climate change (21)

Dunning-Kruger Death Cult...

 

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

In a speech 40 years ago to a group of conservative preachers, Heritage Foundation founder Paul Weyrich said, “Now many of our Christians have what I call the ‘goo-goo syndrome.’ Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now.

“As a matter of fact,” he continued, “our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Weyrich’s idea continues to animate the GOP today. In dismissing a Democratic push for reforms, including vote-by-mail, same-day registration, and early voting to assist state-run elections in the midst of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump opined, “They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Starting with Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” in 1968, through Weyrich’s candid acknowledgment in 1980, to Donald Trump’s numerous rants, the GOP has consistently stood against reasonable voter registration laws and fair and equitable access to the polls — because they know they lose in a battle of ideas.

Wake up, folks: the campaign against democracy continues

Bill Dwyer, Oak Park, and River Forest Letters to the Editor, Opinion: Wednesday Journal
November 18, 2020, Updated February 11, 2021

The modern "gang of Putin" is Paul Weyrich's wet dream. There is a through-line from Barry Goldwater to Weyrich, Weyrich to Nixon, Nixon to Reagan, Reagan to Orange Satan. Goldwater got some disingenuous ads against him, painting him as crazy enough to start a thermonuclear war. Lyndon Baines Johnson won 486 electoral votes to Goldwater's 52. It was then Goldwater, years before Watergate, coined "you've got to hunt where the ducks are." The ducks were the disaffected southern Dixiecrats in deep depression because Civil Rights and Voting Rights from the US Constitution were being extended to African Americans. When you have privilege, equal justice seems like persecution. Privilege is a kind of willful blindness. For white supremacist power, party insiders weren't, and aren't, willing to remove the scales.

Former President George W. Bush indict(ed) the January 6, 2021, attempted coup in his remarks at the 20-year anniversary observance of 9/11. Bush, however, appointed federal judges during his tenure in a nod to Goldwater, Weyrich, and Nixon's "Southern Strategy." George W. Bush signed the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act when it was a bipartisan affair: it is now seen as existential for Democrats, and disposable for Republicans. The 2000 election was controversial: Bush won the electoral college and lost the popular vote, the second Republican presidential candidate to do so in this century. His party's nominees have lost the popular vote in seven out of eight presidential elections, and, by their admission, they are demographically shrinking. Bush's defense attorneys in Florida were Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, three of five judges appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. The Patriot Act was seen as government overreach into civil liberties and birthed a lot of blogs on the left as mainstream media ignored it for access journalism. We're reeling from the expense of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, one too long in duration, and the other added via obfuscation. He may not have been as extreme as we currently see his party exhibiting, but he did inadvertently till the soil of institutional doubt.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice. We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "I Have A Dream," August 28, 1963

"The Wages of Whiteness" a book by David R. Roediger I use to juxtapose the check America is still trying to cash with African Americans without sufficient funds. The wage of this whiteness was supposed to have sufficiency in perpetuity. All it needed were pariahs that they could blame for any societal faux pas: the economy and welfare were the faults of "young bucks," and "welfare queens," not oligarchs and tax cheats. We were patriotic and resolute until Iran-Contra occurred, flooding weapons to the Contras, and drugs to Compton. Culture wars were always the right's "whitewashed sepulchers," dead tombs with the façade of rose-covered balconies, and rainbow farts out of unicorns. The pariah label was extended to all BIPOC, and karma is making them the majority by 2042. The check for the balance of supremacy is draining inexorably from the church bank account of the whitewashed sepulcher.

Texas is a laboratory for instigating "The Handmaid's Tale." Second Amendment rights trumps (pun intended) bodily autonomy. South Dakota's governor always looks high, giving the middle finger to masks and Lakota sacred grounds on the 4th of July during the alpha phase of the pandemic, and Florida's governor has the well-earned nickname "Death Santis" that will stick in his bid for re-election, and higher office. A heat map of COVID hotspots in California is almost an exact replica of the electoral areas that started the California recall. You can replicate that map in red states versus blue states. The entire party has devolved into a Dunning-Kruger death cult.

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments, Justin Kruger and David Dunning, Cornell University

Abstract

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.

After Watergate, the right deliberately designed an echo chamber to tell itself everything they wanted to hear: good, not bad, propaganda not history, fiction, not reality. Karl Rove told reporter Ron Suskind: "The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' [...] 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'" There is a district in Texas that every two years, consciously reelects Louie Gohmert to the US House of Representatives, the "disparage my asparagus" former judge, and lawyer. Nonplussed initially, Former Attorney General Eric Holder responded with the sickest burn a year later in 2014: "good luck with your asparagus."

North Carolina US Republican Representative Madison Cawthorne crashed a school board meeting in Henderson, NC to troll Governor Roy Cooper about masks. Key point: he wasn't there. Couple that with his abysmal grades the one year he attended college, at this point, I cannot take him, or the rest of his party seriously. I may not have been a fan of Ronald Reagan, but Reaganism stood for something; Trumpism is sadistic Seinfeld. They're all white grievance minstrels, performance artists, professional trolls, and nihilists. "Owning the libs" is all they live for. The asylum inmates running for office currently are mean-girl teenagers running on the population, and likes of their Instagram and Twitter accounts. Their platform is an empty wagon: making a lot of noise, and doing nothing.

"Idiocracy" did not take 500 years of political Entropy: it just took the desperation of a party that sees its power waning, and is clinging to power at all cost, even if that wage paid is the republic.

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
― Bertrand Russell

 

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Thorium...

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Topics: Alternate Energy, Climate Change, Nuclear Power, Thorium

The Royal Society of Chemistry: Thorium (named for a certain Marvel character).

If China’s experimental reactor is a success it could lead to commercialization and help the nation meet its climate goals.

Scientists are excited about an experimental nuclear reactor using thorium as fuel, which is about to begin tests in China. Although this radioactive element has been trialed in reactors before, experts say that China is the first to have a shot at commercializing the technology.

The reactor is unusual in that it has molten salts circulating inside it instead of water. It has the potential to produce nuclear energy that is relatively safe and cheap, while also generating a much smaller amount of very long-lived radioactive waste than conventional reactors.

Construction of the experimental thorium reactor in Wuwei, on the outskirts of the Gobi Desert, was due to be completed by the end of August — with trial runs scheduled for this month, according to the government of Gansu province.

Thorium is a weakly radioactive, silvery metal found naturally in rocks, and currently has little industrial use. It is a waste product of the growing rare-earth mining industry in China and is, therefore, an attractive alternative to imported uranium, say researchers.

China prepares to test thorium-fueled nuclear reactor, Smriti Mallapaty, Nature

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The Eye of Horus...

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The Eye of Providence, Wikipedia. Not a conspiracy theorist, but greed, not mutual survival by cooperation, is how we got where we are.

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Human Rights, Politics

Note: Because certain states are tied umbilically to coal, fossil fuels, and natural gas, this is a quandary. The same industry that's known about this problem since 1979 (my senior year in high school) hired the same law firms that obfuscated the risk of lung cancer to so many Americans, one of them, my father, whose death was from the accumulated damage to his lungs from a lifetime of smoking. Washington lobbyists are there to push an agenda for the companies they represent that have an influence on Capitol Hill lawmakers. They have a seat at the Paris Climate Accords because the goal of Capitalism is to maximize profits, sadly, at the sacrifice of the ground under our feet.

“Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.”

― Cree Indian Prophecy

The majority of the planet’s fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if the world wants even half a chance—literally—at meeting its most ambitious climate targets.

A new study published yesterday in the journal Nature found that 60 percent of oil and natural gas, and a whopping 90 percent of coal, must remain unextracted and unused between now and 2050 in order for the world to have at least a 50 percent shot at limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

These results are broadly consistent with the findings of numerous recent reports, from the United Nations, the International Energy Agency, and others, which have “all provided evidence that dramatic cuts in fossil fuel production are required immediately in order to move towards limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees,” said Dan Welsby, a researcher at University College London and lead author of the study, at a press conference announcing the results.

Under the Paris climate agreement, nations are working to keep global temperatures within 2 C of their preindustrial levels, and within 1.5 C if at all possible. Research suggests that the effects of climate change—melting ice, rising seas, more extreme weather, and so on—will be worse at 2 C than at 1.5 C, and worse still at higher temperatures. These targets are an attempt to limit the consequences of global warming as much as possible.

Yet studies increasingly suggest that the 1.5 C target is looming closer and closer.

The world has already warmed by more than a degree Celsius since the start of the industrial era, which began about 150 years ago. A landmark U.N. report on climate change, released last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warned that the 1.5 C mark could be reached within two decades.

To have even a 50 percent chance of meeting the target, the U.N. report suggests, the world can emit only about 460 billion metric tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s another 12 years or so of emissions at the rate at which the world is currently going.

That means global carbon emissions need to fall sharply, and immediately, in order to meet the goal.

Abandoning 60 Percent of Global Oil and Gas Might Limit Warming to 1.5 C, Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American

 

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Stupidity Exhaustion...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism

 

"Against stupidity, the very gods themselves contend in vain." Friedrich Schiller

 

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity, we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments, the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable, they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this, the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

 

One of the Republican candidates in the obtuse recall election of Gavin Newsome, Larry Elder, admitted he didn't have the temperament to be Governor: he is the frontrunner due to name recognition as a conservative talk show host. “If someone tells you who they are the first time, believe them.” Dr. Maya Angelou. This is 2016 redux: even if he loses (which, for California's sake, I hope he does), he's getting absolutely FREE publicity. Flattery and narcissism gave us four years of incompetence, greater than 600,000 dead Americans, and dysfunctional, dystopian governance. Elder isn't stupid: he has a Juris doctorate. He's apparently violent, brandishing a weapon to threaten his ex-fiancé (smart woman). He is a callous opportunist who, like his orange muse, doesn't care about the damage his decisions would have on his state if he were to win the governorship. He would copy the stupidity of Greg Abbott, trying to block voters that look like him, prohibit mask, and vaccine mandates, open beaches to offshore drilling, and revoke any environmental protections. The current exodus from California would be put on steroids.

 

We've had four years of "sweeping the forest" to manage climate change, drinking bleach, or shining flashlights up our rectums to find the COVID, and now, ivermectin instead of vaccines, deworming, instead of leeches and swamp roots, perhaps? There are fires burning acres in California, flooding in New York subways, Philly streets, and tornadoes in New Jersey. After Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida came sixteen years to the DAY, and the most consequential nation that could do something about climate change did NOTHING.

 

In other words, we have serious problems to consider that will ensure the survival of the human species and life on THIS planet. Ignoring climate change has only exacerbated its effects. We've ignored it since 1979 when the fossil fuels industry knew about the effects of their product. Their action was to hire the same law firms that obfuscated the effects of cigarette smoking. Instead of terraforming Mars, we should try terraforming Earth.

 

Neither did Texas remotely think about deputizing citizens to narc on women who might want to get a Constitutionally protected right to abortion due to incest, sexual assault, or the mother's health and zygote being compromised. "Deputizing citizens" means anyone on planet Earth getting $10,000 for suing doctors, nurses, clinics, partners, relatives, Uber drivers. "Deputizing citizens" is what this nation did to catch fugitive slaves. What if a blue state made it a crime to own a firearm? The 5-4 precedent made "the rule of law" in a nation that used to pride itself on that oxymoronic. How is this the common good? How is this E Pluribus Unum? The Republic of Texas, after midnight Tuesday, started looking like the Republic of Gilead. Flights out to relocate women should be arranged with the same urgency we evacuated Afghanistan. Athletic events, sports, tourism will take a hit. No one visited Chile during the rule of Augusto Pinochet, nor are few interested in traveling to North Korea to visit Kim Jong Un. Assholes aren't good for economies.

 

The state of Texas Republicans did not think twice about restricting voting rights for BIPOC: black, indigenous, people of color, the young, the aged, the invalid. A sign at the border on IH-10: "drive friendly, the Texas way" should likely receive an edit. They follow Florida in COVID-19 caseloads, and their hospitals are overflowing. The priority of the "family values" party is power, not babies or democracy.

 

There is exhaustion dealing with stupid people. By stupid, I do mean they fall into two camps: one is callously ambitious, saying what "plays to the crowd" for the advantage of seizing power. But like the dog that catches the car or Wil E. Coyote catches the Road Runner, they don't quite know what to do with the goal once it's attained. In other words, the chase was all that mattered. The other camp is the most terrifying: the Dunning-Kruger cultists, or people so convinced of their "greatness," so enamored with their superiority; you'd have a better chance of lecturing to a canyon; stone walls absorb more information. D-Ks cannot be rationalized with; D-Ks cannot be convinced. They will wear you down by a consistent drumbeat of drivel. It doesn't have to make sense, and that's the point!

 

Editorial boards used to exist in newspapers once read widely. They still do, but the advent of social media diminished their powers. Editors would peruse your words for grammar, diction, paragraph length, and LOGIC. It was an honor to be published in "letters to the editor" and a means to build up your writer's clips in the old school.

 

Social media has no editorial board, except for AI that applies moribund rules that make absolutely no sense (case-in-point: the septuagenarian Twitter adolescent that got his privileges revoked after so much damage and misinformation DROPPED 73% when his accounts were revoked). The more outrageous, the more misspelled it was; it didn't matter as long as it goes "viral," which wasn't a thing before the medium.

 

An entire party has emerged from the comment section of Facebook posts. "Owning the libs" is the only organizing ethos. Conservative intellectuals like Bill Krystal, Mike Lofgren, and George Will left the party that did not get better with the advent of Sarah Palin. A race-to-the-bottom led to the Chief Executive of incompetence and the governors of Texas and Florida cloning his ghoulish body count. They are speaking to the Dunning-Kruger, mask fighting, vaccine, and science-denying crowd. They are racing for the brass ring of dumbed down. Their orange, sandaled Golden Calf spoke to the Dunning-Kruger crowd because he IS them.

 

Trolls, like gremlins, should not be fed after midnight. That, unfortunately, happened in Texas. They have awakened a sleeping giant of women voters.

 

The 2018 tsunami continues in 2022, 2024, and perhaps, saves a republic.

 

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On Fire...

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Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming</span>

The hundreds of climate experts who compiled the mammoth new climate report released today by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had to work under unprecedented pandemic conditions. At vast meetings forced online, scientists wrestled with how to convey the extent of the global crisis and the urgent need to act. It was uncanny to see “the echoes of one crisis in another,” says Claudia Tebaldi, a climate scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and one of the authors of the report.

The report paints an alarming picture but emphasizes there is still time for swift action to mitigate the worst of the projected impacts of climate change. Current average warming is now estimated at 1.1°C compared to preindustrial records, a revision based on improved methods and data that adds 0.1°C to previous estimates. Under every emissions scenario explored by the report, average warming of 1.5°C—a major target of the Paris climate accord—will very likely be reached within the next 20 years.</em>

That timetable “underscores a sense of urgency for immediate and decisive action by every country, especially the major economies,” says Jane Lubchenco, deputy director for climate and the environment at the White House ​Office of Science and Technology Policy. “This is a critical decade for keeping the 1.5°C targets within reach.” And the projections mean countries should come to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, scheduled for November, with the most “aggressive, ambitious” targets possible, she says.

Climate change ‘unequivocal’ and ‘unprecedented,’ says new U.N. report, Cathleen O'Grady, Science Magazine

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ARPA-E, and Emission-Free Metal...

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Australian metals mining wastes (top) and the metal hyperaccumulator plants Alyssum murale and Berkheya coddii (bottom). The former plant can take up 1–3% of its weight in nickel. It has demonstrated yields of up to 400 kg of nickel per hectare annually, worth around $7000 at current prices, excluding processing and production costs. (Images adapted from A. van der Ent, A. Parbhakar-Fox, P. D. Erskine, Sci. Total Environ. 758, 143673, 2021, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143673.)

 

Topics: Climate Change, Green Tech, Materials Science, Research

 

When it comes to making steel greener, “only the laws of physics limit our imagination,” says Christina Chang of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA–E). Chang, an ARPA–E fellow, is seeking public input on a potential new agency program titled Steel Made via Emissions-Less Technologies. During her two-year tenure, she will guide program creation, agency strategy, and outreach. Steelmaking currently accounts for about 7% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, and demand for steel is expected to double by 2050 as low-income countries’ economies grow, according to the International Energy Agency.

 

Founded in 2009, ARPA–E is a tiny, imaginative office within the Department of Energy. SMELT is one part of a three-pronged thrust by ARPA–E to green up processes involved in producing steel and nonferrous metals, from the mine through to the finished products. Another program seeks ways to make use of the vast volumes of wastes that accumulate from mining operations around the globe—and reduce the amounts generated in the future. The agency is also exploring the feasibility of deploying plants that suck up from soils elements such as cobalt, nickel, and rare earths. Despite being essential ingredients in electric vehicles, batteries, and wind turbines, the US has little or no domestic production of them. (See Physics TodayFebruary 2021, page 20.)

 

Steelmaking

 

The first step in steelmaking is separating iron ore into oxygen and iron metal, which produces CO2 through both the reduction process and the fossil-fuel burning necessary to create high heat. An ARPA–E solicitation for ideas to clean up that process closed on 14 June. The agency is looking to replace the centuries-old blast furnace with greener technology that can work at the scale of 2 gigatons of steel production annually. It may or may not follow up with a request for research proposals to fund.

 

ARPA–E explores paths to emissions-free metal making, Physics Today

 

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Survival of Community...

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

Like his more famous contemporary, Spencer was enamored with the idea of evolution. But where Darwin focused on biology, Spencer imagined that evolutionary thinking could be applied much more broadly. In his mind, it governed entire societies. Today, when Spencer is remembered at all, it is usually for inspiring the ideology known as “social Darwinism”: roughly, the idea that the successful deserve their success while those who fail, deserve their failure.

Modern scholars, and the public at large, understandably view this idea with disdain. Philosopher Daniel Dennett has described social Darwinism as “an odious misapplication of Darwinian thinking in defense of political doctrines that range from callous to heinous,” while the journalist Robert Wright said that social Darwinism “now lies in the dustbin of intellectual history.” Today, few read Spencer’s dense and ponderous books, and his ideas are rarely taught. Gregory Claeys, a historian at the University of London, writes that of all the great Victorian thinkers, it is Spencer whose “reputation has now indisputably fallen the farthest.”

Spencer’s view, though mostly anathema now, appealed to influential conservatives and laissez-faire capitalists—among them, the industrialist Andrew Carnegie—just as it angered the socialists of the time. “Spencer hated socialism because he thought socialism was all about protecting the weak,” Lightman says. “To him, that was intervening in the natural unfolding of the evolutionary process.”

The Complicated Legacy of Herbert Spencer, the Man Who Coined ‘Survival of the Fittest’, Dan Falk, Smithsonian Magazine

According to Michael Price in Science Magazine, humans changed from hunter-gatherer (and presumably, wanderer) to communal living about 10,000 years ago. We seemed to vacillate between extremes, and each time, our back-and-forth switch could be traced through the common house mouse (like it or not, we appear stuck with them). Whether we wandered about or gathered harvests, we seemed to fair better with less Ayn Randian selfish worldviews, and more indigenous communal living philosophies.

An article published on the website Earthday.org is more explicit:

Humans and climate change are driving species to extinction at unprecedented rates. To slow or eventually reverse these declines, we need to better manage our land to preserve habitats and secure biodiversity – the variety of life on Earth. To that end, a study published this week confirms what many communities have known for years: To preserve biodiversity, we must turn to indigenous peoples for guidance and management.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Policy, compared levels of biodiversity in thousands of areas in Australia, Brazil, and Canada and was the first of its kind to compare biodiversity and land management on such a large scale. Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) compared 15,621 geotropical areas across three continents, with great variations across climate, species, and geography.

To Save The Planet, We Need Indigenous Perspectives, Earth Day, 2019

We have been ravaged by climate events since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and have ignored them all. Ebola was the first epidemic we paid attention to and mitigated at its point of origin so that only two Americans died from it. It is therefore unconscionable that the current death toll of the Coronavirus is 623,353, as of this writing. It's likely to be higher when this post appears. 675,000 died during the 1918 flu pandemic. We're not far behind.

Speaking of Ayn Rand: the main idea of "The Fountainhead" was individualism vs. collectivism, or selfishness, versus community. Also, in "Atlas Shrugged," so beloved that former Congressman, and conspiracy theorist Ron Paul and presumably his wife named their son, Senator Rand Paul. "Shrugged" was about "a dystopian United States in which private businesses suffer under increasingly burdensome laws and regulations." "Looters" want to exploit the productivity of innovative industrialists has the not-too-subtle echo of "makers," and "takers."

GOP "leader," Kevin McCarthy saying "85% of Congress is fully vaccinated," so he says, we have no need for a mask mandate in the House. That declaration is a Freudian slip: that means 15% of 435 members of the House, or 65 members are unvaccinated by choice. 435 members of the House go back home sometimes, and presumably, many to Delta variant hot spots. The variant could then be weaponized on Capitol Hill where many of our lawmakers are in their seventies and eighties. The Delta variant can cause "breakthrough infections," and most of the hospitalizations and deaths are from the unvaccinated. There are also long-haul COVID survivors, the severe ones will put a strain on public resources for rehabilitation, and lifetime care. Again, those 65 can carry the Delta variant back to the House, and turn Capitol Hill into a COVID hot spot. With the 1/6 hearings just starting, it might be a cynical, pathological ploy to delay or demolish any hearings on the terrorist insurrection going forward. Only sociopaths could be so diabolical.

Ten thousand years ago, it might have been prudent to identify someone by their tribal markings, dress, and appearance. If you "did not fit in," there were no diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, only suspicion. "Fight, or flight" was wonderful against saber-tooth tigers, but terrible trying to espouse the tenets of a philosophy centered on E Pluribus Unum.

Borders are political constructs, just like race is a social construct. We are the byproduct of migration from the African continent to other areas, and adaption over hundreds of thousands of years. We look different because of the angle of incidence of ultraviolet light, the environment encountered, and the foods we consumed in those environs. We all for the most part have five fingers, five toes, and red blood in our veins. We all have the same needs on the Maslow hierarchy. It's why the Overview effect has such a profound impact on the viewers, but 7.6 billion inhabitants don't have a spare $250,000 for a ten-minute joy ride. The eviction moratorium expires Saturday, with no further extension. I don't think soon-to-be homeless people will care for an Overview effect.

It has to be in our best interest to help developing countries and industrial countries with vaccination rates: every nation has to get to 70% herd immunity, or higher for the safety of the species. If there's one hot spot in the world, there's the possibility of many variants spreading across the globe. It has to be in our best interest to mitigate climate change, and if past the tipping point, or politically not expedient, design our civilization's infrastructure to withstand the storms, power outages, freak winter freezes, floods, and raging fires.

Octavia Butler was an African American science fiction writer that didn't envision starships, except the relativistic kind. Her "Parable of the Sower" did predict a dystopic America devastated by climate change, social unrest, water scarcity, but apparently, in all that dysfunction, in2024 we land on Mars, and discovered microbial life there. We are three years from the date of that fictional nightmare. In the midst of that eerily prescient novel, and series, there was a rediscovery of community, of people helping people, protecting one another.

Social media is a faux community; it has atomized humanity in echo silos. We were prepped for this when television and entertainment became "infotainment," a bastardization, and a pariah to the body politic. BET, CMT, MTV is owned by Viacom, and caters to different audiences, cable news preceded it, and its digital extension is the oxymoron "social media" as humans stare blankly at their smartphones sucking time, and brain cells.

There is vaccine hesitancy among African Americans, decades stinging from the Tuskegee experiment. There is vaccine hesitancy from those who erroneously believe vaccines cause autism (that was refuted in a later paper). There are athletes who will eat what they are told, train as they are told, who now in the NFL have to decide whether to get a mandated COVID vaccine or forfeit games. Despite their nonprofit status, the NFL is a business, and businesses are not democratic.

The same people who deny climate change, are the same people who fought lockdowns. They are the same people who want Confederate monuments to insurrectionists, but history that would correct the record from obfuscations and mythology expunged, canceled. They are the same people who fought masks, and are the same people who don't want to get vaccines because they believe in the "survival of the fittest" scenario, that they will miraculously be the fittest, the luckiest; the living. Like the Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick volunteering grandparents to die for the economy in the early days of the pandemic. (He's probably not counting himself in that number on the altar of Moloch.)

To survive COVID, and climate change, E Pluribus Unum - out of many, one - has to be cosmopolitan, global. We are all Homo Sapiens, Earthlings, breathing the same air, using the same resources, and will expire on the same planet, as long as it's here, and we are. The United Nations is supposed to be our governing body to do this, a concept that is with its political enemies, conspiracy theories that start with "new world order," and authoritarian tyranny fears, that kind of falls hollow to the experiment in authoritarianism the United States made from 2017 to 2020. It was almost credibly sealed with a coup, on January 6, 2021, had it been competent. The next fascist might be more capable; the next coup might succeed.

For the survival of the species, "survival of the fittest" has to become a part of a selfish past and myth. It's easier to mask, or vaccinate against a pandemic, and mitigate climate change than building superluminal starships defying laws of physics to "escape" our mistakes.

We have to get beyond our learned prejudices, responsible for so much selfishness, sickness, and bloodshed. We need to see each other's survival in all of our best interests. Our empathy needs to evolve.

*****

“We have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men for years now have been talking about war and peace. But now no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

*****

No man is an island,Entire of itself.Each is a piece of the continent,A part of the main.If a clod be washed away by the sea,Europe is the less.As well as if a promontory were.As well as if a manor of thine ownOr of thine friend's were.Each man's death diminishes me,For I am involved in mankind.Therefore, send not to knowFor whom the bell tolls,It tolls for thee.

"For Whom the Bell Tolls," John Donne, Your Daily Poem

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COVID, and Fieldwork...

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Image Source: Link Below

Topics: Climate Change, COVID-19, Research, STEM

Just before dawn in the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve, a patch of Ecuador’s lush coastal forest, Abhimanyu Lele unfurls a tall net between two poles, then retreats out of sight. A half-hour later, he and a local assistant reappear and smile: Their catch—10 birds that collided with the net and tumbled into a pocket along its length—was a good one. The pair records species, measures and photographs the captives, and pricks wings for blood that can yield DNA before releasing the birds back into the forest. The data, Lele hopes, will shed light on how Ecuadorean songbirds adapt to different altitudes and other conditions.

The third-year graduate student at the University of Chicago (UC), who returns next week from a 10-week field season, was delighted to have made it to his destination. In a typical year, thousands of graduate students and faculty fan out across the world to tackle important research in climate change, fragile ecosystems, animal populations, and more. But the pandemic shut down travel, and fieldwork can’t be done via Zoom, depriving young scientists like Lele of the data and publications they need to climb the academic ladder and help advance science. Now, he and a few others are venturing out—into a very different world.

They are the exceptions. “Most folks have never been able to get back out there,” because COVID-19 continues to spread in much of the world, says Benjamin Halpern, an ecologist with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “They are just waiting.”

At the American Museum of Natural History, which mounts about 100 international expeditions a year, “Travel to countries still having trouble [is] just not going to happen,” says Frank Burbrink, a herpetologist there. “This is the longest I’ve ever gone without catching snakes since I was 12 years old.” The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History likewise “is not putting people overseas,” says Director Kirk Johnson.

How COVID-19 has transformed scientific fieldwork, Elisabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine

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The Caveat of Cul De Sacs...

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A river snakes its way through the Amazon rain forest in Peru.
Credits: USDA Forest Service

Topics: Climate Change, Economics, Environment, Existentialism, Global Warming

The finding comes out of an effort to map where vegetation is emitting and soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Earth’s trees and plants pull vast amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere during photosynthesis, incorporating some of that carbon into structures like wood. Areas that absorb more carbon than they emit are called carbon sinks. But plants can also emit the greenhouse gas during processes like respiration, when dead plants decay, or during combustion in the case of fires. Researchers are particularly interested in whether – and how – plants at the scale of an ecosystem like a forest act as sources or sinks in an increasingly warming world.  

A recent study led by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California identified whether vegetated areas like forests and savannas around the world were carbon sources or sinks every year from 2000 to 2019. The research found that over the course of those two decades, living woody plants were responsible for more than 80% of the sources and sinks on land, with soil, leaf litter, and decaying organic matter making up the rest. But they also saw that vegetation retained a far smaller fraction of the carbon than the scientists originally thought.

In addition, the researchers found that the total amount of carbon emitted and absorbed in the tropics was four times larger than in temperate regions and boreal areas (the northernmost forests) combined, but that the ability of tropical forests to absorb massive amounts of carbon has waned in recent years. The decline in this ability is because of large-scale deforestation, habitat degradation, and climate change effects, like more frequent droughts and fires. In fact, the study, published in Science Advances, showed that 90% of the carbon that forests around the world absorb from the atmosphere is offset by the amount of carbon released by such disturbances as deforestation and droughts.

The scientists created maps of carbon sources and sinks from land-use changes like deforestation, habitat degradation, and forest planting, as well as forest growth. They did so by analyzing data on global vegetation collected from space using instruments such as NASA’s Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) onboard ICESat and the agency’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites, respectively. The analysis used a machine-learning algorithm that the researchers first trained using vegetation data gathered on the ground and in the air using laser-scanning instruments.

NASA Study Finds Tropical Forests’ Ability to Absorb Carbon Dioxide Is Waning, Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O’Neill

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Thirty-Three Point Eight...

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Politics

Fahrenheit to CelsiusCelsius to Fahrenheit
(5/9)(°F - 32) = °C(9/5) °C + 32 = °F

Handy-Dandy Conversion Table

 

Even though the Big Think video is informative, my critique is it presumes much regarding the audience, presumably the species.

 

The assumption is that even with the equivalent of supercomputers on our hips, humans will be motivated beyond the video to know the difference between Fahrenheit, and Celsius. What the average human mind will process is: "two degrees," which doesn't sound like much as mathematical dexterity is only encouraged in those interested in STEM.

 

On Wednesday, when former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, his remarks on the occasion contained some of the usual sentiment about the importance of being a bold and inspiring nation—but they also contained something a bit unusual. “Here’s a bold embrace of internationalism: let’s join the rest of the world and go metric,” he said. “I happened to live in Canada as they completed the process. Believe me, it is easy. It doesn’t take long before 34 degrees is hot. Only Myanmar, Liberia, and the United States aren’t metric and it will help our economy!”

 

The Long, Tortuous History of the U.S. and the Metric System, Lily Rothman, TIME

 

The resistance to the Metric System (originally from the French) has to quote Ms. Rothman, "a long, tortuous history" in the United States. Resistance to "change" is inherently political, and we have but one of the two major political parties famous for looking backward, as well as celebration, and apoptosis of a hierarchal status quo.

 

I'm not saying the video isn't informative. The above formulas were drilled into me in middle school science class, and since I have made my living, and continue my education in STEM, mental conversion is a familiar exercise.

 

It should be for average citizens also. The video concerns two degrees Celsius hotter; the title I derived from one degree hotter (in bold below):</p>

 

(9/5) 0°C + 32 = 32°F

 

(9/5) 1°C + 32 = 1.8 + 32 = 33.8°F

 

(9/5) 2°C + 32 = 3.6 + 32 = 35.6°F

 

(9/5) 3°C + 32 = 5.4 + 32 = 37.4°F

 

(9/5) 4°C + 32 = 7.2 + 32 = 39.2°F

 

Add that to whatever is average summer temperatures in the Arctic, California, Texas, or North Carolina, and you can see why Environmental Scientists are hair-on-fire excited.

 

My critique is the video, well-intentioned, has the Curse of Knowledge Cognitive Bias.

 

Some of the best science lectures I've attended are when the speaker assumes the audience is hearing the information for the first time, provides a primer of about 15 - 20 minutes, and about a thirty-five to forty-minute lecture, allowing time for questions. It respects the intelligence, and time of the audience.

 

The opposite: the lecturer is so excited about their work, they hit Warp Seven after clearing orbital drydock, and head for Andromeda, 2.537 million light-years away. The only time they stop is when the host informs them their time is up, and it's evident the crowd has tuned out, checking social media, and drooling as they wait for the lecture/torture to end.

 

To communicate the gravity of the situation, I feel we need to communicate better to the general public for buy-in that: 1. There is a crisis, 2. We have to do something about it.

 

By logical extension, science communication can mean life or death. Ninety-nine-point-five percent of new COVID deaths are from the unvaccinated, so armchair conspiracy theories are not proving helpful. I took the Moderna vaccine. I did not become magnetic. I did not become the carrier of a variant. I'm a grandfather, so my infertility at this stage is kind of irrelevant. No one started tracking me (for what reason, God only knows).

 

Please feel free to share my post, and check my calculations. We all need a clear understanding, not fossil fuel industry/corporate lobbyist gaslighting, on where we're headed if we don't heed the warnings.

 

“Science-fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.” Isaac Asimov

 

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Power Density...

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Optimal size: wind farm efficiency drops as installations become bigger. (Courtesy: iStock/ssuaphoto)

Topics: Alternate Energy, Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Green Tech, Thermodynamics

Optimizing the placement of turbines within a wind farm can significantly increase energy extraction – but only until the installation reaches a certain size, researchers in the US conclude. This is just one finding of a computational study on wind turbines’ effects on the airflow around them, and consequently the ability of nearby turbines – and even nearby wind farms – to extract energy from that airflow.

Wind power could supply more than a third of global energy by 2050, so the researchers hope their analysis will assist in better designs of wind farms.

It is well known that the efficiencies of turbines in a wind farm can be significantly lower than that of a single turbine on its own. While small wind farms can achieve a power density of over 10 W/m2, this can drop to a little as 1 W/m2 in very large installations The first law of thermodynamics dictates that turbines must reduce the energy of the wind that has passed through them. However, turbines also inject turbulence into the flow, which can make it more difficult for downstream turbines to extract energy.

“People were already aware of these issues,” says Enrico Antonini of the Carnegie Institution for Science in California, “but no one had ever defined what controls these numbers.”

Optimal size for wind farms is revealed by computational study, Tim Wogan, Physics World

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Last Ice...

A polar bear perches on a thick chunk of sea ice north of Greenland in March 2016. These thicker, older pieces of sea ice don’t fully protect the larger region from losing its summer ice cover.A polar bear perches on a thick chunk of sea ice north of Greenland in March 2016. These thicker, older pieces of sea ice don’t fully protect the larger region from losing its summer ice cover. (Image credit: Kristin Laidre/University of Washington)

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming

The "Last Ice Area," an Arctic region is known for its thick ice cover, may be more vulnerable to climate change than scientists suspected, a new study has found.

This frozen zone, which lies to the north of Greenland, earned its dramatic name because even though its ice grows and shrinks seasonally, much of the sea ice here was thought to be thick enough to persist through summer's warmth.

But during the summer of 2020, the Wandel Sea in the eastern part of the Last Ice Area lost 50% of its overlying ice, bringing coverage there to its lowest since record-keeping began. In the new study, researchers found that weather conditions were driving the decline, but climate change made that possible by gradually thinning the area's long-standing ice year after year. This hints that global warming may threaten the region more than prior climate models suggested.

'Last Ice Area' in the Arctic may not survive climate change, Mindy Weisberger, a senior writer for Live Science

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The Edge of the World...

Giant Ice Shelf Crumbling Faster than ExpectedIcebergs break away from Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica last year. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming

Antarctica’s monster Pine Island Glacier—one of the fastest melting glaciers on the continent—is giving climate scientists new reasons to worry.

The trouble has to do with its ice shelf, a frozen ledge at the edge of the Pine Island Glacier. The ice shelf helps stabilize and contain the vast flow of ice behind it.

But now it’s crumbling into pieces.

In the last five years alone, more than a fifth of the ice shelf has broken away in the form of gigantic icebergs, which fall into the ocean and drift away.

At the same time, the glacier has begun losing ice at a faster rate. Since 2017, the speed of the ice flowing from the glacier into the sea has accelerated by 12%.

These losses are summarized in a new study, published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

The big question is what will happen next, according to lead study author Ian Joughin, a glaciologist at the University of Washington. There’s a chance the ice shelf may stabilize and the flow of ice will slow down, or at least stop speeding up.

Then again, “the other scenario is this process will continue and the shelf will fall apart far more quickly than we expected,” he told E&E News.

Giant Ice Shelf Crumbling Faster than Expected, Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American

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Ransomware, and Biofuels...

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Continuous improvements in farming and biofuel production technology have helped establish ethanol as a low-carbon fuel.

Topics: Biology, Biofuels, Climate Change, Dark Side, Economics, Environment

The carbon footprint of corn ethanol shrunk by 23% between 2005 and 2019 as farmers and ethanol producers adopted new technologies and improved efficiency, according to a new analysis published in the academic journal Biofuels Bioproducts and Biorefining by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. By 2019, the researchers found, corn ethanol was reducing lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by 44-52% compared to gasoline.

Since 2000, corn ethanol production in the United State has increased significantly – from 1.6 to 15 billion gallons – due to supportive biofuel policies. In its study, the Argonne laboratory conducted a retrospective analysis of the changes in U.S. corn ethanol greenhouse gas emission intensity, sometimes known as carbon intensity, over the 15 years from 2005 to 2019, showing a significant decrease of 23%.

The carbon footprint of corn ethanol shrunk by 23% between 2005 and 2019 as farmers and ethanol producers adopted new technologies and improved efficiency, according to a new analysis published in the academic journal Biofuels Bioproducts and Biorefining by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. By 2019, the researchers found, corn ethanol was reducing lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by 44-52% compared to gasoline.

Since 2000, corn ethanol production in the United State has increased significantly – from 1.6 to 15 billion gallons – due to supportive biofuel policies. In its study, the Argonne laboratory conducted a retrospective analysis of the changes in U.S. corn ethanol greenhouse gas emission intensity, sometimes known as carbon intensity, over the 15 years from 2005 to 2019, showing a significant decrease of 23%.

This is due to several factors, the analysis explains. Corn grain yield has increased continuously, reaching 168 bushels/acre or a 15% increase while fertilizer inputs per acre have remained constant, resulting in decreased intensities of fertilizer inputs with a 7% and 18% reduction in nitrogen and potash use per bushel of corn grain harvested, respectively. The study also found a 14% reduction per bushel in farming energy use.

The analysis also found a 6.5% increase in ethanol yield, from 2.70 to 2.86 gal/bushel corn, and a 24% reduction in ethanol plant energy use, from 32 000 to 25 000 Btu/gal ethanol also helped reduce the carbon intensity.

“Our study shows that while the corn ethanol industry has experienced significant volume expansion, it has reduced the GHG intensity of corn ethanol through improved U.S. corn farming and ethanol biorefinery operations. Corn yield has increased, and chemical and energy use intensities of corn farming have decreased. In ethanol biorefineries, ethanol yield has increased, and energy use has decreased significantly,” according to the researchers. “Biofuels, including corn ethanol, can play a critical role in the U.S. desire for deep decarbonization of its economy.”

Bonus: I'm not sure Russian criminal elements can hack, or extort us with it.

Researchers add evidence to ethanol’s low-carbon benefits, Jacqui Fatka, Farm Progress

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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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