Spotlight on Green News & Views: Cruz can’t get denier claims straight; decarbonizing by 2050

Spotlight on Green News & Views: Cruz can’t get denier claims straight; decarbonizing by 2050

This is the 665th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue). Here is the Jan. 30 edition. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES

Pakalolo writes—Ecologists warn of a lethal, ghastly future, and they insist we stop sugarcoating it: It is a fact that the biggest threat to our species is not climate change, though it will likely end much of what we experience today, but rather our war on bio-diversity. Bio-diversity is under attack from a swelling human population that consumes more than what Earth can replace. Very little of the natural world remains, falling victim to agriculture, our cacophony of noise, plastics, fossil fuel waste, insecticides, and other pollutants, radioactivity, outside electric lighting. Human greed, invasive species, and of course, climate change. Amanda Gorman, who received international acclaim with her poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ at the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, works her magic on why we need to act now in her clarion call to prevent climate calamity that can be seen in the video at the bottom of the story. Peter Brannen writes an incredible piece in The Atlantic on how climate change is not only godawful right now, but he describes a past in compelling and vivid detail about what the history of rocks tells us about how vulnerable we truly are to even the slightest change to the atmosphere. I recommend you read the article in its entirety; the research and links are remarkable.”

River Styx in winter, Florida

Desert Scientist writes—Painting Nature: “I will always be grateful to the natural world for saving my sanity as I was growing up, and it became my burning interest both in my becoming a biological scientist and in my art. I have played with art, even as I worked on my scientific interests, and this led me to publish ‘My Attempt to be an Artist’ a while back. I had not thought that I would post another watercolor artwork diary, but the times are so grim that I wanted to do my part to lighten them up a bit. Here is a collection of works that I have not posted (as far as I know), some better than others. Almost all are watercolor or mixed-media, but I did include a pen and ink drawing. Most were from photos I took, with artistic license, but a few are from field sketches.”

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

RonK writes—The Daily Bucket: Fungi and Mycelium: Fun, Fine Dining and Life Itself: “Pacific Northwest. Whatcom County, WA. Some Fungi are not only tasty (mushrooms) they are fun to look for and to Identify. They are also essential contributors to much of life on earth. Mycelial fungi form networks found throughout most of the land mass on earth and are symbiotically linked with many trees, plants and agricultural crops. They range in size from single cell microscopic organisms to enormous subterranean behemoths. One mushroom and its underground network, referred to as the ‘Humongous Fungus’ in Oregon, constitute the largest living organism on earth, estimated to cover 2,400 acres (AKA Honey mushroom, Armillaria ostoyae). Now, taken together, that’s a pretty big deal. (see video of the Humongous fungus here.) Indeed, fungi are such big deals that their full scope, so far as it is known, is far too vast for more than a cursory overview. Being a very amateur mycologist, I will focus here on some of what I have observed and photographed around my neck of the woods and illustrate some of the interesting relationships between fungi and plant life. As there is a vast literature on these topics, I provide a number of reference links and a bibliography at the end for those interested in taking a deeper dive into the fungal labyrinth. Like so many things in the natural world, there are fungi that are harmful to us, to plants and to other animals and there are those that are beneficial, even essential to normal functioning, survival and enjoyment.”

Dan Bacher writes—Fish Need Water– Urge CA State Water Board to Set Flow Standards to Protect the Bay/Delta! “Please join a coalition of environmental, Tribal, fishing and environmental justice groups on Tuesday, Feb. 2 to urge the State Water Resources Control Board to adopt and implement new flow standards. More flow is needed to protect the fish and wildlife in the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the rivers that flow into it—including the salmon runs that support salmon fishing jobs from Morro Bay to Fisherman’s Wharf and into Oregon. The State Board has been paralyzed for years. We need strong public support to get them to do their job.”

Red-winged blackbird nest in cattail stand

CaptBLI writes—The Daily Bucket open thread—Nest foundations: “You can see from the title photo that the Red-winged blackbird nest is made of grasses that are woven around the stems of cattails. Here is the stand of cattails where the picture was taken. Last year there were as many as a dozen nests in this one-acre stand. There were just as many nests of other bird species in the bordering Black Willow trees. Those nest had foundations that incorporated other base materials. I started looking at nest constructions while the leaves are still off the trees and birds have not returned to old sites or selected new ones.  Numerous nest were built in layers of durable materials as a base, then lighter materials (leaves, twigs, pine needles) with linings of soft materials (feathers, moss, animal hair, etc). I will focus on the first materials used in nest building of my local feathered friends.” 

CaptBLI writes—The Daily Bucket—An Open Thread & The Lake is Low: “Hay seed told me he went out to Sardis Lake (in north central Mississippi) and saw gulls and pelicans; I was compelled to see for myself. The main reason for my visit was his description of how low the lake level was. The corps of engineers purge the lake every year to prepare for the spring rains that swell the Mississippi River. The low water is an unusual sight for me.” 

chloris creator writes—Dawn Chorus: a Corvid Cawcus: “I am working on the Crow Nickels (chronicles), a series of novels about crows working to save birdkind from extinction. My stories are fiction but I’ve read real research on the corvid family. Here’s some of what I have learned. People are especially impressed with the New Caledonian crows’ tool-buildingThe construction of novel compound tools through assemblage of otherwise non-functional elements involves anticipation of the affordances of the tools to be built. Except for few observations in captive great apes, compound tool construction is unknown outside humans, and tool innovation appears late in human ontogeny. We report that habitually tool-using New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) can combine objects to construct novel compound tools. We presented 8 naïve crows with combinable elements too short to retrieve food targets. Four crows spontaneously combined elements to make functional tools, and did so conditionally on the position of food. One of them made 3- and 4-piece tools when required.”

Paul Frea writes—Winter Robins – a Poem and Three Observations: “Observation #1: There is a medium-sized deciduous tree without its leaves about 40 feet from a shorter holly tree with green leaves and red berries. In the mornings, I’ve watched a flock of 25 or so robins spend their time flying back and forth between the two trees. One bird will fly in one direction and be replaced by a robin going the opposite direction. On the taller tree, the birds rest on the top branches soaking up the warmth of the sun. On the holly tree, the birds scurry in amongst the leaves, doing small jumps between branches, getting into the best position to grab a holly berry. When it is colder, they ignore me, which allows me to get close enough to watch robins gobble berries, one, two, three and see the berries travel down their gullets.” 

funningforrest writes—The Daily Bucket. Open Thread; weather: “The big Sierra Nevada winter storm that came in a few days ago put less than a foot of snow on the ground here in Quincy, CA.  We had cloudy days for the past two, then it started raining late last night and is currently raining heavily.  Forecast for the rest of today and the next two, in order:  rain, snow, sun. Then it’s supposed to be sunny and mostly sunny all the way to next Monday. For Quincy, weather forecasts more than two days out aren’t very reliable. I hope to get out and get around on the sunny days, get some photos so I have something new. Other than that, over to you.” 

CLIMATE CHAOS

Pakalolo writes—Breaking: Considered stable, Antarctica’s Larsen D ice shelf, calved two named icebergs: “Nobody has reported on this discouraging news as of yet. The last news I saw on Larsen D was from June of 2020, when satellites revealed cracks on the massive ice shelf. Suitland, MD — The Larsen-D Ice Shelf calved two more icebergs which are large enough to be named. The breakup occurred in mid-December 2020 from the northern part of Larsen-D approximately 150 nautical miles north of the recently named A-70 and A-71 icebergs. Similar to the A-70 and A-71 calving, it had been difficult to confirm whether these were icebergs large enough to be named or extremely old sea ice that had fasted to the ice shelf. Recent imagery showing surface topography typical of icebergs has allowed us to confirm these are indeed icebergs. The new iceberg A-72 is located at 69° 39′ South, 60° 53′ West measures 11 nautical miles on its longest axis and 4 nautical miles on its widest axis. The new iceberg A-73 is located at 69° 47′ South, 60° 38′ West and measures 9 nautical miles on its longest axis and 5 nautical miles on its widest axis.”

annieli writes—AntiCapitalist MeetUp: Climate Crisis, negative emissions technologies, and financialization: “As Climate Crisis returns to the new U.S. administration agenda, negative emissions technologies (NETs) may find their implementation hindered by neoliberal financialization. An earlier ACM story showed how Steve Keen’s critique of Nordhaus’ use of discounting climate change demonstrates that orthodox economics is incapable of accelerating innovation especially in the case of climate crisis. Cap and trade will not be even sufficient in the long-run. Carbon markets under neoliberal financialization may not solve the crisis if “counting on capitalist volition will not save the environment because the market for carbon credit demand is 15 times too weak.” Add to that the rentier structure of the economy will present higher cost structures for private and public capital.” 

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Ted Cruz Has Had Years To Get These Denial Talking Points Down, And He Still Botched Them: “‘You should be able to choose your life,’ Cruz says, apparently trying to appropriate pro-choice language to jobs extracting climate-warming fossil fuels. But Climate Envoy John Kerry apparently said the word ‘inevitable’ in reference to climate policy, and that was Cruz’s launching point to talk about Avengers: Endgame. Specifically, Cruz trots out the well-worn argument we saw back in 2018, when the movie was still relevant, about how Thanos supposedly represents environmentalists wanting to kill people to save the planet (as opposed to saving people from the consequences of changing the planet). Cruz then referenced Watchmen, which isn’t actually one of the movies or shows others have pointed to when making Cruz’s point about Hollywood casting environmentalists as villains in a slightly more coherent fashion. That earned him a ‘literally what the fuck are you talking about’ response from the show’s screenwriter, one of many delightful tweets letting the Senator know he’s stupid and his take ‘doesn’t really make much sense.’ If Hollywood writes villains that are motivated by environmentalism, and then the heroes of those movies defeat said villains, wouldn’t that be a rebuke of that point of view? Not an embrace of it? So not only is Ted Cruz dredging up old denial talking points about evil Hollywood liberals, he’s not even doing it right!”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Denier Shortlist for Papers To Overthrow Consensus Includes One Published In Predatory Scam Journal: “One of our favorite rituals this time of year is to marvel at the collection of papers Kenneth Richard posts on NoTricksZone, claiming they represent a mortal blow to the consensus that burning fossil fuels causes climate change. This year, it’s ‘over 400’ studies that supposedly ‘support a skeptical position on climate alarm,’ and like every year, that’s a stretch, and even if it weren’t, it’d still be insufficient to call the basics into question. But if you’re unfamiliar with NoTricksZone, and are wondering if perhaps this list of studies is being published by a scientific organization as some sort of literature review, here’s a quick refresher. Past posts from the blog include Scooby-Doo-esque anti-renewable and alien planet conspiracy theories. It’s the sort of place where losing a bet about warming only increases your conviction. It’s the sort of place that claims the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown didn’t reduce pollution levels in Europe based on a map of pollution levels … in 2015. It’s also the sort of place where, if you’re Dr. Willie Soon, you can accuse scientists talking about 2014 being the hottest year (at the time) of “prostituting science.” Ironic, because just two months later, The New York Times reported Soon took a million dollars from the fossil fuel industry in exchange for his talents.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Real Estate & Home Builders Join Fossil Fuels & Utilities To Stymie Climate Action In Mass: “With the Biden administration bringing climate action back to the federal level, the fossil fuel industry is ramping up its efforts to deny, distract, and delay. But all politics is local, so to see how the industry will defend itself, let’s look at a case study: Massachusetts. It’s considered one of the most liberal states, home of notable national progressive figures. So why are advocates in the state running into such staunch opposition on climate policy? Well apparently it’s because Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who recently vetoed a climate bill that’s been amended and is back on his desk, is swayed by gas and utility lobbying and front groups who have been quietly working with the housing industry for a decade to destroy climate action in the commonwealth. The question of why climate legislation is running into fierce opposition is the subject of a new report from the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society. They analyzed over a thousand pieces of testimony and 4,000 lobbying visits related to the 53 key environmental bills introduced in Massachusetts between 2013 and 2018, and found that 90% of the public’s testimony in legislative committees was in favor of the bills. But there was little legislative success. Why?” 

Meteor Blades writes—Scientists say $2 trillion investment can decarbonize energy by 2050, paid for with a carbon tax: “Now, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has released the pre-publication draft of a 209-page study—Accelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy Systemwhich concludes that a net-zero economy is not only achievable by 2050, but would “also build a more competitive economy, increase high-quality jobs, and help address social injustice in the energy system.” The authors sped up the publication of their acceleration study specifically with the idea of influencing the direction of the new administration’s climate action, but without consulting the Biden-Harris team. Stephen Pacala, the Frederick D. Petrie Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University and chair of the committee that wrote the report said in press statement, ‘Because of dramatic decreases in the costs of renewable electricity and batteries, the U.S. can now—during the 2020s—make strides toward achieving a net-zero emitting energy system at a cost lower than investing in reduced air pollution alone. Because the energy system impacts so many aspects of society, a transition to net-zero will have profound implications well beyond climate and energy—and it is paramount that we maintain a strong social contract to ensure this transition benefits all communities.’ That perspective is one climate hawks have expressed for at least two decades even as the technology to make it happen has improved and gotten cheaper, some of it gradually, some of it by leaps and bounds.” 

Angmar writes—“The concerted global response to pandemic could be replicated for fight against climate crisis”: “While the pandemic was raging, so was the climate emergency, like two horror films overlapping. We saw record-breaking wildfires engulf the west coast of the US, a record number of powerful Atlantic storms, the Arctic ice failing to freeze in late October and deadly floods hitting countries from Italy to Indonesia. We got a glimpse of a chaotic world battered by multiple crises, each making the other worse, and it was terrifying. Exceptional as the calamities of 2020 may seem, they could be just a taste of what’s to come unless we change direction. Neither the pandemic nor extreme weather are random events. Disease outbreaks are on the rise and about 70% are the result of viruses crossing the barrier from animals to humans. From rampant deforestation in the Amazon to COVID-infected mink farms in Denmark, industrial farming is opening up a viral Pandora’s box that could unleash pandemics even worse than the present one. While scientists were busy developing a vaccine, destructive industries were even busier clearing forests and displacing wildlife, increasing the risk of awakening the next deadly virus. We’re mopping up the floor while making the leak worse.” 

CANDIDATES, STATE AND DC ECO-RELATED POLITICS

Lefty Coaster writes—Big Tech goes AWOL on Climate with their political donations: “Big Tech corporations like to crow about how their own operations are getting greener. But their political giving doesn’t match their greenwashing efforts, and has the overall effect of negating them. Are the Technology Giants Deploying Political Capital on Climate Change? The five Big Tech companies (Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook & Microsoft) account for more than 25% of the value of the S&P500 and 20% of its Q3 2020 profits. They have grown tremendously during the COVID pandemic, with Amazon alone adding almost half a million jobs in a “hiring spree without equal.” With this unprecedented concentration of economic and financial power comes the ability to influence government policy. • This report shows that despite robust top-line climate commitments from Big Tech, they are not strategically deploying their significant influence over government policy in support of much needed climate policy. Furthermore, all remain members of powerful cross-sector groups – including the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, BusinessEurope and the Japan Business Federation – all of which continue to lobby against binding measures necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.” 

GALiberal1776 writes—How Pursuing a Climate Change Agenda Will Help Revive the U.S. Economy: “According to the BW Research Partnership, the U.S. clean energy industry has lost 400,000 jobs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was not helped by the Trump administration’s out-and-out war against this sector. Even before the pandemic, the industry had already been reeling under the 30% tariff imposed on the import of solar panels into the country, which was choking the sector it was meant to save. The complete lack of support of government did not make things better for the clean energy industry, which has been a huge job creator for the U.S. in recent years. In fact, in 2019, the World Resources institute estimates zero-emissions power generation created 544,000 jobs in the country against only 214,000 jobs in fossil fuel generation. Given the significance of this sector, the USD $2 trillion package planned by the Biden administration will have a vital role in reviving both the clean energy industry and the economy. It could do this by building the sustainable, modern infrastructure that America needs. In the short term, this could be one of the levers before the Biden administration to address the country’s deep economic crisis. But in the long term, this could also have dramatic consequences for both the U.S. and the world.” 

ENERGY

Mat 4 VA HS05 writes—Energy Platform Part 1: “It is important that we balance energy independence with the environmental and cost impact in order to follow through with affordable and clean energy generation. Having a robust plan that addresses short-term and long-term needs is crucial to understanding what is needed, who is impacted and how we can get there. Del. Suhas Subramanyam put forth a good bill that had a nice write up on his proposal that got passed by the VA House. energynews.us/… However, it doesn’t go far enough and fast enough. Consider some recent stories regarding coal jobs and miners. www.greenbiz.com/… Ann Eisenberg has hit a number of very good points. ‘For communities dependent on fossil fuels, particularly in regions such as Appalachia with few other major industries, today’s job losses are just the latest phase of a long decline.’ Overcoming the resistance to shedding non-metallurgical coal (a grade of coal that can be used to produce good-quality coke which is an essential fuel and reactant in the blast furnace process for primary steelmaking) jobs has been a tough nut to crack. Retraining has been difficult, with a sea of red tape and confusion. This is why a plan needs to be developed for SW Virginia.”

Fffflats writes—California Power: The Utilities Have Been Lying: “Recently I was referred to a presentation by Clean Coalition regarding their investigation into the August 14th & 15th, 2020 rolling blackouts in California. The discussion is lengthy though worthwhile. If you prefer reading the slides, here you go. Bottom Line Up Front: Lack of capacity did not cause the blackouts; rather the blackouts resulted from artificial and inappropriate demand placed on the system. By this, I mean “investors” ordered 553% excess over that which the blackouts shed while these exports received priority over California ISO based customers. Had this not happened, no blackouts would have occurred. The demand including the murky exports tripped into emergency funding rates at extortionist prices. The market needs transparency and regulation while the source of market irregularities should be presumed nefarious for investigation so as to permit subpoena power to illuminate the details of actions therein. Nefarious intent can be presumed as reasonable grounds to initiate legal investigation as impact was severe, financial tools were causal, and emergency power rates meant large monetary flows suggesting someone made money.” 

FOSSIL FUELS & EMISSIONS CONTROLS

OK Dodo writes—GOP leaders advocate for oil and gas in Houston: “Republican leaders, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, visited the Houston Ship Channel to send a message to the Biden administration. They have stated that oil and gas jobs are important to the economy, and they want the Biden administration to be more favorable towards oil and gas, stating that not doing so would cause irreparable damage to the American economy. The Texas Oil and Gas Association estimates a loss of 120,000 jobs in Texas as a result of the Biden administration’s energy policies, which favor renewable energy over oil and coal.Biden is launching an attack on our nation’s oil and gas workers, including the hundreds of thousands here in Texas,’ Brady said during a news conference after their roundtable, which was closed to the media. ‘That’s why today, I’m joining my Republican colleagues in Houston to stand up for our workers.’ […] “If President Biden is serious about any unity, come to Houston,” McCarthy said. “Come to middle America. Come look in the faces of those workers who earn $80,000 a year, and tell them why you took their jobs away’.

DrMarmot writes—Trump Failed Epically on ANWR. Here’s How:Drilling would clearly be a disaster for the planet; if humans are to mitigate runaway climate disruption, fossil fuels must stay in the ground. A statement put out by a coalition of environmental and human rights organizations noted that, ‘The Gwich’in and Iñupiat people have been the caretakers of Alaska’s Arctic for millennia — and selling the coastal plain for corporate profit disregards that legacy of stewardship. Indigenous Arctic people are already experiencing the most dramatic climate impacts in a region warming at three times the rest of the planet, and selling out the coastal plain puts our climate and the Arctic’s people, land and wildlife at further risk. Arctic oil drilling will boost carbon emissions even further and harm communities already bearing the brunt of the changing climate.’ As is always the case, environmental quality and human rights remain inseparably intertwined. It was thus with great anticipation that the Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary Kate MacGregor opened bidding for the ostensibly rich oil parcels. ‘It is my honor to preside over this momentous occasion’ crowed MacGregor. The honor didn’t last long. After a measly 13 bids, which covered only half of the available parcels, MacGregor gaveled the process to a close just 10 minutes after it started. Even the Petroleum News conceded that the results were “somewhat disappointing’.

Alonso del Arte writes—Enbridge defies rule of law to endanger the Great Lakes for profit: “Last week I wrote about Enbridge’s ‘fact sheet’ about their Line 5, which threatens to destroy the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes are a major source of drinking water, both tap and bottled. But what happens to that drinking water if Line 5 breaks and spills a few million gallons of light crude oil? The company has had newer pipelines rupture under terra firma, creating horrible but localized devastation. But if Line 5 breaks at any point under the Mackinac straits, it will cause a tremendous disaster over such a broad area that it will make the Flint water disaster look like a minor misunderstanding. And just like Flint, a Line 5 spill would be something that should have been prevented before it could happen. I became aware of the ‘fact sheet’ because Enbridge has ads on TV. I took the ‘fact sheet’ at face value, assuming it to omit unfavorable facts but not distort any facts it does present. Well, at least one of the fact sheet ‘facts’ deserves much closer scrutiny than I gave it last week.” 

senorjoel writes—Joe Manchin comes through on Green jobs: “The article adds, paraphrasing Manchin, that ‘if the Biden administration is going to be pulled into the direction of a ‘green energy’ policy, he wants to ensure those workers from the coal fields will have a seat at the table.’ That seems only fair. It is fair, and if you ask Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey, who have been promoting the Green New Deal since 2019, restructuring the economy with Green Jobs starts where people have been and will be most impacted by the changeover from fossil fuels to renewables. West Virginia, under that definition, should be Green Jobs Central. Manchin is the new chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. I admit I had my reservations about this; it’s based (on) seniority and Manchin has been in the Senate forever. In that strictly political sense he’s ‘earned’ the chair position, but if he succeeds in creating a mass of Green Jobs in the heart of poor, mostly white America we may owe him a debt of deep gratitude. There may be no surer way to put a halt to trumpist white-grievance politics and bring these people fully on board with the Climate Justice movement.”

Dan Bacher writes—Support Kern County Residents and Oppose Drilling Expansion, February 11: “An ordinance being considered by the Kern County Board of Supervisors would fast track almost 70,000 new oil and gas wells without any meaningful environmental oversight—nearly doubling the number of wells that already exist there, according to an action alert from the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CRPE) and the Sunflower Alliance. The southern Central Valley has some of the worst air pollution in the nation, with oil and gas production a leading cause. Kern County is home to about 80% of California’s oil and gas production, even without the proposed increase. More than 71,000 people already live within 2,500 feet of oil and gas wells. The proposed ordinance promoted by the oil industry would be a disaster for residents’ health, and for California’s climate goals. Here are four ways you can take action.”

Dan Bacher writes—Big Oil spent $10 million lobbying CA officials as new oil production well permits doubled in 2020: “The powerful oil industry lobby in California in 2020 spent less on lobbying in California than it did in 2019, but still managed to defeat legislation it opposed and getting CalGEM, the state’s gas and oil regulatory agency, to double the number of new oil production well permits approved in the state. The top four oil industry lobbyist employers—the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), Chevron, Aera Energy and California Resources Corporation—spent $10,192,047 lobbying the Governor’s Office, Legislature and regulatory agencies to advance Big Oil’s agenda in 2020, according to data posted on the California Secretary of State’s website by Feb. 1. The Western States Petroleum Association, the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying organization in California, spent a total of $4,267,181, less than half of the $8.8 million that it spent in 2019. 2020’s lobbying expenses included $1,084,702 in the fifth quarter, $1,220,986 in the sixth quarter, $1,116,397 in the seventh quarter and $845,096 in the eighth quarter.” 

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

6412093 writes—A corrupt Korean company smuggled workers into Georgia to build an electric car battery plant: “Many Progressives are excited about the upcoming prospective “Green New Deal” which is already taking shape, even before formal Green New Deal legislation. Multi-billion dollar manufacturing plants for electrical vehicle batteries, providing 2000 jobs per plant, are already rising in Michigan and Georgia. Fossil fuel  pipelines, already partly built like KXL, are being cancelled, at enormous cost. But Trump’s former Georgia allies couldn’t resist piling expenses onto Georgia taxpayers. They deprived Georgians of millions on wages from this construction boom. Part of this drama played out in Hartsfield Airport in Greater Atlanta, one of the busiest airports in the world.  The busy Customs agents took notice of the flood of Korean laborers who stated they were going to work at the new SK Battery Plant in Northeast  Georgia. Customs busted 33 of the construction workers for phony visas in one sweep of Airport arrivals from Korea. A traffic stop of a cargo van yielded another 13 Korean  laborers who were expelled for 10 years. apnews.com/… In contrast to President Biden’s pledge of American workers for American jobs, Trump’s minions had arranged for thousands of Korean construction workers to take $35/hour jobs in the United States from skilled U.S. construction workers.”

eeff writes—Pete Buttigieg was approved on a 86-13 vote as Secretary of Transportation: “CNN Senate confirms Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretaryThe Senate voted to confirm Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary on Tuesday, making him the first Senate-confirmed LGBTQ Cabinet secretary. Buttigieg’s confirmation elevates the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to a top post in the federal government.The choice vaults a candidate President Joe Biden spoke glowingly of after the primary into a top job in his incoming administration and could earn Buttigieg what many Democrats believe is needed experience should he run for president again. The role of transportation secretary is expected to play a central role in Biden’s push for a bipartisan infrastructure package.” 

fromberkeleytocville writes—Mayor Pete is now Secretary of Transportation! ““This confirmation breaks through a barrier that has existed for too long; where LGBTQ identity served as an impediment to nomination or confirmation at the highest level of government,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “Let this important moment for our movement serve as a reminder to every LGBTQ young person: you too can serve your country in any capacity you earn the qualifications to hold.” […] The 13 senators who opposed his confirmation were: Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.; Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Tim Scott, R-S.C.; Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala.; Bill Cassidy, R-La.; Roger Marshall, R-Kan.; Rick Scott, R-Fla.; Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.; Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn.; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; and James Lankford, R-Okla.”

Christopher Reeves writes—Good news for the environment as auto manufacturers start to see gas as a dead-end: “When Tesla reports profits, one of the big reasons it does so is because many car companies end up paying Tesla in regulatory credits. These credits helped make Tesla profitable at the unhappiness of other car manufacturers. The Trump administration was onboard with trying to break this plan by opposing states that held auto manufacturers accountable, like California, Colorado, Maryland, Oregon—11 states in total. When President Biden won the election in November, the hopes of a White House that would press that case went away, and now automakers are seeing that they need to offer something different: like improving their own electric line. Instead, today, GM noted they plan to be carbon neutral by 2040 and end all tailpipe cars by 2035. Ford hasn’t been as forward but is previewing an electric Mustang and their ever-popular F150 truck, combined with other vehicles. The Biden presidency is already walking away with a huge win for environmentalists by simply sending the signal that there is a new sheriff in town, and they aren’t interested in dirty air.”

AGRICULTURE​, FOOD & GARDENS

MattJ570 writes—Farmers Stare Down the Barrel of Climate Change: “This is an open letter to my neighbors and community members in rural Northeastern Pennsylvania that I wrote for my local paper. I thought I’d share it here. ‘Be careful what you wish for’ is generally good advice we give to the wanting all throughout our lives. Who knew it was going to be so prescient right now? For the last two years our area farmers wished and prayed and begged for mercy in the face of torrential amounts of rain. And then it came this year. And the ‘relief’ from the rain never stopped. After spring rains hydrated the soil, April turned into May and the sun came out and it was dry with almost no rain at all through September. […] It’s time y’all. The National Corn Grower’s Association has a climate task force. The USDA set up climate hubs throughout the US to help farmers make their operations more sustainable. The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action released a report in September stating climate goals. My own milk company Danone has set the lofty goal of total carbon neutrality company wide, from its corporate offices, to responsible packaging, to yes even down to me, a milk producer. Ag giants like Tyson and Cargill have teamed up with The Nature Conservancy to help pay farmers to sequester carbon. All the big players in agriculture are working toward new sustainability goals. Sequestering carbon is no longer a project by urban gardeners in liberal cityscapes. It’s time for us in the heartland to step up and do our part. Even while our politicians nit and pick at green new deals and Paris accords, we live with the consequences of our own inaction. It’s time we as farmers started taking climate change seriously.” 

CathyM writes—KosAbility: Gardening and Disability: “This is not an exhaustive list by any means; I do things on the cheap, and I believe there are lots of newer adaptations if you can afford them. Also, my yard is lumpy-bumpy with old mole hills, so some of the wheeled gadgets won’t work. (Also, I’m stubbornly foolish in keeping my 4-circuit labyrinth garden, when of course straight rows would be easier). One thing that probably doesn’t need to be said (but maybe): Plant what will bring you most joy, not necessarily what will please the neighbors or be ‘coordinated.’ It took me a while to stop planting veggies that I never ate (‘but maybe this year’) and switch to flowers that give me great joy as I sit out back. I stopped planting out the front because with limited energy I had to choose. I also plant flowers that might not look coordinated, but each one is something I can stare at for hours. […] If you only want a small project, container gardening is great. Only issue is that the pots dry out MUCH faster than yard soil. There are gel-bits that hold water (e.g., Quench) that you can mix with the soil before you plant—that helps. One quick trick: Put one or more ice cubes in each pot if you’ll be away or if sun is extra hot. It’s cheaper than those drip hoses.” 

nailkeg writes—Farming and Carbon Sequestering: “Tom Vilsack, US Agriculture Secretary nominee! From an interview by the Storm Lake Times, ‘US Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack of West Des Moines promised Monday to quickly ramp up efforts to make agriculture an integral tool in battling climate change.’ The article goes on to elaborate, ‘Vilsack envisions creating new markets that pay farmers and foresters to sequester carbon in the soil, … He said he will create demonstration projects that can be incorporated as full programs into the next farm bill in two years. He said USDA will help develop scientific standards for carbon sequestration.’ Addressing past wrongs to Black farmers: ‘The reality is there are inherent, legacy barriers and practices that have prevented Black farmers and socially disadvantaged producers from getting access to programs, and I want to do everything I can to remove those barriers,’ Vilsack said. He goes on to say: ‘ASKED IF THE USDA will be a retread of previous years, Vilsack opened the interview by identifying eight priority areas’ that need significant work or even historic work:  • COVID relief • Equity and inclusion • Climate and regenerative agriculture • Rural economic development • Nutrition security and assistance • Open and competitive markets • USDA employee morale, and • Forest Service management in an era of climate-driven wildfires.” 

NAT’L FORESTS, PARKS, MONUMENTS & OTHER PUBLIC LANDS

bluewill writes—Fine: President Biden’s 60-day federal land closure mark a new relationship with our public lands: “The Biden Administration is here and the Republican Party is fractured—as I projected in my last column in these pages. Now the issue for the San Juan Basin and the Four Corners around it is the future of land which the national government owns and manages. It collected revenues of nearly $10 billion per year before the Pandemic from oil leases which are worked privately in oil and liquids extraction. All this now is in a 60-day “freeze” as the Biden Administration installs new Interior Department Management. […] The Trump Administration, doubtless, is the final 19th century vision of the West and the use of this Land. It was part of the ‘Manifest Destiny’ and settled through displacement by millions before and after the War Between the States. It is now to be managed consistent with its original people, as a characteristic of the Biden Administration The Navajo Nation’s future has been changed by the pandemic. San Juan County can merge with security and equity in building a Four Corners defense, storage, manufacturing and transportation hub with a changed Window Rock government.”

REGULATIONS & PROTECTION

MIchael Regan

Michael Brune writes—We Need a Fighter for Environmental Justice to Lead the EPA: “President Biden has already signaled his determination to turn things around at the EPA. His early executive orders and actions direct the agency to review and reverse harmful, anti-environment Trump-era rules, and to prioritize enforcement of existing protections. They’ve also named the need to center environmental justice in fighting the climate crisis as a top priority across his whole administration. Michael Regan brings the values and experience needed to implement this ambitious agenda. I hope to see him swiftly confirmed, and then act quickly to restore, strengthen, and advance key environmental protections. Under his leadership, we expect to see the EPA rebuilt on a foundation of science and justice. We are eager to see the EPA implement strong safeguards under Regan that are a win-win for frontline communities and the climate—like stricter caps on emissions of sulfur dioxide, methane, and mercury; and stronger limits on vehicle pollution and the production of coal ash, ozone, and the regional haze that covers our parks and communities with dirty air. These new rules must go beyond simply reversing Trump’s rollbacks, harmful as they are. Regan must ensure that our environmental protections are robust enough to guarantee every American clean air, clean water, and protection from climate disaster—whether we are Black, white, Brown, newcomer or native.”

MISCELLANY

Meteor Blades writes—Earth Matters: Tribes reclaim National Bison Range; solar will be cheapest energy source by 2030: “FEDERAL JUDGE AXES TRUMP “SECRET SCIENCE” RULE. Judge Brian Morris, chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, on Monday vacated the Trump regime’s rule that restricted which scientific studies the Environmental Protection Agency can use when it imposes public health protections and other environmental protections. The rule, put in place just as Donald Trump was exiting the White House, was designed to alter the way the EPA has derived regulations for 50 years. Implemented, it would have required the agency to give less weight to studies that use medical data regarding human subjects without revealing underlying information, including in dose-response studies. Foes of the change said it could undermine use of major health studies that keep some data secret legitimate reasons including patients’ privacy. Morris, an Obama appointee, ruled that the EPA could only make procedural not substantive changes in promulgating the rule, and that the changes approved had been substantive in nature.

Meteor Blades writes—Earth Matters: Expanding Utah wilderness finally has a chance; gov’t switch to all EVs a tall order: “For 32 years, environmental advocates have sought to designate as wilderness 9 million acres of unspoiled public land in Utah. Even though the concept of the Red Rock Wilderness Act was first introduced as a 1989 bill by a Democratic representative in the state, it got no traction from Utah’s mostly Republican congressional delegation then, or in the decades since, as other lawmakers have introduced versions of the original bill. In the last session of Congress, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and California Rep. Alan Lowenthal proposed establishing wilderness areas in the Great Basin, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Glen Canyon, Moab-La Sal Canyons, and the San Rafael Swell. Given the Biden-Harris administration’s “30 by 30” pledge to conserve 30% of U.S. land and coastal areas by 2030, the Red Rock legislation would appear to have a chance of passage this time around. The 30 by 30 goal is the creation of The Campaign for Nature, a partnership of the Wyss Campaign for Nature, the National Geographic Society, and a coalition of more than 100 conservation organizations. Reaching the goal means conserving additional areas twice the size of Texas—some 440 million acres—within 10 years. If the Red Rock legislation passes, it would give strong protections to 1.5% of the additional land that must be shielded from exploitation by 2030 to meet the goal. In a recent, exquisitely done advocacy report, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance notes that passing the act would ‘increase landscape connectivity in the region, providing a critical link in the chain of predominantly natural landscapes known as the Western Wildway. Such connectivity is critical to mitigating the climate and extinction/biodiversity crises’.”

Nonlinear writes—Metaphysics, Meteorology, and Ecology. A Cold Morning, a Winter Walk: “We live, each and every one of us, in a web. It is an interlocking web of cycles and feedback loops. Truthfully, as a Natural Historian, I will freely confess there are many thinks about this web we do not understand. Among other things, we don’t know how to exist in that web without damaging it in ways we don’t fully comprehend but can see are very bad for the web. Here is a puzzler for those metaphysically inclined. When I first decided to seriously commit to being a farmer and rancher there were more than 30 derelict or abandoned farms and ranches for sale in this part of Alberta. I only bid on this one. When people asked me why I wanted this land, the worst of all, I said, and boy did I get some funny looks, ‘I hear my ancestors calling.’ That was the truth. Ten years later a backhoe dug up the first artifact that tied my ancestors to this land. It dated from 4,000 years ago. There are three active digs planned here this summer. Why did my ancestors come hundreds of miles across hostile territory to camp here? We have no idea. We just know they did it year after year for hundreds and hundreds of years. Why did it attract me so powerfully? I couldn’t really have heard my ancestors calling, could I?” 


From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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