September, 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:

September, 2022

9/29/2022

  1. Haiti: An island nation whose environmental troubles only begin with water:
    • Breaking global, regional and national boundaries: The Planetary Boundaries framework, proposed by the Stockholm Resiliency Centre in 2009, posits theoretical limits to nine key environmental variables: freshwater, biodiversity, decay of the ozone layer, air pollution, high phosphorus and nitrogen levels, ocean acidity, land use as expressed by forest cover, climate change, and contamination by human-made chemicals (called novel entities). Staying within the limits of these boundaries is essential for maintaining a habitable Earth. Cross them, and the various systems that support life could collapse.
    • A satellite image of the Haitian-Dominican border; clearly visible is the contrast between green forest in Dominican Republic and brown of deforestation in Haiti. The soil erosion rate in Haiti is many times that of the Dominican Republic, partly a result of differing environmental policies. Image courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio.
      14-satellite-image-of-the-Haitian-Dominican-border.jpg&w=600
    • Finally, the question of collapse: The Planetary Boundaries framework warns that ecosystem collapse is the ultimate price paid for crossing one or more thresholds. It sometimes seems that the word might have been invented for Haiti. As early as the 1970s, the UN was warning Haiti was on the verge of environmental disaster. The country was highlighted in geographer Jared Diamond’s 2005 book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. The most recent wave of wrenching social unrest, comes on the heels of extreme drought and hunger, which led to a 2021 presidential assassination, and gang warfare that has all but paralyzed the country.
    • A look at Haiti through the lens of all nine boundaries is beyond the scope of this article, but to get a taste for the interlocking complexities of a socioenvironmental collapse in progress, we focus on just one: freshwater. And we do so as a case study and cautionary tale for the world: Unchecked, planetary boundary transgressions threaten to make even today’s most prosperous nation states into unlivable failed states.
    • (Top) Annual Precipitation in Haiti. (Bottom) Average annual temperatures in Haiti. Images courtesy of Studio Canek.
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      ]
    • “If the water falls on denuded hill slopes, it just runs off in a rush,” says Michael Piasecki, an engineering professor at the City College of New York. He has worked in Haiti since 2010, and owns a home and scientific laboratory in Leogane, about 30 kilometers west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. “There is not enough staying potential for the water to be captured by roots or plants… so that it has enough time to actually trickle down. It just races downhill very fast.” And when it does, it takes soil with it. Haiti loses 5,560 tons of soil per square kilometer every year, the worst erosion rate of any country on Earth. That has implications for agriculture on the hill slopes, of course, but also for the water cycle farther downstream. The hard rain “carries a lot of sediments into the lower reaches of the river,” says Piasecki. “You clog the conveyance system. Then you have the problem that even modest rainfall events will then cause flooding because the water has nowhere to go.” Not to mention the effect this has on global climate change: soils are vital for sequestering carbon, but you can’t store anything in what you don’t have.
    • Change in distribution of mean temperature in Haiti. The summer growing season is starting up to three months later in recent years. Image found on World Bank Climate Change Knowledge Portal.
      B1-change-in-distribution-of-mean-temperature.jpg&w=600
  2. Earth is under threat, yet you would scarcely know it (George Monbiot): Unlike most of the media, the Guardian resists political or commercial influence in order to keep the climate crisis front and centre
    • Let’s begin with the ground beneath our feet. Soil is a biological structure, created by the organisms that inhabit it. When conditions become hostile to their survival, the structure collapses, and fertile lands turn to dust bowls. The global rate of soil degradation is terrifying. We rely on the soil for 95% of our food, yet we treat it like dirt.
    • Ocean ecosystems are in even greater trouble, hammered by a combination of industrial fishing, pollution, and acidification, as carbon dioxide dissolves into seawater. Forests, rivers, wetlands, savannahs, the cryosphere (the world’s ice and snow) – all are being pushed towards the brink. And above all, climate breakdown is gathering at shocking, unanticipated speed, with disasters occurring at 1.2C of heating that scientists did not expect until we hit 2 or 3C.
    • All of Earth’s systems are complex, which means they do not respond to change in linear and steady ways. They absorb stress up to a certain point, then suddenly collapse. If one goes down, it can trigger the collapse of others: during previous mass extinctions, collapse seems to have cascaded from one ecosystem and Earth system to the next. The conditions in which we and the majority of life on Earth evolved could, if we do not take urgent and drastic action, soon and perhaps suddenly come to an end.
  3. Carbon bombs and Gulf Stream collapse: the most urgent climate stories of our time: The last 12 months have produced alarming incidents of extreme weather across the globe, leading to serious ripple effects, from energy shortages to severe food insecurity. Guardian journalists are prioritising this foremost crisis of our times
    • A Guardian investigation discovered that there are scores of vast oil and gas projects planned which, if fully developed, would each unleash more than a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. As a result, the phrase “carbon bomb” has now passed into common parlance, and a coalition of environmental lawyers, investigative journalists and campaigners has now launched to challenge the carbon bomb projects.
    • Capitalism is killing the planet: Instead of fiddling with the small stuff like ditching our plastic coffee cups, we must challenge the pursuit of wealth and level down, not up, George Monbiot argued in an explosive comment piece. Monbiot has been writing passionately about neglected environmental issues for almost 40 years. In July, he was awarded the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2022.
    • Scientists spot warning signs of Gulf Stream collapse: A startling piece foregrounding new research, which warned that the Atlantic ocean system, so vital for weather patterns in Europe, the Americas, West Africa and even India, was becoming unstable, with currents weakening. A total shutdown would be devastating.

9/25/2022

  1. Houses washed away after storm Fiona as Canada sends in military for cleanup: Troops to remove trees and restore transport links after Fiona caused severe damage including torn-off roofs and flooding
    • The Canadian Hurricane Centre tweeted that Fiona had the lowest pressure ever recorded for a storm making landfall in Canada. Forecasters had warned it could be the one of the most powerful storms to hit the country. “We’re getting more severe storms more frequently,” Trudeau said. More resilient infrastructure was needed to withstand extreme weather events, the prime minister said, adding that what was once a one-in-100 year storm might now arrive every few years because of climate change. “Things are only getting worse,” Trudeau said.
  2. A cleaner future for flight — aviation needs a radical redesign: Efficiency and clean fuels won’t be enough. Governments and industry must experiment with other approaches to bring the climate impact of aviation close to zero.
    • From the Nature review: The aviation industry’s current focus on cleaner fuels and carbon offsetting “is a triumph of industrial interests over reality”, argue climate-policy scholars Steffen Kallbekken and David Victor. It fails to take into account factors such as contrails, the long clouds that form behind aircraft, which might be one of the biggest sources of global warming caused by aviation.

9/24/2022

  1. Shell’s Internal Emails Show Just How Cynical Oil Companies’ Emissions Promises Are: Selling off refineries doesn’t actually reduce emissions. It just passes the buck.

9/23/2022

  1. ‘The climate crisis is now’: haunting video spotlights California wildfires: The release by a Greta Thunberg-inspired activist group was timed with the global climate strike protests launching Friday
  2. Profiting from poison: how the US lead industry knowingly created a water crisis: The lead water crisis facing Chicago and many other US cities today has roots in a nearly century-old campaign to boost the lead industry’s sales
    • Related: graphic
    • The year was 1933 and, to a group of industrialists gathered in a New York City lunch club, it seemed like the lead industry was doomed. The women’s pages of newspapers were filled with stories about children being poisoned by the metal, which had been identified as dangerous as early as the mid-1800s. And cities around America had started banning the use of lead pipes for drinking water. Lead companies were looking for a way to keep their revenues flowing, but, as the secretary of the Lead Industries Association would warn them in a later report, lead poisoning was “taking money out of your pockets every day”.
    • First, the association mounted an “intensive drive” to get cities to add requirements to their building codes saying that only lead pipes could be used to connect people’s homes to the water system. Secondly, it worked to convince plumbers to become lead advocates as well, urging them to keep cities dependent on complex lead work or risk losing their plumbing jobs to simple handymen.
    • Around the same time, the association sponsored university research to mount competing studies to those showing lead had dire effects on children’s brains and developing bodies. The staffers also worked to recruit plumbers, giving classes in leadwork for apprentices and hosting an exhibit seen by 30,000 plumbers who attended the national convention of master plumbers in Chicago in 1935. Within six years, according to historical documents reviewed by the Guardian, the industry boasted of having succeeded in getting lead pipes required in the codes of two states and 33 major cities – from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, New York, to Austin, Texas. In the meantime, plumbers associations in 14 states had pledged their allegiance to using lead pipes.
    • In Chicago, city officials are just beginning to figure out how to deal with the dangers to drinking water: lead pipes feed water to 400,000 homes there and will take at least $8bn to get rid of. In Buffalo, community groups are fighting to stop a lead poisoning epidemic that has taken a toll on several generations of the mostly black children in the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Meanwhile the Biden administration has secured $15bn in federal money to remove the menace that still lies under the ground in every state in the nation – but that is still only a third of what will be needed.
    • The Lead Industries Association had assigned field men to attend the national plumbing convention in Chicago with the goal of “arousing the master and journeyman plumbers to the danger to their own profession of turning away from lead”. In return, Chicago plumbers enthusiastically promoted the industry – as was seen in an article written for the industry’s Lead magazine at the time.
    • Five hundred miles east in the rust belt city of Buffalo, community members are finally mobilizing to get rid of the lead pipes that the pitchmen of the Lead Industries Association once sold their city leaders. An investigation by Reuters found the city has one of the worst lead poisoning problems in the nation – with more than 40% of children having elevated blood lead levels in some zip codes. Not only did the Lead Industries Association boast to its membership about getting lead codified in Buffalo’s plumbing codes, it promoted the use of lead for federal public housing projects built in the city, too. The association’s Lead magazine published a 1939 article praising the federal government for using 20 tons of lead pipe and 40 tons of lead caulking in constructing two Buffalo housing projects, which were some of the first public housing in the nation where black residents were allowed.
    • “It’s disgusting,” said Simeon, who said industry should have to pay for the lasting damage to children done by its profiteering. But legal efforts to hold the industry accountable for lead poisoning caused by paint and leaded gasoline, which were both promoted by the Lead Industries Association as well, have mostly faltered. The association itself went bankrupt in 2002, saying it could not afford insurance to fight off lawsuits. “It was profit over people,” said Simeon. “Now we’re paying for it.”

9/22/2022

  1. Ranchers’ rebellion: the Californians breaking water rules in a punishing drought: Ranchers risk fines amid a clash over water rights, as regulators and Indigenous nations warn of environmental danger
    • The first day of diversions caused flows in the river to drop by more than half. The Yurok and Karuk were immediately concerned about the dramatic drop in water levels, which came near the fall salmon migration and weeks after a wildfire led to the deaths of tens of thousands of fish along a stretch of the Klamath River. “We were trying to recover from that event and next thing you know these guys are sucking water out of the river illegally. These guys want to behave like it’s the old west,” said Craig Tucker, a consultant for the Karuk Tribe. “They took a lot of water out of the river.”

9/21/2022

  1. How the climate crisis is fueling the spread of a brain-eating amoeba: Naegleria fowleri grows in warm fresh water, making it well-suited to proliferate as temperatures rise in the US
    • The death of a child in Nebraska this summer put the rare but deadly Naegleria fowleri – more commonly known as brain-eating amoeba – back in the headlines. The amoeba lives in warm, fresh water and can enter the body through the nose, where it travels to the brain and starts to destroy tissue.
    • In the US, Naegleria has typically been limited to the southern states, but in recent years it has spread steadily northward. A 2021 study showed that even though the rate of infections hasn’t budged, the amoeba is moving from southern states to midwestern areas. It’s been found as far north as Minnesota.
    • The study: Geographic Range of Recreational Water–Associated Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis, United States, 1978–2018
  2. Better than Bulgaria but not as nice as Cuba: how did the US become such an awful place to live?: The land of the free is heading for ‘developing country’ status, based on a UN index that ranks quality of life. The UK’s not doing much better (Arwa Mahdawi)
    • The US is the second-wealthiest country in the world (recently overtaken by China) when you look at national balance sheets. It’s the largest economy in the world when you look at GDP. And it’s home to some of the richest people in the world. By all those measures of progress, the US is doing great. By other measures, however, things are not quite as rosy. The UN recently demoted the US to 41st, down from 32nd, in a global ranking based on its sustainable development goals. Like everything UN-related, this index is jargony and complicated, but essentially it is focused on the quality of life of ordinary people rather than the creation of wealth. And, on this measure, the US comes just behind Cuba and just above Bulgaria. The US is “becoming a ‘developing country’,” one MIT economist said last week, based on this index.
    • Essentially, the analysis concluded, income inequality in the US and UK is so enormous that the two nations should be classed as poor countries with some very rich people. Most of whom seem to be in the government.
  3. How close is the Amazon tipping point? Forest loss in the east changes the equation
      • Scientists warn that the Amazon is hurtling toward a tipping point, beyond which it would begin to transition from lush tropical forest into a dry, degraded savanna, unable to support the immense diversity of life that call the world’s largest rainforest home… In a newly released report, MAAP estimates that 13.2% of the original Amazon forest biome has been lost due to deforestation and other causes. This equates to more than 85 million hectares (211 million acres), an area about one-tenth the size of the United States or China.
      • The MAAP highlights another critical number. When divided into thirds, the map shows that 31% of the eastern Amazon is gone. “This finding is critical,” the report says, “because the tipping point will likely be triggered in the east.” Tree loss in the east is significant because moisture cycles through the forest from east to west, creating up to 50% of all rainfall across the Amazon.
      • Another recent study found that for every three trees that die due to drought in the Amazon Rainforest, a fourth tree, even if it’s not directly affected by drought, will also die. With fewer trees in the east to recycle moisture due to drought and deforestation, the rest of the Amazon becomes drier. “The lack of moisture recycling in some parts of the forest can be propagated downwind … resulting in approximately one-third of all tipping events,” the paper says.
      • The first signs of more permanent drying and more severe droughts in the rainforest are already showing, scientists warn. Plant species adapted to wet conditions are starting to die, and satellite images show a decrease in water vapor over parts of the rainforest that are far from the arc of deforestation. “Not only is the dry season lengthier, but also it’s drier, with less rainfall, and 2-3° [Celsius, or 3.6-5.4° Fahrenheit] warmer,” Carlos Nobre, one of Brazil’s top climate scientists and a researcher at the University of São Paulo who reviewed the MAAP report, told Mongabay in a phone call. Droughts, such as those experienced in the Amazon in 2005 and 2010, he said, “could become the norm.” “The risk of the tipping point is very real,” Nobre said.
      • Upcoming elections in Brazil could also have dramatic consequences for the fate of the Amazon, experts say. “The re-election of a [Bolsonaro] government that incentivizes deforestation can accelerate the Amazon tipping point drastically,” Muelbert said. “The election of former president Lula, currently the leading figure at the polls, is promising to bring deforestation rates down again in the Brazilian Amazon…hopefully moving the trajectory of Amazonian forests away from the tipping point.” Lula’s policies once helped to reduce annual deforestation by 82%, to the lowest rate since satellite monitoring began.
  4. Deaf America’s Team: the rise of the Gallaudet University Bison: Deafness, like any other attribute, comes with innate sporting benefits and cost. The Bison have spent years crafting football to their advantage
    • “Learn some sign language, it’s not going to hurt you,” Anderson says. “A couple of basic signs, just a greeting or something … You’re going to meet deaf people in your life, so be ready — it’s worth it.”
    • Related: Top ASL Phrases You Should Know

9/20/2022

  1. 80s hits and nuclear secrets: security concerns plague Trump’s Mar-a-Lago: Thousands of sensitive documents lay nearby as Trump was spinning the Village People in Mar-a-Lago’s not so private club
    • Towards the end of the evening, Trump will play a hymn, How Great Thou Art, which topped the charts when Elvis Presley sang it. It was a favorite of Trump’s father, Fred, a sentimental way of drawing a Mar-a-Lago soiree to a close. [ael: spoiling a lovely hymn, forever….]
  2. Droughts, heat and fire: the future of wine in the climate crisis: Across the planet, growers are having to adjust to extreme conditions in a warming world
    • There’s a worryingly valedictory tone to many of the conversations I have with winemakers these days. Time and again, I’m told that it’s impossible, in many if not most years, to make the wines in the style they used to make. Crop-destroying weather events that were considered extreme just a decade ago are now to be expected. Each year that passes brings them closer to the point where they will no longer be able to make wine in their vineyards at all.
    • Is there any room for hope? Well, you can at least find some inspiring attempts to avoid fatalism. Winegrowers have been doing what they can, whether that’s planting grapes that are better suited to warmer growing conditions (such as the Portuguese pair touriga nacional and alvarinho now allowed in the mix in small quantities in Bordeaux); finding cooler sites at higher altitudes or closer to the sea (or, in the case of Channel-hopping Champagne producers, further north); pruning later and picking sooner; or protecting and nurturing older vines, which seem to cope with drought and heat much better than their younger siblings.

9/19/2022 — Maximilian Lerner Day

  1. Maximilian Lerner, Whose Espionage Skills Helped Win a War, Dies at 98: An Austrian immigrant, he was one of the so-called Ritchie Boys, who were trained at a secret Army intelligence camp to serve in World War II.
    • Maximilian Lerner, an Austrian-born Jew who during World War II was among the many soldiers recruited to a secret military intelligence and psychological warfare training center, where they learned espionage and intelligence skills that helped the United States Army as it swept across Europe, died on Sept. 10 at his home in Manhattan. He was 98.
    • He used those skills through the war and afterward, during the denazification process, when the Allies were encouraging Germans to turn in those they knew to be Nazis, Mr. Lerner was dispatched to Wiesbaden, Germany, where prisoners were being held at a local jail. One of those imprisoned was Julius Streicher, the founder and editor of the antisemitic Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer, who would be convicted of crimes against humanity during the Nuremberg war crimes trials and hanged in 1946.
  2. The World’s Oldest Winged Insect Is in Trouble. How Frightened Should We Be?: Mayflies are among nature’s best environmental sentinels — and their current message to us is grim
    • Mayflies require relatively cool, clean water to live, which makes them among nature’s best ecological sentinels. For those who know how to look, their bodies hold precise clues about the state of the water and land around them. Some scientists call them “biosensors.” Overly warm water, pesticides, silty runoff from development and other pollution will wipe them out or force them to move to cleaner environs.
    • Mayflies are the oldest surviving winged insects on the planet. Knecht discovered a mayfly impression from some 300 million years ago in rock behind a strip mall in Massachusetts. The bug’s short-lived elegance has inspired wonder and rumination by artists and poets since the first reference to them in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a Mesopotamian poem and one of the world’s oldest pieces of literature. In an allusion to its brief life span, Aristotle dubbed the insect ephemeron. The Chinese scholar and poet Su Shih used the idea as a metaphor. “We exist no longer than mayflies between Heaven and Earth,” he wrote in 1082. Near the peak of the Renaissance, Albrecht Dürer made an engraving called “The Holy Family With the Mayfly.” The insect is sitting at the feet of the Virgin Mary.
    • In 2020, Entrekin, meteorologist and ecologist Phillip Stepanian and four other scientists published startling findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Year after year, the size of Hexagenia hatches was dropping. The fact that Hexagenia are thought to be among the most resilient of mayflies made the insight especially troubling.
    • Some scientists contend that the Hexagenia decline may be part of a natural cycle that has been occurring for thousands of years. In any event, they say there are not enough long-term data to make sweeping pronouncements. But Entrekin and her colleagues argue that the evidence points to something ominous. “[P]ersistent environmental changes could threaten to once more extirpate Hexagenia mayflies from North America’s largest waterways, making this ephemeral spectacle — and its vital ecological functions — a thing of the past,” their paper said.
    • The evidence compiled by the researchers suggests the main culprits behind the Hexagenia decline are humans: our pesticides; the way we treat our sewage; the fertilizers we use on crops and lawns; how we build and spread. The byproducts of so much of what we do leaches into freshwater and fouls it. “There’s no doubt,” Entrekin told me, “that we’re losing the habitat that supports a lot of species that have very narrow environmental requirements.”
    • I reached out to David Wagner, a biologist and lepidopterist at the University of Connecticut, for context, thinking that perhaps the problems were isolated or overblown. He has studied insects for decades and reviewed numerous scientific studies about them from around the globe. He did not provide much comfort. There’s a growing body of research suggesting that the world is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction, he said. The losses of all kinds of creatures appear to be driven by climate change, habitat degradation, pollution and other ecological stressors. In a paper for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year, “Insect Decline in the Anthropocene: Death by a Thousand Cuts,” Wagner and several other scientists delivered a stark warning about the disappearance of insects. The report did not focus on mayflies, but Wagner told me they are among the most vulnerable of the world’s insects because of their need for clean, well-oxygenated water. “Mayflies are reliable ‘canaries in the coal mines’ for freshwater systems,” he explained. “And their future prospects, especially in areas that are drying or warming, are bleak.”

9/18/2022

  1. The ‘Climate 10’ – the world’s most skilled actors in the theater of predatory climate delay: Climate delay is big business, and Climate & Capital is here to showcase the leading players. Some are obvious, but others may surprise you.
    • In 2016, writer and futurist Alex Steffen wrote a groundbreaking Medium post in which he introduced the term “predatory delay.” It’s an excellent description of the kind of business as usual, slow walking response we see from the world largest businesses, governments, and financial institutions to climate change. It means inching your way forward with incremental change while, Steffen says, “fight[ing] like hell to delay change of any real magnitude, attacking not only the prospects of our kids and kin in the future but increasingly of our society in the present. Their delay has real, serious human consequences across generations. They’re taking, not creating; the harm they cause is measurable.”

9/15/2022 — Shiva Rajbhandari and Yvon Chouinard Day

  1. Idaho’s Far Right Suffers Election Loss to 18-Year-Old Climate Activist: High school senior Shiva Rajbhandari won elected office in Boise, defeating an incumbent school board trustee backed by local extremists.
    • Rajbhandari, a third-generation Idahoan whose father is from Nepal, was elected to a two-year term with 56 percent of the vote.
    • Rajbhandari, who started leading Extinction Rebellion climate protests in Boise when he was 15, is familiar with the group’s tactics. “We used to have climate strikes, like back in ninth grade, and they would come with AR-15s,” he said, bringing rifles to intimidate “a bunch of kids protesting for a livable future.” So when the Idaho Liberty Dogs called on Boise voters to support Schmidt — and a slate of other candidates for the school board who, ultimately, all lost — Rajbhandari told me he texted his rival to say, “You need to immediately disavow this.”
    • “This is a hate group,” Rajbhandari says he told Schmidt. “They intimidate teachers, they are a stain on our schools, and their involvement in this election is a stain on your candidacy.” Schmidt, however, refused to clearly reject the group, even after the Idaho Liberty Dogs lashed out at a local rabbi who criticized the endorsement by comparing the rabbi to Hitler and claiming that he harbored “an unrelenting hatred for white Christians.”
    • While the school board election was a hyperlocal one, Rajbhandari is aware that the forces he is battling operate at the state and national level. “Idaho is at the center of this out-of-state-funded far-right attack to try to undermine schools, with the end goal of actually abolishing public education,” Rajbhandari told me. “There’s a group, they’re called the Idaho Freedom Foundation, and they actually control a lot of the political discourse in our legislature. Their primary goal is to get rid of public education and disburse the money to charter schools or get rid of that funding entirely.”
    • [ael: It's wonderful that there are such articulate and motivated kids out there. It's Shiva Rajbhandari Day! Go Shiva!]
  2. Trump chief of staff used book on president’s mental health as White House guide: John Kelly secretly consulted The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, according to new book by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser
    • Kelly, a retired general, became Trump’s second chief of staff in July 2017 – after Trump fired Reince Priebus by tweet – and left the job in January 2019. His struggles to impose order on Trump and his underlings and his virulent falling out with the president have been extensively documented. According to Baker and Glasser, who interviewed Kelly, the retired Marine Corps general bought a copy of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump as he “sought help to understand the president’s particular psychoses and consulted it while he was running the White House, which he was known to refer to as ‘Crazytown’.”
    • “Kelly told others that the book was a helpful guide to a president he came to consider a pathological liar whose inflated ego was in fact the sign of a deeply insecure person.” The authors report that Kelly’s view was shared by unnamed senior officials, quoting one as saying: “I think there’s something wrong with [Trump]. He doesn’t listen to anybody, and he feels like he shouldn’t. He just doesn’t care what other people say and think. I’ve never seen anything like it.
    • Kelly has regularly attacked Trump. In October 2020, CNN reported that Kelly told friends Trump’s dishonesty was “astounding … more pathetic than anything else” and called Trump “the most flawed person” he had ever met.
  3. Americans learn skills to survive the climate crisis – in a wilderness course: Societal breakdown has not arrived, but the contours of such a collapse aren’t too hard to imagine – which is why some are taking part in a survival course
    • There are several ways to react to a summer of harrowing climate disasters – from indifference to simmering angst to deflating the tire of an SUV – but for Eve Simonsen, the most logical response was to take her two children two hours from home to learn how to build a temporary shelter made of sticks and heaped leaves. Simonsen was one of about 30 people to take part in a recent wilderness survival course held in a patch of forest in upstate New York, which I joined. Several of the participants who scoured for twigs to make a fire and labored to set traps for unsuspecting animals said they wanted to learn such skills to help prepare for the cascading impacts of climate breakdown.
    • Shane Hobel, who runs the wilderness course in rural New York, said there had been a surge in interest for his services – not from committed preppers who live in bunkers surrounded by rifles and tinned food but from city-dwelling doctors, lawyers, architects. “I’ve never heard people as desperate as now, you can hear it in their voices,” Hobel said. “They all show up carrying the same fear, that food and water supplies are going to be a concern, that they will need to know these skills. Everything is volatile from climate down to politics down to religion, down to all of it,” he added. Hobel, who wears a long, greying ponytail, has led an eclectic life: he was once a stuntman and motorcycle instructor and now moonlights as both a private investigator and survival consultant for the film and TV industry (he once helped track down two escaped panthers in a nearby county). He draws upon his Native American heritage and training for the courses.
    • Over the past five years, he has run a variety of survival programs from his property, a 90-acre wedge of land a few miles east of the Hudson river and near the Appalachian trail. A reputed former mob hangout – a burned-out jalopy is near the campsite – the land contains several derelict buildings that Hobel considers too cold and mold-infested to occupy. Instead, he has spent the past five years living in a small tent. “I’m the only person that I know who would put up with this shit. Everyone I know is like, ‘Shane I don’t know how the fuck you’re doing this, man,’” said Hobel, who blames broken promises by investors to turn the property into a sort of Earth centre, with permaculture and beekeeping, as well as the wilderness courses. Hobel estimates he spends around $18,000 on takeaway food a year because he has no refrigeration and has to pour large containers of water over himself as expeditious showers. The winters are particularly harsh. [ael: wait a minute… this is our survival leader?]
    • It’s improbable that 8 million people would be able to file out of New York City to carve out a bucolic life in the woods, of course. Disaster preparedness in the US is often framed around ideas of the go bag and the hoarding of food and water, but climate breakdown is largely a test of systems in place rather than an individual’s ability to defy the worst.
    • “Learning to start a fire is a useful skill to have and having extra water on hand is a good thing to do, too,” said Samantha Montano, an expert in emergency management. “But in Jackson, for example, you’re looking at an extended period of time without safe water. Flint is another extreme example of that. “You can’t stockpile enough water for that length of time, so the problem isn’t solvable at an individual level. The problem is rooted in poor policy decisions over decades.” Montano said that the US “is not at the point” of system breakdown from climate change or other stresses and that it will be societal action rather than the ability to live in the woods that will maintain that status quo. “There are a million ways our actions and policies can intervene on climate impacts – if everyone just makes individual decisions for themselves it won’t be a happy ending for most people,” she said. “If we work together and protect systems from breaking down, we have a much greater likelihood to make it through the worst of climate change.”
    • As the shadows thrown off by the trees grew longer, Hobel’s group was still diligently working on traps, aiming to set the perfect trigger for a rock that would crash on top of an unsuspecting woodland animal. The day’s training had been long, informative and vaguely cathartic for participants who have felt cramped, anxious and helpless in city life. Your Guardian reporter might now be able to construct a rudimentary shelter and, at a push, a fire, but it will take a lot more to survive, let alone thrive, if ecological breakdown is allowed to unfold.
  4. Billionaire No More: Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company: A half century after founding the outdoor apparel maker Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, the eccentric rock climber who became a reluctant billionaire with his unconventional spin on capitalism, has given the company away.
    • Rather than selling the company or taking it public, Mr. Chouinard, his wife and two adult children have transferred their ownership of Patagonia, valued at about $3 billion, to a specially designed trust and a nonprofit organization. They were created to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits — some $100 million a year — are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe.
    • “I didn’t know what to do with the company because I didn’t ever want a company,” he said from his home in Jackson, Wyo. “I didn’t want to be a businessman. Now I could die tomorrow and the company is going to continue doing the right thing for the next 50 years, and I don’t have to be around.”
    • For the Chouinards, it resolves the question of what will happen to Patagonia after its founder is gone, ensuring that the company’s profits will be put to work protecting the planet. “I feel a big relief that I’ve put my life in order,” Mr. Chouinard said. “For us, this was the ideal solution.”
  5. Switching to renewable energy could save trillions - study: Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy could save the world as much as $12tn (£10.2tn) by 2050, an Oxford University study says.
    • But the researchers say that going green now makes economic sense because of the falling cost of renewables. "Even if you're a climate denier, you should be on board with what we're advocating," Prof Doyne Farmer from the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School told BBC News. "Our central conclusion is that we should go full speed ahead with the green energy transition because it's going to save us money," he said.
    • Back in 2019 Philip Hammond, then Chancellor of the Exchequer wrote to the prime minister to say that the cost of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in the UK would be more than £1tn. This report says the likely costs have been over-estimated and have deterred investment. It also says predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the cost of keeping global temperatures rises under 2 degrees would correspond to a loss of GDP by 2050 were too pessimistic. The transition to renewables was, it says, likely to turn out to be a "net economic benefit".

9/14/2022

  1. Over 600 million Africans at risk of severe droughts due to climate change: Report: A report by the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) says “Funding climate adaptation is not only the right thing to do. It is also smart.”
    • The report “Africa is Doubling Down on Climate Adaptation. Here’s Why it Deserves Support” was co-authored by the president of the AfDB Group, Akinwumi Adesina and Patrick Verkooijen, the chief executive officer of the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA). “Already, the lives of 600 million people who rely on rain-fed agriculture are at risk because of the growing severity and frequency of droughts. “Vast swaths of the continent will become unlivable unless we act now to protect people and livelihoods from the worst impacts of global warming”, the report stated. The report also said Africa only had a tiny window to build resilience against climate change, adding that large parts of Africa would become uninhabitable.
    • "Funding climate adaptation is not only the right thing to do. It is also smart.” Furthermore, the report also said the GCA calculated that for every dollar invested in climate-smart agriculture, as much as five dollars in benefits accrue. According to the GCA, just $15 billion per year invested in climate-smart agriculture can help avert 200 billion dollars in damages from floods, lost production and paying for disaster relief. The centre further suggested that the international community invest in long-term climate resilience.
  2. Heatwave in China is the most severe ever recorded in the world: A long spell of extreme hot and dry weather is affecting energy, water supplies and food production across China
    • People in large parts of China have been experiencing two months of extreme heat. Hundreds of places have reported temperatures of more than 40°C (104°F), and many records have been broken. Subway stations have set up rest areas where people can recover from the heat. On 18 August, the temperature in Chongqing in Sichuan province reached 45°C (113°F), the highest ever recorded in China outside the desert-dominated region of Xinjiang. On 20 August, the temperature in the city didn’t fall below 34.9°C (94.8°F), the highest minimum temperature ever recorded in China in August. The maximum temperature was 43.7°C (110.7°F).
  3. Extreme China heatwave could lead to global chaos and food shortages
    • Cars. Batteries. Solar panels. Food. Global shortages and soaring prices are almost certain as China's seemingly never-ending heatwave sears on. It's the most extreme heat event ever recorded in world history. For more than 70 days, the intense heat has blasted China's population, factories and fields. Lakes and rivers have dried up. Crops have been killed. Factories have been closed.
    • The Sichuan megacity of Chongqing, home to some 30 million people, reached a top of 45C on August 18. On August 20, the city's overnight minimum bottomed out at 34.9C. These are the highest temperatures China has recorded outside the occupied desert province of Xinjiang. "There is nothing in world climatic history which is even minimally comparable to what is happening in China," weather historian Maximiliano Herrera told New Scientist. "This combines the most extreme intensity with the most extreme length with an incredibly huge area all at the same time."
  4. How to stop cities and companies causing planetary harm: Researchers must help to define science-based targets for water, nutrients, carbon emissions and more to avoid cascading effects and stave off tipping points in Earth’s systems.
      • More than a decade ago, scientists defined a set of biophysical global limits, known as planetary boundaries, within which humanity can operate ‘safely’. These span nine areas — climate change, the biosphere, nutrients, water, land use, ocean acidification, ozone depletion, aerosols and ‘novel entities’ (pollutants and pathogens)1. Since 2019, a task force called the Earth Commission, co-led by one of us (J.R.), has been integrating social-science perspectives to ensure that such quantified boundaries are ‘just’ as well as safe.
      • Next year, this global team of natural and social scientists (including many of us) will issue its first report outlining these ‘Earth system boundaries’ (ESBs). Addressing regional as well as global scales, these limits are based on the latest science, modelling and literature assessments. Accounting for impacts on communities means that the boundaries will be tighter. For example, climate change is already harming the health, property and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people each year, and that is before the world reaches the Paris agreement cap of 1.5–2 °C of global warming.
      • Spatial impacts of cities and companies on other places and suppliers need to be quantified. For example, 30% of biodiversity loss is linked to global trade, according to one analysis that connected 25,000 species threats to 5 billion supply chains and consumption of commodities such as coffee, tea, sugar, textiles and fish12. In the meantime, we recommend that companies’ sustainability reports include their impacts on key urban and other hotspots, such as the Amazon and Arctic.

9/8/2022

  1. Guest post: The 50th anniversary of a remarkable global-warming prediction: Today marks the 50th anniversary of a remarkable research paper on global warming.
    • Written by meteorologist John Sawyer, the paper – entitled “Man-made carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect” – was published by the journal Nature in 1972.
    • John S Sawyer FRS (1916-2000) was a meteorologist at the UK’s Met Office, starting as a technical officer working with the Royal Air Force during the second world war and going on to become director of research.
    • Sawyer’s paper showed an early version of the now-iconic “Keeling Curve” graph of atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa in Hawaii (see below). He pointed out that CO2 was building up in the atmosphere at about half the rate of emissions due to absorption of the other half by global vegetation and the oceans: “So long as the carbon dioxide output continues to increase exponentially, it is reasonable to assume that about the same proportion as at present (about half) will remain in the atmosphere and about the same amount will go into the other reservoirs.”

9/7/2022 — Happy 65th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

  1. He played with Dylan, Clapton and Lennon: the unsung genius of guitarist Jesse Ed Davis: He was the go-to session guitarist for some of the biggest music stars of all time yet his incredible highs and tragic lows have often been overlooked
    • Three-quarters of the way through John Lennon’s stirring take on Stand By Me, a guitar sneaks into the mix with a solo so supple and sweet, it feels like a kiss. In Bob Dylan’s Watching the River Flow, it’s a wily slide guitar that seizes center stage with a sound both witty and free, while halfway through Jackson Browne’s Doctor My Eyes, a guitar solo winds up changing the entire trajectory of the song, making it soar from a chugging ballad to a flat-out rocker. In each case, the guitarist responsible for adding those shapes and colors to the music is Jesse Ed Davis. Though little remembered today, Davis was the go-to session guitarist for music’s greatest stars of the late 60s through the 70s. His tasteful licks and surgical leads turned up on solo albums by three out of the four Beatles (all but Paul), and alighted on recordings by Rod Stewart (including the No 1 hit Tonight’s the Night), Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Bryan Ferry, Willie Nelson, Harry Nilsson, Gram Parsons and scores more.
    • Onscreen, Davis can be seen playing lead in Taj Mahal’s seminal band when they performed on the Rolling Stones’ 1968 all-star special Rock and Roll Circus. Three years later, he was part of the core band at the epic Concert for Bangladesh event organized by George Harrison. Then, in 1975, he was asked to play second guitar on Rod Stewart and the Faces’ final tour. In between, Davis somehow found time to record three albums of his own, on which stars like Clapton, Russell and Dr John backed him. Yet, despite all that exposure and respect, there’s a tragic side to Davis’s story. His career and talent were ravaged by a drug habit that led to his death from a heroin overdose in 1988 at the age of 43.
    • Now, 35 years later, there’s a movement afoot both to remind classic rock fans of Davis’s work and to introduce it to a new generation. This week, the legacy label Real Gone Music will rerelease Davis’s self-titled debut solo album from 1970. An acclaimed documentary, titled Rumble, that features the guitarist can also be seen on Netflix. Rumble chronicles the impact Native Americans like Davis have had on popular music. (The guitarist had Comanche, Seminole, Muskogee and Cheyenne heritage on his father’s side, and Kiowa on his mother’s.) Davis will also be celebrated by a forthcoming book written about him by Douglas K Miller, a scholar of Native American culture who wrote Indians on the Move: Native American Mobility and Urbanization in the Twentieth Century.
    • Small wonder that Duane based his work on the Allman Brothers’ seminal version of Statesboro Blues on Davis’s take from Taj Mahal’s debut. Davis’s playing also set a template for Aerosmith’s sound. “Steven Tyler once told me that, when he and Joe Perry were trying to figure out the sound of Aerosmith, they went to that Taj Mahal album with Jesse,” said guitarist Stevie Salas, who produced Rumble. “It was their bible.”
    • Davis’s work with Taj Mahal also wound up connecting the Oklahoma-born player to British rock royalty. After they saw Taj Mahal’s band play the Whiskey in Los Angeles, the Rolling Stones invited them to be their only American guest on Rock and Roll Circus, a show that featured everyone from John Lennon to Eric Clapton to the Who. “After that performance, everyone wanted to play with Jesse,” Salas said.
    • As a kid, Davis faced considerable prejudice as one of the only Native Americans at his school. He wrote about that experience in a song from his third solo album, Ching, Ching, China Boy. The title mimicked the name he was taunted with by kids who mistook him for Asian. “It was rare for Davis to acknowledge that hurt,” Miller said. “My sense is that he had a much more difficult time with it than he let on.”
    • In 1972, Davis’s playing on Jackson Browne’s song Doctor My Eyes became as important to the singer as it was to the guitarist. Davis’s solo, which he cut in one take, took up half the song, which explains why Browne often credits him with helping make it his Top 10 breakthrough. “People still want to play that solo if they play that song,” Browne said in Rumble.
    • Some famous friends tried to help get his career back on track, including Dylan and Clapton, Miller said. Toward the end of his life, Davis even started to make a comeback by working with the Native American poet and activist John Trudell in the Graffiti Man Band. “He was reconnecting with old friends, playing live quite a bit and spending more time around Native American people,” Miller said.

9/6/2022

  1. How Can I Cure My White Guilt? The thing about privilege is that it can be used for good.
    • We do live in a culture steeped in white supremacy and class bigotry, as well as patriarchal values. But the solution to this injustice isn’t to wallow in self-hatred. Instead, heed the words of the writer bell hooks. “Privilege is not in and of itself bad; what matters is what we do with privilege,” she writes. “We have to share our resources and take direction about how to use our privilege in ways that empower those who lack it.” You’re not going to empower others by disempowering yourself.
    • You ask us how you can be more than your heritage, Whitey, but what Steve and I are suggesting is that you need to own it first. As you seem well aware, your race granted you privileges that were and are denied to people who are not white. This is true for all white people in America, no matter how racially diverse their childhood neighborhoods were or were not, no matter how much money their families had or didn’t have, no matter how difficult or easy their lives have been. Every white person should be ashamed of that injustice. Which is different than being ashamed of being white. You don’t have to relinquish your heritage to be an ally to people of color, Whitey. You have to relinquish your privilege. And part of learning how to do that is accepting that feelings of shame, anger and the sense that people are perceiving you in ways that you believe aren’t accurate or fair are part of the process that you and I and all white people must endure in order to dismantle a toxic system that has perpetuated white supremacy for centuries. That, in fact, those painful and uncomfortable feelings are not the problems to be solved or the wounds to be tended to. Racism is.
  2. Bible demands action on climate change, Evangelicals say in new report
    • The National Association of Evangelicals has unveiled a sweeping report on global climate change, laying out what its authors call the “biblical basis” for environmental activism to help spur fellow evangelicals to address the planetary crisis.

9/2/2022

  1. Night-time heat is killing crops. Scientists are rushing to find resilient plants: Night temperatures are rising fast, and that’s a problem for rice and other critical crops, which have fewer defenses at night
    • Every 1C rise in night-time temperatures could cause wheat yields to drop by 6% and rice yields by as much as 10%. Hotter nights can also affect quality, making the rice chalky and less palatable and can even change its nutritional composition.
  2. Costs of climate change far surpass government estimates, study says: The new comprehensive analysis pegs the social cost of carbon at $185 a ton — more than triple the current federal standard
    • The idea for the metric came to fruition during President Barack Obama’s administration, which at one point settled on a cost of roughly $51 a ton when adjusted for inflation. With nations releasing billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year, the toll adds up pretty quickly. But many experts thought the Obama-era figure might be lowballing the actual costs. In early 2017, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommended a major update to the metric to make the calculation more transparent and scientifically sound.
    • Donald Trump became president a week after the release of the NAS report, and his administration wasted little time in disbanding the interagency working group on the carbon price. By excluding damages of climate change abroad, the Trump team slashed the estimated cost of each ton of carbon pollution to between $1 and $7 per ton.
    • After Joe Biden took office, the White House reestablished the working group and told federal agencies to return to using the Obama-era price of $51 per ton — at least temporarily, promising to update the cost. In May, the Supreme Court allowed Biden’s deputies to continue using that higher interim estimate.

9/1/2022

  1. ‘We’re going to pay in a big way’: a shocking new book on the climate crisis: In An Inconvenient Apocalypse, authors Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen write that society needs to be better prepared for an inevitable collapse
    • In An Inconvenient Apocalypse, authors Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen style themselves as heralds of some very bad news: societal collapse on a global scale is inevitable, and those who manage to survive the mass death and crumbling of the world as we know it will have to live in drastically transformed circumstances. According to Jackson and Jensen, there’s no averting this collapse – electric cars aren’t going to save us, and neither are global climate accords. The current way of things is doomed, and it’s up to us to prepare as best we can to ensure as soft a landing as possible when the inevitable apocalypse arrives.
    • Jackson and Jensen make for an interesting pairing. The former is an agronomist, having spent his career studying the problem of soil erosion and developing The Land Institute, which seeks to develop grains that can be used for sustainable agriculture. For his efforts he has garnered a MacArthur “genius” grant and a Right Livelihood Award, among other honors. Jensen is a longtime journalist who has written books on ecology, masculinity and radical feminism. He has received backlash for propounding exclusionary and harmful views against transgender people, specifically targeting transgender women, and in response to the criticism he has doubled down on these viewpoints, continuing to promulgate them.
    • In conversation, Jensen offered this explanation: “A lot of past talk of population control has been based in white supremacy, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore the question of what’s a sustainable population. That’s the kind of thing that people have bristled against. We don’t have a solution. But the fact that there aren’t easy and obvious solutions doesn’t mean that you can ignore the issue.”
    • According to Jackson and Jensen, once the collapse occurs and the Earth’s population declines, it is up to humans to figure out how to live in a “low-energy” future – that is, one where fossil fuels are no longer used and we essentially are back to relying on our own muscles and those of beasts of burden. In terms of what that low energy world might look like, An Inconvenient Apocalypse articulates an ethos that might be summed up as the paleo diet, but for society. Because 10,000 years of so-called progress has left us in “dire straits”, the answer involves looking back to the prehistoric millennia before humans developed agriculture, began writing down their history, and built societal hierarchies. Insofar as An Inconvenient Apocalypse describes how this future could look, it involves tradespeople and agricultural workers elevated to the high-status ranks of society, the affluent getting taken down some notches, a wholesale elimination of the cosmopolitan, consumerist world, and religion playing a prominent role. One is tempted to sum it up as “make the Earth great again”.

Time machine:

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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