You don’t have to Imagine it.
It’s Alabama.

Raw Story:

United Nations official investigating poverty in the United States was shocked at the level of environmental degradation in some areas of rural Alabama, saying he had never seen anything like it in the developed world.

I think it’s very uncommon in the First World. This is not a sight that one normally sees. I’d have to say that I haven’t seen this,” Philip Alston, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, told Connor Sheets of AL.com earlier this week as they toured a community in Butler County where raw sewage flows from homes through exposed PVC pipes and into open trenches and pits.

alabam

The tour through Alabama’s rural communities is part of a two-week investigation by the U.N. on poverty and human rights abuses in the United States. So far, U.N. investigators have visited cities and towns in California and Alabama, and will soon travel to Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. Read the rest of this entry »

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In Trump’s America, pesky scientists cannot be allowed to spread their dangerous “facts”.

An objective, testable, reality, separate from the pronouncements and tweets of the Beloved Leader, is a threat to autocracy.
Hence, key provisions in the Republican  tax plan.

A feature, not a bug.  Smart alecky edjumacated elitists don’t vote for people who think the earth is 5000 years old and there’s no such thing as climate change.
For GOP vision of America, see Alabama.

Julia Belluz in Vox:

If you thought the Republican tax plan was just about huge tax cuts for the wealthy, think again. It’s also a major attack on science.

To understand why, let’s step back a bit. The scientific enterprise in America heavily relies on grad students. They do mostly invisible work in thousands of labs and research institutions across the US, on everything from basic research about human cells to clinical research on how to cure cancer. Their contributions are essential to running studies.

In exchange for that labor during their training, the federal government gives them a break on their taxes.

Very simply, grad students get their tuition and other school fees waived while they’re teaching or researching. When tax season rolls around, they’re exempted from having to pay taxes on that money (which never hits their pockets).

But under the House version of the tax bill, these waivers would become taxable income. “This means that MIT graduate students would be responsible for paying taxes on an $80,000 annual salary, when we actually earn $33,000 a year,” explained one MIT grad student, Erin Rousseau, in an op-ed in the New York Times. “That’s an increase of our tax burden by at least $10,000 annually.”

This waiver repeal appears in the House bill, not the Senate bill, and Congress is currently reconciling these two versions as part of its effort to form the tax code. But if this change becomes law, make no mistake: It’ll seriously damage the model that keeps America’s scientific labs running, wrote Jeremy Berg, the editor-in-chief of the Science journal, in another new op-ed.

The House bill would also drop the student loan interest deduction, which helps people who are paying their student loans manage their debt. And provisions in both the House and Senate bills would add an excise tax on income from university endowments.

Read the rest of this entry »

First four minutes of above video is relevant to current weather extremes across the US.
I’m in New Orleans and they were canceling flights due to snow friday December 8.

Still quite cold tonight.  Meanwhile watching fire footage from hot, dry, west.

Washington Post:

The explosive brush fires raging in Southern California and the frigid weather about to grip the eastern U.S. are connected. They are the consequences of an extreme jet pattern that makes the West hot and dry, and simultaneously the East cold. And new research reveals climate change and shrinking sea ice may help this pattern of wild contrasts develop more frequently.

The overarching weather pattern responsible for the contrasting extremes between the coasts is known as the North American Winter Dipole. It is fancy term to describe abnormally warm conditions in the West and cold conditions in the East. Under such a pattern, the jet stream, the super highway for storms that divides cold and warm air, surges north in the western half of the nation, and crashes south in the eastern half.

Such a pattern is developing over the United States right now. It is the same pattern that was responsible for California’s historic drought from 2013 to 2016. UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain coined the term “ridiculously resilient ridge” to describe the bulging jet stream along the West Coast. It blocked rain-bearing storms from penetrating inland and was associated with a pool of warm water known as the “blob” — which drew north a host of sea creatures seldom or previously never seen along parts of the Pacific Coast.

2014ridgea

Daniel Swain makes an appearance in this vid about a previous set-up of this pattern, responsible for the intense California drought of recent years.

Read the rest of this entry »

Most Climate deniers unaware.

Talk me down, but I’m trying to get my mind around this. If something is going to swallow the planet, I’d at least like a description of it.

Something so poorly understood that is obviously growing at a phenomenal rate, might possibly have an unforeseen impact on the economy.
In the excerpt from Wired below, we find this –
By July 2019, the bitcoin network will require more electricity than the entire United States currently uses. By February 2020, it will use as much electricity as the entire world does today.”
If something sounds this absurd, sometimes it actually is, well, absurd. But I stopped ruling out absurd things in the last year.

CNBC:

No, you are not imagining things. Everyone is talking about bitcoin, even your mom.

With a price approaching $20,000 a coin this week, it’s not hard to understand why. The digital currency started out the year below $1,000.

Why is it rallying?

A mere curiosity until recently, Bitcoin is about to get a big dose of legitimacy, something that could be helping to boost its price. This month, two of the world’s biggest exchanges will begin trading bitcoin futures, pushing it further into the mainstream and establishing a layer of official oversight that hadn’t previously existed.

Wired:

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been ignoring the bitcoin phenomenon for years — because it seemed too complex, far-fetched, or maybe even too libertarian. But if you have any interest in a future where the world moves beyond fossil fuels, you and I should both start paying attention now.

Last week, the value of a single bitcoin broke the $10,000 barrier for the first time. Over the weekend, the price nearly hit $12,000. At the beginning of this year, it was less than $1,000.

If you had bought $100 in bitcoin back in 2011, your investment would be worth nearly $4 million today. All over the internet there are stories of people who treated their friends to lunch a few years ago and, as a novelty, paid with bitcoin. Those same people are now realizing that if they’d just paid in cash and held onto their digital currency, they’d now have enough money to buy a house.

That sort of precipitous rise is stunning, of course, but bitcoin wasn’t intended to be an investment instrument. Its creators envisioned it as a replacement for money itself—a decentralized, secure, anonymous method for transferring value between people.

But what they might not have accounted for is how much of an energy suck the computer network behind bitcoin could one day become. Simply put, bitcoin is slowing the effort to achieve a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. What’s more, this is just the beginning. Given its rapidly growing climate footprint, bitcoin is a malignant development, and it’s getting worse. Read the rest of this entry »

While watching one of the spate of Wind energy ads using Donovan’s “Catch the Wind” – in occurred to me that  some folks might not have heard the original – or at least not in a while.

Snooze you lose.

Renewables are the future. GE the latest to miss the trend.

Don’t be too hard on them – they’re not alone.  We are seeing a “disruption of unprecedented scope and speed,”

Reuters:

ZURICH/LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – General Electric Co (GE.N) said Thursday it is axing 12,000 jobs at its global power business, the struggling industrial conglomerate’s latest effort to shrink itself into a more focused company.

The U.S. company launched the cuts to save $1 billion in 2018 at its Power business, saying it expects dwindling demand for fossil fuel power plants to continue. GE’s cuts follow a decision by rival Siemens AG to slash 6,900 jobs in the face of a global shift by electric utilities away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar.

GE did not give a breakdown of the job cuts, which represent about 4 percent of its overall workforce of 295,000, saying only that they would be primarily outside the United States. The cuts represent about 18 percent of GE’s Power business, GE said.

The announcement cast a spotlight on GE’s decision to spend 9.7 billion euros ($10.7 billion when the deal closed in 2015) on the energy business of France’s Alstom (ALSO.PA). The deal rounded out GE Power’s portfolio by adding steam and nuclear capabilities to its mainly natural gas turbine power business.

But the purchase came just as demand for new power plants was slowing, in part due to competition from wind and solar systems.

“Traditional power markets including gas and coal have softened,” GE said on Thursday, explaining the decision for the job cuts.

Even Fox News noticed..

I posted on similar losses at European energy giant Siemens a few weeks ago.

Read the rest of this entry »