The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.   -W. B. Yeats

Above, Lee Atwater, famously ruthless political strategist for Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush. He perfectly encapsulates the “Southern Strategy” – a 50 year campaign by the Republican Party to take advantage of white resentment, enflamed by the civil rights and voting rights movement, – mainly in the south, but effective among whites everywhere – to draw support to the GOP.


Effectively, the effort has been to weaponize the lowest and worst drives of humanity – Atwater et al hoped, to gain power for their clients.

We see the results today. Perhaps its less surprising now to see who Atwater was in business with.


Manafort, Stone, Atwater, 1986 – Click for Larger

Time Magazine, 1986:

The Slickest Shop in Town

Legally, there are two firms. Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, a lobbying operation, represents Bethlehem Steel, the Tobacco Institute, Herbalife, Angolan “Freedom Fighter” Jonas Savimbi and the governments of the Bahamas and the Philippines. Black, Manafort, Stone & Atwater, a political-consulting firm, has helped elect such powerful Republican politicians as Senator Phil Gramm of Texas and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Jesse Helms.


The political credentials of the partners are imposing. Charles Black, 38, was a top aide to Senator Robert Dole and the senior strategist for President Reagan’s re-election campaign in 1984. Paul Manafort, 36, was the political director of the 1984 G.O.P. national convention. Roger Stone, 33, was the Eastern regional campaign director for Reagan in 1984 and is now one of Congressman Jack Kemp’s chief political advisers. Peter Kelly, 48, was finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1981 to 1985. Lee Atwater, 34, was Reagan’s deputy campaign manager in 1984 and is now Vice President George Bush’s chief political adviser. Alone among the firm’s partners, Atwater sticks to advising electoral candidates and does not lobby.

Environmental Politics:

The relationship between racial attitudes and public opinion about climate
change is examined. Public opinion data from Pew and American National Election Studies surveys are used to show that racial identification and prejudices are increasingly correlated with opinions about climate change during the Obama presidency. Results show that racial identification became a significant predictor of climate change concern following Obama’s election in 2008, and that high levels of racial resentment are strongly correlated with reduced agreement with the scientific consensus on climate change. These results offer evidence for an effect termed the spillover of racialization. This helps further explain why the public remains so polarized on climate change, given the extent to which racial grievances and identities have become entangled with elite communication about climate change and its related policies today.


Washington Post:

White racial resentment has stayed roughly the same

The figure (above) shows the average level of racial resentment among white respondents over time, from 1988 to 2016. A score of 0 reflects the lowest possible level of racial resentment, and a score of 1 reflects the highest.

This graph shows that racial resentment hasn’t fluctuated much over time. White Americans today are, on average, no more racially resentful than they were in 1988. 

But racial resentment now more closely predicts all other political opinions

But that doesn’t necessarily tell us whether racial resentment has become more or less politically powerful or influential. Racial resentment can remain the same — and yet at different times it could be more effectively defused or more potently channeled.

The next figure shows the correlation between racial resentment and several political orientations, attitudes and behaviors, including partisanship, ideological self-identification, voting for the Republican Party candidate, and attitudes about issues such as general government spending or favoring private or publicly subsidized health insurance.

Nexus Media:

What began as a way of trolling Prius drivers became a signature protest against America’s first black president — rolling coal. Drivers spend hundreds or thousands of dollars retrofitting their trucks so they can blanket cyclists, motorists and pedestrians with thick, black clouds of exhaust. “I run into a lot of people that really don’t like Obama at all,” one seller of coal-rolling equipment toldSlate. “If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that.” In some instances, the practice has taken on an explicitly racial tone, as drivers publish videos of themselves rollingcoalon Black Lives Matters protestors.

Why would anyone spend so much money to do something so hostile and self-defeating? New research offers some insight. Read the rest of this entry »



WASHINGTON — Since Donald J. Trump began dominating American politics more than two years ago, Democrats concerned about his policies and behavior have taken solace in a group of influential Republicans who have consistently assailed the president as anathema to the values of their party, and the country more broadly.

In the past year, however, influential liberal donors and operatives have gone from cheering these so-called Never Trump Republicans to quietly working with — and even funding — them. Through invitation-only emails and private, off-the-record meetings, they have formed a loose network of cross-partisan alliances aimed at helping neutralize President Trump, and preventing others from capitalizing on weaknesses in the political system that they say he has exploited.

“If you’re a Republican who is concerned about the health of the liberal order and alarmed over the destruction of the norms of American democracy, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be willing to work with a Democrat who is equally concerned about those same matters,” said Jerry Taylor, a Republican who is president of the Niskanen Center, a moderate think tank that grew out of the libertarian Cato Institute.

While a slew of initiatives raised big money for cross-partisan bridge-building and even presidential campaigns in 2012, the current effort is different. It involves more players who are more actively involved in politics from across the spectrum, many of whom bring their own constituencies, making it less centralized and, in some ways, less organized.

Yet they are arguably more united than past efforts by their concern over threats to democracy they contend are embodied by a single politician: Mr. Trump.

It’s an amorphous, somewhat secretive effort, partly because some participants fear Mr. Trump and his allies would brand Never Trump Republicans as pawns of Democrats. Meeting locations, agendas and attendees are mostly kept quiet, while political intelligence is privately shared between participants on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

But some of the collaboration is becoming more overt.

Over the last couple of months, network members filed amicus briefs accusing Mr. Trump of overstepping his authority on matters ranging from immigration to his administration’s efforts to block a mergerbetween AT&T and Time Warner. And last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill to protect the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, for which network members had lobbied.


I inform people that other states or countries are adopting some pretty aggressive renewable and efficiency standards.
My follow up question is: “Your competitors are gearing up to run their economy on fuel that is free. What’s your response?”


California’s recently approved solar roof mandate for all new homes came as a surprise to many people — even though stakeholders have been working on the rule change for roughly two years.

That’s likely because the California Energy Commission (CEC) passed the requirement earlier this month as an update to the state’s 2019 Title 24, Part 6, Building Energy Efficiency Standards. Not quite everyday reading.


“Building codes are a sleeper issue,” joked Kelly Knutsen, director of technology advancement at California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA). “But if you get them right, you can do some pretty cool stuff.”

The latest round of standards, which take effect in 2020, do enable some pretty groundbreaking developments in the advancement of clean energy. Besides the requirement that all new homes under three stories install solar panels — a first for the nation — the codes help to incentivize energy storage and include a host of energy efficiency upgrades that will collectively slash energy use in new homes by more than 50 percent.


A new law recently passed in France mandates that all new buildings that are built in commercial zones must be partially covered in either plants or solar panels.

Green roofs are already very popular in Germany and Australia, as well as Canada’s city of Toronto, where a similar law has been in force since 2009. Planting the rooftops of urbanized areas brings many benefits to public, private, economic and social sectors, as well as to the local and global environments.

Here are the top 5 reasons to chose a green roof.

1. Green roofs reduce stormwater runoff. Green roofs increase water retention and can reduce water run-off by 50–90 %. Stormwater that leaves the roof is therefore delayed and reduced in volumes. Outlets, pipes and drains can thus be reduced in capacity, thereby saving construction costs. Finally, retention and delay of runoff eases stress on stormwater infrastructure and sewers.

2. Green roofs are energy efficient. In summer, the green roof protects the building from direct solar heat, while in winter it minimizes heat loss thanks to its added insulation. Energy conservation translates into fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Green roofs also improve air quality, as plants leave trap dust particles from the air, and evapotranspiration cools ambient temperatures.

3. Green roofs can serve as habitat. Low maintenance green roofs can be designed to serve as refuge for species such as ground-nesting birds. Vegetated rooftop habitats can also serve as stepping stones, to create corridors connecting other patches (roofscape or at grade) across an urban sea to natural habitats beyond the city.

4. Green roofs last longer. Green roofs cover the waterproofing membrane, protecting it from UV rays and extreme daily temperature fluctuations. This protection extends the lifespan of the waterproofing twice as long as conventional roofing, meaning that membranes under green roofs last twice as long as those on traditional roofs.

Read the rest of this entry »

This is a great series, glad to see its been discovered.
Closer look at a little known episode of earth deep-time history.

Caution: requires belief in science.

The most reliable information about ice mass balance has been coming from the Gravity Recovery and Environment Experiment (GRACE) satellites for the last decade.

But that pair of satellites was reaching the end of its useful life, and scientists have been anxiously awaiting launch of the important GRACE FO (Follow On).
Successfully launched, will start sending useful data in 90 days.


Today, NASA successfully launched a pair of satellites collectively known as GRACE-FO (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On mission) as a replacement for the two GRACE satellites currently in orbit.


Launched in 2002, GRACE helped provide a better understanding of many of Earth’s most pressing conditions, including rising sea levels, melting ice sheets and droughts. But last year, after 15 years of service, the original GRACE duo completed its mission.

The new satellites will continue GRACE’s work, but feature updated tech, including improved batteries and an extra camera. The pair will map out changes in Earth’s gravitational field, which scientists use to monitor distribution of water on the planet’s surface. And as NPR’s Christopher Joyce notes, they might even help in earthquake prediction.

As Joyce explains, the Earth’s gravitational field changes with our planet’s mass. It’s stronger over areas with lots of mass, like mountains or bodies of water, and weaker where there’s less mass.

As Alessandra Potenza writes for The Verge, to observe these tiny variations, the pair of car-sized spacecraft will zip around Earth—one trailing roughly 137 miles after the other. According to NASA, the pair will use super-sensitive “microwave ranging instruments” to continually monitor the distance between them. By measuring minute changes in this gap, they can track differences in the tug of Earth’s gravity over the planet’s many features.

By measuring these changes month after month, the satellites can monitor long term shifts of water resources on the ground—glaciers growing or shrinking, shifts in underground water storage, snow melt in the spring. ”[T]hat shift of water leaves an imprint on the gravity field, and that’s what we detect and what we’re after,” NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory geophysicist Felix Landerer tells Joyce.

These measurements will enable researchers to improve weather models and more accurately forecast catastrophic events like floods, water shortages and droughts. “The GRACE-FO mission gives us a rich understanding of a fundamental resource on our Earth, which is water,” says Sascha Burton, systems engineer for the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a NASA video. “How it moves and how it’s changing and that helps us better understand our climate.”

Read the rest of this entry »




Disruptive technology.
Practice using this phrase in a sentence.
Just trust me on this.

Perennial climate denier distortion is to claim that Electric vehicles do not run cleaner, because they are charged from a dirty grid (which deniers want to keep dirty).

Truth: Even charging on a coal-dominated grid, EVs are so efficient, that they are a gain for most drivers, in every state (unless you only rode a motor scooter before..).
AND, the grid keeps getting cleaner as more renewable energy comes on board.


Inside EVs:

It’s never been better than today, as electric cars are now cleaner than the average new gasoline car everywhere in the country – the report states – even where plug-ins are recharged from the dirtiest coal-dominated electric grid.

“The analysis, which looked at the latest data on power plant emissions, revealed the average electric vehicle on the road today emits so little in the way of global warming pollution that it’s like driving a conventional car that gets 80 miles to the gallon.

The gap between gasoline vehicles and electric vehicles has grown over time. In 2012, only 45 percent of Americans lived in parts of the country where driving electric produced lower emissions than driving a 50 mile per gallon (mpg) car would. Today, 75 percent of Americans get their electricity from regional grids this clean.

Electric vehicles will continue to get even cleaner as more coal-fired power plants close in favor of wind and solar power, whose prices continue to drop. Coal already has fallen from providing 50 percent of the power on the grid to 30 percent. Renewables now provide 10 percent of America’s electricity.

Electric car technology is improving, too. Looking at the most efficient electric models, 99 percent of Americans could drive cleaner on electricity than they would in a 50 mpg gasoline car.”

Below, Stanford lecturer Tony Seba is extravagantly optimistic about EVs in this 2016 talk.
Nothing that’s happened since makes him look wrong – quite the opposite.

Read the rest of this entry »


My wife says I need to back away from obsessive concerns about climate change.
Think I’ll take up knitting.


Q. What do you get when you cross crochet and climate science?

A. A lot of attention on Twitter.

At the weekend I like to crochet. Last weekend I finished my latest project and posted the picture on Twitter. And then had to turn the notifications off because it all went a bit noisy. The picture of my “global warming blanket” rapidly became my top tweet ever, with more retweets and likes than anything else. Apparently I had found a creative way to visualise trends in global mean temperature. I particularly liked the “this is the most frightening knitwear I have seen all year” comment. Given the interest on Twitter I thought I had better answer a few of the questions in this blog. Also, it would be great if global warming blankets appeared all over the world.



The global warming blanket was based on “temperature” blankets made by crocheters around the world. Their blankets consist of one row, or square, of crochet each day, coloured according to the temperature at their location  . They look amazing and show both the annual cycle and day-to-day variability. Other people make “sky” blankets where the colours are based on the sky colour of the day – this results in a more muted grey-blue-white colour palette.

I wondered what the global temperature series would look like as a blanket. Also, global warming is often explained as greenhouse gases acting like a blanket, trapping infrared radiation and keeping the Earth warm. So that seemed like an interesting link. I also had done several rainbow themed blankets in the past and had a lot of yarn left that needed using.


I used the annual and global mean temperature anomaly compared to 1900-2000 mean as a reference period as available from NOAA This is what the data looks like shown more conventionally.


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