Also fuck you.
Despite the pillar-of-fire reminders from Australia that climate change is here, with devastating effects, 2020 is also bringing us some good climate news.
For one thing, despite Donald Trump's attempts to prop up the coal business, 2019 saw the second largest drop ever in the number of coal-fired power plants in the US. In fossil-fuel-humping Texas, the amount of electricity generated by wind in 2019 nearly equaled the portion of the state's power (20 percent) generated by coal, and wind power in Texas is on track to surpass coal power in 2020. That's partly due to the growth of wind, even with the Trump administration ending a clean-energy tax credit, but mostly, again, to the decline of coal. (Natural gas still accounts for 47 percent of the state's electricity, however.) And nationwide, coal consumption dropped 18 percent in 2019, which resulted in a 2.1 percent drop in US greenhouse gas emissions for the year -- a welcome change from 2018, which saw an increase. Even money management giant BlackRock has announced it will no longer invest in coal, resulting in a brief boost in pun futures.
And now, as the Energy and Policy Institute reports, two major big financial services outfits, the capital-est of capitalists, indicate that the sooner electric utilities shift from coal-fired plants to renewable power generation, the better for their bottom lines, and the better for ratepayers and shareholders. Why, yes, the magic of the marketplace can help the shift to green energy, although to get the reductions in emissions the world needs, we're still going to need a radical shift away from petrocapitalism.
IT'S THE CLIMATE, STUPID.
Australia's record-setting bushfires are still burning, and there are months remaining in the fire season. The fires are known to have killed 28 people so far, as well as over a billion animals, with a B. The smoke has reached South America. The EU's climate agency estimates the fires have released "400 megatonnes of carbon dioxide" into the atmosphere so far, and notes satellite data showing the planet's highest concentration of CO2 on January 2 was found over the normally "clean" South Pacific, generated by the fires in New South Wales.
The Australian government, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Liberal party, which in Australia is actually very conservative, possibly because of the Coriolis effect, seems stuck in George-Bush-After-Katrina mode, blandly insisting that everything will be fine and there's no need to get all upset about climate, because what even is that?
The peace and unity candidate in a torches and pitchforks year.
US Sen. Cory Booker announced today that he's ending his campaign for president after disappointing fundraising and not getting strong enough poll numbers for the next Democratic primary debate. Now he'll just have to settle for being the sexiest man in the Senate, although it's entirely possible that, at 50, the New Jersey whippersnapper just might still have a long political career ahead of him.
Booker announced his decision in an email to supporters with a video that highlighted some of his major campaign talking points about looking at the things that bring Democrats together, not the petty squabbles over little things that drive us apart.
Thank You youtu.be
With Booker's departure, the 2020 Democratic field now has only a single African-American candidate, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, who's still out there competing with Michael Bennet and John Delany for the "Oh, they're still running?" prize. (Like, did you notice Joe Sestak and that other guy are already out? Neither did we!)
Amazon gazillionaire Jeff Bezos is having his company give ONE MILLION DOLLARS to help fight the bushfires in Australia, but is he getting the love and gratitude he so clearly deserves? Heck nah! For one thing, it's a million Australian dollars, which comes to far less in money money, about $690,00 US. And then there's the amount of the donation compared to where it's coming from, as Vice explains:
To put this number in perspective, Bezos is worth $116,000,000,000; the figure is equal to .00059 percent of his net worth. It is the equivalent of someone worth $50,000 donating 29 cents. Of course, it's not even Bezos's money. It's Amazon's money. Amazon's current market cap is $933,670,000,000. $690,000 is .000073 percent of $933.67 billion, which means that the donation hurts Amazon's bottom line as much as it would hurt a person worth $50,000 to donate three cents.
So yes, it's a big donation that dwarfs the annual income of most people But for Bezos and Amazon, it's the change that fell down behind the couch cushions while they were looking for the bigger change that had already fallen there. Also too, Amazon's webpage about the donation notes that the donation is only partly in cash; some of it comes from Bezos's biggest profit source, "in-kind technical support for many of the government agencies dealing with the response and recovery efforts." [Editrix: This is sort of like the local grocery store owner -- and state politician -- who gives the food bank Shy volunteers at a store credit every year as his donation, while all his employees are food bank clients. JUST SAYING.]
Reactions have been mixed. Many people are pointing out that Bezos is giving away roughly three to five minutes' worth of the money he makes daily. Others point out that merely very rich celebrities have actually given more money -- including an Instagram lady who, like Jeff Bezos, has nekkid pictures. But there are also some billionaire-lovers (who are certain they're just a few tax cuts away from vast riches themselves) who can't believe you socialists would criticize Bezos.
It's getting to where the richest guy in the world can't do a nice thing that hardly costs him anything at all without people pointing out he's the richest guy in the world and it's costing him hardly anything at all.
Donald Trump announced yesterday his administration plans to scrap one of the country's most basic environmental laws, making it easier for major infrastructure and energy projects to be built with minimal review of how they'd affect the environment. Through new rules set to be published today, Trump would bypass the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal agencies to analyze the long-term environmental implications of major construction projects before approving them.
The new rules would allow more projects to avoid review altogether, and would shorten the time allowed for review. Worse, agencies would no longer have to consider environmental effects of a project beyond the immediate scope of its being built, so highways could be built with no thought as to how they'd pollute a neighborhood over time or how increased traffic would contribute to global warming.
The rules are a great big gift to Trump's pals in the real estate and fossil fuel industries, in the name of removing the "burdens" of regulation. If these rules survive court challenges, a pipeline company could decide to drain an actual swamp -- without filing an environmental impact statement.
Also, people are already dying. But you haven't met them, so no big.
As seemed likely last summer when July became the hottest month in human history and the glaciers in Greenland were gushing melt water into the ocean, scientists have confirmed that 2019 was among the hottest years on record. A team of European climate scientists at the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service announced exactly that Wednesday, noting that 2019 was the second-warmest year on record, and that's only by a hair, because "the global average surface air temperature was 0.04 °C lower than in 2016, the warmest year on record." As the New York Times explains for USA people who use real non-socialist temperatures, that difference was "less than one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit."
Pretty sure I wouldn't be able to feel the difference sitting in my 1973 Chevy, Vlad the Impala, even with the broken AC (it's parked and my daily drive is a hybrid, shut up).
Also, the death toll from the Australian wildfires is now up to 27 humans and over a billion animals. One billion.
It's not global warming, it's bad guys. Shoot the bad guys!
The horrifying Australian wildfires have (finally) gotten worldwide attention, and vividly illustrate the environmental catastrophes that are becoming increasingly common with climate change. Hotter temperatures dry out ecosystems, resulting in more stuff that's likely to burn, leading to hotter, faster-spreading fires. And people fleeing their homes and tweeting photos of Martian-looking skies with the hashtag #apocalypse. Twenty-six people have died and Australia's rural firefighting force, largely made up of volunteers, is exhausted but still going, because what else are they going to do?
Or maybe it's all a HOAX! That's the conclusion of a whole bunch of rightwing assholes who have taken to Twitter to insist that the record wildfires are really evidence of a wave of arson. There's no actual wave of arson, but why bother with mere facts? Monday, police in New South Wales released statistics on arrests relating to the fire season, noting that 183 people are facing legal penalties for various infractions. Forty-seven were accused of "discarding a lighted cigarette or match," 53 for "failing to comply with a total fire ban," and 24 with setting fires deliberately. The Sydney Morning Herald notes that, of those arson cases, "None of those fires are threatening the South Coast," where the worst, headline-grabbing fires are. That would be zero.
Meat Loaf Calls Greta Thunberg 'Brainwashed' In Obvious Attempt To Get Us To Read Interview About His Sex Life
It's a trap!
This morning, Meat Loaf — the singer, not the food product — was trending on Twitter. For why? Because, in an interview with the Daily Mail, he said he believed that teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg had been brainwashed, ostensibly by climate scientists, to believe in climate change even though Meat Loaf, the guy who sang "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad" knows climate change is not real:
Meat, who famously worked with President Trump on The Apprentice back in 2010, said he believes there is no such thing as climate change.
'I feel for that Greta. She has been brainwashed into thinking that there is climate change and there isn't.
'She hasn't done anything wrong but she's been forced into thinking that what she is saying is true.'
Everyone has been going absolutely mad tweeting about the hilarity of "noted climate scientist Meat Loaf" thinking he knows what he's talking about, tweeting the article over and over and over again.
Government says this is no time to talk about climate. Have some respect for all the koalas that died.
Australia, as we mentioned New Year's Eve, is on fire. Wildfires have burned roughly 12 million acres in the country since September and killed at least 15 people; by comparison, the 2018 wildfires in California, which killed about 100, burned 1.9 million acres. Here's a map of current fires (within 72 hours) on the continent, via researchers at Western Australian universities:
New South Wales has declared a week-long state of emergency, giving authorities greater powers to coordinate disaster and evacuation response, like closing roads and utilities.
Some of the numbers from Australia's bush fires are simply terrifying:
The blazes made breathing the air in Sydney as bad as smoking 37 cigarettes and have killed 480 million animals, environmental officials told the Times in the United Kingdom, including nearly one-third of the koalas in one of Australia's most populated koala habitats in an area 240 miles north of Sydney.
Half a billion animals. Sure, a lot of Australian wildlife wants to kill you, but that's still horrible. On Monday, a volunteer firefighter in New South Wales died when a 10-ton fire truck was knocked on its side by a fire tornado, a term we've learned here in the USA too.
Most of us. Just not the people in charge.
Let's start with good news on climate: In poll after poll, large majorities of Americans say they agree climate is a major concern and that the government needs to do more to reduce carbon emissions. More than three-quarters of adults and teens agree that human activity is affecting the climate, and a majority think it's not too late to find solutions. Some people are shaky on the scientific details; a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll earlier this month found that
43 percent of adults and 57 percent of teens cited "plastic bottles and bags" as a "major" contributor to climate change, which is incorrect. That response may echo a recent burst of news media attention to plastic pollution in the oceans.
But the main point is that big majorities know that burning fossil fuels is heating up the planet, so if some people drive less and recycle more plastic, that's not a terrible thing. How's this for encouraging? Among Republicans, a majority of millennials and Gen-Z young'uns want more government action on climate, too. Baby steps -- teach your parents well, young Rs.
Gosh who could have seen that coming how very surprising we are astonished.
Last week, Donald Trump unleashed yet another unhinged lie-filled rant claiming wind turbines cause American Bird Carnage. As Wonkette's Liz Dye pointed out, nah, many times more birds are killed by buildings and domestic cats, though generally not at the same time. Then, on Christmas Eve, the New York Times ran a major story on a very real threat to far larger numbers of birds: the Trump administration's decision to gut the Migratory Bird Act in 2017, by changing how the law is enforced.
The report is based on a trove of government documents and emails about the new enforcement priority -- really a policy of nearly complete non-enforcement. The administration has effectively eliminated any penalties for companies that kill birds or destroy their habitats, and is now actively discouraging industry as well as state and local governments from taking actions to protect wild birds.
Wouldn't you know it, Trump's bitter tears about all the poor birds being murdered by wind energy aren't just fake; his own policies pose a far greater environmental risk. Isn't that a surprise.
Wooden shoe like to see other countries do that too?
The Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled on Friday that the country's government must sharply cut national carbon emissions by the end of 2020, the first time a nation's courts have demanded such specific action on climate. The ruling mandates a reduction in greenhouse gases to 25 percent of 1990 levels.
Because of climate change, "the lives, well being and living circumstances of many people around the world, including in the Netherlands, are being threatened," Kees Streefkerk, the chief justice, said in the decision. "Those consequences are happening already."
The Dutch government has already committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, though its environmental agency estimates the planned cuts would come to 19 to 25 percent of 1990 levels. Now the higher end of that target is the minimum that must be met. That could require the complete closure of coal-fired power plants, including some opened in the last decade. GOOD.
And here's an advantage that this and other lawsuits against European national governments have: The group that filed the lawsuit, the Urgenda Foundation, based some of its arguments in human rights laws. Pity the US no longer considers those relevant!
Wonkers, a holiday message from your resident pissed-off lawyer.
Windmills are lovely and Donald Trump is nuts. None of this is news, of course, but this rant to Charlie Kirk's Junior Racist League Saturday night was amazing even for the Dementor in Chief. After introducing Rush Limbaugh, who's "got like 39 million people listening" -- Rush has 15 million, which is like 40 percent of 39 million, but let's not get waylaid -- he was off on the Green New Deal.
We'll have an economy based on wind. I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. I've studied it better than anybody I know. It's very expensive. They're made in China and Germany mostly — very few made here, almost none. But they're manufactured tremendous — if you're into this — tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint — fumes are spewing into the air. Right? Spewing. Whether it's in China, Germany, it's going into the air. It's our air, their air, everything — right?
Okay, we lied. First there was like 900 words of lie-ranting about NAFTA and polls and witch hunt and Mazie Hirono wanting to build a train to Hawaii to get rid of airplanes. Which she doesn't, but more to the point, WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK is this? There are 100,000 American wind jobs according to the American Wind Energy Association (where my wonderful brother works, more on that in a minute), and there are 52,000 coal miners. No one wants to put those miners out of a job, but between those two groups, only one of them produces a product designed to spew gas into this tiny world in our bigly huge universe.
Her Green New Deal plan could create over 10 million jobs.
Hey! You know what's great for our economy? Jobs! More specifically, jobs that allow people to earn a living wage! And you know what is great for everyone? Doing what we can to not murder the planet so we don't all drown or die in fires! Because that would be unpleasant.
On Friday morning, the lefty think tank Data for Progress released a study showing that Elizabeth Warren's plan for a Green New Deal would create a whole shitload of jobs while saving the environment, because multitasking is awesome.
- 5,400,000 jobs over a ten year mobilization as a result of direct federal investment in new and existing clean industries and implementation of green technologies.
-10,600,000 likely new jobs over a ten year mobilization due to strategic support for U.S. renewable manufacturing and export-oriented economic policy, assuming each federal dollar invested yields an additional 1.5 in exports and induced private-sector activity.
Check it out!
Wonderful rally, President Goodbrain.
Donald Trump went to Battle Creek, Michigan, Wednesday night, holding one of his great big slob Nuremberg rallies while the House voted to impeach him. He used the occasion to rant and ramble for two hours, making it the longest rally he's held since taking office. It was a fine party, with Trump treating the impeachment as a joke that will work out just great for him, and mocking Democrats as the worst humans possible. It was a lot like the actual impeachment "debate" in the House that way.
Oh yes, and the rally also celebrated the fact that Americans are now allowed to say "Merry Christmas" again, which until 2017 they could not, so Donald Trump truly is a Christmas Miracle. The holiday trees at the venue were even topped with red MAGA hats instead of stars of angels, because triggering the libs is the Reason for the Season. Trump also yelled about toilets and light bulbs, as one does at this festive time of year.
It's a greenhouse gas, gas, gas.
Time magazine named teen climate activist Greta Thunberg its 2019 Person of the Year yesterday, making her, at 16, the youngest person to ever receive the title (and no, all those fresh off the shelf computers in 1983 don't count). The cover article noted that she'd started her climate protests alone in August 2018, skipping school to stand in front of the Parliament building in Stockholm with a sign reading "Skolstrejk för klimatet: 'School Strike for Climate.'" The idea caught on, and now Greta is the face of what finally seems to be a global surge in people demanding their governments address a civilizational crisis.
Somehow, a memo must have gone around Greater Wingnuttia, because all of a sudden yesterday rightwingers were OUTRAGED that Time hadn't given the honor to the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Sure thing! Remember how concern for the protesters in Hong Kong has been one of the great causes of the American Right all year? Nope, us either.
Donald Trump Jr. set the tone, and just look at the sick burn he tossed at Time, with Greta's own words, wow, such burn, many libs triggered.
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