The spotlight is a weekly compilation of links and excerpts from Daily Kos environmentally related posts. Any posts that are included in the collection do not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of them. Because of the interconnectedness of the subject matter, some of these posts could be placed in more than one category.
CRITTERS & THE GREAT OUTDOORS
carte blanche to torture animals in perpetuity by emmajill. The “Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression” (EATS) Act, H.R. 4417/S. 2019, is designed to wipe out state laws that ban the cruel cage confinement of egg-laying chickens, mother pigs and baby veal calves, and the sale of animal products derived from such cruelty. If passed, it could also destroy hundreds of other protections against terrible cruelties—like abuse of dogs in puppy mills, killing of animals for the wildlife trade and painful experiments inflicted on animals for cosmetic testing. But it doesn’t stop there.
=The Daily Bucket. Plethora of FOS hawks by funningforrest. What started out simply as a trip to check out my new big video microphone (experiment failed; explanation at end of diary) turned into a huge Red-tailed Hawk extravaganza across American Valley, Quincy, CA. Incidentally, “FOS” stands for first-of-season, although this isn’t strictly accurate, as these aren’t the first hawks I’ve photographed this “season”. However, since school has just started for the school year, that marks the “fall” season for me. So, technicalities aside, away we go.
Dawn Chorus: The Traveling Birder – Kingfishers of Indonesia by IaniusX. Most birdwatchers, and many non-birdwatchers are familiar with the Belted Kingfisher. It’s essentially the only kingfisher we have in the US and Canada. Although a couple other species—Ringed Kingfisher and Green Kingfisher—are found around the U.S.-Mexico border, there are only 6 species of kingfisher found in all of the Americas. On the other hand, over 50 species of kingfisher are regularly found in Indonesia. A few are migrants, but most of them are residents. Why are there so many species there? First because of islands. Islands tend to isolate populations, which allows them to evolve into endemic species. Indonesia is made up of over 17,000 islands, and many of those islands have their own species or multiple species of kingfisher. Second, Indonesia straddles something known as Wallace’s Line, named after the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. On my recent trip to Indonesia, I birded on four different islands: Sulawesi, Halmahera, Bali, and Java. Sulawesi is on the east side of Wallace’s Line. It’s so big that it has many of its own endemic species. Halmahera is even further east in the Northern Moluccas, making the wildlife even more Australasian. It has a few endemic species, but many of its species are shared with nearby New Guinea. However, Java and Bali are on the west side of Wallace’s Line, so their wildlife is like the rest of Asia, but again, being islands, there are some unique species, too. Many of those are shared only between the two islands.
Dawn Chorus. My birds of summer 2023 by funningforrest. Summer this year started on June 20 and ended, well, it hasn’t ended yet. Not until this coming Saturday, the 23rd, which my wall calendar says is the First Day of Autumn. But, this is close enough for now. Since the first day of summer this year I have added six new species to my life list, which I didn’t actually start keeping in written form until 2021 but it goes back to 2016 when I got my first true camera for bird photography. Fortunately my photo records are intact from that first camera (and my second, and my third) so I could confidently create the list. It stands at 159 species as of this writing. got to wondering, just how many outings did I make this summer? My photo filing system tells me that, with just a slight bit of keyboarding and mousing. Between June 23 and September 16, sixty-six outings with file folder created.
The Daily Bucket – Fall 2023 Salish Sea news: some population changes by OceanDiver.
Tomgram: Joshua Frank, The U.S. and China Face Off Over — Yes! — Climate Change by Joshua Frank. It’s an ocean of conflict and ecological decline. Despite its vast size — 1.3 million square miles — the South China Sea has become a microcosm of the geopolitical tensions between East and West, where territorial struggles over abundant natural resources may one day lead to environmental collapse. While the threat of a devastating military conflict between China and the United States in the region still looms, the South China Sea has already experienced irreparable damage. Decades of over-harvesting have, for instance, had a disastrous impact on that sea’s once-flourishing fish. The tuna, mackerel, and shark populations have fallen to 50% of their 1960s levels. Biologically critical coral reef atolls, struggling to survive rising ocean temperatures, are also being buried under sand and silt as the Chinese military lays claim to and builds on the disputed Spratly Islands, an archipelago of 14 small isles and 113 reefs in that sea. Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam have also laid claim to many of the same islands. Perhaps no one should be surprised since oil and gas deposits are plentiful in the South China Sea. The U.S. government estimates that 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are ready to be extracted from its floor. Such fossil-fuel reserves, some believe, are helping to — yes, how can anyone not use the word? — fuel the turmoil increasingly engulfing the region.
It took four years for a rift that spanned the width of Brunt Ice Shelf finally broke in January of 2023. The iceberg named A81 was
Brunt glacier rapidly accelerates into the Weddell Sea after pinning point lost to iceberg A81 by Pakalolo. Once considered stable, The Brunt Ice Shelf is accelerating rapidly into the Weddell Sea, according to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), which monitors Brunt at its Halley Research station. Halley Station recorded the retreat after two massive icebergs calved. The surge of glacial ice occurred shortly after Iceberg A81 when it snapped off the 500-foot thick ice shelf. The floating shelf has moved from half a mile in January to almost one mile today. The abstract notes, “Initially, the rate of acceleration increased by a factor of ten, with a second, smaller calving at the end of June 2023 leading to further tripling of acceleration. The acceleration is caused by reduced buttressing at the McDonald Ice Rumples due to losing contact with the sea floor. It has led to high strain rates to the south, with potential consequences for the stability of the remaining ice shelf.” The shelf has given researchers no reason to believe that the remaining shelf will disintegrate anytime soon. They believe the glacier will be grounded again at some point. Where that would be was not identified; it could be another ridge at the McDonald Ice Rumples. The BAS monitors the glacier daily.
Breakthrough’s Patrick Brown Confesses He Did Something Unethical, But Blames Everyone Else For It by ClimateDenierRoundup. The Breakthrough Institute (BTI) is not the sort of organization we usually cover here, because the folks there are not exactly deniers … but they have long seemed pretty intent on generating fodder for deniers to attack climate advocates. Ever since they (rightfully) booted UFOlogist co-founder Michael Shellenberger, BTI has been trying to rehabilitate its image, moving away from being a reflexively contrarian hippie-punching, pro-nuclear energy, and methane gas lobbying group. The organization is instead attempting to be a respectable climate and energy think tank pushing for “ecomodernism,” arguing that only it has figured out how to do environmentalism correctly. (Just don’t ask them to cite any success stories in getting bipartisan climate policy passed.) Last week, though, that PR effort came crashing down as the latest Breakthrough staffer sabotaged his own reputation, threw his co-authors under the bus, and proved BTI isn’t helping get us any closer to meaningful and equitable climate policies.
Learning Science Apparently A ‘Radical Agenda’ When It Comes To Climate Change by ClimateDenierRoundup. Should schools teach science? Should journalists report on it? Not according to a pair of op-eds published last week, both gasping and clutching pearls at the idea of people becoming better informed about an issue of global consequence. On Thursday, The Daily Caller ran Larry Behrens’ op-ed headlined, “Inside Climate Alarmists’ ‘Blueprint For Media Transformation.'” Behrens’ supposedly “inside” information is a very public posting about a two-day event on reporting on climate change that Covering Climate Now is hosting with the Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation, The Guardian, and Solutions Journalism Network. The invitation, Behrens cites, invites reporters “from around the world for an unprecedented conversation about how to cover a world on fire.” Apparently uncomfortable with figures of speech, Behrens claims “nothing says dispassionate objectivity like the phrase ‘world on fire.'” Again, the headline to his piece includes the phrase “climate alarmists,” so clearly he knows a thing or two about dispassionate objectivity… But since it’s being held at the Columbia Journalism School, that’s the institution Behrens targets, neglecting to mention the range of media organizations participating in the event.
A Plan To Ensure a Global Crisis by Rick Elia. Now, the Times reports on another goal of Project 2025 as “conservatives are laying the groundwork for a future Republican administration that would dismantle efforts to slow global warming. … The climate and energy provisions would be among the most severe swings away from current federal policies.” This is not a fly-by-night scheme. This is a stunning, extensive, and diabolical strategy to undo efforts to date to combat climate change and ensure conditions can only get worse for future generations. From increasing our use of fossil fuels, to crushing efforts to convert to green energy sources, to stripping the federal government of the ability to even address the issue of greenhouse gas emissions, this plan leads no stone unturned in the Right’s quest of enriching the fossil fuel industry while wreaking havoc on our planet in the process.
Overnight News Digest, science edition – faster EVs, mini solar arrays, SW US seeing ground fissures by Rise above the swamp. [From Grist]: Cows are often described as climate change criminals because of how much planet-warming methane they burp. But there’s another problem with livestock farming that’s even worse for the climate and easier to overlook: To feed the world’s growing appetite for meat, corporations and ranchers are chopping down more forests and trampling more carbon-sequestering grasslands to make room for pastures and fields of hay. Ruminants, like cattle, sheep, and goats, need space to graze, and animal feed needs space to grow. The greenhouse gases unleashed by this deforestation and land degradation mean food systems account for one-third of the world’s human-generated climate pollution. Environmental advocates have long argued that there’s a straightforward solution to this mess: Eat less meat. Convincing more people to become vegetarians is a very effective way to limit emissions. Getting rid of meat is one question; replacing it is another. A paper published on Tuesday seeks to address both, finding that giving up meat in favor of meatlike plant products would yield significant benefits for the climate, biodiversity, and even food security in coming decades.
Overnight News Digest: Inside Exxon’s Strategy to Deny Climate Change by Magnifico. From The Wall Street Journal: Exxon’s public acceptance in 2006 of the risks posed by climate change was an early act of Rex Tillerson, an Exxon lifer who became CEO that year. Some viewed him as a moderating force who brought Exxon in line with the scientific consensus. The documents reviewed by the Journal, which haven’t been previously reported, cast Tillerson’s decadelong tenure in a different light. They show that Tillerson, as well as some of Exxon’s board directors and other top executives, sought to cast doubt on the severity of climate change’s impacts. Exxon scientists supported research that questioned the findings of mainstream climate science, even after the company said it would stop funding think tanks and others that promoted climate-change denial.
Overnight News Digest for Weds September 13 (Even more climate chaos edition) by jeremybloom. From The Cool Down: “I feel very strongly that this country needs to get off its butt and do so with honesty and a respect for what’s happening. For too long, conservatives have run from the climate conversation. Help me reverse the narrative that somehow we don’t care about this Earth.” That was the plea from Republican congressman John Curtis at the Conservative Climate Summit, a sold-out event in his home state of Utah, that focused on a conservative approach to climate solutions.
Just watched this video, new phrase Planetary Crisis by eeff.
How Positive Feedback in Planetary Heating Could Do Us In by dratler. As global warming gets worse and worse, something threatens our species that even most climate activists don’t seem to understand. It’s a phenomenon known mainly to engineers and scientists. It goes by the name of “positive feedback.” Perhaps it’s poorly named. In planetary heating, there’s nothing “positive” about positive feedback. At least five known mechanisms of positive feedback can accelerate planetary heating even if and after we stop burning fossil fuels entirely. In other words, positive feedback may already have made planetary heating self-sustaining. It may have created multiple “tipping points” that put acceleration of planetary heating completely beyond human control. So in terms of human comfort, health, happiness and survival, “positive” feedback is nothing but negative.
Capitalism is not the Problem by mcornelison. “Capitalism” is increasingly blamed for huge social and economic problems, but the real problem is criminal conspiracies by corporation executives. [From a Guardian piece] Exxon worked for decades to sow confusion about climate change, even though its own scientists had begun warning executives as early as 1977 that carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels were warming the planet, posing dire risks to human beings … Exxon became the architect of a highly effective strategy of climate change denial that succeeded for decades in politicizing climate policy and delaying meaningful action to cut heat-trapping pollution.=
Bill McKibben urges Californians to call Gov. Newsom to sign climate bills SB 253 and SB 261 by Dan Bacher. The California Legislature this week passed Senate Bill 253, the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act (SB 253), and Senate Bill 261, Greenhouse gases: climate-related financial risk (SB 261). The two bills are now headed to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk to sign or veto by October 14. SB 253 (Wiener requires companies with revenues exceeding $1 billion to report all of their associated emissions, including “Scope 3” emissions, from products that are sold and used by consumers (think about Exxon’s gas stations). SB 261 (Stern) requires companies doing more than $500 million ($500,000,000) in annual revenue to disclose their risk according to global disclosure standards. This information, made public biennially, will inform investors around the country and the world about the prudence of investing in banks and companies contributing to climate chaos. Third Act Sacramento applauded the passage of the two bills and urged people to call on the Governor today to sign them.
Governor Newsom and Attorney General Bonta Sue Five Big Oil Companies for ’50 Years of Deception’ by Dan Bacher. On September 16, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the state is suing Big Oil “for more than 50 years of deception, cover-up, and damage that have cost California taxpayers billions of dollars in health and environmental impacts.” The text of the lawsuit is here. The defendants in the case are five of the world’s largest oil companies and their subsidiaries: Exxon, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and BP, and a trade group that promoted disinformation: The American Petroleum Institute. Then today at 1 p.m. PDT, Newsom will participate in the Climate Week NYC Opening Ceremony to discuss the lawsuit. Watch the video here.
Pro-UAE Propaganda Campaign On Reddit Appears To Be Latest In Long History of PR Tactics by ClimateDenierRoundup. The United Arab Emirates’ efforts to bolster its reputation ahead of the annual UN climate negotiations it’s hosting in December haven’t gone particularly well this year. They’ve been playing the long game, Cartie Werthman uncovered for DeSmog yesterday,as lobbying disclosures document how the head of the UAE’s national oil company, Sultan Ahmed “Al Jaber’s ascent to the highest levels of climate diplomacy began 16 years ago, and Edelman, the largest public relations firm in the world, played a crucial role.” This week, we spotted what appears to be another petroganda effort: an unusual post on Reddit’s “climate skeptics” page, standing out among the links to dumb memes, decade-old YouTube videos, and denial blog posts. It’s a stock image of a tree, half dead and half lush, with the caption: “The UAE is keen to achieve what ensures development and sustainability in the Arab countries and for the benefit of all their peoples through continuous work to achieve climate neutrality.”
FOOD, AGRICULTURE & GARDENING
Saturday Morning Garden Blog Vol. 19.37- A Visit to Rob Proctor’s Garden by Merry Light. Rob Proctor is the plant expert guy on Denver’s NBC affiliate 9News and has a segment every Saturday, along with specials about Colorado gardening. He has lived in a marvelous, antique-stuffed Denver foursquare for 26 years, planting and tending his huge garden with his partner David Macke. My mom adored him. Once a year he opens his house and gardens to the public and we get to see all his beautiful grounds. This year it was the same weekend as a planned visit with my sisters so of course we went to see the gardens. […] I missed taking pictures in the house for the most part, we were heading out to the garden. I was able to come to my senses as we were leaving and snapped a few photos of the living areas and the back enclosed porch. I’ll get to those, GUG, promise! I mostly took photos of the garden, of course! A birdbath, not sure what was in it but maybe barley for mosquitos?
Climate resilience: Wicking Bed success by Gardening Toad. This is a follow-up to my previous diary about wicking beds. I’m thrilled at how well my first one is working, so I’m making two more from various old tubs and plumbing bits. Our daytime highs have been in the upper 90s to over 100 for weeks (months?) with virtually no rain. But these succulent edible plants are flourishing with no stress whatsoever. I’m tremendously inspired by the Greening the Desert Project in Jordan. Here are some videos about what folks are doing there: Wicking beds in Jordan. Greening the Desert videos playlist.
Who stopped you? A climate story by Gardening Toad. Many people in the climate threads say they are being prevented from taking action to combat global warming and biosphere destruction. They say politicians, or billionaires, are keeping them from doing the things they need to do to address the problem. I have not personally had this problem. Nobody has prevented me from taking any of the actions I’m currently taking. The only slight hitch in my plans was the City of San Antonio decided to put a sidewalk through an area I had planted to fruit trees and flowers. No big deal, I just moved the plants and will put them in slightly different locations once the weather cools sufficiently (late October, maybe?). The new sidewalk gives me a perfect opportunity to turn the plantings into a teaching garden with some little signs. So I’m hoping folks will post what they have tried to do and how they have been stopped or prevented by politicians, bureaucrats, or billionaires. Maybe we can put our heads together and figure out how to work around the obstruction.
Protest against new oil drilling in California and the U.S. on July 4, 2023.
California oil production declines as U.S. crude oil drilling increases by Dan Bacher. When I first started reporting on this issue over a decade ago, California was the third largest oil producing state. Now California is the seventh largest oil producing state in the country. However, oil companies continue to drill for oil and gas in the state — and there are thousands of unproductive, uncapped wells. The number of oil drilling permits issued by California’s oil and gas regulator, CalGEM, has exceeded 15,000 since Governor Newsom took office in 2019. Nearly all permits issued in the first six months of 2023 were to fix unproductive wells, not to drill new ones, according to an analysis from Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance. On the national level, the Biden Administration recently canceled oil and gas land leases in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve, but U..S oil production continues to soar to record levels. The U.S. is the world’s largest producer and world’s largest consumer of oil.
Shell Using Fortnite Ads To Shore Up Reputation Among Gen Z, Latest In 100 Years Of Gaming by ClimateDenierRoundup. For as long as it has known that its product causes climate change (decades), Shell has been on the cutting edge of the oil industry’s many attempts to greenwash its products by making cringey appeals to the youth. Cognizant of millennials’ and Gen Z’s disdain for the industry’s nasty habit of poisoning the planet, Shell has used everything from music videos to social media influencers, in addition to the usual lobby shops, to launder its oil-stained reputation. Now, two years after researchers pinned down just how much climate change Shell’s CEO is personally responsible for, the company is pursuing another advertising route to try and reach younger generations. While PragerU is making hamfisted efforts to reach children in schools, Shell knows where the cool kids hang out: video games. We recently spotted an ad for Shell’s “Ultimate Road Trips” partnership with Fortnite, a build-and-shoot multiplayer online game. Apparently the polluter has created a “new island in Fortnite,” and the Shell island “is all about speed, acceleration, and performance, powered by Shell V-Power® NiTRO+ Premium Gasoline.”
Renewable Tuesday 9/12: Carbon Taxes vs. Subsidies; More Sources by Mokurai. The idea of a carbon tax comes from economist Arthur Pigou, who created the theory of externalities. It works. Therefore the industry is screaming about it. Therefore we must do more of it. And dump the subsidies, too. Pigou didn’t use the word “externalities.” He called them “negative marginal social net product.” I will have a Diary about his views on taxing them, in what has come to be known as Pigovian taxation, on Saturday. For today, let’s look at the data, including the maps above and below, of carbon taxes and subsidies.
RESOURCES & ACTION
In this photo provided by New York Communities for Change, climate activists protest on July 15, 2023, in East Hampton, N.Y. Climate activism has intensified in the past few years with some activists turning their attention to the wealthy, as the planet warms to dangerous levels
If Fox’s Jesse Watters had his way, this coming weekend’s climate activists would be ‘run over‘ by Meteor Blades. Climate activists with the Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels are hoping for millions of people to show up this Friday, Sept. 15, at more than 400 actions worldwide to demonstrate for an immediate phaseout of fossil fuels. Despite the ever-worsening climate impacts all around us, that large a turnout sounds a bit ambitious. In September four years ago, an estimated 4 million protesters participated in climate marches and other actions as part of the Global Week for Future. But since then, skepticism about the impacts of street protests, and the unfortunate, counterproductive spread of the view that our climate situation is hopeless, likely mean this year’s events will be fewer and smaller. Even though the organizers note activities can be anything from speak-outs to occupations, few of the announced events have the flavor of protest or disruption. Most feel like pleas tinged with more sadness than fury. Of course, nobody is going to announce a graffiti painting event at ExxonMobil HQ or something more aggressive and legally risky. Even when engaging in illegal civil disobedience, however, climate activists don’t come armed with ARs and tactical vests, though plenty do wear their heart on their sleeve—love for Mother Earth. That makes no difference to right-wing extremists. Channeling the neo-Nazis who brought their hatred to Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as some state legislatures, Fox News’ Jesse Watters said peaceful climate protesters should be “run over.” So a guy who spews lies that climatologists are “making all of this money by telling us something that’s not happening” also thinks murder is an appropriate response to free speech he disagrees with. Fascism at work.
Hundreds of activists call for an end to fossil fuels in Sacramento before Climate Ambition Summit by Dan Bacher. On Sunday, Sept 17 starting at 11 a.m., hundreds of climate justice advocates from dozens of groups across northern and central California will hold a “joyous” Action to End Fossil Fuels in Old Sacramento. The advocates will call on Governor Gavin Newsom and President Joe Biden to halt approvals of new and reworked oil drilling permits and declare a climate emergency, according to a press advisory from the coalition sponsoring the action. “They will flood the embarcadero with a 50 ft sidewalk mural, giant puppets, banners and other arts, as well as carnival games, songs and a flashmob, while kayak activists assemble with flags and banners in the Sacramento River, culminating in a giant banner hanging off of the iconic tower bridge with hundreds of activists singing, chanting and waving flags on the bridge,” the advisory stated. This action is the West Coast counterpart to the March to End Fossil Fuels, taking place concurrently in New York City.
Kitchen Table Kibitzing: End Fossil Fuels March This Weekend by boatsie. Organizers of the March to End Fossil Fuels announced that 500 organizations have endorsed the upcoming mobilization on September 17 in New York City. Groups including the NAACP, Sierra Club, and Sunrise Movement have signed on to support the march and its demands for Pres. Biden to take bold action on fossil fuels in the wake of a deadly, record-breaking summer of extreme heat and climate disasters. They join the key groups organizing the march, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Popular Democracy, Climate Organizing Hub, Food & Water Watch, Fridays For Future USA & NYC, Earthworks, Greenfaith, Indigenous Environmental Network, New York Communities for Change, Oil Change International and Oil & Gas Action Network. In addition to the 500 groups supporting the march, nationally recognized leaders including Sen. Ed Markey, Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Jamaal Bowman, Tennessee State Rep. Justin Pearson, former President of Ireland and Chair of The Elders Mary Robinson, Jane Fonda, Naomi Klein, Mark Ruffalo, and Bill McKibben are backing the march.
Climate Emergency teamwork is critical! Please support birches’ ‘Climate Strike’ series — daily by mikeymikey. Ironically, despite the ‘earth shattering’ and ongoing environmental catastrophes we are witnessing, our climate community is still the unloved child of DK, struggling, like a pre-Prince Cinderella. Environmental collapse is the ‘formal ball’ that is beginning to transform us, but in the meantime, as a ‘community’, we need to support our dedicated players, as well as nurture all our diarists and foster fresh voices, to be as prepared as possible to meet this challenge head on. A couple of months ago, I wrote a diary promoting birches’ splendid ‘Climate Strike’ series on DK. […] This series is a treasure trove of climate information and ideas, brilliantly thought out and beautifully written with access enhancing clarity. Although written several years ago and directed at the environmental concerns of the Bay Area, the majority of the information applies globally, while sadly remaining topical. With nearly every daily posting, birches’ uses comments to update the diary, adding to its relevancy. He does this conscientiously, despite getting a paucity of readership response.
[Note: The climate strike action began at San Francisco City Hall in 2019. The following entries are excerpts from “letters” that were issued each week of the action.]
Climate Strike — Energy, It’s All About Energy (week 81) by birches. This week’s topic is Energy, Yeah, energy. Without it, SF dies fast. With it, we can maybe survive the harrowing to come. But we’re fine on energy, you say. Really? Currently we’re tied to PG&E’s debts, criminal behavior, and climate change malpractice. PG&E equipment and poor servicing frequently cause fires and explosions in San Francisco that kill, maim, and knock out power for thousands of people at a time. It’s insane to rely on PG&E for our very survival. But why talk about energy now? You know how Covid-19 started out with only a few cases and then more and then there were a lot and then there was an avalanche? That’s what’s happening now with climate change and we are about to descend into avalanche territory.
Climate Strike — Will We Always Have Paris? (week 80) by birches. This week’s topic is Will We Always Have Paris? What is the Paris Agreement? It’s a set of agreements among nations to hold the global average temperature increase to below 2°C of pre-industrial levels in order to significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.1 That’s it, that’s the core. Pretty simple, right? What does that have to do with us in SF? Hmmm, let’s think about this for a second. 1. The Paris Agreement is about saving this planet’s ability to support life. 2. San Francisco is on the planet. 3. Everyone will have to act if any of us are to have a chance. That’s why states and cities signed on to the agreement. California signed. California committed to cutting emissions as much as 28% below 2005 levels by 2020.2 San Francisco agreed to adopt, honor, and uphold the goals of Paris, act to meet the preferred 1.5°C target, create a 21st century clean energy economy, increase investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, buy and create demand for electric cars and trucks, increase cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice.3
Climate Strike — Have You Figured It Out Yet? (week 79) by birches. For months, there’ve been two countdowns at the end of these Strike letters. This week’s topic: Have You Figured It Out Yet? What are these two countdowns? 1. The first countdown is the number of weeks left to start the big actions needed for our survival. What big actions?
- Moving to all-electric, local green power;
- building 100% local blackwater recycling;
- planting a native urban forest;
- eliminating cars from the streets of San Francisco;
- getting rid of plastic;
- recycling locally;
- making social and environmental justice the driving force of all city actions;
2. The second countdown is the number of days left to save the Earth. It is a countdown clock The Guardian has been running for the past 93 days. Let’s call it the Days To Date Clock.
Climate Strike — We Are Here (week 78) by birches. Yeah, it’s not good. But there’s so much we can and must do! And this is it. This is your last best chance to act before all that’s left to you is reaction. Reacting, as America’s Covid-19 response has shown, is so much more expensive and less effective than acting in the first place. Look at it like this: You’re at the top of a massive killer wave. You either try your best to ride it, or you do nothing and wipe us all out with you. So your dithering had better finally be done. You have 11 weeks left in which to start the necessary big actions if we’re going to survive. In a little over a year, our species has lost 10 years time in which to act. The Guardian’s climate countdown gives us 14 days to save the earth. So yeah, please finally get to work!
Climate Strike — Bargain Hunting (week 77) by birches. This week’s topic is Bargain Hunting. You have to act now. Why? Let me count the ways, using headlines. To get the full horror, read the cited articles.
- The Arctic is in a death spiral.
- A fifth of countries are at risk of ecosystem collapse.
- We will see oceans without fish by 2048.
- The mass extinction event is accelerating.
- The world is burning.
- The Arctic permafrost is melting 70 years sooner than expected.
- All coral reefs could be dead within 80 years.
- And climate change is accelerating.1
There’s so much more but, in summary, it’s all getting worse way faster than predicted. Because you’ve waited so long to act, fixes can be neither gradual nor cheap.
Climate Strike — Green Building Practices (week 76) by birches. This week’s topic is Green Building Practices. What are Green Building Practices? Green Building Practices require that the funders, builders, buyers, and final owners green the life cycle of a building in an integrated, comprehensive manner. Every phase of the building’s existence is made green, from construction to operation, maintenance, and decommissioning. It is a Cradle-to-Cradle approach1 for society’s largest tangible goods. Building green means having sustainable siting, energy efficiency, water efficiency, sustainable and recycled building materials, waste reduction, and healthy indoor environmental quality.2 Some ways to achieve these include (but are not limited to) constructing Net-Zero3 and Climate Resilient Buildings4; meeting the standards for Green Star5, EDGE6 or LEED Certification7; incorporating Distributed Energy Systems8; and use of Alternative Building Materials.9 All Green Building Practices push the builders and users of a structure to do no harm to the environment. Boring and obvious, right?
TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
EVs are cutting the world demand for oil, but not in the way you may think by Mark Sumner. The demand for EVs is accelerating in almost every area of the world. The best-selling car in the United States is an EV (though it actually comes in fifth place among passenger vehicles overall, behind four nonelectric pickups). EVs top the charts in Europe and in China. According to the International Energy Agency, each year since 2016 has seen “exponential growth” in EV sales, and it projects a 35% year-over-year increase in EV sales by the end of 2023. European Union countries have approved a plan to ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035. Public transportation and commercial transport are also getting more electric, with both electric buses and electric over-the-road trucks becoming more popular. But even when you add up all the cars, buses, and trucks that have gone electric in the last decade, that’s only a third of all the oil that’s being saved by EVs. So where is the rest? It’s in vehicles that are rarely seen on American roads.
About getting America on the right track… Tune in Tonight by xaxnar. There’s a webinar coming up for later today [Sept. 12] that should be of interest to many. If you want a sustainable planet, if you want environmental justice, if you want to get off fossil fuels, if you want an economy that rewards workers, if you want to see the public interest served, make some time to see answers to the question: “Where Is This Train Going?” Freight Rail in the Public Interest.
World’s top ports unusable by 2050 due to SLR; Antarctic warming twice the rate of climate models by Pakalolo. Sea levels rise from the melting of the great ice walls of Antarctica. Thermal Expansion and Arctic Amplification all threaten the world’s coastal cities, particularly the top ports. Reuters’ report on the soon-to-be-released Global Maritime Trends 2050 finds that some of the world’s top ports will be unusable by 2050. The study looked at over 3,800 ports across the globe; one-third of them “are located in a tropical band vulnerable to the most potent effects of climate change,” a Lloyd’s Register (LR) spokesperson said.” It was the Lloyds Register that looked at future scenarios of sea-level rise. Lloyds and its charitable arm represent the shipping industry. […] The article is interesting, but the corporate media should stop pretending we have decades to get things right. We don’t. Adapting to the runaway melting of the polar ice caps is not possible. Even Dimming the Sun and other geoengineering ballyhooed tricks for slowing the melting of Antarctica will not work, according to new research.
IRA ‘Turbocharging’ U.S. Jobs, Clean Energy Manufacturing. Will Voters Notice?: ‘BradCast’ 9/13/2023 by TheBradBlog. Biden and the Democrats’ landmark Inflation Reduction Act — featuring the largest single investment in history in climate change mitigation and clean energy manufacturing and jobs — is now one year old. It has already begun to “turbocharging” a massive investment in new manufacturing plants and jobs in the U.S. to help reduce fossil fuel carbon emissions causing our climate crisis. It will soon be funding billions of dollars in home improvement projects to allow low and middle-income homeowners to electrify, solarize, upgrade and simply increase energy efficiency to save money. (NOTE: Not currently applicable in states like Florida, Kentucky, Iowa or South Dakota, apparently, which have failed to join the federal program to help their own residents save money and improve their home values while fighting climate change.) Our guest today to discuss all of this is the great David Roberts, longtime climate, energy and politics journalist and podcaster at Volts.WTF. We last spoke to him a year ago, just after passage of the critical legislation.
2800 bodies recovered in Derna, up to 10,000 missing as entire neighborhoods swept into the sea by Pakalolo. According to reports on the ground, dead bodies are everywhere in the eastern Libyan city of Derna. A large swath of Derna has been erased from the face of the earth, with block after block of apartment buildings and the old city being swept into the Mediterranean Sea after two dams burst after heavy rainfall on already saturated ground from storm Daniel—estimates of the dead range from 1500 to 2800 so far. But at least 10,000 are feared to have been swept into the sea in Derna and likely died from being crushed or by drowning. Other cities impacted are Benghazi, Sousse, and Al-Marj. Body counts are only estimates now; the situation and numbers are changing rapidly.
Parts of Derna, Libya, have been wiped off the map by the same storm that submerged parts of Greece by Pakalolo. There are at least 2,000 dead and thousands missing after a strong low-pressure system named Storm Daniel passed over Libya today. Storm Daniel has wreaked havoc across the Mediterranean, with heavy rainfall in Istanbul, Bulgaria, and the Thessaly Plain (agricultural land) in Greece for a couple of weeks. After the storm destroyed a quarter of Greece’s agricultural land, it moved back into the Mediterranean, intensified, and became Medicane Daniel. CNN appears to be the only news outlet reporting on the crisis in Libya. “The remains of the storm are affecting northern Libya and will slowly head east toward northern Egypt. Rainfall for the next two days could reach 50mm – this region averages less than 10mm across the whole of September.”
Thanks to Republicans, Floridians hoping to recoup hurricane losses may be in for a rude surprise by Dartagnan. Many Floridians doubtlessly breathed a sigh of relief late last month after Idalia, the year’s first major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S., swept through the state, leaving extremely serious—but not quite apocalyptic—damage in its wake. Idalia hit the Gulf Coast as a “high end” Category 3 storm with sustained winds near 125 mph, but its rapid course spared the state from the severe outcome many had predicted. Unfortunately, Idalia was the merely first in what will be a long season of hurricanes targeting the Florida coast this year, and there is obviously no way to predict exactly how severe the next one will be—or the one after that. The well-documented exodus of big-name property insurers from Florida and other areas subject to the severe weather events exacerbated by human-induced climate change, has left many with limited recourse to recover their losses after a hurricane hits. To avoid the fate of insurers that have simply liquidated their assets through bankruptcy, these companies have made the logical business decision: The cost of insuring homes and businesses located in in areas most likely to sustain environmental damage is no longer commensurate with the risk.
Fox host tells receptive Ron Johnson solar panels in Africa are “vile” and “racist” by The Critical Mind. Whenever Ron Johnson appears on TV, it is usually a safe bet he is the dumbest person on the screen. For once, Fox News host Dagen McDowell makes that bet not a given. In what was nominally an interview — in reality, it was competing diatribes — McDowell claimed that solar panels are racist. I will let her explain. [Biden] goes into this weird rambling discussion about we’re going to give money to nations like Angola and Africa to develop solar energy as if we’re not already deeply in debt. But what is so vile about this … John Kerry, a year ago, told African nations, you’re not developing natural gas for electricity. These people are telling sub-Saharan Africa, “You have to stay in the dark” and not develop your fossil fuel because we say so. This is keeping 1 billion people in the darks [sic] Senator. Because they say so. It’s called … it’s essentially climate colonialism. It’s racist.
New study indicates Earth is exceeding the ‘safe operating space’ in 6 of 9 planetary boundaries by Meteor Blades. Back in 2009 researchers published the first report on exceeding the boundaries of Earth’s “safe operating space.” In 2015, there was an update. They concluded that the Earth had crossed the line beyond safety on at least four of nine boundaries—climate change, land use, biodiversity, and nutrient flows. Now, the researchers have published an even more disturbing update assessing the planet’s health—Earth beyond six of nine planetary boundaries—in which they add fresh water and forests to the list. Only three boundaries, stratospheric ozone levels, air pollution, and ocean acidification are still inside the safety zone, and those two latter areas are edging up to the boundary.
When good intentions turn out badly – Canadian wildfires in the context of planting bomb trees by xaxnar. Planting nothing but one species of tree in a landscape that has been stripped of every other species is not recreating a forest. It’s planting a cash crop, no different from plowing up a meadow supporting hundreds of different plants and planting nothing but corn. You’d never mistake a cornfield for a meadow, but it’s easy to look at a bunch of trees and think you’re seeing a forest. The forestry industry likes to greenwash what it does as being sound stewardship of the land, that it ‘manages’ forests to keep them healthy. What they actually do is turn a complex ecosystem into a uniform ‘product’ that can be easily harvested, grown to size in minimum time at minimum expense for maximum profit. That’s not a living forest; it’s a bio-factory assembly line. A natural forest is a complex interlocking system of different species of plants, animals, and fungi, shaped by factors like soil, water, and climate. It’s ‘messy’. Dr. Suzanne Simard’s “Finding the Mother Tree” is the story of her personal journey as her years of work in the field and in the lab revealed that what is happening in a natural forest is more about cooperation than competition between different organisms. The simplistic notion that getting rid of all the ‘junk’ trees will free up the ‘good’ trees from competition so they can grow better turns out not to be the case.
A Big Climate Win in Big Sky Country by Stan Cox at Tomgram. The wording in Article IX, Section 1, of Montana’s constitution couldn’t be clearer: “The state and each person shall maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations.” Accordingly, in April, a district court judge in Yellowstone County voided a permit for a natural-gas-fired power plant under construction there. Over its lifetime, it would have released an estimated 23 million tons of planet-roasting carbon dioxide and that, ruled the judge, was incompatible with a “clean and healthful environment” in Montana or, for that matter, anywhere else. Within a week, the state legislature had voted to reinforce a 2011 law barring the consideration of climate change in policymaking and so allowing the construction of the power plant to resume. But that wasn’t the end of the matter. Last month, the lawmakers were slapped down a second time when another district judge ruled in favor of a group of 16 youthful Montanans in a suit filed in 2020 seeking to strike down that very 2011 anti-climate legislation.
RealClearEnergy Originals Are Just Advertisements Presented As Op-Eds by ClimateDenier Roundup. RealClearEnergy has blessed us with countless examples of disinformation, but recently it seems they’ve given up the ghost of being legitimate media, and are just more or less transparently serving up advertisements in the form of op-eds. In other words, they’re using a version of one of the fossil fuel industry’s favorite disinformation techniques: the “op-ad.” While plenty of real media outlets let corporate spokespeople and industry lobbyists present their cases for policies that benefit them, those biased voices are usually drowned out by the legitimate journalism in the outlet. At RealClearEnergy, though, the op-ads are basically all there is, which probably means that the outlet is taking a whole lot of industry money in addition to the Koch funding it’s historically received (and the shady ad business…) Want some examples?
California water rights verification bill, SB 389, passes Senate and advances to Governor’s Desk by Dan Bacher. On September 12, the California State Senate approved SB 389, legislation by Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica) that gives the State Water Resources Control Board the power to verify pre-1914 and riparian water rights. […] Bill proponents include a coalition of environmental, science, fishing and climate justice groups and the Karuk Tribe, Winnemem Wintu Tribe and Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. They said the bill is needed because the Water Board “presently lacks the tools to promptly investigate and determine whether senior water right claims are inflated or represent the amounts that the claimants have the right to divert and use. Reforms allowing the Water Board to verify these claimed water rights could make water available for more junior water rights holders and, in times of scarcity, continue to provide for fishery and other key beneficial uses.”