Dick Sez I was thinking of the various forms of superbole. Usually, it’s the market-speak variety designed to provoke a buying frenzy. Then there are the multi-syllabic brain-pokers; the erudite rants that nobody really understands anyhow (but we nod anyhow to feign comprehension). Of course, we shant forget colorful scatological metaphors that we learn on the playground before we work up to more sophisticated assaults. Then there are the uniquely succinct ones that just sneek up and poke you in the eye, like whatDick Cheney did the other night.

ABC‘s Martha Raddatz had him on-camera for a recent interview. She peppered him with the usual round of political questions du Jour. Then, late in the interview she cited polling that shows that two-thirds of Americans believe that the Iraq War is not worth the cost.

“They’re looking at the value gain versus the cost in American lives, certainly, and Iraqi lives,” she emphasized.

To whit, Dick said, “So?”

Obviously astonished by the cavalier toss off, Raddatz countered, “So you don’t care what the American people think?”

For a moment, Dick stared at her – to emphasize that, yes, indeed, he didn’t. I believe he almost chuckled before he finally smugly replied, “No.”

Of course, there is context. He went on to make the case that leaders should not be “blown off course” by ever-moving and ever-changing public opinion. And I would agree with that point and might have let this pass were it not for his obvious display of utter disregard for the question, especially in his position as a servant of the people.

Many in the foreign press also commented and several made great emphasis of Dick’s personality: a man of great arrogance. By my lights, Mr Cheney gets the award for the least number of syllables uttered in superbole.


Glacier Stories

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

I have been collecting ‘glacier’ stories for more than 20 years and it’s pretty evident: change is on the way. Change, as in sudden pivotal change in a Crichton novel where the inevitable disaster is spelled out for us in gut-wrenching detail.

For years, the conservative-biased news media has rattled on about how their counterparts (the liberal-biased news media) exaggerates stories about global warming for political fodder. Ah, but have you ever noticed how some events defy the need for superlative and hyperbole? Oh sure, you can embellish anything, but sometimes the facts stand on their own. A snip or two from recent news:

  1. Greenland’s glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed.
  2. A warming trend has increased which has obliterated previous predictions.
  3. Earth’s oceans will rise over the next century, the question is how much and how fast.

So, the ‘oh-shit’ problem we thought was bad, is worse than we thought and now has risen to an ‘oh-shit-shit-shit’ problem. And that’s just the lede. It gets better…

New data from satellite imagery has alarmed climatologists who worry about the role of human activity in global warming. The Greenland data mirrors findings from Bolivia to the Himalayas, scientists said, noting that rising sea levels threaten widespread flooding and severe storm damage in low-lying areas worldwide.

Okay… one could argue that a few of the adjectives are a tad overly descriptive but not so much that they overstate the underlying facts. It’s still a problem that begs our attention and we should be concerned because it could end up roosting in our backyards pretty soon. Need I mention New Orleans?

Scientists now say that they do not yet understand the precise mechanism causing glaciers to flow and melt more rapidly, but they said the changes in Greenland were unambiguous — and accelerating. By comparison, in 1996, the amount of water produced by melting ice in Greenland was about 90 times the amount consumed by Los Angeles in a year. Last year, the melted ice amounted to 225 times the volume of water that city uses annually.

Damn… 225 times the volume of water that LA uses annually? That’s a lot of water.

Scary and super-real as it is, the lack of superbole strengthens authority and believability. It is the kind of story that makes you pause and think – unless of course you are biased.

Elevation ChangeI have attached a little graphic to illustrate another point. Also devoid of superbole, this bit of artistry plots the elevation changes of Greenland’s glaciers. The blue areas have drawn the most attention for two reasons: they are places where the glaciers are most vulnerable to change AND they have seen the largest increase in change during recent years. About 10 years ago the areas of stable or increasing snow/ice pack (yellow and grey) were so large that the blue areas (decreasing elevation) were mere slivers. Click the graphic to see a larger version of this graphic.

If you still believe that there’s no such thing as global warming, then consider this – the climate is changing, glaciers are melting, and we’re all in for a world of hurt.