climate change (7)

Argonne, Assemble...

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(Image by Shutterstock/muratart.)

Topics: Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Existentialism, Global Warming, Green Tech

Thankfully, we're not. Hat tip to Marvel, and Rotten Tomatoes.

Scientists aren’t superheroes. Or are they? Superheroes defend the defenseless and save humanity from any number of disasters, both natural and unnatural, often using powers of logic and some really hip techno-gadgets.

The Earth is in crisis and while it has its own mechanisms to fight back, it could use a helping hand. Earth could use a superhero.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are stepping up and applying decades of expertise and research to combat some of Earth’s toughest foes, from waste and pollution to climate change. And they’ve assembled a cache of some of the world’s coolest technology for this crusade.

So, this Earth Day, we take a look at just a few of the ways Argonne’s scientist-superheroes are swooping in to keep Earth healthy and its citizens safe.

Predicting Earth’s future

What better way to save the planet than knowing what the future holds? Argonne and DOE are leaders in modeling Earth’s complex natural systems to help us keep tabs on the planet’s health. The best of these models can simulate how changes in these systems and our own actions might influence climate and ecosystems many years into the future. They give us a better understanding of the roles played by tropical rain forests, ice sheets, permafrost, and oceans in maintaining carbon levels and help us devise strategies for protecting them — ultimately, identifying how much carbon dioxide (CO2) we need to reduce from human activities and remove from the atmosphere to stabilize the planet’s temperature.

8 Things Argonne is Doing to Save the Earth, Argonne National Laboratory

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Mask Mandates and Starships...

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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Democracy, Existentialism, Human Rights

Thank you, Reginald!

You're all signed up for "(1st Dose) COVID - 19 Vaccine Clinic."

Vaccine Appointment

03/11/2021 (Thu.) 1:45pm - 2:00pm EST

Location: NC A&T Alumni Foundation Building (200 N. Benbow Rd.)

My Comment: Older graduate student, 58 years.

Thank you for registering to receive dose 1 of the COVID-19 vaccine. Please note the following:

The instructions noted the address (I knew), where to park in proximity to the NC A&T Alumni Foundation building, instructions to enter the building from N. Benbow Road, and to bring a valid student ID. The same building I've celebrated the Greensboro Four every first of February, kicking off African American/Black History Month at the nation's largest HBCU.

My wife received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum. It's the ten-year anniversary of the Fukushima Daichi accident. I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine on also ironically, the first anniversary the World Health Organization declared SARS-CoV-2, the Novel Coronavirus, a worldwide pandemic.

Every STEM major student at a primary or historically black college suddenly was thrust into a world of "I Am Legend" protocols against an invisible zombie apocalypse. Navigating research to attain a Master's, or Ph.D. is challenging enough: add to it KN95 masks, 3.66 meters of social distance (12 feet, for the British unit crowd), washing hands, hand sanitizers every 10 meters, and protocol-driven digital, and analog sign-in/sign-out for contact tracing. There's also been isolation, the lack of banter with classmates, no lunches between experiments, or card games. Science is from our hunter-gatherer ancestors: it's a social exercise. Our worlds have been reduced to the dimensions of our laptop monitors, the visual cues common to hominids in conversation reduced to two-dimensional "Zoom fatigue."

To cope with the angst of "sameness," I retreated, or returned more apt and accurately, to spoken word poetry: STEM extended by one vowel is STEAM, the "A" for art, and Einstein played the violin. On Sundays, I perform for a venue in Austin, Texas that's called "Spoken and Heard," started by a friend going by the stage name "Element 615" (don't bother looking it up: it doesn't exist), managed by some poetry friends, and streamed on Facebook and YouTube via Skype. Our poetry tends to center on the topics of the recent week's news.

"Mask Mandates and Starships" was my reaction to the day before, the state of Texas lifted their statewide mask mandate. The news for Greg Abbott's re-election looked grim after botched handling of a once-in-a-hundred-years climate change event (that seems to be occurring annually). If Abbott didn't learn anything from the last administration when you can't solve a problem: bluff, blame, and deflect to something else. Gaslighting 101. It solves nothing but shows his disdain for the citizens of Texas: he really thinks they're stupid. No one rows a boat, or pilots a light sail in multiple directions. It gets you nowhere fast.

The thesis of the piece is, it will take extreme and global cooperation to build ONE vehicle capable of interstellar travel, let alone a fleet of them. The same cooperation we're going to need to get out of this pandemic. Though there is much writing of papers on the Alcubierre Drive, a breakthrough to superluminal speeds taking us to other worlds is highly unlikely. We're born, will live, and die on this one. Hopefully, so will our progeny. We still have radiation poisoning, the current, and future pandemics, climate disasters that are occurring with the frequency of subway lines in New York, or Philly. Continuation of any civilization isn't guaranteed, and discontinuations have many precedents in history.

Zoonotic diseases aren't new, and they tend to strike every one hundred years. The Great Dying was due to the introduction of things like measles, smallpox, influenza, typhus, and tuberculosis to Native American populations by the invasion of Spain and Portugal to the Americas. It is naïve, and ignorant to name any pathogen after its point of origin; racist and xenophobic to center it on one culture. It is also placing whole populations not responsible for the spread in danger of physical violence, which solves nothing. The first piece of legislation on immigration was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, meant to curb the rise in their population for ten years, signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882. This is in America's DNA. Tribalism and any other narcissistic "ism" will not save us.

Asian Americans scapegoated. Black Lives (obviously don't) Matter. The LGBT are human beings, not scarecrows hung like Matthew Shepard. Women's Rights ARE Human rights. Unless the pathogen was dropped on us from Alpha Centauri, it, and we all live here.

We either live together or die miserably, and sadly into extinction.

What if this pandemic, / Is Gia’s test / Before we leave the nest? / “In space, no one can hear [you]r screams,” / No matter replicators or Uber Eats, / No 911 to call for assistance, / No tribes to define oneself with, / No conservatives, liberals, republicans, or democrats, / The only question is, “no rescue is coming; can WE fix it?” / No poetic Latin words E Pluribus Unum, / The only governing philosophy boiled down to three letters: GSD, equaling “get shit done!” / More “final frontier” than we’ve ever been,.. from "Mask Mandates and Starships."

We conclusively know now we cannot gaslight a pandemic. 543,690 deaths, and counting. If we can't do the simple things, are we mature enough to become a space-faring species?

What if? Are we?

 We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe. Chadwick Boseman, as King T'Challa in the movie, "Black Panther" (Rest In Power), from Internet Movie Database.

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The Path Forward...

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Topics: Climate Change, COVID-19, Existentialism, Science

Science, as Carl Sagan wrote, has to be our "candle in the dark."

The Scientific Method we developed as a hunter-gatherer species. The tools of hunter-gatherers were utilitarian and pragmatic. Our ancestors observed things and noticed patterns. They made mental notes of these patterns and codified them through rituals, customs, and behaviors into distinct cultures defined by these traditions. Some kept this knowledge in secret, esoteric, as any knowledge is power over others. This probably is the reason why we're so suspicious of any change in what was, or is new knowledge.

Many first-responders are BIPOC, so the resistance to it, probably from the apprehension around the Tuskegee Experiment, has an understandable history, but it's still alarming. We can wear masks. We can contact trace. We can socially distance. We can take the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca variants of the vaccine, and mitigate this more quickly.

Or, we can guarantee after a long dark winter, a long slog through the spring, summer, and fall. Herd immunity isn't by brute force: it is intentionally engineered with vaccines.

WASHINGTON — Authorities are reporting early shipments of the COVID 19 vaccine will not cover all essential personnel who are supposed to be first in line to get it. The CDC's immunization advisory panel voted Tuesday to give the first round of COVID-19 vaccines to health care personnel and long-term care facility residents.

Hundreds of thousands of frontline medical workers are at the top of that list. But surveys are showing that not all are eager to be first.

While 63% of health care workers reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that they would accept the vaccine, the agency is concerned about the large numbers who are hesitant. The American Nurses Foundation is reporting 36% of nurses surveyed said they would not voluntarily get the COVID-19 vaccine once it's deployed.

'No one wants to be a guinea pig' | Vaccine hesitancy divides health care workers, Scott Broom, ABC10 News

Carbon sequestration involves a lot of technology, or it can involve what Earth did before we discovered technology: plant more trees.

Forty-nine million years ago, a small aquatic fern called Azolla wrested control of Earth’s climate. At the time, the landlocked Arctic Ocean developed a surface layer of fresh water, which allowed the ferns to grow unchecked in a wide-open environment. Billions of tons of plants died and sank to the bottom of the ocean, taking with them the carbon they had sucked from the air when they were alive. 

The consequences were extreme. Geologic evidence indicates that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels plummeted more than 80 percent over 800,000 years, sharply ratcheting down Earth’s thermostat. Prior to the inferred “Azolla Event,” most of the globe was lush and tropical. Afterward, the Arctic cooled by nearly 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the poles froze, and our planet entered a lurching cycle of ice ages that continues to this day. 

How to Bury Carbon? Let Plants Do the Dirty Work, Cory S. Powell, Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory

This seems simple enough, but politicians like Jair Bolsonaro apparently came to power much like our one-term Neo-fascist did: lifted to the office by right-wing Christian zealots in Brazil, particularly of the megachurch kind. From a dominionist view, carbon sequestration shows a "lack of faith." Forty-nine million years ago is a long way from a mere guestimate of ten-thousand years. Burning the Amazon, like for many cheering for Armageddon hastens the Apocalypse, and the Second Coming. It is thus, anathema.

I follow Politics and Prose on YouTube. David K. Johnston gave a speech at their bookstore some time ago on his book: "The Making of Donald Trump." Many things weren't a revelation to me, but one thing, in particular, stuck with me.

People the world over are afraid. Con artists, fascists, and strongmen play on fear.

I'm talking pre-pandemic afraid: afraid of change, afraid of diversity, afraid their particular sacred texts do not line up neatly with new scientific discoveries; afraid of their traditions being challenged in the light of Sagan's candle. Such fear gives political power to strongmen (the antonym more accurate) that assure their crowds on their rise to power that they will return those fearful of change to a "golden age of greatness," which they never really define. The other common thing is there is a scapegoated "other" on which all blame for everything wrong is laid. That is the history of the scapegoat, by the way. For humans, it leads to disdain, disregard, murder, and genocide.

For an otherwise intelligent species, that can lead to extinction.

A preprint paper in ArXiv gives the grim estimate that intelligent species over long stretches of time eventually annihilate themselves. I would really like us all to be the rare exceptions to this possible rule.

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Measure of Our Impact...

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Dams are just one type of infrastructure that can cause environmental damage. HUSEYINTUNCER/ ISTOCK

Topics: Civics, Climate Change, Environment, Existentialism

It’s not just your storage unit that’s packed to the gills. According to a new study, the mass of all our stuff—buildings, roads, cars, and everything else we manufacture—now exceeds the weight of all living things on the planet. And the amount of new material added every week equals the total weight of Earth’s nearly 8 billion people.

“If you weren’t convinced before that humans are dominating the planet, then you should be convinced now,” says Timon McPhearson, an urban ecologist at the New School who was not involved with the research. “This is an eye-catching comparison,” adds Fridolin Krausmann, a social ecologist at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, who also was not involved in the work.

There are many measures of humanity’s impact on the planet. Fossil fuels have sent greenhouse gases soaring to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years. Agriculture and dwellings have altered 70% of the land. And humans have wiped out untold numbers of species in an emerging great extinction. The transformations are so great that researchers have declared we’re living in a new human-dominated age: the Anthropocene.</em>

Systems biologist Ron Milo of the Weizmann Institute of Science went looking for a new gauge of our impact. He and his colleagues synthesized previous estimates of the biomass of living plants for each year between 1900 and 2017. Those estimates account for about 90% of all living things and are based on field research and computer modeling. From 1990 onward, they also include data from satellites, which researchers have used to track global vegetation.

Human ‘stuff’ now outweighs all life on Earth, Erik Stokstad, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Science Magazine

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Stockholm, and Munchausen...

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This map shows how the US really has 11 separate 'nations' with entirely different cultures, Andy Kiersz and Marguerite Ward, Business Insider

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Human Rights, Politics

 

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response. It occurs when hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers. This psychological connection develops over the course of the days, weeks, months, or even years of captivity or abuse.

 

Ref: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/stockholm-syndrome#definition

 

Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a mental illness and a form of child abuse. The caretaker of a child, most often a mother, either makes up fake symptoms or causes real symptoms to make it look like the child is sick.

 

Ref: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001555.htm

 

Let's face it: this nation has always been in a Cold Civil War since 1865. We're eleven countries with distinct ways of digesting the news media. Social media is a means to hack our minds into silos. We're on separate mental continents. "United States" is an oxymoron and cosmic tragicomedy. We're more like fractured states with fifty different opinions.

 

The Stockholm tribe drank the kool-aid with Jim Jones. They are unfazed in their chosen Twilight Zone dimension, and totally nonplussed why we can't understand their secret, klansman decoder ring Morse code. They have waited forty years for "trickledown" to actually work, and like Jed Clampett, make them Beverly Hills billionaire hillbillies. Cigarettes don't cause cancer, climate change is a Chinese hoax; vaccines cause autism, gravity can be overcome with the power of positive thinking, huckster name-it-and-claim-it faith healers can blow COVID away, and Hillary is head of a flesh-eating, pedophile cult that an orange faux billionaire is going to save us all from, exposing the "deep state." Logic doesn't work with these people. You can't tell them anything. They're lemmings in suicide vests, to quote MSNBC's, Chris Hayes. They are the 69,151,070 that think the last four years of caged children, attempted Muslim bands, selling out our soldiers in Afghanistan, 230,000+ dead and climbing, lying like he breaths and farts, breaking every commandment and law is EXACTLY what they want four more years (or, more) of!

 

The Munchausen crew watches reruns of OG Star Trek, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, the new Discovery series, even though we know warp drive is by Einstein impossible, but it's cool to think we might live beyond our hubris, homophobia, racism, misogyny, sexism, and stupidity maybe repairing the damage to the planet's environment without killing ourselves. We balance fantasy with the scientifically-accurate Expanse. We typically were the science nerds, poets and artists shoved into lockers, harassed by the "cool kids," male or female, sometimes experiencing violence. We find ourselves in a perpetual, near-ending, abusive relationship with the Stockholm click, wondering why our rational outlines of thought and snappy repartee on Twitter hasn't totally shut down and shamed the inmates at Arkham. 73,050,225 of us are holding our breaths and praying that the electoral college doesn't screw us over this time, like the principal ignoring the bullies that harassed us.

 

Sensing he just might not be able to gaslight, steal, sue, whine, or slump across the victory line to "own the libs," or stay out of prison, Biff Tannen has come up with a "plan B" to continue trolling humanity until his last breath (if he's not arrested), or at some point when trans fat from fast food, and Darwin do their necessary work.

 

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Q & A...

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Environmentalists Against War: Don’t Let Our ‘Hair-trigger President’ Start a Nuclear WarAmy Goodman and Denis Moynihan / Democracy Now! and King Features Syndicate

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Fascism, Human Rights

 

Why are the republicans behaving so irrationally?

 

It depends on what you mean by "irrational." Paul Weyrich gave away the game in the 1980s.

 

"I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

 

Well now, they cut cables for online voter registration machines in Virginia, they post fake boxes to harvest absentee votes in California (FOX, pointed this out, no less), they restrict counties to ONE drop-off box and restrict drive-through voting in Texas during a pandemic; they sue to not count, or ironically, segregate mail-in ballots after election day, and only want the votes counted ON election day, as that will favor republicans. For a criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party, everything is consistent with Weyrich's thesis.

 

Who is going to win the election?

 

I know who I voted for, and who I DON'T want to win the election, or in his case: steal it. Allan Lichtman and Rachel Bitecofer both keep me somewhat sane.

 

Whoever is the next president has about 8 years before there is no hope of dealing with the effects of climate change, that the fossil fuels industry has known about since the late FIFTIES, they just started covering it up in the seventies. There IS no planet B: no world of liberals and world of conservatives, except for the news outlets consumed. Physics is quite limiting on faster-than-light travel. This earth is the only starship we may ever know.

 

Whoever is the next president will be dealing with a global pandemic, that like most preceding it that have been unleashed by our insistent presence in the world economy, will be eventually contained by masks, rigorous testing, social distancing, and contact tracing. In other words: SCIENCE, not fiction, or propaganda.</p>

 

Whoever is the next president will make the difference as to how long that actually takes. Letting a virus burn through a population is NOT herd immunity, but the Freudian slip "herd mentality" says a lot about who currently has the nuclear codes and his followers.

 

Noam Chomsky in an interview with Scientific American, 2018:

 

Why did you recently call the Republican Party “the most dangerous organization in world history”?

 

Take its leader, who recently applied to the government of Ireland for a permit to build a huge wall to protect his golf course, appealing to the threat of global warming, while at the same time he withdrew from international efforts to address the grim threat and is using every means at his disposal to accelerate it.  Or take his colleagues, the participants in the 2016 Republican primaries.  Without exception, they either denied that what is happening is happening – though any ignorance is self-induced – or said maybe it is but we shouldn’t do anything about it.  The moral depths were reached by the respected “adult in the room,” Ohio governor John Kasich, who agreed that it is happening but added that “we are going to burn [coal] in Ohio and we are not going to apologize for it.” Or take a recent publication of Trump’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a detailed study recommending an end to regulations on emissions. It presented a rational argument: extrapolating current trends, by the end of the century we’ll be over the cliff and automotive emissions don’t contribute very much to the catastrophe – the assumption being that everyone is as criminally insane as we are and won’t try to avoid the crisis.  In brief, let’s rob while the planet burns, putting poor Nero in the shadows.

 

This surely qualifies as a contender for the most evil document in history.

 

There have been many monsters in the past, but it would be hard to find one who was dedicated to undermining the prospects for organized human society, not in the distant future -- in order to put a few more dollars in overstuffed pockets.

 

Noam Chomsky Calls Trump and Republican Allies "Criminally Insane", John Horgan, Scientific American, November 3, 2018</p>

 

Related:

 

Noam Chomsky: The GOP Is Still the Most Dangerous Organization in Human History, Lorraine Chow, Eco Watch, May 12, 2017

 

Noam Chomsky on Midterms: Republican Party Is the “Most Dangerous Organization in Human History”, Democracy Now! November 5, 2018

 

"What the hell do you have to lose?"

 

Well, after Herculean dips in the Stock Market, unemployment nearing Depression-era levels, 234,768 dead Americans, and 9,263,209 infected, I think we have our answer.

 

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Eight Years and Counting...

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Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming

The year 2028 could be one of stunning accomplishment or somber failure, depending on how society at large reacts to the current global warming crisis. An initiative called ClimateClock, created by a pair of activists/artists intends to ensure that we land in the former category. And if they're not successful, don't say they didn't warn you.

In a push reminiscent of the Doomsday Clock, the ClimateClock is a worldwide project dedicated to shining a light on a very serious problem — the amount of time the world has left to prevent global warming effects from turning totally irreversible. At press time, there's about seven years and 98 days left ticking away on the timer. The clock is based on the carbon clock made by the MercatorResearch Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), using data from the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C.

NYC ClimateClock Counts Down Deadline to Climate Doomsday, Alia Hoyt, Science: How Stuff Works

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