Brain Eating Amoeba Update

December 24, 2020

Below, ABC News report on recent incident in Lake Jackson, Texas, where city water was contaminated with brain eaters.

Coming to a water supply near you, thanks to climate denial.

Yale Climate Connections for 12/24/20:

Reindeer do not survive on the carrots left out by excited children on Christmas Eve. 

During winter in the Arctic, reindeer eat lichens and plants they find beneath the snow. But erratic winter weather can make it hard for them to get to their food.

“We might get a snowfall in October, but then it will rain, and then it will freeze, and then it might snow again, and then it might rain again, and then freeze again, and … then the lichen and other winter fodder will be encased in ice,” says Bruce Forbes of the University of Lapland in Finland. 

This alternating rain and snow is not unusual. But he says that as the climate warms, “what’s new is the intensity of the rain, the extent of the area over which it rains heavily, and then the thickness and impenetrability of the ice crust.”

If the ice is very thick, reindeer cannot break through it to reach their food, so they can starve. 

“We’re talking tens of thousands of animals starving in individual events,” Forbes says.

Many Indigenous herders in the Arctic depend on reindeer for their livelihoods, so the losses are devastating for the animals and human communities, too.

If you don’t have the daily Yale Climate Connections spots on your local station, you should ask for it!

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Above, during the campaign, Biden tells gun nut he’s “full of shit.”

More of that please.

Jonathan Capehart in the Washington Post:

So, I asked Biden on that call what he would say to Democrats and others who are afraid he doesn’t see the punch in the mouth coming or that he won’t have the will to use all the power available to him to get his agenda through Congress. Biden pushed back — forcefully, as if I was the one who punched him in the mouth.

“Well, let me tell you something. You guys have been saying that about me since the day I ever got into office. You said that when I announced, that I was a nice enough guy but didn’t get it, didn’t know what was going on,” Biden said. “I respectfully suggest that I beat the hell out of everybody else. I won the nomination, got everybody to come around and won by over seven million votes. So I think I know what I’m doing and I’ve been pretty damn good at being able to deal with the punchers. I know how to block a straight left and do a right hook. I understand it.”

“I haven’t changed how I approach politics since I got involved. And part of it is just establishing with your opponents that if they want to play, I’m ready to fight. I’m ready to fight,” Biden noted. “But one of the things that happens is when you get into one of those kind of blood matches … nothing gets done, nothing gets done.”

Still, Biden argued that knowing what to do in lieu of fighting is what matters and is what’s necessary now. “What is your vision? What do you see down the road? What do you think brings people together?” he said. “Part of it is sort of not seeing around the corner, but understanding where the American public is going.” His prime example was where the American people are on environmental issues today compared with when he was vice president.

“I’m going to be able to get stuff done on the environment that none of you are going to believe,” Biden pledged. “I could not have gotten it done six years ago, but all of a sudden, they now realize, ‘Holy, God!’ … ’Holy mackerel, I didn’t realize. When you have a part of the West Coast burn as big as the state of New Jersey to the ground, something’s up. Something’s wrong.’ ”

Rolling Stone:

Leslie West, the towering guitarist who created the hard-rock milestone “Mississippi Queen” with his band Mountain, died Wednesday morning. West’s brother, Larry West Weinstein, confirmed the musician’s death to Rolling Stone. He was 75. The cause of death was cardiac arrest. On Monday, West was rushed to a hospital after suffering cardiac arrest at his home near Daytona, Florida, where he never regained consciousness.

Released in 1970 on Mountain’s debut album, Climbing!, “Mississippi Queen” was two and a half minutes of boisterous bliss built around West’s burly yowl and guitar blasts and drummer Corky Laing’s completely unironic cowbell. One of those never-say-die songs of the classic-rock era, “Mississippi Queen” has been featured in countless soundtracks, TV shows (The Americans, The Simpsons) and in Guitar Hero III. In an interview with Guitar Player earlier this year, West said the song “has just everything you need to make it a winner. You’ve got the cowbell, the riff is pretty damn good, and it sounds incredible. It feels like it wants to jump out of your car radio. To me, it sounds like a big, thick milkshake. It’s rich and chocolatey. Who doesn’t love that?”

 

Another name for renewable energy, solar and wind, is Distributed Energy Resources, or DER.
With the kind of improvements that MUST be done to keep the US grid from slipping in to developing world status, there is potential to make the electrical grid more like the internet, which was designed to enable communication after a nuclear conflict.

To make the point, I show audiences the difference between the “old” grid, which was like a spoke-and-wheel arrangement, with a few big power plants serving many customers…

and the new grid, which looks more like a seamless web, with eventually, millions of nodes capable of producing, storing, and transmitting, both information and energy.

An advanced grid will not only distribute renewable energy across the continent, it will act to redundantly back up and support local grids.
Micro Grids and “Islanded Grids” will also increase security for businesses and communities.

The US grid is past due for a security upgrade, as the recent Russian hacking attack should make clear.
If Covid has shown us anything, it’s that whatever CAN happen, WILL happen.
We should really get cracking.

Bloomberg:

Minneapolis (AP) — White supremacists plotted to attack power stations in the southeastern U.S., and an Ohio teenager who allegedly shared the plan said he wanted the group to be “operational” on a fast-tracked timeline if President Donald Trump were to lose his re-election bid, the FBI alleges in an affidavit that was mistakenly unsealed.

The teen was in a text group with more than a dozen people in the fall of 2019 when he introduced the idea of saving money to buy a ranch where they could participate in militant training, according to the affidavit, which was filed under seal along with a search warrant application in Wisconsin’s Eastern U.S. District Court in March. The documents were inadvertently unsealed last week before the mistake was discovered and they were quickly sealed again.

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More on the recent Princeton study looking at pathways to zero carbon by mid-century.

Now a mountainous body of scholarship and real life experience indicating we can do this, but time is short.

New York Times:

If the United States wants to get serious about tackling climate change, the country will need to build a staggering amount of new energy infrastructure in just the next 10 years, laying down steel and concrete at a pace barely being contemplated today.

That’s one conclusion from a major study released Tuesday by a team of energy experts at Princeton University, who set out several exhaustively detailed scenarios for how the country could slash its greenhouse gas emissions down to zero by 2050. That goal has been endorsed by President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., as well as numerous states and businesses, to help avoid the worst effects of global warming.

The study’s findings are at once optimistic and sobering. Reaching “net zero” by 2050 appears technically feasible and even affordable. There are ways to get there that rely solely on renewable energy, as many environmentalists prefer, or that lean on other technologies such as nuclear power or carbon capture. Each approach carries different social and economic trade-offs.

The researchers identified a common set of drastic changes that the United States would need to make over the next decade to stay on pace for zero emissions. That initial groundwork has to start pretty much immediately.

Some examples:

  • This year, energy companies will install 42 gigawatts of new wind turbines and solar panels, smashing records. But that annual pace would need to nearly double over the next decade, and then keep soaring, transforming the landscapes in states like Florida or Missouri.
  • The capacity of the nation’s electric grid would have to expand roughly 60 percent by 2030 to handle vast amounts of wind and solar power, which would mean thousands of miles of new power lines crisscrossing the country.
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Ted Cruz, of course.

We’ve reached the point where this is becoming suicidal for Republicans, – but lately, that hasn’t been stopping any of their actions.

Yahoo News:

Two prominent Trump loyalists in the US Senate, Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham, are reportedly pressing the president to submit the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement to the chamber for ratification, in a last-minute attempt to scupper Democratic plans to take America back into the accords.

In a letter obtained by RealClearPolitics, Cruz, from Texas, urges both Trump and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, to plant the seeds of an eventual showdown over the two critical international agreements in the early days of the Biden administration.

As Cruz describes it, by submitting the pacts to the Senate, Trump could pave the way for a vote that would fail to achieve the two-thirds needed to ratify them – thus blocking Joe Biden’s efforts to bring the US back in line with international allies.

Cruz sets out the cynical ploy in his letter. He begins by praising Trump’s decision to pull America out of both the 2015 Iran deal, which restricted its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, and the 2016 Paris accords on reducing global emissions of pollution responsible for the climate crisis.

“I urge you now to remedy the harm done to the balance of powers by submitting the Iran deal and the Paris agreement to the Senate as treaties,” Cruz writes. “Only by so doing with the Senate be able to satisfy its constitutional role to provide advice and consent in the event any future administration attempts to revive these dangerous deals.”

Biden has pledged to rejoin the Paris agreement “on day one of my presidency”. He has similarly indicated he would revive the Iran nuclear deal as a top foreign policy objective – in both cases using his executive powers rather than relying on Congress.

Cruz hopes that his tactic would cut across Biden’s intentions by declaring the accords foreign treaties which require two-thirds ratification in the Senate. Failure to achieve that margin – an impossible target in a narrowly divided chamber – would undercut any unilateral Biden move.

Real Clear Politics:

“Your administration has rightly changed course as a matter of substantive policy by withdrawing from both the Iran Deal and the Paris Agreement. This was a great accomplishment for the American people,” Cruz wrote.

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Max Boot in the Washington Post:

The good news is that roughly two-thirds of the country inhabits the land of facts, where information comes from mainstream media. The bad news is that at least one-third live in a la-la-land of “alternative facts” and “fake news,” where the most trusted sources of information are Fox News and Facebook — or, heaven help us, Newsmax and OAN. There is plenty of irrationality on the left, to be sure, but it now appears much more prevalent on the political right, where so many deny both climate change and the coming change of administrations.

There is a vast, unbridgeable chasm that separates the brilliant scientists who came up with the coronavirus vaccines and the ignoramuses who believe that the coronavirus was engineered by Bill Gates to profit from vaccinations, or that it was created as a bioweapon by China, or that it is spread by 5G cell towers, or that it doesn’t actually exist, or that its dangers are vastly exaggerated, or that masks are either useless or harmful in stopping its spread. This pandemic of misinformation helps explain why the United States is among the countries with the highest covid death rates in the world despite having the most sophisticated medical sector.

Now these two nations are on another collision course because of the resistance to taking the coronavirus vaccine. There is an entrenched anti-vaccine movement that falsely claims childhood vaccines, such as the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, cause autism. Proponents are found primarily on the right, under the deceptive banner of “health freedom,” but also among granola leftists who believe in natural remedies and are suspicious of “Big Pharma.” Now you can add to this witches’ brew all of the covid myths, which have been merging online with larger conspiracy theories, such as QAnon.

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently found that 27 percent of those surveyed say they “probably or definitely” won’t get the coronavirus vaccine, even though it has been proved safe and effective. That figure has fallen seven points since September, but it remains dismayingly high. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, estimates that 75 percent to 80 percent of the population will need to be vaccinated to stop the transmission of the disease, achieve “herd immunity” and allow the resumption of business as usual. Getting there will be a struggle.

But even if we achieve that threshold and put covid in the rearview mirror, the resistance to reason among roughly a third of the population will continue to pose a long-term danger to the country. As physician Sanjay Gupta said on CNN: “The vaccine can help save us from the disease, but it can’t save us from ourselves. We must do that.”

The Covid stimulus bill, passed last night, had some surprising provisions for climate action, that may set the stage for what a Biden administration can do.
Significantly, these measures passed with support from Republican members, who have been looking for a way to pivot on climate. This might have opened the door.

I get it that we need more Covid relief, and the measly 600 bucks is inadequate, but we’re in an emergency here.

UPDATE:

Washington Post:

In one of the biggest victories for U.S. climate action in a decade, Congress has moved to phase out a class of potent planet-warming chemicals and provide billions of dollars for renewable energy and efforts to suck carbon from the atmosphere as part of the $900 billion coronavirus relief package.

The legislation, which Congress approved moments before midnight Monday, wraps together several bills with bipartisan backing and support from an unusual coalition of environmentalists and industry groups.

It will cut the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), chemicals used in air conditioners and refrigerators that are hundreds of times worse for the climate than carbon dioxide. It authorizes a sweeping set of new renewable energy measures, including tax credit extensions and new research and development programs for solar, wind and energy storage; funding for energy efficiency projects; upgrades to the electric grid and a new commitment to research on removing carbon from the atmosphere. And it reauthorizes an Environmental Protection Agency program to curb emissions from diesel engines.

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), an ally of President-elect Joe Biden and co-sponsor of the HFC provision, called it “a watershed moment” that bodes well for lawmakers interested in working with the incoming administration on climate change.

“The debate on whether climate change is real is over. It is real. It’s not getting better,” Carper said in a recent interview. “Our Republican colleagues, they get it, for the most part.”

The agreement comes on the heels of a major United Nations climate report, which found that nations’ current plans to reduce greenhouse gasses are just one-fifth of what’s needed to avoid catastrophic warming.

“Let’s be clear: Are these provisions enough to meet the demands of the science? No,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y). “But are they a significant step in the right direction? Yes.”

The HFC rule lays the groundwork for the United States to sign onto the Kigali Amendment, an international agreement in which more than 100 nations committed to replacing the chemicals with refrigerants that have a smaller climate impact. Signed in the final days of the Obama administration, the treaty was never submitted by Trump for ratification by the Senate. By voting to curb the climate pollutant now, Congress has eased the path for approval once Biden takes office.

Included in the energy package are roughly $4 billion for solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal research and development; $1.7 billion to help low-income families install renewable energy sources in their homes; $2.6 billion for the Energy Department’s sustainable transportation program; and $500 million for research on reducing industrial emissions.

In a boon for renewable energy companies, Congress extended tax credits for wind and solar and introduced a new credit for offshore wind projects, which Heather Zichal, chief executive of the American Clean Power Association, called “America’s largest untapped clean energy source.” 

Quartz:

While HFC regulation is the crowning jewel of the bill’s climate action items, it also includes $35.2 billion for research on carbon removal, renewables, energy storage, and other low-carbon technologies, as well as extending key tax clean energy tax credits. With just a month until Biden’s inauguration, the stimulus sets up president Donald Trump—who spent the last four years dismantling climate policies and quitting the Paris agreement—to leave a lasting, positive impact on the climate.

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