In any one place, the temperature can change by many degrees from day to day, or even hour to hour. A one degree change in the average global temperature, however, is huge: "A one-degree global change is significant because it takes a vast amount of heat to warm all the oceans, atmosphere, and land by that much. In the past, a one- to two-degree drop was all it took to plunge the Earth into the Little Ice Age. A five-degree drop was enough to bury a large part of North America under a towering mass of ice 20,000 years ago." (From http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/decadaltemp.php.)

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Global warming skeptics often acknowledge that the globe is warming, but deny evidence that humans are the cause. However, satellite and other data show definitively that less heat is escaping into space, that more heat is returning to earth, and that this is happening precisely at the wavelengths where greenhouse gases are increasing. This is proof that the greenhouse effect is strengthening due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

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The right blames the Financial Crisis of 2008 on Barney Frank, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. This view justifies their belief that financial reform is unnecessary. What really happened was that a huge market for subprime mortgages was created when the financial innovations of Collateralized Debt Obligations and Credit Default Swaps, combined with recklessly generous ratings by the ratings agencies, allowed subprimes to be marketed as AAA investments. This market burgeoned just as the Bush administration was dismantling regulatory oversight of lending institutions.

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There are two mechanisms making our winters more variable, with heavier snows. The first reason we have gotten record snowfalls because warmer oceans are evaporating more water, at the same time that warm air holds more water. In fact, the amount of water held increases exponentially as the air warms. When this wet air moves over land during winter, the result is unusually heavy snowfall. The Washington, DC area, for example, would expect a 16+ inch snowfall once every 25 years. In the Winter of 2009-10 it got two in one season, not to mention the ones in 1996 and 2003!

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Answer: Largely you and your taxes. Fighting the deficit by returning tax rates on the top 2% of households to the levels of the 1990s is fair and appropriate because the "job creators" have gained their wealth by capitalizing on tax-payer funded research and development. That's a good thing, but they should not turn around and destroy the mechanism that made their wealth possible. The inventions listed below (just in the area of computers) were all pioneered by government supported research. Where would the “job creators” be without these:

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Most people seem to believe that the Stimulus added tremendously to our long-term debt problems by exploding the deficit. However, the Stimulus-related expansion of the deficit will be short-lived. As this graph shows, the Stimulus increased the deficit greatly for the years 2009, 2010, and 2011. After that, however, the effect on the deficit drops off dramatically. Going forward, the major contributors to the deficit are the Bush tax cuts, the lingering effects of the recession itself, and the two unfunded wars (including their aftermath).

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In Depth

The Wall Street Journal's Technology Bubble

The Wall Street Journal editorial page chooses to believe that government funding for research and development in technology has been largely irrelevant to the extraordinary successes of the American technology sector. This distortion of history constitutes another example of the bubble that so many conservative thinkers in the US walk around in. An example of this distortion of history can be seen in the op-ed "Who Really Invented the Internet" that former WSJ editorial board member Gordon Crovitz published July 22, 2012. That essay is so full of errors of fact and misconceptions about the history of computing that it deserves an in-depth analysis. The point of this analysis is not to excoriate one particular author, but to shed light on conservative America's systematic, ideologically-driven underestimation of the value of government. The source of information for my analysis of Crovitz' article is "Funding a Revolution: Government support for Computing Research", a book created by the National Research Council and published by the National Academies Press. It is written by representatives of both industry and government, many of whom participated in the developments described. Page citations below are to that book.

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This Crucial Moment

  • The refusal of Republicans to accept the reality of global warming puts our way of life at risk. Global warming is clearly happening, it is clearly caused by humans, and it is very, very dangerous. Addressing it need not cause a fall in our standard of living if wise action is taken soon. On the contrary, many of the steps required, such as the development of clean energy sources that can compete on price with oil and coal, would result in economic growth. If, however, no action is taken, the financial and human costs will be enormous.
  • The Republican Party's focus on budget cutting in the face of a lingering economic downturn is wrong-headed: making deep cuts to the budget now will cause the economy to contract, sending us deeper into recession or even into depression. The deficit situation will not improve, it will get worse due to a decrease in tax receipts. That is exactly what happenend under Hoover at the beginning of the Great Depression and again under Roosevelt in 1937, when he tried to cut the deficit before the economy had truly recovered. You fight the deficit through true pro-growth policies, not by concentrating wealth in the hands of the few. Prudent budget cutting can wait until the economy has recovered.
  • We just survived (barely) a deep financial crisis caused by a combination of criminal behavior, foolish short-sightednes, and ridiculous incentive structures in the financial industry. Much of this would have been impossible without the dismantling of financial regulations that has been carried out over the last 20 years, especially under the Bush administration. And no, it wasn't caused by Barney Frank and Fannie Mae. We believe that Obama needs a mandate to flesh out and enforce the Dodd-Frank Act.
  • We currently ration healthcare based on income. For example, nearly a quarter of Florida residents under 65 are uninsured. Despite its extraordinary successes in providing cutting edge care to people who have the good fortune to be well insured, our current health care system is unsustainable. As fewer and fewer people are insured, health care will grow more and more expensive.

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