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They should stop it, because it’s just mean, like taunting the mentally challenged kid, like tying cans to a dog’s tail.

Today’s version of the Republican Party is as hostile to biodiversity as it is to any other kind of diversity.

Ars Technica:

After two years of review and revision, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced a set of changes to the regulations that spell out how it will implement parts of the Endangered Species Act. The changes focus on how officials should decide whether to list a species as endangered or threatened, what kind of protections threatened species should receive, and how officials will decide which areas of habitat to protect.
In practice, the changes may weaken the Endangered Species Act’s protections.
Depending on how this and future administrations interpret the wording of the regulation, these changes could make it easier to remove species from the endangered and threatened species lists. The wording may also give officials tacit permission to dismiss climate change as an irrelevant threat to species’ survival and to consider economic factors when they’re deciding whether to protect a species.
There were many signs this was coming. The Trump administration proposed some of the revisions, including removing the phrase “without reference to economic impact,” last July. And overall, this batch of regulatory changes fits into the administration’s broader theme of eliminating regulation and rolling back environmental protections.

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At the end of a long interview with Michael Mann a few months ago, I still had one more question, about the odd blue spot on NASA’s map of global temperature increases..

Coal is Over

August 14, 2019

Everybody knows it now.

Guardian:

Set in a wooded valley between the Tug Fork river and the Mate creek, Matewan, West Virginia, was the site of the 1920 Matewan massacre, a shootout between pro-union coalminers and coal company agents that left 10 people dead and triggered one of the most brutal fights over the future of the coal industry in US history.
The coal industry in Appalachia is dying – something that people there know better than anyone. Some in this region are pinning their hopes on alternative solutions, including rising Democratic star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal.
“Coal is over. Forget coal,” said Jimmy Simpkins, who worked as a coalminer in the area for 29 years. “It can never be back to what it was in our heyday. It can’t happen. That coal is not there to mine.”

A coal production forecast conducted in 2018 by West Virginia University estimates coal production will continue to decline over the next two decades. Over 34,000 coal mining jobs in the US have disappeared over the past decade, leaving around 52,000 jobs remaining in the industry, despite several promises made by Donald Trump throughout his 2016 election campaign that he would bring those jobs back.
“A lot of guys thought they were going to bring back coal jobs, and Trump stuck it to them,” said 69-year-old Bennie Massey, who worked for 30 years as a coalminer in Lynch, Kentucky.
The town was at the center of the American labor movement in the early 20th century. At the peak of the coal industry in the 1920’s, about 500,000 miners were union members. As the coal industry declined, so did union membership, and now the town’s local miners’ union, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Local 1440, consists entirely of retired miners.
Carl Shoupe, a retired coalminer in Harlan county, Kentucky, who worked as a union organizer for 14 years, said people in Appalachia need to start moving away from relying solely on the coal industry as an economic resource for the region.
“What we’ve been doing is trying to transition into the 21st century and get on past coal,” he said.

New York Times:

SHERIDAN, Wyo. — The soldiers were about to storm the fortress when they suddenly went still. James Smith, 17, and his teacher, Shirley Coulter, squinted at the desktop monitor.
James was programming his own military game, the final project in his Advanced Placement computer science principles class at Sheridan High School, here in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. Users competed as countries, like Israel or Japan, to take over a castle. But the game had crashed, and neither James nor Ms. Coulter — a 19-year veteran whose background is in teaching business classes — could figure out how to debug it.
“I’m learning with the kids,” she said. “They grasp it faster than I do.”
Ms. Coulter is one of hundreds of teachers in this sparsely populated state tasked with carrying out one of the most ambitious curriculum reform laws in the nation. Dozens of states have taken steps in recent years to expand students’ access to computer science, but last year, Wyoming became one of the few to require that all K-12 public schools offer it.
The mandate is part of a wide-ranging package of new laws, passed by the State Legislature last year, that is intended to wean Wyoming off its heavy reliance on the oil, gas and coal industries, and stem the flow of young people leaving for better jobs. Both major political parties have embraced the effort, as have tech companies eager to promote a national vision of rural economic revival built on coding skills.

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Today’s news includes reports of big losses in the stock market, and indications for recession risk.

Will the next recession turn the current flight from climate risk into a stampede?

Bloomberg:

Earlier this year, one of Meryam Omi’s deputies at Legal & General Investment Management sat down with board members and managers from Exxon Mobil Corp. to discuss how the oil giant could address climate change. LGIM, which manages about $1.3 trillion, is one of Exxon’s top 20 shareholders.

The Exxon delegation listened, but it didn’t accept the suggestions, says Omi, LGIM’s head of sustainability and responsible investment strategy. Around the same time, Exxon persuaded the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to block a shareholder resolution that pushed the oil giant to do more to address climate risks.

So, in June, London-based LGIM announced that it had dumped about $300 million worth of its Exxon shares and would use its remaining stake to vote against the reappointment of Exxon Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods. “There’s got to be an escalation,” Omi says.

As the risks of climate change have become more pronounced, so have efforts by major investment firms to push companies in greener directions. They tried talking. Then they started backing shareholder resolutions. Now, LGIM is at the forefront of a more aggressive, and controversial, tactic: divesting. “You cannot have the same conversation for 15 years with no results,” Omi explains. (Exxon responded to LGIM’s announcement by saying that it publishes an annual tally of emissions from its operations and is on track to meet targets for reducing methane emissions.)

Momentum is gathering, says Mark Lewis, who leads climate change investment research for Paris-based BNP Paribas Asset Management. He likens it to the divestment campaign that forced companies participating in apartheid-era South Africa to change course, and he invokes the spirit of Gandhi: “They’ve ignored us and laughed at us. I think now they’re fighting us. So next we win.”
But he knows it won’t be easy. In March, as he helped the BNP Paribas press team put the finishing touches on an announcement that its actively managed funds would exit almost €1 billion ($1.1 billion) of coal stocks as early as next year, he thought the news might cause a few “ripples” and not much more. In fact, Lewis was bombarded with emails and calls, not all of them polite. “It surprised me how big the reaction was,” he says.

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Boy, climate deniers have hated it when I’ve shown, again and again, that climate denial and racism seem joined at the hip. Almost as if there was some kind of structure in the Republican brain that was responsible for both…
My theory is trauma from torturous toilet training, but I digress.


Ken Cuccinelli (affectionately known as “the Kooch”) was in the news the other day with racist blather about changing Emma Lazarus’ famous poem about Miss Liberty, “..give me your tired and your poor.”
Apparently the poor part is considered gauche in Trump’s DC.
Kooch deftly pivoted (above) to clarify that what he meant was that immigrants should be European.

Kooch is famous, of course, for leading a censorship and intimidation campaign against climate scientist Michael Mann.

USAToday:

WASHINGTON – Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli gave a new interpretation of the famous Emma Lazarus sonnet in response to a question about the White House’s “public charge” rule that could disqualify many indigent immigrants from entering the U.S.
On Monday, President Donald Trump’s administration issued a new rule that would allow officials to deny green cards to migrants if officials believe they would require public assistance, or those at risk of becoming a “public charge.” The rule would go into effect on October 15. 
Appearing on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Cuccinelli was asked by host Rachel Martin if the sonnet, which reads “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” would still be part of the “American ethos” under the new rule.
“They certainly are,” Cuccinelli replied, before offering a revised version of the sonnet:
“Give me your tired, your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,” he told Martin. “That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the first time the first public charge law was passed.” 

USAToday:

WASHINGTON – Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli on Tuesday evening doubled down on his characterization of the famous Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty sonnet, saying the poem was referring mostly to immigrants coming from Europe.

Cuccinelli ran against Terry McAullife for Governor of Virginia, and Kooch’s climate denial came up as an issue in the campaign, which McAuliffe won. (below)

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