or concern myself with the aforementioned coalition which has surrendered our culture, our heritage and our traditions without a shot being fired.

The Cocker spaniel is off the front porch, the pit bull is in the back yard The American Constitution has been replaced with Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" and the likes of Chicago shyster David Axelrod along with international socialist George Soros have been pulling the strings on their beige puppet and have brought us Act 2 of the New World Order.

The curtain will come down but the damage has been done, the story has been told.

Those who come after us will once again have to risk their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to bring back the Republic that this generation has timidly frittered away due to white guilt and political correctness.."

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 37 weeks ago


They will say things about this man, but it will not affect him, and they shall say it rolls off of him like the duck, for as the feathers of a duck protect it, so shall my feathers protect this next president. Even mainstream news media will be captivated by this man and the abilities I have gifted him with, and they will even begin to agree with him says the Spirit of God.

Also...hang on to your turkeys, Will Dems subpoena peas & carrots?

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 37 weeks ago

uh huh!

Power outage hits 10,000-plus PG&E customers in SF, East Bay

Not me....yet!

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 1 year 37 weeks ago

Ironic that PG&E could be responsible for starting the ensuing fires and the rain took them both out out od comission.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 1 year 37 weeks ago

HotCoffee & Coalage3

Happy Thanksgiving.

HotCoffee, I hope you pardoned the wild turkeys. Have a great day and feed your new pet cats.


HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 37 weeks ago

DianeR & coalage3,

Hope you both have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving day as well!

Let us give thanks ...

For feisty friends as tart as apples;

For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;

For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn — and the others — as plain as potatoes, and so good for you.

For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time, and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;

For loving friends, who wind around as like tendrils, and hold us despite our blights, wilts and witherings;

And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past, that have been harvested — but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter;

For all these we give thanks. Amen.

Don't forget stay away from the romane lettuce!


deepspace's picture
deepspace 1 year 37 weeks ago

Dear Diane/HotCoffee/whatever,

Thank you for playing the dupes. You deserve the honor accorded to any living being but not for spreading destructive delusions.

In all sincerity, beyond the quick takes of daily news and despite being surrounded by it for a lifetime, it's still a rare opportunity to peer more deeply into the troubled mind of avid racism and religious hypocrisy as it unfolds in real net-time. Alas, forever sealed in this blog's archive and in the proverbial Akashic Record, let the lie stand alongside the truth. It's our choosing.

Near the end, this once vibrant forum deserves at least a tribute, a taste of Thom's larger body of work, and of other writers and key references addressing the larger issues facing humankind and all life on Earth, does it not?

And, on the darker side, in this nearly thousand-post thread (but also stretching back years), is there any clearer evidence of far-right bile and hate than the Thanksgiving Day messages from Dianereynolds and HotCoffee?

Perhaps this is a good place to stop:



Sorry for the long quote but it is dead on point.



Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Franklin Graham was speaking at the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, when he said America will not come back.

He wrote:

"The American dream ended on November 6th, 2012. The second term of Barack Obama has been the final nail in the coffin for the legacy of the white Christian males who discovered, explored, pioneered, settled and developed the greatest republic in the history of mankind.

A coalition of blacks, Latinos, feminists, gays, government workers, union members, environmental extremists, the media, Hollywood, uninformed young people, the "forever needy," the chronically unemployed, illegal aliens and other "fellow travelers" have ended Norman Rockwell's America.

You will never again out-vote these people. It will take individual acts of defiance and massive displays of civil disobedience to get back the rights we have allowed them to take away. It will take zealots, not moderates and shy, not reach-across-the-aisle RINOs to right this ship and restore our beloved country to its former status.

People like me are completely politically irrelevant, and I will probably never again be able to legally comment on or concern myself with the aforementioned coalition which has surrendered our culture, our heritage and our traditions without a shot being fired.

The Cocker spaniel is off the front porch, the pit bull is in the back yard The American Constitution has been replaced with Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" and the likes of Chicago shyster David Axelrod along with international socialist George Soros have been pulling the strings on their beige puppet and have brought us Act 2 of the New World Order.

The curtain will come down but the damage has been done, the story has been told.

Those who come after us will once again have to risk their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to bring back the Republic that this generation has timidly frittered away due to white guilt and political correctness.."




They will say things about this man, but it will not affect him, and they shall say it rolls off of him like the duck, for as the feathers of a duck protect it, so shall my feathers protect this next president. Even mainstream news media will be captivated by this man and the abilities I have gifted him with, and they will even begin to agree with him says the Spirit of God.

[Follow the link ...if you dare.]


One can't argue with lies and lunacy. So thank you, DR & HC, for demonstrating that simple truth so succinctly.

And may God have mercy on your souls.


deepspace's picture
deepspace 1 year 37 weeks ago

Dear Louise and Thom,

Thank you for all that you do, for all these wonderful years, for shining a light in the darkness. And may you remain humble in spirit and joyful in life for many more wonderful years.

Around the world, so many people are graced by your good works.

Thank you, from the heart.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 1 year 37 weeks ago

HotCoffee: Good morning. I hope you had a great thanksgiving. Hopefully the rain will be just enough to get the fires under control but no enough to create devistation mudslides.

It will be interesting to watch the border this week.

I cannot think of a better use of our National Guard.


HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 1 year 37 weeks ago

Good morning DianeR,

I have a slow connection this morning we're under flash flood worries, not flooding here but contant downpour is slowing down my laptop.

I will try posting when the rain slows down.

Heavy rains in northern California are helping firefighters contain what has now become the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history.

Mother Nature is giving firefighters badly needed relief as they continue to battle the Camp Fire, a raging wildfire in the northern region of the state that has killed at least 84 people and has caused billions in damage. An inch and a half of rain came down Wednesday, a level of water that experts say was the perfect amount — not too little, but not too much.

“We needed it to come in and rain, and rain not too heavy,” National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Rasch explained, according to CNN.

The Camp Fire is now 95 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). Firefighters will be given extra relief as rain continues to pour down on the region. Two to 4 inches of rain were forecast to hit the upper portion of Camp Fire by Friday morning, and rain is expected to continue through Saturday.

However, while the rain is helping clear smoke and extinguish flames, is it also causing other problems. The combination of burned soil and heavy rain brings the deadly threat of flooding and mudslides. Meteorologists are now closely monitoring the amount of rainfall in the region and warning residents to be careful. (RELATED: As California Burns, Jerry Brown Takes Heat For Vetoing 2016 Wildfire Mitigation Bill)

“Rainfall that would normally be absorbed will run off extremely quickly after a wildfire, as burned soil can be as water-repellent as pavement,” said the National Weather Service. “If you can look uphill from where you are and see a burnt-out area, you are at risk.”

A flash flood watch remains in effect until Friday morning for nearly 1 million people living in northern California.

I was able to see your townhall post....

Happy Friday!

more later.

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