May 17, 2013
Put this on in the background and let it creep up on you.
Elizabeth Shepherd performs Live-to-Air with Michael Occipinti’s Shine On: The Universe of John Lennon
Toronto, June 1, 2012 CBC Radio
UPDATE: by popular demand, the original below.
In Germany, alone among the 27 members of the European Union, unemployment rates for both older and younger workers are now lower than they were when the United States slipped into a recession at the end of 2007.
In the rest of the euro zone, the unemployment rate for workers ages 25 to 74 has more than doubled over that period, to 12.8 percent. The rate for younger workers is more than 30 percent, on average — and above 50 percent in Spain and Greece. In Germany, it is less than 8 percent.
May 15, 2013
Above, an appeal to economic reason by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Below, a piece titled ‘You Might Just Like a Carbon Tax”, by Ike Brannon.
Ike Brannon is senior fellow and director of research at the R Street Institute. R Street was founded by Eli Lehrer, a former staffer at the climate denialist Heartland Institute. R Street accepts the science of global climate, and explores, among other activities, potential free market solutions to climate change. A significant portion of their funding is from the insurance industry.
(Correction: May 20, Eli Lehrer advises me – “One tiny detail: I’m the co-founder, not the sole founder of R Street. The other founding staff–one of whom now works at UCS, the others are still at R Street–are founders just as much as I was.“)
Tax reform may involve simplifying the tax code, but actually achieving such a thing promises to be a terrifyingly complicated process. The battle over how (and by how much) to reduce the various tax deductions, credits and exemptions that litter the code will be contentious enough; reaching agreement on how to divvy up the revenue generated by this exercise between reducing the debt and lowering tax rates seems almost intractable.
Republicans face a dual problem. The fiscal reality is that revenue gains from reducing tax deductions won’t be as substantial as they desire and, politically, Democrats will insist some of those gains go toward reducing the deficit.
The only way Congress can deliver the lower rates they’ve promised, given those inevitable constraints, is to find a new source for revenue. And the only one that both parties could potentially live with is a carbon tax.
The motivations for enacting tax reform are many: our tax code is a mess, we incentivize behavior that makes little economic sense, and there’s a growing belief that, in many respects, it is fundamentally unfair. This dissatisfaction is especially true for the corporate tax code, where a bipartisan coalition of congressmen is keen to cut the rate, which is among the world’s highest and serves as a disincentive to investment. Ultimately, investment in new machines, software and equipment improves worker productivity, boosts wages and creates jobs.
Some Democrats kvetch that corporations’ effective tax rate (what they actually pay once we take into account the various credits, deductions and exemptions) is relatively low and thus, we shouldn’t do them any favors. They are right that these tax expenditures drive average tax rates down while doing little for the economy. If we did away with the bulk of these provisions and used the savings to finance a lower rate, we would see more economic growth. Getting rid of all of these and using the revenue generated to offset reductions in the corporate tax rate would allow Congress to cut the corporate tax rate from the current 35 percent (the highest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) to around 25 percent, which is what House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., has been promising the business community.
May 15, 2013
Remember that item from Fox News a few weeks ago? “Germany is doing well with solar energy because they have way more sun than we do!”
Another piece of the anti-renewable disinformation campaign commonly heard, and just as accurate, is something like: “Germany has had to increase reliance on coal because renewables are so unreliable.”
It is vitally important for the windbagger/anti-renewable crowd to cover-up, tear down, distort or distract from the example that Germany, Denmark, and other countries are setting for the world – maintaining world class manufacturing, exporting, and living standards, while switching to renewable power – so expect to see a lot of this in the future.
In a PDF published last month, consultants from Pöyry tell the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) not to expect any more coal plant projects after the current ones are completed.
Over the past two years, Renewables International has repeatedly argued that there will be no shift to coal power as a result of the nuclear phaseout. So it’s nice to see that other independent analysts see things the same way.
In their presentation to the UK government (PDF), researchers at Pöyry say there are three main reasons for the “apparent surge” in new coal plant construction, which is “due to highly unusual historic reasons”: a favorable market environment in 2007/2008; excess carbon allowances; and an “inability or reluctance of developers to cancel projects” when circumstances changed.
I had already written about the first two and am pleased to hear someone argue the third point. But going forward, the researchers say “there will be no major new unabated coal or date night projects in Germany for the foreseeable future beyond those currently under construction.”
Starting in 2009, the experts find that “developers’ appetites” for new coal projects has died down significantly so that there will be no further investment in coal plants “in this decade.” By 2035 (see chart above), installed coal power generating capacity will have fallen from around 42 GW to around 15 GW – and again, that installed capacity is likely to be running at lower utilization levels.
Is Germany Switching to Coal? Morris pointed out last December:
North Carolina put itself on the anti-science map not long ago by passing a law forbidding consideration of sea level rise in that state.
Now, the legislature is looking at legislation to brand some of the world’s most compelling new auto technology, Tesla’s electric Model S sedan, as “unfair competition” to conventional auto dealers.
From the state that brought you the nation’s first ban on climate science comes another legislative gem: a bill that would prohibit automakers from selling their cars in the state.
The proposal, which the Raleigh News & Observer reports was unanimously approved by the state’s Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday, would apply to all car manufacturers, but the intended target is clear. It’s aimed at Tesla, the only U.S. automaker whose business model relies on selling cars directly to consumers, rather than through a network of third-party dealerships.
The bill is being pushed by the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group representing the state’s franchised dealerships. Its sponsor is state Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Republican from Henderson, who has said the goal is to prevent unfair competition between manufacturers and dealers. What makes it “unfair competition” as opposed to plain-old “competition”—something Republicans are typically inclined to favor—is not entirely clear. After all, North Carolina doesn’t seem to have a problem with Apple selling its computers online or via its own Apple Stores.
Still, it’s easy to understand why some car dealers might feel a little threatened: Tesla’s Model S outsold the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series, and Audi A8 last quarter without any help from them. If its business model were to catch on, consumers might find that they don’t need the middle-men as much as they thought.
In the first three months of 2013, more people bought Tesla Model S electric cars than equivalent (more or less) models from Mercedes, BMW, and Audi. Obviously, these aren’t very high-volume models, but still, not bad for a company that wasn’t making any cars at all a few years ago. It shows that Tesla’s strategy is working.
May 14, 2013
The video above shows the cracks that opened in thinned and fragile arctic ice, even in the dead of winter this past february and march.
These news items are not unrelated.
Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.
The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.
In recent years the changes underway from this blink-in-geologic-time transformation of the atmosphere have become obvious, especially the patterns of extreme weather and precipitation changes that have long been the most confident predictions of climate science.
But some of the most profound changes will only come about as the new heat currently being trapped works its way thru the system, the oceans in particular, ripples through various “feedbacks” in the system, and reaches a point of equilibrium.
In that light, new research shines a light on what enormous impacts the carbon already released in to the atmosphere will have.
Working with a continuous record of Arctic climate reaching back 3.6 million years, researchers have documented a period when the region was significantly warmer and wetter than it is today and when the atmosphere’s inventory of carbon dioxide was comparable to today’s levels.
Temperatures were high enough – about 14 degrees warmer than today in the warmest month of the summer – to suggest that the climate system is more sensitive to small changes in greenhouse-gas concentrations than the sensitivity estimates included in some climate models.
If that’s the case, as other paleoclimate studies have indicated, the models may be underestimating the amount of warming likely to result from increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, the scientists say.
So even as the climate denial meme du jour has been that ‘climate sensitivity may not be as high as we thought”, these reconstructions from an era when co2 was not much greater than our own, must give us a sobering reality check.
The report found conditions much warmer than might have been predicted by atmospheric models, noting “..these extreme warm conditions are difficult to explain with greenhouse gas and astronomical forcing alone, implying the importance of amplifying feedbacks and far field influences.”
A climate feedback would be, for instance, as arctic ice melts and is replaced by open water, the open water absorbs much more solar heat than the bright reflective ice. This creates a vicious cycle, or “feedback”, reinforcing itself.
“One of our major findings is that the Arctic was very warm in the middle Pliocene and Early Pleistocene [~ 3.6 to 2.2 million years ago] when others have suggested atmospheric CO2 was not much higher than levels we see today. This could tell us where we are going in the near future. In other words, the Earth system response to small changes in carbon dioxide is bigger than suggested by earlier climate models,” the authors state.
The findings, based on sediment cores drilled from a Russian lake, don’t bode well for the current model of human-forced climate change, the researchers warn. They suggest that climate changes will be more amplified in the northern latitudes than currently predicted…
One of the clearest warning signs that this may be the case in our own time period is the rapid decline of arctic sea ice, that is now running 60 some years ahead of what would have been thought a “worst case” scenario, just a few years ago.
May 14, 2013
Fox News has been in lockstep with the right wing media doing everything it can to keep the US from leading the technological revolution of the 21st century, including trashing GM’s Chevy Volt, and anything rolling that doesn’t guzzle gas like an M-1 Tank. Now, that’s apparently changing.
There’s news that the all-electric luxury Tesla vehicle is turning a profit for its upstart manufacturer, silicon valley based Tesla motors. CEO Elon Musk is the clear front runner for “next Steve Jobs” status in the business pantheon, and despite best efforts of the troglodyte right, the electric vehicle sector keeps gaining momentum. Recent indicators is that electric vehicles will be priced competitively with gas powered conventional cars sooner than thought – recent credible reports project a 10 thousand dollar price cut on the Volt - and the Lithium ion battery packs for these cars have dropped 40 percent in price since 2010, according to Bloomberg’s Michael Liebreich - (more on his recent presentation soon..)
The Tesla, of course, is an engineering marvel, a triumph of green technology, and according to “…the notably tough reviewers at Consumer Reports (who) had given the Tesla Model S sedan a 99 out of 100 rating, ….”we’ve never seen anything quite like the Model S. This car performs better than anything we’ve ever tested before.”
This is a revolution. Fox News, and every right wing disinformation vector on the planet, will not stop it. They ridiculed and reviled “Al Gore’s Information Superhighway” – but it came, nonetheless, and we are all better off for it. This revolution is even more powerful, in that it MUST happen for civilization to survive.
Get on board , get out of the way, or get run over.
Scotland has exceeded the target they set for last year of 30 percent electricity from renewables. (for comparison, Iowa gets about 20 to 25 percent of its electricity from wind, Texas almost 10 percent)
What Koch fueled WindBaggers and climate deniers scream is “impossible” in this country, is already being done elsewhere around the world. By 2020, the sturdy, sensible Scots expect to gather 100 percent of their electricity from renewables with a large portion coming from wind energy -
In this interview from Robert Llewellyn’s terrific “Fully Charged” series, we find out that, in Scotland, the more people see of wind power, the more they like it. In that regard, they are a lot like Iowans, more than 80 percent of whom favor expansion of wind energy.
Freeing themselves from the bonds of limited, expensive, dirty fossil fuels, and the economic and political control of greedy Koch Brothers and Coal Barons is also one of the great benefits that the Scots see in renewable energy. This, of course, is a nightmare scenario for WindBaggers. They seek to make the United States a fracked, blasted, strip mined, pipelined, polluted and pulverized energy extraction colony for the fossil fuel few.
But pushing back against the tyranny of the powerful is in the blood for Scots – and since that’s my heritage, it does my heart good to see that defiant tradition carried forward into the technological age.
May 12, 2013
The story of how DeChristopher landed in prison is well known. On December 19, 2008, he walked into an oil and gas auction in Salt Lake City, where the Bureau of Land Management was auctioning off leases to drill on public lands. When asked if he had come to bid, DeChristopher, somewhat startled, said yes. He took a paddle, labeled “Bidder 70,” and without any plan as to what he would do with it, entered the auction. But then, when he saw a friend across the room break down in tears over the potential loss of wild lands, an idea came to him. He began raising his paddle to bid. By the end, he’d amassed a total of 22,500 acres at a price of $1.8 million.
Although the Obama Administration later declared the auction illegal and DeChristopher eventually raised enough money to buy the land he had bid on, two of the felony charges against him stuck. After a trial delayed nine times by the prosecution, he finally received a two-year sentence in July 2011.
But that’s the Tim DeChristopher story you already know. What often gets overlooked in this folk hero tale of a man who went to jail for his principles is that DeChristopher didn’t want to be the only hero. And so he became one of the most consistent and strongest voices for direct action and civil disobedience in the movement, urging environmental groups to use personal sacrifice as means of becoming more effective.
By showing that people who don’t hold positions of authority can successfully confront injustice, his example helped to build the climate-justice group Peaceful Uprising, changed the tactics of the nation’s most established environmental organizations, and helped shape the mass climate movement, which turned out nearly 50,000 people on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in February.
Listen below, as DeChristopher speaks powerfully about his experience confronting the power wielded against him in court, and the power of citizens who follow their conscience.
This is one of the most important journalistic events in some time, by my measure.
I’ve told as many people as will listen, there is an emerging realization among senior Republicans and pollsters that the party is severely out of step with the general voting populace on climate change. Polling data from the 2012 election has already shown that positions on climate have an effect, especially among the important independent voters that both parties seek to attract. The article refers to the issue as a “sleeping giant”.
Last year, I met with a very senior GOP Rep, and advised him that the they would have to begin finding a way to walk back their anti-science agenda – and if they think they have a problem with the immigration issue, just wait and let this one fester for a few more years…
He didn’t answer directly, but a day later 2 of his DC staffers called and were on the phone with me for an hour. I’ve since had another meeting with those staffers in DC. The National Journal article has a revealing passage in which it describes a recent talk by former Reagan Secretary of State George Schultz, who urged climate action to a group of GOP congressional aides. He got a standing O.
In January 2012, just before South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary, the Charleston-based Christian Coalition of America, one of the most influential advocacy groups in conservative politics, flew Emanuel down to meet with the GOP presidential candidates. Perhaps an unlikely prophet of doom where global warming is concerned, the coalition has begun to push Republicans to take action on climate change, out of worry that coming catastrophes could hit the next generation hard, especially the world’s poor.
The meetings didn’t take. “[Newt] Gingrich and [Mitt] Romney understood, … and I think they even believed the evidence and understood the risk,” Emanuel says. “But they were so terrified by the extremists in their party that in the primaries they felt compelled to deny it. Which is not good leadership, good integrity. I got a low impression of them as leaders.” Throughout the Republican presidential primaries, every candidate but one—former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who was knocked out of the race at the start—questioned, denied, or outright mocked the science of climate change.
Soon after his experience in South Carolina, Emanuel changed his lifelong Republican Party registration to independent. “The idea that you could look a huge amount of evidence straight in the face and, for purely ideological reasons, deny it, is anathema to me,” he says.
Emanuel predicts that many more voters like him, people who think of themselves as conservative or independent but are turned off by what they see as a willful denial of science and facts, will also abandon the GOP, unless the party comes to an honest reckoning about global warming.
The problem is, as polling data and the changing demographics of the American electorate show, it’s likely that the position that can win voters in a primary will lose voters in a general election. Some day, though, the facts—both scientific and demographic—will force GOP candidates to confront climate change whether they want to or not. And that day will come sooner than they think.
Already, the numbers tell the story. Polls show that a majority of Americans, and a plurality of Republicans, believe global warming is a problem. Concern about the issue is higher among younger voters and independents, who Republicans will need to attract if they want to win elections.
The article also describes how the troglodyte wing is digging in against any acknowledgement of reality, and promises “political death” for those that dare.
Worth clicking the link to read the whole thing.