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Sunday, October 20, 2019

What exactly IS "the fourth industrial revolution?"

A Slate article got my attention.
If ["the Fourth Industrial Revolution"] strikes you as the sort of futurist buzzspeak you’d expect to hear at a rich guy conference or printed on a consultant’s slide deck, well, that’s because it is. The Fourth Industrial Revolution was the title of a 2016 book by Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, and was a theme this year at the group’s annual summit in Davos, Switzerland, which brings together the world’s jet set each winter to hob knob and listen drowsily to panel discussions before hitting very expensive private parties.

Many economists would tell you that we have lived through three industrial revolutions. The first started with the steam engine, the second was brought about by advances like electricity, and the third saw the rise of computing. Schwab says we’re at the start of a fourth, which he describes as “a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” Think artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, self-driving cars, 3D printing, biotech, cybernetics, and such. At Davos, Schwab wanted attendees to contemplate not just how these new innovations could usher in brilliant new advances for business and humanity, but also the danger that they would lead to greater inequality…
"Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. Artificially-intelligent robots. Self-driving cars. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing. The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed. Previous industrial revolutions liberated humankind from animal power, made mass production possible and brought digital capabilities to billions of people. This Fourth Industrial Revolution is, however, fundamentally different. It is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human."
BTW, in the foregoing video, Dr. Naomi Oreskes at 05:08 - 05:44.

Naomi is awesome, but sometimes I wish some of these other Serious Futurist Thinkers would get their nomenclatures straight.

In the nineteenth century, steam-powered printing and the telegraph, abundant coal, and locomotives on national rail systems meshed in a common general-purpose technology platform to manage, power, and move society, giving rise to the First Industrial Revolution. In the twentieth century, centralized electricity, the telephone, radio and television, cheap oil, and internal combustion vehicles on national road systems converged to create an infrastructure for the Second Industrial Revolution.

Now, we are in the midst of a Third Industrial Revolution. The digitalized Communication Internet is converging with a digitized Renewable Energy Internet, powered by solar and wind electricity, and a digitized Mobility and Logistics Internet of autonomous electric and fuel-cell vehicles, powered by green energy, atop an Internet of Things (IoT) platform, embedded in the commercial, residential, and industrial building stock, that will transform society and the economy in the twenty-first century. Sensors are being attached to every device, appliance, machine, and contrivance, connecting every “thing” with every human being in a digital neural network that extends across the entire global economy. Already, billions of sensors are attached to resource flows, warehouses, road systems, factory production lines, the electricity transmission grid, offices, homes, stores, and vehicles, continually monitoring their status and performance and feeding Big Data back to the emerging Communication Internet, Renewable Energy Internet, and Mobility and Logistics Internet. By 2030, there could be trillions of sensors connecting the human and natural environment in a global distributed intelligent network.

Connecting everything and everyone via the Internet of Things offers enormous economic benefits. In this expanded digital economy, individuals, families, and enterprises will be able to connect in their homes and workplaces to the IoT and access Big Data flowing across the World Wide Web that affects their supply chains, production and services, and every aspect of their social lives. They can then mine that Big Data with their own analytics and create their own algorithms and apps to increase their aggregate efficiency and productivity, reduce their carbon footprint, and lower the marginal cost of producing, distributing, and consuming goods and services and recycling waste, making their businesses and homes greener and more efficient in an emerging postcarbon global economy. (Marginal cost is the cost of producing an additional unit of a good or service after fixed costs have been absorbed.)…

Rifkin, Jeremy (2019-09-09T23:58:59). The Green New Deal. St. Martin's Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
"Third?" Fourth?" Whatever.

Yeah, and that thought always takes me back to Frase's "Quadrant IV."
The Trump "Administration" and their entrenched economic status quo incumbent sector have made absolutely no secret of their belligerent ad hominem opposition to anything they characterize as "socialism." Just in case you've not been paying attention.


They're doing great work.

BTW, see one of my prior AI posts:

"Assuming / Despite / If / Then / Therefore / Else..." Could AI do "argument analysis?"


More to come...

Thursday, October 17, 2019

"An apparent preference for policymaking ignorance"

“An apparent preference for ignorance is not unique to healthcare. Policies across governments at all levels are put in place without plans to to find out if they work or how to unwind them if they don’t, or how to build on them if they do.” —Aaron Carroll, MD
That quote comes at 05:39 in the video below.

Very nice segment. Kudos.

Ahhh... there's that pesky word "evidence" again. What rationally ("scientifically") counts as "evidence?"
On January 14, 2019, the President signed H.R. 4174, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (pdf) of 2018, which became Public Law 115-435. The bill passed the House, as amended, on November 15, 2017. The Senate then passed the bill with additional amendments by unanimous consent on December 19, 2018.

OK, §311(4), citing 44.USC.3561(6),
(6) Evidence.-The term "evidence" means information produced as a result of statistical activities conducted for a statistical purpose.
There you go, the official federal definition of "evidence" (as it pertains to "policymaking/legislating" anyway). See any potential problems there?

Further down:
(10) Statistical activities.—The term “statistical activities”—
(A) means the collection, compilation, processing, or analysis of data for the purpose of describing or making estimates concerning the whole, or relevant groups or components within, the economy, society, or the natural environment; and
(B) includes the development of methods or resources that support those activities, such as measurement methods, models, statistical classifications, or sampling frames.
(11) Statistical agency or unit.—
The term “statistical agency or unit” means an agency or organizational unit of the executive branch whose activities are predominantly the collection, compilation, processing, or analysis of information for statistical purposes, as designated by the Director under section 3562.
(12) Statistical purpose.—The term “statistical purpose”—
(A) means the description, estimation, or analysis of the characteristics of groups, without identifying the individuals or organizations that comprise such groups; and
(B) includes the development, implementation, or maintenance of methods, technical or administrative procedures, or information resources that support the purposes described in subparagraph (A)
All well and good, as far as it goes. Ironic that the utterly anti-science klepto-kakistocrat U.S. President currrently in office signed it into law. Problematic as well, given that he simply, routinely ignores empirical and logical evidence or advice he doesn't like. Doing credible policy science does not come on the cheap. If an administration summarily blows off politically inconvenient research findings, all we do is end up wasting more money.
"Why Trust Science?" author Dr. Naomi Oreskes notes that many people don't disbelieve science per se; they (selectively) reject its frequently disruptive policy implications--i.e., they opt for fallacious inertial "motivated reasoning." As my old IHC healthcare QI mentor Dr. Brent James liked to quip, "the only person who enjoys change is a baby with a wet diaper."

Speaking of "quant" stuff:

...In this collection, we present some of the mathematical gems from the pages of Scientific American since the turn of the millennium. We start with a collection of articles about some of the most important purely mathematical results of the past few decades, the frontiers of the field. In Section 2, we explore the body mathematic: the way mathematical modeling is helping scientists understand biology. Section 3 is about mathematics in service of physics. The two fields have been closely entwined for millennia, and their coevolution continues today. Section 4 is about the role of mathematics in the way human beings relate to each other: politics, art, and of course trying to keep or steal secrets.

Though mathematics has created ever-more-powerful tools for modeling the world and computing with precision, we must also reckon with its limitations. In Section 5, we bring you one article from the deep vaults, a 1956 exploration of Kurt Gödel’s groundbreaking incompleteness theorems. He showed that there are questions mathematics will never answer, no matter what axioms we choose and how deeply we commit ourselves to studying them. Since then, mathematicians have continued to probe the limitations of the discipline, seeking to define the very boundaries of what humans can know.
[Kindle Locations 55-64].
My version of a Cliff's Notes refresher, I guess.


We've now been in Baltimore for 6 months. Elijah's (obviously gerrymandered) district bordered, among otther locations, the east side of York Road, a few blocks from our location in the Homeland District just west of York. I knew he'd been ill, but was not aware just how severely. RIP, Sir. Our condolences to his family and friends.


Science Magazine arrived in the snailmail today.

Among numerous other topics, this book below is reviewed (paywalled), along with Naomi Klein's "On Fire."

…A key threat to concerted action is climate skepticism, coupled with a drastic shift in the intensity of emotional responses related to climate issues. When challenging a person's position on an issue means challenging a central tenet of their identity, facts can be perceived as attacks and are easily deflected. Klein maintains, however, that enhancing communication and tying climate change to other concerns, including the economy and social justice, will help mitigate these threats.

Amid increasing tension between climate advocates and those disavowing climate change, a shift in values is occurring. Today's activists understand that to change environmental policy requires confronting the values of “rampant greed and individualism” that led to the economic crisis. Social change, Klein contends, begins with radically altering how we relate to each other (and to nature), accepting our collective responsibility to future generations, and respecting the interconnection of all life.

Economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin, whose work has inspired climate legislation in China and in various countries in the European Union (E.U.), is well positioned to advocate for this new political vision. In The Green New Deal, Rifkin confronts skepticism about the feasibility of making a transition of the scale required by countering that we are already making these changes in many global regions. It is time, he argues, for the United States to join the E.U. and China as leaders toward a zero-carbon economy…

Rifkin highlights another potential tipping point, arguing that emerging renewable energies are driving humanity to the “collapse of the fossil fuel civilization.” He cites a 2018 study (2) that concluded that a “carbon bubble”—in which fossil fuel prices will be reduced to compete with renewable prices—would lead to economic and environmental damage if not deflated early. He believes that we can avoid this with rapid decarbonization.

In the second part of the book, Rifkin describes his vision for a Green New Deal in detail, highlighting lessons learned from climate policies in the E.U. and in China…
You can just hear Dennis Prager's head exploding. In 2001, Rifkin was noted in Time as "The most hated man in science."

Founder and president, Foundation on Economic Trends; former advisory board member, EarthSave International; national council member, Farm Animal Reform MovementJeremy Rifkin, the founder and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends (FOET), is the intellectual guru of the neo-Luddites, especially as their anti-technology principles apply to food. He is the author of 16 books, most of them littered with errors and false predictions. A professional scaremonger who has been called “the most hated man in science” by TIME magazine, Rifkin nonetheless has a wide following and genuine influence on public policy debates. National Journal magazine named Rifkin one of the 150 people in the U.S. that have the most influence in shaping federal government policy for his “skillfully manipulated legal and bureaucratic procedures to slow the pace of biotechnology.”
Rifkin’s international campaigns against beef consumption and genetically enhanced crops are motivated by his anti-technology philosophy. Rifkin disparages efficiency, promotes “empathy” with nature, and thinks human beings were better off in less advanced centuries. Always prone to exaggeration, Rifkin wrote in his book Beyond Beef that giving up steaks and burgers “is a revolutionary act” that heralds “a new chapter in the unfolding of human consciousness.”
Hmmm... Below, his book tagline:

While I am persuaded of the exigent global anthropocene problem we face, "fossil fuel civilization collapse" nine years from now knocks my bullshit detectors a notch. I'm not sure he has the Sheet to assert that credibly (in fairness, critics could look at my heterodox late-bloomer CV [pdf] and offer up a similar gripe).  

[Rifkin] was president of the graduating class of 1967 at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Economics at the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce. Rifkin was also the recipient of the University of Pennsylvania's General Alumni Association's Award of Merit 1967. He had an epiphany when one day in 1967 he walked past a group of students protesting the Vietnam War and picketing the administration building and was amazed to see, as he recalls, that "my frat friends were beating the living daylights out of them. I got very upset." He organized a freedom-of-speech rally the next day. From then on, Rifkin quickly became an active member of the peace movement. He attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (MA, International Affairs, 1968) where he continued anti-war activities...
Dunno. Just have some concerns at this point. Mulling buying his book for study and evaluation. Some of the "free preview" stuff is intriguing.

Rifkin on YouTube:



Opening on Netflix today. Trailer below.

The documentary series UNNATURAL SELECTION explores new developments in the science of gene-editing that defy evolution and raise moral, social and environmental impact questions about where we, as a society, draw the line.
I'm now a Netflix subscriber. I will watch all of this ASAP. Wonder what Mr. Rifkin would have to say about this topic. From STATnews:
Mankind’s ability to edit the fabric of human life has led to scientific upheaval, global debate, and at least one international incident. Now, it’s coming to Netflix.

“Unnatural Selection,” a four-part docuseries debuting Friday, dissects the stories, science, and ethics behind genome editing, following academics, biohackers, and patients as they move through a brave new world made possible by technologies like CRISPR…
Click to enlarge.

More to come...

Monday, October 14, 2019

"Covering Climate Now" - the "Prager University" Denialist edition

This is, well, interesting.

"Climate change is an urgent topic of discussion among politicians, journalists and celebrities...but what do scientists say about climate change? Does [sic] the data validate those who say humans are causing the earth to catastrophically warm? Richard Lindzen, an MIT atmospheric physicist and one of the world's leading climatologists, summarizes the science behind climate change..."
What the hell is "Prager University?" Something about the name rang a bell..."Prager...?

PragerU, short for Prager University, is an American non-profit organization co-founded by talk show host and writer Dennis Prager that creates videos on various political, economic and philosophical topics from a conservative or right-wing perspective.
Stay tuned. I have brief bit of SMH/MEGO history with this Dennis Prager guy.

From Google search:
Prager University is not an accredited academic institution and does not offer certifications or diplomas.
Sorta like "Trump University?" I don't know about California, but in New York, Trump came to expensively learn that you can't market a jive grifter op non-university as a "university." (But, I will certainly inquire about it with CA authorities.)

Lawyers for Prager University, a nonprofit headed by radio host Dennis Prager that produces conservative videos, appeared before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday to argue that Google violated the company's right to free speech by restricting a portion of its content on YouTube. PragerU's argument reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the protections provided by the First Amendment and an effort to expand those protections beyond their original scope...
Lordy, mercy.

Backstory on Me and Mr. "DP." Quite a number of years back when I was living in Las Vegas I was listening to his wingnut screed A.M. radio show one day (I do this stuff episodically to keep up). He made some egregiously asinine assertion burr that got under my saddle, so I looked up his website and emailed him my reaction (I've long since forgotten the topic). It was not defamatory or scatological, but it was otherwise unequivocal and to the point.

He responded by derisively reading my email aloud on his show, replete with my full name, location, and exact email address. "Doxxed" me, in the parlance.

I henceforth referred to him in emails and on social media as "Denise." Yeah, I know; not my finest moments either.

"Richard Lindzen?"

Lordy, mercy...

LOL, spend some time rooting around the website. Scroll down to the bottom of the homepage. You find this:

2.5 BILLION "views" and counting? Right.

Oh, and just beneath that:

Video view counts represent the accumulative views from both YouTube and Facebook
Is this a great country or what? I love the "free" thing. PragerU is a hustle, pure and simple.


DeSmogBlog on PragerU. Comprehensive. Kudos.

Stay tuned. I've gotten their current 501(c)(3) "charity" IRS 990 (pdf) and California Secretary of State filings.



Heard this in the car while out to the hardware store.

Naomi Klein, prior KHIT post.

More to come...

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Why trust science? Here's why.

Continuing my coverage of Dr. Naomi Oreskes' new book.

I was on my way to the pet store yesterday to pick up a new collar for Ranger. Naomi Oreskes was on NPR's Science Friday discussing her new book and her forceful, eloquent defense of science broadly.

Despite widely reported attacks on science, the vast majority of Americans continue to trust scientists, according to the latest survey from the Pew Research Center. Many listeners of Science Friday might take it as a given that we should trust science, but is that trust well-founded? Naomi Oreskes, history of science professor at Harvard University, argues that we should. In her new book, Why Trust Science?, she explains how science works and what makes it trustworthy. (Hint: it’s not the scientific method.)
Read an excerpt of Oreske’s new book Why Trust Science?
The book will be released on October 22nd. I have a pre-pub review comp courtesy of Princeton U. Press, and will continue to review and cite it.

From New York Magazine:
A geologist turned historian of science, Naomi Oreskes is the world’s preeminent chronicler of climate denial and disinformation, primarily thanks to 2010’s Merchants of Doubt, which she co-wrote with Erik Conway. A couple of years later, they collaborated on a work of climate fiction, The Collapse of Western Civilization, and the following year, Oreskes wrote the introduction to the American edition of Pope Francis’s climate encyclical. Her new book, Why Trust Science?, draws on the Tanner lectures she delivered at Princeton University, and was inspired, she says, by all the people who came up to her after lectures to ask how it was she knew whatever it was she was claiming to know. We spoke in early September about how much consensus it takes before we can take action on something like climate change, why people can’t properly process the science we do know, and whether we need to give up on GDP growth to properly address climate change...
Let me return you to the September Science Magazine review that alerted me to the book (it's not paywalled). Excellent brief Kirkus Review here as well.

Also, her recent talk at the London School of Economics.

My only pick with this video is that she wasn't wearing a lapel mic, so the handful of times she wandered from the lectern, some of her talk was unclear.
 Note my permanent upper right-hand links column links.

I am also a member of AAAS and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Links lower down in that column as well.

Of particular revelance to this topic thread, the Aines' work on "Championing Science."

We're gonna need a concerted effort to bring the Oreskes message to the non- college educated lay demographic--knowing full well there will be entrenched unreflective Deniers among them. We don't need to get 'em all onboard. Think tipping point net consensus margin.

Prior post: "Define 'science'."


Different year, same calamity.

More to come... #CoveringClimateNow

Tuesday, October 8, 2019


No, it's not related to Scientology.

My latest hardcopy issue of Science Magazine came in the snailmail today.

Loaded with content.

It was delivered in a sealed clear plastic cover, with a 59 page 4-color "sponsored supplement" inside.

Who was Hsue-Shen Tsien?

From WaPo:

IN JUNE, 1950, the FBI accused a brilliant Chinese scientist in California who had helped pioneer the American space age of being a Communist Party member. Despite a lack of evidence against him, Tsien Hsue-shen was held under virtual house arrest for five years and then deported to China, a victim of the McCarthy era. The United States lost a scientific genius; China gained one.

Tsien, who had once sought U.S. citizenship, quickly became one of the most powerful scientists in China, guiding the development of China's nuclear missile, satellite and space programs. In the 1960s, it was Tsien Hsue-shen (whose name is also written as Qian Xuesen), who proposed construction of the infamous Haiying missile -- commonly known as the Silkworm -- that eventually menaced American ships during the Gulf War…
From Forbes earlier this year:
The Man Who Took China to Space
Hsue-Shen Tsien was driven out of the United States by political paranoia. Will the same happen to a new generation of Chinese talent?

Amid the escalating political and economic tensions across the Pacific, the 350,000 Chinese students in the United States are caught in the crossfire. The single biggest international student group in the world, many first came to the United States for its openness, but some now fear that America will soon slam its door on them as the trade war escalates. President Donald Trump’s administration sees Chinese students as potential perpetrators of espionage and intellectual property theft, and it has tightened restrictions for Chinese citizens at U.S. universities by shortening student visa durations for technology and mathematics students and intensifying visa scrutiny. White House senior advisor Stephen Miller even recommended a blanket visa ban on Chinese students.

The United States could be throwing away a huge pool of talent—and not for the first time. In the 1940s and 1950s, some of China’s most brilliant scholars sought a home in the United States only to be chased away. Perhaps the most representative case is that of Hsue-Shen Tsien (also rendered as Qian Xuesen), a Beijing-raised, California-trained scientist who co-founded NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL)—and created China’s space program when he was driven out of the United States. Many in the United States saw Tsien as China’s “evil genius”—an American-made Dr. Frankenstein who, as the 1999 Cox Report concluded, probably incorrectly, deliberately stole U.S. technologies for China’s missile development—but his exile from the United States was forced by a paranoid and xenophobic politics…
Very interesting.


Systematology as a solution
From the Stone Age to the current Information Age, human exploration has ranged from land to sea and from the sky to outer space. Previously divided by great distances, the world is now a more connected, yet more complex place, thanks to tremendous advances in communication. Modern science and technology have taken shape through the guidance of reductionist philosophy, which holds that everything can be explained by breaking down systems into their individual components—a philosophy that has led to many large-scale engineering marvels and emerging industries. At the same time, the degree of diversity and complexity of the world has increased dramatically, and we are faced with an increasing number of unavoidable problems. In the political arena, we can see that the international order of shared responsibility established after World War II is facing a new round of adjustments, with many countries asserting their own needs over those of others. In the economic arena, many countries are trying to avoid the “Kindleberger Trap” (a term coined by the late historian Charles Kindleberger, which refers to the danger of countries becoming too dependent on a single hegemonic power for their share of resources) by finding new economic solutions. In addition, the phenomenon of unbalanced development and inequality in many regions of the world is getting worse, despite globalization. In the scientific arena, physicists have penetrated to the level of the quark in their research into the structure of matter, but are still unable to answer many of mankind’s fundamental questions about our universe. Research into human genetics and cancer biology has made amazing strides, but biologists are still far from conquering cancer completely.

All these problems are related, in that all of them are connected to open (i.e., having external interactions with their environment through transfer of information, energy, or materials), highly complex, giant systems with a myriad of diverse characteristics. In systems terminology, these systems have become nonlinear, random, and self-adaptive, and their intricacy is far beyond what we currently know in any single discipline. Political scientists look at the world through factors such as power equilibrium; economists analyze factors such as economic cycles; and scientists try to use formulas and theorems to objectify the laws of the physical universe. Obviously, these different methodologies cannot avoid the disadvantage of being limited and one-sided to a certain extent. In fact, an interdisciplinary, multilevel, metasynthesis approach is required for solving all open complex giant system problems. This metasynthesis not only serves as the pathway to innovation, theoretical breakthrough, and optimization of the methodology for solving open complex giant systems problems, but is also the vehicle for the synthesis of information, knowledge, and wisdom resulting from these solutions. In summary, it marks an enormous step forward for humanity in its ability to comprehend the world and to enrich human society. The theory that furnishes us with the metasynthesis approach is called systematology—and it is more important than ever at this time in history.
OK, what is the "Kindleberger Trap?"
Charles Kindleberger, an intellectual architect of the Marshall Plan who later taught at MIT, argued that the disastrous decade of the 1930s was caused when the US replaced Britain as the largest global power but failed to take on Britain’s role in providing global public goods. The result was the collapse of the global system into depression, genocide, and world war. Today, as China’s power grows, will it help provide global public goods?

In domestic politics, governments produce public goods such as policing or a clean environment, from which all citizens can benefit and none are excluded. At the global level, public goods – such as a stable climate, financial stability, or freedom of the seas – are provided by coalitions led by the largest powers.

Small countries have little incentive to pay for such global public goods. Because their small contributions make little difference to whether they benefit or not, it is rational for them to ride for free. But the largest powers can see the effect and feel the benefit of their contributions. So it is rational for the largest countries to lead. When they do not, global public goods are under-produced. When Britain became too weak to play that role after World War I, an isolationist US continued to be a free rider, with disastrous results…
'eh? "Clean environment, stable climate," anyone?

By the way, this "sponsored supplement" publication is freely available in PDF here. Worth your time.

One more excerpt for now.
4.3. The Tsien Think Tank accelerates the seventh industrial revolution
In the 2050s, there will be a seventh industrial revolution in the optimization of human physical fitness caused by the expansive medical reform in China, leading to a revolution in economic productivity. Based on somatic science (including medical science, bioscience, etc.), major improvements can be made in human physique, function, and intelligence.

The improvement of human physique and function will be mainly reflected in the increased ability to regulate the body’s functional states… 
China has roughly 4.25 times the U.S. population. Coming on strong economically (overall) and across a breadth of scientific and tech domains, while the U.S. is mired in Trump's trade wars, xenophobic nationalism, and science denialism.


I found this interesting.

Science Magazine, in addition to being member-supported, is advertiser-supported. Never noticed any vetting disclaimers on their overt ads. Online, in general, I am not a big fan of "Sponsored Content," (e.g., like commercial "White Papers") which is essentially what this supplement comprises.

More to come...

Monday, October 7, 2019

"Covering Climate Now?" - or, just last month?

Well, this collaborative climate change media initiative launched to great fanfare during the second week of September. I've been posting topical updates ever since, given the importance of the issue.

Along the way I expressed one hope and concern--that the theme have "legs," and not turn out to be one more flashy yet transient press effort. While it's perhaps too early to draw a conclusion, I searched Google News just now for items on "Covering Climate Now."

Eighteen of the first 20 story citation returns said "Last Month," with two saying "Five Days Ago."

But, hey, how about those Green Bay Packers?


Bloomberg, at
"One way to slow climate change: Pay CEOs to protect the planet."
Teenage Girls Are Leading The Climate Movement—And Getting Attacked For It
A new movement of teenage climate activists — most of whom are girls — are getting dragged, doxed, hacked, and harassed online.

More to come... #CoveringClimateNow

Thursday, October 3, 2019


Just happened onto this. If an endless, rambling stream of lies and fatuous platitudes were legal tender, Donald Trump would be a billionaire.

If and when they publish the video, I'll post it here so you can decide for yourselves. UPDATE: Here's a C-SPAN link.

OK. Found the embed code:

Hour an four minutes, maybe 10-15 minutes nominally on "healthcare." The rest was standard MAGA Rally re-election campaign appearance schtick, at once effusively self-congratulatory and melodramatically aggrieved--probably on the taxpayers' dime.

Healthcare related, a prior post: "Can medicine be cured?"


Trump’s Executive Order is a Backdoor Privatization of Medicare

From Naked Capitalism.

I've not yet closely studied the actual E.O., but I will.
Section 1. Purpose. The proposed Medicare for All Act of 2019, as introduced in the Senate (“Medicare for All”) would destroy our current Medicare program, which enables our Nation’s seniors and other vulnerable Americans to receive affordable, high-quality care from providers of their choice. Rather than upend Medicare as we know it, my Administration will protect and improve it...

More to come...

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

"Covering Climate Now" - the "Anthropocene," is that actually a THING?

OK, that's funny. Good Photoshop job, whoever rendered that. I lived in Las Vegas for 21 years, 1992-2013. The iconic Vegas welcome sign next to McCarren was about 10 minutes from my house on Creek Water just south of the airport.

So, again, is the "Anthropocene" a 'thing,' worthy of naming in geological science? I recently read a contrarian mainstream media article calling it "a joke."

Well, before you decide (mostly as to the semantic nit-pickiness of that), read this excellent book.

‘We are in the Anthropocene!’ exclaimed Nobel-prize winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen in frustration at a conference in 2000. Why were his colleagues still calling our time the Holocene? Humans had so clearly reshaped Earth since the last ice age ended, the beginning of the Holocene Epoch. From this moment on, the proposal to rename Earth’s current interval of geological time after us, the Anthropos, has been gaining extraordinary traction—and critics—both inside and outside the academy... [pg 1]

Overwhelming evidence now confirms that humans are changing Earth in unprecedented ways. Global climate change, acidifying oceans, shifting global cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and other elements, forests and other natural habitats transformed into farms and cities, widespread pollution, radioactive fallout, plastic accumulation, the course of rivers altered, mass extinction of species, human transport and introduction of species around the world. These are just some of the many different human-induced global environmental changes that will most likely leave a lasting record in rock: the basis for marking new intervals of geologic time... [pp 2-3]

Who is responsible for the Anthropocene? Homo sapiens? The first farmers? Wealthy consumers of the industrial age? And is the Anthropocene necessarily a catastrophe—an environmental disaster and the end of humanity—or could there be a ‘good Anthropocene’ in which both humans and nature might thrive together into the deep future?... [pp 3-4]

In 1999, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber asked the pivotal question of the Anthropocene. ‘Why should Prometheus not hasten to Gaia’s assistance?’ If humans are indeed transforming Earth, what is to be done? Or more humbly—what can be done? Can humans help to bend Earth’s trajectory towards better outcomes for both humanity and non-human nature? 

The science is clear. Human well-being is generally improving at the same time that our societies are rapidly producing a hotter, more polluted, less biodiverse, and less predictable planet. The entire Earth system is being forced into a state with no analogue in its history, introducing the very real possibility of environmental changes so rapid and so powerful that even the most resourceful societies on Earth might not survive them. To continue along such a trajectory is to gamble with the very future of both human societies and the rest of life on Earth. What’s at stake, outside the domains of geology and stratigraphy, is a new account of our place in nature, our relationship with the rest of the planet.
This narrative raises some hard questions, like, what exactly are we doing with our planet? Is this a story of senseless destruction or a story of awakening and redemption? It is clear we have only just begun to understand the many dimensions, variations, and alternatives that could play out in the future of the Anthropocene... [pp 144-145]
Given the overwhelming scale, rate, and diversity of harmful global environmental changes produced by human societies, it is hard not to view the Anthropocene as an unmitigated disaster. It might well be viewed as an interval in which humanity, or at least, its wealthiest industrial societies, are driving themselves and the rest of the planet senselessly to ruin. The prospect of a ‘bad’ Anthropocene defined by toxic environments, declining human health and well-being, war, failed agriculture, submerged cities, catastrophic climate change, mass extinction, and societal collapse, might be unavoidable. Prometheus might be entirely the wrong metaphor. Icarus’ foolish hubris to fly in the face of overwhelming odds might prove more accurate. And yet, despite it all, some humans now do in fact fly. It’s actually safer than walking down the street... [pg 155]
Between (and beyond) these excerpts you will find a fascinating historical recounting, and compelling, nuanced support for calling our time "the Anthropocene" (BTW, who is Erle C. Ellis?).
Among many other points, I found his riff on the underappreciated "nitrogen" problem particularly interesting. CO2 and Methane are not the whole story.
I don't much give a flip what we call it; I conclude that we must deal with it for the good of our species. So, yes, it's a "thing" worthy of its name.


This arrived in my inbox from
“[T]he real problem with the climate change activist sensation Greta Thunberg is not that she is 16 years old. Rather, it is that she is a clueless fanatic who is considered brave and enlightened for promoting a cause that almost everyone agrees with without any study or reflection. And it is the duty of anyone who does not want clueless fanaticism to determine policies affecting billions to call it out as such.”
It'll take you all of five seconds to find press comments by Greta Thunberg where she says "don't take my word for it; ask the scientists."


ERRATUM: October 2nd today, 98F here in Baltimore (at BWI).


From Naked Capitalism: "Understanding why the Green New Deal won't really work." Elevator speech? "Post-carbon non-nuke renewables won't scale, not even close."

I'd like to hear Naomi Klein's reaction. Her new book comprises a detailed argument for "Green New Deal" legislation and policies.

Deal have plenty of serious arguments for why all this is doomed. Political paralysis in Washington is real. Even in a world where climate change–denying Republicans were swept out of power, there would still be plenty of centrist Democrats convinced that their constituents had no appetite for radical change. The plans are expensive, and getting the budgets approved would be a herculean effort. 

A better course of action, we hear, would be to advance climate policies that appeal to many on the right, like a shift from coal to nuclear power, or a small tax on carbon that returns the revenues as a “dividend” to every citizen. 

The main trouble with these incremental approaches is that they simply won’t get the job done. In order to win support from Republicans soaked in fossil fuel money, the price on carbon would be too low to make much of an impact. Nuclear power is expensive and slow to roll out compared with renewables—and that is not to mention the risks associated with uranium mining and waste storage. 

The truth is, we cannot lower emissions as steeply and as rapidly as required to swerve off our perilous trajectory without a sweeping industrial and infrastructure overhaul. The good news is that the Green New Deal isn’t nearly as impractical or unrealistic as its many critics claim. I have made the case for why that is throughout this book, but what follows are nine more reasons the Green New Deal has a fighting chance—a chance that will increase every time we go out and make the case...

Klein, Naomi. On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal (pp. 280-281). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

Buy her book and read it carefully. I'll get to my concerns. Stay tuned.

More to come... #CoveringClimateNow