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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 the resources of the poorest nations on the planet. It cannot continue.

More to come...

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...

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Juul of Denial

From The Atlantic:
Vaping Falls in Trump’s Crosshairs
A national ban on flavored e-cigarettes is coming.

After a year of regulatory pressure from the Food and Drug Administration and weeks of alarming news about Americans hospitalized with a sometimes lethal illness linked to vaporizers, the Trump administration and FDA officials are poised to take unprecedented action on e-cigarettes. In remarks delivered in the Oval Office earlier today, Donald Trump announced that his administration is working on “very strong recommendations” for the vaping market, including a total ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

“We can’t allow people to get sick, and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” Trump said. His concerns echo those of many public-health advocates in the United States, who say that e-cigarettes’ kid-friendly flavors like mango and mint have stoked sharp increases in American adolescent vaping in the past five years. In a 2018 survey by the National Institute of Health, almost 21 percent of U.S. high-school students reported using a nicotine vape in the past 30 days, a rate nearly double that of the same period in 2017.

The popularity of vaping has helped erase the gradual decline in youth tobacco use that the country has seen in the past 20 years, worrying parents and forcing educators to take desperate measures, like removing doors from school restrooms—a popular location for surreptitious use of e-cigarettes…
 And, well, of course, there's an "American Vaping Association" lobbyist group out there now having a policy aneurism over stringent regulatory prospects.

"Wherever there is a battle that will impact consumer choice and the ability of businesses to sell reduced harm products, the American Vaping Association (AVA) is there to help.

Since beginning operations in early-2014, the AVA has emerged as one of the most vocal voices arguing for fair and sensible policy towards vapor products and electronic cigarettes. The AVA has not been shy to identify and criticize those trying to destroy the growing vaping industry, whether they be governmental agencies or health activist groups…"
How noble. From their Twitter account: "#Vaping Saves Lives."

From the AVA Facebook page:

Yeah, sure.

Just for grins, I logged in to my Guidestar account and looked up their most recently available (2017) IRS-990. A chump change outfit as lobby orgs go; $322k gross revenue, all execs reportedly working gratis.

All "zero hours." What does that tell you? Need I really explain? (One clue is in their IRS-990 "Schedule O.")

BTW, they're a 501(c)(4), a "social welfare organization." Lordy. SMH.

On Instagram:

Right. Wonder what Dr. Oreskes would have to say about this issue?

"Vaping industry panics..."

 Try to imagine my lack of sympathy.

"I’ll tell you why I like the cigarette business. It costs a penny to make. Sell it for a dollar. It’s addictive..."
Wait for it,
Gutfreund placed a call to one of Salomon‘s most influential directors, Warren Buffett. Buffett was renowned as one of Wall Street’s most intelligent investors. His prognostications could move markets, and often did. He wasn’t a quick buck Artist – no raiding for Warren Buffett. Buffett invested the old fashioned way: buy and hold. He had bought a 12% holding in Salomon the previous fall, rescuing Gutfreund from the hostile overtures of Ron Perlman. 

When Buffett came on the line, Gutfreund put him on speakerphone and laid out the situation in detail. What should they do?

Go for it, Buffett advised. Once one of RJR‘s largest shareholders, he knew tobacco and liked it. “I’ll tell you why I like the cigarette business,“ he said. “It costs a penny to make. Sell it for a dollar. It’s addictive. And there’s fantastic brand loyalty.” [Barbarians at the Gates, 1990, page 218]


More to come...

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Monday, September 9, 2019

BREAKING: U.S. healthcare has been SOLVED!

I recently saw this on Facebook, so it must be true.
Meet the man who is disrupting the $8 TRILLION healthcare industry.

For years, health professionals have been doing their best to help people improve their health. Sadly, working “within the system” doesn’t pan out for many of them.

Insurance issues. Overwhelming amounts of admin. And some clients not willing to truly do what’s needed to improve their condition.

All of that, combined with little to no business or marketing education makes it tough for many health professionals to build thriving practices (online or offline).

But one man is changing this.

By equipping health professionals with a simple business model to predictably attract their ideal clients and serve them at a higher level without sacrificing their OWN time, happiness, or health in the process…

...Yuri Elkaim, founder of Healthpreneur®, is revolutionizing how health professionals are using the internet to grow their businesses.

After spending more than 7 years (and a lot of ups and downs) building his own health and fitness business to great heights - including helping more than 500,000 people to better health, writing a #2 New York Times bestselling book, building a Youtube channel to more than 284,000 subscribers, and a blog that gets close to 1 MILLION unique visitors per month…

Yuri quickly realized that following “common” advice for building a business - online or offline - simply doesn’t work as promised for health professionals.

The blogging, vlogging, endless social media, creating courses, word of mouth, and even writing books to get one’s “name out there” is a path to despair for many practitioners who would rather spend more of their time coaching and serving their clients rather than becoming internet marketers.

As a result, Yuri experimented with and eventually perfected a smarter, simpler, and faster way of getting more clients and building a leaner, more systemized coaching practice.

In fact, there are only 4 steps.

There’s no fancy tech, you don’t need a website, and you don’t even need an online following.

But you do need to have expertise and confidence to transform someone’s health.

And this week, Yuri is hosting a free online workshop where he’ll show you everything you need to know to put this simple 4-step blueprint to work to grow your business (without burning out in the process) within the next few months.

Grab your spot here right now:
Okeee-dokeee, then.

Go to that link, and this is all you see.

And, this is the concomitant URL that appears:
OK, back this part out:
And click the remaining

And you end up forthwith here, at

Spend some time watching their videos. Quality entertainment, that stuff. The jokes just write themselves.

Hmmm... OK, ""

Let's go there.
What is Healthpreneur and How Can It Help You?
Healthpreneur® is the industry-leading coaching and training company for health professionals who want to get more clients and scale their practices and coaching businesses, while deeply impacting their clients and providing the income and freedom to live an amazing life.

We do so by helping you implement and master 3 key areas – ATTRACT, CONVERT, and DELIVER (and the 9 “accelerators” within them) that allow you to build a “legacy”, not just a business.

Sign up today! Healthcare has been solved! Is this a great country or what?
(BTW, bro' it's closer to FOUR trillion $ this year, not "eight.")

The direct, transformative core relevance to the healthcare space could not be more obvious, right?


Wonder if "Yuri" and his peeps will be presenting at Heakth2con next week? A primo audience, I would think.


My latest Science Magazine issue just came in the mail. This book is therein reviewed. From the Amazon blurb: 
Do doctors really know what they are talking about when they tell us vaccines are safe? Should we take climate experts at their word when they warn us about the perils of global warming? Why should we trust science when our own politicians don't? In this landmark book, Naomi Oreskes offers a bold and compelling defense of science, revealing why the social character of scientific knowledge is its greatest strength—and the greatest reason we can trust it...
Ahhh... "science." Add another book to the pile.


Naomi's book will not be released until October 22nd. That is gonna make me crazy.

A bit more info:

“Naomi Oreskes’ research focuses on the Earth and environmental sciences, with a particular interest in understanding scientific consensus and dissent.”
to wit:

apropos, see my prior "Baltimore Code Red" post.

Indeed. And, is there in fact a "Science of deliberation?"

Well, I have a ton of other books to study 'til Naomi's book comes out, but, [bleep].


First, I asked Princeton University Press for a comp pre-pub review galley of Why Trust Science? and they gave me one. Extremely grateful. Stay tuned.
…As extreme weather events become more common, sea levels rise, and climate-induced migrations flow across borders, nations around the world confront mounting costs and humanitarian crises. Yet so-called experts do not always agree. A local television meteorologist may report that it is merely “some speculation from scientists” that global warming is contributing to extreme weather events, such as the “polar vortex” that hit the Upper Midwest and Northeast of the United States in late January 2019. On another channel, a scientist at a well-regarded research center insists that “we know why . . . . It’s all because of human activities increasing the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that trap a lot more heat down by the surface.”…

In Why Trust Science? Professor Naomi Oreskes provides clear and compelling answers to the questions of when and why scientific findings are reliable. She explains the basis for trust in science in highly readable prose, and illustrates her argument with vivid examples of science working as it should, and as it should not, on matters central to our lives. Readers will find here a vigorous defense of the trustworthiness of scientific consensus based not on any particular method or on the qualities of scientists, but on science’s character as a collective enterprise.

A distinguished scientist and historian of science, Professor Naomi Oreskes has also emerged as one of the world’s clearest and most influential voices on the role of science in society and the reality of man-made climate change…
[pp. 1-2]

Second, Dr. Oreskes is an author of a very interesting prior book:

"Now a powerful documentary from the acclaimed director of Food Inc., Merchants of Doubt was one of the most talked-about climate change books of recent years, for reasons easy to understand: It tells the controversial story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. The same individuals who claim the science of global warming is "not settled" have also denied the truth about studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. "Doubt is our product," wrote one tobacco executive. These "experts" supplied it."

Next,  NBC News has announced the establishment of a "Climate Unit," and will run a "Climate in Crisis" series next week.

NBC News has created a new Climate Unit dedicated to covering the most important issues affecting the environment globally. As part of the Climate Unit's debut, NBC News, MSNBC, Telemundo and NBC News Digital will kick off "Climate in Crisis," a week-long series focused on climate issues, beginning Sunday, September 15.
For the series, Al Roker traveled to Kulusuk, Greenland where he flew with NASA on a first-of-its-kind Oceans Melting Greenland mission, which examined the role the ocean plays in melting glaciers. Roker spent days studying the climate's effect on Greenland's coastline. His reports will air throughout the week on TODAY.
Additionally, Lester Holt will travel to Alaska, where he lived as a child when his father served in the U.S. Air Force, to cover the impact of climate on the region's landscape. He will take an in-depth look at the effect of climate on Alaska's natural wonders, including the Portage Glacier, and he'll also explore the thawing Alaskan permafrost threatening communities. Holt's special segment will air on Nightly News Monday, September 16...

More to come...

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Baltimore Code Red: climate change, public health, and environmental justice

Interesting reporting by NPR, Capital News Service, and the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland.

Great job.

Below, on the right side, the green-shaded "income" map, upper midline scraggly "L" shaped area in the darkest green. That's where Cheryl and I now live (point of the red arrow, just west of York Road) in the "Homeland District," north of nearby Johns Hopkins University and south of equally nearby Towson University.

I can attest to the stultifying heat this summer in Baltimore. There were days I never went outside at all, it was just too hot. And our affluent neighborhood is a heavily wooded, bucolic, relatively cooler "shire."


Having lived in Las Vegas for 21 years (1992-2013), I am hardly a stranger to blistering heat, but this is way different. And, it's only likely to get worse across a breadth of climate parameters.

I could not recommend the Code Red reporting more highly. Kudos to the Howard Center, CSN, and NPR.
URBAN HEAT ISLANDS VIVIDLY ILLUSTRATE the price humans will pay in the world’s growing climate crisis. With an abundance of concrete and little shade, they get hotter faster and stay hotter longer. And the people who live there are often sicker, poorer and less able to protect themselves.

Rising temperatures in these neighborhoods will mean more trips to the hospital for heart, kidney and lung ailments. Drugs to treat mental illness and diabetes won’t work as well. Pregnant women will give birth to children with more medical problems.

Solutions exist. But growing more trees, repairing the frayed social fabric of a neighborhood or rebuilding streets and sidewalks to reflect heat are expensive — and take time. For cities like Baltimore, the clock is ticking…
Speaking of "investigative journalism," recall my prior citing of this fine book (scroll down in the linked post):

I will have to email James (he gave me that book). He is surely aware of the Howard Center (he's at Stanford).

apropos of our climate issues, from one of my current reads:

...[P]eople with low consumptions want to enjoy the high consumption lifestyle themselves. They have two ways of achieving it. First, governments of developing countries consider an increase in living standards, including consumption rates, as a prime goal of national policy. Second, tens of millions of people in the developing world are unwilling to wait to see whether their government can deliver high living standards within their lifetime. Instead, they seek the first world lifestyle now, by emigrating to the first world, with or without permission: especially by emigrating to Western Europe and the US, and also to Australia; and especially from Africa and parts of Asia, and also from Central and South America. It's proving impossible to keep out the immigrants. Each such transfer of a person from a low consumption to a high consumption country raises world consumption rates, even though most immigrants don't succeed immediately and increasing their consumption by the entire factor of 32.

Is everybody's dream of achieving a first world lifestyle possible? Consider the numbers. Multiply current national numbers of people by national per capita consumption rates (the oil, metals, water etc.) for each country, and add up those products over the whole world. The resulting sum is the current world consumption rate of that resource. Now repeat this calculation, but with all developing countries achieving a first world consumption rate of up to 32 times higher than their current ones, and no change in national populations or in anything else about the world. The result is that world consumption rates will increase by 11 fold. That's equivalent to a world population of about 80 billion people with the present distribution of per capita consumption rates.

There are some optimists who claim that we can support a world with 9.5 billion people. But I haven't met any optimist mad enough to claim that we can support a world with the equivalent of 80 billion people. Yet we promise developing countries that, if they will only adopt good policies, like honest government and free market economies, they too can become like the first world today. That promise is utterly impossible, a cruel hoax. We are already having difficulty supporting a first world lifestyle even now, when only 1 billion people out of the world's 7.5 billion people enjoy it.

We Americans often refer to growing consumption in China and other developing countries as "a problem," and we wish that the "problem" didn't exist. Well, of course the so-called problem will continue: the Chinese and the people of other developing countries are just trying to enjoy the consumption rates that we already enjoy. They wouldn't listen if we were so silly as to tell them not to try to do what we are already doing. The only sustainable outcome for our globalized world that China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, African countries, and other developing countries will accept is one in which consumption rates and living standards are more nearly equal around the world. But the world doesn't have enough resources to sustainably support the current first world, yet alone the developing world, at current first world levels. Does that mean that we are guaranteed to end up in disaster?
Note: we could have a stable outcome in which first world and other countries converged on consumption rates considerably below current first world rates. Most Americans would object: there is no way that we will sacrifice our living standards just for the benefit of those people out there in the rest of the world! As Dick Cheney said, "the American way of life is non-negotiable." But the cruel realities of world resource levels guaranteed that the American way of life will change; those realities of world resources cannot be negotiated out of existence. We Americans certainly will sacrifice our consumption rates, whether we decide to do so or not, because the world can't sustain our current rates... [Jarrod Diamond, Upheaval, pages 413 – 415]
More; I just finished this book yesterday.

In the past the pace of change was slow and incremental, but over the last century it has become fast and furious. Global temperature is rising, along with unusual weather patterns. Forests are burning. Deserts are expanding. The seas are rising. The rate of species extinction is accelerating.

Many alarmed observers have called for efforts to “save the planet” by reversing, or at least slowing, the changes we have wrought. Others, though, have been swayed by the belief system of climate change deniers who insist that the relevant research is a hoax.

The astrophysicist Adam Frank believes that those concerned with our current situation are right to worry. Human actions, he says, are indeed having adverse consequences, and, he argues, are on target to drastically modify the physical and biological constitution of the Earth. But we won’t destroy it. Quoting Lynn Margulis, originator of the endosymbiotic theory of multicellular life, Frank says: “Gaia is a tough bitch.” Our planet, Frank reminds us, has survived significant geophysical disasters and mass extinctions in the past and will persist. But if we don’t make corrections soon, it may not persist in a way that will support the current configuration of organisms, including us.

Bacteria and archaea, the ultimate survivors, will surely make it. Large multicellular organisms with voracious energy appetites may have a harder time. We know from past mass extinctions that opportunities arise for those who survive. The biological experiments that result will likely create a very different profile of life on Earth. And without us mucking around the way we do, the natural order of things might reach a more stable equilibrium. The philosopher Todd May, pondering such issues, recently asked, “Would human extinction be a tragedy?” He concluded that the world might well be better off without us. But his key question was, Would a world without our kind be a tragedy, given that we have achieved such remarkable things as a species?

Autonoetic consciousness is ultimately personal and selfish, and at its worst moments, narcissistic. Self-consciousness, according to Christophe Menant, is also the root of evil. At the same time it may be our sole hope for a future.

With our autonoetically conscious minds, we have constructed conceptual guidelines, such as morality and ethics, to help make difficult decisions, for example, about our way of life. Only self-conscious minds can come to the realization, as Todd May’s mind did, that we have an obligation to confront our selfish nature for the good of humankind as a whole. But in the end, this is a value judgment, one based on the assumption that our achievements are special.

Autonoesis allows us to care about our differences, and bemoan their possible demise. There’s nothing wrong with that. But perhaps we can sustain some version of our way of life without asking too much from other organisms. Doing so might well avert drastic changes in the configuration of life—the balance of biological power—that climactic change can bring. Remember, small mammals with low energy needs rose to the top of the food chain when conditions became less favorable for larger, energy-demanding, reptilian predators that had dominated with abandon.

We persist as individuals only if we persist as a species. We don’t have time for biological evolution to come to the rescue—it’s too slow a process. We have to depend on the more rapid avenues of change—cognitive and cultural evolution, which, in turn, depend on our autonoetic brains and their choices. In the end, it is indeed consciousness in which we must place our trust.

LeDoux, Joseph. The Deep History of Ourselves (pp. 377-380). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I am soon to again be a grandfather. What kind of world will my grandson inherit?

One specific area of journalism I hope takes root at The Howard Center is that of credible and effective "Science Journalism." In a time of rampant aggressive denialism, the need is increasingly acute. The Code Red effort is a nice step in that direction.

BTW, see my February post "Selling Science."


Baltimore inner harbor: What's in the water?


The world is getting hotter, but climate change doesn’t mean bitter cold weather will disappear.

Cold weather causes serious, life-altering problems for people with chronic health conditions.

In Baltimore, low-income people struggling to pay heating bills in drafty homes are most at risk, and the government is struggling to protect them.
Read all of it here.


More to come...