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This section of SustainabiliTank.info – REAL WORLD’S NEWS – will be carrying short notes with information not based on the daily press of the United States.

We will not attempt here to write lengthy articles, neither will we editorialize on why the information did not see light in the US.

If readers find other material relevant to sustainable development that was not published, please forward it to us at: Submissions@SustainabiliTank.info


 
Real World’s News:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


NEW REPORT: Regardless of Trump’s indecision on Paris, US states, cities and businesses accelerate climate action.

Yasmin Perez <yperez@maitland.co.uk>
Attachments1:18 PM (1 hour ago)

Following media speculation on the US position on the Paris Agreement, and ahead of Climate Week NYC Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group has reiterated the findings of a report released today (see below and attached) which shows the climate actions being delivered by US states, cities and businesses can already get the US halfway to delivering its commitments by 2025 under the Paris Agreement.

Please see below and attached the full press release (for immediate release), and do get in touch with me to discuss. Helen Clarkson is available for interview.

Thanks,
Yasmin

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
***ANNOUNCED AT CLIMATE WEEK NYC***

US states, cities and businesses keep US climate action on track

The US can already meet half its climate pledge by 2025 thanks to the unstoppable action of US states, cities and businesses

New initial analysis released at Climate Week NYC today includes 342 commitments coming from 22 US states, 54 cities and 250 businesses headquartered in the US

Because of their leadership and size, large states such as New York, California and Colorado are making the largest contribution to projected greenhouse gas reductions

Cities are generally more ambitious and have crucial role in implementing greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets

Businesses are setting the most ambitious GHG goals (25% reduction in the next ten years)
NEW YORK: The impact from the US decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement could be significantly mitigated thanks to the determined action demonstrated by US states, cities and businesses – a new report shows.

The findings from the report, entitled ‘States, cities and businesses leading the way: a first look at decentralized climate commitments in the US’ authored by NewClimate Institute and The Climate Group and powered by CDP data, show that the US can already meet half of its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement by 2025, if the 342 commitments included in the analysis are implemented.

This report provides the first steps in helping to quantify the contribution of states, cities and business to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions. As more and more commitments emerge, further analysis will be undertaken within the Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT), where this work originated.

Launched today at the Climate Week NYC Opening Ceremony, Helen Clarkson, Chief Executive Officer, The Climate Group, organizers of Climate Week NYC, said:

“US states, cities and businesses are not waiting for the US federal government to make its position clear on Paris. This new report clearly highlights their unwavering commitment to climate leadership. Importantly, it shows us that climate action is not solely dependent on the actions of national government. US states, cities and businesses have the power to mitigate the consequences of a full Paris pull out.

“At Climate Week NYC, we are highlighting the unstoppable force of action from business and government in tackling climate change, and how this can drive innovation, jobs and prosperity for all – our central theme for the week. Through our work with businesses, states and regions, we will continue to drive the implementation of these goals, so that we can keep global warming well below 2°C.

In the report, the analysis shows that because of their leadership and size, large states such as New York, California and Colorado are making the largest contribution to projected greenhouse gas reductions. In fact, US states alone deliver more than two thirds of the total estimated emissions reductions. However, cities are more ambitious (average of 22% GHG reduction between 2015 and 2025) and crucial for the implementation of specific actions. Businesses currently have the steepest targets, aiming for a 25% reduction in the next ten years.

“Strikingly, there are more reasons to believe that the calculated impact of states, cities and businesses in the report is currently underestimated rather than overestimated”, said Prof. Dr. Niklas Höhne from NewClimate Institute, one of the authors. “We only included currently recorded and quantified commitments and the actors represented in this report currently only represent 44% of total US emissions. Much more action is happening that is not yet recorded or formulated in a quantified way.”

For example, global climate initiatives, such as the Under 2 Coalition, for which The Climate Group acts as Secretariat, and the organization’s RE100 campaign have not yet been fully included in the study although they serve to support individual actors and subnational governments to take on more ambitious climate action, and report on progress.

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr, said: “Cities, states and businesses are stepping up and taking action to reduce the threat of catastrophic climate change.”

Taking place between September 18-24 in New York City, Climate Week NYC is one of the key summits in the international calendar and has been driving climate action since it was first launched by The Climate Group in 2009. The summit annually takes place alongside the UN General Assembly and brings together international leaders from business, government and civil society to showcase the unstoppable momentum of global climate action. More about this year’s event can be found here.

Other initiatives, including America’s Pledge, are also planning to compile and quantify efforts from U.S. states, cities, businesses and other actors to address climate change in alignment with the Paris Agreement.

Nazneen Nawaz
Head of Media and Corporate Communications, The Climate Group
 NNawaz at TheClimateGroup.org; 020 7960 2716

Prof. Dr. Niklas Höhne (technical enquiries, in NYC)
Founding Partner, The NewClimate Institute

 n.hoehne at newclimate.org; +49 173 715 2279

The “Current administration policies” scenario does not consider the Clean Power Plan because it anticipates the plan’s suspension.

The results presented here represent a collective intent of selected subnational governments, states and cities which may not necessarily happen.

The current analysis only covers a selected set of actions; the analysis results could change over time as more subnational and non-state actors commit to quantifiable mitigation pledges and more relevant data are collected.

The study covers 342 subnational and non-state actions by individual actors – of which 22 are from states, 58 from cities and 262 from companies headquartered in the US. If every commitment by states, cities and companies is fully implemented, then the US greenhouse gas emissions level will reduce to 12-14% below 2005 levels by 2025. This amounts to 340-540 MtCO?e per year reduction from the current administration policies scenario.

About the NewClimate Institute

The NewClimate Institute supports research and implementation of action against climate change around the globe. We generate and share knowledge on international climate negotiations, tracking climate action, climate and development, climate finance and carbon market mechanisms. We connect up-to-date research with the real world decision making processes, making it possible to increase ambition in acting against climate change and contribute to finding sustainable and equitable solutions.

We are committed to delivering high quality results and workable solutions to the public and decision makers. We apply research-oriented, robust approaches, responding to on-the-ground realities. We seek to enhance and foster knowledge sharing and exchange with other institutions and individuals around the globe.

 newclimate.org | @newclimateinst

About The Climate Group:

The Climate Group works internationally with leading businesses, states and regions to deliver a world of net zero greenhouse gas emissions and greater prosperity for all. We are at the forefront of ambitious climate action. Our focus is on collaborative programs with corporate and government partners that deliver impact on a global scale. The Climate Group stimulates action by businesses, states and regions, bringing them together to develop and implement the policies that make change happen. We also communicate their achievements to secure global public acceptance of, and even greater ambition for, a prosperous, net-zero future for all. The Climate Group is an international non-profit with offices in Beijing, London, New Delhi and New York.

 TheClimateGroup.org | @ClimateGroup

About Climate Week:

Climate Week NYC is one of the key summits in the international calendar and has been driving climate action forward since it was first launched in 2009 by The Climate Group. Taking place between September 18-24 in New York City alongside the UN General Assembly, Climate Week NYC 2017 will bring together international leaders from business, government and civil society to showcase the unstoppable momentum of global climate action.

Climate Week NYC is brought to you by The Climate Group
 Climateweeknyc.org | @ClimateWeekNYC | #CWNYC

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 9th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Bill McKibben on Hurricanes and Wildfires: “We Have Never Had Anything Like Them.”

RSN – Writing for “godot” – 08 September 2017

In the Caribbean, at least 10 people have died as the historic Category 5 Hurricane Irma barrels across the Atlantic Ocean and toward the U.S. coast. Hurricane Irma is the most powerful storm ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean. On Barbuda, 90 percent of all structures were destroyed. The prime minister, Gaston Browne, has declared Barbuda is “practically uninhabitable.” This comes as Houston, the fourth-largest city in the U.S., is beginning to rebuild from Hurricane Harvey, one of the most powerful hurricanes in U.S. history. Wide swaths of the Pacific Northwest are also on fire, as uncontrollable wildfires burn hundreds of thousands of acres across Oregon, Montana and Washington state. For more on climate change and extreme weather, we’re joined by Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, from his home in Vermont. He’s the author of several books, including “Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.”

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: In the Caribbean, at least 10 people have died as the historic Category 5 Hurricane Irma barrels across the Atlantic Ocean and towards the U.S. coast. Hurricane Irma is the most powerful storm ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean. On Wednesday, eight people died on the Island of Saint Martin, one person died on Anguilla, and a 2-year-old child died on Barbuda. Barbuda and Saint Martin were devastated by the 185-mile-an-hour winds. On Barbuda, 90 percent of all structures were destroyed. The prime minister, Gaston Browne, has declared Barbuda is “practically uninhabitable,” and warns the entire island may need to be evacuated as another storm approaches.

PRIME MINISTER GASTON BROWNE: You know that we are threatened now potentially by yet another storm, Hurricane Jose.

ABS INTERVIEWER: Jose, right.

PRIME MINISTER GASTON BROWNE: And if that is the case, and it’s coming our way, then, clearly, we will have to evacuate the residents of Barbuda.

AMY GOODMAN: In Puerto Rico, more than a million people have lost power, as authorities warn some areas could be without electricity for up to six months, partly because the island’s electrical infrastructure has gone neglected due to Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

The death toll from Hurricane Irma is expected to rise in the coming days as the storm moves toward the Dominican Republic and Haiti, then on to the U.S. southern coast in Florida. More than 100,000 people have been told to evacuate their homes in Miami-Dade County, as Irma is predicted to be one of the worst storms to ever hit Miami.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: All this comes as the Trump administration, and the state of Florida, continues to deny the existence of climate change. In 2015, Florida Governor Rick Scott banned agencies from using the term “climate change.” On Wednesday, President Trump traveled to Mandan, North Dakota, and celebrated his decision to pull out of the landmark 2015 climate deal, while speaking outside an oil refinery.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: In order to protect American industry and workers, we withdrew the United States from the job-killing Paris climate accord. Job killer. People have no idea. Many people have no idea how bad that was. And right here in North Dakota, the Dakota Access pipeline is finally open for business. … I also did Keystone. You know about Keystone, another one, big one. Big. First couple of days in office, those two. Forty-eight thousand jobs. Tremendous, tremendous thing. I think environmentally better. I really believe that. Environmentally better.

AMY GOODMAN: President Trump was speaking in Mandan, the North Dakota town where hundreds of Native Americans and their allies have been jailed and strip-searched during the months-long resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline.

All this comes as Houston, the fourth-largest city in the country, is beginning to rebuild from Hurricane Harvey, one of the most powerful hurricanes in U.S. history. The death toll has now risen to 70 people. And while Houston, the Petro Metro, was underwater, wide swaths of the Pacific Northwest continue to be on fire as uncontrollable wildfires burn hundreds of thousands of acres across Oregon, Montana and Washington state. Well over a thousand more people have died in historic flooding in South Asia, as well as parts of Africa, in recent weeks. A third of Bangladesh is underwater.

For more on climate change, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Harvey and the extreme weather sweeping the globe, we’re joined by Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, from his home in Vermont, author of a number of books, including Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Bill, welcome back to Democracy Now! As Irma—

BILL McKIBBEN: Hello, Amy. Hello, Nermeen.

AMY GOODMAN: As Irma is barreling through the Caribbean, and at least 10 people have been killed, as Houston is digging out from being underwater, President Trump was in Mandan, North Dakota, celebrating that he pulled out of the Paris climate accord and greenlighted the Dakota Access pipeline and Keystone XL. Your response?

BILL McKIBBEN: Well, I was interested to hear President Trump saying people had no idea how bad it was, the Paris climate accord. I have a feeling that’s a phrase that a lot of Houstonians have been using in the last week, and a lot of people in the Caribbean today, and what people will be saying up and down the southeast coast of the United States and over in Washington and Oregon. People who aren’t in the middle of these disasters have no idea how bad they are. In fact, really, Americans can’t have any idea how bad they are, because we’ve never had anything quite like them. I mean, Harvey, in Houston, which we’re on the edge of forgetting about as Irma pulls into the Southeast, Harvey was the largest rainstorm event in U.S. history—51 inches of rain in some places. That’s the kind of storm that’s only possible now that we’ve remarkably affected the climate.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Bill McKibben, can you also talk about — I mean, last week saw virtually unprecedented floods across South Asia, as Bangladesh is one-third submerged underwater. Talk about how this has affected—these kinds of events have affected South Asia, other parts of the developing world and small island developing states.

BILL McKIBBEN: Look, the way that water moves around the planet is now dramatically different. And the places that are going to feel it most often and worst and hardest are the poorest and most vulnerable places on the planet, a list that begins with Bangladesh and with the low-lying island states.

If you want one physical fact to understand the century we’re now in, it’s that warm air holds more water vapor than cold. And so we have the possibility for storms that are of a different magnitude and scale than we have seen before. The extra warmth in the atmosphere does all kinds of other things, too.

So, right now, in the High Plains of the U.S., in North Dakota and Montana, in the biggest wheat-growing belt of the country, we’ve got what scientists are describing as a flash drought. It’s been so hot and so arid that in the course of a month or two without rain and with that heavy evaporation, farm fields have just dried up. Many farmers have nothing to harvest. That’s what’s helping trigger this ridiculous spate of wildfires across the Western United States, a fire so big yesterday that it managed to jump the Columbia River from Oregon into Washington. People in Oregon and Washington are reporting ash fall from the forest fires on a scale comparable to that what happened when Mount St. Helens erupted. You know, California had the largest—last week, the largest wildfire in Los Angeles history, which really isn’t a big surprise, because it’s been the hottest year in California history. So, from Nepal—

AMY GOODMAN: Bill, we’re going break and come back to this discussion. Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, speaking to us from Vermont, as we talk about extreme weather events, from South Asia, where more than 1,200 people have died, to the fires of the Northwest to the hurricanes Irma and Harvey, Jose not far behind. Stay with us.

AMY GOODMAN: Acoustic guitar cover by Pauk Si, a Burmese musician. We will later be talking about whether a genocide is being committed against the Rohingya by the Burmese military. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh, as we continue our conversation with 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. Let’s turn back to President Trump speaking in Mandan, North Dakota, on Wednesday.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I want to take a moment to send our thoughts and prayers to the people of Texas and Louisiana, who have truly suffered through a catastrophic hurricane, one of the worst hurricanes in our country’s history. And guess what. We have another one coming. … The one that’s coming now, Irma, they’re saying, is largest one in recorded history in the Atlantic Ocean, coming out of the Atlantic, which gets big ones. … I also want to tell the people of North Dakota and the Western states, who are feeling the pain of the devastating drought, that we are with you 100 percent. One hundred percent. … I just said to the governor, “I didn’t know you had droughts this far north.” Guess what. You have them. But we’re working hard on it, and it’ll disappear. It’ll all go away.

AMY GOODMAN: That was President Trump speaking in Mandan, North Dakota, as he also talked about pulling out of the Paris climate accord and greenlighting the Dakota Access pipeline, as well as the Keystone XL. Bill McKibben, Houston, the Petro Metro, home to so many of U.S. oil refineries, some of the largest in the country, like the ExxonMobil facility in Baytown, the second-largest refinery in the country, the effects of the pollution there now, the EPA providing waivers during the hurricane for these refineries, as they close down, to emit even more toxins than they already do, and the people living on the fenceline of these refineries, so often poor communities of color. Can you talk about the disparate effects? While everyone talks about, you know, these hurricanes affecting everyone, rich and poor, equally, in fact, it is not the case, ultimately, who is most affected. And with the $8 billion now that Congress has just approved to start to help to deal with the recovery in Houston, the question is: Where will that money go? Who will be helped in rebuilding? Will this money be going to refineries? And what does the whole fossil fuel industry have to do with the kind of severe weather we’re experiencing now around the world?

BILL McKIBBEN: Well, so, first of all, you know, as usual, poorest people and most vulnerable people get hit first. Frontline communities in South Texas are a perfect example. Places like Port Arthur, that were just absolutely trashed by Harvey, are difficult places to live in, at best, in the best of times, because of the incredible daily pollution that comes from the fossil fuel industry.

What makes Houston so interesting, as you point out, is that it’s sort of the nerve center of the world hydrocarbon industry. It means that—and I think this is unlikely, but it means that if Houstonians really received a wake-up call from Harvey, more than most places in the world, their rebuilding could help the whole planet. If they seize the moment to say, “We’re going to start getting off oil, and we’re going to start reorienting our industries toward renewable energy,” it would make a huge difference. And it’s not a, you know, impossible ideal. Last week, while all this was going on, Denmark announced that it had sold off its last remaining oil company and was going to use the cash to build more wind turbines. They’re looking where the future is going.

We, of course, are looking backwards. And no better example of that than Trump in North Dakota, the obscene party about the Dakota Access pipeline, as archaic and dangerous a piece of technology as we’ve seen in this nation in a long time, coupled with his absurd promise that he’s going to make the drought disappear in North Dakota. Look, the unreason that stems straight from the fossil fuel industry and its inability to deal with the fact that its business model has to change, that’s what’s at the bottom of an enormous amount of what we see around us right now.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, where the climate movement is now, speaking out and connecting these issues, like your group, 350.org?

BILL McKIBBEN: So, the two important—I think we’re basically in an endgame now. And the two points that we’re trying to make, and will make over and over and over again all over the world, with increasing success in most places except the United States, are, one, we got to have it all, in terms of renewable energy. We have to go to 100 percent renewable energy, and we have to do it fast. That’s why Senator Sanders has introduced that bill at a national level, along with Senator Merkley. That’s why dozens of cities, from Atlanta to Salt Lake to San Diego, have adopted 100 percent renewable policies.

Along with that all, we also have to say nothing. We have to say there will be no more fossil fuel infrastructure development. And that’s why we’re fighting so hard every single pipeline, every single new coal mine. For the moment, of course, Trump is ascendant with the fossil fuel industry. They’re getting their wishes in this country. But like many things that Trump touches, I think that this is a last gasp. People will come to associate, are coming to associate, the insanity of going full speed ahead into this greenhouse future with the most reckless and crazy president that we’ve ever had.

AMY GOODMAN: Bill McKibben, I want to thank you for being with us, co-founder of 350.org. A number of his books out, including the last one, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

———————-

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 9th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We decided this pearl of writing must be read by everyone.

From CNN’s FAREED GLOBAL BRIEFING AND THE WASHINGTON POST – SEPTEMBER 9, 2017.


What Baseball and Steroids Can Tell Us About Hurricanes.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and now Jose have inevitably raised questions about the connection between climate change and extreme weather. And on increasing storm strength, at least, “the science is fairly conclusive,” write Michael E. Mann, Thomas C. Peterson and Susan Joy Hassol for the Scientific American.

“Whether or not we see more tropical storms (a matter of continuing research by the scientific community), we know that the strongest storms are getting stronger, with roughly eight meters per second increase in wind speed per degree Celsius of warming. And so it is not likely to be a coincidence that almost all of the strongest hurricanes on record (as measured by sustained wind speeds) for the globe, the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere, the Pacific, and now, with Irma, in the open Atlantic, have occurred over the past two years,” they write.

“As recently as a decade ago, climate scientists had a motto that ‘you can’t attribute any single extreme event to global warming.’

“By the time politicians and journalists started repeating that line, however, the science had moved on, so that we now can attribute individual events in a probabilistic sense. For example, if a baseball player on steroids is hitting 20 percent more home runs, we can’t attribute a particular home run to steroids. But we can say steroids made it 20 percent more likely to have occurred. For some of the physical processes discussed here, one can view increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as steroids for the storms.”

============

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

2 August 2017
A tiny Greek island to become the first energy independent island in the Mediterranean

? Europe, Finance, Smart Cities, Sustainable Energy, Sustainable Innovation Forum, Sustainable Investment Forum

Tilos, a small island in the Cyclades complex in the Aegean Sea, is on set to become the first energy independent island in the Mediterranean by solely relying in renewables.

The initiative under the name TILOS comes by a collaboration of the University of Anglia (UEA) and the University of Applied Sciences in Piraeus, engaging 15 participating enterprises and institutes from seven European countries.

The project’s main goal is to demonstrate the potential of off-grid hybrid mini grids comprised of solar and wind power.

TILOS was launched in February 2015 receiving funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme and is planned to last four years, with its total budget reaching €15m.

So far, TILOS has received €11m from Horizon 2020, €3m from the industry and €1m from private investment.

Konstantinos Chalvatzis, Senior Lecturer in Business and Climate Change at UEA’s Norwich Business School said: “The island’s population is only around 200 in the winter but rises to more than 1,500 in the summer when the tourists arrive”.

He added: “Energy supply is a major issue, with frequent black-outs and power surges. But while its remote location makes traditional ways of providing power so challenging, it also makes Tilos ideal for our pioneering work”.

The project executives underlie the importance of the project in the context of the non-interconnected islands’ electricity regime, which mostly constitutes of expensive and often unreliable oil-fired isolated diesel generators.

Dr. Chalvatzis said: “Most Greek and other Mediterranean islands also depend on unreliable, oil-based electricity, so our goal is to roll the model out to them, as well as to small islands across Europe and beyond”.

The proposed energy solution will comprise 700kW of wind power, 500kW of solar power combined with high? temperature NaNiCl battery storage, residential hot water storage and demand-side management (DSM), all coordinated under a sophisticated energy management system.

Dr Chalvatzis commented: “The uniqueness is not in the way we generate the electricity but in the way we’ve developed the technology to make it cost-effective, reliable and completely green” adding: “For example, normal batteries will last around five years and are filled with non-recyclable chemicals, but ours have a much lengthier lifespan and are completely recyclable”.

Two years into its four-year schedule, TILOS has already received two EU Sustainable Energy Awards, namely the Energy Island Award and the Citizen’s Award- the latter underlying the importance of the public acceptance of renewable energy projects.

Dr Chalvatzis stated: “Tilos is ahead of its time – the islanders welcome new ideas and were open to our initiative”.

“As a result, we now have a blueprint for generating sustainable energy in a profitable and scalable way, so the benefits can be felt across the world, whether that’s other islands, faraway communities or even by providing clean and efficient energy for refugee camps or remote hospitals. This technology could truly change people’s lives”.

RELATED ARTICLES:
— World’s first island micro-grid created in Australia
— First US offshore wind farm powers island
–Rising sea levels force Pacific islanders to evacuate

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 9th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

This is just an impression from watching how the Energy industry does not come up with investment money for drilling for oil, even though there is an oil-friendly President in the White House.

Following the announcement by Elon Musk that Electric Tesla-3 vehicles will start running,
he also announced the building in Australia of a large solar electricity storage facility
to be duplicated for independent cities transportation. This is a decentralized system.

A different approach took Warren Buffett who is investing $29 Billion in buying a Texas
electricity distributor for his solar energy. This system allows for the incorporation of Nuclear Electricity, if available, as he considers this source also as benefitting reduced
CO2 Emissions. This is then a centralized electricity network.

In both these cases – obviously, well experienced business people show their readiness
to take risk in the future world as driven by the Paris Accord – reinforced by the now
G-19 – in disregard of the US President’s departure from global consensus.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Elon Musk: Model 3 passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule. Expecting to complete SN1 on Friday – 1:48 AM – 3 Jul 2017

Tesla’s Model 3, its mass-market car, expected to roll off factory floor Friday July 7, 2017.

The $35,000 electric car passed regulatory requirements two weeks ahead of schedule, and the first 30 owners will receive their cars at the end of the month, chief executive Elon Musk said.

Everything you need to know about Tesla Model 3, which is starting production today.

We’re gonna rock down to Electric Avenue, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher.

by Andrew J. Hawkins@andyjayhawk Jul 7, 2017,

Today’s the day for Tesla. The automaker says it expects to complete production of “SN1” (or “Serial Number one”) of the Model 3, its first electric car for the masses. But the Model 3 isn’t just any car. Everything for the success of Tesla as a viable car company has been building up to this point. The Model 3 will define the future of the company — and the stakes for Tesla and CEO Elon Musk couldn’t possibly be higher.

Earlier this week, Musk tweeted that Friday was the day the first Model 3 would be rolling off the assembly line. In subsequent tweets, he added that the first 30 Model 3 customers will receive their new Teslas on July 28th at a handover party hosted by the automaker.

“I think I can say, without irony of mawkishness, that this is the most important electric car ever produced,” said Michael Ramsey, research director at Gartner. “That’s because if it meets expectations of hundreds of thousands of sales, it changes the global landscape for electric cars. And if it fails, it relegates the move toward electrification to the trudging march that it has been so far.”

“I THINK I CAN SAY, WITHOUT IRONY OF MAWKISHNESS, THAT THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTRIC CAR EVER PRODUCED.”
Skepticism about Tesla’s ability to meet the enormous demands of mass production is extremely high. Practically no one believes Musk will be able to meet the benchmarks he has set for the Model 3. Tesla’s share price has been savaged over the last week, losing nearly 20 percent of its value, while Wall Street analysts predict that demand for Tesla’s two other current vehicles, the Model S and Model X, has already peaked. Other experts say that Musk will need to reduce costs by as much as 60 percent if it wants the Model 3 to be profitable.

And then there’s the fact that most auto startups throughout the 20th century eventually failed and fell into obscurity. Tesla, a 15-year-old company, could be poised to challenge those odds. The manufacturing and quality challenges of starting a brand-new automotive company are titanic.

“The Model 3 is critical for Tesla’s long-term viability,” said Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Kelley Blue Book. “The company had been around for almost 15 years yet has never turned a profit. The Model 3 will be Tesla’s first attempt at a high-volume car meant for mainstream consumers. If Tesla can satisfy the Model 3’s pent-up demand with a dependable and profitable vehicle it will finally justify a stock value that has it rivaling GM in capital value. If it can’t, Tesla will confirm many critic’s suspicions that it’s never had a truly sustainable business model.”

Tesla’s sky-high valuation — it recently surpassed BMW’s market cap — depends largely on Musk’s ability to sell his vision of sustainable, battery-powered driving to a much broader population. The Model S and Model X are both extremely expensive. Even with tax incentives, both cars easily push $100,000. The Model 3 will start at $35,000, making it the cheapest in Tesla’s range. In order for Tesla to sell 10 times as many cars as it does now, it needs a much cheaper automobile.

But the marketplace for affordable electric vehicles is suddenly much more crowded than it was when the Model 3 was first announced in 2016. GM was able to grab first-mover status when it released the Chevy Bolt, a $36,620, 238-mile-per-charge, electric vehicle, last December. Other midlevel electric vehicles include the Volkswagen e-Golf ($36,415), Ford Focus Electric ($29,995), and Nissan Leaf ($37,675).

These companies have the infrastructure in place to maintain quality and dealer service networks, however. There are signs that Tesla is rethinking its approach to selling and maintaining cars. (Most car dealers now act as the service arm for new buyers.)

Tesla can’t survive on its buzz-worthiness alone, but it’s certainly helped buoy its stock price. The number of people who plunked down the $1,000 deposit to preorder the Model 3 after it was first announced last year blew away pretty much everyone’s expectations. It took less than a week for the company to receive 350,000 preorders, leading Tesla to claim the Model 3 had the “biggest one-week launch of any product ever.” Eat your heart out, Apple.

But Tesla still has a long way to go before it can stick the landing. Musk says production is expected to grow exponentially: 100 cars in August, more than 1,500 by September, and then 20,000 per month by December. If the company fails to hit these marks or runs into manufacturing issues that happen at higher scales, or demand for the Model 3 drops, analysts argue it would be a setback not just for Tesla, but perhaps the entire electrification movement.

BY 2040, ANALYSTS SAY THAT 54 PERCENT OF ALL CARS SOLD ON THE PLANET WILL BE ELECTRIC
In 2016, Bloomberg’s new energy think tank predicted that electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles would make up about 35 percent of the world’s auto market by the year 2040. This year, the group upped that figure considerably: by 2040, analysts now say that 54 percent of all cars sold on the planet will be electric. France’s environmental minister said yesterday his country would ban the sale of all fossil fuel-burning vehicles by 2040. And Volvo said it would stop selling gas-only cars by 2019.

The world is trending toward battery-powered, electric vehicles, thanks in no small part to Musk’s vision and ingenuity. Tesla has helped spur the biggest automakers to accelerate their electrification plans. “The Chevy Bolt might not exist now were it not for Tesla,” said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant. “VW Group is running as fast as it can to move from diesel to electric.”

But the timing of the Model 3’s release could spell doom for Tesla, which still sells a fraction of the automobiles produced by the world’s biggest OEMs. Auto sales are stagnant in the US, while most consumers are trending toward SUVs and crossover vehicles rather than sedans. Tesla faces the problem of introducing a compact sedan when the market is running headlong away from this form factor to sport utilities. “Their timing couldn’t have been worse,” Abuelsamid said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 30th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From [Columbia University Climate Law Blog]: UN Body Finds That Human Rights Treaty Requires Climate Action

Climate Law Blog

Columbia Law School Climate Law Blog has posted a new item, ‘UN Body Finds That
Human Rights Treaty Requires Climate Action’

By Jessica Wentz

On June 23 the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
issued a statement recognizing that the failure to take adequate action on
climate change may rise to a violation of the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The Committee, a body of
independent experts that monitors compliance with the ICESR for the UN Economic
and Social Council, made the following observations and recommendations during
its review of Australia’s implementation of the treaty:

The Committee is concerned about the continued increase of CO2 emissions in the
State party, at risk of worsening in the coming years, despite the State
party’s commitments as a developed country under the UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as its Nationally Determined
Contribution under the Paris Agreement. The Committee is also concerned that
environmental protection has decreased in recent years as shown by the repeal of
the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2013, and the State party’s ongoing support to
new coal mines and coal-fired power stations. The Committee is also concerned
that climate change is disproportionately affecting the enjoyment of Covenant
rights by indigenous peoples.

The Committee recommends that the State party revise its climate change and
energy policies, as indicated during the dialogue. It recommends that the State
party take immediate measures aimed at reversing the current trend of increasing
absolute emissions of greenhouse gases, and pursue alternative and renewable
energy production. The Committee also encourages the State party to review its
position in support of coal mines and coal export. The Committee further
recommends that the State party address the impact of climate change on
indigenous peoples more effectively while fully engaging indigenous peoples in
related policy and programme design and implementation.

You may view the post at
 blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatecha…

Best regards,

Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
Columbia Law School
 www.columbiaclimatelaw.com

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 30th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Dr. Wil Burns
Co-Executive Director, Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, School of International Service, American University  wil at feronia.org  www.ceassessment.org

What Is Climate Engineering?

Climate engineering is the deliberate, large-scale intervention in one or more Earth
systems for the purpose of counteracting the causes or symptoms of human-caused
climate change. It is also called geoengineering or, less often, climate intervention. CE
encompasses two very different kinds of proposed technologies: Solar geoengineering,
also known as solar radiation management (SRM), would aim to cool the Earth by
reflecting a small fraction of incoming sunlight back into space before it can warm the
Earth. Carbon dioxide removal (CDR), sometimes called negative emissions
technologies (NETs) or greenhouse gas removal technologies, would remove carbon
dioxide (CO2) or other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and sequester them for
long periods of time in biological, geological, or oceanic reservoirs. These two kinds of
technologies generally raise different sets of technical, ethical, social, and legal
concerns, leading to frequent calls to treat them separately. Since many of the reports
being summarized here address both kinds of CE, this report will do so, too.

A Survey of Reports on Climate Engineering, 2009-2015
by Dr. David R. Morrow
Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment
American University
FCEA Working Paper Series: 001
SSRN: 2982392
June, 2017

 ceassessment.org/wp-content/uploa…

The first incarnation of our think tank’s monthly newsletter is now available: mailchi.mp/6030d8133d1c/new-clima….

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 25th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From TRUTHOUT:

In a recent, exclusive interview with Truthout, we asked Noam Chomsky about his take on climate change and the state of the planet. Here’s what he said:

“Every part of [the world] is trying to do something. The United States alone is trying to destroy it, and it’s not just Trump, it’s the whole Republican Party. You just can’t find words for it. And it’s not reported. It’s not discussed.”

From WASHINGTON POST:

Beyond opposing Trump, do Democrats have a message?

Perhaps Democrats thought things would be easier because of Donald Trump’s rocky start. His presidency has produced an outpouring of anger among Democrats, but will that be enough to bring about a change in the party’s fortunes? Some savvy Democratic elected officials doubt it.

By Dan Balz, June 24, 2017

Their anti-Trump fantasies are not working for them. Anger is not a plan or a policy. It only feeds those they already had and does not expand their base. If anything, it further alienates them from voters they need. This is because they not only hate Trump, they also hate those who voted for him. “I hate you because you did not vote for me” is a tough sale.

The loss in last week’s special congressional election in Georgia produced predictable handwringing and finger-pointing inside the Democratic Party. It also raised anew a question that has troubled the party through a period in which they have lost ground political. Simply put: Do Democrats have a message?

Right now, the one discernable message is opposition to President Donald Trump. That might be enough to get through next year’s midterm elections, though some savvy Democratic elected officials doubt it. What’s needed is a message that attracts voters beyond the blue-state base of the party.

The defeat in Georgia came in a district that was always extremely challenging. Nonetheless, the loss touched off a hunt for scapegoats. Some Democrats, predictably, blamed the candidate, Jon Ossoff, for failing to capitalize on a flood of money and energy among party activists motivated to send a message of opposition to the president. He may have had flaws but he and the Democrats turned out lots of voters. There just weren’t enough of them.

Other critics went up the chain of command and leveled their criticism at House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. She has held her party together in the House through many difficult fights – ask veterans of the Obama administration – but she also has become a prime target for GOP ad makers as a symbol of the Democrats’ liberal and bicoastal leanings. Pelosi, a fighter, has brushed aside the criticism.

Perhaps Democrats thought things would be easier because of Trump’s rocky start. His presidency has produced an outpouring of anger among Democrats but will that be enough to bring about a change in the party’s fortunes?

History says a president with approval ratings as low as Trump’s usually sustain substantial midterm losses. That could be the case in 2018, particularly if the Republicans end up passing a health care bill that right now is far more unpopular than Obamacare. But Trump has beaten the odds many times in his short political career. What beyond denunciations of the Republicans as heartless will the Democrats have to say to voters?

Though united in vehement opposition to the president, Democrats do not speak with one voice. Fault lines and fissures exist between the ascendant progressive wing at the grassroots and those Democrats who remain more business-friendly. While these differences are not as deep as those seen in Trump’s Republican Party, that hasn’t yet generated a compelling or fresh message to take to voters who aren’t already sold on the party.

Hillary Clinton, whose rhetoric often sounded more poll-tested than authentic, never found that compelling message during her 2016 campaign. She preferred to run a campaign by demonizing Trump and as a result drowned out her economic issues. This was a strategic gamble for which she paid a high price.

The absence of a convincing economic message did not start with Clinton. Former president Barack Obama struggled with the same during his 2012 reelection. He wanted to claim credit for a steady but slow recovery while acknowledging forthrightly the persistent growth that was rising far more rapidly for those at the top. It was a muddle at best, but he was saved the fact that Mitt Romney couldn’t speak to those stressed voters either. In 2016, however, Trump did.

Clinton’s loss forced Democrats to confront their deficiencies among white, working-class voters and the vast areas between the coasts that flipped in Trump’s direction. Their defection from the Democratic Party began well before Trump but until 2016 Democrats thought they could overcome that problem by tapping other voters. Trump showed the limits of that strategy.

The Georgia loss put a focus on a different type of voter, the well-educated suburbanites, particularly those who don’t live in deep blue states. While losing ground among working-class whites, Democrats have been gaining support among white voters with college degrees. Last fall, Clinton advisers believed she would do well enough with those college graduates to overcome projected erosion among those without college educations. She fell short of expectations, however, allowing Trump to prevail in the pivotal Midwest battlegrounds.

The Georgia district had the highest percentage of college graduates of any in the nation. Ossoff tried to win over those suburban voters with a moderate message on economic issues but it wasn’t powerful or persuasive enough to overcome the appeal of the Republican brand in an election in which the GOP made Pelosi-style Democrats a focus. Loyalty to party was strong enough to allow Karen Handel to prevail.

The long-running debate over the Democrats’ message likely will intensify as the party looks to 2018 and especially to 2020. It is a debate that the party needs. Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, writing in the American Prospect, sees a problem that goes beyond white, working-class voters to those within the Democratic base who also were left behind by the post-2008 economic gains. He argues that the part’s problem is with working class voters of all types, not just whites.

Greenberg has long been critical of the tepidness of the party’s economic message and puts some of the blame on Obama. He believes the former president’s economic message in 2012 and 2016 focused on progress in the recovery largely to the exclusion of the widespread pain that still existed. “That mix of heralding ‘progress’ while bailing out those responsible for the crisis and the real crash in incomes for working Americans was a fatal brew for Democrats,” he argues.

For progressives, the answer to this problem is clear: a boldly liberal message that attacks big corporations and Wall Street and calls for a significant increase in government’s role in reducing income and wealth inequality. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. has been aggressive in promoting exactly that, as he did during the 2016 campaign, a big investment in infrastructure, free college tuition at public colleges and universities. He has said he intends to introduce legislation he calls “Medicare for all.”

That kind of message likely will spark more internal debate, particularly among Democrats from swing districts or swing states. It points to one of the biggest challenges Democrats face as they move beyond being the anti-Trump party. That is the question of whether they are prepared to make a robust and appealing case in behalf of government in the face of continuing skepticism among many of the voters they are trying to win over. Trump might not succeed in draining the swamp, but he has tapped into sentiments about Washington that Democrat ignore at their peril.

Nor can Democrats ignore voters’ concerns about immigration. The Democrats’ message on immigration and immigrant rights (and some other cultural issues) plays well in many blue states, but it draws a much more mixed reception in those parts of the country where Trump turned the election in his direction.

In this divided era, it’s easy for either party to look at the other and conclude the opposition is in worse shape. That’s the trap for Democrats right now as they watch Trump struggle in office. But Democrats are in the minority in the House, Senate, governorships and state legislatures. Clinton may have won the popular vote but that proved about as satisfying as coming close while losing last week in Georgia. It’s no substitute for the real thing. If continued frustration with losing doesn’t prompt rethinking about the message, what will?

From OpenDEMOCRACY:

Macron and absolute responsibility
PATRICE DE BEER 23 June 2017
If there were one word to characterise these elections, it was crafted by Melenchon and is “dégagisme”, or cleaning-out.

French President Emmanuel Macron has won his ambitious and unlikely bet. After having been elected president last May at the age of 39, he now holds an absolute majority in the National Assembly, with 350 seats out of 577 – his own movement, La République En Marche (LREM), having 308 MPs, the rest being held by his centrist MoDem allies.

For a movement created only14 months ago and long considered by pundits and politicians alike as a “bubble”, this is an incredible success. Even if it is less than what the most recent opinion polls had predicted (up to 470 seats), and even though the 57% abstention rate has reached an apex in the history of the Fifth Republic.

Now that he has turned the French party system upside down, he holds all the cards to implement his promised in-depth reform of a paralysed political, economic and social system. This is what most French voters elected him for. He will marginally revamp his government, which includes ministers from left, right and centre alongside personalities from civil society, serving under the conservative 46-year-old Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, before Parliament is due to convene on June 27. Yet he has to move fast on his reforms – first of the labour market, a very divisive one, on which negotiations with unions and employers have already started – knowing by experience as the former adviser and economic minister of the last Socialist president, François Hollande, that delaying crucial decisions means having their positive effects delayed till the end of his five year tenure, if not later. He knows this so well that some of his new bills are already in the pipeline, having even been partly drafted before he took office.

If his predicted triumph has been downsized to an historical success in presiding over the demise of the two parties who ruled France in the last 60 years, it is mostly because of a massive abstention rate. Already noted during the first round, when other parties lost up to 60% of the votes obtained during the April-May presidential election, this conviction on the part of many voters that this is the only election that matters, also afflicted the Macron vote last Sunday. Some of his voters thought there was no point voting again as the dice were cast, others were not so keen to give him too big a majority. At the same time, it looks as if tactical voting from opposition voters, starting with the left and right extremes – France Insoumise (FI or Unsubdued Left) and National Front (FN) – helped defeat some LREM candidates who were ahead on the first round.

Faced by these 350 seats, conservative Républicains and their centrist allies had their worse ever score with 130 seats (against 229 in the last Parliament). Socialists slumped to 30, 10% of their previous score. They are in total disarray, having lost their historical strongholds and some MPs only having survived thanks to Macron’s support for those considered “Macron compatible”, after they voiced support in public for some of his reforms and their willingness to support his government in its first vote of confidence. A split between such recruits and the hard-liners has already occurred in the Republicains, with the same expected to ensue any moment now within the Socialists, all of which should benefit the new President.

Together for the first time, the far left and the far right will play an albeit minor role within a split opposition. FN has now 8 MPs instead of 2, including the election of its leader Ms Marine Le Pen. This is far less than they had hoped for and not enough to form a parliamentary group (a minimum of 15 MPs). The FI, the new populist party led by Jean-Luc Melenchon, has 17 MPs when it previously had none. This will give him a basis to pursue his war against Macron whom he considers as the devil incarnate of the worst type of capitalist and financial system. This is a huge disappointment for a man who still hoped a few weeks ago for a majority in Parliament and who considers Macron’s power as illegitimate because, he says, overlooking the fact that less than 2.5 millions voted for him, that it only represents 7.3 million registered voters out of 47.6 million. The Communists, rejecting fealty to the FI, cling to their 10 MPs. As for the Greens, bitterly torn among themselves, they have gone from 17 to one MP while French ecology icon, Nicolas Hulot, is now number 3 in the Philippe government, in charge of energy transition.

If there were one word to characterise these elections, it was crafted by Melenchon and is “dégagisme”, or cleaning-out. “Dégagisme” of old politicians, old parties, of the old world, to build a new one made up of several bold promises regularly repeated like mantras by this gifted orator who can hold the attention of large audiences for hours, while sporting his Mao-like jacket. “Dégagisme” for him began with his rivals on the left, starting with the PS whom he vowed to destroy and replace, and with whom he rejected any alliance, even choosing to stand against the local head of the party in Marseilles, and winning.

But it is also clear that a large majority of those who left the PS were from its moderate wing and disillusioned by Hollande as well as by his vociferous minority of hard-liners who took control of a rump party in the presidential primaries – their candidate came out fifth with only 6% of the vote at the presidential election – the rest siding with France Insoumise. So, the main beneficiary of this “dégagisme” against politicians who had been in charge for decades and were held responsible by so many of the French voters, left and right, has been Macron himself. It was they who helped him build his following before he received support from the centre and from part of the right in his “neither left nor right” or “and left and right” strategy.

Absolute majority, absolute responsibility

So the easy part of his job has now been done and a hard task lies ahead. Initially, few people believed he could be elected. Now all of a sudden they expect him to deliver. And fast. To balance his job-creating reforms by loosening up the French labour system with social reforms. To make it easier to lay-off but also to recruit. To improve the living of the less-well-off by simplifying taxes and financing health and unemployment benefits, not from wages but through a higher tax on all income, financial and corporate included, and by removing an obsolete and unjust housing tax for 80% of taxpayers.

The French want things to change for the better but are at the same time afraid of the future. And they are also reluctant to see these changes affect them directly. Difficult people to deal with! But by promoting a more benevolent type of politics, by refusing to countenance verbal abuse against his opponents, asking people in rallies to stop booing them, he has tried to promote a more peaceful atmosphere. This might pacify the political arena for a time but there will be no honeymoon: he will have to deliver.

He has started by building an image of himself as a leader. At home, by not ducking out of talking face to face with strikers fighting against the outsourcing of their jobs; booed at first, he managed at least twice to have a frank discussion with them without making, as he said, promises everyone knew he could not fulfil. Then he did the same in the international world where so many pundits said that he was too young and lacked the international exposure and guts to talk face to face with world leaders, starting with Trump and Putin. But now he will have to dirty his hands with day to day politics.

He will do this with the help of his new majority in an Assembly profoundly affected by another brand of institutional ”dégagisme”. Thanks to a recent bill, no politician can be elected for more than three terms or hold more than one position of responsibility (deputy or senator, mayor, regional counsellor). Macron has also decided to implement strict parity between women and men in his government as among his candidates for Parliament. So the new Assembly will accommodate 432 (75%) new MPs, 223 of them women (160 from LREM) instead of 155. With an average age of 48 years instead of 54 years as before, they are elected under Macron’s name. New in politics but active in business, start-ups, social services, various jobs and professions who will have to learn the tricks of the trade while remaining close to people outside Parliament. Loyal? yes, but hopefully bringing new blood, new ideas, new experience to a political world far too long endogamous and male orientated.

Will they all be up to the task? The fact is that they represent the first revolution – the title of Macron’s last book – to occur in fossilised French politics and a timely chance to bring France back as a European, and world power, thanks to his promised reforms and his pro-European stand at a moment when the EU is not that popular in the Old Continent. Just at the time when the EU’s future is at stake and Britain is starting her long, complex and, probably, bitter divorce proceedings.

As the conservative Le Figaro, criticised by readers for being too accommodating with Macron wrote on Monday, “Absolute majority, absolute responsibility”. And Le Monde’s publisher added, “Rebuild confidence”. A tough programme indeed.

‘It only needs all’: re-reading Dialectic of Enlightenment at 70

MARCEL STOETZLER 24 June 2017

Seventy years ago, Querido Verlag published a densely written book that has become a key title of modern social philosophy. Underneath its pessimistic granite surface a strangely sanguine message awaits us.

How do you make an argument against social domination when the very terms, concepts and languages at your disposal are shaped by, and in turn serve that same social domination? Probably in the way you would light a fire in a wooden stove. How would you write a book about the impossibility of writing just that book? Like a poem about the pointlessness of poems. What if your enemies’ enemies are your own worst enemies? Can you defend liberal society from its fascist enemies when you know it is the wrong state of things? You must, but dialectics may well ‘make cowards of us all’ and spoil our ‘native hue of resolution’.

Dialectic of Enlightenment[1] is a very strange book, and although it was published, in 1947, by the leading publishing house for exiled, German-language anti-fascist literature, the Querido Verlag in Amsterdam, alongside many of the biggest literary names of the time, no-one will have expected that it gradually became one of the classics of modern social philosophy.

It is a book that commits all the sins editors tend to warn against: its chapters are about wildly differing subject matters; the writing is repetitive, circular and fragmented; no argument ever seems exhausted or final and there are no explicitly stated conclusions, and certainly no trace of a policy impact trajectory. Arguments start somewhere, suddenly come to a halt and then move on to something else. If this sounds like the script for a Soviet film from the revolutionary period, then that is not totally coincidental: it is an avant-garde montage film, transcribed into philosophy.

Unsurprisingly, given that it was written during WW2 in American exile and published at the beginning of the Cold War, it does not carry its Marxism on its sleeves, but it gives clear enough hints: in the preface, Horkheimer and Adorno state that the aim of the book is ‘to explain why humanity, instead of entering a truly human state, is sinking into a new kind of barbarism’. This addresses the dialectic referenced in the title of the book. The important bit here is the ‘instead of’: the reality of barbarism was undeniable and clearly visible, but the originality of the formulation lies in its implication that humanity could have been expected to enter ‘a truly human state’ sometime earlier in the twentieth century, leaving behind its not so human state.

The promise of progress towards humanity, held by socialists (and some liberals), blew up in their faces. It would have been easy and straightforward then to write a book arguing against the holding of such hope, but this would not have been a dialectical book; Dialectic of Enlightenment undertakes to rescue this hope by looking at why progress tipped over into its opposite.

Whose barbarism?
A number of propositions have been made, at the time and later, as to who or what is to be blamed for the barbarism. Capitalism was an obvious answer, but then, capitalism does not typically and all the time produce Holocausts (and capitalists could be found among the victims). Others pointed at ‘the Germans’ and their peculiar intellectual and social history; this, too, is neither an entirely wrong nor a quite satisfying answer. Again others pointed at ‘the bureaucracy’ and modern statecraft. These surely played a role but there are plenty of state bureaucracies that do not engage in genocides and world wars, most of the time. Horkheimer and Adorno made a much stranger, more abstract and strangely radical proposition: the barbarism that destroyed civilization was a product of civilization as such. It is civilization’s self-destruction.

The attempt to formulate a theory of barbarism as the product of civilization creates a very thorny problem, though: theorizing, the attempt to bring about enlightenment, is very much the stuff of civilization, as it involves thinking, language, perceptions, concepts, images, ideas, judgements, ‘spirit’ (which in the philosophical tradition Horkheimer and Adorno came from means as much as ‘culture’). Dialectic of Enlightenment blames the destruction of enlightenment on enlightenment, i.e. on itself. The philosopher Jürgen Habermas some decades later cleverly pointed out that this is a bit of a contradiction. That was exactly the point, though: the hint is in the title, in the word ‘Dialectic’.

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Title-page of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807. Wikicommons. Some rights reserved.
The book’s painful starting point is described in the preface: Horkheimer and Adorno looked for a position from which to confront fascism and found that ‘in reflecting on its own guilt’, thought finds that it lacks a language.

In the name of what exactly is it possible to challenge fascism effectively? In the languages of sociology, psychology, history, philosophy? The discourses of truth, freedom, human rights?

Barbarism… is civilization’s self-destruction.
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Here is the rub: in the period in which fascism took power these sounded hollow as they had been stripped of their authority. If this sounds familiar, it is because, almost a century later, we are in a not so different situation. Horkheimer and Adorno state – still in the preface – that fascist demagogues and liberal intellectuals feed off the same (positivist) zeitgeist, marked by the ‘self-destruction of the enlightenment’. Science and scholarship are not potent weapons against fascism anymore, and this even affects tendencies that are opposed to ‘official’, positivistic science.

The basic point here is that scientific, materialist, technological rationality is a force for good only when it is linked to the idealistic notion of general human emancipation, the goal of full rich lives for all, without suffering, exploitation and oppression. (Using a word they had good reasons to avoid, this is what Marx would have called ‘communism’). Only this link gives empirical and rationalist science its truth and significance: enlightenment needs to be ‘transcendental’, i.e. something that points beyond the actually existing reality, not unlike metaphysics in traditional philosophy. It needs to be critical, that is, in opposition to reality as it is.

The principal thesis of the book is that enlightenment purged itself of this connection to society-transcending, non-empirical, critical truth, and as early as on the second page of the preface Horkheimer and Adorno are happy to name the thinker who exemplifies for them this fatal development: Auguste Comte, the founder of positivist philosophy. They assert that in the hostile and brutal conditions of the eighteenth century – the period often described as that of ‘the Enlightenment’ – philosophy had dared to challenge the ‘infamy’ (as Voltaire called it) of the church and the society it helped maintain, while in the aftermath of the French Revolution philosophy switched sides and put itself at the service of the state. This was of course, by now, the modernising state, but still the same state. They write that the Comtean school of positivism – ‘apologists’ of the modern, capitalist society that emerged in the nineteenth century – ‘usurped’ the succession to the genuine Enlighteners, and reconciled philosophy with the forces it previously had opposed, such as the Catholic church.

Horkheimer and Adorno mention in this context the ultra-nationalist organisation Action Française, whose chief ideologist Charles Maurras had been an ardent admirer of Comte. This hint helps understand what kind of historical developments they had on their minds: while Comte himself surely saw himself in good faith as a protagonist of social reform meant to overcome-but-preserve the achievements of the Revolution, and his translation of enlightenment empiricism into the system of ‘positivist philosophy’ as a contribution to the process of modernization, his followers in many ways contributed to the development of the modern authoritarian state and, as in the case of Maurras, proto-fascism.

Dear Reader of SustainabiiTank – if you got up to here and want to read further please find the continuation starting with WATERLOO at the souce:

 www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe…

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About the author
Marcel Stoetzler is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Bangor University, Wales.
He studied at Hamburg University, Germany, and at the Universities of Greenwich and Middlesex (both London). He works on social and political theory, intellectual history and historical sociology, and has lately concentrated on various aspects of modern antisemitism, especially its interconnections with liberalism and nationalism and the emergence of the discipline of sociology. He serves on the editorial board of Patterns of Prejudice and is a fellow at the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 24th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

June 24, 2017

(MENAFN – AFP) #France is to stop granting new licenses for oil and gas exploration on the mainland and in overseas territories.

Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot said Friday:
“There will be no new exploration licenses for hydrocarbons, we will pass the law this autumn,” Hulot said on BFMTV.

President Emmanuel Macron said during his election campaign in February that he was opposed to exploration for gas and shale gas in mainland France.

Macron even saide would like to see the exploitation of oil and gas halted altogether in France’s overseas territories, especially in #FrenchGuiana on the northeastern coast of South America.

But Hulot, an environmental campaigner and former TV star before he joined the cabinet last month, said it would currently be impossible to take such a move without triggering lawsuits from energy companies.

MENAFN2306201701430000ID1095575755

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 16th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Your Money, Your America
CEOs to Trump: You’re failing

by Matt Egan @mattmegan5
June 15, 2017

President Trump loved to brag during the campaign about his business skills. Now that he’s in charge, business leaders seem alarmed by Trump’s political skills.

A stunning 50% of the CEOs, business execs, government officials and academics surveyed at the annual Yale CEO Summit give Trump an “F” for his first 130 days in office.

The survey, released earlier this week, found that another 21% give Trump’s performance a “D” so far. Just 1% of the 125 leaders polled awarded the billionaire an “A.”
Powered by SmartAsset.com

The overarching message from CEOs is: “Stop the random 3 a.m. tweets and stop the needless brushfires diverting from the agenda,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the Yale School of Management professor who led the summit.

Sonnenfeld noted that 80% of those surveyed are CEOs, including Blackstone (BX) CEO Steve Schwarzman and IBM (IBM, Tech30) boss Ginni Rometty, who sit on Trump’s advisory council and Merck (MRK) CEO Ken Frazier, a member of the president’s manufacturing initiative. (Individual responses by each CEO were not released.)

“This was not a granola-eating crowd of Democrat entrepreneurs. It’s a cross-section of the business community, including some who are quite pro-Trump,” he said.

The Yale findings are the latest evidence that some pockets of the business community are growing disenchanted with Trump as his administration struggles to implement its economic agenda amid scandal and missteps.

Related: Trumpworld thinks there’s such a thing as a ‘good’ government shutdown
Earlier this month, Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord sparked an unprecedented revolt by CEOs. Business leaders led by Tesla (TSLA)founder Elon Musk, Disney CEO Bob Iger and JPMorgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon publicly bashed the decision. Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein even sent his first-ever tweet to slam the move as a “setback” for U.S. leadership in the world.

CEOs surveyed by Yale agree with that sentiment. Two-thirds of respondents indicated that Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord diminished America’s global standing. Another 86% expressed concern about Trump minimizing Russian security mischief.
Business leaders are not impressed with Trump’s budget either. Three-fourths of survey respondents said the administration’s budget proposal is not sound.

Corporate America’s poor marks for Trump have not spread to Wall Street, at least not yet.
Trump’s promises to slash taxes, ramp up infrastructure spending and cut regulation have fired up investors. The Dow has surged roughly 3,000 points since Trump’s election and it hit yet another record on Wednesday.

Yet Trump’s economic agenda has been stalled due to opposition from Democrats and Republican infighting. Wall Street has dialed back its expectations for the size and timing of the tax reform Trump promised.

CEOs don’t think it’s a slam dunk. Just 42% of leaders surveyed by Yale think Trump will pass corporate tax reform.

David Bianco, chief investment strategist at Deutsche Asset Management, warned this week about the impact of the political trouble on stocks soon.

The Trump rally is “vulnerable to summer fatigue and rising anxiety over whether Congress can make pragmatic decisions,” Bianco warned in a report this week. He advised clients to be safe by moving some money from stocks to bonds.

“We think (the rally) has reached its near-term limits,” Bianco wrote.

——————————————–
CNNMoney (New York)
First published June 15, 2017: 8:38 AM ET

=============================================================

The Washington Post – June 15, 2017

Special counsel investigating Jared Kushner’s business dealings as part of Russia probe, officials say

Robert S. Mueller III is investigating the finances and business dealings of President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser as part of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to officials familiar with the matter.

The Washington Post had earlier reported that investigators were scrutinizing separate meetings that Kushner held with the Russians in December — first with the Russian ambassador and then with the head of a Russian development bank. At the time of that report, it was not clear that the FBI was investigating Kushner’s business dealings.

Mueller’s investigation is still in a relatively early phase, and it is unclear if any criminal charges will be brought when it is complete.

==========================================================

The New York Times —- June 16, 2017

In Washington, President Trump taunted federal investigators, accusing them of making up a “phony collusion with the Russians story” and dismissing reports that he could be investigated on suspicion of obstruction of justice for firing James Comey, the F.B.I. director.

Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, during his annual call-in show, sarcastically offered Mr. Comey political asylum in the country.

Vice President Mike Pence has hired a criminal defense lawyer to guide him through the various investigations.

and further from CNN:

The lawyer, Richard Cullen, is a former Virginia attorney general and a former US attorney for the eastern district of Virginia. Pence interviewed several lawyers before selecting Cullen, who is based in Richmond.

The decision to hire Cullen has been in the works for weeks, aides to the vice president said. It follows President Donald Trump’s decision to assemble a team of outside lawyers to represent him through the Justice Department special counsel’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“The vice president is focused entirely on his duties and promoting the President’s agenda and looks forward to a swift conclusion of this matter,” Jarrod Agen, the vice president’s communications director, said Thursday night in a statement.

Cullen, reached by CNN’s Kevin Bohn, Cullen said he had nothing to add beyond the official statement.

The vice president made the final decision to hire Cullen earlier this week, and aide told CNN, and stressed that the decision to hire Cullen was not prompted by anything.

=====================================================================================

AND ONE GOOD WORD FROM TRUMP AND US CONGRESS:

FROM THE EUOBSERVER OF JUNE 16, 20017

TICKER
Austria and Germany oppose US sanctions on Russia
By EUOBSERVER – TODAY, 08:53

Austria and Germany have spoken out against the latest round of US sanctions against Moscow over broader concerns that they may affect European businesses dealing with Russian natural gas. The US Senate had voted earlier this week to impose the new sanctions. In a joint statement following the US vote, Austria and Germany said: “We can’t accept the threat of illegal and extraterritorial sanctions against European companies.”

AND WE AT SUSTAINABILITANK HAVE A LONGSTANDING OPPOSITION TO AUSTRIA ENERGY INTERESTS
HAVING SOLD THEMSELVES TO RUSSIA’S GASPROM BY INVESTING IN AND BUILDING PIPELINES FOR
RUSSIAN GAS MAKING EUROPE DEPENDENT ON RUSSIA.

NOT THAT US BUSINESS IS CLEAN BUSINESS, THEY JUST CONTEMPLATE MAKING MONEY BY SELLING AIRPLANES TO IRAN WHICH THEY BOMBASTICALLY ATTACK WITH WORDS. ALSO THE US OFFENSIVE
ON SAUDI MONEY BY LOADING THEM WITH MILITARY HARDWARE AND PLANES DOES LITTLE TO STABILIZE
THE REGION. OH WELL – BUT ON THOSE PIPELINES THE US IS RIGHT.

========================================================================================

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 15th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

NATURE Magazine | COLUMN: WORLD VIEW Sharing

Kaia Diringer — Let Trump claim a better deal on climate

If we can stomach it, a ‘renegotiation’ of the Paris Agreement could help us all, says Elliot Diringer.

14 June 2017


It was perhaps inevitable that Donald Trump would stand on the White House lawn to proclaim that the United States was quitting the Paris Agreement, our best hope ever for tackling climate change. It’s also plausible that the United States will not actually withdraw.

Like so many others, I was distressed at the images and words coming from the Rose Garden earlier this month. Having attended the 1992 Earth Summit where the global climate effort was born, spent years helping negotiators navigate their way to the 2015 Paris Agreement, and rallied companies to support the United States staying in, I could hardly bear to watch.

Trump was spurning fellow world leaders, the chief executives of many of the world’s largest companies, and a strong majority of Americans — for no evident reason other than to gratify his voting base, or simply to prove that he could.

Related stories

How scientists reacted to the US leaving the Paris climate agreement
Trump pulls United States out of Paris climate agreement
Climate change: A patchwork of emissions cuts
The ensuing global outrage won’t quickly subside. Nor, let us hope, will the groundswell of renewed climate commitment. Country after country has reaffirmed its support for Paris, and a spontaneous ‘We Are Still In’ campaign by US cities, states and companies offers hope that the United States can still get close to its Paris goal. The message from many is clear: forget Trump, we’ll do it without him.

It is better, I think, not to count him out yet.

Trump did not declare a clean break from the global climate effort. The United States remains a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the treaty underlying the Paris Agreement. (It also did when president George W. Bush rejected the 1997 Kyoto Protocol; had the United States not stayed then, Paris would probably never have emerged.) And the earliest the country can technically depart the Paris Agreement is 4 November 2020.


In the meantime, Trump says he is willing to rework the deal. That opening, if properly navigated, could produce another dramatic proclamation, this one keeping the United States in.

“The greater obstacle may be our own visceral aversion to letting Trump ‘get his way’.”
To be clear, the basic terms of Paris are not open for renegotiation. Other countries regard them as a sensible balancing of national interests against an urgent common threat. And they are weary of accommoda­ting the vagaries of US climate politics. After all, this agreement, like the Kyoto Protocol, was designed largely to US specifications.


But there is a way to preserve the core agreement and still allow the president to declare that he’s secured a better deal.

A fundamental feature of the Paris Agreement is that countries’ individual contributions are “nationally determined”. Although the accord discourages parties from weakening their goals, it doesn’t forbid them from doing so. If President Trump doesn’t like former president Barack Obama’s target of shrinking greenhouse-gas emissions to 26–28% below 2005 levels in 2025,
he’s free to change it.

Although many are loath to encourage a move so clearly contravening the spirit of the Paris Agreement, some of the countries most vulnerable to climate change openly acknowledge the option. Thoriq Ibrahim, environment and energy minister for the Maldives and chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, said, “If the US wishes to change its contribution, that would be unfortunate but is its prerogative”.

Why would the Maldives or anyone else be open to a weaker US target? For the same reasons so many of us worked so furiously to persuade Trump to stay in. For now, his announcement may have a galvanizing effect. But over time, the formal exit of the world’s largest economy risks corroding global ambition.

Today’s strong momentum to decarbonize can be only a start. We need a wholesale transformation of energy and transportation systems over the coming decades to even approach the Paris goal of keeping warming below 2?°C above pre-industrial levels. Countries will make their best efforts only if they’re confident that others, especially major competitors, will too. That’s how Paris works: by strengthening confidence that everyone’s doing their part.

If the United States walks away, other countries will remain, but they’re likely to be less ambitious in meeting their initial targets, and in the next ones they’re due to set in 2020. Staying in, on the other hand, would also encourage US action by forcing a national conversation every five years around climate goals and measures. Better, on the whole, for the United States to be in than out.

How would this benefit Trump? The president has shown that he’s motivated more by the ‘deal’ than its substance, and that his extreme opening positions are just that. In the international realm alone, he’s retreated from his threat to quit the North American Free Trade Agreement, his promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, his currency-manipulation charges against China, and his dismissal of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as obsolete. With his Rose Garden speech, Trump checked one box and drew another. He fulfilled his campaign pledge to leave Paris, and he told Americans he’s now going for a better deal. Coming back with a reduced target could be enticing precisely because it would allow him to claim another win.

The forces within the administration that goaded him to withdraw would no doubt persist. But the greater obstacle may be our own visceral aversion to the idea of letting Trump ‘get his way’. Our choice, in the end, may be between indulging a prideful charade or letting the United States leave. I, for one, hope we manage to keep Paris whole.

Nature 546, 329 (15 June 2017) doi:10.1038/546329a
Related stories and links

From nature.com
How scientists reacted to the US leaving the Paris climate agreement
02 June 2017
Trump pulls United States out of Paris climate agreement
01 June 2017
Climate change: A patchwork of emissions cuts
18 September 2013
Author information

Affiliations
Elliot Diringer is executive vice-president of the US-based Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). CLIMATE CHANGE ENERGY SOLUTIONS

=====================

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 14th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

In a sleepy town in the Norwegian Arctic, an American-funded radar system is being built to spy on Russia’s expanding fleet of nuclear submarines.

The project has already infuriated the Kremlin, which is seeking to assert itself in the region as climate change opens up shipping routes and resources.

“Norway has to understand that after becoming an outpost of NATO, it will have to face head-on Russia and Russian military might,” Russia’s ambassador to Norway said. “Therefore, there will be no peaceful Arctic anymore.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 18th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Friday, May 12, 2017 ,The Manhattan Greentech Investors Forum, led by Dr. Gelvin Srevenson, and hosted by Sidney Austin LLP, met to listen to the presentation of Dr. James Magnuss Who described the use of “Vertically-variable Ocean Sail Systems” (VOSS) Sails that do not look at all like those conventionally used in wind powered sail-ships.

Present were gentlemen from Africa who seem to have an in with Chinese interests that pay
attention to innovative ideas.

The Magnuss VOSS is a 100-foot rotating and spinning metal hollow-tower, when not in use – retractable into the ship’s hull. This tower is draped in material in a way that the spinning movement creates thrust like in the case of an airplane.

These VOSS power sources are not intended to replace the original engine – but rather to add on to what powers the ship. A ship with four VOSS towers has thus an effective added powering engine added up to its original engine.

The chief innovation here is in the retractable feature for stowing the towers below the deck
when loadig and unloading in a port.

Magnuss delivers three benefits:

(1) fuel savings of 20-35%
(2) a new means to reduce carbon emissions
(3) a patented and class-approved design of proven technology applied in a different way to
meet the needs of global shipping today.

He reminded us that fuel cost represents 60-80% of a bulk cargo ship’s operating costs and ranks among the world’s largest emitters of carbon. Considering the need to have hull space for the retractable towers VOSS sails fit best onto bulk shipping.

Currently James Magnusis looking to close a $2.7 million angel round of common equity – he offers strategic partnership and international patent expansion.

Proof of concept was verified, patents issued, tech design complete, and class approval is already in hand.

The savings have been validated by 3rd party NGOs, including Sir Richard Branson’s Carbon
War-Room and the Sustainable shipping initiative.

The Funds needed now are for proceeding with new construction projects.

If bulk transport emissions were added up globally, we heard that they would have
reached 6th place if this industry were a nation – so making a dent here is consequential.

With Dr. Magnus as CEO of the company, others involved are:

Ted Shergolis as COO – a Tech Entrepreneur
Eric Holohan as CTO – a Naval Architect
Alistair Fischbacher – Chairman ofSustainable Shipping Industries (SSI) who is the
Former General Manager of the Rio Tinto Fleet.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

I saw the following in the WSJ of today and was intrigued by the great ideas of this man, whom by the way we knew, and knew his wife as well. I thought, finally the WSJ writes about his ideas on the cost of health-care – something they really should have done a long time ago – not just now hidden in the memorial of an obituary. Oh well – how many people will search for those lines?

I tried to lift the article and post it – but neigh – the WSJ wants to be paid fr this.


William Baumol Diagnosed the Disease of Higher Health and Education Costs
Economist explained why TV sets get cheaper but hospital stays don’t

By James R. Hagerty
The Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2017 10:00 a.m. ET

William Baumol made his name as an economist by explaining why the costs of health care, education and some other services rise much faster than most other things.

so, I looked it up by other ways and found the original from which the WSJ article was built:

I Found the Free exchange Blog that wrote a 2012 book review:

An incurable disease


A new book explains how health care can become both more expensive and more affordable
Sep 29th 2012


HEALTH-CARE expenditure in America is growing at a disturbing rate: in 1960 it was just over 5% of GDP, in 2011 almost 18%. By 2105 the number could reach 60%, according to William Baumol of New York University’s Stern School of Business. Incredible? It is simply the result of extrapolating the impact of a phenomenon Mr Baumol has become famous for identifying: “cost disease”. His new book* gives a nuanced diagnosis, offerings both a vision of a high-cost future and a large dose of optimism. The cost disease may be incurable, but it is also survivable—if treated correctly.

To understand the cost disease, start with a simple observation: whatever the economy’s average rate of productivity growth, some industries outpace others. Take car manufacturing. In 1913 Ford introduced assembly lines to move cars between workstations. This allowed workers, and their tools, to stay in one place, which cut the time to build a Model T car from 12 hours to less than two. As output per worker grows in such “progressive” sectors, firms can afford to increase wages.

In some sectors of the economy, however, such productivity gains are much harder to come by—if not impossible. Performing a Mozart quartet takes just as long in 2012 as it did in the late 18th century. Mr Baumol calls industries in which productivity growth is low or even non-existent “stagnant”.

Employers in such sectors face a problem: they also need to increase their wages so workers don’t defect. The result is that, although output per worker rises only slowly or not at all, wages go up as fast as they do in the rest of the economy. As the costs of production in stagnant sectors rise, firms are forced to raise prices. These increases are faster than those in sectors where productivity is improving, and faster than inflation (which blends together all the prices in the economy). So prices of goods from stagnant sectors must rise in real terms. Hence “cost disease”.

The disease is most virulent in industries where standardisation and automation are hard. The best examples are goods tailored to meet customer-specific demands, such as bespoke suits and haircuts. But Mr Baumol focuses on industries in which the cost disease is rife because human interaction is important, such as health care, education and the performing arts. Because it is often human input that makes the products of these industries valuable, cutting labour would be self-defeating.

Historical data confirm that the cost disease is real. Since the 1980s the price of university education in America has risen by 440% and the cost of medical care by 250%. For the economy as a whole, the average price and wage increases were only 110% and 150% respectively (see left-hand chart). Mr Baumol’s theory makes for scary extrapolations. America’s health-care spending as a share of GDP, for instance, is growing by around 1.4% a year. If it continued to expand at this rate for a century, it would rise to that eye-popping figure of 60% in 2105.

Although America leads the pack in medical inflation, it is not the only country that is infected. In Japan health-care spending per person grew by 5.7% a year in real terms between 1960 and 2006; in Britain it rose by 3.5% a year over the same period. Applying Mr Baumol’s logic, health-care spending in both countries could, if nothing was done about it, rise from around 10% of GDP to more than 50% in the next 100 years.

Fortunately, possibilities abound to mitigate the impact of the cost disease. Cutting waste in health care can shift down the level of spending. Though this is no cure, it does mean costs grow from a lower base when the disease inevitably takes hold. And innovation will mean that activities within the stagnant sector, like hand-delivered post, can be replaced by alternatives where productivity improvements are more likely, like texts and e-mail.

Rising costs will also encourage hard thinking about whether a personal and tailored touch is needed. If not, productivity gains are easier to find. In some areas of medicine computers now have better diagnostic skills than humans. In education lectures can be recorded, allowing star academics to teach millions. In the arts live opera performances are beamed to audiences in cinemas across the world.

A bigger slice of a much bigger pie

But that still leaves a rump of services within medicine, education and the arts that are resistant to productivity gains. For these, Mr Baumol offers his most intriguing prediction: although their costs will grow alarmingly high, they will remain affordable. In a way, the disease produces its own cure. If America’s economy grows by 2% per year (its long-term rate), it will be eight times bigger in 100 years. In addition, goods and services in innovative sectors will become much cheaper. In 1908 the average American had to work for around 4,700 hours to earn enough to buy a Model T Ford. A century later, a typical car can be had for only 1,365 hours of labour. This means that, even if health care really did eat up 60% of the pie, there would still be much more to spend on everything else (see right-hand chart).

The real problem is not the cost disease, Mr Baumol argues, but knee-jerk reactions to it. The most likely response to spiralling budgets for publicly provided medicine and education is to shift provision to the private sector. But that will not cure the underlying disease. High costs could also lead to excessive rationing, slowing development over the long term.

If it happens, such a reaction rests on a mistaken premise: that the rising costs in the stagnant sectors make people poorer. In fact, buying power is growing much faster than medicine, education and the arts are becoming dearer. Mr Baumol’s crystal ball says that in 100 years a live performance of a Mozart quartet will be vastly more expensive, but people will still be able to afford it.

————————-
* “The Cost Disease: Why Computers Get Cheaper and Health Care Doesn’t”, by William Baumol, 2012
 Economist.com

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A spokesman for the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency said that he would consider replacing academic scientists with representatives from industries that the agency is supposed to regulate.

Chicago Mayor Recoups Climate Change Data Deleted From EPA Website
By Cassie Kelly, EcoWatch
08 May 17

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has his own ideas about the Trump administration taking down important climate data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website.

This weekend, Emanuel posted the scrubbed data on the City of Chicago’s official website to preserve the “decades of research [the agency] has done to advance the fight against climate change.” Emanuel said he plans to develop the site further in the coming weeks.

Follow EcoWatch @EcoWatch

#EPA Takes Hatchet to Website rbl.ms/2qpaIma @ClimateNexus @climatehawk1 @CenterForBioDiv @NRDC
10:52 AM – 1 May 2017
Photo published for EPA Takes Hatchet to Website

The U.S. Environmental Protection is editing pages from its website related to …
 ecowatch.com

“While this information may not be readily available on the agency’s webpage right now, here in Chicago we know climate change is real and we will continue to take action to fight it,” Mayor Emanuel said.

The new page highlights NOAA records on global warming, basic information on what climate change is, the impact that it will have on things like farming and human health, and what citizens can do to reduce their emissions. It even has a section linking to the president’s Climate Action Plan, which as of right now, doesn’t lead anywhere but a blank page that says “stay tuned.”

The Trump Administration has shown it is not making climate action a priority and is leaning toward withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.

“The Trump administration can attempt to erase decades of work from scientists and federal employees on the reality of climate change, but burying your head in the sand doesn’t erase the problem,” Emanuel said.

——————————————-

EPA Cuts Half of Advisers on Key Panel

By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, The Washington Post
08 May 17


Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has chosen to replace half of the members on one of its key scientific review boards, the first step in a broader effort by Republicans to change the way the agency evaluates the scientific basis for its regulations.


The move could significantly change the makeup of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises EPA’s key scientific arm on whether the research it does has sufficient rigor and integrity. All of the members being dismissed were at the end of serving at least one three-year term, although these terms are often renewed instead of terminated.

EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said in an email that “no one has been fired or terminated,” and that Pruitt had simply decided to bring in fresh advisers. The agency informed the outside academics on Friday that their terms would not be renewed.

“We’re not going to rubber-stamp the last administration’s appointees. Instead, they should participate in the same open competitive process as the rest of the applicant pool,” Freire said. “This approach is what was always intended for the Board, and we’re making a clean break with the last administration’s approach.”

But the move came as a surprise to members of the board, who had been informed both in January, before Barack Obama left office, and then more recently by EPA career staff members, that they would be kept on for another term.

“I was kind of shocked to receive this news,” Robert Richardson, an ecological economist and an associate professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Community Sustainability, said in an interview Sunday.

Richardson, who tweeted on Saturday, “Today, I was Trumped,” said that he was at the end of an initial three-year term on the board, but that board members traditionally have served two such stints. “I’ve never heard of any circumstance where someone didn’t serve two consecutive terms,” he said, adding that the dismissals gave him “great concern that objective science is being marginalized in this administration.”

Courtney Flint, a professor of natural resource sociology at Utah State University who had served one term on the board, said in an email that she was also surprised to learn that her term would not be renewed, “particularly since I was told that such a renewal was expected.”

“In the broader view, I suppose it is the prerogative of this administration to set the goals of federal agencies and to appoint members to advisory boards,” she added.

Ryan Jackson, Pruitt’s chief of staff, noted in an email that all the board members whose terms are not being renewed could reapply for their positions.

“I’m not quite sure why some EPA career staff simply get angry by us opening up the process,” he said. “It seems unprofessional to me.”

Pruitt is planning a much broader overhaul of how the agency conducts its scientific analysis, said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The administration has been meeting with academics to talk about the matter and putting thought into which areas of investigation warrant attention from the agency’s scientific advisers.

The agency may consider industry scientific experts for some of the board positions, Freire said, as long as these appointments do not pose a conflict of interest.

Conservatives have complained about EPA’s approach to science, including the input it receives from outside scientific bodies, for years. Both the Board of Scientific Counselors and a larger, 47-person Scientific Advisory Board have come under criticism for bolstering the cause for greater federal regulation.

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who questions the link between human activity and climate change and has several former aides now working for Pruitt, said in an interview earlier this year that under the new administration, “They’re going to have to start dealing with science and not rigged science” at EPA.

House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) held a hearing on the issue in February, arguing that the composition of the Scientific Advisory Board, which was established in 1978, should be expanded to include more non-academics. It is primarily made up of academic scientists and other experts who review EPA’s research to ensure that the regulations the agency undertakes have a sound scientific basis.

“The EPA routinely stacks this board with friendly scientists who receive millions of dollars in grants from the federal government,” Smith said at the time. “The conflict of interest here is clear.”

In a budget proposal obtained by The Washington Post last month, the panel is slated for an 84 percent cut — or $542,000 — from its operating budget. That money typically covers travel and other expenses for outside experts who attend the board’s public meetings.

The reasoning behind the budget cut, said the document, reflects “an anticipated lower number of peer reviews.”

Joe Arvai, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board who directs University of Michigan’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, said in an email that Pruitt and his colleagues should keep in mind that the board’s membership and its standing and ad hoc panels “already includes credible scientists from industry” and its “work on agency rulemaking is open to public viewing and comment. So, if diversity of thought and transparency are the administrator’s concerns, his worries are misplaced because the SAB is already has these bases covered.”

“So, if you ask me, his moves over the weekend — as well as the House bill to reform the SAB — are attempts to use the SAB as a political toy,” Arvai added. “By making these moves, the administrator and members of the House can pander to the president’s base by looking like they’re getting tough on all those pesky ‘liberal scientists.’ But, all else being equal, nothing fundamentally changes about how the SAB operates.”

=======================

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Donald TrumpTrump’s first 100 days

TRUMP WILL CELEBRATE 100 DAYS IN OFFICE – AWAY FROM A WASHINGTON DC UNDER THE PEOPLE’S ASSAULT – WITH A FRIENDLY CROWD IN HARRISBURG’, PENNSYLVANIA.

His office announced on April 29, 2017: Looking forward to RALLY in the Great State of Pennsylvania tonight at 7:30. Big crowd, big energy!

Trump appeals for loyalty as 100th day fanfare threatens to fall flat.

President prepares for Saturday night rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as adviser Steve Bannon is thought to be behind focus on economic issues.

On his 100th day in office, facing a historically low popularity rating, a succession of intractable foreign crises and multiple investigations of his links with Moscow, Donald Trump reminded the nation that 1 May was Loyalty Day.

Donald Trump’s first 100 days: a guide to the successes, the failures – and the tweets

The day is an American tradition dating back to the Cold War, when it was a bolster to stop May Day becoming a rallying point for socialists and unionised workers. But for an embattled president learning on the job, it has an added resonance.


Making his remarks in an interview with Fox News, timing with the 100-day mark, Trump also declared himself “disappointed” with congressional Republicans – despite his many “great relationships” with them.


Regarding his lack of signature legislative achievement, he blamed the constitutional checks and balances built in to US governance. “It’s a very rough system,” he said. “It’s an archaic system … It’s really a bad thing for the country, stresses The Guardian.”

The Loyalty Day announcement came amid a flurry of other proclamations to mark a milestone at which presidencies are traditionally measured. The coming seven days were named both National Charter Schools Week and Small Business Week. May has been burdened with being National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, Older Americans Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, National Foster Care Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
{All this we guess as an outcome of trying to do away with the International Marxist Labor Day.}

Such announcements are always a mechanism to help a president look busy – doubly so for an inexperienced politician rapidly learning the limits of presidential power even with a solid Republican majority in Congress.


Trump has failed to get any of his priorities turned into legislation in the face of party disunity, and his attempt to rule by executive order has been largely hollow. His decrees have been either meaningless, like his one-page, detail-free tax reform plan, or have been been blocked by the courts, like his two attempts to impose a travel ban on refugees and travellers from some Muslim-majority countries.

In what is supposed to be a honeymoon period, the president’s approval rating has remained mired at historic lows, hovering around and frequently below 40%, well below recent predecessors at this stage.


One nation, two Trumps: America as divided as ever after first 100 days


But his core supporters have remained faithful, choosing to believe that the mainstream media is a purveyor of fake news rather than accept that Trump has not been the unrivalled success he has claimed. They have also accommodated Trump’s affinity for Vladimir Putin. The percentage of Republicans who see Russia as an unfriendly state has fallen from 82% in 2014 to 41%, according to a CNN/ORC poll.
{This being a very dangerous reality that some in Europe think of as a reminder of the Stalin-Hitler entente}


Claims versus realities:


On his 100th day, Trump turned to this loyal base and trumpeted the issue that bonds them most tightly – economic nationalism. On an otherwise leisurely Saturday, in which his only other engagement was a morning call with the CIA director, Mike Pompeo, the president was due to attend an evening rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a state in which disenchanted workers defected from the Democrats in droves in the 2016 election.

While visiting the town – and skipping the media’s White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington – he was due to sign an executive order to establish an office of trade and manufacturing policy, which will help push his drive for import substitution.

Trump’s weekly presidential address focused on jobs, repeating his claim that his first 100 days “has been just about the most successful in our country’s history” and pointing to evidence of an economic revival that has been previously suggested to be a result of corporate decisions made before Trump came to office.

In his address, Trump claimed that car companies were “roaring back in”, an apparent reference to General Motors’ plans and Ford’s decision to expand in Michigan, which both appear to be part of long-term strategy.

Trump also claimed that his approval of the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada would create tens of thousands of jobs. That will be true in the short term, during construction. After that, keeping the pipeline going is expected to employ 35 people on a permanent basis.


Le Pen, Putin, Trump: a disturbing axis, or just a mutual admiration society?


The gap between the extreme bravado of Trump’s claims and the daily realities of governing has deepened public cynicism. In a new Gallup poll, just 36% declared the president honest and trustworthy, down from 42 in early February. His general approval rating stood at 40%.


There is strong evidence however that fact-checking of presidential claims is having a small and dwindling impact on true Trump loyalists. Support remains strong in blue collar areas and evangelical strongholds, where there is more trust in the president than the mainstream media.

The president has relentless assaulted the media, launching an attack per day on average, denouncing negative news as “fake news”. There are signs the offensive has inflicted wounds. One poll released on Friday found that more people trusted the White House than political journalists.

Against that background there were reports on Saturday that Steve Bannon, the champion of economic and ethnic nationalism, is making a political comeback in the White House, and that he remains a bulwark of Trump’s strategy to secure his core support and win again in 2020.

Bannon’s hand has been seen behind the rapid-burst issue of protectionist moves in the run up to the 100th day, including picking fights with Canada over milk and softwood imports and measures to shield the aluminium industry from foreign competition.

“All of these people who say the president doesn’t have an ideology, they’re wrong,” one unnamed Bannon ally told The Hill. “He does have an ideology, and it’s Bannon’s ideology. They are just now figuring out how to implement it.”

Bannon was also said to have drafted an executive order withdrawing the US from the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA). Trump chose simply to issue a call for its renegotiation on Thursday, reportedly after having been shown a map showing it would cost the most jobs in states that had supported him in the election.


The battle between countervailing factions in the Trump White House continues to ebb and flow, but the president’s reflex in times of adversity is to fall back on the “America First” nativist message that got him elected in the first place.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the list of mportant News in The New York Times of Tuesday April 25, 2017:

• The middle class grew in Western Europe even as it shrank in the U.S. over the last two decades, according to a new study.

• The Spanish and Brazilian governments plan an undersea fiber optic cable in the Atlantic Ocean, to improve internet speed for both sides and route traffic outside the reach of U.S. intelligence agencies.

• Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Ivanka Trump, the U.S. president’s daughter and adviser, will share a stage at the W20 Summit in Berlin today. [Politico]

• U.S. embassies posted, but later removed, an article praising President Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla., Mar-a-Lago. [The New York Times]

ECONOMY

Middle Class Contracted in U.S. Over 2 Decades, Study Finds
By NELSON D. SCHWARTZAPRIL 24, 2017
Continue reading the main storyShare This Page

U.S. Steel’s Granite City Works in Illinois – the plant was idled in 2015. Some displaced employees found new work, but often it paid much less than their jobs at the mill had, forcing them to adjust. “I’ve had to rethink my whole life to make ends meet on what I’m now making,” Mike McCabe, a former U.S. Steel worker, said. Credit Luke Sharrett for The New York Times
Mike McCabe’s neighbors in rural Gillespie, Ill., consider him lucky. After being out of work for a year, he landed a job in January making cardboard boxes at a nearby Georgia-Pacific plant for $19.60 an hour.

He would agree with them, were it not for the fact that his previous job in a steel mill near St. Louis paid $28 an hour. “I’ve had to rethink my whole life to make ends meet on what I’m now making,” Mr. McCabe said. “The middle class is struggling for sure, and almost anybody in my position will tell you that.”

Middle-class Americans have fared worse in many ways than their counterparts in economically advanced countries in Western Europe in recent decades, according to a study released Monday by the Pew Research Center.

What is more, as Mr. McCabe’s experience suggests, the authors of the Pew study found a broader contraction of the American middle class, even as the ranks of the poor and the rich have grown.

Where Trump Sees Economic ‘Disaster,’ Experts See Something More Complex JAN. 5, 2017

INCOMES AND OUTCOMES
The Economic Expansion Is Helping the Middle Class, Finally SEPT. 13, 2016

Middle-Income Jobs Finally Show Signs of a Rebound AUG. 18, 2016

A SHIFTING MIDDLE
Middle Class, but Feeling Economically Insecure APRIL 10, 2015

“Compared with the Western European experience, the adult population in the U.S. is more economically divided,” said Rakesh Kochhar, associate director for research at Pew. “It is more hollowed out in the middle. This speaks to the higher level of income inequality in the United States.”

For example, between 1991 and 2010, the proportion of adults in middle-income households fell to 59 percent from 62 percent, while it rose to 67 percent from 61 percent over the same period in Britain and to 74 percent from 72 percent in France.

Households that earned from two-thirds to double the national median income were defined as middle income in the Pew study; in the United States that translated into annual income of $35,294 to $105,881, after taxes, in 2010.

A shrinking middle class is not necessarily cause for alarm, if the reason for the contraction is that more people are moving up the income ladder, said David Autor, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The proportion at the top did rise, but so did the proportion at the bottom, rising to 26 percent from 25 percent. That is much more worrisome, said Mr. Autor, who was not involved with the Pew study.

Moreover, the middle-income group was smaller — and the groups at either extreme larger — in the United States than in any of the 11 Western European countries studied.

And incomes in the middle rose faster in Europe than they did in the United States, according to Pew. Median incomes in the middle tier grew by 9 percent in the United States between 1991 and 2010, compared with a 25 percent gain in Denmark and a 35 percent increase in Britain.

The United States, including the middle class, has a higher median income than nearly all of Europe, even if the Continent is catching up. The median household income in the United States was $52,941 after taxes in 2010, compared with $41,047 in Germany and $41,076 in France.

And while inequality may be widening, the proportion of households in the upper-income strata rose to 15 percent from 13 percent.

“Financially, the U.S. remains well ahead of the countries in Europe,” Mr. Kochhar said. “The difference is how incomes have evolved, and they are catching up.”

Although the cutoff of the study, 2010, may have highlighted weak income gains because it was in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession, he said that was not enough to alter the study’s findings.

“It’s a clear trend that the middle class in the U.S. is shrinking and not keeping up financially with the upper-income group,” he said. “There is an aura of redistribution of income from middle income to upper income.”
[and we note this predates Trump – and we must add that it helped create Trump – the study in our opinio does not do full justice to the numbers it came up with.]

The study acknowledges that “middle class” can connote more than just income — like a college education, white-collar work, economic security, homeownership or even self-image — but for the purposes of the study, it was defined by income.

Whether in Europe or the United States, technological change and globalization mean that people who can adapt and learn new skills can reap bigger rewards, Mr. Kochhar said.

Since founding LaSalle Network, a staffing company based in Chicago, with two employees nearly 20 years ago, Tom Gimbel has watched revenues grow to a projected $70 million this year.

“I know a lot of people who have done much better in the last five years,” he said. “I have people working for me who made $35,000 to $60,000 a few years ago and are earning $60,000 to $150,000 now.”

Mr. Gimbel, who grew up in a comfortable Chicago suburb, has seen his own fortunes improve as well. “We didn’t want for anything, but my dad wasn’t rolling in money,” he said. “I’ve succeeded beyond where my parents were.”

On both sides of the Atlantic, the pressure on the middle class is translating into frustration with the political establishment and distrust of the elites.

Like his father and uncle, Mr. McCabe worked at the U.S. Steel mill in Granite City, Ill. But after the plant was idled in late 2015, he looked for a new job rather than waiting to be called back if the economy improved.

As a result, Mr. McCabe voted for Donald J. Trump in the presidential election last year, even though he grew up in what he calls a staunchly Democratic home. “My dad is probably rolling over in his grave,” he said.

“But I liked Trump’s message that he was going to help the middle class and get the jobs back,” Mr. McCabe said. “I was amazed that he won, and sat up all night watching.”

“You can only wait so long, and your unemployment runs out and you run out of choices,” he added. “I’m divorced with no kids. For people with kids, I can only imagine how tough they got it.”


Spain, Brazil plan subsea fiber optic cable by 2019

Reuters

SAO PAULO, April 24 (Reuters) – The Spanish and Brazilian governments have teamed up to lay an undersea cable in the Atlantic Ocean to offer fast online and cloud services to citizens of both countries by 2019, underscoring efforts to rout communications outside North America.

The EllaLink subsea cable will connect to data centers in Madrid and São Paulo, as well as in Lisbon, using shielded fiber rings, officials said on Monday. The cable will also connect the archipelagoes of Madeira, Spain’s Canary Islands and Africa’s Cape Verde along the route, they added.

At an event in São Paulo, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the venture to build the first subsea fiber optic cable linking Europe to Brazil should help improve data security and privacy by routing calls and internet navigation outside the reach of the United States.

The idea gained traction almost four years after former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and other officials were target of personal and economic espionage by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Documents leaked by former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 showed the U.S. National Security Agency had tapped Rousseff’s telephone calls and those of millions of other Brazilians.

The 9,200 km-long (5,700-mile), 72-terabytes-per-second- capacity subsea cable is about seven times the size of existing communications capacity between Latin America and the rest of the world, said Alfonso Gajate, president of EulaLink, one of the partners in the venture. No cost estimates were provided.

The only existing direct link between Europe and South America is a 20-Gb copper cable laid in 1999 by a consortium of voice operators. (Reporting by Brad Haynes; Writing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

On Saturday April 22, 2017, Earth Day, Scientists and their related fields, marched in New York – on Central Park West Avenue and Broadway – down to Times Square.

A week later – Saturday, April 29, 2017, there is no major march in Manhattan, New York, but all efforts are directed to Washington DC for what becomes a People’s March on Washington –
a march for Jobs, the Earth, Climate, and Decency. It happens on the 100th day since the Trump inaugural – and stretches out before our eyes and minds the dangers of a full four years term of this science-devoid President.

SCIENCE is REAL – The FACTS are with SCIENCE.
A scientific theory isn’t just a hunch or guess –
It’s more like a question that’s been put through a lot of tests.

And when a theory emerges consistent with the facts,
The Proof is witH Science – The truth is with Science.

In Science we Trust – Science is not just an Alternate Fact.

NO SCIENCE IS NON-SENSE. Science, Reason, Knowledge, Trump Stupidity or Opinion.
SCIENCE NOT SILENCE – Resist Stupidity

PRO FACTS – WE ARE NOT SLAVES TO FOSSIL FUEL – SCIENCE TRUMPS POLITICS.

“WHEN ICEBERGS ARE CRACKING IT IS NOT FUNNY.” This was the wording on a poster carried
down New York’s Broadway by an active 8-years young boy who MARCHED with his mom – a university person. She said he picked those words.

THERE IS NO PLANET B – EDUCATE WASHINGTON. GOP – DON’T FLUSH OUR EARTH AWAY.
REMEMBER – PLANET NOT PROFIT. MAKE AMERICA SUSTAINABLE FOR EVERYONE.

Above all – Remember – “SCIENCE MAKES AMERICA GREAT” – DEFEND OUR PLANET – WE LIVE HERE.

THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON CAN BASICALLY BE SUMMED UP AS: “CLIMATE SCIENCE IS REAL – TRUMP IS FAKE.

For the April 29, 2017 People’s March on Washington – please see also:
 www.cnn.com/2017/04/29/us/climate…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 23rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Hundreds of Thousands Join March for Science Rallies Across the World.

By Oliver Milman, Guardian UK
22 April 17

More than 600 marches held around the world, with organizers saying science ‘under attack’ from a White House that dismisses the threat of climate change
undreds of thousands of climate researchers, oceanographers, bird watchers and other supporters of science rallied in marches around the world on Saturday, in an attempt to bolster scientists’ increasingly precarious status with politicians.

The main March for Science event was held in Washington DC, where organizers made plans for up to 150,000 people to flock to the national mall, although somewhat fewer than that figure braved the rain to attend. Marchers held a range of signs. Some attacked Donald Trump, depicting the president as an ostrich with his head in the sand or bearing the words: “What do Trump and atoms have in common? They make up everything.”

More than 600 marches took place around the world, on every continent bar Antarctica, in events that coincided with Earth Day.

The marches, the first of their kind, were officially non-political. They were however conceived by three US-based researchers – Caroline Weinberg, Valorie Aquino and Jonathan Berman – after Trump’s inauguration. Organizers have said science is “under attack” from the Trump administration and many protesters excoriated the president with signs that likened him to a dangerous orange toxin or disparaged his now defunct university.

Trump released a statement that insisted his administration was committed to preserving the “awe-inspiring beauty” of America, while protecting jobs.

“Rigorous science is critical to my administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection,” Trump said. “My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.

“As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.”

The US marches were some of the last to take place, following hundreds across the world. A common theme among protesters was a worry that politicians have rejected science-based policies.

“I’m encouraged by the marches I’ve seen already taking place around the world,” said Rush Holt, a former congressman and head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “For generations scientists have been reluctant to be in the public square. There is a lot of concern.”

Speakers in Washington included Christiana Figueres, the former United Nations climate chief and climate scientist Michael Mann. Hundreds of scientific institutions, environmental groups and union groups partnered with the march.

“There’s very low morale among government scientists because science is under assault from this administration,” Mann told the Guardian. “That being said, events like this will lift the spirits of scientists. They are finding a voice.”

Pharmaceutical companies, concerned about the impact on research talent of Trump’s attempts to ban or restrict travel from certain Muslim-majority countries, risked his wrath by supporting the march. In a video, Pfizer said it was “proud to stand behind our scientists”.

Trump has galvanized scientists with his comments about climate change, which he has called a “hoax”, as well as questions about whether vaccines are safe and threats to cut funding to universities that displease him.

The White House’s recent budget proposal would remove around $7bn in science funding, with the National Institutes of Health, which funds medical research, bearing much of the pain. Earth sciences, ranging from weather satellites to marine research to coastal preservation, are also lined up for severe cuts.

Climate change was at the heart of the March for Science, spurred on by dismissals of the issue by Trump and his top advisers. Budget director Mick Mulvaney has said climate research is a “waste of your money”. Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has erroneously denied that carbon dioxide is a primary driver of global warming.

Other areas of science have been all but abandoned. The president has yet to nominate administrators for Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nor to appoint his own science adviser.

John Holdren, science adviser during Barack Obama’s presidency, said Trump had “shown no indication of awareness of the role of science and the role of science in government”.

“Scientists are understanding that they have to become activists, that they have to speak up, that they have to be heard,” he said. “The message isn’t, ‘Please save our jobs.’ Scientists would be in another line of work if they were just interested in their salaries. If funding for science is slashed, all of society will lose out.”

The march has proved controversial within the science community, which is typically reluctant to be overtly political. Some scientists have raised concerns that the marches will invite attacks by Trump and his supporters, or will fail to convince the public that science has inherent value.

But several famous voices have joined the cause. “Science has always been political but we don’t want science to be partisan,” Bill Nye, a prominent engineer and TV personality, told the Guardian.

“Objective truths have become set aside and diminished and lawmakers are acting like a strong belief in something is as valid as careful peer review.”

Nye said science was in a “dangerous place” but hoped the march would help nudge Trump to a more amenable position.

“The president changes his mind quite frequently,” he said. “We want to influence the people who influence him. That’s our goal for the march.”

Leland Melvin, a former Nasa astronaut who participated in two missions, criticized the administration’s plans to eliminate Nasa’s education budget.

“Doing that would keep people like me from getting a masters or PhD,” he said. “If we want brown people and women getting these degrees and get them involved in science, we have to fund it. The administration needs to get its head out of the sand.”

Cristian Samper, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the march aimed “to celebrate science, not to politicize it”.

“Science is behind the good news and bad news about wildlife conservation ,” he said. “it has nothing to do with the fake news. Science is the antithesis of fake news.”

The marches came one week before the People’s Climate March, a series of large-scale events focused on climate change that will be more overtly political.

“Attacks on science don’t just hurt scientists, they hurt scientists’ ability to protect the people, and climate change epitomizes that,” said Dr Geoffrey Supran, an expert in renewable energy at Harvard University.

“When politicians cater to fossil fuel interests by denying the basic realities of climate science and pursuing anti-science climate policy, they endanger the jobs, justice, and livelihoods of ordinary people everywhere.”

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