Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Wilson County

Still more densely mixed wildflowers

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In this view from March 25th in Wilson County, Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa) and phlox (Phlox drummondii) predominate. A few Texas dandelions (Pyrhhopappus pauciflorus) contribute daubs of yellow. The full version of the image also reveals a bit of Texas vervain (Verbena halei) that’s hard to detect here. Click the excerpt below to see it.





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As you’ve heard, I’ve been reading Marian L. Tupy and Gale L. Pooley’s 2022 book Superabundance, which is chock full of statistics showing how much the modern world has improved. At one point the book calls into evidence the history of climate catastrophism in the media.

Consider some of the extraordinary reports that have found their way into the press over the last 50 years or so….

First there was reporting about future famines…

On November 17, 1967, the Salt Lake Tribune ran an article titled “Dire Famine Forecast by ’75.” The article warned that increasing population growth would result in global famine that was destined to peak in 1975. Referencing [Paul] Ehrlich, the article argued in favor of involuntary birth control and the spread of sterilization agents through such pathways as food and water. Along with these measures, the author of the article argued, the Roman Catholic Church should be “pressured into going along with routine measures of population control.”

On August 10, 1969, the New York Times ran an article titled “Foe of Pollution Sees Lack of Time, Asserts Environmental Ills Outrun Public Concern.” The article warned that by the time society becomes convinced of the seriousness of major environmental problems, it is usually already too late. It quoted Ehrlich as saying, “We must realize that unless we are extremely lucky, everybody will disappear in a cloud of blue steam in 20 years.” That is to say, in 1989!

. . . then came reporting about the coming Ice Age . . .

On April 16, 1970, the Boston Globe ran an article titled “Scientist Predicts New Ice Age by 21st Century.” The article warned that growing electricity use and the concomitant increase in air pollution will lead to an ice age “in the first third of the next century” that would dry up all the rivers and streams in the United States. To avoid these climatological conditions, the article noted a number of world-saving recommendations by James P. Lodge, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, including population control.

On July 9, 1971, the Washington Post ran an article titled “U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming.” The article warned that the world was between 50 and 60 years away from the next ice age. Referencing scientists from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Washington Post asserted that dust from the burning of fossil fuels could lower the world’s temperature by six degrees.

On January 29, 1974, The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, ran an article titled “Space Satellites Show New Ice Age Coming Fast.” The article noted the growing amount of ice coverage worldwide and suggested a link between ice coverage and “adverse changes in our climate.”

On June 24, 1974, Time magazine ran an article titled “Another Ice Age?” The article warned that atmospheric temperatures would continue to decrease, thus leading to the next ice age. It claimed that the “unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland” and the “southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest” are the telltale signs for the impending ice age.

On January 5, 1978, the New York Times ran an article titled “International Team of Specialists Finds No End in Sight to 30-Year Cooling Trend in Northern Hemisphere,” which discussed a report from a team of American, German, and Japanese scientists who found that there is “no end in sight” to the cooling trend in the northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

. . . which gave way to global warming and climate change

On June 24, 1988, the Miami News ran an article titled “More Droughts Likely, Expert Tells Senators.” The article detailed the testimony by James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In his testimony, Hansen stated that “our climate model simulations for the late 1980s and the 1990s indicate a tendency for an increase of heatwave drought situations in the Southeast and Midwest United States.”

On December 12, 1988, the Lansing State Journal ran an article titled “Prepare for Long, Hot Summers,” which discussed Hansen’s prediction that in the next 50 to 60 years, Washington, DC, would see an increase in days with temperatures over 90 degrees from 35 to 85 days a year. According to Hansen, the ocean would rise from anywhere between one and six feet.

On September 26, 1988, the Canberra Times, an Australian newspaper, ran an article titled “Threat to Islands.” According to the article, the Maldives would be completely underwater in 30 years. The article argued that the end of the islands could come much sooner, since the Maldivian drinking water supply was expected to dry up as early as 1992.

On June 30, 1989, the Associated Press ran a story titled “Rising Seas Could Obliterate Nations: U.N. Officials.” The article discussed the claim by Noel Brown, the director of the New York office of the UN Environment Program, who predicted that “entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by 2020.” Brown also claimed that the world had only a 10-year opportunity window to reverse the rising sea level trend.

On March 20, 2000, the Independent, a British daily newspaper, ran an article titled “Snowfalls Are Now Just a Thing of the Past,” which argued that snow was beginning to disappear. The article quoted University of East Anglia scientist David Viner, who said that snowfall would become “a very rare and exciting event” within a few years. Viner also claimed that “children just aren’t going to know what snow is.”

On October 23, 2001, Salon ran an article titled “Stormy Weather: Floods, Droughts, Hurricanes and Disease Outbreaks—An Expert Explains Why Climate Changes Give Us Yet Another Reason to Find Terror in the Skies.” The article detailed a conversation with Hansen, who told the author that in 20 to 30 years’ time, “the West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be under water” and “you’ll have signs in restaurants saying ‘Water by request only?'”

On December 23, 2002, The Guardian ran an article titled “Why Vegans Were Right All Along.” The article argued that “famine can only be avoided if the rich give up meat, fish and dairy.” According to the author, population growth and dwindling resources would force the rich to adopt the diet of most of the world (i.e., mostly vegan) and only eat meat on special occasions.

On February 21, 2004, The Guardian ran an article titled “Now the Pentagon Tells Bush: Climate Change Will Destroy Us.” The article noted that a secret Pentagon report warned that Britain would be “Siberian” by 2020. The report apparently also warned that “nuclear conflict, megadroughts, famine, and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.”

On June 24, 2008, the Argus-Press ran an article titled “NASA Scientist: We’re Toast.” The article quoted Hansen as saying that “in 5 to 10 years, the Arctic will be free of sea ice in the summer.”

On July 9, 2009, the Independent ran an article titled “Just 96 Months to Save the World, Says Prince Charles.” According to Charles, “Capitalism and consumerism have brought the world to the brink of economic and environ-mental collapse” and that “he had calculated that we have just 96 months left to save the world.”

On October 20, 2009, the Independent ran an article titled “Gordon Brown: We Have Fewer Than Fifty Days to Save Our Planet from Catastrophe.” The article summarized a speech given by the British prime minister, who claimed that the United Kingdom had 50 days to “set the course of the next 50 years and more.”

On December 14, 2009, USA Today ran an article titled “Gore: Polar Ice Cap May Disappear by Summer 2014,” which described the claims made by the former U.S. vice president Al Gore at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen. Gore stated that “some of the models suggest that there is a 75 percent chance that the entire north polar ice cap during some of the summer months will be completely ice-free within the next five to seven years.”

On July 24, 2013, The Guardian ran an article titled “Ice-Free Arctic in Two Years Heralds Methane Catastrophe—Scientist,” which described a recent paper by University of Cambridge scientist Peter Wadhams, who claimed that summer sea ice would be gone by 2015.

On December 9, 2013, The Guardian ran an article titled “U.S. Navy Predicts Summer Ice Free Arctic by 2016,” which detailed a U.S. Department of Energy finding that the Arctic would lose its summer ice as early as 2016. This would come, the agency asserted, about “84 years ahead of conventional model projections.”

On May 14, 2014, the Washington Examiner ran an article titled “French Foreign Minister: ‘500 Days to Avoid Climate Chaos,” which quoted the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius as saying, “we have 500 days to avoid climate chaos?’

On October 7, 2018, the New York Times ran an article titled “Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040.” It warned of worsening food shortages, wildfires, and destruction of coral reefs “well within the lifetime of much of the global population.”

That same day, the Washington Post ran an article titled “The World Has Just Over a Decade to Get Climate Change under Control, U.N. Scientists Say.” According to the article, “The world stands on the brink of failure when it comes to holding global warming to moderate levels, and nations will need to take ‘unprecedented’ actions to cut their carbon emissions over the next decade.”


The authors of Superabundance characterize those items as “scarring and scaring two generations of people throughout the world in general and in advanced countries in particular. They represent a tip of the iceberg of the constant diet of gloom that ordinary citizens have been fed for decades.”


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 11, 2023 at 4:29 AM

Go with the blow

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The blowing of the wind, that is, which I had to deal with on April 2nd at the cemetery in Stockdale, about a hundred miles south of home. First I took a bunch of wildflower pictures at high shutter speeds to try and stop the motion. Then I relented—literally—and switched to slow shutter speeds, knowing that the blowing would bring blurring. I’ll anticipate some comments and say that the resulting photographs suggest Impressionist paintings.

I took the top picture at 1/8 of a second and the bottom one at 1/15th of a second. The magenta/hot pink flowers are a Phlox species; the red-orange ones Indian paintbrush, Castilleja indivisa; the blue sandyland bluebonnets, Lupinus subcarnosus; the yellow Nueces coreopsis, Coreopsis nuecensis; the white are white prickly poppies, Argemone albiflora.

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Two posts back I noted that it’s common to hear politicians and activists bandy about the phrase “common sense.” I said that’s a loaded and misleading term because some or even many things that a majority of people believe to be common sense are easily shown to be untrue. In that post and yesterday’s I gave examples of “common sense” leading to incorrect conclusions. Here’s another.

Suppose you live in an old house with a carport. Because of the topography, whenever you get a heavy enough rain, water flows onto your carport and collects there, taking hours and hours to eventually drain away. It’s a nuisance, but you put up with it because having an engineering company fix the problem would cost thousands of dollars. One night you get home from a long trip and are so exhausted you go to bed and quickly fall into a sound sleep. It’s such a deep sleep that nothing disturbs you, and you wake up the next morning feeling refreshed. A little later you open your side door and see water a couple of inches deep on your carport. What happened?

“Common sense” would lead many if not most people to say it must have rained hard during the night and that’s why the carport got flooded. You must have been sleeping so soundly that the rain didn’t wake you up.

Anyone who concludes that it must have rained is committing an error of logic. Just because event A (in this case a hard rain) always leads to event B (in this case a flooded carport), you can’t “reason” backwards and assume from the occurrence of event B that event A must have occurred. It just so happens that our previous house in Austin did suffer from a flooded carport after sustained downpours, and one morning I did open the side door and see water flowing through the carport—and yet it hadn’t rained. Instead, we’d had a sustained freeze, and a poorly insulated pipe leading from the house out to the washing machine at the back of the carport had burst. You can think of other explanations. Maybe the next-door neighbor’s sprinkler system had gone awry. Maybe a large water tanker truck had gotten into an accident nearby and the tank had split open. Maybe a water main in the street out front had ruptured. Maybe a dam had collapsed and flooded the whole neighborhood.

You get the point: just because something is plausible or even likely doesn’t mean it’s true. The world could be saved so much misery if only people investigated situations rather than jumping to conclusions—and worse, acting on hasty and unwarranted assumptions.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 10, 2021 at 4:38 AM

Return to the Floresville Cemetery

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Across a swathe of territory below San Antonio, the spring of 2019 proved a fabulous season for wildflowers; someone told us he’d heard it was the best in 10 years. One place that provided many pictures then was the city cemetery in the aptly named Floresville (flores means flowers in Spanish), a town it takes about two hours to drive to from our home in Austin. On April 2nd of this year, now feeling somewhat freed from the isolation of 2020, we headed back to that cemetery in hopes of finding it as bloomful as in 2019.

While the flowers growing among the graves weren’t as numerous as two years ago, a field along the northeast edge of the cemetery offered wildflowers at least as abundant as they’d been two years earlier. The red-orange ones are Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa. I take the white ones to be Aphanostephus skirrhobasis, known as lazy daisies or doze-daisies because they generally don’t open up till midday.

And here’s a thought for today: “People shouldn’t expect the cavalry to come to save them. The cavalry is you.” — Douglas Murray, 2021. That’s reminiscent of the venerable saying “God helps those who help themselves,” which many people incorrectly think is in the Bible. It’s actually from Algernon Sydney’s Discourses Concerning Government, published in 1698.


© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 7, 2021 at 4:35 AM

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