Idiocracy looking more and more like a documentary.


In India, children under 16 returning to school this month at the start of the school year will no longer be taught about evolution, the periodic table of elements or sources of energy.

The news that evolution would be cut from the curriculum for students aged 15–16 was widely reported last month, when thousands of people signed a petition in protest. But official guidance has revealed that a chapter on the periodic table will be cut, too, along with other foundational topics such as sources of energy and environmental sustainability. Younger learners will no longer be taught certain pollution- and climate-related topics, and there are cuts to biology, chemistry, geography, mathematics and physics subjects for older school students.

NCERT announced the cuts last year, saying that they would ease pressures on students studying online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amitabh Joshi, an evolutionary biologist at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bengaluru, India, says that science teachers and researchers expected that the content would be reinstated once students returned to classrooms. Instead, the NCERT shocked everyone by printing textbooks for the new academic year with a statement that the changes will remain for the next two academic years, in line with India’s revised education policy approved by government in July 2020.

Joshi says that the curriculum revision process has lacked transparency. But in the case of evolution, “more religious groups in India are beginning to take anti-evolution stances”, he says. Some members of the public also think that evolution lacks relevance outside academic institutions.

Aditya Mukherjee, a historian at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Dehli, says that changes to the curriculum are being driven by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a mass-membership volunteer organization that has close ties to India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party. The RSS feels that Hinduism is under threat from India’s other religions and cultures.

“There is a movement away from rational thinking, against the enlightenment and Western ideas” in India, adds Sucheta Mahajan, a historian at Jawaharlal Nehru University who collaborates with Mukherjee on studies of RSS influence on school texts. Evolution conflicts with creation stories, adds Mukherjee. History is the main target, but “science is one of the victims”, she adds.

Scientific American:

Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, is running for president of the United States on a record of anti-diversity, pro-censorship, white nationalistmeasures. He has targeted education, LGBTQ rights and access to health care, and should he prevail, his anti-science candidacy stands to harm millions of Americans.

DeSantis has banned books in school libraries, restricted teachers’ classroom discussions about diversity, prohibited high school classes that focus on Black history and people, politicized college curricula, limited spending on diversity programs, ignored greenhouse gas reduction in climate change policy, diminished reproductive rights and outlawed transgender health care.

Read the rest of this entry »

What will stop development in the wild – urban Interface (WUI) that is so exposed to wildfires? Will it be state regulations, or simply the insurance market abandoning the riskiest areas.

We don’t do a good job teaching science in this country.

I tremble for my planet when I reflect that physics is real.

June 1 marks the traditional beginning of Hurricane Season in the North Atlantic.
We are heading into an El Nino year, which usually puts a damper on hurricanes in the Atlantic.
But the Atlantic is steamy, record hot – giving hurricanes an extra ration of fuel. Forecasters are nervous.

John Morales, Chief Meteorologist, NBC 6 South Florida:

“Post-hurricane stress manifested itself and remained just as apparent in Floridians as it did across the landscape with gnarled street signs and empty shopping malls.”

This panorama may sound familiar given recent Florida history, but I’m quoting from Mass Trauma and Emotional Healing Around the World, a book written in 2010, not 2022 or 2023.

It refers to the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, which up until 2017’s Hurricane Irma stood as the costliest disaster in the history of Florida. 

Thirty years and one month after Andrew’s bomb-like devastation in southern Miami-Dade County, Hurricane Ian one-upped it in terms of loss of life and property.

Many residents of the areas hit hardest by Ian eight months ago are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, just like South Florida residents have for years after Andrew.

Read the rest of this entry »

How Wind Became Woke

May 31, 2023

The Texas Legislature blinked and, and the last minute, blunted, a push to essentially destroy the fantastically successful clean energy industry in the state.

Luke Metzger, Environment Texas:

“In a legislative session that saw an unprecedented effort to hogtie the growth of wind and solar energy, we are thankful that the Legislature ultimately rejected the measures most damaging to clean energy. Renewable energy is reducing pollution, saving consumers money, and playing a critical role in powering the grid.  

“The anti-renewable efforts were premised on a false claim. Lt. Gov Patrick claimed that “renewable energy failed to keep the lights on for millions of Texans” during Winter Storm Uri. Multiple studies and fact-checkers have found such claims are not true. While every energy source struggled under the extreme cold, failure to weatherize gas power plants and the gas supply chain were primarily responsible for the blackouts. Doubling down on gas is not going to make our grid more reliable, but it is going to make electricity more expensive and more polluting. 

“We need, and Texans want, more clean energy, not less. There is strong support for more wind and solar energy, more battery storage, more energy efficiency, and more interconnection with the national grid. Unfortunately, the Legislature ignored these solutions to strengthen our electric grid while protecting consumers and the environment.” 

The aborted effort does illustrate the success that the fossil fuel industry, through its vast network of influence, has had in positioning clean energy as a culture war issue.
Paul Krugman has a take.

Paul Krugman in the New York Times:

Here’s how it works. A significant faction of Americans, which increasingly dominates the Republican Party, hates anything it considers woke — which in this faction’s eyes means both any acknowledgment of social injustice and any suggestion that people should make sacrifices, or even accept mild inconvenience, in the name of the public good. So there’s rage against the idea that racism was and still is an evil for which society should make some amends; there’s also rage against the idea that people should, say, wear masks during a pandemic to protect others, or cut down on activities that harm the environment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Vogtle nuclear plant well along toward commercial operation soon, maybe this year. I can only wish them all the luck in the world, because Georgia Power has sunk 32 billion or so into the thing, – that’s done.
And we need the carbon-free power.

The discussion about nuclear energy in the climate context is not binary, “pro” nuclear, or “anti” nuclear.
There are a number of nuclear projects in the pipeline, because there are a lot of people who believe passionately in the technology, and a lot of investment, both private and public, flowing into it.
Nuclear is going to be a part of the global decarbonization, if only because China has decided that it will be.

My stripped down take is, that one way or another, we are going to get to net zero, but critical to understand that there is NO net zero scenario that does not include a LOT of solar, wind, and storage, and probably some other wild cards as well.

Important to recognize that even with all the momentum that “small modular reactors” have, there is no universe in which we see a significant penetration from them in the next 10 years.
So I would tell anyone, if you support nuclear energy to decarbonize – get out and push for more renewables in your area. If you are against nuclear energy as a solution, – get out and support more renewables in your area.

Don’t waste your time at this point being “against” anything – frankly, even fossil fuel projects. The market is going make them all stranded assets eventually, and just that much sooner if we can get more renewables built. The leverage is all on the side of building renewables and letting them compete in the market on price and flexibility.

Department of Energy:

Georgia Power Company, a subsidiary of Southern Company, yesterday announced that Vogtle Unit 3 at Plant Vogtle has reached full generating capacity and could achieve commercial operation by the end of June. Unit 4 is projected to enter service in late 2023 or early 2024.

Plant Vogtle is poised to become the largest clean energy generator in the United States. The reactors will not only provide clean and reliable power to millions of homes and businesses in the Southeast, generating 17,200,000 MWh annually, but will also help to rebuild our nation’s nuclear workforce and future supply chain.

Nuclear energy is essential to achieving the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050. Plant Vogtle is an example of how the DOE Loan Programs Office (LPO) is supporting energy infrastructure projects that promote economic growth and strengthen our energy and national security. 

The DOE loan guarantees to Georgia Power Company have financed the construction of Units 3 and 4 at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant. These two 1,100 megawatt Westinghouse AP1000® nuclear reactors represent the first U.S. deployment of this innovative technology in the United States. These are the only commercial nuclear reactors under construction in the United States today; when completed, they will be the first new commercial nuclear reactors constructed in the United States in 30 years.  

For information on how LPO could support your advanced nuclear energy project and to learn about LPO’s process before formally applying, request a no-fee, no-commitment Pre-Application Consultation. During the consultation, LPO will work with you to determine whether the project is eligible for a loan or loan guarantee. 

Umair Haque in Medium:

DeSantis has made Florida economically attractive. At least in the short term. In an Age of Extinction, every penny you can save counts. Now, of course, it hardly takes a genius to see the problem that arises next: without a tax base, good luck having working infrastructure. And so Florida has some of the nation’s worst…from schools, to dams, to drinking water and so forth. But the long run doesn’t matter in this form of negative politics. It’s just about amassing power, now.

As people move to Florida, of course, there’s the threat of demographic change unseating a figure like a demagogue. But that threat’s often a hollow one, because — well, think about why those people moved there in the first place. For the short term gains. So if someone comes along and says, hey, I’m going to raise your taxes, so we can have decent infrastructure, and by the way, I’m going to undo all those book bans…how many votes are they really likely to garner?

This is how negative politics works. The economic short-termism goes hand in hand with the…fascism, more or less. I don’t know what else, really, to call book bans, criminalizing teachers, “don’t say gay,” and all the rest of it. It’s textbook neo-fascism, really, especially when you understand that the, uh, LOL, Nazis, began their attacks on civil society in much the same way.

So. Florida shows us a template of negative politics in the Age of Extinction. It goes like this. Hook people — who are growing poorer, fast, as inflation bites, and real incomes fall — with low, low taxes. Meanwhile, corrode institutions, norms, and values, scapegoat innocents, do the whole fascist shuffle down into the abyss. And trust that by and large, people will look the other way. After all, you’ve made a bargain with them: you’re going to give them those low taxes, and they’re going to let you…do your thing.

Meanwhile, while this dance of folly goes on, nobody’s planning for the inevitable, which is, LOL, in a place like Florida, already happening. Good luck getting insurance on that new home. But what does it matter? Remember, you’re just in it for the short term.

The Intercept:

FLORIDA GOV. RON DESANTIS and his political action committee have received millions of dollars from insurance stakeholders as he has overseen massive giveaways to the insurance industry, according to a new report. Florida homeowners, meanwhile, face ballooning insurance prices and are under increasing economic strain in one of the states hardest hit by climate change.

The governor’s committee and the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC raked in $3.9 million from the insurance industry since its formation in 2018, according to a report released Wednesday by Hedge Clippers, a campaign organized by the Center for Popular Democracy, “including more than $150,000 in one day from dozens of State Farm agents.” The governor’s inaugural fund was also backed by a combined $125,000 from two property casualty insurers, People’s Trust Insurance and a subsidiary of Heritage Insurance.

“DeSantis is not only failing to hold the insurance industry accountable,” reads the report. “Critically, he is failing to bring down rates for Florida homeowners.” The American Federation of Teachers and Florida Rising, a grassroots voting rights and organizing group, also contributed to the report, titled “How Ron DeSantis Sold Out Florida Homeowners.”

Los Angeles Times:

The most important test for contemporary governors has been the pandemic. Nearly from the outset, DeSantis accepted the unfounded claims by a cadre of unqualified theorists that the proper approach was to focus protection on the most vulnerable population — the elderly — and allow the virus to roam free among everyone else in a quest for “herd immunity.” 

It didn’t work. 

Up-to-date figures place Florida’s COVID death rate of 411 per 100,000 population at 10th worst in the nation; California, with a rate of 259.4, ranks 42nd. If California had Florida’s death rate, its COVID toll would be 161,000, rather than 102,500. Florida has recorded about 88,300 deaths. If it had California’s death rate, about 32,000 Floridians would have been spared.

DeSantis’ defenders point out that Florida has the second-highest percentage of residents 65 and older in the nation. But its death rate is almost twice that of Maine, the state with the oldest demographics, and higher than the nine other states with the highest percentage of residents 65 and older. 

The chief distinction between Florida and those other states is DeSantis. He has waged war on anti-pandemic policies. He has demonized Anthony Fauci, who as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was the nation’s most respected epidemiological expert — though a target of the ignorant far right. There was no reason for DeSantis to do this, except to curry partisan favor with the right wing. 

DeSantis installed a known COVID “crank,” Joseph Ladapo, as his state’s surgeon general. Together they have mounted an attack on COVID vaccines, which are indisputably safe and effective in reducing illness and death from the virus. 

Ladapo has been an advocate of treatments for COVID such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, which have been shown to be useless for the purpose. He was recently reported to have personally altered a scientific study to exaggerate the health risks of COVID vaccines for young men; legitimate scientific data show the risk to be negligible, and lower than the risks from contracting the disease.

Read the rest of this entry »

In a very short time, problematic minerals like cobalt are being designed out of EVs, as performance continues to improve.

The Driven (Australia):

Chinese manufacturer Gotion High-Tech has announced a new battery pack will go into mass production in 2024 that it says will deliver range of up to 1,000kms for a single charge and could last two million kms.

The company says the manganese doped L600 LMFP Astroinno will be able to do 4,000 full cycles at room temperature, and at high temperature will get 1800 cycles and over 1500 cycles of 18-minute fast charging.

These incredibly high cycle numbers mean the battery could essentially last 2 million km before it starts to deteriorate. To put that into context, the average Australian car travels around 15,000 km per year so it would take 130 years worth of average driving to reach 2 million km mark.

Gotion High-Tech says the battery single-cell density is 240Wh/kg and that improvements in pack design have increased overall battery pack energy density to a point where 1000km range pack is possible with the highly durable chemistry.

“Astroinno L600 LMFP battery cell, which has passed all safety tests, has a weight energy density of 240Wh/kg, a volume energy density of 525Wh/L, a cycle life of 4000 times at room temperature, and a cycle life of 1800 times at high temperatures,” said executive president of the international business unit of Gotion High-Tech Dr. Cheng Qian.

Read the rest of this entry »