Environment

Nice Time: Coal's Kung-Fu Is Old, And Now It Must Die

But we'll make sure miners get jobs, unlike certain "presidents" we could name.

Some nice energy news from the New York Times Friday: We already knew that coal was a dying industry, despite all of Donald Trump's efforts to keep it going. Now, a new "short term energy outlook" report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that, for the first time ever, the USA will generate more of its electricity using renewable sources than coal this year. Coal has been trending down as a portion of the US energy mix, but the economic shutdown to reduce the spread of the coronavirus means the nation is using less electricity, and since coal is now among the costlier sources for electricity, utilities have been switching off their coal-fired generating stations first.

No, that's not us cheering on a deadly pandemic. But if the resulting economic downturn hastens the end of the dirtiest form of energy on the planet, that's good for everyone.

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Trump

He Calls It The 'Super Duper Missile,' Because That's Just What It Is

Have a happy weekend, everyone.

My fellow Americans:


TRUMP: I call it the Super Duper Missile, and I heard the other night 17 times faster than what they have right now, then you take the fastest missile we have right now ...

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

"We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war."

"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it."

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

"I call it the Super Duper Missile."

Inscribe that one in the rotunda of the Trump Presidential Library Bookmobile, please.

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coronavirus

White House Forces CDC To Edit Reopening Recs Down To Helpful Haiku, So We're All Good Now

You first.

It's never a good sign when not a single person at the agency rolling out a policy will put his or her name on it. If the poor slob pitching the product insists on anonymity with reporters, then he's probably flogging a pile of shit that he doesn't want to appear in a Google search next to his name. Case in point: the watered-down reopening guidelines the White House finally allowed the CDC to publish last night.

"This was an effort on our part to make some decision trees we thought might be helpful to those moving forward with opening their establishment," a "spokesperson" told the Washington Post.

Politico spoke directly to the agency itself: "The CDC said its newly released tools are meant to give state and local areas control over their reopening strategies."

And the New York Times reports, "A C.D.C. spokesman said that further decision charts may be issued, and that the ones that had been published had emphasized the need for employers to work closely with local health officials."

The CDC has a whole list of spokespeople with particular subject matter expertise. But not one of them wanted to put their name on this piece of crap official document. Which is kind of a "tell."

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coronavirus

Yes, Actually, We Should Go Outside, Just Not Like A BUNCH OF ASSHOLES

Let's all go fly a kite!

If you didn't already see it in this morning's Tabs, you should go over to Vox and read this nifty summary of what experts say the USA should be doing to control the Rona and safely get the economy going again. It's very good! TL;DR version (if Vox is too long for you, rethink your reading habits): We could be doing this smart like a lot of other countries are, and it's still not too late to smarten up now, but it would require the USA to commit to a real plan and also spend money (so enjoy your second wave of COVID-19). Rather than summarize the whole thing, which would be Voxing Vox, which would be Axios we guess, let's look closely at one of those points. In addition to wearing masks everywhere, getting testing rates up (and testing smarter), doing serious contact tracing, and such, the article suggests there would be some real benefits to letting people go outside more, as long as we can manage to not be incredibly stupid about it. (We are Americans. Good luck to us.)

Here's the basic point: While limiting indoor public gatherings (especially in crowded settings) is still very much necessary to prevent transmission of the virus, the evidence seems to suggest that outdoor spaces like parks and beaches can be reopened, as long as people maintain social distance and wear masks while they're in those spaces.

Outdoor air is not magic, and it is possible to inhale droplets from another person's mouth outside. But the evidence seems to indicate that outdoor transmission is not, in practice, a huge problem. A detailed study of public outdoor spaces in Wuhan, China, found "undetectable or very low" levels of virus everywhere they looked. A study of more than 1,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases in other Chinese cities could only document one case of outdoor transmission.

Let's look at some science on all that, shall we?

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