The Playa Begins to Stir

When last we left the playa lake I’ve been watching and sort of quasi documenting for just over a year, it was dormant. Two and a half inches of snow had disappeared into the knee-high bunchgrasses surrounding the main basin, and the longer reeds and sedges of the inner basin absorbed all the moisture that might fall. A coyote had sniffed around the school during class hours, drawn by the shelter of the wind, and by the smaller mammals that also sought out protection and heat. Otherwise the world lay still, quiet, sleeping. But slowly, in fits and starts, green returned to the land. Continue reading

“Earth Hour” by Ross McKitrick

A belated welcome to Instapundit readers stopping by!

Anthony Watts of Watts Up with That (a science and climate and weather blog) suggested copying and posting this in honor of Earth Hour. I heartily agree. I’ve gotten to live without electricity for a week in winter after an ice storm. No thank you! I’m a firm believer in conservation and stewardship of our resources, which Earth Hour does not do.

Earth Hour: A Dissent

by Ross McKitrick

Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics, Univer...

Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics, University of Guelph, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image via Wikipedia

In 2009 I was asked by a journalist for my thoughts on the importance of Earth Hour.

Here is my response. Continue reading

Cheap Clothes: Musing on the Luxury of Modern Life

While picking up something at Le Mart du Wal (as we refer to it around Redquarters), I started thinking about the price of clothing, comparing now to history. The short version? Incredibly, unimaginably inexpensive to cheap in terms of time needed to make it, labor needed to make it, and the amount that can be produced. When it comes to textiles, Earth has never been so fabulously wealthy. How we got here is a fascinating story. Continue reading

Book Review: The Lost River

Danino, Michael, The Lost River: On the Trail of the Sarasvati (Haryana, India: Penguin Books India, 2010).

Where do you find a missing river? Not a buried river, like the Fleet in London or the one under 5th Avenue in New York City, but one that disappeared over two thousand years ago and that may or may not have ever existed? Especially when finding that river could trigger international crises? You start with the written clues, then the archaeological, then environmental. This is, more or less, what Michael Danino does in his book about the Sarasvati River and the Harappan Civilization. Along the way he introduces readers to archaeology, historiography, environmental change, and the long-lost Sarasvati River. Continue reading

After the Ice Retreats: What comes Next?

Short answer: It depends.

Longer answer: What sort of glacier was it, at what latitude and altitude, what is the regional windflow pattern, if such has been determined, and at what rate did the ice retreat?

Now that that’s settled . . .

What did happen at the end of the last Ice Age, and what were the results? I’m not going to worry about the whys of the end of the Wisconsonian (North American term) glaciation around 14,000 years ago, but will look at the effects and what we think happened as the ice melted. I say “think” because it is hard to tell in some cases, since 14,000 years of erosion and climate shifts have happened since, and because some of the results are . . . seriously odd and may be either hyper localized or the result of test sample contamination. Continue reading


There I was, strolling along on a late winter’s evening. The wind from the south-southwest carried the usual suburban evening scents of dryer sheets, people immolating, er, grilling meat, a smoker, two fireplaces . . .the usual. With sunset and low humidity, the temperature dropped rather nicely, down to the upper 50s, enough for a jacket but also cool enough I wasn’t perspiring much. Strolling along at a brisk pace, watching traffic and thinking about not too much at all, besides the occasional loose dog. La de da, la di lee, ho hum . . .

PhEEEEWWWWWW!! Mephitis mephitis in the neighborhood! Run up wind as fast as you can!

Back away slowly, then run, he's armed!

Back away slowly, then run, he’s armed!

Continue reading