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 can be placed in more than one category.
CRITTERS & THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Big insect science..... Why insects are attracked to lights by TexMex. As a cricket researcher, the fact that crickets fly to lights, made collecting them easy. Not to mention that the fact they do, makes highways unsafe. Bill told UT, to turn off the lights to the Tower to stop them from stinking it up with dead ones. So, it turns out that insects try to orient by keeping the light on their backs and dark below their bodies. So this need to keep the light on their backs is disorienting causing them to spin around trying to keep the light on their back. Wow! See Scientific American Why insects are attracted to lights.
Dawn Chorus - Big birds of the Gulf Coast by CaptBLI.By now you all have heard about my trip to see the Sandhill Cranes on the Mississippi Coast. On a whim I drove to see the tiny shore line of Biloxi, Mississippi to look for other birds. I had to cross a small bridge that had a marsh on either side. Seemed a perfect place for birds. There were marsh grasses and a boat launch into the main channel but not too many people. The satellite image above is better than my words can explain. I expected a lot of birds there. I saw this lone Egret and not much more. For the curious (or interested), the Egret was perched in a sliver of sunlight between two bridges. The water behind the Egret is in the shadow of the taller bridge (Washington Avenue). The grey blur to the right of my photos was the rail of the lower bridge (where I was sitting.) It was a happy circumstance of light, tone and texture.
The Daily Bucket. More hawks from Quincy, CA. Some ducks too by funningforrest. My video editing program gave me fits and starts and quite a bit of frustration, just figuring out how to get subtitles/captions into the video, but after a couple hours of dinking around with it, I managed to figure it out and now it will be much less cumbersome in the future. Monday, January 29, at the wastewater treatment plant. The sun came out in the afternoon at just the time I had hoped for, so I pedaled over and set my tripod with big microphone on the camera, and took a whopping six-something minutes worth of video. Edited it down to under two. There was almost no vocalization from the ducks on the pond; you can hear the airplane taking off from the nearby airport, though, at the 1:10 mark. Well, I had hoped for the Bald Eagles, but you can only get what’s out there and it’s seldom that you get to be choosy. It was a gorgeous day at all extents, regardless.
The Daily Bucket. A walk out the Leonhardt Ranch Learning Landscape in the light rain by funningforrest. My customary walking path is on the Leonhardt Ranch Learning Landscape, a nature preserve under the auspices of the Feather River Land Trust. The 46-acre property is centrally located in the town of Quincy and extends outdoor education and recreation options from the bike path and nearby schools. The preserve includes meadow, riparian, wetland, and pasture habitats with a diversity of wildlife and birds including beavers, coyotes, frogs, trout, raptors, Sandhill Cranes, Red-winged Blackbirds, waterfowl, and unique songbirds like Bullock’s Oriole and Yellow-breasted Chat. The trail is approximately 1.3 miles out and back, and features interpretive signs with natural history and wildlife information made by Quincy High School students. I’m so very fond of this area because it’s less than a quarter-mile from my apartment and I’ve known it ever since I was a kid growing up here in Quincy. Now it’s a great place for me to take my camera and just get outside on foot. Besides the dozens of different bird species photographed and videoed over the past few years on the LRLL, I’ve seen coyote, fox, skunk, muskrat, beaver, frogs, and myriad dragonflies and butterflies out here. It’s a real treasure to me.
The Daily Bucket - uninvited visitors in the boat by OceanDiver. Our boat Elansa is the only vessel that lives at the dock (out of twenty slips) year round. Everyone else takes their boats out of the water in fall and doesn’t put them back in until July. So in winter, Elansa becomes the focus of interest for the resident wildlife. We’ve long since accepted the piles of poop and crab remains on the deck, that’s to be expected. But in November when we found signs that someone fishy had been kipping on the cushion in the V berth — inside the boat — that was a bit more hospitality than we need to extend, in our opinion. Thence began our campaign to thwart the uninvited visitors. The fishy spot was in one corner of the berth, and it indicated river otter by the size of the residue. A few of the adjacent cushions had been knocked down, what you’d expect as an otter climbed up onto the berth and scouted around. Yes we’d left the door to the cabin open, for improved ventilation (mildew grows fast in winter), figuring the canvas around the cockpit would keeps any interlopers out. Wrong. The problem is that the canvas, which is secured to the boat with clips and zippers, is old and starting to fall apart. A secondary problem is that otters are very clever little fellows and can find ways to defeat exclusion measures. They can unhook. They can unzip. If they really want they can even tear the heavy canvas itself, although they prefer to find the weak points in the overall setup.
Daily Bucket - Birding is All Around by Cal Birdbrain. The best thing about birding is that you can do it at any time any where. Birds are all around, you just have to look.I don’t need to go somewhere special to see a first of season bird or even a new lifer. They just show up as I live my life. Unfortunately, this means that I’m not carrying my Nikon but relying on my cellphone for photos. This past weekend, spouse and I went to visit his cousin who lives up in the foothills. As we knocked on the door, I heard wings fluttering, turned around and saw a lifer — my first White-breasted Nuthatch. My husband’s cousin was amused by my excitement. “I see him almost every day. He’s always waiting in the tree for me to fill the feeder when it’s empty,” she told me.There was also a hummingbird but he stayed well out of camera shot. Some House Sparrows flew by and quickly flitted into some bushes.So keep an eye out as you run to the grocery store, doctor’s office, or visit family or friends. Who knows what little birdies will pop up.
CLIMATE EMERGENCY & EXTREME WEATHER
Overnight News Digest: 71 months to reach 1.5°C climate goal by 2030 by Magnifico. From Grist: This week, a climate and health researcher published a commentary in the journal Nature Medicine that takes the McMichael standard to its logical conclusion. By the end of this year, Colin Carlson, a global change biologist and assistant professor at Georgetown University, wrote in the commentary provided exclusively to Grist, climate change will have killed roughly 4 million people globally since the turn of the century. That’s more than the population of Los Angeles or Berlin, “more than every other non-COVID public health emergency the World Health Organization has ever declared combined,” said Carlson, who also runs an institute focused on predicting and preventing pandemics. And 4 million lives lost due to climate change, a breathtakingly high number, is still an underestimate — probably a big one. The McMichael standard doesn’t include deaths linked to climate-driven surges of the many non-malarial diseases spread by mosquitoes, like dengue and West Nile virus. It doesn’t incorporate deaths caused by deadly bacteria, fungal spores, ticks, and other diseases or carriers of disease that are shifting in range and breadth as the planet warms. It doesn’t examine the impacts of wildfires and wildfire smoke on longevity. It doesn’t look at the mental health consequences of extreme heat and extreme weather and the related increase in suicides that have been documented in recent years.
Dark Brandon is halting the biggest fossil fuel expansion on earth: Boosting Biden Day 24 by GoodNewsRoundup. Scientists have overwhelmingly said that nations must deeply and quickly cut the emissions from burning gas, oil and coal if humanity is to avoid climate catastrophe. And Biden just took a huge step in getting us there. White House Said to Delay Decision on Enormous Natural Gas Export Terminal. The Biden administration is pausing a decision on whether to approve what would be the largest natural gas export terminal in the United States, a delay that could stretch past the November election and spell trouble for that project and 16 other proposed terminals, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. The White House is directing the Energy Department to expand its evaluation of the project to consider its impact on climate change, as well as the economy and national security.
Farmers revolt, and fascists are riding their coattails to win the June European Union elections by Pakalolo. Let's give Nicolas Camut a hand. In a world full of media, global warming ignorance, and coverups on the rapidity of the climate crisis, it is a relief to read a well-researched article of truth-telling. Warnings of a climate change emergency are few and far between. The article points out that the rise of fascism in Europe is an opportunity for the far right to link the emerging food and distribution emergency with government incompetence and a "green agenda" to seize power. The code red lights are blinking across Earth, not just Europe. But Europe has the unfortunate reality of warming faster than three times than any other continent. What we are witnessing in Europe, where flash drought, flooding, the new phenomenon of deadly heat domes, and soil depletion are just a peek into a tiny window of what humanity and the natural world are in for. It looks like dystopia.
Major wildfires sweep across central Chile's Valparaiso and Viña del Mar regions by Pakalolo. A preliminary death toll of ten has been provided to the AFP by Chilean emergency officials as multiple wildfires burn across the Valparaiso and Viña del Mar regions, which are home to close to two million people. Residents attempt to flee to the coast, but wildfires have closed roads. Cities are cloaked in heavy smoke, and President Gabriel Boric declared an emergency. Parts of South America have been blistering hot for weeks, drying vegetation vulnerable to wildfire conditions common during an El Nino year. Climate change has intensified disasters of drought and heat, making the current conditions extraordinary. From Al Jazeera: Images filmed by trapped motorists have gone viral online, showing mountains in flames at the end of the famous Route 68, a road used by thousands of tourists to get to the Pacific coast beaches. On Friday, authorities closed the road, which links Valparaiso to the capital, Santiago, as a huge mushroom cloud of smoke “reduced visibility.”
Q. And how is all this related to climate change?A. You have to understand that the El Niño phenomenon is always characterized by the surface temperature of the ocean. Monitoring it is done mainly in the central strip along the equator, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But what has happened? Recent El Niño events, including this one, are being created from an ocean that is already warmer. It is as if you had a tub with hot water and you put more hot water in it, rather than a tub with warm water and you put hot water in it. It’s something like that. So we know this: the El Niño that is now affecting us came about in very warm conditions, but we do not yet know how to measure the way in which it will affect us, or how extreme it will be.
Ninety-four percent of California's population is at risk of 'life-threatening' flooding by Pakalolo. Forecasters have warned that almost the entire state of California will endure threats by tornados, flooding, landslides, and high waves as an atmospheric river is set to inundate the state with heavy rainfall. They warned that large cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco have a high risk of flooding. The rainfall began last night and will extend through Tuesday. The soils are already saturated by an earlier storm, which dumped significant rain from Wednesday through Thursday this past week. This current storm will result in power shortages, infrastructure damage to roads, and flooding of cities. Compromised water and sewage systems could be compromised. Rain could be 3-6 inches near the coast, up to a foot inland, and last into next week. California has mountains and hills, so residents in those areas are at high risk of landslides and drowning by rainfall.
Climate Crisis++: George Monbiot has some interesting questions today by LaFeminista. In a world built by plutocrats, the powerful are protected while vengeful laws silence their critics. George Monbiot — From the Guardian: Why are peaceful protesters treated like terrorists, while actual terrorists (especially on the far right, and especially in the US) often remain unmolested by the law? Why, in the UK, can you now potentially receive a longer sentence for “public nuisance” – non-violent civil disobedience – than for rape or manslaughter? Why are ordinary criminals being released early to make space in overcrowded prisons, only for the space to be refilled with political prisoners: people trying peacefully to defend the habitable planet? There’s a simple explanation. It was clearly expressed by a former analyst at the US Department of Homeland Security. “You don’t have a bunch of companies coming forward saying: ‘I wish you’d do something about these rightwing extremists.’” The disproportionate policing of environmental protest, the new offences and extreme sentences, the campaigns of extrajudicial persecution by governments around the world are not, as politicians constantly assure us, designed to protect society. They’re a response to corporate lobbying.
New study says climate change could spread one disease that reduces world wheat crops 13% by 2050 by Meteor Blades. As with other impacts of climate change, serious harm on the food front was considered to be far in the future in human terms. As it turns out, not so much. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich have found in a study published this week in Nature Climate Change that global warming could reduce world wheat production 13% by 2050. That would be a stunning result. Wheat is the staple crop for an estimated 35% of the world population, the second largest grain crop. About two-thirds of it is consumed by humans, and a fifth by livestock. In a world where it’s estimated 820 million people are already malnourished, the toll could be immense. The TUM study isn’t the first to posit big losses for wheat. For instance, a study 15 years ago saw a loss of wheat in South Asia of 44 percent (Gerald Nelson, et al., 2009). The TUM researchers looked at the impacts from a single disease that is already a problem—wheat blast, caused by the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. Found first in Brazil in 1985, it has since spread to neighboring South American countries, Bangladesh and Zambia. Future spread will mostly affect South America, Asia, and southern Africa, the researchers say. As much as 75 percent of the area under wheat cultivation in Africa and South America could be affected. East Asia and Europe won’t be at so great a risk except for Italy, southern France, Spain, and the warm and humid regions of southeast China. Where climate change creates drier long-term conditions, the risk of wheat blast may lessen, but the higher heat that dries out the land simultaneously will reduce yield.
Indian summer-like: True. But this ain’t that by Alan Kandel. This is something else! It is. Really! It is? Yes. And, what is it? The hot daytime high temperatures shattering records in the western U.S. That’s what! Looking at just one, for Fresno, California for Jan. 29th, the temperature high was 76 degrees Fahrenheit, shattering all previous records in Fresno for this date. Records have been kept since 1850. For those who are interested, the concomitant air quality by the way, as forecasted by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District for Fresno County, turned out to be just as predicted: bad, in the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” range. And, the impact? Spring-like. Alyssums in the yard were all abuzz with bee activity. This is the middle of the winter for goodness sakes!Add to this the super early awakening of ground day lilies. And, the physical manifestations don’t stop there. My take: Right here for this time of year, it’s just too warm.
Solving Climate Change -- Or Else! by Stan Cox via TomDispatch. Putting an end to global warming should be an overwhelming moral imperative for every nation on this planet. But climate-change stories, extreme as they may be, almost never lead the news, nor does dealing with the phenomenon seem to be at the top of any leader’s list of national priorities. How about last month’s COP28 global climate summit in Dubai? It produced an agreement that committed the world’s nations to doing… well, essentially nothing. With the news cycle stuck in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam of sudden, compelling crises and unending wars, world powers seem almost willfully blind to the possibility that the global environment (and with it, civilization itself) is spinning out of control — and not in some distant future but right now.
ENERGY, EMISSIONS & TRANSPORTATION
1/30 Renewable Tuesday: The 100% Club by Mokurai. Not long ago, there were 8 countries at 100% renewable electricity, and 12 more above 90%. The bottom of the heap is Turkmenistan, at 0.01%. This is remarkable progress and inexcusable delay at the very same time. Well, we’ll get there. Much of the problem is the familiar politics of denial and greenwashing. Some is the need to finance the factories to build the equipment for the factories to build wind and solar and storage components and systems
Hydrogen - fuel of the future? There may be some changes coming by Xaxnar. Fossil fuels, which are based on carbon compounds, are driving global warming because burning them to extract energy releases greenhouse gases into the air, like CO2 (carbon dioxide). There’s also all of the ancillary damage from extraction, refining, transportation, air pollution, and spills and leaks. Hydrogen is being considered as a replacement for fossil fuels because burning it for energy produces H2O — AKA water — and not CO2. (While water vapor can have some indirect greenhouse gas warming effects, they are much less so.) There is a new development that could be a real game changer — but I’ll save that for the bottom of this post. Yale Environment 360 recently reported on a finding that could completely change the picture for hydrogen. It turns out there are natural geologic processes that produce hydrogen, and under the right conditions it can accumulate in deposits in the ground that can be tapped using technologies much like those developed for extracting oil and natural gas. How much is there? No one knows — because until recently no one had been looking for it. But it turns out it’s been there all along.
Energy (and Other) Events Monthly - February 2024 by gmoke. These kinds of events below are happening all over the world every day and most of them, now, are webcast and archived, sometimes even with accurate transcripts. Would be good to have a place that helped people access them. This is a more global version of the local listings I did for about a decade (what I did and why I did it at this site until September 2020 and earlier for a few years in the 1990s. (https://theworld.com/~gmoke/AList.index.html). A more comprehensive global listing service could be developed if there were enough people interested in doing it, if it hasn’t already been done.
If anyone knows of such a global listing of open energy, climate, and other events is available, please put me in contact. Next steps for offshore energy production.
• Learn more about new research on the potential of combining offshore wind and hydrogen power.
Monday, January 29. 6-7 a.m. EST. Online RSVP here. • On the environmental impacts of genetically modified crops. Monday, January 29, 2 p.m. ET. UCSB, Bren Hall 1414. And online. RSVP here. Frederik Noack, Assistant Professor, Food and Resource Economics Group, University of British Columbia • The greenest building can be ... the one that is already built: an interactive energy house model. Monday, January 29, 2-4 p.m. EST. MIT, Building 9, 9-255, 105 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139. RSVP here. • Toward a Regenerative Future: The Role of Business in a Time of Crisis
Monday, January 29, Toward a Regenerative Future: 6 p.m. EST. Online. RSVP here.
Committee kills bill to end offshore oil drilling in CA as Big Oil sets new lobbying spending record by Dan Bacher. On January 16, the Senate Appropriations Committee killed two key climate bills, SB 559 and SB 709, due to strong opposition by the powerful oil industry lobby in California. SB 559 would end offshore oil drilling leases in Southern California, while SB 709 would establish transparency standards for California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the oil industry trade organization for the Western states and the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying organization in California, led the opposition to SB 559. The Center for Biological Diversity, Elders Climate Action, Northern California Chapter, Elders Climate Action, Southern California Chapter, Social Compassion in Legislation and California Climate Voters backed SB 559. The two bills were killed at a time that lobbying spending by the oil industry has shattered records. Big Oil and Big Gas spent an all-time yearly record of $27,003,931 on lobbying in Sacramento in 2023. The lobbying expenditures for the last quarter alone were $4,983,305.
CA Oil Drilling Permit Approvals Cratered In 2023 As Chevron Wells Produced Only 3 Barrels Per Day by Dan Bacher. California oil regulators issued 95% fewer permits to drill new wells and 25% fewer to fix or redrill existing wells during 2023 in a “cratering” of permit approvals over 2022, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance revealed today in a statement. Newsom Well Watch, a join website by the two groups, has been tracking and updating the number of oil and gas wells permitted by the Newsom Administration in California since 2019. A total of 15,789 total oil drilling permits have been approved in California since Jan. 2019. CalGEM, the state’s oil and gas regulator, approved 2,064 total permits in 2023 a -39% change from 2022. Only 25 new well permits were issued in 2023, a -95% change from 2022. 2039 reworked oil well permits were issued in 2023, a -28% change from 2022. To see the number of drilling permits approved and locations, visit here. Chevron, one of the biggest oil producers in California, has complained that state regulatory policies, such as limiting permitting, have resulted in financial losses, but new research by FracTracker shows that California oil production is no longer profitable.
WATER & INFRASTRUCTURE
California Governor Promotes Salmon 'Restoration Plan' Without Science-Based Water Flows by Dan Bacher. As he continues to push the salmon-killing Delta Tunnel, Sites Reservoir and voluntary water agreements, Governor Gavin Newsom, with no sense of irony today, announced new actions and efforts “already underway that California is taking to help restore California’s salmon populations.” “After 10 years of rapidly intensifying drought and more extreme weather, salmon are not doing well,” according to a statement from Newsom’s Office. “Last year, with projections showing Chinook salmon population at historic lows, the salmon season was closed and the Newsom Administration requested a Federal Fishery Disaster to support impacted communities. Additionally, due to crashing salmon populations in 2023, some tribes canceled their religious and cultural harvests for the first time ever.” On Monday, the governor visited salmon restoration sites in Humboldt County to see how the Salmon Strategy will “support communities across the state.” The state’s Salmon Strategy specifies the six priorities and 71 actions to build “healthier, thriving salmon populations in California.”
AGRICULTURE, GARDENING & FOOD
Some February Food and Agriculture Events by gmoke. Climate-thinking: How farms are integrating climate change into their plans. Thursday, February 1, 13:00-14:30 GMT-5
Online. RSVP here. • Cultivating a Greener Future: Regenerative Agriculture Policies. Monday, February 5, Noon-1:15 PM EST. Harvard, R-414ab. David T. Ellwood Democracy Lab. And online
RSVP here. • Climate Solutions in Three Acts: Net-Zero Aviation, Prioritizing Wildfire Avoidance, and Food without Agriculture. Monday, February 5, 2 p.m., EST. UCSB, Bren Hall 1414. And online.
Saturday Morning Garden Blogging: Vol 20.05 Terraces, Tunnels and Trenches by greenandblue. The Red River Zoo in Fargo, ND is a nice one to visit if you get the chance. I used to enjoy stopping in on bicycle rides or trips to Costco when I lived around there. One thing that caught my attention at the Red River Zoo was a lovely bench with raised beds. It was 12 foot by six foot, with the back half being a full raised bed, and the front half split into a bench between two raised beds. I wanted to make one, so I took a few pictures and carefully planned out required materials. That was 4-5 years ago. We moved to a new home early 2022. I brought the boards with us. Still didn’t build the bench. Then, after losing my job, I decided that it would be good to get out the shovels, hammers and power tools, and use those boards to build a terrace on the 8 foot hill in our back yard. That was just about one year ago this week. With support and encouragement from Mrs greenandblue, it grew into three terraces, a deck, two sets of stairs and drip irrigation. Throw in a few low tunnels and we’re ready to garden this year. Visiting local farms and nurseries helped me to plan. See and read about it all in the rest of this diary.
PLASTICS & POLLUTION
Obesity & other plastics exposure diseases cost US economy $249 billion, 1.22% of GDP by mettle fatigue. The researchers emphasize that health harms from plastics chemicals are global, and call for governmental policies and international agreements increasing addressing of manufacturing and user-exposure issues, to reduce disease prevalence, loss to personal and national economies, and for protection of public health and environment. They also reference findings that the true costs are much higher: The social costs of disease and disability in the United States due to PBDEs, phthalates, and bisphenols ... as well as PFAS ... are very large, on the order of $400 billion annually. A more recent study by the Minderoo-Monaco Commission suggests even higher costs, more than $900 billion per year. ... the commission mistakenly assumes that PBDEs, phthalates, and bisphenols are used only in plastic materials, when these chemicals are also used in nonplastic applications, including solvents and ceramics...
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.]
Elevation -- Strike for the Planet week 202 by birches. This week: Elevation. What are SF’s elevations? Bottom Line: One-third of the city is on low-lying land. How much sea level rise is likely? Here’s some of where water is stored in ice that is melting, and melting at accelerating rates: Thwaites glacier—holds 65 cm of sea level rise. West Antarctic Ice Sheet—holds 3.3 meters of sea level rise/ Greenland—holds 23 cm of sea level rise for a total of 4.13 meters of sea level rise. [...] Short term, there is enough currently melting ice to raise global sea levels by 4.13 to 7.63 meters. Longer term, there is enough ice to raise global sea levels by 60 meters.
Heat -- Strike for the Planet week 201 by birches. Here’s where SF is on heat. Tree Shade: San Francisco has inadequate and unequally distributed tree shade compared with other large US cities, covering just 15% of the city’s total area, with the majority of SF’s neighborhoods having less than 10% tree shade coverage. Tree shade is the major way cities mitigate neighborhood heat. Cooling Centers: San Francisco’s available cooling centers are few in number, unevenly distributed, and lack space to accommodate SF’s residents during a heat emergency. Additionally, none of the official or unofficial cooling centers are open nights. Air Conditioning: Most San Francisco residences do not have AC. Many SF workplaces don’t have AC. SFUSD’s schools do not have AC. Energy: During heat events, SF’s energy use exceeds the energy supply, causing brownouts, rolling blackouts, and blackouts. SF has a limited number of generators (multiply polluting and only good for short term use if access to fuel is compromised). Medical Facilities: SF doesn’t have medical facilities sufficient for a prolonged heat event. According to data.sfgov (2021) SF’s south and west have few facilities, while the east and north edges of the city have no medical facilities. And one of our large facilities for at-risk populations is the endangered Laguna Honda. Water Instructure: SF doesn’t have water infrastructure (fountains, play areas, creeks, rivers, lakes, open fire hydrants) for informal neighborhood cooling. Cooling via saltwater and brackish water (canals and inlets) is available in a few places in SF, mostly on the eastern shoreline in industrial areas, and at the beaches on the north and west sides of the city. The beaches, though, lack shade. Bottom Line: SF does not have the capacity to respond equitably or adequately to heat events.
Water -- Strike for the Planet week 200 by birches. Here’s where we are on water. Hetch Hetchy is 167 miles away. Water from there has to travel through 7 counties, drop a total of 10,000 feet in elevation, and cross 2 massive faults to get to SF. This imported water makes up the overwhelming bulk of SF’s water supply. SF’s Westside Basin, which makes up the other small percent of SF’s water, is a shallow, rain-dependent aquifer that is becoming increasingly saline from sea level rise. While this year’s precipitation totals are looking good for the first time in 2 decades, the state’s aquifers are still very low, forests are still drought-shocked and dying, the soil is still compacted and unabsorbent (especially in burn scarred areas), the snowpack is still melting faster and earlier every year, agriculture (especially white-owned industrial ag) still uses the majority of the state’s water to grow export crops, the population of CA is still double the population the state’s manufactured plumbing was built to serve, and all signs point to this winter being a blip in the on-going megadrought. Bottom Line: SF’s water supply is in peril.
Energy -- Strike for the Planet week 199 by birches. SF can easily become a green energy exporter. We have a huge number of green, renewable, sustainable energy sources available to be tapped within SF city limits. We have enough energy available to easily power SF. We have enough that we can export energy. We are unbelievably lucky in this regard, but only if we actually use these sources. So let’s take a look at if and how well we are using them right now. Here’s where we are on solar. In addition to solar panels on individual homes and buildings, SFPUC owns and operates 9 municipal solar installations that can generate up to 7.2 megawatts (a number mostly unchanged since 2009, by the way). According to the CA Energy Commission, SF’s 2021 electricity consumption was 5008.4 kWh, meaning that these 9 municipal installations, when in operation, can meet current electricity needs if the sun is shining.
Jeopardy! -- Strike for the Planet week 197 by birches. This week: Jeopardy! Contestant: City Killers for $200, please. Alex Trebek: This causes mass migration and population decline. Contestant: What is “megadrought”? Interestingly enough, we’re in one right now, even with this year’s massive rains and snowpack. Contestat: City Killers for $400. Trebek: Thwaites and PIG hold meters of this. Contestant: What is “sea level rise”? Not only is the sea level rising, the rate of rise is accelerating, and doing so much faster than anyone predicted. When Thwaites (imminent) and PIG (also imminent) collapse, the coasts are suddenly a lot farther inland and large swathes of San Francisco are underwater. Contestant: Let’s keep going. City Killers for $600, please. Trebek: A metropolitan area that’s significantly warmer than its surroundings. Contestant: What is an “urban heat island”? Not only does SF have a significant urban heat island, but the amount of heat SF radiates varies significantly and in line with both SF’s redlining history and missing urban forest and parks.
Another Lesson From Theatre -- Strike for the Planet week 196 by birches. This week: Another Lesson from Theatre. There are rules. In theatre, the rules are agreed-upon conventions that make the whole effort of communal storytelling possible. Theatre is a human endeavor, by and for humans, about what it means to be a human living at this time, and the rules operate as guideposts that allow us to both listen and react in meaningful ways to the stories being told. Theatre’s rules reflect how humans understand the world. In comedies, people make fools of themselves but learn the lessons they need to learn to right the world. In tragedies, people act like fools and don’t learn the lessons, or only learn them when it’s too late. Tragedy ends in death, comedy ends in the re-establishment of social order, often via marriage. In farce, the mechanistic stepchild of comedy, characters desperately navigate an increasingly Rube Goldberg-esque set of circumstances caused mostly by themselves. They enact more and more outlandish strategies to keep going in their desperate bids for survival, usually battling the set as well as each other. Unlike in other types of comedy, the characters in a farce do not change or grow during the course of a play. Their goal is just survival, they see no farther ahead than the next second, and they get to the end of the story, battered and bruised, without having learned a thing. Their achievement—survival—is not guaranteed to last longer than the end of the play. They are ridiculous, and do an enormous amount to achieve essentially nothing. So what kind of play are you in?
Farmers revolt, and fascists are riding their coattails to win the June European Union elections.by Pakalolo. Let's give Nicolas Camut a hand. In a world full of media, global warming ignorance, and coverups on the rapidity of the climate crisis, it is a relief to read a well-researched article of truth-telling. Warnings of a climate change emergency are few and far between. The article points out that the rise of fascism in Europe is an opportunity for the far right to link the emerging food and distribution emergency with government incompetence and a "green agenda" to seize power. The code red lights are blinking across Earth, not just Europe. But Europe has the unfortunate reality of warming faster than three times than any other continent. What we are witnessing in Europe, where flash drought, flooding, the new phenomenon of deadly heat domes, and soil depletion are just a peek into a tiny window of what humanity and the natural world are in for. It looks like dystopia.
Earth Matters: VP Harris on $1 trillion in climate spending; Michael Mann gets his day in court by Meteor Blades. A trillion dollars is a whole lot of money. But over a decade, it averages out to $100 billion a year. What the Pentagon will get in 2024 added to what the Veterans Administration will get totals $1.2 trillion. For one year. So defense against the climate emergency gets 8% of traditional national defense and critics call it too expensive. On the presidential campaign trail in 2019, Kamala Harris proposed a $10 trillion, 10-year blueprint to address the climate crisis. She wasn’t alone. Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro also proposed a $10 trillion clean energy plan, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee proposed a 10-year, $9 trillion green investment plan, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker called for a $3 trillion plan. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for a $2 trillion plan. And Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed a $16.3 trillion plan. All more in keeping with what is truly needed to speed the green transformation along in time for it to make a difference. League of Conservation vice president in charge of federal policy Matthew Davis told Cama, “The Biden-Harris administration has delivered so much more than $1 trillion in investments. It’s hard to capture what all of those add up to, and it’s hard to encapsulate the entirety of the work that they have done to help communities around the country.”
Florida GOP wants to block heat protection for workers. Good thing it's never hot there by Mark Sumner. Fresh off of trying to replace education with child labor, Florida Republicans have another bright idea that’s sure to improve conditions for workers in the Sunshine State. They’re out to ensure that workers don’t have any right to protection when toiling outdoors in the heat. A bill is advancing through the Florida Senate that would prohibit local officials from passing regulations that would provide heat protection for outdoor workers. Authored by state Sen. Jay Trumbull, SB 1492 has already passed in the state House and cleared the first hurdles in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. Right now, there aren’t any such local ordinances. That Florida legislators are moving to outlaw something that doesn’t exist might seem odd, even for Florida. But last fall, Miami-Dade County considered passing such regulations. So state Republicans are working to beat them to the punch and prevent worker protections statewide—before they ever exist.
A rarity, a Rich Guy who Cares by nailkeg. A little over a year ago, a man by the name of Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia's a outdoor clothing company, was named a billionaire by Forbes. According to the The Guardian, “for Chouinard it was a sign he had failed in his life’s mission to make the world a better and fairer place…This week he achieved that aim, announcing that he was giving away all of the shares in Patagonia to a trust that will use future profits to “help fight” the climate crisis…Chouinard, who drives a beaten-up Subaru with a surfboard strapped to the roof, says he hopes giving away the company “will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people.” Now, a year later, his project is bearing fruit. From The New York Times; “A little more than $3 million to block a proposed mine in Alaska. Another $3 million to conserve land in Chile and Argentina. And $1 million to help elect Democrats around the country, including $200,000 to a super PAC this month….Patagonia, the outdoor apparel brand, is funneling its profits to an array of environmental and political groups. A network of nonprofit organizations linked to the company has distributed more than $71 million since September 2022, according to publicly available tax filings and internal documents reviewed by The Times…..” He and his family arranged for this in such a way as to leave the company as a for-profit unit which will still generate income.
The Conundrum of Progressives by Mikaliksa. "In short, Biden is not just the most successful president on climate, he is the most important climate policymaker in world history. So what, you might ask, has been the reaction of far-left climate crusaders to such profound successes? To attack Biden." (Source) I'm not as far left as I used to be, not because my views have changed much but because the Far Left expects extra perfection from any politician it supports. This leads to what I call The Conundrum of Progressives: Taking a stand on a (mostly) noble cause, only for your commitment that one issue to spiral out of control then fully compromise the rest of your belief system when your activism causes the polar opposite to become the law of the land. My worry isn't that Independents will leave Biden for Trump (most Independent voters are right-leaning now anyway) but rather that the Far Left will vote for grifters like Cornell West or a Russian Asset like Jill Stein and we'll be stuck with Trump winning 45.5% of the popular vote but getting 300 Electoral Votes because activists in Pittsburgh, Detroit & Milwaukee deem Biden insufficiently "Progressive."
Economics Book: ‘Small is Beautiful: Economics as Though People Mattered’ by Mokurai. We don’t have room for the whole argument about the failures of forcing First-World economics and technology onto Third-World societies, and calling it a success when multinational corporations get richer, and the poor get poorer. I am going to take it as given that Schumacher is right in his analysis in “Small is Beautiful”: The real task may be formulated in four propositions: First, that workplaces have to be created in the areas where the people are living now, and not primarily in metropolitan areas into which they tend to migrate. Second, that these workplaces must be, on average, cheap enough so that they can be created in large numbers without this calling for an unattainable level of capital formation and imports. Third, that the production methods employed must be relatively simple, so that the demands for high skills are minimised, not only in the production process itself but also in matters of organisation, raw material supply, financing, marketing, and so forth. Fourth, that production should be mainly from local materials and mainly for local use.