…now I know it’s not like the news takes the day off
…it’s not like there aren’t plenty of clues
Republican legislators in Oklahoma and Iowa have passed bills granting immunity to drivers whose vehicles strike and injure protesters in public streets.
A Republican proposal in Indiana would bar anyone convicted of unlawful assembly from holding state employment, including elected office. A Minnesota bill would prohibit those convicted of unlawful protesting from receiving student loans, unemployment benefits or housing assistance.
And in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed sweeping legislation this week that toughened existing laws governing public disorder and created a harsh new level of infractions — a bill he’s called “the strongest anti-looting, anti-rioting, pro-law-enforcement piece of legislation in the country.”G.O.P. Bills Target Protesters (and Absolve Motorists Who Hit Them) [NYT]
Republicans responded to a summer of protests by proposing a raft of punitive new measures governing the right to lawfully assemble. G.O.P. lawmakers in 34 states have introduced 81 anti-protest bills during the 2021 legislative session — more than twice as many proposals as in any other year, according to Elly Page, a senior legal adviser at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, which tracks legislation limiting the right to protest.
Corporations that pledged to cut off Republican lawmakers who opposed certifying the presidential election largely made good on the commitment, removing a key source of financial support for the party in the first three months of the year.
But at least a third of those 147 Republicans nevertheless raised more campaign money compared with the same period in 2019, boosting their collections from individual donors to make up the difference, a Washington Post analysis of federal election records shows.
A handful of congressional Republicans — the most outspoken supporters of groundless election-related claims that helped inspire the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol — shattered their fundraising performances from two years earlier.
Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.) each pulled in more than $3 million. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), whose extreme views prompted a House vote in February that stripped her of committee assignments, raised more than $3.2 million. That earned her the second-highest fundraising haul among House Republicans, behind only Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), who also opposed certifying President Biden’s electoral win.
Several other Republicans who built national profiles as hard-line Trump loyalists also posted banner fundraising hauls.
In total, a dozen GOP election objectors raised at least $1 million each. Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), now facing a federal investigation into possible sex trafficking, raised $1.8 million; Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), who like Gaetz proved one of Trump’s most reliable defenders on Fox News, collected $2.1 million. A pair of bombastic freshmen — Reps. Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), who raised $1 million, and Lauren Boebert (Colo.), who raised $846,000 — leapfrogged the vast majority of their colleagues by rallying individual donors.
Taken together, the results from the first quarter offer a view of a Republican Party increasingly alienated from the corporate class it once counted on as a stalwart ally. The deadly riot at the Capitol repulsed business leaders already wary of the GOP’s transformation under President Donald Trump. And the party’s fastest-rising stars remain unapologetic for stoking the false claims of a stolen election that led to the insurrection. Instead, they are shunning support from business in favor of individual donors Trump helped activate.https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/04/21/republicans-challenge-election-campaign-cash/
…& it’s not like there isn’t plenty of stuff that deserves some attention
Researchers at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and the University of Notre Dame Department of Economics are using monthly Census data to capture a nearly real-time snapshot of American poverty. Last month, even as the unemployment rate fell and more states relaxed restrictions on business operations, the poverty rate hit a pandemic high of 11.7 percent — a full percentage point greater than it was in early 2020.
For some of the most marginalized populations, the rate of poverty in March was even higher. Black poverty had retreated from the 23.3 percent high it touched last August but, at 21.2 percent, remained close to double that of the overall rate. Childhood poverty soared to a rate of 17.4 percent, and was high for less-educated people, as well, rising to 22.2 percent among those with only a high school education or less.https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/poverty-soared-pandemic-high-last-month
…so…as ever…there’s plenty that’s concerning enough that I get why @butcherbakertoiletrymaker might assume my reading habits are costing me sleep
He warned ominously of “red lines” in Russia’s security that, if crossed, would bring a powerful “asymmetric” response. He reminded Western leaders once again of the fearsomeness of his country’s modernized nuclear arsenal. And he boasted of Russia’s moral superiority over the West.
Yet even as President Vladimir V. Putin lashed out at foreign enemies real or perceived in a state-of-the-nation speech on Wednesday, tens of thousands of Russians defied a heavy police presence to pour into the streets to challenge his rule. In Moscow, some gathered across the street from the Kremlin to chant, “Go Away!”
It was a snapshot of Russia in the third decade of Mr. Putin’s rule: a leader facing an increasingly angry and desperate opposition but firmly in power with his country’s vast resources and huge security apparatus at his disposal.Putin Warns of a Russian ‘Red Line’ the West Will Regret Crossing [NYT]
…not the least of which being that big brother supposedly never sleeps
…while we may indeed have been sleeping on big brother
…but…much as these sorts of things are often a somewhat cynical kind of a deal…it is supposedly earth day today
It is profoundly difficult to grapple with risks whose stakes may include the global collapse of civilisation, or even the extinction of humanity. The pandemic has shattered our illusions of safety and reminded us that despite all the progress made in science and technology, we remain vulnerable to catastrophes that can overturn our entire way of life. These are live possibilities, not mere hypotheses, and our governments will have to confront them.Covid-19 has shown humanity how close we are to the edge [Guardian]
Many psychologists say they feel unequipped to handle a growing number of patients despairing over the state of the planet. A new contingent of mental health professionals aims to fix thathttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/20/climate-emergency-anxiety-therapists
…although if you check that site you’ll find they got started a couple of days ago…& that apparently there’s such a thing as the hip hop caucus
…so I thought it might be a good time to unload a bunch of links I often find I fail to make space for in these
The Earth’s climate has always been a work in progress. In the 4.5bn years the planet has been spinning around the sun, ice ages have come and gone, interrupted by epochs of intense heat. The highest mountain range in Texas was once an underwater reef. Camels wandered in evergreen forests in the Arctic. Then a few million years later, 400 feet of ice formed over what is now New York City. But amid this geologic mayhem, humans have gotten lucky. For the past 10,000 years, virtually the entire stretch of human civilization, people have lived in what scientists call “a Goldilocks climate” – not too hot, not too cold, just right.
Now, our luck is running out. The industrialized nations of the world are dumping 34bn tons or so of carbon into the atmosphere every year, which is roughly 10 times faster than Mother Nature ever did on her own, even during past mass extinction events. As a result, global temperatures have risen 1.2C since we began burning coal, and the past seven years have been the warmest seven years on record. The Earth’s temperature is rising faster today than at any time since the end of the last ice age, 11,300 years ago. We are pushing ourselves out of a Goldilocks climate and into something entirely different.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/16/climate-crisis-last-chance-emergency
Summers in the Northern Hemisphere could last nearly six months by the year 2100 if global warming continues unchecked, according to a recent study that examined how climate change is affecting the pattern and duration of Earth’s seasons.
The study, published last month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that climate change is making summers hotter and longer, while shrinking the three other seasons. Scientists say the irregularities could have a range of serious implications, affecting human health and agriculture to the environment.https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/summers-last-half-year-by-the-end-of-this-century
Most of the world’s biggest economies now have long-term goals of reaching net zero by mid-century, but few have the policies required to meet those goals, said Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA).https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/31/urgent-policies-needed-steer-countries-net-zero-carbon-iea-chief-fatih-birol
…or that just get buried amongst all the others
(…which is to say you might have seen some of these around here before)
…although it’s hard to ignore that it’s a burning issue
In 2015, the US government required that newer models of wood stoves perform better and began spending millions of dollars to subsidize the transition away from older models. Now, an investigation by state environment officials is revealing a critical flaw in that plan: the latest stoves might not be any less polluting than the previous ones.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/16/wood-smoke-alaska-state-regulators-air-quality
In 2013, Kathy Claiborne got a noisy new neighbor. That’s when a huge factory that dries and presses wood into roughly cigarette-filter-sized pellets roared to life near her tidy home in one of the state’s poorest counties. On a recent afternoon in her front yard, near the end of a cul-de-sac, the mill rumbled like an uncomfortably close jet engine.
“I can’t even recall the last time I had a good night’s sleep,” said Ms. Claiborne, who in 2009 moved to the neighborhood, which is majority African-American. She wears a mask outdoors, she said, because dust from the plant can make it hard to breathe.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/climate/wood-pellet-industry-climate.html
In barely a decade, the Southeast’s wood pellet industry has grown from almost nothing to 23 mills with capacity to produce more than 10 million metric tons annually for export. It employs more than 1,000 people directly, and has boosted local logging and trucking businesses.
Carbon dioxide emissions are forecast to jump this year by the second biggest annual rise in history, as global economies pour stimulus cash into fossil fuels in the recovery from the Covid-19 recession.
The leap will be second only to the massive rebound 10 years ago after the financial crisis, and will put climate hopes out of reach unless governments act quickly, the International Energy Agency has warned.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/20/carbon-emissions-to-soar-in-2021-by-second-highest-rate-in-history
Coal financing costs have surged over the last decade as investors demand returns four times as high as the payoff required from renewable energy projects to justify the risk of investing in fossil fuels, as the world moves towards cleaner energy sources.
A University of Oxford study found that over the same period the cost of investing in renewable energy sources, such as windfarms and solar arrays, has tumbled as the clean energy technologies prove they can be cost-effective and lucrative investments.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/19/coal-financing-costs-surge-as-investors-opt-for-renewable-energy
The oil industry knew at least 50 years ago that air pollution from burning fossil fuels posed serious risks to human health, only to spend decades aggressively lobbying against clean air regulations, a trove of internal documents seen by the Guardian reveal.
The documents, which include internal memos and reports, show the industry was long aware that it created large amounts of air pollution, that pollutants could lodge deep in the lungs and be “real villains in health effects”, and even that its own workers may be experiencing birth defects among their children.
But these concerns did little to stop oil and gas companies, and their proxies, spreading doubt about the growing body of science linking the burning of fossil fuels to an array of health problems that kill millions of people around the world each year. Echoing the fossil-fuel industry’s history of undermining of climate science, oil and gas interests released a torrent of material aimed at raising uncertainty over the harm caused by air pollution and usedthis to deter US lawmakers from placing further limits on pollutants.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/18/oil-industry-fossil-fuels-air-pollution-documents
The climate crisis is already eating into the output of the world’s agricultural systems, with productivity much lower than it would have been if humans hadn’t rapidly heated the planet, new research has found.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/01/climate-crisis-global-heating-food-farming-agriculture
…& equally hard to ignore that what goes around may come around
At first, Andrew Christ was ecstatic. In soil taken from the bottom of the Greenland ice sheet, he’d discovered the remains of ancient plants. Only one other team of researchers had ever found greenery beneath the mile-high ice mass.
But then Christ determined how long it had been since that soil had seen sunlight: Less than a million years. Just the blink of an eye in geologic terms.
And it dawned on him. If plants once grew at multiple spots on the surface of Greenland, that meant the ice that now covers the island had entirely melted. And if the whole Greenland ice sheet had melted once in the not-so-distant past, that meant it could go again.
“Oh my god,” he thought.
The findings, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicate that the biggest reservoir of ice in the Northern Hemisphere can collapse due to relatively small increases in temperature over a long period of time. That makes it even more vulnerable to human-caused warming, which is causing the Earth to warm faster now than at any other period in its history.
“We know the Greenland ice sheet has this threshold,” Christ said — and humanity is pushing it.
Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have already raised global average temperatures more than 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1880. Greenland is losing ice at its fastest rate since humans invented agriculture, causing about 14 millimeters of sea level rise in the past half-century.
If the island’s entire ice sheet were to melt now, global sea levels would rise by more than 20 feet.https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/03/15/greenland-ice-sheet-more-vulnerable/
…not all progress is exactly positive
The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), a system of currents that includes the Florida Current and the Gulf Stream, is now “in its weakest state in over a millennium,” these experts say. This has implications for everything from the climate of Europe to the rates of sea-level rise along the U.S. East Coast.
Although evidence of the system’s weakening has been published before, the new research cites 11 sources of “proxy” evidence of the circulation’s strength, including clues hidden in seafloor mud as well as patterns of ocean temperatures. The enormous flow has been directly measured only since 2004, too short a period to definitively establish a trend, which makes these indirect measures critical for understanding its behavior.
The new research applies a statistical analysis to show that those measures are in sync and that nine out of 11 show a clear trend.https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/02/25/atlantic-ocean-currents-weakening-amoc-gulf-stream/
…& technology as ever isn’t necessarily on the side you’d hope
…back in february, when that article came out, there was this, too
“The scientists told us three years ago that we had 12 years to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis. We are now three years gone, so we have nine years left.”
— John F. Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate, in an interview with “CBS This Morning,” Feb. 19
Kerry is using a figure that is frequently cited but often misused. It’s a good example of how scientists may write a long and complex report, and then it’s interpreted by the news media, pundits and politicians in ways that make the scientists frustrated that their nuanced conclusions have been twisted into a talking point.
If anything, scientists say, Kerry’s phrasing understates the problem facing the planet.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/02/22/kerrys-claim-that-we-have-nine-years-left-avert-climate-crisis/
…& it’s not like they haven’t tried to paint a picture of what it might look like to put their money where their mouth is
President Joe Biden plans to use every tool at his disposal in the fight against climate change, including financial regulation. While not an intuitive choice, supporters say mandating that public companies and investment firms quantify and disclose climate risks — and the costs associated with them — is a bold step that could make ESG (environmental, social and governance) data as commonplace in corporate financial reports as sales and profit figures.https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/financial-regulation-way-advance-climate-agenda
By framing climate change mitigation as a driver of job growth, rather than just environmental stewardship, Biden has built support for this push from some unlikely allies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Washington’s holistic approach to fighting climate change, saying in a statement: “The impacts of climate change are far reaching and it will take smart policies across a wide spectrum of issues to achieve meaningful global emissions reductions while also supporting economic growth and job creation.”
…but when you’re considering a plan the simpsons had mr burns opt for one time
…it’s not exactly encouraging
…but maybe don’t underestimate the power of bouncing back
…or just soaking up those rays
When the Biden administration announced in late March a $128 million initiative to improve the costs of solar power, a significant chunk of the money went to research into materials named after an obscure 19th century Russian geologist and nobleman: Lev Perovski.
Among the projects listed: $40 million for research and development into so-called perovskite materials that scientists are using to push the limits of just how efficient and adaptable solar cells can be.
And while perovskites aren’t anything new — they were first found in Russia’s Ural Mountains in 1839, and they are relatively common — their more recent applications in solar power technology has sparked hope that humans will use them to better harness the thousands of megawatts of energy from the sun that falls on Earth every hour.https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/solar-panels-are-reaching-their-limit-these-crystals-could-change-that
…so don’t go writing off the potential of technology just yet
the effects of climate change [can] feel abstract and far away, like melting ice caps and receding glaciers. With Timelapse in Google Earth, we have a clearer picture of our changing planet right at our fingertips — one that shows not just problems but also solutions, as well as mesmerizingly beautiful natural phenomena that unfold over decades
…it’s not entirely doom & gloom, though
The Covid-19 lockdown has produced the quietest year for the world’s oceans in recent memory, according to a group of scientists working on a global map of underwater soundscapes.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/17/covid-pandemic-made-2020-the-year-of-the-quiet-ocean-say-scientists
…the BBC for example is part way through a radio series that bills itself as 39 Ways to Save the Planet…& just the other day the Washington Post pointed out that the news about environmental stuff is relentlessly grim & asked if we ought to allow ourselves some optimism
Living things facing what they’re not used to facing: It’s an increasingly common experience on planet Earth, as the climate changes and the weather gets more extreme. Nearly 3 billion animals were incinerated or displaced in the Australian bush fires of 2019 and 2020. Some 200 people were killed in February in a landslide and flood from a collapsing piece of glacier in the Himalayas. In recent months we learned that warming is weakening the sensitive circulation system of the Atlantic Ocean to a point not experienced in more than 1,000 years; hundreds of butterfly species in the American West are in steep decline; and Greenland’s ice sheet — already melting at the fastest rate in 12,000 years — is more susceptible to small temperature changes than was previously understood. A melted Greenland alone would mean a 20-foot rise in the seas.The Search For Environmental Hope [WaPo]
I’d called Nye in a quest to learn how to be hopeful in the face of despair over the fate of Earth. Among many subjects in her numerous books, she writes about nature and the environment, and I wondered how a poet, someone who thinks deeply about the planet, handles the steady stream of apocalyptic news. Now caught in a weather-induced civic collapse — arguably connected to climate change (because Arctic warming has disrupted the jet stream, allowing freakishly cold storms to push south) — could she still find hope? And if so, where?
The production of cement, the binding element in concrete, accounted for 7 percent of total global carbon dioxide emissions in 2018. Concrete is one of the most-used resources on Earth, with an estimated 26 billion tons produced annually worldwide. That production isn’t expected to slow down for at least two more decades.
Given the scale of the industry and its greenhouse gas emissions, technologies that can reinvent concrete could have profound impacts on climate change.
As engineers working on issues involving infrastructure and construction, we have been designing the next generation of concrete technology that can reduce infrastructure’s carbon footprint and increase durability. That includes CO2-infused concrete that locks up the greenhouse gas and can be stronger and even bendable.
Ángel León made his name serving innovative seafood. But then he discovered something in the seagrass that could transform our understanding of the sea itself – as a vast gardenhttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/09/sea-rice-eelgrass-marine-grain-chef-angel-leon-marsh-climate-crisis
…& perhaps we should be grateful that the optimism of youth is still a thing