August, 2022

Thanks

Much of my climate news comes from The Daily Climate, whose wonderful subscription service clues me in to what's going on each day. Another great source of stories (and commentaries) comes from my friend Jim Poyser, at Apocadocs. Unfortunately he and his pal Michael stopped collecting news at the election of U.S. Unindicted Co-conspirator Forty-Five, which was a frickin' party pooper of a day, I'll tell ya. Their recovery scenario is perhaps more progressive than the Green New Deal (and their book is darkly inspirational, and terribly funny — and free).

Quotes

  • James Baldwin:
    • "People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction…." — Notes of a Native Son
    • "It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have." — No Name in the Street
    • "Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced." — As Much Truth As One Can Bear
  • "If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there's no progress. If you pull it all the way out that's not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven't even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound. They won't even admit the knife is there." — Malcolm X, TV interview, Mar. 1964
  • "… all you can talk about is money, and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!" — Greta Thunberg (address to the UN, 2019)
  • "Poverty is the worst form of violence." — Mahatma Gandhi
  • "The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands." — Genesis 9:2
  • "[Y]ou cannot postpone a rendezvous with reality forever." Nick Cohen, Observer columnist
  • “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” — Voltaire
  • "Any course in US history is inauthentic — worse, is a lie — if it doesn't teach the experiences of people like Fannie Lou Hamer." [ael: me, late to the game…:(]
  • "I want to be a great ancestor…." Overheard on an ACLU zoom call….
  • "A question ain't really a question if you know the answer too." John Prine (Far from me)

And Now for the News:

August, 2022

8/15/2022 — Zofia Posmysz Day

  1. Zofia Posmysz, Who Wrote of Life in Concentration Camps, Dies at 98: Her radio play, “The Passenger in Cabin 45,” became a novel that was translated into 15 languages, a movie and an acclaimed opera.
    • Ms. Posmysz (pronounced POCE-mish) was born on Aug. 23, 1923, in Krakow, Poland, into a Roman Catholic family. She was arrested by the Gestapo in May 1942 for associating with fellow students at an underground university who were passing out anti-Nazi leaflets. She was taken to Auschwitz, where some 1.1 million people, a vast majority of them Jews, would perish.
    • Her writing career began when she was hired as a newspaper reporter and editor. She didn’t seek a byline for her first article, an account of the war crimes trials in Nuremberg, Germany. Instead, she signed off with her identification number at Auschwitz: 7566.
    • A listing of Ms. Posmysz’s survivors was not immediately available. She was married. Her father was shot and killed by Germans during the war, which her mother survived. She also had an older sister.
    • In January 2020, the survivors attended a ceremony at the former death camp for the 75th anniversary of its liberation. The event came amid growing concern over a resurgence of antisemitism in the United States and Europe, as well as rising acrimony between Russia and Poland over who bore a major share of responsibility for Germany’s invasion of Poland, touching off World War II. Ms. Posmysz was unable to attend the ceremony, but she was aware of attacks on Polish leaders by Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.“I fear that over time, it will become easier to distort history,” she told The Times then. “I can never say it will never happen again, because when you look at some leaders of today, those dangerous ambitions, pride and sense of being better than others are still in play. Who knows where they can lead?”
  2. Arctic Warming Is Happening Faster Than Described, Analysis Shows: The warming at the top of the globe, a sign of climate change, is happening much faster than previously described compared with the global average, scientists said Thursday.
    • Over the past four decades the region has been heating up four times faster than the global average, not the two to three times that has commonly been reported. And some parts of the region, notably the Barents Sea north of Norway and Russia, are warming up to seven times faster, they said.
    • One result of rapid Arctic warming is faster melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which adds to sea-level rise. But the impacts extend far beyond the Arctic, reaching down to influence weather like extreme rainfall and heat waves in North America and elsewhere. By altering the temperature difference between the North Pole and the Equator, the warming Arctic appears to have affected storm tracks and wind speed in North America.
    • Just weeks after a deadly heat wave clamped down on European capitals, shattering records in Britain, extreme temperatures are again engulfing western Europe this week. The heaviest rainfall in decades inundated Seoul, South Korea, killing at least nine and damaging nearly 3,000 structures. And the McKinney wildfire continues to rage in Northern California, destroying 60,000 acres, killing four people and triggering a mass fish kill.
    • The Arctic is heating more rapidly in large part because of a feedback loop in which warming melts sea ice in the region, which exposes more of the Arctic Ocean to sunlight and leads to more warming, which in turn leads to even more melting and warming. The result of this and other oceanic and atmospheric processes is called Arctic amplification.
    • The latest report card, for 2021, details a region undergoing vast change, overwhelmed by rising temperatures. Indeed, some scientists now say that the Arctic’s fundamental climate has changed, to one characterized more by liquid water than ice, with profound effects on the plants, animals and people living there.
  3. Mitch McConnell greatly damaged US democracy with quiet, chess-like moves: While Trump’s coup attempt may have failed, McConnell’s own machinations have proven highly effective
    • Another brazen GOP action, however, has succeeded – this one engineered by the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, whose chess-like skills of political strategizing put to shame Trump’s powerful but limited game of bluster and bullying. The act to which I refer is McConnell’s theft of Barack Obama’s 2016 appointment to the supreme court, a radical deed that has dimmed somewhat in public consciousness even as it proved crucial to fashioning a rightwing supreme court willing to overturn Roe v Wade and to destabilize American politics and American democracy in the process.
    • McConnell is widely considered to be a cynic about politics, more interested in maintaining and holding power than in advancing a particular agenda. This is true up to a point. But it is equally true that McConnell has believed, for decades, that the federal government had grown too large and too strong, that power had to be returned to private enterprise on the one hand and the individual states on the other, and that the legislative process in Washington could not be trusted to accomplish those aims. Hence the critical role of the federal courts: the federal judiciary, if sufficiently populated by conservative jurists, could constrain and dismantle the power of the federal government in ways in which Congress never would. It was fine, in McConnell’s eyes, for Congress to be paralyzed and ineffectual on most domestic issues, as long as the GOP, when in power, stacked the federal judiciary and the supreme court with conservative judges and justices. Thus, across Trump’s presidency, McConnell pushed 175 district court appointments and 54 court of appeals appointments through the congressional confirmation process, far exceeding in numbers what Obama had managed during the second term of his presidency.
    • The tale of McConnell’s steal begins in February 2016, when Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, the lion of the judicial right, suddenly and unexpectedly died. Obama had just begun the last year of his presidency, and McConnell was entering his second year as Senate majority leader. McConnell immediately declared that he would hold no hearings on a new supreme court justice, regardless of whom Obama nominated. McConnell’s ostensible justification: it was inappropriate, he declared, for a president on his way out of office to exercise so profound an influence on America’s political future. Let the next president, to be elected in November 2016, decide who the nominee should be. That way forward would, McConnell argued, be a way of letting “the people”, through their choice of president, shape the supreme court’s future.
    • Technically, McConnell had violated no laws. The Senate, by simple majority vote, has the authority to remove the filibuster from virtually any issue at any time. With regard to supreme court nominations, the constitution simply states that the president has the power to nominate justices and that the Senate’s advice and consent are required for confirmation. Still, McConnell’s refusal to authorize any action on Garland broke with 150 years of senatorial precedent and practice. The Senate had rejected nominees in the past, but only after debate and a vote. Some who were told they had little chance of winning such a vote had voluntarily withdrawn their names. A few had seen their cases deferred for a few months. But the last time a nominee was made to suffer Garland’s fate – consigned indefinitely to purgatory – was 1866. And that ancient case had a plausible justification that the Garland case did not: the nomination had come from a president – Andrew Johnson – on his way to impeachment and possible removal from office.
    • McConnell’s machinations broke no laws. His 2016 supreme court steal, however, upended a century and a half of accepted senatorial practice. The price for the country has been high: damage to the court’s legitimacy, deepening cynicism about Washington politics, and a growing conviction that America’s ailing democratic system can’t be fixed.
  4. Can You Pass the 10-Second Balance Test?: This simple, often neglected skill can pay huge dividends later in life.
    • Balance training is an important but often-neglected skill, one that impacts both our longevity and our quality of life, beginning around age 40. A study in June by a Brazilian team found that 20 percent of the 1,700 older adults tested couldn’t balance on one leg for 10 seconds or more. And that inability to balance was associated with a twofold risk of death from any cause within 10 years.
  5. A ‘megaflood’ in California could drop 100 inches of rain, scientists warn: It hasn’t happened since 1862, but California is due for another one
    • A mention of California might usually conjure images of wildfires and droughts, but scientists say that the Golden State is also the site of extreme, once-a-century “megafloods” — and that climate change could amplify just how bad one gets. The idea seems inconceivable — a month-long storm that dumps 30 inches of rain in San Francisco and up to 100 inches of rain and/or melted snow in the mountains. But it has happened before — most recently in 1862 — and if history is any indicator, we’re overdue for another, according to research published Friday in Science Advances that seeks to shed light on the lurking hazard. “This risk is increasing and was already underappreciated,” said Daniel Swain, one of the study’s two authors and a climate scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles. “We want to get ahead of it.”
    • On the West Coast, there commonly are atmospheric rivers, or streams of moisture-rich air at the mid-levels of the atmosphere with connections to the deep tropics. For a California megaflood to occur, you’d need a nearly stationary zone of low pressure in the northeast Pacific, which would sling a succession of high-end atmospheric rivers into the California coastline.
    • The influence of human-caused climate change also plays a role: Swain says it boosts the ceiling in a megaflood. “We have multiple scenarios. The future one is much larger, consistent with [climate change],” he said. “In the historical scenario, the lesser one, certain parts of the Sierra Nevada see 50 to 60 inches of liquid-equivalent precipitation … but in the future event, some places see 70 to 80 and a few see 100 in a 30-day period. Even places like San Francisco and Sacramento could see 20 to 30 inches of rain, and that’s just in one month.” An independent study published in Scientific Reports on Friday concluded that human-caused climate change will intensify atmospheric rivers and could double or triple their economic damage in the western United States by the 2090s.

8/9/2022

  1. Due to climate change, Nevada says goodbye to grass:
    • [Las Vegas]'s already pulled up about four million square feet of grass on public property so far this year, because thirsty green parkways are something they just can't afford anymore. "The grass that you see behind me is not long for this world," Mack told correspondent Tracy Smith. "In fact, within the next couple of months to a year, this grass will be completely eliminated, and it'll be replaced with drip-irrigated trees and plants."
    • So, what does two degrees of warming mean? We asked Neil deGrasse Tyson to lay it out for us: "How many degrees away was the Ice Age of 20,000 years ago? Eight degrees colder. Eight degrees colder, we have an Ice Age where glaciers reach all the way down to the middle of the United States of America."
      • "So, even a half a degree makes a huge difference?" asked Smith.
      • "In your life, what's a half a degree to you or me? Two degrees, who cares? Earth, it matters. It matters," Tyson said. "Eight degrees colder, glaciers reach St. Louis. Two degrees warmer, we're losing our coastline. Take it up a little higher, I don't even wanna be around to see that."
      • "If the ice caps melt, how high could the waters get?"
      • "From the ice caps. the water levels of the oceans will rise and reach the left elbow of the Statue of Liberty – that's her left arm holding the document," Tyson said. "I don't even wanna think about that."
      • Tyson said, "Do you realize Venus is basically the same size as Earth, has the same surface gravity as Earth? Might have turned out just like Earth, but something bad happened on Venus. They have a runaway greenhouse effect. It is 900° Fahrenheit on Venus. And I did the math on this: You can cook a 16-inch pepperoni pizza on the windowsill in three seconds, okay? Is that a benefit to this? Perhaps!
  2. Climate impacts have worsened vast range of human diseases: More than half of human diseases caused by pathogens have been aggravated by hazards associated with climate change, study finds

8/8/2022

  1. Did Democrats Just Save Civilization? (Paul Krugman)
    • They really did it. The Inflation Reduction Act, which is mainly a climate change bill with a side helping of health reform, passed the Senate on Sunday; by all accounts it will easily pass the House, so it’s about to become law.
    • This is a very big deal. The act isn’t, by itself, enough to avert climate disaster. But it’s a huge step in the right direction, and sets the stage for more action in the years ahead. It will catalyze progress in green technology; its economic benefits will make passing additional legislation easier; it gives the United States the credibility it needs to lead a global effort to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

8/7/2022 — Jake's 90th birthday

  1. Proving Ground review: the women who made American computing great: Kathy Kleiman’s [book] offers a valuable boost to our understanding of modern computers and their beginnings in wartime
    • 3758.jpg?width=620&quality=45&fit=max&dpr=2&s=8ac1ba3c611d6845fc17a4a6686fe15f
      Programmers at work. Each of the women had to be exceptional to succeed. Photograph: Grand Central Publishing
  2. Some of the approximately 1,000 people stranded at Death Valley National Park have left in spite of flooding
    • The park got 1.46 inches of rain, the second-wettest day since record keeping began in 1911, missing the record 1.47 inches by drops, according to CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. It's almost 70% of Death Valley's average rainfall, and more than a 1,300% of its average August rain.
    • In 61 years of the 111 years of record-keeping, the annual rainfall in the valley did not reach Friday's amount, Javaheri said. About an inch of rain fell within an hour, something which happens on average every 1,000 years, according to Javaheri.
    • Before Friday, Death Valley had only recorded 0.04 inches of rain in 2022, the driest start through July since 1953, when no rain fell at all.

8/6/2022 — Hiroshima day (77th), and Cliff Long Day (20th)

  1. Hiroshima, 2022: Humanity’s Capacity for Rendering Nothingness: By Matthew Fox
    • We have been meditating on some of the many meanings of Nothingness. Today, August 6, 2022, is the 77th anniversary of the nothingness rendered by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. A stark reminder of human’s capacity to participate in, provoke and even effect nothingness of the most stark kind.
    • Carl Jung put it this way: Humanity is involved in a new responsibility. He can no longer wriggle out of it on the plea of his littleness and nothingness, for the dark God has slipped the atom bomb and chemical weapons into his hands and given him the power to empty out the apocalyptic vials of wrath on his fellow creatures. Since he has been granted an almost godlike power, he can no longer remain blind and unconscious. He must know something of God’s nature and of metaphysical processes if he is to understand himself…and the divine.
    • A parallel to Hiroshima, what we might call the Hiroshima of the 21st century, is our dark capacity for making climate change happen–climate change is a kind of atomic bomb that is circumventing the globe from the rainforests of Brazil to the cities of Europe this summer. From the glaciers of Antarctica to the ice packs in Greenland, from the mountain tops of the Himalayas to those of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, from the wildfires in New Mexico and California to the flooded communities of Kentucky.
    • Thomas Berry used to say that the nuclear bomb has already gone off—that is to say the chemicals that humans have been pouring into Mother Earth without proper testing and that have so much to do with rising rates of cancer and other diseases. Climate Change is another of the apocalyptic vials of wrath humans drop on their fellow creatures. When will we ever learn?
  2. [ael: my dad died 20 years ago today. Miss you, Dad! Love, Andy]
  3. Scientists Say It’s ‘Fatally Foolish’ To Not Study Catastrophic Climate Outcomes: A new paper discusses ‘climate end games’ as the planet approaches environmental tipping points that could exacerbate other global crises like pandemics and war.
    • More than half of all cumulative carbon dioxide emissions have occurred since international climate negotiations started in 1990. Global warming is accelerating and driving a steep increase of extremes like heat waves, wildfires and flooding. Most recent scientific estimates show that, under current policies, the world is headed for about 2.4 to 2.7 degrees Celsius warming by late this century.
    • Recent scientific advances increasingly show that dangerous climate impacts are occurring faster than researchers once predicted, said Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “We also have so much evidence that we are coming closer and closer to tipping points and irreversible changes,” he said. He said that recent research on planetary boundaries and hothouse Earth scenarios, as well as policy discussions around the world and even the outcomes of the ongoing IPCC 6th assessment, do not really address the risks of catastrophic climate change. The rapid rate of human-caused warming, he added, could be “pushing the on-buttons of irreversible trajectories at lower temperature levels than we had previously had reason to be really concerned about.”
    • “We’re underestimating the risk. Every time, things are happening faster than we had predicted.” Catastrophe, he said, will be when human interventions can no longer slow climate change, he said. ”We will just be sliding, you know, gradually just drifting off in the wrong direction in terms of sea level rise and climate niches that cannot support human life.”
    • “Already some charitable trusts and foundations have decided that the game is up and that we’re in the realm of catastrophe and breakdown and we need to talk about deep adaptation,” he said. “I hope they’re wrong, but I struggle to avoid the conclusion that a lot of people are going to be harmed, and they’re going to want to move around the planet to get away from intolerable climate conditions…. We’re stuck in that nation-state, build-a-wall mentality that isn’t going to serve us well when the world is changing so profoundly around us,” he added. “We’ve been tied to agriculture for thousands of years, but the agriculture itself is going to have to move.”
  4. With Epic Flooding in Eastern Kentucky, the State’s Governor Wants to Know ‘Why We Keep Getting Hit’: Four noted atmospheric scientists explain that the answer to “why?” is climate change: “The evidence is clear,” said one.

8/5/2022

  1. Sea level rise is causing record-breaking coastal flooding. It's only expected to get worse – even on days without rain.
    • "The East and Gulf coasts already experience twice as many days of high tide flooding compared to the year 2000," Nicole LeBoeuf, director of NOAA's National Ocean Service, said, "flooding shorelines, streets and basements and damaging critical infrastructure."
    • "The amount of sea level rise is strongly affected by future global warming," the report says. "By reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, severe and transformative impacts occurring later this century or early next century along U.S. coastlines are more likely to be avoided. As GHG emissions and global temperatures continue to rise, the likelihood of very high U.S. sea level rise does too."
  2. Source of River Thames dries out ‘for first time’ during drought: Head of the Thames is now more than 5 miles downstream as forecasters warn of further high temperatures to come
    • The source of the Thames has dried up during the drought, with river experts saying it is the first time they have seen it happen while forecasters warn of further high temperatures to come. The river’s source has shifted from its official start point outside Cirencester during the continuing dry weather and is now more than 5 miles (8km) downstream.
    • Statistics from the Met Office showed that July this year was the driest July for England since 1935, and the driest July on record for East Anglia, south-east and southern England. The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has shown how much of the country is at risk of drought. East Anglia and Kent are showing the most severe category, “extremely dry”, and other home counties and Devon are ranked as “severely dry”.
  3. Judge rejects massive BLM coal mining proposal in Montana, Wyoming: Court says Biden administration failed to consider health impacts, didn’t follow federal law
    • Some of the groups said that Biden administration’s decision to defend the actions started by the Trump administration shows that the Democratic administration isn’t serious about climate change. ““This ruling is a shameful confirmation that the Biden administration has no real interest in defending public lands or the climate,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program director for WildEarth Guardians. “Thankfully the courts are upholding law and science, but it’s sad that President Biden is allowing his administration to undermine his promises to protect our health and our climate.”
  4. Kentucky’s Floods Took Appalachian History With Them: Appalshop, a culture and arts center in Whitesburg, held a large repository of central Appalachian history.
    • “I’m seeing things that shouldn’t be together,” Mr. Gibson said. “There’s a banjo constructed by a master banjo maker covered in mud next to one of our first LP releases in 1970.”
  5. Mexico’s Cruel Drought: ‘Here You Have to Chase the Water’: Nearly two-thirds of the country’s municipalities are facing a water shortage. In Monterrey, a major economic hub, the government delivers water daily to 400 neighborhoods.
    • The numbers underlining the crisis are startling: In July, eight of Mexico’s 32 states were experiencing extreme to moderate drought, resulting in 1,546 of the country’s 2,463 municipalities confronting water shortages, according to the National Water Commission.
    • “Here you have to chase the water,” said Claudia Muñiz, 38, whose household is often without running water for up to a week. “In a moment of desperation, people explode,” she said about the violence that has flared as people fight over what water there is.
    • Along with the Cerro Prieto reservoir, a seven-year drought — interrupted only by strong rains in 2018, according to a local official — has also dried up water along two other dams that provide most of Monterrey’s water supply. One dam reached 15 percent of its capacity this year, while the other reached 42 percent. The rest of the city’s water comes from aquifers, many of which are also running low.
    • The governor of Nuevo León state, Samuel García, recently urged the world to act together to tackle climate change because it was beyond the capacity of any single government to confront. “The climate crisis has caught up to us,” Mr. García wrote on Twitter. “Today we have to take care of the environment, it is life or death.”

8/4/2022

  1. How Coal Mining and Years of Neglect Left Kentucky Towns at the Mercy of Flooding: The region, one of the poorest in the country, is full of modest, unprotected homes and decaying infrastructure. Some residents say they won’t return.
    • FLEMING-NEON, Ky. — This sliver of land wedged between the thick woods and Wright Fork creek has been the home of Gary Moore’s family for as long as there has been a United States. The burial plot for an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War, he said, is a mile away. Mr. Moore himself lives in a mobile home across from his father’s house; the house where his grandmother lived is next door. All of that was wrecked in last week’s flooding.
    • Southeastern Kentucky, which includes some of the poorest counties in the country, is different from many other rural areas, which have populated county seats surrounded by mostly empty countryside. Here, tiny communities are scattered all over the mountains, little clusters of shotgun houses and mobile homes lining creeks and hollows for miles. Many of these were once coal company camps, said Mr. Addington, who grew up in one. They were built for miners a hundred years ago, and often named — like the Fleming in Fleming-Neon — for coal company executives. Work in the mines was always grueling, but in the heyday of coal, it made for a glittering strand of little mountain boom towns. Fleming-Neon was once one, full of restaurants and stores, a movie theater and an Oldsmobile dealership.
    • In Letcher County, where Fleming-Neon is, the number of people working in the mines is down about 95 percent from what it was in 1990; the county itself, now with 21,000 people, has shrunk by about a fifth since then…. Many former miners, their bodies and lungs broken and poisoned from years of arduous work underground, were never able to find another dependable line of work; fewer than half of the adults in Letcher County are in the labor force, and more than a quarter of people under 65 report having a disability. The median household income is about half of the national. The median home value is just $54,700.
    • When last week’s storms arrived, they rolled into a mountainous topography “exceptionally susceptible to heavy rain events,” said Matthew Eby, chief executive officer of the First Street Foundation, a New York-based group that maps flood risks. According to First Street’s data, two-thirds of the homes in Letcher County face a high risk of flooding, as does most of the county’s critical infrastructure, such as fire stations and schools. And as temperatures rise over time, a consequence of the burning of coal dug out of these very mountains, warmer air is able to hold more moisture, making it possible for more rain to fall more quickly.
    • The land itself has changed over the decades, too, as coal companies stripped away hillsides or blew the tops off mountains to get at the riches underneath. Researchers have found that the treeless land that is left behind, if not carefully restored, can increase the speed and volume of rain runoff, worsening floods in the mountains. “Ten, twelve years ago most of my practice was representing flood victims below unreclaimed strip mines,” said Ned Pillersdorf, a lawyer in nearby Floyd County, which was also hard hit in the floods. It was hard to say at this point precisely how much that played a part in last week’s flooding, he said. But he added: “Fly over here and see how many unreclaimed strip-mines are still out there.”
    • There are people and groups throughout the mountains — like Appalshop, the arts and cultural organization in Whitesburg that was badly damaged in the floods — that have been working for years to remake eastern Kentucky into a flourishing region that is no longer dependent on coal mines. The Kentucky governor, Andy Beshear, is already talking with lawmakers about a substantial flood relief package, and the FEMA administrator has pledged to assist in the recovery “as long as you need us.”
    • [ael: coal kept the lights on, while coal companies ravaged towns and lives; then the lights went out, and, when the residents looked around, all their money and valuables were missing….]
  2. Why you need to worry about the ‘wet-bulb temperature’: Scientists think we need to pay attention to a measure of heat and humidity – and it’s edging closer to the limits of human survivability
    • The term comes from how it is measured. If you slide a wet cloth over the bulb of a thermometer, the evaporating water from the cloth will cool the thermometer down. This lower temperature is the WBT, which cannot go above the dry temperature [ael: my emphasis]. If humidity in the surrounding air is high, however – meaning the air is already more saturated with water – less evaporation will occur, so the WBT will be closer to the dry temperature.
    • [ael: one question I have is why the dangerous WBT is not around 98.6 — or whatever your average body temperature is. At that point it would seem like you'd be in equilibrium (if you could cover yourself in a wet cloth I guess!)]
  3. It’s Time for ‘They’: The singular “they” is inclusive and flexible, and it breaks the stifling prison of gender expectations. Let’s all use it.
    • [ael: an opinion piece too important to forget!:)]
    • I suspect my call will be dismissed as useless virtue-signaling, but there are several clear advantages, both linguistic and cultural, to the singular “they.” One of the main ones is that it’s ubiquitous. According to linguists who study gender and pronouns, “they” and “them” are increasingly and widely seen as legitimate ways to refer to an individual, both generically and specifically, whether you know their gender or not — as I just did right in this sentence.
    • Other than plainly intolerant people, there’s only one group that harbors doubts about the singular “they”: grammarians. If you’re one of those people David Foster Wallace called a “snoot,” Lyft’s use of “them” to refer to one specific Juan rings grammatically icky to you. The singular, gender nonspecific “they” has been common in English as long as people have spoken English, but since the 18th century, grammar stylists have discouraged it on the grounds that “they” has to be plural. That’s why institutions that cater to snoots generally discourage it. The Times, whose stylebook allows the singular “they” when the person being referred to prefers it, warns against its widespread usage: “Take particular care to avoid confusion if using they for an individual” the stylebook counsels.
    • I think that’s too cautious; we should use “they” more freely, because language should not default to the gender binary. One truth I’ve come to understand too late in life is how thoroughly and insidiously our lives are shaped by gender norms. These expectations are felt most acutely and tragically by those who don’t conform to the standard gender binary — people who are transgender or nonbinary, most obviously.
    • But it was only when I had a son and a daughter of my own that I recognized how powerfully gendered constructs shape our development. From their very earliest days, my kids, fed by marketing and entertainment and (surely) their parents’ modeling, seemed to hem themselves into silly gender norms. They gravitated to boy toys and girl toys, boy colors and girl colors, boy TV shows and girl TV shows. This was all so sad to me: I see them limiting their thoughts and their ambitions, their preferences and their identity, their very liberty, only to satisfy some collective abstraction. And there’s little prospect for escape: Gender is a ubiquitous prison for the mind, reinforced everywhere, by everyone, and only rarely questioned.
    • [ael: one thing that occurs to me: are we pissed at nature for creating this distinction between genders? Did nature really intend for them to be indistinguishable, and is that our objective? Doesn't nature have completely different roles in mind for the two genders? So who are we to try to tamp that down?]

8/3/2022

  1. Climate change is warming Canada's great expanse of boreal forest, bringing greater risk of fire and disease: Water stress on trees means less resilience to disturbances like fire and insects
    • "The big impacts we're seeing are in northern Alberta, where we've had frequent severe droughts going back to 2002," he says. Hogg says the 2002 drought meant major tree loss in the aspen parkland and southern boreal between Edmonton and Saskatoon. But recent droughts are extending that stress northward. "What we've seen more recently is some other parts in places near Peace River, northwestern Alberta, and even up into the Northwest Territories, seen similar things happening … so the mortality of aspens have gone further than we ever expected."
    • change-in-boreal-growth-2000-2019.jpg
    • Berner says that in contrast to the northern greening, there were significant declines in vegetation gradients across parts of the southern boreal forest in North America and Eurasia. "These are kind of early indications that a … shift could be occurring."
  2. ‘Surreal’ TV news clip about heat wave mirrors ‘Don’t Look Up’ doomsday scene
    • Did “Don’t Look Up” predict the future? A UK TV clip from GB News downplaying heat wave warnings has been drawing comparisons to the iconic fictional interview in the 2021 environmental comedy “Don’t Look Up.” A side-by-side comparison of the two snippets currently has nearly 21 million views on Twitter as of Thursday morning. “A clip from ‘Don’t Look Up,’ and then a real TV interview that just happened,” teased Twitter user Ben Phillips in the caption to the cinematic weather forecast.
    • “By early next week, you can scratch 20 degrees [68 degrees Fahrenheit], it could well be 40 degrees [104 degrees Fahrenheit],” the weatherman cautions. “I think there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of excess deaths next week.” He added, “The charts that I can see in front of me are frightening. We all like nice weather, but this will not be nice weather, this will potentially be lethal weather for a couple of days. It will be brief but it will be brutal.”
    • At that point, Hammond attempts to rattle off more points but is cut off by host Bev Turner. “So John, I want us to be happy about the weather,” she says, dismissing his ominous forecast. “And I don’t know whether something has happened to meteorologists to make you all a little bit fatalistic and harbingers of doom.” Turner added, “All of the broadcasts, particularly on the BBC, every time I’ve turned on, anyone is talking about the weather and they’re saying there’s going to be tons of fatalities. But haven’t we always had hot weather, John?”
  3. U.K. weather officials drew a scary heatwave map for 2050 — this week it came true, 28 years early: As climate change brings more extreme weather, London registered a temperature above 40 degrees Celsius for the first time in recorded history — that’s 104 Fahrenheit
    • Two years ago, with meteorologists quickening the rate at which they try to warn the world of the perils of unchecked climate change, the U.K.’s Met Office — the official weather forecasting agency for the country — posted an alarming, red-splashed temperature map. It was meant as a teaching tool. The Met Office imagined, as a strict hypothetical, what July 23, 2050 might feel like for this far-northern, populous island nation and its Irish neighbors. This was based on climate change projections and what is known so far about global warming’s impact — not in strictly causing weather extremes, but in boosting their frequency and severity. “Not actual weather forecast,” the graphic made clear. “Examples of plausible weather based on climate projections.”
    • But this week, the Met Office no longer had to pretend. The severe heatwave was here — 28 years earlier than the projection map.
    • If greenhouse gas emissions, linked to the burning of oil, gas and other fossil fuels, are not significantly curtailed, daily high and low temperatures will increase by at least 5 degrees Fahrenheit in most U.S. areas by mid-century, rising to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by late century. In fact, the National Climate Assessment estimates 20-30 more days over 90 degrees Fahrenheit each year in most U.S. areas by mid-century.

8/2/2022

  1. Climate endgame: risk of human extinction ‘dangerously underexplored’: Scientists say there are ample reasons to suspect global heating could lead to catastrophe
    • The risk of global societal collapse or human extinction has been “dangerously underexplored”, climate scientists have warned in an analysis. They call such a catastrophe the “climate endgame”. Though it had a small chance of occurring, given the uncertainties in future emissions and the climate system, cataclysmic scenarios could not be ruled out, they said. “Facing a future of accelerating climate change while blind to worst-case scenarios is naive risk management at best and fatally foolish at worst,” the scientists said, adding that there were “ample reasons” to suspect global heating could result in an apocalyptic disaster.
    • “There are plenty of reasons to believe climate change could become catastrophic, even at modest levels of warming,” said Dr Luke Kemp at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, who led the analysis. “Climate change has played a role in every mass extinction event. It has helped fell empires and shaped history. “Paths to disaster are not limited to the direct impacts of high temperatures, such as extreme weather events. Knock-on effects such as financial crises, conflict and new disease outbreaks could trigger other calamities.”
    • Particularly concerning are tipping points, where a small rise in global temperature results in a big change in the climate, such as huge carbon emissions from an Amazon rainforest suffering major droughts and fires. Tipping points could trigger others in a cascade and some remained little studied, they said, such as the abrupt loss of stratocumulus cloud decks that could cause an additional 8C of global warming.
    • ael: the report
    • The current trend of greenhouse gas emissions would cause a rise of 2.1-3.9C by 2100. But if existing pledges of action are fully implemented, the range would be 1.9-3C. Achieving all long-term targets set to date would mean 1.7-2.6C of warming. “Even these optimistic assumptions lead to dangerous Earth system trajectories,” the scientists said. Temperatures more than 2C above pre-industrial levels had not been sustained on Earth for more than 2.6m years, they said, far before the rise of human civilisation, which had risen in a “narrow climatic envelope” over the past 10,000 years.
  2. ‘Never give up’: why the world’s struggle against polio is not over: Vaccination levels in 2021 fell to their lowest in 15 years and now cases are breaking out in countries thought free of the disease
  3. High temperatures linked to child malnutrition in West Africa
    • Published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, the paper draws on weather information and data from health surveys collected on over 32,000 3- to 36-month-olds in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo between 1993 and 2014. Fourteen percent of them had wasting, a form of malnutrition diagnosed when children are a low weight for their height. Thirty-one percent had stunted growth, which occurs when children have a low height for their age.
    • The study found that for every 100 hours of exposure to a temperature above 95 degrees, the stunting rate increased by 5.9 percent. Children who had experienced 14 days of temperatures between 86 and 95 degrees within the past 90 days had 2.2 percent more wasting, which occurs due to recent malnutrition. In the past two decades, the researchers write, stunting is 12 percent more prevalent in children with the most exposure to average temperatures over 95 degrees in West Africa.
    • The more time the children spent in heat, the more it affected their nutrition. And in the future, the researchers say, things may get worse. If the average global temperature rises just 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) — a likely scenario if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced — the stunting rate is projected to nearly double, erasing recent gains in the region.
  4. Hotter than Dubai: US cities at risk of Middle Eastern temperatures by 2100: Unchecked global heating will bring once unthinkable extreme heat, with 16 US cities to rival summer highs seen in Middle East
    • Heatwaves have roiled huge swaths of the US this summer, placing nearly a third of the population under some sort of heat advisory and driving temperatures to as high as 115F (46C) in parts of the Great Plains. Hundreds of heat records have tumbled, from Boston, Massachusetts, which hit 100F (37C), to Portland, Oregon, which reached 102F (38.9C) on Tuesday. But global heating may plunge many places in the US into the sort of heat extremes previously considered unthinkable, shifting their climates long-term into conditions now common in places far farther south, or even far overseas.
    • Some US cities could be shifted to the sort of climates now experienced by cities in other countries, such as Los Angeles becoming more like Tuxpan in Mexico. A select few may go on an epic climatic journey by the end of the century, with Austin’s summers becoming like present-day Dubai, Phoenix resembling Saudi Arabia and Las Vegas getting similar to Kuwait.
  5. Unearthing the Secret Superpowers of Fungus: In the fight against warming, a formidable ally hides just beneath our feet.
    • Some species of fungi can store exceptional levels of carbon underground, keeping it out of the air and preventing it from heating up the Earth’s atmosphere. Others help plants survive brutal droughts or fight off pests. There are those especially good at feeding nutrients to crops, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.
    • By one estimate, 5 billion tons of carbon flow from plants to mycorrhizal fungi annually. Without help from the fungi, that carbon would likely stay in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the powerful greenhouse gas that is heating the planet and fueling dangerous weather. “Keeping this fungal network protected is paramount as we face climate change,” Dr. Kiers said.
    • Yet so little is known about fungi that they are not even counted in the Convention on Biodiversity, the global treaty aimed at protecting nature. That treaty is aimed at plants and animals. Fungi are neither. They make up a separate kingdom of life altogether…. To understand this kingdom, fungi aficionados argue, is to see the natural world differently — less as a collection of individual species, with humans dominating them all, and more as a web of organisms dealing with crises together.
    • Mushrooms are the above-ground avatars of the fungi kingdom, but they represent a fraction of the fungal web underground. Ms. Furci spots them everywhere. Concealed on the forest floor, wrapped around fallen twigs, attached like luminescent clams on branches. You have to be there in the brief window of time when they are visible. “All mushrooms are magic,” she said.
    • Ms. Furci was born and raised in England, where her mother, a political dissident, lived in exile during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. She came to Chile when her mother returned home, and, a few years later, had what she calls “an encounter.” She saw a striking, rust-orange mushroom in a forest (she later learned it was part of the genus Gymnopilus) and wanted to know more. An obsession began.
    • “A morel and a button mushroom are as closely related as a flea and an elephant,” she said.

8/1/2022

  1. Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt Uhura in original Star Trek, dies aged 89: Actor achieved worldwide fame and broke ground for Black women while playing Nyota Uhura in the original TV hit
    • She shared one of the first lip-to-lip interracial kisses on television – with co-star William Shatner, aka Captain Kirk. The kiss at the time was considered a forward-looking move on the part of the actors, as well as Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and the network that broadcast the show, NBC. The episode in question, titled Plato’s Stepchildren, aired in 1968 and was fashioned in a way that gave those involved something of an out from any potential discriminatory backlash: Uhura and Kirk did not choose to kiss but were instead made to do so after being inhabited by aliens.
    • Roddenberry had reportedly insisted on an integrated crew for Starship Enterprise – a bold move given that interracial marriage was still illegal in 17 US states. Only a year earlier, Variety reported, Sammy Davis Jr had gone no further than kiss Nancy Sinatra on the cheek on Movin’ With Nancy.
  2. Bill Russell, who became the ultimate champion with Celtics, dies at 88
    • Russell won 11 championships in 13 seasons as the center for the Boston Celtics, cementing his status as the original greatest player of all time, as voted upon by the Professional Basketball Writers Association in 1980. NBA commissioner Adam Silver called Russell the “greatest champion in all of team sports,” in a statement Sunday.
    • Russell’s partnership with Red Auerbach became the shining example of the bond between player and coach, as well as the potential for trust and partnership across racial lines at the height of the 1960s civil rights movement. Russell became the first Black star basketball player and the first Black coach in American professional sports when Auerbach named Russell as his replacement in 1966. He was the fifth person to be inducted to the Hall of Fame both as a player, in 1975, and a coach, in 2021.
    • Russell faced the worst of it, most notably when his suburban home was burglarized and the perpetrators defecated throughout the house, smashed his trophies and spray-painted slurs on the walls. Vandals would tip over Russell’s garbage cans, according to a 1987 New York Times essay by his daughter, Karen Russell. “The police told him that raccoons were responsible,” Karen Russell wrote, “so he asked where he could apply for a gun permit. The raccoons never came back.” Decades later after Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act, Russell procured his FBI file and found that he was described repeatedly as “an arrogant Negro who won’t sign autographs for white children,” according to his daughter.
    • All the while, he remained outspoken on the civil rights movement, becoming one of the pre-eminent voices in the world of sport and pop culture. He became the first NBA player to visit Africa when he traveled to Libya, Ethiopia and Liberia in 1959, even purchasing a rubber plantation that would ironically contribute to a period of financial struggle well after retirement. Then in 1961 in Lexington, Ky., he staged the first-ever boycott in an NBA game by African-American players after a restaurant refused to serve him and his Black teammates before a game. Following the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers in Jackson, Miss., in 1963, Russell went to Jackson to hold their first-ever integrated basketball camps.
    • He most famously sat next to Muhammad Ali at his famed “Cleveland Summit” in 1967 alongside Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as they supported Ali’s conscientious objection to being drafted for the Vietnam War. Russell sat in the front row at the March on Washington in 1963 and was even asked by Martin Luther King, Jr. that morning to stand on stage for his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. Russell declined, telling King he felt he had not been active enough in the build-up to the moment to deserve to speak. “The thing that most affected me was that he approached injustice with passion, but he expressed himself rationally rather than with anger,” Abdul-Jabbar said of Russell in a 2019 email to The Undefeated. “Anger never persuaded anyone to your side, but logic did.”
    • But his most unforgettable trait was his signature laugh, an infectious banshee shriek that was always on the edge of bursting from his lungs whenever he would tell one of his endless cache of great stories. Russell said his mother told him never to hold back, whether it was a sneeze, a laugh or anything else in life.
    • For a tall kid from Oakland with one college scholarship offer, few others in American history ever made as much from their opportunities as Bill Russell. “You walk into a room and it is,” Russell told Branch. “Whether it’s good or bad is your perception. After you make a judgment, the next question is what are you going to do about it? If you lose control, you will end your life being a bitter and annoyed old man. But if you take control of your life as much as possible, because you understand, then you have a chance to be happy.”
  3. Kentucky grapples with effect of climate crisis as floods leave trail of devastation: Heatwaves are getting ‘more dangerous and deadly’ from climate change as catastrophic flash flooding leaves at least 28 people dead
    • Earlier this week, the state saw eight to 10 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period, marking what experts are calling a 1-in-1,000 year rain event. Amid the onslaught of rain and catastrophic flash flooding, at least 28 people have died while dozens more are reported injured.
    • On Thursday, Beshear said that the flooding was the worst that he has seen in his lifetime. “I wish I could tell you why we keep getting hit here in Kentucky. I wish I could tell you why areas where people may not have much continue to get hit and lose everything. I can’t give you the why, but I know what we do in response to it. And the answer is everything we can,” he said. [ael: really Beshear? Read any good science books?
    • Jonathan Overpeck, an earth and environmental sciences professor at the University of Michigan, explained that because human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels have significantly warmed the atmosphere in recent years, the atmosphere now holds more moisture than it used to. As a result, whenever rainfall occurs, it is more drastic…. [Overpeck] explained that in addition to more frequent flash floods, Kentucky will also probably experience more tornado risks in the future. Last December, Kentucky faced its deadliest tornado outbreak when numerous tornadoes tore through the state and killed 80 people. One of the tornadoes cut through more than 165 miles and was nearly half a mile wide. “Heatwaves are clearly getting more dangerous and deadly due to human-caused climate change, and there is growing evidence that thunderstorms are getting supercharged by the warming atmosphere as well – and that can mean higher tornado risks,” he said.
  4. Green Hydrogen Is Cheaper Than LNG in Europe: Gas prices will fall eventually, but the European energy crisis has permanently improved prospects for the clean-burning fuel
    • Green hydrogen now costs less than natural gas in eight European countries. Liquefied natural gas prices will come back to earth, but not without leaving a lasting impact on the multipurpose wonderfuel.
    • High LNG prices mean green hydrogen—produced by a renewable-powered electrolyzer splitting water—is cheaper to burn than natural gas in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the U.K., according to research by BloombergNEF. The fuels' costs are often compared for two reasons: So-called gray and blue hydrogen can be produced using natural gas, and green hydrogen can be a clean substitute for some gas-powered processes.
  5. What Psychologists Want Today’s Young Adults to Know: The generation entering adulthood now faces novel, sometimes debilitating, challenges. Experts offer tools to navigate a “quarterlife crisis.”
    • Satya Doyle Byock, a 39-year-old therapist, noticed a shift in tone over the past few years in the young people who streamed into her office: frenetic, frazzled clients in their late teens, 20s and 30s. They were unnerved and unmoored, constantly feeling like something was wrong with them. “Crippling anxiety, depression, anguish, and disorientation are effectively the norm,” Ms. Byock writes in the introduction of her new book, “Quarterlife: The Search for Self in Early Adulthood.” The book uses anecdotes from Ms. Byock’s practice to outline obstacles faced by today’s young adults — roughly between the ages of 16 and 36 — and how to deal with them.
    • Indeed, according to a recent online survey by Credit Karma, a personal finance platform, nearly one-third of Gen Z adults are living with their parents or other relatives and plan to stay there. Many find themselves so mired in day-to-day monetary concerns, from the relentless crush of student debt to the swelling costs of everything, that they feel unable to consider what they want for themselves long term. That paralysis is often exacerbated by mounting climate anxiety and the slog of a multiyear pandemic that has left many young people mourning family and friends, or smaller losses like a conventional college experience or the traditions of starting a first job.
    • But even if you’re still living in your childhood bedroom, Ms. Byock said, there are ways your relationship with your parents can evolve, helping you carve out more independence. That can involve talking about family history and past memories or asking questions about your parents’ upbringing. “You’re transitioning the relationship from one of hierarchy to one of friendship,” she said. “It isn’t just about moving away or getting physical distance.”
    • Every quarterlifer typically has a moment when they know they need to step away from their parents and to face obstacles on their own, Ms. Byock said. For her, the realization came after a breakup in her mid-20s. She called her mother sobbing in the middle of the night, and her mother offered to visit her and help her through. Ms. Byock was tempted, but declined. “It felt so good to have her offer to come to my rescue, but I also knew in that same moment that I had to do this by myself,” Ms. Byock said. That doesn’t mean you can’t, or shouldn’t, still depend on your parents in moments of crisis, she said. “I don’t think it’s just about never needing one’s parents again,” she said. “But it’s about doing the subtle work within oneself to know: This is a time I need to stand on my own.”

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RClimate Examples

  • Here's the 10-day weather forecast for Mattawa, Ontario, where we have a farm, away from the noise of that blowhard tRump, the once-and-always-liar-in-chief. I try to spend as much time as I can on the farm.
  • Public News Service - Environment
  • More quotes:
    • Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same token save it from ruin which, except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and young, would be inevitable. And education, too, is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, nor to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new, something unforeseen by us, but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world. HANNAH ARENDT. From the Introduction to “Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism”, by Henry Giroux.
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