Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Deniality

Le dénialité est trop cher.

Denial isn’t specific to Americans, though we do seem to be better at it than most. We are now at least 30 years into severe climate change, yet 30-40% of Americans are in denial; assumedly, still looking for, waiting for, a return to normal. Not only are we not going back to the way it was 30 years ago; under the best of scenarios, no one of the next 5 generations will see the weather and climate of 1990 again. Under less than best of scenarios, neither the current generation nor the following 3 generations, will see weather and climate return to those of today. Still we see these professional deniers push and shove their way into any public discussion to argue that we can’t afford to take the necessary steps to halt Climate Change because the changes would be too costly. This lot deliberately tries to lead us to believe that their employers’ sunken costs are somehow our own.

The real cost of our not doing enough 30 years ago is the cost of the damage done during those 30 years plus the cost of doing today what still needs to be done. Putting it off just makes it ever more expensive. Still and yet,we hear politicians, economists and the self-anointed say that we can’t afford to do what we need to be doing about Climate Change. If we don’t, in another 30 years, we will have borne all the added damage that will have been done and be facing a situation where no amount of money will be enough. The cost of Climate Change will always be increasing until Climate Change is reversed. We’re well into shorter periods of doubling for temperature change, the number of wildfires and the acres burned, extended periods of drought, displaced people, … i.e., the price of not doing whatever it takes is doubling; so the price of doing whatever it takes. It is the not doing something about Climate Change that we can’t afford. We simply must stop burning fossil fuels.

—Extending—

Trump, although perhaps better known for his lying, is also a known Climate Change denier. Most of his supporters are in deep denial about Climate Change; many of them support him because of his denial. The Trump presidency itself is a consequence of our collective denial of Climate Change (that and a few or more other things). Since taking office, Trump has taken several actions that increase greenhouse gas emissions; thereby increasing the rate of Climate Change, increasing the damage.

The COVID-19 pandemic itself is an indirect consequence of this denial. Climate Change has severely diminished viable habitats for many species, putting pressure of these species, putting different species in closer proximity. President Trump denied the pandemic; told America that it would go away. It didn’t; it won’t. His is one of the biggest denials by an American president of all times. As a consequence of the pandemic, of Trump’s lying about and public denial of it, and also because of a large segment of the American public’s denial of it; more than 200,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 to date. Most of these deaths could have been avoided. Yet, Trump lies to us about aerosol transmission, susceptibility of children to COVID-19, availability of a vaccine, … These lies themselves are a form of denial; a denial of reality. So, too, the believing of those lies by some thirty-plus percent of Americans. If we had provided masks and imposed obligatory wearing, tested, and did contact tracing, the death toll would have been <30k. The damage to our economy would have been ~ -3% GDP. We know this because of South Korea, Taiwan, Germany, … America’s denial of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacted a very high price. It will keep doing so until: we make the wearing of mask obligatory for close proximity, have rapid result accurate testing, and do effective contact tracing; or, until almost everyone is vaccinated with a highly effective vaccine.

Is our denial inherited? Probably. In our past: The Capitalists lied about capitalism and the people believed them, died early for capitalism by the tens of thousands. Slave owners lied to themselves. Slave owners lied to poor white southerners and those poor white southerners believed them, fought and died for them. More lately, many Americans let Fox News lie to them and tell them what to believe. What are they thinking letting someone tell them what to believe? How could someone let tell them what to think?

America has been in decline for 50 years now, yet a majority of us wait for things to get back to normal. Oh, and by the bye, that was Normal we just passed, the town just before that was called Normal, and, that town straight ahead is called — Normal. Sorry, guess you can’t get to normal from here.

Comments (8) | |

Meanwhile, climate change is heating up nights faster than days

Climate change is heating up nights faster than days in many parts of the world, findings that could have “profound consequences” for wildlife and their capacity to adapt to the climate emergency, researchers say.

 

The climate crisis is heating up nights faster than days in many parts of the world, according to the first worldwide assessment of how global heating is differently affecting days and nights.

The findings have “profound consequences” for wildlife and their ability to adapt to the climate emergency, the researchers said, and for the ability of people to cool off at night during dangerous heatwaves.

The scientists compared the rises in daytime and night-time temperatures over the 35 years up to 2017. Global heating is increasing both, but they found that over more than half of the world’s land there was a difference of at least 0.25C between the day and night rises.

Comments (4) | |

China’s climate announcement

Easily lost in the news of the day, from the NYT:

President Xi Jinping of China pledged on Tuesday that his country would adopt much stronger climate targets and achieve what he called “carbon neutrality before 2060.” If realized, the pledges would be crucial in the global fight against climate change.

This may be mostly PR, but it may signal a significant increase in China’s commitment to decarbonization.  We will learn more as details are provided and China’s next 5-year plan is released in 2021.

If this does reflect an increased commitment to decarbonization, it could be as important as the outcome of the U.S. election for the future of the climate, for several reasons:

China is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter.  This is (I believe) the first time it has committed to net zero publicly.  A 2050 target would be better than 2060, but a real commitment to hit 2060 would be a huge improvement.

If China moves away from fossil fuels, it may put some pressure on states that participate in its Belt and Road Initiative to scrap plans for new coal fired power plants.  These states have their own agendas and other options, but Chinese pressure would help.

A clear Chinese commitment to clean energy may help persuade Americans who see China as both a military and economic threat and as having relatively competent leadership to prioritize climate policy.

Finally, if China is committed to a green energy transition, this opens the door to formation of a “climate club” that includes the United States, Europe, and China.  Working together, these countries and others could pressure holdouts to reduce their emissions (by imposing tariffs on their exports, for example).  This is critical.  There are many countries in the world that will not voluntarily cut back on their use of fossil fuels.  Asking nicely will not work.  International climate policy needs more stick and less carrot, and switching to a new regime will be much easier if the Chinese are on board.

Comments Off on China’s climate announcement | |

The Combination of Things

What about all the forest fires in the West? The most proximate cause of these fires is high temperatures along with associated lightning and high winds; both of which, directly or indirectly, can easily ignite a fire in tinder dry forests.

Beyond beyond being dry, many western forest are far from being healthy. There are large areas in the southern Sierra Nevada Range where the forest are dead and gone; they were the first to go. There is less damage to the forest as one goes farther north; still, going east on Highway 108 up over the Sonora Pass, it is not unusual to see forest areas where upwards of half the trees are dead or dying. Most are dying from infestations of bark beetles. Healthy trees can survive bark beetles, but these trees were first weakened by long periods of drought. The damage has being worsening for decades.

Drought is not new in the West; there is ample scientific evidence of at least two extended periods of drought in California over the past 1200 hundred years. There is the possibility that we are entering such a period now. It is far more likely that what we are seeing is what has long been predicted by climate Change Models. Speaking of models, has everyone seen ProPublica’s, ‘New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States’ https://projects.propublica.org/climate-migration/ ? Poor Texas. Near the end of the piece, future predictions down to every county in the US. And the models will only get better at predicting with more and better data.

Comments (9) | |

Colorado weather

CBSNews  Denver officially broke a record with 101 degrees on Saturday7 (Sept. 5) tied a record with 97 degrees on Sunday and came within two degrees of the record with 93 degrees on Sunday. Overall it was one of the hottest Labor Day weekends on record in Colorado.

DENVER (KDVR) —  We set two record lows in Denver.  The first occurred Tuesday night (Sept. 8) at 31 degrees.  This ties 1962 for the earliest first freeze on record.  The second record low occurred Wednesday morning at 31 degrees.

Comments (4) | |

What is Looting?

“Looting is a natural response to the unnatural and inhuman society of commodity abundance.” — Guy Debord, “The Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Economy.”

The photograph used in Andy Warhol’s 1964 print, “Race Riot” was taken by Charles Moore and was published in LIFE magazine in May of 1963. Warhol used it without permission and Moore sued. Eventually there was an out-of-court settlement. The scene depicted was not a “Race Riot” as Warhol’s presumably ironic title claimed. It was a police attack ordered by Police Commissioner “Bull” Connor on a nonviolent demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama.

Comments (16) | |

Birthday Party & Quest for WiFi led to the Wakashio grounding off of Mauritius

“The 58-year-old captain of the ill-fated Newcastlemax-type bulk carrier WAKASHIO could face negligence charges” after it was discovered the crew was celebrating a crewmember’s birthday  as the ship edged closer to the Mauritius coastline seeking wifi signals just prior to the bulk carrier’s grounding on a reef off the island’s south coast. It appears seeking close proximity to the populated shore is a common practice for ships out to sea weeks at a time. It is done so crews can pick up TV signals, internet, and cell phone access. Crews can call home or catch up on the news.

First reported by local newspaper “L’Express,” these bombshell revelations come from investigators interviewing the crew of the Japanese-owned WAKASHIO a Panamanian-flagged ship.

The WAKASHIO grounded on a reef near UNESCO protected sites on the evening of July 25. Before the catastrophe, local authorities noticed the close proximity of the WAKASHIO to the Mauritius coastline and had been trying to contact the ship before the accident to warn it off from its flawed course. A later story after talking to the crew revealed the crew was celebrating a birthday and had missed the initial and urgent calls. The wrecked ship is now on the verge of breaking up (and has done so), has spilled around 1,000 tonnes of bunker fuel into the pristine Mauritian waters, and has created the republic’s greatest ecological disaster.

The “Newcastlemax” designation refers to ship size; Maximum beam 50 meters with a maximum overall length of 300 meter. It is the largest vessel to be able to enter the port of Newcastle, Australia at about 185,000 DWT.

Some of the comments (unnamed) are interesting and speak of the issues with the manning of the huge cargo ships over long periods of time at sea.

Comments (2) | |

Tiny Homes – A ‘Fundamental Shift is Occurring’

Site Plan. Escape Tampa Bay Village, Tiny Homes, Dan Dobrowolski

A recently purchased, rundown, 1 acre mobile home park is redesigned by a tiny house manufacturer into a site for tiny homes. Dan Dobrowolski of “Escape” has been building tiny houses and giving them a place to go for a while.

Now during the Corona epidemic Dan Dobrowolski has opened a new development and naming it Escape Tampa Bay Village. It is a real demonstration of how tiny houses have come of age and utilize a smaller footprint than what is found in subdivisions today. The one acre former trailer park is home to ten tiny homes. Rather than asphalt pavement occupying much of the park, shrubbery and trees add to the landscaping creating a natural area. Occupancy is limited to the tiny homes manufactured by Escape.

With the advent of the Corona virus epidemic, Everything changed overnight. The people who would never consider living in a Park Model mobile home in a trailer park suddenly are seeing a tiny home in a community of like-minded people to be an attractive proposition.

Dan: The trend is so strong now for 1) escaping crowded housing and 2) just escaping major metro areas like NYC, LA & SFO, it is almost overwhelming. This is a major shift  .   .   .  we’re seeing this all over the US with buyers.

If this sounds like a commercial, it really is a commercial, a commercial for smaller homes which can be moved from place to place when needed or if desired. I believe this is the mode which may better suit up and coming younger generations who do not have the funds to acquire a traditional home like their parents did in suburbia. It is also gives them an option of not living in crowded cities and away from today’s virus. So, what doe the floor plan look like?

Their are floor plans on site.

 

A ‘Fundamental Shift is Occurring’ as People Flock to Tiny Homes,” Treehugger, Lloyd Alter, August 5, 2020

Comments (8) | |

Necessity of America

If not the US, who?

In order to get it right, it is so important that we know what is going on now. In the midst of a pandemic, overpopulated, ever more marginalized by Global Warming, beggared with inequality, and sorely lacking leadership; the world is indeed going to hell in a handbasket.

Take a look:

An index of Fragile States:

Less than 10 States are shown as being Sustainable. A comparable number are shown not Sustainable but Stable. Together these groups, Sustainable and Stable, constitute about a third of the States. Below Stable, another one-third of the States are shown as being at Warning. The last one-third are shown to be at the Alert level. The US is barely in the top 20% on the index.

An index of Inequality:

In 2019, we were 28th out of 150 on the index.

We used to be the leader of the ‘Free World’. Is this current state of the world, in part, due to our abdication? What if some other nation takes that role? As the leader, we just may have gotten some things right. We made alliances, provided assistance, served as a role model. Today, the Greatest Nation on earth isn’t really. If not the US, then who?

After us, who else will give so freely of their capital? —

We hear that we are not a policeman to the world, or, that at least shouldn’t be. Then who else is going to restrain Xi? Erdoğan? Putin? Who else will keep India and Pakistan from annihilating one another?

Comments (7) | |