January, 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:

January, 2022

1/30/2022

  1. A federal judge canceled major oil and gas leases over climate change:
    • On Thursday, a federal judge invalidated that sale in the Gulf of Mexico, saying the administration didn't adequately consider the costs to the world's climate. The administration used an analysis conducted under former President Donald Trump that environmental groups alleged was critically flawed.
    • Climate groups urged the Biden administration to stop the sale, but the Interior Department said it was compelled to move forward after a different federal judge struck down the administration's temporary moratorium on new oil and gas lease sales. Oil and gas companies only ended up bidding on 1.7 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico. Those leases will be vacated by the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia's decision, and the Interior Department will have to conduct a new environmental analysis if it decides to hold another sale.
    • U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras wrote that the Interior Department acted "arbitrarily and capriciously in excluding foreign consumption from their greenhouse gas emissions," adding that the "error was indeed a serious failing."

1/29/2022

  1. For the First Time, a Harvard Study Links Air Pollution From Fracking to Early Deaths Among Nearby Residents: The researchers studied more than 15 million Medicare beneficiaries living in all major fracking regions and gathered data from more than 2.5 million oil and gas wells.
    • Western Pennsylvania residents and doctors have been going public for several years with their concerns that fracking for fossil gas has sickened people and may be causing rare cancers in children. Today, a new study out of Harvard links fracking with early deaths of senior citizens…. The closer people 65 and older lived to wells, the greater their risk of premature mortality, the study found. Those senior citizens who lived closest to wells had an early death risk 2.5 percent higher than people who did not live close to the wells, the researchers found.
    • FrackingWellsFormationsUS750px.png
    • “Living in Southwest Pennsylvania in the middle of the Marcellus Shale region, we have all read the studies on the known health impacts from living near oil and gas operations,” said Ketyer, president of the Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania. “There have been good studies that have been replicated” on poor birth outcomes, premature births, low birth weights and complications with pregnancies, he said, and also “good data” that shows people living near fracking operations have higher risk of hospitalizations, migraine headaches and upper respiratory tract infections. “And we are still very concerned about the issue of a spike in rare childhood cancers,” he said, referring to Ewing sarcoma [ael: my emphasis; friend Ceili died of this at a young age], which is still under investigation in a four-county area outside Pittsburgh.
  2. ‘Killed by indifference’: France shocked by death on busy Paris street: Swiss photographer René Robert died from hypothermia after falling and being ignored for nine hours
    • “He suffered a dizzy spell and fell,” Mompontet said in a series of tweets. “Unable to get up, he lay rooted to the spot in the cold for nine hours until a homeless person called the emergency services. Too late. He had hypothermia and couldn’t cling on to life. Over the course of those nine hours no passerby stopped to check why this man was lying on the pavement. Not one.”
    • Mompontet, who also recounted the circumstances of his friend’s death on France TV Info, said Robert had been “killed by indifference”, adding: “If this awful death could serve some purpose, it would be this: when a human is lying on the pavement, we should check on them – no matter how busy we may be. Let’s just stop for a second.” Mompontet pointed out that many people – himself included – often looked the other way when it came to people on the street. “Before giving any lessons or accusing anyone, I need to deal with a little question that makes me feel uneasy,” the journalist told France TV Info. “Am I 100% sure that I would have stopped had I been confronted with that scene – a man on the ground? Have I never turned away from a homeless person lying in a doorway?”
    • [ael: ironically it was a homeless person who called the emergency services…. The good Samaritan.]

1/28/2022

  1. America’s hottest city is nearly unlivable in summer. Can cooling technologies save it?: Phoenix’s new ‘heat tsar’ is betting on less asphalt, more green canopy and reflective surfaces to cool the sprawling heat island
    • Scorching temperatures have made summers increasingly perilous for the city’s 1.4 million people, with mortality and morbidity rates creeping up over the past two decades, but 2020 was a gamechanger when heat related deaths jumped by about 60%. Last year, after another deadly summer, the mayor announced the region’s first dedicated unit to tackle the growing hazard of urban heat, which also threatens the city’s economic viability. [ael: yes, and what about their puppies?]
    • “2020 was a glimpse into the future – it’s the type of summer that could be normal by 2050 or 2080, so that’s what we need to be prepared for so that Phoenix is livable and thriving.” [ael: no, sorry: we'll be looking at much worse by then. It's a failure of imagination.]

1/27/2022 — Happy birthday, Mindy!

  1. Did I Turn Off the Stove? Yes, but Maybe Not the Gas: New research finds that gas stoves emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas, even when turned off and adds to the debate over electrifying homes.
    • Gas stoves leak significant amounts of methane when they are being ignited and even while they are turned off, according to a new report, adding to the growing debate over the effects of gas-powered appliances on human health and climate change. The small study — based on measurements from cooktops, ovens and broilers in 53 homes in California — estimated that stoves emit between 0.8 and 1.3 percent of the natural gas they consume as unburned methane, a potent greenhouse gas. During the course of a typical year, three-quarters of these emissions occur when the devices are shut off, the study showed, which could suggest leaky fittings and connections with gas service lines.
    • Methane is the main component of natural gas, and if it isn’t burned when released, it can warm the Earth more than 80 times as much as the same amount of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Methane also contributes to ground-level ozone pollution, which can cause breathing problems and other health issues.
  2. Olavo de Carvalho, Bolsonaro’s Far-Right Guru, Dies at 74: He was the intellectual leader of Brazil’s far-right movement and a conspiracy theorist who mocked the pandemic. He died days after announcing he had Covid.
    • He worked as a journalist and then an astrologer [ael: my emphasis] before diving into politics and selling his conservative worldview through books, newspaper columns and radio programs.
    • Mr. de Carvalho remained a prominent voice in Brazil, first through blogs and then on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. He attracted attention partly because his punditry was mixed with fringe and sometimes crude conspiracy theories, such as a claim that Pepsi-Cola is flavored with aborted fetuses.
    • Since the start of the pandemic, he had repeatedly cast the virus as a political tool. In May 2020, he wrote on Twitter, “The fear of a supposedly deadly virus is nothing more than a little horror story designed to scare the population and make them accept slavery as they would a present from Santa Claus.”
    • His daughter Heloísa had a falling-out with him over such rhetoric and hadn’t spoken to him since 2017. “I’m not happy,” she said in an interview on Tuesday. “But I’m not in deep sadness, either. I’m not going to lie. He committed a lot of evil, and what he caused in this pandemic, especially here in Brazil, was very serious.”
    • [ael: Fish Karma has something to say to you...]

1/25/2022

  1. 'Big shift': Biden moves to rewrite the rules on climate threat: Among other moves, regulators are likely to press banks to prepare for the fallout from a warming planet by stepping up scrutiny of fossil fuel financing.
    • Raskin, chosen to be the Fed’s vice chair for supervision, is likely to do just that if she is confirmed — though she faces a potentially bruising confirmation battle in the Senate and, in any case, would need to secure buy-in from the rest of the central bank’s board. She wrote in September that regulators should “ask themselves how their existing instruments can be used to incentivize a rapid, orderly, and just transition away from high-emission and biodiversity-destroying investments.”

1/23/2022

  1. From Fertilizer to Fuel: Can ‘Green’ Ammonia Be a Climate Fix?: Ammonia has been widely used as a fertilizer for the last century. Now, using renewable energy and a new method for making ammonia, researchers and entrepreneurs believe “green” ammonia can become a significant clean fuel source for generating electricity and powering ships.
    • Pure hydrogen (H2) was once touted as the fuel of the future. But hydrogen has issues: as a liquid it needs cryogenic temperatures of around -250 degrees C; as a gas it needs to be stored at high pressure; in air, it’s explosive. Ammonia (NH3), on the other hand, is easy to store as a liquid and still packs a punch, with about half the energy density of traditional fossil fuels. Although ammonia is toxic, the world already has a vast system for making, storing, and transporting it. “It ticks all the boxes,” says Jimmy Faria, a chemical engineer at the University of Twente in the Netherlands who has mapped out ammonia’s advantages.
    • The traditional, cheap way of making ammonia is to strip hydrogen from natural gas using steam (producing CO2 as a by-product), and then combine that hydrogen with nitrogen from the air at high pressure and temperatures of hundreds of degrees Celsius. This procedure, called the Haber-Bosch process after the Nobel Prize-winning chemists who invented it in the early 1900s, typically releases nearly 2 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere for every ton of usable ammonia.
    • Since 2018, experimental wind-driven green ammonia plants have been running in Britain and Japan. In the United States, CF Industries — the world’s current largest producer of ammonia — plans to have a flagship green ammonia plant at Donaldsonville, Louisiana producing 20,000 tons per year by 2023. In Australia, Yara’s Pilbara ammonia plant aims to produce 3,500 tons of green ammonia annually by the end of 2022, scaling that up 50-fold by 2030. The largest project on the books is planned for Saudi Arabia: A plant scheduled to open in 2025 aims to make 1.2 million tons of green ammonia per year. These plants are energy-hungry beasts that need dedicated wind or solar farms to power them, says Macfarlane.
    • Such a scale-up is “achievable” using available technology, says Faria — but expensive. According to the Oxford report, ammonia made in the United States at a big plant using fossil fuels today is 73 percent cheaper than electrically produced ammonia. The cost depends a lot on the local price of electricity, Faria notes, and that market is changing fast.
    • This isn’t a new idea or even a new technology — ammonia-fuelled combustion engines have been around since the 1800s, and were briefly popular during World War II when oil shortages were a problem. But fossil fuels proved both cheaper and easier to work with. Ammonia burns slower and is harder to ignite than fossil fuels; most ammonia engines need a dose of diesel or hydrogen to get them going. If engines leak unburned ammonia, that can be toxic. And ammonia engines tend to produce nitrogen oxide, also a potent greenhouse gas. There are catalytic converters that can solve this problem, though. “It’s within our reach,” says Faria of clean ammonia-powered engines. “We’re talking about polishing the rough edges of something that’s relatively mature.”

1/22/2022

  1. Cities That Hosted Winter Olympics May Warm Too Much to Hold Them: During the century in which the Winter Olympics have been held, 21 cities in Europe, Asia and North America have hosted skiers, snowboarders, hockey players, figure skaters, lugers, curlers and bobsledders. But if climate-warming emissions continue to rise on their current trajectory, all but one of these cities would become unsuitable for the games by the end of the century.
    • A study led by researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada surveyed 339 elite athletes and coaches to determine what conditions made the Winter Olympic Games fair and safe for athletes competing outdoors, away from the shelter of climate-controlled arenas. They determined four conditions that indicate whether a location is suitable: snow cover, rain, snow wetness and temperature. Of the 21 cities, including Beijing, which will host the games next month, only 1972 host Sapporo, Japan could reliably host the games by the 2080s, the researchers found. All the other cities, including 2018 host PyeongChang, 2010 host Vancouver, and the winter games’ first host, Chammonix, France, the venue in 1924, would be either marginal or unreliable to host the games based on projections for the four conditions.
    • “It’s a bit disappointing to see,” said lead author Daniel Scott, a professor at the University of Waterloo, “that this could be possibly the future for some of these places we think of as traditional, and where the sports began in the Olympics may not be able to host the games in the future for climatic reasons, not politics or economics.” However, if emissions quickly decline, about half of the past host cities would be able to reliably host the games by the 2080s, the researchers found.
    • “If we’re able to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement and achieve a low emissions future, which we all want to do for so many reasons,” Scott said, “that largely preserves the cultural heritage that we have in the Winter Olympics.”
    • [ael: this story was on the same webpage as the following, and inspired me to think about "Guns to Puppys' Heads" stories…. People care about puppies — about a particular puppy, with a gun to its head — but not so much about Planet Earth (which is home to lots of puppies)]
    • Climate Disaster Novel Highlights the Power of Stories
      • A new doomsday novel explores a near future where climate change has driven a mass migration away from hurricanes and rising seas on the East Coast and raging wildfires in the West. The main character, Elon, has been wandering in the Midwest, and has lost virtually all faith in humanity, blaming the climate deniers, politicians and even himself for not doing more.
      • In his wandering, Elon stumbles upon a shelter where he connects with several other migrants. In their misery, they decide to share stories over the bonfire each night to escape from their realities.
      • Released this month, the novel, Though the Earth Gives Way, was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark S. Johnson, who currently works as a health and science reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Inside Climate News recently discussed the book with Johnson. This conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
      • Q: Your book is set in 2028 and the world has descended into chaos after a number of climate catastrophes. There’s no electricity, no internet, no law and order. How much of this is based in fact and how much is your imagination? A: Most of it I came up with in my imagination, but I kind of looked at it this way. We haven’t had a lot of instances of panic on that level. Probably none. I think one of the strengths of fiction is that you can drag readers into the unthinkable, places we’ve never been. Thank God.
    • [ael: another on the same page — good page! Collected by Katelyn Weisbrod, "Web Producer, St. Paul"] Atlas Maps Oceans Empty of Oxygen
      • Oxygen deficient zone intensity across the eastern Pacific Ocean, where copper colors represent the locations of consistently low oxygen concentrations.
        MIT_Dead-Zone-Atlas-01-PRESS-900x600.jpeg
        Credit: Jarek Kwiecinski and Andrew Babbin
      • “The fertility of the ocean (just how much carbon it can sequester) is related to the size of the oxygen deficient zones,” said Andrew Babbin, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. “The bigger they are, the more nitrogen fertilizer loss and thus the less capable the ocean is of sequestering carbon dioxide.”
    • ‘My customers like zero waste’: the blacksmith recycling canisters into cult kitchen knives: Tim Westley takes up chef friend’s challenge to transform laughing gas litter
      • Tim Westley making a zero-waste knife at his forge.
        3000.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=fa696161c3ec3a352943250935c6a02f
        Photograph: Xavier D Buendia/XDBPhotography
      • [ael: his website is worth a look!]

1/20/2022

  1. Nobody is listening to climate scientists. What if they went on strike?: The bizarre logic of scientists putting a moratorium on science
    • [ael: how about a hunger strike? That's not so bizarre.]

1/19/2022

  1. Google’s ‘dragonscale’ solar-powered roof signals growing demand for sustainable workspaces: Tightening regulations and a growing eco-conscious workforce are major factors in heralding green office campuses
    2627.jpg?width=1020&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=0c681aea8445f9ad35e8c1114da703fe
    • The firm says the finished buildings will have 90,000 tiles which form a “solar skin” roof, which its designers have named “dragonscale” and estimate will generate almost 7 megawatts of energy or 40% of the electricity needs of the campus. It sees this as part of its efforts to hit the pledge made by CEO Sundar Pichai that Google will run every data center and campus on carbon-free energy by 2030.
    • As well as the “dragonscale” solar panels, Google’s new campus also plans to have a geothermal battery underground where it will store heat to warm the building, Asim Tahir, the tech giant’s lead on its sustainable energy strategy, told Grist. The idea behind all the Bay View innovations is “to kickstart this market in the US by showing it can be done”, Tahir said. Google has been working on the project with architecture firms Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) as well as Switzerland-based company SunStyle, which has created arrays of solar panels on multiple buildings in Europe and wants to expand in the US.
    • One of California’s recent building laws may incentivize companies to move away from some of the most polluting building materials. In July, the state gave the green light to mass timber buildings up to 18 stories high. Mass timber – smaller pieces of wood fused into strong slabs – is heralded as a more sustainable alternative to steel and concrete, and has been widely used in Europe for two decades already. Before the code update, California limited mass timber structures for commercial use to six stories, making it impossible for many projects to use.
  2. Which is more dysfunctional – the US or the UK? I’ve created a Global Embarrassment Index to figure it out: Living in the US, I have always seized every opportunity to insist things are better in Blighty. But now both countries look ludicrous (Arwa Mahdawi)
    • For years now I have been living with a chronic condition that I’ve finally been able to diagnose as Privileged Immigrant Derangement Syndrome (PIDS). Let me explain: more than a decade ago I left my native Britain to go and work in New York. I wasn’t fleeing persecution, poverty, or life in a failed state; I just wanted to live in the US. There were more opportunities, I didn’t have to navigate the suffocating class system, and, most importantly, my English accent gave me a competitive edge. Women swooned at my vowel sounds (I’m not making that up: they swooned … OK, I promise at least one woman swooned) and everyone assumed I was on tea-drinking terms with the Queen.
    • Back in 2017, reeling from Brexit and Donald Trump, I conducted a very scientific study in this column, looking at whether the UK or the US was more dysfunctional. The US narrowly won that round. Five years and infinite scandals on, it’s worth revisiting that question. I’m afraid that, due to word limit constraints, I can’t dwell on the ins and outs of my highly methodological Global Embarrassment Index™. If you want all the details, you’ll have to wait until it passes peer review (AKA my wife takes a look). For now, we’ll just skip to the conclusion. Which – drum roll, please – is that both sides of the Atlantic are equally dysfunctional. Johnson is undoubtedly more of a buffoon than Joe Biden but, at the end of the day, it’s not gaffes, hypocrisy, and bad hair that matter: it’s the fact that both countries are moving perilously quickly towards authoritarianism. In the UK, Johnson’s government is pushing oppressive measures to criminalise protest, and arbitrarily deprive people of citizenship. In the US, certain states are busy banning books, and Biden’s government is proving ineffectual in the fight to protect voting rights. What is happening on either side of the Atlantic may often be beyond parody but, believe me, the dissolution of democracy is no laughing matter.
  3. In Sewage, Clues to Omicron’s Surge: Tracking the virus in wastewater is helping some cities and hospitals respond to the most recent wave of the coronavirus, but a more coordinated national effort is needed, experts say.
    • According to Biobot Analytics, a company tracking the coronavirus in wastewater in 183 communities across 25 states, viral levels have already begun to decline in many big cities but are still rising in smaller communities. In the Boston area, for instance, Biobot’s data suggests that the wastewater viral load has been falling since early January, consistent with other data suggesting that the virus may have peaked there. The virus appears to be waning in New York City wastewater, too, according to data shared by scientists in the region.
    • There is still no centralized public dashboard where all of the nation’s wastewater data is collected and displayed. The Netherlands, by contrast, has a national wastewater surveillance system that covers nearly all of the country’s residents; the public-facing dashboard is updated daily. “I absolutely believe the U.S. is behind,” Dr. Matus said.

1/18/2022

  1. How to get a university to divest: On Nov. 1, Abby Herd helped lead a group of Simon Fraser University students over the finish line as they won an eight-year campaign to persuade the administration to divest from fossil fuels by 2025. Only Lakehead University has a bolder target of 2023. You might think it would have taken some arm twisting, but this 21-year-old global environmental systems student just won Environment Canada’s prized Collaborator Award for her teamwork.
    • Q: What would you like to say to older readers? A: Share what you have learned. For example, I have learned a lot about making change from listening to union leaders. They might not have worked directly on climate change but the lessons are often directly applicable. Faculty who have supported us have been so critical to our success. Some have made significant contributions, like Dr. Tim Takaro, who has been a tree-sitter engaged in civil disobedience against the TMX pipeline. Work with us!
    • This piece is part of a series of profiles highlighting young people across the country who are addressing the climate crisis. These extraordinary humans give me hope. I write these stories to pay it forward.
  2. Inspired by King’s Words, Experts Say the Fight for Climate Justice Anywhere is a Fight for Climate Justice Everywhere: On the holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., scientists, theologians, ministers and climate justice advocates find commonality in the movement he led more than half a century ago.
    • “MLK showed us the power of the voices of ordinary people—not the powerful or wealthy, but the underprivileged, the ordinary, and the oppressed,” said Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist, evangelical Christian and author of the new book, “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World.“ “Their voices changed the world before, and I believe their voices will change the world again. “That’s why I’m convinced the most important thing any of us can do about climate change is use our voices to advocate for change at every level, from our homes and our neighborhoods to our cities and our countries.”
    • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” King wrote. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
    • One very direct connection between King and today’s environmental justice movement can be found in the life of the Rev. Benjamin Chavis Jr., said the Rev. Michael Malcom, founder and executive director of The People’s Justice Council and Alabama Interfaith Power and Light. Chavis was one of the organizers of a prolonged protest in 1982 of a hazardous waste landfill in a predominantly Black community of North Carolina, where he popularized the term “environmental racism.” [ael: that link above is a timeline!:)]
  3. More enslaved Africans came to the Americas through this port than anywhere else. Why have so few heard of it?: the Valongo Wharf in Rio de Janeiro has been considered the most important physical trace of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Americas.
    • 7EFAO7DW74I6ZHOOOMJVPHPEGQ.jpg&w=691
    • When tour guide Pedro Andres arrived at the site historians call the most important physical evidence of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Americas, the scene he found was familiar. The Valongo Wharf was empty.
    • Addressing a family of Paraguayan tourists, Andres described its historic significance. At the height of the transatlantic slave trade, nearly 1 million enslaved Africans arrived on its cobbled stones, likely more than anywhere else in the world, and twice as many as were trafficked to all of the United States. UNESCO has called the wharf, discovered in 2011 during an urban renovation project, a “unique and exceptional” place that “carries enormous historical as well as spiritual importance to African Americans.”
    • But Andres, who brings tourists to the wharf out of his own volition and not because it’s recommended by his tour agency, saw little indication of that remarkable history. There are no memorials. Only a single sign above a large puddle far removed from the street. The wharf has been unearthed but is still ignored. Even people who live nearby, whose ancestry leads back to this point, don’t know of its existence.
  4. Chemical pollution has passed safe limit for humanity, say scientists: Study calls for cap on production and release as pollution threatens global ecosystems upon which life depends
    • Plastics are of particularly high concern, they said, along with 350,000 synthetic chemicals including pesticides, industrial compounds and antibiotics. Plastic pollution is now found from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans, and some toxic chemicals, such as PCBs, are long-lasting and widespread. The study concludes that chemical pollution has crossed a “planetary boundary”, the point at which human-made changes to the Earth push it outside the stable environment of the last 10,000 years.
    • “There has been a fiftyfold increase in the production of chemicals since 1950 and this is projected to triple again by 2050,” said Patricia Villarrubia-Gómez, a PhD candidate and research assistant at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) who was part of the study team. “The pace that societies are producing and releasing new chemicals into the environment is not consistent with staying within a safe operating space for humanity.”
    • “There’s evidence that things are pointing in the wrong direction every step of the way,” said Prof Bethanie Carney Almroth at the University of Gothenburg who was part of the team. “For example, the total mass of plastics now exceeds the total mass of all living mammals. That to me is a pretty clear indication that we’ve crossed a boundary. We’re in trouble, but there are things we can do to reverse some of this.”
    • “There’s evidence that things are pointing in the wrong direction every step of the way,” said Prof Bethanie Carney Almroth at the University of Gothenburg who was part of the team. “For example, the total mass of plastics now exceeds the total mass of all living mammals. That to me is a pretty clear indication that we’ve crossed a boundary. We’re in trouble, but there are things we can do to reverse some of this.”
    • The chemical pollution planetary boundary is the fifth of nine that scientists say have been crossed, with the others being global heating, the destruction of wild habitats, loss of biodiversity and excessive nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

1/17/2022

  1. Meet the scientist moms fighting climate change for their children
    • The university’s administrators have suggested that perhaps Dr. Russell might want to teach smaller, more exclusive seminars. That, after all, is what’s typical for tenured professors with named chairs and multimillion-dollar grants and international partnerships on the cutting edge of scientific research. But Dr. Russell knows that students who take her introductory class are more likely than other undergraduates to enroll in another science course. They are also more likely to graduate. And that, she believes, means they are more likely to join her in what she sees as the biggest, most important fight for humankind today – a battle not only against climate change, but also against those who say there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
    • And she wants to grow an army of resilience. “My job is not to just advance the science,” she says. “It’s to build the next front lines. I launch as many as I can.”
    • “I finally found my united voice,” Dr. Russell says. “It turns out that my students and my community members and my kids’ classroom teachers and all the rest of them were waiting for me to shake off the shackles of ‘just the science’ and talk to them about the values part. And I am thrilled.”
    • Katharine Hayhoe is a well-known atmospheric scientist who is a distinguished professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy. She is also an evangelical Christian, and her work communicating about climate change across political demographics has gained her a sort of celebrity status in the scientific and climate advocacy worlds. Dr. Hayhoe was reaching out to a group of female climate scientists who were also mothers, she explained, with the goal of building an outreach and awareness campaign. She wanted Dr. Russell to be one of the founding members of the group, which would be called Science Moms. Dr. Russell remembers hesitating.
    • To Dr. Russell, it was one of the first times she felt she could integrate, rather than separate, these different parts of her identity – the scientist and the mother. And looking at the Zoom screen filled with colleagues in the same situation, she felt a new type of strength. A new resilience. They were like a group of penguins, she says, encouraging each other, nudging each other to the cliff, diving off en masse and hoping they wouldn’t get eaten by the seals.
  2. ‘We started eating them’: what do you do with an invasive army of crayfish clones?: ‘We started eating them’: what do you do with an invasive army of crayfish clones? It’s been dubbed the perfect invader, but the marbled crayfish may offer a sustainable food source and even help prevent disease
    • Small, bluish-grey and speckled, it would be easy to overlook the marbled crayfish. Except for the fact it is likely to be coming to a pond or river near you soon – if it is not already there. The all-female freshwater crustacean has become a focus of fascination for scientists in recent years, due to its unique ability among decapods – the family that includes shrimps, crabs and lobsters – to clone itself and quickly adapt to new environments, as well as the fact that it has spread exponentially. [ael: details of that "exponential" spread? They mean "fast".]
    • Ranja Adriantsoa, a conservation biologist, first came across the marbled crayfish in Madagascar as a freshwater ecology student, around 2010. She delicately lifts one out of a tank in her laboratory, around 12cm long from the tip of its head to its tail. As it wildly waves its antennae and clawed legs, she points at its marbled carapace and small appendages on the underside of its tail where the highly fecund animal “can store between about 200 and 700 eggs”. As it reproduces around four times a year – without needing to mate – one female has the potential to create a population of several million genetically identical females.
    • In collaboration with conservation scientist Julia Jones, a professor at Bangor University in Wales, Adriantsoa and an international female-driven team of scientists launched the Perfect Invader to look at the impact of the marbled crayfish on human health. They found the crayfish can be an important source of cheap, high-quality protein for Madagascans, one of the poorest populations in the world where about 42% of children are affected by stunted growth.
    • The research also looks at the potential for the marbled crayfish to help tackle the transmission of schistosomiasis, which affects an estimated 290 million people worldwide, including millions in Madagascar. The hypothesis is that the crayfish prey on the freshwater snails that host the parasitic flatworms that cause the acute and chronic disease.
    • Back in Germany, working with the country’s largest research institute, the Helmholtz Association, Lyko is engaged in a pilot project to turn the marbled crayfish’s shells, which are high in chitin, a biopolymer, into biodegradable plastics. “You will see the first ever crayfish drinking straws this month,” he says.
    • “If you’re reading about this for the first time, you can be sure you’ll be hearing a lot more about the marbled crayfish.” [ael: I'm hearing about them for the first time. Let's see!:)]

1/16/2022

  1. The C.D.C. concedes that cloth masks do not protect against the virus as effectively as other masks.
    • [ael: well duh! It shouldn't have taken long to come to that conclusion; I guess the question is "Are cloth masks useful?", or are they worthless against Covid?]
  2. Look around you. The way we live explains why we are increasingly polarized: In 2016, I set out to understand why a border wall appealed to so many. I realized Americans are increasingly boxing themselves in – with vast impacts on the way we see the world]
    • While Trump’s presidency has passed, the defensive thinking that drove his ascent remains a pervasive and powerful force. I think of the Gen Xer with a bushy beard and colorful tattoos down the length of his arms, whom I saw hawking a motion sensor lighting system with these words of advice: “I know it sounds cold, but you want to keep people away as best you can.” Or this motto and promise from the home security company ADT: “a line in the sand between your family and an uncertain world.” Time and again, I’ve heard such ideas expressed by Americans I’ve met and spoken with around the country in my job as an anthropologist: businessmen and truck drivers, police officers and media personalities.
    • 3680.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=32eaa19700fffbeaa35d147e0e4d295d
      A signpost in a gated community in Homestead, Florida, warns that police officers are authorized to ask anyone to ‘leave these premises’ [ael: "because we care"]. Photograph: Sipa Press/REX
    • One out of every six American houses in a residential community is secured now by such community walls or fences, and I met Timothy to try to understand why.
    • But this isn’t all that is happening, or could yet happen. Around the country in 2020, the pandemic spurred a return to socializing with neighbors on front yards and porches. Cities and towns have carved out new places for walking, biking and outdoor life, new ways of sharing public space with people, known and unknown. It remains to be seen whether these are temporary adjustments or more enduring experiments.
    • Our feelings for others are structural realities as much as personal qualities. In a society built on walls of indifference, empathy will remain an elusive hope. For “the death of the heart” is one of the most tragic consequences of segregation, as James Baldwin observed: “You don’t know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.”

1/15/2022

  1. DirecTV says it will sever ties with far-right network One America News
    • Since its inception in 2013, OAN has been a sympathetic voice to Trump, regularly broadcasting his rallies and speeches without interruption. When Trump took office in 2017, Herring Sr. directed OAN to not only push Trump’s candidacy but also steer away from his early troubles in office. Herring Sr. also urged the network to scuttle stories about police shootings, encourage antiabortion stories and minimize coverage of Russian aggression, according to more than a dozen current and former producers, writers and anchors who spoke to The Post in 2017, as well as internal emails from Herring Sr. and his top news executives.
    • The network has promoted misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic. YouTube suspended OAN for a week in 2020 for violating its policy against misinformation related to the pandemic and temporarily stripped the channel of its ability to make money from other videos. The company said at the time that OAN violated its policy against portraying a coronavirus remedy as a cure for the virus.
    • After Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 election, the network continued to air false claims of election fraud from Trump and his allies. The baseless claims have been repeatedly defeated in courts nationwide. When a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, OAN’s brass allegedly told employees to not describe the event as a riot or identify the people involved as Trump supporters, wrote The Post’s Margaret Sullivan.
  2. Opinion: Take it from a high schooler who’s actually learned about CRT: Adults need to chill out
    • The right to discuss and speak up against discrimination has been long fought for. So please, adults, if you’re listening: Don’t reverse centuries of progress in favor of promoting ignorance. If the goal of schools is to create a well-informed populace, then nuanced discussions of historical racism must be held in classrooms. It is the only way young people will learn to think critically about our country’s institutions, and the only way to create an inclusive America for future generations.
    • CRT isn’t at all what its opponents paint it to be. It’s simply being used as a straw man for those who aim to restrict speech and knowledge — and, in some cases, perpetuate bigoted ideologies.
  3. The Growing Alarm About Climate Change: The number of Americans alarmed about global warming now outnumbers Americans who are dismissive of it three to one.
    • That’s according to a twice-yearly public opinion polling by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. The latest poll, conducted in September 2021, found that 33 percent of respondents were “alarmed” about global warming. These respondents were the most supportive of climate action and said they strongly believed that they will be affected by climate change.
    • The poll, which has been conducted since 2008, categorizes respondents into one of six segments, based on their level of concern about global warming: alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful or dismissive.
    • In addition to the third who were “alarmed” respondents, the latest results showed that 25 percent said they were “concerned,” putting the majority of Americans in the two categories most supportive of climate action. Just 9 percent were “dismissive,” the category for respondents who rejected climate science and were least supportive of climate action. The cautious, disengaged and dismissive categories have decreased in size since 2017, according to TK, while the alarmed category has nearly doubled.

1/14/2022

  1. The Road to Climate Recovery Goes Through the Wild Woods (Nov. 2 — Lovejoy's last big article?)
    • The 2015 Paris climate agreement called on nations of the world to preserve forests and other ecosystems that store carbon. But forests continue to disappear — cut and burned and fragmented into ever smaller patches. This failure challenges all of our other climate efforts because unless forests remain standing, the world will never contain global warming.
  2. 'They' has been a singular pronoun for centuries. Don't let anyone tell you it's wrong."
  3. The Trap of Climate Optimism: Dan Sherrell’s Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World shows us a new way to tell the story of how we might cope and survive a future of catastrophe.
    • Dan Sherrell’s Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World is a different kind of climate change book, one that offers a different kind of faith, and it’s written from a much more depressing point of view. Sherrell is a climate activist, and his book is a memoir of a decade and change of struggle, from university activism to the effort to pass climate justice legislation in New York to his current position with the Climate Jobs National Resource Center. Though he revisits the movement’s victories and offers a measure of hope, Warmth is the story of Sherrell’s slow realization that optimism is a trap—and an unrealistic one. Climate change is not a future to be prevented; it’s a present to be survived. Because climate change is already here.
    • Those three trends give me immense hope. But I don’t want to confuse hope with optimism. I’m not necessarily optimistic.
      • AB: Break the difference down for me.
      • DS: Optimism is the feeling that things are going to work out in the end, and I don’t have that feeling—at all. I think we have to be real with ourselves about the possibility that political systems could fail to rise to the occasion and climatic feedback loops could start to set in, and the 21st century could become very, very scary. But hope, for me, is equivalent to indeterminacy or anti-fatalism. What I outlined above is one potential pathway, but we really don’t know how this thing is going to go. There are a range of possible outcomes between 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming and 4 or 5 degrees, and the difference between those two worlds is night and day. But we do still have the ability to shape where the dial lands between those two poles. That is hope: the ongoing feeling that the future is not predetermined and that we can help shape it. There’s a truism in the climate movement that says hope is a discipline, and you have to actively cultivate it. Hope isn’t “Liquid hydrogen will come in and save us all.” Hope is knowing that every increment we move the thermometer in one direction or the other saves or consigns millions of people to life or death. I can’t imagine higher stakes than that. And I can’t imagine anything that would invest a human life with more meaning than that struggle.
  4. Beaver Dams Mean No Love Lost for Canada’s Emblematic Animal: Blamed for flooded fields, damaged roads and the occasional death, the beaver, which has played a seminal role in Canadian history, is now viewed by many as a problem, not a point of national pride.
    • Sunrise over an area of Algonquin Provincial Park that was flooded because of beaver activity.
      merlin_198118791_2177da54-3a6d-4308-b940-226027d62a73-superJumbo.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&w=600
      Credit…Nasuna Stuart-Ulin for The New York Times
    • By law in Ontario, beavers can be moved no more than one kilometer after a live trapping. But Mr. Alkerton said that any beaver moved such a relatively short distance was unlikely to take the hint and would soon return.

1/13/2022

  1. ‘They saw bigger things’: Richard Leakey, Edward O Wilson and Thomas Lovejoy remembered: Friends and colleagues pay tribute after the recent deaths of these groundbreaking naturalists, who shifted our understanding of the world and our future
    • In an email titled “Tom Lovejoy changed my life”, Alexander Nassikas explains how he switched from pursuing a career as a doctor to working on the climate crisis after visiting Camp 41 in the Amazon, where Lovejoy hosted presidents, researchers and celebrities from Tom Cruise to Olivia Newton-John. “He wrote me an email once telling me that he’s counting on me to make a difference in the world,” says Nassikas, who now works for the UN secretary general’s climate action team.
    • Dr Dino J Martins, a renowned Kenyan entomologist and evolutionary biologist at Princeton, who heads the Mpala research centre near Mount Kenya, says his friend Leakey helped forge a path for African researchers to lead research in their own continent. “There is an entire cohort of African scientists who, against the odds, have risen because of Richard inspiring us, fighting for us and making sure we got on and did it,” he says.
    • Dr Corrie Moreau, a professor at Cornell University who founded the Women in Science group, was a student of Wilson’s at Harvard and shared his passion for ants, redrawing the insect’s family tree for her PhD dissertation. She paid tribute to his kindness and openness. Wilson, a prolific writer, wrote all his papers and books on yellow legal tablets, which were then transcribed by his assistant Kathleen Horton, who worked with him from 1965 to 2021. “Science was conducted almost exclusively by this gentleman’s club in the past. Not only did you have to look a certain way, you had to have a certain kind of background and identity,” Moreau says. “Ed saw that in order to really harness the power of our ability to understand the world around us, we had to fling open the doors and invite more people to be involved. I’m some tattooed kid from the south that was passionate about ants. That never interfered with Ed’s ability to see my intellect. That’s not true of a lot of people.”
  2. Brazilian turtle breeders shot dead along with teenage daughter: Activists mourn deaths in Amazon state of Pará as bodies of José Gomes, Márcia Nunes Lisboa and their daughter found by son
    • In a video from December, published on the Diário do Pará website, Gomes releases buckets of baby turtles into the river, explaining how the family has done this work for 20 years. “Today, we’re trying to repopulate these baby turtles in the river so that in the future our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren can still catch these turtles,” he said.
    • While murders of land and environmental defenders in Brazil have fallen since a peak in 2017, when Global Witness recorded 57 killings, the country’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has overseen a dramatic increase in deforestation in the Amazon, according to government data.
  3. Fave Little State: Climate Migrants From Around America Are Seeking Refuge in Vermont
    • Major climate-related population shifts are predicted within the United States. As many as 36 million Americans in the South and Midwest are expected to move toward California, the Mountain West or the Northeast in the coming decades, according to a 2018 study in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    • A 2017 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranked Vermont as the fourth most resilient state for climate change, after Alaska, Maine and Hawaii. The climate crisis will bring warmer, shorter winters; more intense flooding; and invasive species to Vermont, experts say.
    • Yet study after study pegs Vermont as well positioned to weather the ravages of a rapidly warming planet. A 2020 county-by-county analysis of the United States by ProPublica ranked six of the top seven counties for climate resiliency in Vermont. The scores were based on six anticipated impacts: heat, heat and humidity, crop yields, sea level rise, wildfires, and economic damage. Lamoille County earned the highest resiliency score in the country, while each of Vermont's 14 counties ranked in the top 100 out of more than 3,000.
    • In recent years, the state has been losing about 14,500 acres of forestland a year to residential development. As more people move to Vermont and real estate prices surge, it stands to reason that development pressure will grow, he said. This is one reason Fidel's organization has been pushing for changes in Act 250, the state's land use law, to encourage development in downtowns and to more effectively protect forestland. [ael: wouldn't it be ironic if all the people moving there drive down its climate resiliency?]
    • Vermont Farmer-Researchers Explore the Potential of Perennial Vegetables

1/12/2022

  1. Climate Change Activist Breaks Down In Tears During Heated Insulate Britain Debate | GMB:
    • George, umm, I'm sorry that you feel tearful about it, but I wonder what — you know, you obviously feel something that is not getting across to that majority of people that Dawn pointed out do not support these tactics or this action and think frankly lock them up, you know, teach them a lesson, and get them off the road. What is it that is driving you to tears and making you fearful about the lives of our children and grandchildren, and what needs to change to make everybody else feel what you're feeling, and not think this is an over-reaction?
    • The commentator must have missed what he said earlier:
    • ( ael: at 4:50 ) What they're desperately trying to do — and we really are desperate now — is to say look, the clock is ticking, time is running out on the greatest crisis that we've ever faced. We are — it's almost unimaginable what we're facing now, and it's very hard to talk about it there at times. Because it's the end of everything; I mean it's the end of our dreams, our ambitions, our love, our hate, everything the we want for our children, the good world we want for them, that could go.
    • If global systems — Earth's systems — reach a tipping point, the planet will slip from a habitable state to an inhabitable state. And, you know Dawn, we love Dawn, and bless her, but when she says that people are represented, and they can have their voice; the great majority of the world's people are not having a voice in this. We're done it to them. With our huge carbon emissions, and the huge the fossil fuel we're burning, we're destroying the lives of people on the other side of the world.
    • There are people in Bangladesh, people in sub-Saharan Africa, people in Central America, their lives have been absolutely trashed, by the way we're just going about our lives, driving on our roads, not insulating our homes, producing all these greenhouse gas emissions. We're literally destroying lives at a phenomenal rate, and those people are not represented in our decisions, and not represented in our political systems. So the Insulate Britain protesters are just desperately, frantically trying to get attention for the scale of what is happening here, and the terrifying nature of it has simply not sunk in. Most people are just simply not aware of how serious this is.
    • Later (at at 12:10 or so), George responds to the commentator's earlier question:
      • "Look, first off, don't feel upset for me; you know, this isn't about me, this is about all of us. I'm feeling what I think we should all be feeling.
      • You know, we're so close to the potential tipping points, we could really lose everything, everything that's so beautiful and wonderful about our lives and about our planet. And unfortunately at COP26 it was just foot dragging; you know the rich world's governments, they more or less shut out the governments from the poor world, they just failed to take measures anyway commensurate with the scale of what needs to happen, which is basically we need to decide to leave fossil fuels in the ground by 2030; no more burning of fossil fuels from that point; and we're nowhere near there; but you know, if don't take action on that scale, as drastic as that, then Earth's systems are complex systems: they absorb stress to a certain amount and then they suddenly flip over into a state in which we just won't be able to survive in most parts of the world.
      • And all the beautiful other lifeforms, too, the great majority of those will also be wiped out. This is what's happened in the previous mass extinctions; this is what we're facing. I mean we're desperate — you know I'm not in Insulate Britain; but I know people who are, and Extinction Rebellion, I've been involved with them. We're absolutely desperate, trying to get this message across — what does it take? what do we need to do?
    • [ael: the host gave the viewers' judgements at the end:] "The vast majority, however, don't agree with what Insulate Britain are doing:
      • A shout to George for getting the message, but the deliverance is not getting the right support she wants
      • …I've got no sympathy whatsoever for these protesters being locked up; they stopped people getting to important treatments.
      • and a lot of people talk about people not being able to get to hospital; we saw the footage of the man sort of saying "My mum's in the hospital, I need to get to the hospital. She's having some sort of cancer treatment." And that's the sort of thing that people got very very angry about.
      • However one or two of you just saying that they should not go to jail for what they've done; they're making us all aware of what we're doing to the planet; we need actions like this to get people to actually sit up and listen.
    • [ael: we need to put a gun to a puppy's head! That will get people on board….]
    • “This is the end of everything.”-Environmental author George Monbiot wept on live television while defending climate change activists.

1/11/2022

  1. We study ocean temperatures. The Earth just broke a heat increase record: Last year the oceans absorbed heat equivalent to seven Hiroshima atomic bombs detonating each second, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
    • I was fortunate to play a small part in a new study, just published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, which shows that the Earth broke yet another heat record last year. Twenty-three scientists from around the world teamed up to analyze thousands of temperature measurements taken throughout the world’s oceans. The measurements, taken at least 2,000 meters (about 6,500ft) deep and spread across the globe, paint a clear picture: the Earth is warming, humans are the culprit, and the warming will continue indefinitely until we collectively take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    • My new year’s resolution is to help the planet cool down. It’s getting hot in here and there is no sign things are going to change anytime soon. Collectively, we certainly have the technology to reduce greenhouse gases, but we have never really shown the will.
    • [ael: from the comments:] When a scientist writes about what is really going down, I read it and believe it. When I start my car every morning - like all the Boomers do - I don't sit there wondering if the electrons will excite the windings of the starter motor, and if the piston will compress the fuel into an explosion, thousands of times per minute without fail. Cars move: it is the law of thermodynamics. When I fly in a jet plane - burning 2.5 litres of high octane fuel every hundred miles, that is for each and every passenger, I dont wonder if we should vote on or call it an optional belief that such an outrageous fossil fuel burn will propel a jet at 30,000 metres in the air. Planes fly: it is the law of chemistry. And when there is CO2 in the atmosphere, heat is reflected back into the oceans instead of being radiated out into space as it has for the last 4 billion years of Earths life. That rate of heat capture is an observable fact, and you can see the mechanism of infra red light capture in plain and simple action in every single green house ever built in the world, which are purpose built to be hotter than they should be. And the more heat in the atmosphere, the more cyclones of higher destructive strength, and the more rain. Its called reflected heat. Its called evaporation. Its called energy. Its the law of physics. Lets not quibble about the numbers, or that the golden age of the 1950s Boomers epoch is no longer here and we burnt our planet and threw it all away. Driving our holdens, and leaving our lights on. What a waste. On that score, there is no more debate to be had.
  2. Hottest ocean temperatures in history recorded last year: Ocean heating driven by human-caused climate crisis, scientists say, in sixth consecutive year record has been broken
    • “The ocean heat content is relentlessly increasing, globally, and this is a primary indicator of human-induced climate change,” said Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and co-author of the research, published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.
    • Warmer ocean waters are helping supercharge storms, hurricanes and extreme rainfall, the paper states, which is escalating the risks of severe flooding. Heated ocean water expands and eats away at the vast Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which are collectively shedding around 1tn tons of ice a year, with both of these processes fueling sea level rise.
  3. How the speed of climate change is unbalancing the insect world: The pace of global heating is forcing insect populations to move and adapt – and some aggressive species are thriving
    • The climate crisis is set to profoundly alter the world around us. Humans will not be the only species to suffer from the calamity. Huge waves of die-offs will be triggered across the animal kingdom as coral reefs turn ghostly white and tropical rainforests collapse. For a period, some researchers suspected that insects may be less affected, or at least more adaptable, than mammals, birds and other groups of creatures. With their large, elastic populations and their defiance of previous mass extinction events, surely insects will do better than most in the teeth of the climate emergency?
    • Sadly not. At 3.2C of warming, which many scientists still fear the world will get close to by the end of this century (although a flurry of promises at Cop26 have brought the expected temperature increase down to 2.4C), half of all insect species will lose more than half of their current habitable range. This is about double the proportion of vertebrates and higher even than for plants, which lack wings or legs to quickly relocate themselves. This huge contraction in livable space is being heaped on to the existing woes faced by insects from habitat loss and pesticide use. “The insects that are still hanging in there are going to get hit by climate change as well,” says Rachel Warren, a biologist at the University of East Anglia, who in 2018 published research into what combinations of temperature, rainfall and other climatic conditions each species can tolerate.
    • “There’s good evidence here in the UK that under climate change things are warming up early, so we’ve got all these bees coming out early but not the flowers, because obviously the day length isn’t changing,” says Simon Potts, a bee expert at the University of Reading. “We’re getting this decoupling between pollinators and the plants and that’s starting to mess up all these very delicate, very sophisticated food webs.”
    • These adaptive techniques will mean little when climate breakdown warps the properties of the plants themselves, diminishing them as a food source wherever insects can find them. Scientists have found that CO2 can reduce the nutritional value of plants, providing insects with a meal of empty calories lacking elements such as zinc and sodium. A study site in the prairies of Kansas found that grasshopper numbers there are dropping by around 2% a year, and researchers felt confident enough to rule out pesticide use or habitat loss as the likely cause. Instead, they concluded that the grasshoppers were suffering starvation via the climate emergency.
    • It’s natural to get squeamish over the idea of a squadron of murderous hornets or the idea that those ever-durable cockroaches will march on despite the surging heat. The genuinely scary part of all this, though, is climate breakdown itself, an existential threat we have brought upon ourselves and all other living creatures that we still, despite decades of increasingly frantic warnings, move too sluggishly to avert.
    • But as we’ve reacted so grudgingly and ponderously to the menace of flooding, storms and droughts that can spark civil unrest and even wars, what hope is there that the plight of insects will spur us on? A more realistic goal is a concerted effort to restore complex, connected insect-friendly habitat and ensure that it remains largely toxin free, in the hope that this will at least parcel out a little time and space from the onslaught of the climate crisis. Although climate breakdown can often feel like a drawn-out, almost imperceptible rearrangement that far-off generations will have to deal with, it is also punctuated with lacerating reminders that it’s already well under way.
  4. The Corn Belt Is Losing Topsoil, Increasing Carbon Emissions and Lowering Yields: New research finds massive soil loss across the Midwest, which sends more pollutants into the water, dust into the air, and carbon into the atmosphere. Changing farm practices and improved technology could reverse the trend.
    • Hilltops, they found, are often completely denuded of topsoil, while soil tended to collect in lower-lying areas. Soil loss is due mainly to erosion from flowing water. Modern industrial agricultural practices are to blame for this exodus of dirt, in particular tilling, or plowing, said lead author Evan Thaler, from the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
    • Addressing these issues will require a suite of solutions, Thaler said, including moving toward regenerative agricultural practices such as no-till farming and the use of cover crops (long used by Indigenous people and small farms) and the use of technology to optimize land management.
    • One promising front, Basso said, is in the realm of digital agriculture, or “using digital and geospatial technologies to monitor, assess, and manage land.” Using tools like drones and satellites to monitor the productivity of their land over time, farmers can assess which areas are producing high yields and which parts (such as hilltops) are simply washing away.
    • “We have the technology right now to produce food on a mass scale, while we simultaneously make soil better,” said Dale Strickler, a soil expert and author of The Complete Guide to Restoring Your Soil. “There really is no big technological barrier or biological barrier. There’s nothing outside of the human brain that is limiting us. It is all psychological … I’m more excited now about the future of this planet than I ever have been.”
  5. An ocean of optimism to trap emissions: A team of scientists believes it has a "rock-solid" way to combat the climate crisis by sucking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it deep below the ocean floor.
    • solidcabon-infographic-v2_0.jpg

1/10/2022

  1. Unhappy Meals (By Michael Pollan)
    • ael: is this the article (from 2007) in which he introduced the mantra "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."?
    • I’m tempted to complicate matters in the interest of keeping things going for a few thousand more words. I’ll try to resist but will go ahead and add a couple more details to flesh out the advice. Like: A little meat won’t kill you, though it’s better approached as a side dish than as a main. And you’re much better off eating whole fresh foods than processed food products. That’s what I mean by the recommendation to eat “food.”
    • Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket. These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims, which brings me to a related rule of thumb: if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.
    • Of course it’s also a lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary cereal than on a potato or carrot, with the perverse result that the most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over, the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming about their newfound whole-grain goodness.
    • Here’s a list of just the antioxidants that have been identified in garden-variety thyme: 4-Terpineol, alanine, anethole, apigenin, ascorbic acid, beta carotene, caffeic acid, camphene, carvacrol, chlorogenic acid, chrysoeriol, eriodictyol, eugenol, ferulic acid, gallic acid, gamma-terpinene isochlorogenic acid, isoeugenol, isothymonin, kaempferol, labiatic acid, lauric acid, linalyl acetate, luteolin, methionine, myrcene, myristic acid, naringenin, oleanolic acid, p-coumoric acid, p-hydroxy-benzoic acid, palmitic acid, rosmarinic acid, selenium, tannin, thymol, tryptophan, ursolic acid, vanillic acid. This is what you’re ingesting when you eat food flavored with thyme. Some of these chemicals are broken down by your digestion, but others are going on to do undetermined things to your body: turning some gene’s expression on or off, perhaps, or heading off a free radical before it disturbs a strand of DNA deep in some cell. It would be great to know how this all works, but in the meantime we can enjoy thyme in the knowledge that it probably doesn’t do any harm (since people have been eating it forever) and that it may actually do some good (since people have been eating it forever) and that even if it does nothing, we like the way it tastes.
    • …today it’s the polyphenols and carotenoids that seem all-important. But who knows what the hell else is going on deep in the soul of a carrot? [ael: my emphasis] The good news is that, to the carrot eater, it doesn’t matter. That’s the great thing about eating food as compared with nutrients: you don’t need to fathom a carrot’s complexity to reap its benefits.
    • But perhaps the biggest flaw in this study, and other studies like it, is that we have no idea what these women were really eating because, like most people when asked about their diet, they lied about it. How do we know this? Deduction. Consider: When the study began, the average participant weighed in at 170 pounds and claimed to be eating 1,800 calories a day. It would take an unusual metabolism to maintain that weight on so little food. And it would take an even freakier metabolism to drop only one or two pounds after getting down to a diet of 1,400 to 1,500 calories a day — as the women on the “low-fat” regimen claimed to have done. Sorry, ladies, but I just don’t buy it.
    • So fast food is fast in this other sense too: it is to a considerable extent predigested, in effect, and therefore more readily absorbed by the body. But while the widespread acceleration of the Western diet offers us the instant gratification of sugar, in many people (and especially those newly exposed to it) the “speediness” of this food overwhelms the insulin response and leads to Type II diabetes. As one nutrition expert put it to me, we’re in the middle of “a national experiment in mainlining glucose.” [ael: my emphasis] To encounter such a diet for the first time, as when people accustomed to a more traditional diet come to America, or when fast food comes to their countries, delivers a shock to the system. Public-health experts call it “the nutrition transition,” and it can be deadly.
    • From Complexity to Simplicity. If there is one word that covers nearly all the changes industrialization has made to the food chain, it would be simplification. Chemical fertilizers simplify the chemistry of the soil, which in turn appears to simplify the chemistry of the food grown in that soil. Since the widespread adoption of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers in the 1950s, the nutritional quality of produce in America has, according to U.S.D.A. figures, declined significantly [ael: my emphasis]. Some researchers blame the quality of the soil for the decline; others cite the tendency of modern plant breeding to select for industrial qualities like yield rather than nutritional quality. Whichever it is, the trend toward simplification of our food continues on up the chain. Processing foods depletes them of many nutrients, a few of which are then added back in through “fortification”: folic acid in refined flour, vitamins and minerals in breakfast cereal. But food scientists can add back only the nutrients food scientists recognize as important. What are they overlooking?
    • And that might well be a problem for people eating a Western diet. As we’ve shifted from leaves to seeds, the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in our bodies has shifted, too. At the same time, modern food-production practices have further diminished the omega-3s in our diet. Omega-3s, being less stable than omega-6s, spoil more readily, so we have selected for plants that produce fewer of them; further, when we partly hydrogenate oils to render them more stable, omega-3s are eliminated. Industrial meat, raised on seeds rather than leaves, has fewer omega-3s and more omega-6s than preindustrial meat used to have. And official dietary advice since the 1970s has promoted the consumption of polyunsaturated vegetable oils, most of which are high in omega-6s (corn and soy, especially). Thus, without realizing what we were doing, we significantly altered the ratio of these two essential fats in our diets and bodies, with the result that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the typical American today stands at more than 10 to 1; before the widespread introduction of seed oils at the turn of the last century, it was closer to 1 to 1 [ael: my emphasis].
    • Don’t take the silence of the yams as a sign that they have nothing valuable to say about health. [ael:)]
    • So try these few (flagrantly unscientific) rules of thumb, collected in the course of my nutritional odyssey, and see if they don’t at least point us in the right direction.
      1. Eat food. Though in our current state of confusion, this is much easier said than done. So try this: Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
      2. Avoid even those food products that come bearing health claims. They’re apt to be heavily processed, and the claims are often dubious at best.
      3. Especially avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable c) more than five in number — or that contain high-fructose corn syrup.
      4. Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. You won’t find any high-fructose corn syrup at the farmer’s market; you also won’t find food harvested long ago and far away.
      5. Pay more, eat less. The American food system has for a century devoted its energies and policies to increasing quantity and reducing price, not to improving quality.
      6. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves. Scientists may disagree on what’s so good about plants — the antioxidants? Fiber? Omega-3s? — but they do agree that they’re probably really good for you and certainly can’t hurt.
      7. Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks. Confounding factors aside, people who eat according to the rules of a traditional food culture are generally healthier than we are.
      8. Cook. And if you can, plant a garden.
      9. Eat like an omnivore. Try to add new species, not just new foods, to your diet. The greater the diversity of species you eat, the more likely you are to cover all your nutritional bases.
  2. Global spread of autoimmune disease blamed on western diet: New DNA research by London-based scientists hopes to find cure for rapidly spreading conditions
    • “Numbers of autoimmune cases began to increase about 40 years ago in the west,” Lee told the Observer. “However, we are now seeing some emerge in countries that never had such diseases before.
    • “Human genetics hasn’t altered over the past few decades,” said Lee, who was previously based at Cambridge University. “So something must be changing in the outside world in a way that is increasing our predisposition to autoimmune disease.” [ael: PFAS? glyphosate? C'mon, it ain't just food….]
    • This idea was backed by Vinuesa, who was previously based at the Australian National University. She pointed to changes in diet that were occurring as more and more countries adopted western-style diets and people bought more fast food. “Fast-food diets lack certain important ingredients, such as fibre, and evidence suggests this alteration affects a person’s microbiome – the collection of micro-organisms that we have in our gut and which play a key role in controlling various bodily functions,” Vinuesa said. “These changes in our microbiomes are then triggering autoimmune diseases, of which more than 100 types have now been discovered.”
    • [ael: the article doesn't appear to contain any facts that tie diet to auto-immune disorders! Argh….]
  3. Fusion energy is a reason to be excited about the future: It’s been a long road, but recent advances mean we’re closing in on a game-changing technology.
    • [ael: it's the only thing that can save us….]
    • Fusion energy is perhaps the longest of long shots. To build a fusion reactor is essentially to create an artificial star. Scientists have been studying the physics of fusion for a century and working to harness the process for decades. Yet almost every time researchers make an advance, the goal posts seem to recede even farther in the distance.
  4. Trump’s cable cabinet: New texts reveal the influence of Fox hosts on previous White House:
    • Stephanie Grisham, former press secretary to President Donald Trump, remembers the challenges that came from so many Fox News hosts having the direct number to reach Trump in the White House residence. “There were times the president would come down the next morning and say, ‘Well, Sean thinks we should do this,’ or, ‘Judge Jeanine thinks we should do this,’ ” said Grisham, referring to Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro, both of whom host prime-time Fox News shows.
    • But text messages — newly released by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection — between Fox News hosts and former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, crystallize with new specificity just how tightly Fox News and the White House were entwined during the Trump years, with many of the network’s top hosts serving as a cable cabinet of unofficial advisers. As the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol unfolded, Meadows received texts from Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade, as well as Hannity, according to the newly released communications.
    • Other texts released by the committee reveal that Hannity also offered the White House advice in the run-up and aftermath to the attacks that resulted in five deaths. On Dec. 31, 2020, Hannity texted Meadows to warn, “I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told.” And on Jan. 10, 2021 — referring to a conversation he had with Trump himself — Hannity texted Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a close Trump ally, to try to discuss strategies to rein in Trump.

1/9/2022

  1. How researchers can help fight climate change in 2022 and beyond: COP26 energized the global effort to halt global warming. Research is now crucial to monitoring progress and creating solutions.
    • At the top of governments’ climate agenda is innovation. Existing technologies such as wind and solar power, whose price has plummeted over the past decade, and more-efficient lighting, buildings and vehicles will help to reduce emissions. But if green energy is to push out fossil fuels and fulfil the rising demand for reliable power in low-income countries, scientists and engineers will be needed to solve a range of problems. These include finding ways to cut the price of grid-scale electricity storage and to address technical challenges that arise when integrating massive amounts of intermittent renewable energy. Research will also be required to provide a new generation of affordable vehicles powered by electricity and hydrogen, and low-carbon fuels for those that are harder to electrify, such as aircraft.
  2. As a scientist commenting on Covid I’ve attracted a lot of haters – I won’t let them silence me: The people who harass me are executives and electricians; ordinary people. They can’t imagine I’m simply motivated by wanting to save lives
    • The most important thing I learned at the Great Barrier event came from listening to sociologist Prof David Johnston. He studies how communities survive disasters. Despite what our favourite apocalyptic books and movies may have us believe, the research shows that the communities that come through disasters the best are those that work together, share their resources, and make sure no one is left behind.
    • Social media abuse is relatively easy to deal with. While sending people death threats doesn’t appear to breach the social media companies’ terms of use, the platforms do at least provide a block button. Third-party apps like Block Party have been a lifesaver as they pre-emptively block abusive accounts.
    • It’s the people who email, text, or leave voicemail messages that I’m fascinated and disturbed by. They use their real names, and often their work email addresses. I sometimes look them up online. They are executives and engineers. Political candidates, finance managers, and office administrators. Real estate agents and electricians. Some of them are retired. Others have hobbies like attending Toastmasters or being members of a running club. They are just everyday people. And they send me hateful and abusive messages because they think I’m a satanist, or that I just want to be famous, or that I’m trying to make money. My harassers can’t imagine someone not trying to profit from a situation like this. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that I could be motivated by just trying to save lives during a global pandemic. Frankly, that says more about them than it does about me. I pity them, and I won’t let them silence me.

1/8/2022

  1. Get a better understanding of the science of climate change in just 6 charts: November’s UN climate conference, COP26, turned a spotlight on the climate crisis. But in order to better understand the policies and impacts of global warming, it’s useful to understand the science behind it.
    • Chart 1: Since 1960, CO2 levels have been steadily climbing
    • Chart 2: CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years
    • Chart 3: When CO2 levels go up, so do global temperatures
    • Chart 4: Temperatures are increasing on every single continent
    • Chart 5: Rising temperatures = rising oceans
    • Chart 6: If we don’t act, temperatures will keep increasing. So will rainfall

1/7/2022

  1. Sidney Poitier, first Black man to win Oscar for best actor, dies at 94:
    • Cornel West, an author, social critic and civil rights activist, called Mr. Poitier “the towering American artist of African descent in the history of film” and likened him to the first Black major league baseball player, Jackie Robinson.
    • Perhaps his most enduring and defining part was Virgil Tibbs, an experienced Philadelphia homicide detective who helps a bigoted White Mississippi police chief in a murder investigation in “In the Heat of the Night” (1967). The film marked the first appearance of a Black law enforcement hero in a mainstream Hollywood movie.
    • In the movie’s most startling sequence, the prominent owner of a cotton plantation slaps Tibbs for not knowing his place, and Tibbs slaps him back reflexively. Mr. Poitier wrote in his memoir “The Measure of a Man” (2000) that it was his idea for Tibbs to return the slap. “In the original script, I looked at him with great disdain and, wrapped in my strong ideals, walked out,” he wrote. “That could have happened with another actor playing the part, but it couldn’t happen with me.”
    • He insisted on a change to the script because of a searing experience as a teenager in Florida, when police stopped him for walking in a White neighborhood. “They really had their fun with me,” he recalled in the book. “They put a pistol right to my forehead. . . . And for 10 minutes, they just joked about whether to shoot me in the right eye or left eye.”
    • But the thoughtful, unthreatening image he projected — playing a doctor engaged to a White woman in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and a London teacher who tames rowdy students in “To Sir, With Love” (both 1967) — was out of step with increasingly assertive Black activism. In some quarters, Mr. Poitier came under withering attack.
  2. Women’s Periods May Be Late After Coronavirus Vaccination, Study Suggests: An analysis of thousands of menstrual records offers support for anecdotal reports of erratic cycles after shots.
    • A study published on Thursday found that women’s menstrual cycles did indeed change following vaccination against the coronavirus. The authors reported that women who were inoculated had slightly longer menstrual cycles after receiving the vaccine than those who were not vaccinated.
    • Their periods themselves, which came almost a day later on average, were not prolonged, however, and the effect was transient, with cycle lengths bouncing back to normal within one or two months. For example, someone with a 28-day menstrual cycle that starts with seven days of bleeding would still begin with a seven-day period, but the cycle would last 29 days. The cycle ends when the next period starts and would revert to 28 days within a month or two.
    • “It validates that there is something real here,” said Dr. Taylor, who has heard about irregular cycles from his own patients. At the same time, he added, the changes seen in the study were not significant and appeared to be transient. “I want to make sure we dissuade people from those untrue myths out there about fertility effects,” Dr. Taylor said. “A cycle or two where periods are thrown off may be annoying, but it’s not going to be harmful in a medical way.”

1/6/2022

  1. ‘Don’t Look Up’: Hollywood’s primer on climate denial illustrates 5 myths that fuel rejection of science:
    • Myth #1: We can’t act unless the science is 100% certain
    • Myth #2: Disturbing realities as described by scientists are too difficult for the public to accept
    • Myth #3: Technology will save us, so we don’t have to act
    • Myth #4: The economy is more important than anything, including impending crises predicted by science
    • Myth #5: Our actions should always align with our social identity group
    • how-ideology-drives-responses-to-climate-change.png

1/5/2022

  1. Lisa Brodyaga, Crusading Lawyer for Immigrants’ Rights, Dies at 81: She became a folk hero representing asylum seekers fleeing violence in Central America, setting up shop in the Rio Grande Valley and building a refuge camp.
    • Wearing her hair in a long single braid down her back, Ms. Brodyaga was known to show up at court wearing sandals or cowboy boots. If the federal prosecutors she faced smirked at first, it was because they were uninitiated. By lunch break they were often stepping outside to collect themselves after the verbal barrage Ms. Brodyaga had directed at them in defense of her client. “I like to be underestimated,” she once told law students at the University of Miami. “I like to have people think, ‘She’s just a hick lawyer.’” She added: “Go ahead, I dare you. Dismiss me.”
    • “It is a refugee camp which frequently has no refugees,” she wrote in 1998. “It is an act of permanent, peaceful resistance which is studiously ignored by the very powers we resist. Its importance lies primarily in its very existence.”
    • She helped support the Black Panthers in New York and lived in a commune in California. During a stay in Czechoslovakia, when she was dragged into an anti-Soviet street protest, someone put a flag into her hand, and an image of her brandishing it appeared all over the news. She also changed her last name to Brodyaga, which means “wanderer” in Russian.
    • Ms. Brodyaga grew old on the Refugio, kept company by dogs, llamas and an emu named Jorge. Law students who made pilgrimages to the camp received her teachings as she planted trees and fed chickens.
  2. Long disparaged, education for skilled trades is making a comeback
    • One trend reviving interest in education in the trades appears to be growing doubt among high school students and those changing careers about the value of a four-year college degree. The proportion of high-schoolers who are considering a four-year education has plummeted from 71 percent to 48 percent since the start of coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey by the ECMC Group, a nonprofit student loan guaranty agency that also operates career schools.
    • In Utah, enrollment rose in the fall at seven of the state’s eight technical colleges. South Dakota’s Lake Area Technical College saw an 8.1 percent increase in first-year students over the previous year. The number of people training for the trades at Georgia Piedmont Technical College rose 13 percent in fall 2021 from the previous fall, the college said.
    • Those figures are particularly noteworthy against the backdrop of a nearly 8 percent decline in overall undergraduate college and university enrollment in the past two years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
    • In a pre-pandemic survey by the metals supplier Metal Supermarkets, half of Americans ages 18 to 24 said they would rather work as baristas than as welders. In another survey, by the large equipment rental company BigRentz, only 11 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds queried said they believed that training in the skilled trades led to high-paying jobs…. But those opinions have begun to shift. When BigRentz asked the same question after the pandemic started, the proportion of respondents who thought jobs in the trades paid well had risen to 16 percent; 33 percent said they thought trade school had become a better option than a more conventional college education, while 30 percent said it was more likely to lead to a job.

1/4/2022

  1. These homes are off-grid and climate resilient. They’re also built out of trash: Earthships have long been an offbeat curiosity for travelers, but through the lens of climate change, they suddenly look like a housing haven
    • Earthships operate using six green-building principles governing heating and cooling, solar electricity, water collection, sewage treatment, food production, and the use of natural and recycled materials. This meant that when Earthships emerged in the 1970s, they “addressed something nobody else did: What do we do with garbage?” said Rachel Preston Prinz, a green designer in Santa Fe, N.M., who wrote the book “Hacking the Earthship.” About 40 percent of a typical Earthship is built with natural or recycled materials, most notably foundations and walls made up of hundreds of used tires packed with dirt. These work with dual layers of floor-to-ceiling passive solar windows, which collect sun during winter and reject it in the summer to keep structures at a comfortable room temperature, no matter the weather outside.
    • Enthusiasts warn against buying or building an Earthship before participating in an Earthship Academy, in which students pay about $1,000 to spend a month helping with a build and taking classes on construction and maintenance. An Earthship is “not plug and play,” said Dobson, who graduated in October from the academy in Taos, and homeowners can be “dependent on people in the Earthship community” to help them solve problems. They’re also hard to build, and many prospective owners hire the for-profit Earthship Biotecture as contractors. “You’re packing 400 pounds of dirt into a tire,” Dobson said. “That’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”
    • ael: I've submitted my application — but it's now $2,500 for the Academy.
  2. As U.S. moves toward solar energy, this roofing company hopes ‘solar shingles’ will get homeowners to buy in: One of the largest roofing companies in the U.S. will offer a new solar roofing product, with the aim of driving installation costs down and solar adoption up
  3. Citing danger to freshwater, scientists say we need to put brakes on road salts
    • Every winter, de-icing salts — sodium chloride, calcium chloride and magnesium chloride — battle icy roads nationwide. The effort is epic in scope: Hundreds of millions of gallons of salty substances are sprayed on roads and billions of pounds of rock salt are spread on their surfaces each year. That may lead to safer roads, but it has a real effect on the planet. In a review in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a group of environmental scientists looked at the hazards of salts that make driving safer.
  4. How BlackRock Made ESG the Hottest Ticket on Wall Street
    • ael: more green-washing bullshit
    • What Fink did not say is that BlackRock drove a significant part of that shift by inserting its primary ESG fund into popular and influential model portfolios offered to investment advisers, who use them with clients across North America. The huge flows from such models mean many investors got into an ESG vehicle without necessarily choosing one as a specific investment strategy, or even knowing that their money has gone into one…. A Bloomberg Businessweek investigation published earlier this month revealed that the ratings BlackRock cites to justify the fund’s sustainable label have almost nothing to do with the environmental and social impact companies in the fund have on the world.
    • The ratings come from MSCI Inc., which counts BlackRock as its largest customer. (The ESGU fund’s formal name is the iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA ETF). Those ratings, which dominate the world of sustainable investing, have opened the door to ESGU owning companies that have been among those considered the worst offenders by some investors focused on environmental and social responsibility. These include fossil-fuel giants Chevron and Exxon Mobil, along with Facebook (now called Meta Platforms), Amazon, McDonald’s, and JP Morgan Chase, which is the biggest financier of fossil-fuel projects since the 2015 Paris Accords. In fact, the ESGU fund holds a heavier weighting in 12 fossil-fuel stocks than the S&P 500 does, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, the research arm of Bloomberg.
    • BlackRock markets ESGU as offering investors exposure to companies with favorable environmental and social practices, without saying specifically what that means. But the company said in its statement, “We are clear about the investment strategies and sustainable outcomes our funds are designed to achieve.” It added: “BlackRock believes greenwashing is a risk to investors, which is why we support regulatory initiatives to enhance the transparency” of sustainable funds. [ael: no wonder BlackRock believes that — they're behind it!]
  5. There it is, the third of the "rule of three":

What's going on: 2022

What went on: 2021

What went on: 2020

What went on: 2019

What went on: 2018

What went on: 2017

What went on: 2016

What went on: 2015

What went on: 2014

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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