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morning opinion digest

Blizzards and climate change, Drone Dome, and more

Crews shoveled the snow at Trinity Church in Boston.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff/Globe staff

Polar bears vs. oil, the trouble with Sarah Palin, and more. Check out five opinions trending online.

More blizzards in our future? The blizzard battering the Northeast this morning is another sign of climate change, writes Eric Holthaus on Vice.com. For example: Five of the 10 biggest snowstorms in New York City have happened since 2003.

“We don’t have to revert to advanced statistical analysis or atmospheric physics to know that climate change is making the impact of big storms worse,” Holthaus writes. “In a much more direct way the National Weather Service in Boston has been warning that this week’s blizzard might permanently alter Massachusetts geography, with a storm surge that could create ‘one or more new inlets.’ The link to climate change is pretty obvious: Sea levels have risen about a foot or so across the Northeast over the last 100 years, about half of which is directly attributable to melting glaciers and warming oceans worldwide.” Read more.

Mr. Netanyahu goes to Washington: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hurting Israel’s chances to influence the US on its policy toward Iran – all because of his belligerent attitude, writes security analyst Yossi Melman in the Jerusalem Post.

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“As evidenced by his recent move to secure himself a speech before a joint session of Congress without informing the White House, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has adopted a confrontational and provocative approach toward the Obama administration,” Melman writes.

“By doing so, Netanyahu is minimizing the chance that Israel could bring its influence to bear on the P5+1 talks and their outcome. The premier is effectively producing the opposite result from what he originally intended, thus complicating Jerusalem’s efforts to ensure that no bad agreement is reached.” Read more.

Obama protects Alaskan wilderness: Over the weekend, President Obama moved to protect more than 12 million acres of Alaska’s wondrous Arctic Wildlife Refuge, home to caribou, polar bears, and a rainbow of bird species. It is also a site of temptingly rich oil deposits. The editorial board of the New York Times commends the president’s use of his executive authority to create a new wilderness area.

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“From the perspective of the nation’s energy needs, Mr. Obama’s timing was just right,” the editors write. “Estimates of the oil under the coastal plain have varied wildly over the years, but while extracting the oil never seemed worth the devastation it would cause, it seems less so now that major new oil deposits have been discovered in the lower 48 states and consumption is dwindling along with America’s reliance on imports.” Read more.

Drone Dome? Writing for Politico, Garrett Graff notes that the crash of a small drone on the White House lawn may speed plans for a laser defense system to protect the executive mansion and other public buildings in the nation’s capital. Cue Austin Powers: Graff dubs it “Drone Dome.”

“Monday morning’s crash of a drone – sorry, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – ushers in a new type of risk that will almost assuredly bring a higher level of security to the presidential mansion in the years ahead as the Secret Service and the military reckon with new threats from the air,” Graff writes.

“Short of consulting with Austin Powers and Dr. Evil for advice on how to deploy laser beams (‘When I ask for sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads, I expect sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads!’) or retreating into a Dr. Strangelove-style mineshaft bunker there aren’t easy answers on defending the White House from a technology that’s quickly becoming a favorite of high-tech companies and backyard hobbyists.” Read more.

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Being Sarah Palin: Sarah Palin has slipped into self-parody, and should step off the political stage, writes Charles Cooke in the National Review. Even conservative commentators winced at her rambling speech in Iowa, he writes.

“Palin should leave the field to those who are in possession of genuine political aspirations, and she should refrain from treating the Republican party as if it were a little more than a convenient vehicle for her private ambition. In the meantime, conservatives who are finally cottoning on to the ruse should recognize that this Iowa sojourn was not an aberration or a blip, but the foreordained culmination of a slow and unseemly descent into farce that began almost immediately after Barack Obama was elected in 2008. So Sarah Palin has become Amy Winehouse? Of course she has. How else exactly was this going to end?” Read more.


Ellen Clegg is a member of the Globe staff. She tweets @ellenclegg.