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Monday, September 30, 2019

"Covering Climate Now" - "From Sea to Rising Sea"

Good NBC Today Show segment tag line this morning.


More to come... #CoveringClimateNow

Saturday, September 28, 2019

"Covering Climate Now" - Here Comes The Sun

Barriers to a timely global transition to a just and sustainable #PostCarbonEra are entirely political (which includes the "economic" sphere), not technological. None of which is to imply a solar nirvana, so incumbent vested-interest (or simply ignorant) Climate Change Deniers can spare us the Perfectionism Fallacy.

I hope that this "Covering Climate Now" effort will have the requisite Legs. Frase's "Quadrant IV" draws nigh, whether we care to admit it or not.
Photovoltaic tech, wind turbines, passive floating ocean wave energy buoys are all "solar." Hydro power dams are essentially solar (yet I don't see us needing more of them long-term, given their other ecological liabilities). Why not develop photovoltaic capacity at scale to, say, desalinate sea water (and yeah, it too has toxic brine problems needing mitigation), and/or directly crack water into hydrogen and oxygen (in lieu of conventional catalytic converter tech that still leaves us with CO/CO2 residuals)?
Let us pause briefly from all of this heaviness...

Back on topic:



The Amazon blurb:
The proposal that the impact of humanity on the planet has left a distinct footprint, even on the scale of geological time, has recently gained much ground. Global climate change, shifting global cycles of the weather, widespread pollution, radioactive fallout, plastic accumulation, species invasions, the mass extinction of species - these are just some of the many indicators that we will leave a lasting record in rock, the scientific basis for recognizing new time intervals in Earth's history. The Anthropocene, as the proposed new epoch has been named, is regularly in the news.

Even with such robust evidence, the proposal to formally recognize our current time as the Anthropocene remains controversial both inside and outside the scholarly world, kindling intense debates. The reason is clear. The Anthropocene represents far more than just another interval of geologic time. Instead, the Anthropocene has emerged as a powerful new narrative, a concept through which age-old questions about the meaning of nature and even the nature of humanity are being revisited and radically revised.

This Very Short Introduction explains the science behind the Anthropocene and the many proposals about when to mark its beginning: the nuclear tests of the 1950s? The beginnings of agriculture? The origins of humans as a species? Erle Ellis considers the many ways that the Anthropocene's "evolving paradigm" is reshaping the sciences, stimulating the humanities, and foregrounding the politics of life on a planet transformed by humans. The Anthropocene remains a work in progress. Is this the story of an unprecedented planetary disaster? Or of newfound wisdom and redemption? Ellis offers an insightful discussion of our role in shaping the planet, and how this will influence our future on many fronts.

More to come... #CoveringClimateNow

Thursday, September 26, 2019

"Covering Climate Now" - The Greta Thunberg Helpline

Excellent. Make sure you unmute if necessary. LOL. #CoveringClimateNow



The message coming from the school strikes is that a great many young people are ready for this kind of deep change. They know all too well that the sixth mass extinction is not the only crisis they have inherited. They are also growing up in the rubble of market euphoria, in which the dreams of endlessly rising living standards have given way to rampant austerity and economic insecurity. And techno-utopianism, which imagined a frictionless future of limitless connection and community, has morphed into addiction to the algorithms of envy, relentless corporate surveillance, and spiraling online misogyny and white supremacy.

“Once you have done your homework,” Greta Thunberg says, “you realize that we need new politics. We need a new economics, where everything is based on our rapidly declining and extremely limited carbon budget. But that is not enough. We need a whole new way of thinking . . . We must stop competing with each other. We need to start cooperating and sharing the remaining resources of this planet in a fair way.”

Klein, Naomi. On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal (pp. 52-53). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

New Twitter hashtag: #CoveringClimateConstantly


I'm an AAAS member. Just got this:

Scientific leaders are warning us: We have a narrow window of time to take decisive steps to address climate change. Curbing the most severe impacts will require rapid, far-reaching changes that are rooted in science.

To achieve the necessary interventions and avoid potentially devastating consequences, we must activate the science community to speak up in new ways to address the impacts of climate change at the local, state, national, and global level. And we need to act now.

More to come...

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

"Covering Climate Now" continues

Just watched a WHUT Amanpour & Co interview with Naomi Klein. Bought her book and have begun studying it.

ON A FRIDAY IN MID-MARCH 2019, they streamed out of schools in little rivulets, burbling with excitement and defiance at an illicit act of truancy. The little streams emptied onto grand avenues and boulevards, where they combined with other flows of chanting and chatting children and teens, dressed in leopard leggings and crisp uniforms and everything in between. 

Soon the rivulets were rushing rivers: 100,000 bodies in Milan, 40,000 in Paris, 150,000 in Montreal. 

Cardboard signs bobbed above the surf of humanity: THERE IS NO PLANET B! DON’T BURN OUR FUTURE. THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE! 

Some placards were more intricate. In New York City, a girl held up a lush painting of delicate bumble bees, flowers, and jungle animals. From a distance, it looked like a school project on biodiversity; up close, it was a lament for the sixth mass extinction: 45% OF INSECTS LOST TO CLIMATE CHANGE. 60% OF ANIMALS HAVE DISAPPEARED IN THE LAST 50 YEARS. At the center she had painted an hourglass rapidly running out of sand. 

For the young people who participated in the first ever global School Strike for Climate, learning has become a radicalizing act. In early readers, textbooks, and big-budget documentary films, they learned of the existence of ancient glaciers, dazzling coral reefs, and exotic mammals that make up our planet’s many marvels. And then, almost simultaneously—from teachers, older siblings, or sequels to those same films—they discovered that much of this wonder has already disappeared, and much of the rest of it will be on the extinction block before they hit their thirties. 

But it wasn’t only learning about climate change that moved these young people to march out of class en masse. For a great many of them, it was also living it. Outside the legislature building in Cape Town, South Africa, hundreds of young strikers chanted at their elected leaders to stop approving new fossil fuel projects. It was just one year ago that this city of four million people was in the clutches of such severe drought that three-quarters of the population faced the prospect of turning on the tap and having nothing come out at all. CAPE TOWN IS APPROACHING DROUGHT “DAY ZERO,” read a typical headline. Climate change, for these kids, was not something to read about in books or to fear off in the distance. It was as present and urgent as thirst itself...

Klein, Naomi. On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal (pp. 1-2). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
Video segment link here. Can't as yet find an iFrame video embed link, notwithstanding skulking around in the web page html source code. But, below, a recent related interview essentially covering the same ground:

I've been aware of her work since her Harper's piece "Baghdad Year Zero" (pdf).
…[G]overnments, even neoconservative governments, rarely get the chance to prove their sacred theory right: despite their enormous ideological advances, even George Bush's Republicans are, in their own minds, perennially sabotaged by meddling Democrats, intractable unions, and alarmist environmentalists. 

Iraq was going to change all that. In one place on Earth, the theory would finally be put into practice in its most perfect and uncompromised form. A country of 25 million would not be rebuilt as it was before the war; it would be erased, disappeared. In its place would spring forth a gleaming showroom for laissez- faire economics, a utopia such as the world had never seen. Every policy that liberates multinational corporations to pursue their quest for profit would be put into place: a shrunken state, a flexible workforce, open borders, minimal taxes, no tariffs, no ownership restrictions. The people of Iraq would, of course, have to endure some short-term pain: assets, previously owned by the state, would have to be given up to create new opportunities for growth and investment. Jobs would have to be lost and, as foreign products flooded across the border, local businesses and family farms would, unfortunately, be unable to compete. But to the authors of this plan, these would be small prices to pay for the economic boom that would surely explode once the proper conditions were in place, a boom so powerful the country would practically rebuild itself...
Yeah. And, with respect to the global warming exigency, let's be clear: the barriers to mitigation and reversal are essentially entirely politico-economic. Multinational extractive dirty fuels purveyors and their associated incumbents will not go quietly.

From Why Trust Science?
Professor Oreskes agrees that more work is needed on how to move from science to policy. Yet she insists that when powerful actors to seek to undermine public trust in the science associated with progressive climate policy, the roots of their skepticism are typically not in distrust of science but rather in economic self-interest and ideological commitments. 


I posted this stuff back in 2015 when I was living in the SF Bay Area, now has just a tad of "link rot."


Link (pdf)
The importance of the ocean and cryosphere for people
All people on Earth depend directly or indirectly on the ocean and cryosphere. The global ocean covers 71% of the Earth surface and contains about 97% of the Earth’s water. The cryosphere refers to frozen components of the Earth system1. Around 10% of Earth’s land area is covered by glaciers or ice sheets. The ocean and cryosphere support unique habitats, and are interconnected with other components of the climate system through global exchange of water, energy and carbon. The projected responses of the ocean and cryosphere to past and current human-induced greenhouse gas emissions and ongoing global warming include climate feedbacks, changes over decades to millennia that cannot be avoided, thresholds of abrupt change, and irreversibility…
As reported in The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Earth’s oceans are under severe strain from climate change, a major new United Nations report warns, threatening everything from the ability to harvest seafood to the well-being of hundreds of millions of people living along the coasts.

Rising temperatures are contributing to a drop in fish populations in many regions, and oxygen levels in the ocean are declining while acidity levels are on the rise, posing risks to important marine ecosystems, according to the report issued Wednesday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders in policymaking.

In addition, warmer ocean waters, when combined with rising sea levels, threaten to fuel ever more powerful tropical cyclones and floods, the report said, further imperiling coastal regions and worsening a phenomenon that is already contributing to storms like Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston two years ago.

“The oceans are sending us so many warning signals that we need to get emissions under control,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, a marine biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany and a lead author of the report. “Ecosystems are changing, food webs are changing, fish stocks are changing, and this turmoil is affecting humans.”…
 Read all of it. Rather depressing, but read it all anyway.

A Last Chance to Stop the Deluge
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s newest report lays out the troubles plaguing warming oceans and the ways in which they could get worse.

Today, a baby girl was born. Consider the years of her life—how she’ll think back to her childhood in the Twenties (the 2020s) and become a teenager in the Thirties. If she’s an American citizen, she’ll cast her first vote for president in the 2040 election; she might graduate from college a year or two later. In the year 2050, she’ll turn 31, and she’ll be both fully grown up and young enough to look to the end of the century—and imagine she may get to see it.

We hold the fate of that girl—and of the society she inhabits—in our hands. That’s the message of a blockbuster new report, also released today, from the United Nations-led Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

While the report covers how climate change is reshaping the oceans and ice sheets, its deeper focus is how water, in all its forms, is closely tied to human flourishing…
Again, read all of it.
This release concludes a trilogy of special reports from the IPCC. The first came last October, when it warned that even “moderate” warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius would generate irreparable damage; and the second was published last month, with a summary of how climate change will reshape the planet’s land surface. After this new report, the IPCC will fall silent until 2021, when it will publish its sixth major assessment of climate science.
ERRATUM, New York Times comment:

To the Editor: 
Re “Teen Activist Is Attacked From Right After Speech” (news article, Sept. 25):
While the rest of us are trying to clean up the planet, the right is spending its time insulting Greta Thunberg. If you are a Republican, it’s time to ask yourself the question: What, exactly, do I stand for? If the vast majority of scientists are right and Fox News is wrong, and the planet is really in trouble, how do I feel about jeering and mocking a solitary 16-year-old girl who made a stand for what she believed in?
How did the party of Lincoln become a group of people who are sarcastic and unserious? This is not the Republican Party I remember. We don’t stand with Greta because we like her pigtails. We don’t care about her Asperger’s. We don’t care that she’s young. We stand with her because she’s a leader. She’s relentless.
Jane Warden
Malibu, Calif.
"She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!"
Of course his day would not be complete without his sarcastically insulting someone.

The 21st century is the most important century in human history.

At least that’s what a number of thinkers say. Their argument is pretty simple: Mostly, it’s that there are huge challenges that we have to surmount this century to get any future at all, making this the most consequential of all centuries so far. Furthermore, a solution to those challenges would likely mean a future farther from the brink of destruction — which makes this century more pivotal than future centuries, too.

Not all that long ago — in 1945, with the first wartime use of nuclear weapons — humankind developed the ability to destroy ourselves. Since then, we’ve only gotten better at it. There are now tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, and we’re proceeding at great speed toward other ways to endanger our civilization — from climate change to engineered pandemics to artificial intelligence to other, even more speculative future technologies…
A good read.

More to come... #CoveringClimateNow

Sunday, September 22, 2019

"Covering Climate Now." Blowout!

"The United States is producing more fossil fuels than ever and selling them to the rest of the world as climate change increasingly makes its presence known through heat waves, wildfires, droughts and floods. The environmental, health and socioeconomic impacts of the energy export binge are being felt from the oil fields of West Texas to the vast ports of Asia."
Props to The Real News Network, where I found this being discussed in the wake of an email alert from them.

The trailer:


May 14th, 2019, official White House declaration:

Donald J. Trump Is Unleashing American Energy Dominance

He's not talking wind farms or solar panels or any other non-carbon renewables. And, this bellicose oaf could not care less about climate change.


Collaborating organization The Center for Public Integrity has posted text pages of all of the foregoing.

I've yet to watch the documentary, but I'm an Amazon Prime subscriber, and they are carrying it, so it's definitely on deck for me.


I had no idea that Greta Thunberg is a covert Nazi Youth Spokesmodel.

I think everyone should personally contact Dinesh D'Souza to thank him for alerting us.

Greta speaks before our Congress:
My name is Greta Thunberg, I am 16 years old and I’m from Sweden. I am grateful for being with you here in the USA. A nation that, to many people, is the country of dreams.

I also have a dream: that governments, political parties and corporations grasp the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis and come together despite their differences – as you would in an emergency – and take the measures required to safeguard the conditions for a dignified life for everybody on earth.

Because then – we millions of school striking youth – could go back to school.

I have a dream that the people in power, as well as the media, start treating this crisis like the existential emergency it is. So that I could go home to my sister and my dogs. Because I miss them.

In fact I have many dreams. But this is the year 2019. This is not the time and place for dreams. This is the time to wake up. This is the moment in history when we need to be wide awake…

More to come... #CoveringClimateNow

Thursday, September 19, 2019

"Covering Climate Now." Why should you care?

Those are just the looming individual and "population health" risks (which also map overlappingly to concomitant economic and geopolitical adversities).
I was born in 1946. The U.S. population has doubled since then. World population has more than tripled across that span. We comprise only about 4% of that world population, yet consume 32 times per capita the resources of the poorest nations on the planet. It cannot continue.
Children Know It’s Time to Panic About Climate Change
Teen activist Greta Thunberg has taken on anxieties far beyond her years. Adults should listen.
Franklin Foer

I used to think that one of the gifts of growing older was that anxiety slowly abates with time. When the mind gravitates to the worst-case scenario, the years suggest that it rarely arrives. Experience teaches the brain to stave off its tendency to catastrophize. This is the wisdom that a parent whispers into a child’s ear after a nightmare. Everything will be alright.

Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, the Scandinavian climate activist in fleece and braids, decries this adult capacity to self-soothe. Grown-ups claim to have a monopoly on realism—to possess a superior capacity for assessing risk—but it’s precisely that supposed realism which has led them to delusion. With their rationalizations, and their armor against anxiety, they have failed to grasp the greatest threat of them all, the warming of the planet…
"When I think about climate change, my mind loops in the direction of hope. It generates a thousand reasons to feel reassured. Humans have an incredible capacity to innovate and to band together in the face of crisis, I tell myself—and then order another hamburger."

I am soon to again be a grandfather. My worries are persistent.


The "Anthropocene" villain? The "Capitalocene?"
You and I have the unfortunate honor of facing down a crisis the likes of which our species has never before seen. Rapid climate change of our own making is transforming every bit of ocean and land, imperiling organisms clear across the tree of life. It’s killing people by way of stronger storms and hotter heat waves and unchecked pollution.

You can and should do your part—fly less if you can, buy local foods that haven’t been shipped thousands of miles, get solar panels and an electric car. But let’s not lose sight of the root cause of this crisis: rampant capitalism. Capitalism has steamrolled this planet and its organisms, gouging out mountains, overexploiting fish stocks, and burning fossil fuels to power the maniacal pursuit of growth and enrich a fraction of humanity. Since 1988, 100 corporations have been responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions...
...I would just remind everyone that climate change is bad for ruling classes. It's miserable for all the rest of us over the time spans of 10 and 20 and 30 years, that we're all going to be living through very difficult times. But there will also be times at which the 1 percent, in whatever form that takes, will be thoroughly and radically destabilized. I don't think ruling classes are at all prepared for the kinds of political and cultural transformations that will occur in this period...
Yeah. It could get ugly. I am recurrently reminded of Peter Frase's Quadrant IV.

See also "Money is the oxygen of global warming."


Of course, there's this sentiment:

No less fatuous for its utterly clownish straw man predictability.


If I'm still alive in 2050 (doubt it) I'll be 104.

"0.0143%" -- 1/7,000th, ~ 0.000142857143.

According to Alun Anderson of New Scientist" (as seen in a post entitled "The Sunlight-Powered Future" in response to the question "what makes you optimistic, and why?" at,

"I'm optimistic about…a pair of very big numbers. The first is 4.5 x 10ˆ20. That is the current world annual energy use, measured in joules. It is a truly huge number and not usually a cause for optimism as 70 per cent of that energy comes from burning fossil fuels.

Thankfully, the second number is even bigger: 3,000,000 x 10ˆ20 joules. That is the amount of clean, green energy that pours down on the Earth totally free of charge every year. The Sun is providing 7,000 times as much energy as we are using, which leaves plenty for developing China, India and everyone else. How can we not be optimistic? We don't have a long-term energy problem. Our only worries are whether we can find smart ways to use that sunlight efficiently and whether we can move quickly enough from the energy systems we are entrenched in now to the ones we should be using. Given the perils of climate change and dependence on foreign energy, the motivation is there..."

I've checked a few other sources (e.g., here and here, among others), and his "7,000x" assertion seems well within the ballpark, certainly precise enough for the point I wish to proffer here.

Which is simply this: anyone arguing that we cannot relatively rapidly achieve a net aggregate large-scale solar energy capture-conversion-production-distribution efficiency rate of less than two one-hundreths of one percent (worldwide energy consumption per unit period divided by total solar energy accrual per the same period) is either ignorant or lying
Even adjusting for approximate cumulative global energy use increase across the past 11 years since these data were published (I estimate ~30%), still, ~99.98% of the solar energy hitting our planet annually remains uncaptured and converted for human use.

America’s Great Climate Exodus Is Starting in the Florida Keys
Mass migration begins as coastal homes are bulldozed in the state facing the biggest threat from climate-driven inundation.
Climate Protestors and World Leaders: Same Planet, Different Worlds

UNITED NATIONS — This is the world we live in: Punishing heat waves, catastrophic floods, huge fires and climate conditions so uncertain that children took to the streets en masse in global protests to demand action.

But this is also the world we live in: A pantheon of world leaders who have deep ties to the industries that are the biggest sources of planet-warming emissions, are hostile to protests or use climate science denial to score political points…

More to come... #CoveringClimateNow

Sunday, September 15, 2019

"Covering Climate Now"

Particularly like the wind turbines. Donald Trump hates them--he recently claimed they cause cancer.

This is extremely important. Principally important to get stuff right, given the loud, aggressive Denialism to be overcome. "Investigative Journalism" in the climate science space had better be up to forensic speed.
Guardian joins major global news collaboration Covering Climate Now
The Guardian joins the Nation and Columbia Journalism Review in launching a new partnership among more than 250 news organizations to improve coverage of the climate crisis

Hundreds of newsrooms around the world are banding together this week to commit their pages and air time to what may be the most consequential story of our time: the climate emergency...

The network represents every corner of the media including TV networks (CBS News, Al Jazeera), newspapers (El País, the Toronto Star), digital players (BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Vox), wire services (Getty Images, Bloomberg), magazines (Nature, Scientific American), and dozens of podcasts, local publishers, radio and TV stations.

At the launch of the Covering Climate Now partnership in May, co-founders Mark Hertsgaard of the Nation and Kyle Pope, editor in chief of Columbia Journalism Review, wrote an impassioned oped calling for change in how the media covers the climate crisis.

“At a time when civilization is accelerating toward disaster, climate silence continues to reign across the bulk of the US news media,” Hertsgaard and Pope wrote. “Especially on television, where most Americans still get their news, the brutal demands of ratings and money work against adequate coverage of the biggest story of our time.”

See just one of my prior posts, "Climate change: What we know."

Also, "Baltimore Code Red." And, "More on climate change and health impacts," to cite just a couple more for now.

Everyone should also read this book:
Truthiness. Fake news. Alternative Facts. Since these Princeton Tanner Lectures were delivered in late 2016, the urgency of sorting truth from falsehood—information from disinformation—has exploded into public consciousness. Climate change is a case in point. In the United States in the past two years, devastating hurricanes, floods, and wildfires have demonstrated to ordinary people that the planetary climate is changing and the costs are mounting. Denial is no longer just pig-headed, it is cruel. The American people now understand—as people around the globe have already for some time—that anthropogenic climate change is real and threatening. But how do we convince those who are still in denial, among them the president of the United States, who has withdrawn the United States from the international climate agreement and declared climate change to be a “hoax”? [pg 245]
Even as we disagree about many political issues, our core values overlap to a great degree. To the extent that we can make those areas of agreement clear—and explain how they relate to scientific work—we might be able to overcome the feelings of skepticism and distrust that often prevail, particularly distrust that is rooted in the perception of a clash of values.

So let me be clear about my values.

I wish to prevent avoidable human suffering and to protect the beauty and diversity of life on Earth. I wish to preserve the joy of winter sports, the majesty of coral reefs, and the wonder of giant sequoia trees. I love thunderstorms, but I do not want them to become more dangerous. I do not want flooding and hailstorms and hurricanes to destroy communities and kill innocent people. I do want to make sure that all of our children and grandchildren and generations to come, both in the United States and around the globe, have the same opportunity to live well and prosper that I have had. I don’t want us all to become poorer, as we spend increasing sums of money repairing the damage of climate change, damage that could have been prevented at far lower cost. I don’t believe it is fair for the profits of a few corporations to become the losses of us all. I believe that government is necessary, but I have no desire to expand it unnecessarily...

If we fail to act on our scientific knowledge and it turns out to be right, people will suffer and the world will be diminished.
The evidence for this is overwhelming. On the other hand, if we act on the available scientific conclusions and they turn out to be wrong, well, then, as the cartoonist says, we will have created a better world for nothing. [pp 157-159]
Global warming, "the ultimate mental health issue?"


Story link.

And, The Real News Network has signed on.

Public awareness of the climate crisis has turned a corner. More people than ever understand not only that it’s real and human-caused, but also that it’s the world’s greatest existential threat. Climate action has become a key election issue, and movements are raising expectations of what that action could be.

In recent months, there’s been an uptick in climate coverage (thanks in large part, of course, to organizers). But we need so much more—and deeper, broader, and better—reporting on the climate crisis.

We need media that explains how carbon emissions create more hurricanes and heat waves and forest fires. We need media that explores how we can adapt. We need to hear from more kinds of people and about more kinds of solutions. We need to hear more about climate justice, because poor people, especially people of color and especially in the Global South, are often hit hardest. We need hyperlocal stories and global ones. And we need to hear more about the industries and policymakers who are responsible for the mess we’re in.

That’s why we’re proud to be a part of Covering Climate Now along with over 220 other news outlets...
Excellent. Kudos.

CBS onboard:

Throwing a billion news consumers behind coverage of the climate crisis
A CBS News poll showing that most Americans want to tackle the climate crisis right away. A PBS interview with Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist from Sweden who recently arrived in the US on an emissions-free yacht. A story in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, in West Virginia, mapping the growing conversation about climate change in the coal-rich state. A whole issue of Lapham’s Quarterly. A video by The Intercept in which Naomi Klein, the writer and activist, explains how the plastic straws hawked by the Trump campaign help explain wrongheaded conservative—and liberal—responses to the climate crisis. (“What we are witnessing is a temper tantrum against the mere suggestion that there are limits to what we can consume,” Klein says.) A Variety interview with Javier Bardem.

These are among the stories published as part of Covering Climate Now, a major new initiative from CJR and The Nation, in partnership with The Guardian, that aims to increase the visibility of the climate crisis in our media. Covering Climate Now’s debut project—eight days of dedicated climate coverage by partner news organizations—launched yesterday and will end a week from today, to coincide with the Climate Action Summit at the United Nations in New York. The initiative isn’t limited to the US: in total, more than 250 outlets from around the world signed on, throwing a combined audience of more than 1 billion people behind the project. Our partners include Bloomberg; Agence France-Presse; the Toronto Star; La Repubblica, in Italy; Asahi Shimbun, in Japan; El País, in Spain; News18, in India; Daily Maverick, in South Africa, and the Daily Mirror, in the UK. (You can find a full list here.)...
I hope this initiative will have Legs.



Just finished this book. Frank. Perceptive. Inspiring.

Will review it soon.

More to come... #CoveringClimateNow#ClimateEmergency #globalwarming

Friday, September 13, 2019

"ocracies," "archies," and "isms"

Not too long ago, AAAS' Science Magazine published an article entitled "The crisis of democracy and the science of deliberation." 
That there are more opportunities than ever for citizens to express their views may be, counterintuitively, a problem facing democracy—the sheer quantitative overabundance overloads policymakers and citizens, making it difficult to detect the signal amid the noise. This overload has been accompanied by marked decline in civility and argumentative complexity. Uncivil behavior by elites and pathological mass communication reinforce each other. How do we break this vicious cycle? Asking elites to behave better is futile so long as there is a public ripe to be polarized and exploited by demagogues and media manipulators. Thus, any response has to involve ordinary citizens; but are they up to the task? Social science on “deliberative democracy” offers reasons for optimism about citizens' capacity to avoid polarization and manipulation and to make sound decisions. The real world of democratic politics is currently far from the deliberative ideal, but empirical evidence shows that the gap can be closed...
My initial reactions were [1] "is there really a 'science' of deliberation?"* and [2] the sanguine assumption of the continuing global 1st-place socioeconomic-political preferability of "democracy" might just be a bit shaky.
* how about "The Science of Compassion?" The "Science of Success?" etc.

"ocracies," "archies," and "isms"

Think of a large, multi- (large and small) category Venn Diagram, in no particular order (and comprised of significant conceptual / semantic overlaps). e.g.,




Classic Liberalism





You get the idea. I'm sure I missed some. And, many of the foregoing obviously coexist contemporaneously. This was just off the top of my head.
Moreover, we know that many, if not most, of the foregoing terms get cavalierly tossed around as political epithets.
I am always reminded of my cite of Frase's "Four Futures." Add another "ism?"--"Exterminism."

Notwithstanding the post-Citizens United U.S. regime of "one-dollar-one-vote," count me firmly in the actual "democracy" camp (with an egalitarian bias). Count me also a believer in the proposition that science is crucial to democracy. to wit, citing my current read in progress "Why Trust Science"--
[Dr. Oreskes] provides a fascinating discussion of the difficult question—vital to the role of science in a democracy—of non-expert opinion and how scientists should respond to it. Non-scientists—from nurses and midwives to farmers and fishermen—often have information or evidence relevant to science-based decisions. Patients have vital information about their symptoms. Yet, “Just because someone is close to an issue does not mean he or she understands it; conventional notions of objectivity assume distance for just this reason.” The cases help illustrate and sharpen the distinction between reliable scientific authority and the interest and ideology-based pseudoscientific dissent we witness surrounding climate change, evolution, and vaccines. [pg 6]

Scientists are supposed to be authorities, but the concern here is that this can slide into arrogance and dogmatism. It can slide into intellectual authoritarianism; Termier’s authoritarian status could make it difficult for others to question his theory. The spirit of critical inquiry would be suppressed and scientific progress would be impeded, because no one would feel free to challenge or improve upon the idea.

The American preference for inductive methodology was thus linked by its advocates to American political ideals of pluralism, egalitarianism, open-mindedness, and democracy. They believed that Termier’s approach was typically European—that European science, like European culture, tended toward the anti-democratic. American geologists thus explicitly linked their inductive methodology to American democracy and culture, arguing that the inductive method was the appropriate one for America because it refused to grant a privileged position to any theory and therefore any theorist. Deduction was consistent with autocratic European ways of thinking and acting; induction was consistent with democratic American ways of thinking and acting. Their methodological preferences were grounded in their political ideals.
[pg 84]

[W]ith the rise of fascism in the 1930s, the international scientific community began a sustained philosophical construction of free scientific inquiry as a guarantee of healthy democracy, a uniquely pure endeavor. [pg 167]
With the current rise of Trumpism, the stakes have become rather existential.


From the always excellent Naked Capitalism:
Dude, where’s my democracy?

Democracy is unwell, so it is said. In America and other leading democracies citizens are apparently increasingly critical of the concept of liberal democracy. We argue this is a misdiagnosis; citizens are not critical of liberal democracy – it is the lack of democracy which is the problem.

Citizens are attracted to strong leaders (so-called “populists”) which are prepared to challenge the prevailing system, not because they distrust democracy, but because they perceive the prevailing system is fundamentally undemocratic.

The solution is not further to limit democracy for fear of popular leaders, but rather to increase democratic accountability, and therefore legitimacy...
Always read the comments there under the posts. Also excellent.


"The danger of science denial."

I LOL'd at this at 10:25
“We hate Big Pharma. We hate Big Government. We don’t trust The Man, and we shouldn’t. Our healthcare system sucks. It’s cruel to millions of people. It’s absolutely astonishingly cold and soul-deadening to those of us who can even afford it. So we run away from it, and where do we run? We LEAP into the arms of Big Placebo.”
Watch all of it. Time well spent.


Just bought and downloaded a new book:

Dr. Makary is an advocate for health care innovation, writing in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. He has written extensively on organizational culture, the science of measuring quality in medicine, and health care reform. Dr. Makary is principle investigator of a Robert Wood Foundation Grant to lower health care costs in the U.S. by creating physician-endorsed measures of appropriate medical care and directs the national “Improving Wisely” project to reduce waste in medicine. He speaks nationally on disruptive innovation in health care.
I'd cited his prior book "Unaccountable" back in 2012. My wife just saw him on CSPAN and alerted me to his new book.


apropos, see my prior post "Can Medicine Be Cured?"

More to come...