The spotlight is a weekly, categorized compilation of links and excerpts from environmentally related posts at Daily Kos. Any posts included in the collection do not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of them. Because of the interconnectedness of the subject matter, some of these posts could be placed in more than one category.
OUTSTANDING ECO-DIARY OF THE WEEK
Renewable Tuesday 10/10 We’re Doing This by Mokurai. Every year the technologies get better. Every year more people come to understand the crisis and the solutions. Every year the markets speak louder. Now we need political will, and a better understanding of exponential growth and the related logistic curve. Too many people in too many governments resist making more forceful commitments to renewables, because they cannot imagine the growth that we already see. The IEA, under Republican Denialist influence, used to be one of the worst, but it has nearly caught up to reality under President Biden. Marketplace, quoting an IEA report: Clean energy investment may have bought a chance to avoid climate catastrophe: The consensus among climate scientists is that if the world is going to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, we need to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. […] But to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we’ll need to spend [you mean invest] a lot more. About $4.5 trillion a year by the early 2030s, the IEA says.
CRITTERS & THE GREAT OUTDOORS
A Caribbean King Crab swarm to be unleashed in the Keys to save Florida’s dying corals by Pakalolo.To help mitigate the damage of the algae crisis, the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, FL, has raised hundreds of thousands of native Caribbean King Crabs, also known as Spider Crabs. The mission is to create an army that can cover the dying and dead corals and consume the algae and grasses now covering the largest coral barrier reef in the United States. The release won’t save the corals from bleaching, but it does give them a chance at survival in the short term by eliminating other threats. Coral reefs have long been considered the first ecosystem casualty by climate change and its growing impact on biodiversity. The collapse will kick in high gear once global temperatures reach 1.5 Celsius (currently at 1.2 C) per the World Economic Forum (WEF). Ninety-nine percent of tropical reefs could be gone within the 2030s, the WEF warns. The best hope to protect oceans is to slash fossil fuels immediately. (A few years ago, the projection for the loss of tropical corals was in the 2050s.)
Daily Bucket – The insects of Lamar Park, Oxford, Mississippi by CaptBLI. It was noon under an overcast Wednesday and I was sitting beneath the scant shelter of a rapidly shedding Weeping Willow when the National Emergency alarms sounded (and was glad I didn’t turn into a zombie). There were plenty of college co-ed joggers to feast on if I had. I was prepared for either outcome. Six inches from my right foot was Lake Patsy (at the Oxford city park) and I was glad hoof & mouth (specifically anthrax) was not my reaction to the ridiculous conspiracy theory. One dying reed poked out of the bank and the damselfly in the title photo held on to it. It took me a while to identify the species because when I think Bluet, a different color comes to mind. This tiny guy is 1 inch long and has the perfect complexion for October. After a moment, the Bluet disappeared like a ghost or wisp of smoke.
A once-in-a-lifetime bike ride: HMB to SLO on PCH by Alan Kandel. What I found to be the most rewarding part of the whole adventure, was the fact that every time we faced a really steep climb, we did so under an overcast sky. And, then, like it was made to order, the clouds vanished from view opening the skies up to full sunshine. It never failed; it was like that every time. I mean how lucky can one get?! And, it was pleasant to see others on bikes doing likewise, only instead going oppositely. Getting through all of those up and downs definitely had its challenges, like when John in negotiating a part of the road that was perched above the ocean on a high shelf with what I would say was, easily, a 900-foot drop, hit a gravel patch at, apparently, too fast a speed for conditions present, causing him to lose control with the bicycling slipping out from under him. He was okay except for maybe, possibly being a little shaken up. But, all was good. And, after a quick wheel-spoke re-truing to get the bicycle back in sound working order, he got up, got back on the bike and we were “off to the races,” as one might say so as to try to lighten the mood. Soon thereafter, the both of us resumed our stride. It was as if it was there all along.
The Daily Bucket. Non-birds for Summer 2023, photo diary. Quincy, CA by funningforrest. My photography hobby results in almost all birds, because they’re the most numerous and visible of wildlife, at least for me. However, as I tell people I meet who ask me about what I’m photographing, I say “Birds, mainly, but I’ll take a photo of almost any wildlife or interesting thing.” That certainly includes insects, spiders, mammals, amphibians, fish, reptiles, molluscs, crustaceans, and anything like a millipede or solpugid. Uh, did I leave any type out? Here are some of my best shots of the non-birds during this 2023 summer season.
Daily Bucket – Flying High at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge by CalBirdBrain. California is the wintering spot for millions of birds fleeing the winter chills of the far north. The winter temperatures rarely fall below freezing and there’s no snow. The Great Central Valley contains dozens of wildlife refuges, parks and conservation areas that serve as their winter home. You can see birds by the hundreds at any of the NWRs. Deep in the heart of the valley surrounded by miles of farmland, the Merced NWR provides a safe haven to these winter migrants. It has a great auto tour and several trails to explore the ponds.In October, the ponds are slowly flooded until most are filled. It starts in the middle so most of the birds were quite a distance from the road. They are very skittish and haven’t gotten comfortable with vehicles on the road; so they often flew away as we passed. This gave me an opportunity for some great birds-in-flight (BIF) photos.
Monument Valley – a photo essay by RockyMtnHigh. Mrs. Rocky and I recently had the chance to visit the beautiful Monument Valley, in the Navajo Nation. We were fortunate to have the chance to see the area with a native guide, one of the Dine’ – he explained that Navajo was the name given to them, while they refer to themselves as Dine’ (pronounced din-ay), “the people” in their native tongue. The photos may give some flavor of the beauty of the area but cannot do justice to the almost otherworldly vividness of the blue sky, the red rock, the green rabbitbbrush. If you have the chance to go, I highly recommend taking a tour with a Dine’ guide. Firstly, there are portions of the valley that you can only visit with a tribal guide (though there is a scenic loop drive on which you can see portions of the valley independently). More significantly, your experience will be much richer. Our guide shared anecdotes about Dine’ customs, stories, culture, and how the landscape was made by wind and water.
THE OCEAN, WATER & INFRASTRUCTURE
The Daily Bucket – coming up for air off Kaua’i and Lehua by OceanDiver. My last Daily Bucket was about who I saw underwater in Hawaiian waters. Today’s is about who I saw from the boat while we were either traveling or at rest during our surface intervals between dives. Being out in the middle of the Pacific, the Hawaiian islands are visited by many large oceanic animals who come relatively close to shore for feeding or resting opportunities. Some, like turtles, hang out in fairly shallow water most of the time, while others, like whales, are more passing through. All these animals are air breathers, so they were surfacing to breathe. Honu, aka native Hawaiian Green sea turtles. have a special place in the hearts of Hawaiians. They are huge (up to 4 feet long), gentle, and pretty numerous off Kaua’i. Honu are herbivorous, you’ll see them grazing on algae and sea grasses, and sometimes sleeping underwater. But they are airbreathers and must swim up to the surface periodically, where you’ll see them floating and sticking their heads up off and on. Honu populations are apparently localized to the different islands and don’t mix. They migrate for nesting: about 95% swim every few years to the Lalo atoll system in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument about 500 miles northwest of Kaua’i (and much farther from the other main Hawaiian islands)
Dawn Chorus: Birds of Coastal Kaua’i and Ni’ihau by OceanDiver. We recently returned from ten days on Kaua’i, and while we were primarily there for the diving, we also did some sightseeing, which included birding. Birds in Hawaii are a mix of pan-subtropicals, migrants, endemics, and introduced species. We didn’t do any hiking in the mountains so I didn’t see any of the really spectacular endemics like honeycreepers, who now live mostly in the high elevation woods, but even so, the birds I did see were pretty exotic to me. We stayed in Kekaha a block from the ocean and spent most days out on the dive boat so the birds I’m reporting here are coastal: mostly seabirds, other waterbirds, and a few “urban” birds. First, a little background on Hawaiian birds. The islands emerged from the seafloor as volcanoes relatively recently (6 million years ago) and were of course utterly barren of life until colonized. Being tiny land masses in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, plants and animals had to accidentally arrive across many thousands of miles of water, blown by storms or drifting in currents, a very hit or miss process. Not many made it. However the upside to the isolation and extreme topography was lots of scope for speciation, even over such a short time, which is how the 56 species of honeycreepers evolved from one ancient species of Eurasian Rosefinches, a few individuals who probably ended up there during an irruption. Many birds evolved to fill niches occupied in other places by mammals and reptiles, since there were none of those in the Hawaiian islands until humans introduced them.
Public comment period for Sites Reservoir infrastructure streamlining certification ends Oct. 23 by Dan Bacher. You know a government agency is probably not serious about obtaining much public comment on an environmentally destructive project like the Sites Reservoir project when they provide only a short period to comment in. This was definitely the case on October 10 when the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) announced a comment period regarding the Sites Reservoir project that only lasts 13 days. […] The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) “studies future research and planning needs, fosters goal-driven collaboration, and delivers guidance to state partners and local communities, with a focus on land use and community development, climate risk and resilience, and high road economic development,” according to the OPR website. Environmental, Tribal and fish advocates aren’t happy with the short period for public comment — and believe more time is needed for the public to submit their comments.
Facing the Emotional Reality of Accelerating Climate Transformations by gmoke. Once you know: growing our capacity to face darkening climate predictions Charles D Keeling Memorial Lecture, Scripps Institution of Oceanography on May 8, 2023 by Susan Moser, affiliate faculty at University of Massachusetts Amherst; Research Faculty at Antioch University of New England
Lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6pCZ1-K0To. Moser first learned of climate change in 1985. “We’re moving outside the range of the familiar in terms of frequency, intensity, and how expensive they are.” Growing acknowledgment of mental health threats from climate
extreme heat causes people to be more aggressive “It is really intense how domestic violence and abuse of children goes up in those [climate] events: any time another storm hits, a man hits a woman” is a bitter irony known among those who work in that field.
Getting Mad and Getting Even. Is California’s Climate Lawsuit against Big Oil a Gamechanger? by Juan Cole. The depths of depravity into which unvarnished capitalism can plunge mortal souls is incalculable. It should come as no surprise then that oil company executives and the officials of petrostates like Saudi Arabia have so assiduously lied to us about the catastrophic effects of climate change. After all, the executives of tobacco firms have been perfectly content to sell consumers a product long known and virtually guaranteed to cut their lives short, while lying about its harmful effects for decades. Likewise, the courts have now made the pharmaceutical industry’s responsibility for and grasp of the opioid crisis that killed half a million people all too clear. In both instances, state attorneys-general played an important role in seeking redress. Now, Rob Bonta, California’s attorney general, has filed a 135-page lawsuit against five major oil companies — ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and BP — which could prove an inflection point in the battle against human-caused climate change. On announcing the lawsuit, Bonta said, “Oil and gas companies have privately known the truth for decades — that the burning of fossil fuels leads to climate change — but have fed us lies and mistruths to further their record-breaking profits at the expense of our environment. Enough is enough.”
If you think voting is the best way to save the planet, Where’s the proof and Where’s the pudding? by mikeymikey. Many of us who are environmentally proactive are freaking out, but the rest of DK doesn’t appear worried. The politically oriented majority continues to give the appearance of operating under the belief that there are still other issues more important and urgent than the environment. Isn’t it long past time to be better informed about environmental collapse, rather than avoiding it and rationalizing that recycling the old trope about voting in politicians that care about climate is enough to justify your ‘best intentions’ being applied elsewhere? Isn’t it long past time for DK to employ its political activism to take on the battle against environmental collapse, rather than continuing to sit this one out?
Kitchen Table Kibitzing: Just 1 Degree Global Warming Threatens Billions by boatsie. Statement on NAM Commitment to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) is fully committed to the reduction of emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases as the single most important step all organizations must take to slow the pace of climate change. The vast majority of CO2 emissions stems from the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation (see Climate Change Evidence & Causes: Update 2020). The 2024-2028 NAM Strategic Plan (forthcoming in January) calls for the Academy to address climate change as an urgent, existential threat to human life, health, and well-being as a top priority. The NAM’s internal organizational commitment is to reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Accordingly, the Academy is working with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the broader organization of which it is a part, to reduce the organization’s scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions and divest from fossil fuel interests.
Radical way for USA to have a strategy to win in Ukraine AND to fight climate change by Slothman. I will postulate (with like no support) that the sing song high low oil cycle is a MAJOR barrier to fighting climate change. And by meaning fighting, I mean actually making progress versus chaining myself to a Yugo. Cheap oil and natural gas I argue (and have worked in industry where it was true) drives less investment in green energy, harder to pay out the projects. Thus some discussion I have been involved in that higher oil prices actually help green transition. Which I will conclude is complete horse shit (pardon not using a bleep). Read this, down to the good part. (www.iea.org/…). And by “good” part I mean the absolute worst news for climate change and why we are pissing in the wind (pardon not using bleep again).
Climate Crisis: Are you ready to be a criminal? by La Feminista. How criminalisation is being used to silence climate activists across the world. Climate and environmental justice groups report a significant increase in draconian, and often arbitrary, charges for peaceful protesters as part of what they claim is a playbook of tactics to vilify, discredit, intimidate and silence activists. The Guardian has also found striking similarities in the way governments from Canada and the US to Guatemala and Chile, from India and Tanzania to the UK, Europe and Australia, are cracking down on activists trying to protect the planet. The legal contexts vary, but the charges – such as subversion, illicit association, terrorism and tax evasion – are often vague and time-consuming to disprove, while a growing number of countries, including the US and UK, have passed controversial anti-protest laws ostensibly intended to protect national security or so-called critical infrastructure such as fossil fuel pipelines. […] Yes I am, and to those seeking to criminalize my right to protest all I have to say is: FUCK YOU! Oh, I am sorry dear leaders am I threatening your election campaign contributions?
“TO ALL PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL ON THE CLIMATE CRISIS” by Alan Singer. Pope Francis pulled no punches about the role of the world’s economic powerhouses and corporations in creating the current situation. “The ethical decadence of real power is disguised, thanks to marketing and false information, useful tools in the hands of those with greater resources to employ them to shape public opinion.” He criticized the “irresponsible lifestyle connected with the Western model” and noted that “emissions per individual in the United States are about two times greater than those of individuals living in China, and about seven times greater than the average of the poorest countries.” While affluent nations are making efforts to mitigate some of the worst impacts of climate change, “The effects of climate change are borne by the most vulnerable people, whether at home or around the world . . . How can we forget that Africa, home to more than half of the world’s poorest people, is responsible for a minimal portion of historic emissions? . . . Regrettably, the climate crisis is not exactly a matter that interests the great economic powers, whose concern is with the greatest profit possible at minimal cost and in the shortest amount of time.” Francis warned the rich and powerful, “Everything is connected” and “No one is saved alone.”
‘I Study Climate Change. The Data Is Telling Us Something New’ by solarman55. From The New York Times: Staggering. Unnerving. Mind-boggling. Absolutely gobsmackingly bananas. As global temperatures shattered records and reached dangerous new highs over and over the past few months, my climate scientist colleagues and I have just about run out of adjectives to describe what we have seen. Data from Berkeley Earth released on Wednesday shows that September was an astounding 0.5 degree Celsius (almost a full degree Fahrenheit) hotter than the prior record, and July and August were around 0.3 degree Celsius (0.5 degree Fahrenheit) hotter. 2023 is almost certain to be the hottest year since reliable global records began in the mid-1800s and probably for the past 2,000 years (and well before that). Until recently, climate change was framed as an issue that would affect our children. Today it is nearly omnipresent, and it is impossible to ignore. And very soon, with the acceleration, we will experience even more of its effects: Ice sheets and glaciers will melt faster, extreme weather events will become more frequent, and even more plants and animals will be put at risk of extinction.
Antarctica has lost a lot of ice by Pakalolo. Researchers have found that forty percent of Antarctica’s ice shelves are melting due to warm ocean temperatures and changing wind patterns. In their article on a new Antarctic study published in Science Advances, the Guardian lede summarizes it like this. More than 40% of Antarctica’s ice shelves have shrunk since 1997 with almost half showing “no sign of recovery”, a study has found, linking the change to the climate breakdown. According to the study, the ice shelves shed trillions of tons of freshwater into the Southern Ocean.
How bad could the future become if we do nothing or if we do everything possible? by Pakalolo. Climate change: how bad could the future be if we do nothing? From Mark Maslin, UCL. The climate crisis is no longer a looming threat – people are now living with the consequences of centuries of greenhouse gas emissions. But there is still everything to fight for. How the world chooses to respond in the coming years will have massive repercussions for generations yet to be born. In my book How to Save Our Planet, I imagine two different visions of the future. One in which we do very little to address climate change, and one in which we do everything possible. This is what the science suggests those very different realities could look like.
Months of endless heat punishing tropical America was virtually impossible without climate change by Pakalolo.An international team of researchers collectively organized as World Weather Attribution found in July of 2023 that the record-shattering heat in Europe, parts of North America, and even Greenland would have been virtually impossible without anthropogenic global warming. The same group reported that the “strong influence of climate change” was also the culprit in the record-shattering heat in the tropics of the Americas in mid-summer (September). Millions of people in South America were affected by intense heat. At the same time, wildfires blazed across the region “At least 36 fires have been detected in Bolivia (País ED, 2023), 20 in Paraguay (ABC, 2023), and several more throughout Brazil, including in Bahia (The San Diego Union Tribune, 2023; CNN, 2023), Pantanal (O Globo, 2023), and the Amazon (France24, 2023).” Many in the United States did not feel the searing heat. I know I was one of them. But the heat crisis is a planetary problem. The Climate Agency of the EU found that Earth is on track for the hottest year on record. This is without the full effects of El Nino influencing the weather.
Overnight News Digest: Criminalization is being used to silence climate activists across the world by Magnifico. How criminalisation is being used to silence climate activists across the world. From The Guardian: As wildfires and extreme temperatures rage across the planet, sea temperature records tumble and polar glaciers disappear, the scale and speed of the climate crisis is impossible to ignore. Scientific experts are unanimous that there needs to be an urgent clampdown on fossil fuel production, a major boost in renewable energy and support for communities to rapidly move towards a fairer, healthier and sustainable low-carbon future. Many governments, however, seem to have different priorities. According to climate experts, senior figures at the UN and grassroots advocates contacted by the Guardian, some political leaders and law enforcement agencies around the world are instead launching a fierce crackdown on people trying to peacefully raise the alarm. “These defenders are basically trying to save the planet, and in doing so save humanity,” said Mary Lawlor, the UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders. “These are people we should be protecting, but are seen by governments and corporations as a threat to be neutralised. In the end it’s about power and economics.”
A calming voice in the climate-change age by Alan Kandel. So, what is it I wrote that seemed to infuriate this person so? If I can correctly recall, it was probably my insistence that the global surface temperature average will never run away due to human contributing action(s); that is; if we’re smart about this and make all of the right moves and none of the wrong ones. As I’ve explained in the past, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the surface temperature of the earth had to be much hotter. Think about all of the vegetation that would have to be there in order to satisfy the voracious appetites of all of the herbivore dinosaurs. That just wouldn’t be possible if the earth was plunged into a deep-freeze (otherwise known as an ice age) state. Something was obviously responsible for temperature being at the place it is currently — things like natural variation, the earth’s orbit around the sun relative to those of nearby planets like Jupiter and Saturn and what influencing gravitational pull these at times have on the earth as well as changes in the position of the earth’s axis relative to position and distance of the sun to earth, etc. The point is, as hot as the temperature on earth then was, it didn’t run away.
FOOD, AGRICULTURE, GARDENING
New Faces in Congress: Rep. Nikki Budzinski, the Agricultural Specialist from Downstate Illinois by bilboteach. How much do you know about where the food sitting on your table comes from? Most Americans don’t give it a second thought. For Rep. Nikki Budzinski, how your food is grown and how it gets from the farm to your table is the raison d’etre for her being in Congress. She has received tons of kudos from more agricultural themed media, especially for launching her Farm Bill 101 social media campaign. This social media campaign is meant to highlight important agricultural issues and generate interest in them. It started out with an interesting fact such as the one below:
Lately, it has evolved into interview sessions with people prominent in the Illinois’ agricultural industry.
ENERGY & TRANSPORTATION
EV Deal With GM ‘A Monumental Achievement’ for Striking Auto Workers: ‘BradCast’ 10/11/2023 by TheBradBlog. In some brighter news, the United Auto Workers union struck a stunning deal late last week with GM that will allow workers who build batteries for electric vehicles to join the union’s master agreement with the company. That, after many thought that an agreement to unionize workers at EV plants would be impossible. Our guest today is DR. MARICK MASTERS, Professor of Business and Political Science at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he also served as Director of the Labor@Wayne program. He joins us to discuss the big news for workers at battery plants and other successes, so far, by the UAW and its President Shawn Fain during the ongoing, unprecedented strike against all three major U.S. automakers. Late last week, Masters published an article at The Conversation on “Why the UAW union’s tough bargaining strategy is working”. He joins us today to discuss the new tactics and strategies employed by union leaders in the growing work stoppage and how it might both lead to success and ultimately be adopted by other union organizers.
Want to stop a million premature deaths between today and 2050? Cut methane emissions now, says IEA by Meteor Blades. The latest report from the International Energy Agency is far from the first to point out the need to cut methane emissions. As a result of ever-more grim climate reports, two years ago at the COP26 climate, more than 100 nations signed a pledge to cut their 2020-level methane emissions 30% by 2030. But so far, those emissions are still rising and not just a little. The World Meteorological Organization’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin noted in its 2022 report 11 months ago that increases in methane levels in 2020 and 2021 were the largest since systematic record keeping began in 1983. “Methane concentrations are not just rising, they’re rising faster than ever,” said Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth systems science at Stanford University. “More than 75% of methane emissions from oil and gas operations and half of emissions from coal today can be abated with existing technology, often at low cost,” the IEA said in the report, asserting that the cuts could mean, among other things, avoiding 1 million premature deaths between now and 2050.Scientists say that methane, which over the short run has a global warming potential that is 84-86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, has contributed about a third of the rise in the planet’s average temperatures since the Industrial Revolution, making it the second largest contributor to global warming. Total methane emissions could rise as much as 13% between 2020 and 2030. Keeping the temperature rise to 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) means meeting those COP26 pledges with immediate cuts, the IEA researchers say.
Zero Net Energy – October 12, 2023 by gmoke. National University of Singapore’s College of Design and Engineering retrofits its buildings and develops a net zero urban sustainability program. Türkiye’s 300 year old eco-mansions. New Forest House—97% less expensive to run than a home built to 2021 building standards, using 110% less energy compared to a home powered by gas. CABN net zero modular homes for a net zero community. First zero carbon house in California, Malibu of course. […] Zero Net Energy is also a list-serve.
Overnight News Digest for Weds Oct 11 (A light in the darkness edition) by jeremybloom. Things are looking pretty bad right now. An unrelenting stream of disaster and tragedy. So I thought for tonight’s OND I’d try to dig up a few positive stories… something to remind us that, as Samwise Gamgee said, “There’s still good in this word” Cleantechnica — Bill McKibben, Pope Francis, & The Warmest September: …“So here’s what good news I’ve got,” McKibben says. “At the same moment that the planet is starting to broil, the solar market is starting to cook.” He ran into solar entrepreneur Danny Kennedy at Climate Week in New York City, who told him, “The planet is now adding a gigawatt a day of solar power. A nuclear plant’s worth every day of solar power.” About half of that total is being added in China and far outdistancing the increase in its fossil fuel plants. The U.S. is second, followed by Brazil and India. McKibben finds this to be remarkable news and reason for optimism at a time when the future seems particularly bleak. “Think of the work that traditionally goes into building a new power plant — the years of work and planning and pouring concrete. We’re building the equivalent of one of those every day now, and instead of burning coal or gas they’re letting the sun handle the combustion.”
[Note: The climate strike action began at San Francisco City Hall in 2019. The following entries are excerpts from “letters” that were issued each week of the action. Although the strike was focused on San Francisco, many of the same issues affect countless U.S. cities.]
Plastic — Strike for the Planet week 105 by birches. This week’s topic is: Plastic
(with solutions at the end, and pictures and diagrams throughout) “Come on. We know plastic is a problem.” Based on your actions, and lack of actions, you obviously don’t. For instance: For the pandemic, you banned reusable bags in favor of plastic bags despite the science; you’ve put nothing in place for recycling or reducing the massive amounts of plastic being used during the pandemic; you’ve supported installing artificial turf (made of plastic, rubber, heavy metals, carcinogens, and various unknown compounds) all over SF despite its non-recyclability, lack of permeability, non bio-degradability, short life span, and end-of-life toxic waste status. “Yeah, but it is convenient.”
Plastic freed us from the limits of the natural world — we thought. Turns out that idea springs from wishful thinking and advertising by oil companies.
Scale — Strike for the Planet week 104 by birches. This week’s topic: Scale. Yup. “Why do you keep saying we’re not acting? We’re acting! We’ve taken environmental actions. We have press articles and pictures of us planting trees and cutting ribbons with constituents. We have been scarred from standing up against big money lobbyists. We couldn’t get all of that and more without taking action. So we have proof we’ve done something about the environment. In fact, we deserve congratulations!” […] “You have to be realistic,” you say. “There are other, more pressing matters we have to deal with right now. People are screaming at us every day about issues closer to home and it’s not like the deniers are in power anymore. So, you think to yourself, “get off our case.” But are your actions enough for the scale of the problem? This, in a nutshell, is a matter of scale. So how big a problem is all this environment stuff really?
Energy & Water — Strike for the Planet week 103 by birches. This week’s topic is Energy & Water. They’re linked, you know.20% of SF’s electricity comes from Hetch Hetchy. For the rest of our power, in PG&E’s mixes 13 to 27% is from large hydropower that relies on roughly 100 reservoirs, and a notable chunk comes from small hydro. Nuclear energy supplies between 27 to 44% and also requires vast amounts of water. Reduce the amount of water and the timing of when water is available and our power is reduced. Decimate the amount of water and when we have it and our power is decimated.
Inertia — Strike for the Planet week 102 by birches.This week’s topic? Inertia. How does inertia relate to saving the city? We’ve got two different types of inertia at play here. They are physical inertia, as per Newton above, and human inertia. To figure out their impacts on SF, we need to look at each of these individually and how they interact. Physical inertia first. Imagine a steep hill. There’s a boulder at the top of it. Something moves and the bolder begins to roll down the hill. It’s easy to stop the bolder if you do it at the top, right when it’s first starting to move. Put a few stones in front of it, lean against it in the opposite direction, and you’re good. But, because there is a force adding energy to that bolder (gravity), the longer you let it roll, the harder it’s going to be to stop, the more energy stopping it is going to take, and the greater the destruction not stopping it will cause. Want to stop it halfway down the hill? You’ll need steel landslide draped and anchored mesh, flexible fencing, and probably spray-concrete. Want to stop it at the bottom, before it hits a road or slams into a town? Yeah, that’s not gonna work. If you wait, you won’t be able to stop it and that boulder is going to have a destructive finish. Think Hwy 1. Guess what — climate change has physical inertia.
Strike Glossary — Strike for the Planet week 101 by birches. Words matter, so this week we’re doing a Strike Glossary. Why are words important? Because what you say makes a difference. You make measurable, immediate differences in our day-to-day lives all the time. Local government is where the decisions that effect us the most are made. Unfortunately, your words most often mean nothing good to your constituents except to promote environmental racism and climate chaos. So please, at long last, choose to speak the truth and then act on it. SF can make the right choices, but will you? You’ve taken oaths to act for the good of SF. You say you are bound by the Precautionary Principle. So act already. Because the costs of climate change are huge.
You Can Make A Difference — Strike for the Planet week 100 by birches. Your decisions make a difference You make measurable, immediate differences in our day-to-day lives all the time. From garbage to access, roads to wildlife, water quality to noise, local government is where the decisions that effect us the most are made. Unfortunately, your decisions more often make a difference for the worse. It’s stunning how often you deliberately choose to act against the science and against the City’s best interests for minor, short-term political gain, or to appease donors or “higher” political interests, or due to ignorance.15 Lately it feels like every time you have to make a real decision on climate change, and not just do a policy wand wave, you fail. Need examples? Here are a few
Getting a grip on e-waste mess. How ‘bout we just create less? by Alan Kandel. What’s important to note is that today, we are, seemingly, more and more becoming a “throw-away” society. And, by that I mean, when something electric or electro-mechanical like a toaster or electric can opener goes on the fritz, we, without giving a second thought in most instances, just throw the appliance out, and, generally, it’s replaced with one that’s new. And, that process, my friends, only serves to create additional waste compared to what could be the case. So, the question is what to do with all the e-waste. Recycling is one option, of course. But, there is only so much material that can be recycled — that is, that which is comprised of the gold and other metals and plastic parts, etc. Another question is: In the process of extracting the precious metal gold, what is the impact on the environment — the land, water and air? I’ve come to learn that the picture is not a pretty one. Much environmental degradation can and has come about. That needs to change.
Thing 1 and Thing 2 Two rarely discussed Climate change actions that could help bend the curve by flatlux. I continue to be increasingly alarmed about the climate chaos that seems to be accelerating nearly unchecked. It reminds me of the movie “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” where in a New York subway train is hijacked for money and after the hijackers leave the train, they override the dead mans switch so it continues to pick up speed, barreling towards a certain bad end unless and until automatic override safety measures kick in. In the case of the climate, it has been hijacked by the fossil fuel industry (primarily), they are holding us all hostage while the temperature rises. In this case however, there are no automatic safety switches to shut this process off- other than earth will eventually start over if we don’t act now. While it is vitally important that we do all we can to reduce the use of fossil fuels to get back control of the runaway train, there are at least two things that I notice are rarely discussed as actions that can be helpful. They may not be the biggest things, but that does not make them unimportant. Thing 1: Promote more telecommuting. […] Thing 2: End the commercial tobacco industry.
Ukraine, Climate, everything: The Ring must be destroyed or the War is in vain by Peter Olandt. Tolkien claimed in his forward to The Lord of the Rings he was not writing allegory, but it was and is hard for many to resist drawing parallels to the themes of hope, pity, perseverance, and struggle in the face of two cataclysmic world wars followed by the Cold War threat of nuclear annihilation of the planet. It is a book about the titanic struggle against a powerful enemy who threatens to plunge Middle Earth into a darkness of autocratic obliteration of anything good. Despite Tolkien’s stated dislike of allegory, I offer the following not as a statement of his intent, but rather to use his text as an inspiration for our current times. While the world is not new to the idea of a civilization ending catastrophe, climate change brings us the threat of doom, but with the new twist of a time limit. It is the challenge of our time in which we can choose to come together to deal with climate change, or through insufficient action watch as it upends our world into annihilation or dystopic future. Ukraine has claimed the role of Gondor, mounting a valiant defense against the forces of Russia, playing the role of Mordor. Putin threatens to expand his influence around the world, his oil and gas providing both funds and moving us forward to climate doom all at once. You can fill out the rest of the cast on your own, but I wish to focus on the ring.
Earth Matters: Calif. looks into building roadside solar; maybe gov’t should come for your burger by Meteor Blades. Usually ahead in such matters, California has left a lot of roadside renewable energy potential untapped. However, if, as expected, Gov. Gavin Newsom signs SB 49, California could be the next state to exploit this potential. This would boost the state’s aggressive efforts to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2045. It would make at least some siting of new transmission lines a lot politically easier. Both houses of the California legislature passed SB 49 unanimously last month. Introduced by State Sen. Josh Becker—who is my district’s senator—it calls on state agencies to study the potential for solar energy, battery storage, and transmission infrastructure in state-owned highway rights-of-way. Deadline for completion of the study is the end of 2025. The bill also sets up a framework under which corporate or other entities can build and operate these installations.