Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Will flood mud stick to the Harper government?

Past decisions have a way of coming back to haunt you. Just ask Stephen Harper.

The past several weeks have seen a series of events which, while not his fault, can be used by critics to attack his policies.

The first event was the Senate expense scandal, in which several Harper appointees were caught with their fingers in the till making inappropriate expense claims. The scandal is evolving, with one member of the Prime Minister's Office stepping down after it was revealed that he advanced one of the offending senators a cheque to cover his expense repayment. Although the senior aide in question resigned, and claimed that the PM had no knowledge of this event, Harper's history of micromanagement makes this claim rather dubious.

The second event was the massive flooding in Calgary. Though Harper was born in Toronto, this inconvenient fact is often glossed over in his appeals to his power base in Alberta. Especially Calgary.

Downtown Calgary showing the Stampede Grounds in foreground. Via

The event was driven by record intense thunderstorms across southern Alberta. Some areas received about half their average annual rainfall in less than two days. Many were quick to jump to the conclusion that this was a form of natural payback for Harper's push to develop the oil sands at the expense of any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; however, Canada's muzzled environmental scientists were not among the critics.

(As an aside, it is impossible to ascribe a single event to global warming--although one can acknowledge the rising probability of such an event).

Before the floodwaters subsided, a near-crisis occurred--a train carrying petroleum distillates across a bridge derailed as the swiftly flowing Bow River scoured around the bridge foundations. It was mere foreshadowing for a major event.

Then came the apocalyptic train accident at Lac Megantic, which happened early Saturday morning. As is by now well known, a train hauling cars of oil for refining out east somehow slipped out of park and derailed and exploded in the centre of town, with what looks to be great loss of life.

Again, this is not Harper's fault--but critics are commenting on the tremendous increase in oil shipped by train in just the past four years. The amount of oil shipped by train has increased 28,000% in that time. I don't ever recall having a debate about the advisability of such an increase.

Perhaps this is not something that Harper has directed. But it has happened on his watch.

This brings us back to Toronto, Harper's real hometown. There was a surprising burst of rain, leading to a surprising amount of flooding. Unusual amounts of rain fell in a short time (about a month's worth in 6 hours). Not as bad as Calgary, and the results weren't as bad either. But notable.

This is my route to work. Via.

We were blacked out for about five hours. Some had it worse, with blackouts in Toronto ongoing today. Once again, there were critics blaming the flooding on Harper's energy/greenhouse-gas policies. Once again--this particular event can't be tied to it (although the probability of such events may well increase).

There is a lot of mud flying around. Eventually some of this mud may stick.

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Without any electronics, the kids were desperately bored. I shut down the laptops and unplugged them--we lost one due to a lightning strike last year. I finally engaged Jacob in a game of Shogi--he can play Chess and Chinese chess too (although he has a hard time finding credible opponents because I keep getting the pieces mixed up).

1 comment:

  1. I would say the answer is no. Canadians worship Harper just as Egyptians Pharaoh. Prince Harplet of Canmark