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Reporting from Washington DC:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

TUESDAY APRIL 22, 2014 – that is TODAY – is EARTH DAY 2014.

Want a really good way to reduce your carbon footprint?
Make Mother Earth Really Happy this Earth Day!
Here’s a simple and effective action for you to take to celebrate Earth Day that will make you feel really good about your contribution to the planet all year long.

Switch to 100% wind energy!  It’s a breeze!
What powers your home? We are all concerned about climate change and environmental degradation, but chances are that your lights, refrigerator, AC unit etc. are running on dirty fossil fuels. If you are a typical NYC resident, at present only 2% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: the other 98% is from a mixture of oil, gas, coal, hydroelectric, and nuclear power.

But the good news is that you can contribute to the solution.  If you pay your own electricity bill, you have a choice in where your electricity comes from. And switching to 100% wind energy is as easy as filling out a form online or picking up the phone.

350NYC has started aNYC Windcampaign as part of our sustainability initiative and we have partnered with Ethical Electric to encourage New Yorkers to make the switch. As we talk to people about this, we hear some of the same questions so let’s try to answer a couple of those FAQs now.  Click on the Ethical Electric logo to learn more about how you can sign up to get 100% wind power through your regular electricity bill.

1.       Can I really make a difference by choosing my source of electricity?
As a consumer, you are vitally important in pushing power companies to use more renewable energy.  By switching to wind, you create a market demand and you also make an immediate difference to the environment.  The New York State Public Service Commission estimates –  “If just 10% of New York’s households choose Green Power for their electricity supply, it would prevent nearly 3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, 10 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, and nearly 4 million pounds of nitrogen oxides from getting into our air each year.”

2.       Doesn’t it cost more?
At present, the cost per KWh for renewable energy is slightly higher than for dirty fuel. The industry estimates that the average NYC electric bill will be $8-10 a month higher with 100% wind.  So, what does that compare to in an average month? One subway ride a week, one glass of wine in a Manhattan wine bar, two Starbucks frappucinos.  It’s a quality of life decision to choose clean renewable energy – a decision for the quality of life on this planet in the future.

3.       How can I trust a new energy provider? What is Ethical Electric?
There are several reputable energy companies and you can research them online, as we did when we chose Ethical Electric to partner with.  Ethical Electric is a proudly progressive company, founded by former MoveOn organizer Tom Matzzie. Ethical Electric fights Keystone XL, opposes fracking, and donates a portion of its revenue to support progressive causes so you can feel good about your electricity supplier.

4.       Will I have to pay another bill?
Here in NYC, Con Edison or National Grid will remain the distributor for your electricity. When you switch to Ethical Electric, you will still receive the same service and a single, monthly utility bill. But instead of buying dirty energy from coal and fracking, you’ll be supporting 100% wind energy. That’s 100% better than an electric bill that’s paying for the dirty coal and toxic fracking that are fueling climate change.

Making the switch is easy. Get 100% clean energy from Ethical Electric today.  If you click on this link, it will take you directly to our “partner page,” but if you decide to make the switch by phone, please be sure to tell the representative that 350NYC referred you – they will pay us a referral fee which helps us finance our campaigns.  That’s another thing you can feel good about!

Happy Earth Day and thank you from all of us at 350NYC
– – - and from Mother Earth!

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

From the New York based Council on Foreign Relations we learn that On Tuesday, April 22, 2014 -  President Obama will leave on his rescheduled trip to Asia, making stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

THE PRESIDENT WILL NOT GO TO CHINA which is significant – AND WILL BE IN JAPAN – APRIL 23-25th – Continuing from there to South Korea – Apr 25-26th; Malaysia: 26-28th; and the Philippines: Apr 28-29th.

Everyone knows that the main topic of discussion will be China – but it can be assumed as well that at this time the main issue in President Obama’s mind are The Ukraine. In effect except for South Korea there are on-going conflicts between the other three States on the list and China. Some of these conflicts stem from China’s attempt to gain islands and the waters around them that may have a potential for oil and gas resources. The South Korea – North Korea schism is just one additional problem, and the North Korea missiles pointed at South Korea and Japan are a perpetual threat.

Obama will try to reassure his hosts that the US will stand by them if China decides to perform a land take-over like Russia just  did in Crimea – This was probably what Secretary of the Military – former Senator Chuck Hagel – told his Chinese counterpart – Chung Wanquan in his recent trip to Beijing.

Senior CFR Fellow for Japan Studies Sheila Smith, and Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia Joshua Kurlantzick will discuss on a call-in April 21, 2014 the president’s priorities for his trip. But it is already known that the CFR considers this trip as badly timed, and at least in the case of Malaysia totally wrong.

Smith wrote on the CFR blog Asia Unbound that the visit to Japan will provide opportunities to address the perception that the Obama administration and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet are ill-suited to working together – and to allow the two leaders a chance to highlight the aspirations of the relationship rather than the litany of issues that need attention.

But Kurlantzick wrote on Asia Unbound that Obama will add to the Malaysian government’s promotion of itself as a successful and democratic nation, at a cost. “This approach to the Malaysia visit would mean downplaying – or simply not even discussing – serious regression in Malaysia’s domestic politics, including the recent sentencing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in jail for sodomy, the highly flawed 2013 national elections that barely kept Prime Minister Najib tun Razak in office, and the increasingly shrill, anti-Chinese and anti-Indian rhetoric and legislation of the Najib government, hardly the kind of sentiments a supposed leader of political moderation should be espousing.”

Let me add to above from Vienna, the immediate reaction to the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, as spoken up by aviation expert Nicky Lauda, was that Malaysia Government did not say all they knew about the incident – in effect their non-participation and the fact that for hours nothing was said about the plane’s disappearance, has caused loss of the most precious time for search. In short – the Malaysian government is no partner to the US for any serious negotiations.

Date: Monday, April 21, 2014

Call Time: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Dial-In Information:

U.S. Callers: 1-866-710-0179

International Callers: 1-334-323-7224

Password: ASIATRIP

Speakers:

Sheila Smith

Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Joshua Kurlantzick

Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, Democracy in Retreat

Presider:

James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations

Audio and transcript of the call will be posted afterward.

Press Contact:

Tricia Miller Klapheke

Assistant Director, Global Communications and Media Relations

DCPressRSVP@cfr.org

202.509.8525

No objectionable comments were posted on the South Korea and Philippine legs of the trip.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Opinion Page – A New York TimesEditorial

 

Running Out of Time

 

 

 

Next year, in December, delegates from more than 190 nations will gather in Paris to take another shot at completing a new global treaty on climate change. This will be the 21st Conference of the Parties under United Nations auspices since the first summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

For the most part, these meetings have been exercises in futility, producing  {under strong prodding from US Vice President Al Gore and with clear opposition from environmental groups - ST.info comment} just one treaty — in Kyoto in 1997 — that asked little of the big developing countries and was never ratified by the United States Senate.
But if the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report is to be taken seriously, as it should be, the Paris meeting may well be the world’s last, best chance to get a grip on a problem that, absent urgent action over the next decade, could spin out of control.

The I.P.C.C., composed of thousands of the world’s leading climate scientists, has issued three reports in the last seven months, each the product of up to six years of research. The first simply confirmed what has been known since Rio: global warming is caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels by humans and, to a lesser extent, by deforestation. The second, released in Japan three weeks ago, said that profound effects were already being felt around the world, including mounting damage to coral reefs, shrinking glaciers and more persistent droughts, and warned of worse to come — rising seas, species loss and dwindling agricultural yields.

The third report, released last week, may be the most ominous of the three.

Despite investments in energy efficiency and cleaner energy sources in the United States, in Europe and in developing countries like China, annual emissions of greenhouse gases have risen almost twice as fast in the first decade of this century as they did in the last decades of the 20th century. This places in serious jeopardy the emissions target agreed upon in Rio to limit warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the preindustrial level. Beyond that increase, the world could face truly alarming consequences.

Avoiding that fate will require a reduction of between 40 percent and 70 percent in greenhouse gases by midcentury, which means embarking on a revolution in the way we produce and consume energy.

That’s daunting enough, but here’s the key finding: The world has only about 15 years left in which to begin to bend the emissions curve downward. Otherwise, the costs of last-minute fixes will be overwhelming. “We cannot afford to lose another decade,” says Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the report. “If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.”

 

The report does not tell governments what to do — presumably, that’s for them to decide in Paris — but it lists approaches, mostly familiar, some technologically advanced. The most obvious, and probably the most difficult to negotiate, is to put a global price on carbon, either through a system of tradable permits like that adopted by Europe (and rejected by the United States Senate) or through a carbon tax of some sort, thus driving investments to cleaner fuels.

A more plausible pathway is to get each country to adopt binding emission reduction targets and then allow them to choose how to get there — ramping up nuclear energy, phasing out coal-fired plants in favor of cleaner natural gas (though natural gas itself would have to someday give way to low-carbon alternatives), and vastly increasing renewable sources like wind and solar, which still supply only a small fraction of the world’s energy (less than 5 percent for wind and solar combined in the United States). All this will require a huge shift in investment, both private and public, from fossil fuels.

Governments have an enormous amount of work to do in devising emission reduction strategies by next year. As always, American leadership will be required, meaning leadership from the top. Confronted with a hostile Congress, President Obama has commendably moved on his own to reduce emissions through regulations, first with cars and now with coal-fired power plants. And he has done so without a great deal of public support. However compelling the science, global warming has not generated the kind of public anxiety and bottom-up demand for change that helped win the big fights for cleaner air and water in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This makes his job harder but no less urgent.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Fact:  The New York City Transportation was a give away to General Motors that designed the Highway system through their underground partisan Mr. Robert Moses – who did not even have a driver’s license.

 

 

Architecture Critic’s Notebook – A Suggestion For A People Friendly Infrastructure:

Brooklyn to Queens, but Not by Subway!

Imagining a Streetcar Line Along the Waterfront.


By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN – - The New York Times – -  April 20, 2014.

 

The vision of a streetcar route between Red Hook and Astoria would provide much-needed transit to areas where millennials and thousands of less affluent New Yorkers live.

Desire lines, says architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, are marked by economic development and evolving travel patterns. He plots today’s desire line along the waterfronts of Brooklyn and Queens.

There’s a wonderful term for the dirt trails that people leave behind in parks: desire lines.

Cities also have desire lines, marked by economic development and evolving patterns of travel. In New York, Manhattan was once the destination for nearly all such paths, expressed by subway tracks that linked Midtown with what Manhattanites liked to call the outer boroughs.

But there is a new desire line, which avoids Manhattan altogether.

It hugs the waterfronts of Brooklyn and Queens, stretching from Sunset Park past the piers of Red Hook, to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, through Greenpoint and across Newtown Creek, which separates the two boroughs, running all the way up to the Triborough Bridge in Astoria.

The desire line is now poorly served by public transit, even as millennials are colonizing Astoria, working in Red Hook, then going out in Williamsburg and Bushwick — or working at the Navy Yard, visiting friends in Long Island City and sleeping in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

They have helped drive housing developments approved or built along the Brooklyn waterfront, like the one by Two Trees at the former Domino Sugar Refinery. But this corridor isn’t only for millennials. It’s also home to thousands of less affluent New Yorkers struggling to get to jobs and join the work force.

So here’s an idea: bring back the streetcar.

Some of this route is served — barely — by subway lines like the G, the city’s sorriest little railroad.
In Astoria, stations for the N and Q are nearly a full mile or more from the East River, meaning a vast swath of that neighborhood is virtually disconnected from the subway system. It’s an area ripe for growth — for new housing, start-ups and other small businesses and industries — all the more so with the coming of the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, just across the river and linked to Queens via the F. One can imagine another Silicon Alley spanning Cornell, Astoria, Williamsburg and Sunset Park.

Right now, it’s easier by subway to get from Long Island City to Midtown, or from Downtown Brooklyn to Wall Street, than it is to get from housing projects in Fort Greene or Long Island City to jobs in Williamsburg, or from much of Red Hook to — well, almost anywhere.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Report: Ukraine Synagogue Firebombed Just Days After Distribution of Anti-Semitic Flyers (VIDEO)

April 20, 2014 12:00 pm 21 comments
A vandal firebombing the Noklayev Synagogue, in Ukraine, on April 19, 2014, as recorded by closed-circuit security cameras. Photo: Screenshot / Yisroel Gotlieb.

A vandal firebombing the Nikolayev Synagogue, in Ukraine, on April 19, 2014, as recorded by closed-circuit security cameras. Photo: Screenshot / Yisroel Gotlieb.

The Nikolayev Synagogue in Ukraine was reportedly firebombed by vandals at approximate 2 AM on Saturday morning, according to Chabad blog Shturem and closed-circuit footage of the attack, uploaded to YouTube at the weekend.

The footage was posted by Yisroel Gotlieb, son of the city’s chief rabbi, Sholom Gotlieb.

One firebomb was thrown at the door of the synagogue, which was unoccupied at the time, and another was lobbed at a window, according to the blog.

The junior Gotleib told Shturem that “miraculously a person passing by the shul was equipped with a fire extinguisher, and immediately put out the fire that had erupted, preventing massive damage.”

In February, the Giymat Rosa Synagogue, in Zaporizhia, southeast of Kiev, was also firebombed.

Reports of rising anti-Semitism in the Ukraine after Russia’s recent occupation of Crimea were highlighted last week when fliers, reminiscent of the pogroms of a century ago, were distributed outside of a synagogue on Passover. The origin of the fliers is yet unknown, and debate has focused on whether they were from Russian or Ukrainian groups, from officials or designed to appear so, or if they were intended as some kind of a KGB-style subterfuge created to use anti-Semitism as a lever in the conflict.

The fliers, distributed in Donetsk, were addressed to “Ukraine nationals of Jewish nationality,” alerting Jews to pay a fee to register their names on a list and to show documentation of property ownership, or face deportation.

————————————–

From the 21 Comments

  • If one hair from one Jewish head will fall, the IDF will take good care of those anti-semities Bastards!! They really don’t know who are they dealing with?? What happend 70 years ago will NEVER happen again!!

  • What is it about this you don’t understand? Israel must always be there!

  • chaim yosef levi

    This behavior is expected from Ukrainians. The Breslovers must stop patronizing Ukraine by peregrinating there. Better rremove the remains of Rabbi Nachman and bury him in Israel.
    Stop going there to drink their Vodka and to use the Ukrainian hookers. Other jews must leave that G-d forsaken land.p

  • Many of us regrettably have such short memories. We should ask ourselves why so many concentration camp guards and auxiliary troops were Ukrainian and were often more ruthless than their German compatriots. This part of the world has been a hot bed of anti-semitism for centuries past and anti-Jewish animus remains well entrenched in the psyche of the populace. Not one Jew should have taken up residence in the Ukraine after the Second World War.

  • Adele Mischel MSW

    Those of us who went through the Holocaust, know from personal experience, when the ugly demon of anti-Semitism once again rears its head. The Ukraine is no longer a home for a proud people…the Jewish people.
    It is difficult to leave a homeland, but in this situation, the real homeland is Israel..

  • A message from On High to get out of there.

  • A message from On High to get out of therre.

  • I thought the flyer and all the antisemetic stuff from the Ukraine was fake. Ha–I do not want to say that I told you that those Ukranian bastards were bad, but I told you so.

    This is precisely why I have said from the beginning, that I hope the Ukraine-Russia situation becomes the same as the Iran-Iraq War–for 9 years. If you think this Ukranian firebombing of a synagogue is bad for Jews, you should only know what their hero–Bohdan Chmelnitzky did to the Jews in the 1600?s. A whole lot worse than the Nazis and Hitler–yet that mother f***** Chmelnitzky, is on their $5 bill today; and the Ukranians are obviously proud of him.

    The Russians and the Ukranians should all drop dead–and I will celebrate those events!!!

  • REMEMBER: The sad sacks who perpetrated this sick act were nursed by their mothers’…
    Cowardly perversion by a few with lesser brains. Decency…Respect was never their strong suit..

  • Lucille Kaplan

    Even if these events are sinister contrivances of Russian annexationists wanting to make ethnic Ukrainians look bad, the fact that either side, in this conflict, feels free to resort to anti-Semitism, and that both sides know full well that anti-Semitism catches on like wildfire in this region,confirms what others have already said here: That it is folly for Jews to remain in this part of Eastern Europe. The mass exterminations of Jews in the forests of Volhyn (including 2 of my sisters), often at the hands of Ukrainian Nazi collaborators, bespeaks what appears to be nearly a genetically programmed hatred of Jews, in that region. . .I wish it were otherwise. .The time to evacuate is now.

  • It is time to get out of any country were Jews lives are threaten, Israel is the homeland and today there are no excuses for a big tragedy. “Never Again means Never Again.” One more reason for Israel to remain a Jewish State…a Jewish Nation… a Jewish Country.

  • pity we did not have a sniper on place to shoot him down

  • This is precisely why Israel must be the Jewish homeland.

    • Dr. abraham Weizfeld

      Just one fascist and so many frightened chickens? My uncle Meyer Goldsheider did not run away, he fought the Nazi occupation as a partisan.

  • Not a moment too soon for Jews to leave this country that has persecuted Jews for over 100 years. Nothing will change there until the last one is out. Then the Ukrainians will be able to blame us anyway, but can’t hurt anyone. They murdered 100?s of thousands of Jews during WWII, why does anyone think this was a passing fad.

  • NOW IS THE TIME FOR JEWS TO MAKE ALYAH TO ISRAEL BEFORE ITS TO LATE

  • An Easter greeting perhaps?

  • It is time for the Jews to get out of Russia, the Ukraine and any of the countries in the former Soviet Union.

    • You only encourage other mindsets to add to the shame…As you sit smug else wear.  Not helpful in the least.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Ab out OVER THE RAINBOW – From the desk of  Benjamin Zaum.

Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014

I KNOW THAT MANY IMMIGRANT JEWS HAVE CHANGED THEIR NAMES TO “MAKE IT IN SHOW BIZZ”, BUT I WASN’T AWARE OF WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ .  WHEN I NEXT WATCH “THE WIZARD OF OZ” (FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME), I WILL REMEMBER THE WORDS THAT ARE WRITTEN BELOW.  PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ THIS IN ITS ENTIRETY AND YOU’LL LEARN SOMETHING YOU NEVER KNEW. 

 

 

 

At the 2014 Oscars, they celebrated the 75th anniversary of the release of the “Wizard of Oz” by having Pink sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, with highlights from the film in the background. But what few people realized, while listening to that incredible performer singing that unforgettable song, is that the music is deeply embedded in the Jewish experience.

 

 

The film came out on January 1, 1939. This was less than two months after the notorious Kristallnacht – night of the crystal – when Jewish businesses were looted, synagogues attacked and Jewish storefronts had their windows smashed by the Nazi regime in Germany and Austria. WWII was exactly 8 months away. In other words, the Holocaust was about to begin. Six million Jews would be murdered, one million of them children, for no other reason other than that they were Jews.

 

In the prelude to this orgy of murder, three great revolutionary movements were incubated in the Jewish towns and villages of Germany and eastern Europe: Communism, Zionism and Americanism.

The Communists tried to avert the impending destruction of European Jewry by doing away with all nationalism and creating a utopian Communist society where Jews would not be persecuted because no one would be persecuted. There would be no nations and no religions. Kind of John Lennon’s utopian “Imagine”.

The Zionists attempted to overcome Jewish powerlessness by empowering Jews. Nations would not disappear right away, they said. Rather, the only way to avert the destruction of world Jewry was for Jews to go back to their ancient homeland and establish themselves as a people. Only that way, when the great melding of humanity would happen, Jews could join the community of nations.

For their part, those Jews that emigrated to America – especially in the great waves at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century – believed that the solution to the “Jewish question” had already been invented – America!

 

Whereas Communists wanted to assimilate in the lands that they lived in, and Zionists wanted to assimilate on a national level i.e., let’s create Israel so we can be a “nation like any other nation”, for millions of imperiled Jews assimilation was possible only in America. In America, they argued, everyone assimilates.

Of course, many came to America to physically survive. They had no desire to give up their identity. But many others saw America not as a land of refuge or opportunity but as a dreamland that exists “somewhere over the rainbow.” In that land, they thought, “skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.”

 

When the clouds of anti-Semitism were gathering over Europe – as they are once again gathering now – out of the collective Jewish angst that the immigrants brought to America, a handful of Jews translated their assimilationist fantasies onto a new medium – film.

As Neal Gabler has so remarkably documented in “An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood” all the Hollywood studios were created by Jewish immigrants.

Columbia Pictures was founded by Adolph Zukor from Hungary, Universal was founded by Carl Laemmle from Germany, MGM by Louis B. Mayer from Belarus, Warner Brothers by Polish immigrants Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack Warner (Jack was the only brother born in North America). The list goes on.

The genius of these “moguls” was that they were able to translate shtetl {small town in East Europe} dreams into American feature films. Suddenly, their fantasies of white picket fences, strong fathers, loving neighbours and a society where race and religion didn’t matter became everyone’s fantasies. “Americanism” morphed into “Hollywoodism”, and Hollywoodism replaced the real America with the America of the films. For example, the American army was segregated up to and including WWII. But in Hollywood films, the American army was integrated and that’s how we remember the Second World War – blacks and whites fighting together in platoons that never existed.

Similarly with the Westerns. Bad guys with high boots terrorizing religious townspeople until a new sheriff rode into town didn’t actually happen in the American West.

But the Hollywood Jews managed to take the experience of eastern European Jews terrorized during pogroms by Ukrainian Cossacks and convert it into the classic American Western.

 

The fantasies of immigrant Jews wanting to be “real” Americans were popularized not only by Hollywood producers – there were also the Broadway and Tin Pan Alley Jews.

It is no accident, for example, that the greatest Christmas songs of all time were written by Jews. For example, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was written by Johnny Marks and “White Christmas” was penned by a Jewish liturgical singer’s (cantor) son, Irving Berlin. But perhaps the most poignant song emerging out of the mass exodus from Europe was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

The lyrics were written by Yip Harburg. He was the youngest of four children born to Russian Jewish immigrants. His real name was Isidore Hochberg and he grew up in a Yiddish speaking, Orthodox, Jewish home in New York. The music was written by Harold Arlen, a cantor’s son. His real name was Hyman Arluck and his parents were from Lithuania.

Together, Hochberg and Arluck wrote “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, which was voted the 20th century’s number one song by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

In writing it, the two men reached deep into their immigrant Jewish consciousness – framed by the pogroms of the past and the Holocaust about to happen – and wrote an unforgettable melody set to near prophetic words. Read the lyrics in their Jewish context, and suddenly the words are no longer about wizards and Oz, but about Jewish survival:

 

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

 

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

 

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.

 

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can’t I?

 

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?

 

The Jews of Europe could not fly. They could not escape beyond the rainbow. Harburg was almost prescient when he talked about wanting to fly like a bluebird away from the “chimney tops”. In the post-Auschwitz era, chimney tops have taken on a whole different meaning than the one they had at the beginning of 1939.

Pink’s mom is Judith Kugel. She’s Jewish of Lithuanian background. At this year’s Oscars, as Pink was belting the Harburg/Arlen song from the stage at the Academy Awards, I wasn’t thinking about the movie. I was thinking about Europe’s lost Jews and the immigrants to America. I was then struck by the irony that for two thousand years the land that the Jews heard of “once in a lullaby” was not America, but Israel.

The remarkable thing would be that less than ten years after “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was first published in 1939, the exile was over and the State of Israel was reborn. Perhaps the “dreams that you dare to dream” really do come true. 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Mammoth Town Council supports Mammoth Community Water District Board (MCWD), California, over ORMAT plans.

 

 

mltc4_16The powers-that-be in Washington reportedly want the project done. The Forest Service and BLM signed off on ORMAT geothermal’s environmental document in a record 7 days. In the face of an apparent fast track, plans for geothermal expansion and up to 16 new groundwater wells have caused grave concerns about impacts on Mammoth’s town water supply. The Town Council voted this week to sign a letter of support for Mammoth Community Water District over this troubling issue. The letter will go to legislators and agencies.

 

The Water District appealed the federal environmental approvals of ORMAT’s expansion plans. The Forest Service denied the appeal and BLM is considering it. The Air Pollution Control District has not approved ORMAT’s EIR and has held out for a monitoring and mitigation plan. Water District Board member Tom Cage said while renewable energy like geothermal is a good thing, not at the expense of Mammoth’s underground water supply.

 

MCWD Board member, Tom Cage

MCWD Board member, Tom Cage

 

Cage said that ORMAT has had two new wells pumping since 2006 and there are measurable impacts. With 14 to 16 more new wells in the expansion plan, concerns are high. Cage emphasized that the District just wants a monitoring and mitigation plan to assure safe reliability of the water supply for years to come. He said without proper protection, the District will “fight this to the bitter end. We’re not going to be intimidated or bullied.” He called ORMAT less than a good neighbor and said they’re appealing their property tax assessments.

 

Cage also said ORMAT wants to take ten times the amount of water Mammoth uses in a year. He said the community’s water is in between ORMAT’s pumps and the surface. Water District Manager Patrick Hayes said ORMAT’s plans could pollute Mammoth’s water and puts the groundwater at risk. He said neither the Forest Service or BLM required monitoring or mitigation.

 

ORMAT’s wells and pipes would go around Shady Rest Park. Councilman Matthew Lehman said Mammoth had almost no say over the project that will mean a “pipe running through a recreation area.” John Wentworth of Mammoth Lakes Trails said while green energy needs to succeed, there is no mitigation for ORMAT’s recreational impacts. He said the company would send someone to a meeting of MLTPA April 24th. Wentworth said in Mammoth the door to being a good neighbor has never been closed.

 

Planning Commissioner Mickey Brown suggested calling ORMAT names, such as bully and plunderer, should be eliminated. Manager Hayes stood up for the seriousness of the issue. He said a BLM manager told him that from Washington “his bosses said they want the ORMAT project to go.” Hayes said, “Thankfully APCD Director Ted Schade is holding out for monitoring and mitigation.”

 

Planning Commissioner Dave Harvey said fear is being spread in town over this project and that he would like to see “people in the sand box play nice.” He faulted those who have denounced ORMAT for being a foreign company. “They have management in Reno,” he said. Harvey said the Water District should “raise the bar.” He supported work toward a geothermal heating district in town.

 

The Town Council stood firmly behind the Water District and its concerns. John Eastman said there are no solid answers about the dangers to Mammoth’s water. Said Eastman, “I’m not willing to risk the town water supply. Our local supply of drinking water is the single most important asset we have. I’m not willing to jeopardize it.” The Council voted unanimously to sign a letter of support.

 

2010 Demographics:

The 2010 United States Census  reported that Mammoth Lakes had a population of 8,234. The population density was 325.4 people per square mile (125.6/km²). The racial makeup of Mammoth Lakes was 6,643 (80.7%) White, 29 (0.4%) African American, 49 (0.6%) Native American, 128 (1.6%) Asian, 5 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 1,151 (14.0%) from other races, and 229 (2.8%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2,772 persons (33.7%).

The Census reported that 8,076 people (98.1% of the population) lived in households, 158 (1.9%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 3,229 households, out of which 942 (29.2%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,401 (43.4%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 177 (5.5%) had a female householder with no husband present, 144 (4.5%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 293 (9.1%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 13 (0.4%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 899 households (27.8%) were made up of individuals and 153 (4.7%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50. There were 1,722 families (53.3% of all households); the average family size was 3.14.

The population was spread out with 1,719 people (20.9%) under the age of 18, 1,050 people (12.8%) aged 18 to 24, 2,833 people (34.4%) aged 25 to 44, 2,100 people (25.5%) aged 45 to 64, and 532 people (6.5%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32.6 years. For every 100 females there were 121.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 127.0 males.

There were 9,626 housing units at an average density of 380.4 per square mile (146.9/km²), of which 1,502 (46.5%) were owner-occupied, and 1,727 (53.5%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 3.4%; the rental vacancy rate was 33.6%. 3,464 people (42.1% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 4,612 people (56.0%) lived in rental housing units.

 

History:

The European history of Mammoth Lakes started in 1877, when four prospectors staked a claim on Mineral Hill, south of the current town, along Old Mammoth Road. In 1878, the Mammoth Mining Company was organized to mine Mineral Hill, which caused a gold rush. By the end of 1878, 1500 people settled in the mining camp called Mammoth City. By 1880, the company had shut down, and by 1888, the population declined to less than 10 people. By the early 1900s, the town of Mammoth was informally established near Mammoth Creek. The economics of the original town was based on logging and tourism.[8] The first post office at Mammoth Lakes opened in 1923.

In 2004, the Mammoth Ski Museum opened in town. The museum featured many vintage artifacts, photographs, and posters. A movie documenting the life of the founder of the ski resort (Dave McCoy) and those of early famous skiers in the area is shown. In 2010, photographs taken by Dave McCoy were featured in an exhibit at the museum.

Due to its high altitude, Mammoth Lakes has become popular among elite long-distance runners, who live and train in the thin air.]

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

DOE Recommits to Public-Private Research & Development for Clean Fuels in Its 2015 Budget

The marketplace has diminished in the past year for biofuels due to regulatory and infrastructure issues. The 40 percent proposed reduction of the RFS has created uncertainty for producers and investors; the domestic oil and gas boom, as well as overall reduced consumption of gasoline in the past few years have sowed doubt in the biofuels sector. Meanwhile, advanced biofuels are getting closer to production levels. Abengoa is nearing completion of its $500 million advanced cellulosic facility in Kansas which will be capable of producing 25 million gallons of biofuel and 21 million megawatts of power. South Dakota-based Poet will finish building its advanced cellulosic plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa this summer. DuPont will complete the largest advanced biofuels plant so far – with 30 million gallon production capacity — by sometime next year. Despite the news that cellulosic biofuels are finally here, it’s hard to remain positive when the Energy Independence and Security Act’s original goal of 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels by 2022 is considered practically impossible, requiring an investment of at least $95 billion in the next ten years, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization. For comparison, about $5.7 billion has been invested in advanced biofuel research and development to-date. Will regulators and investors continue the public-private partnership needed to bring advanced biofuels to their full potential?

Today, the United States is bearing the fruit of just such a public-private partnership. While fracking seemingly appeared out of nowhere, producing less than 2 percent of natural gas in the United States to over 25 percent in 10 years, this technology is the result of a very long partnership between the oil and gas industry and the federal government. George Mitchell, the father of fracking, began investigating the process in 1976 despite low industry interest in pursuing domestic natural gas at the time. While America loves an underdog, Mitchell and his fellow wildcatters had a lot of help along the way to their immense success. DOE spent $24 billion on fossil fuel research between 1978 and 2007, in addition to billions spent through the federal Gas Research Institute. At the time, the money spent on the endeavor was seen as a huge waste by the public, due to the low price of natural gas throughout the 1980s and 1990s. George Mitchell nearly went bankrupt more than once during his dogged pursuit of fracking technology, but was vindicated in the end. This type of public-private partnership is not unique; rather it has been used countless times in the last century to drive technologies as diverse as the internet, wind turbines and solar panels, and decoding the human genome. The government invests in high risk research and development that has great potential but is of little interest for private investors because it seems too risky. This long history makes the familiar refrain to allow the marketplace to decide which renewables will become cost competitive particularly hollow.

Hopefully today’s industry setbacks will not distract from the long-term goal – cost-competitive alternatives to petroleum. Federal support is needed to drive research and development through the short-term price fluctuations of any new technology, biofuels are no exception. Encouragingly, the Department of Energy’s 2015 budget contains a lot of good news for advanced fuels. In keeping with its goal of $3.00 per gallon fuel equivalent by 2022 and a 30 percent reduction in petroleum use, DOE announced this week that it will direct $4 billion in loan guarantees to renewable technologies which include grid integration, drop-in biofuels, waste-to-energy, facility improvement and energy efficiency technologies. This is the first new loan program since 2009 and the infamous Solyndra incident. Secretary of Energy Moniz commented on DOE’s recommitment to renewable technologies during hearings in the House and Senate this month, stating, “Through our existing renewable energy loan guarantees, [DOE] launched the U.S. utility-scale solar industry and other clean energy technologies that are now contributing to our clean energy portfolio … We want to replicate that success by focusing on technologies that are on the edge of commercial-scale deployment today.”

Within the 2015 DOE budget, a total of $9.8 billion has been earmarked for energy research and development. Of the $4 billion loan guarantee program, $10 million has been earmarked specifically towards the commercialization of drop-in biofuels, including cellulosic feedstocks, bio-solids and biogases. Other related programs include $60 million in funding administered jointly between the Department of Defense and the USDA to continue research in the production of advanced biofuels for military uses; another $253 million for bioenergy technologies, particularly algae and cellulosic feedstocks; and $10 million towards developing appropriate technology for higher biofuel blends in light duty vehicles. While critics may bemoan such loan programs as picking “winners and losers”, without substantive federal support of clean energy technology development, ultimately everyone loses.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Our Planet’s Future Is in the Hands of 58 People
 
By Roberto Savio*
 
ROME, April 19  2014 (IPS)   –   In case you missed it, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third and final part of a report on Apr. 13 in which it says bluntly that we only have 15 years left to avoid exceeding the “safe” threshold of a 2°C increase in global temperatures, beyond which the consequences will be dramatic.
 
And only the most myopic are unaware of what these are – from an increase in sea level, through more frequent hurricanes and storms (increasingly in previously unaffected areas), to an adverse impact on food production.
 
Now, in a normal and participatory world, in which at least 83 percent of those living today will still be alive in 15 years, this report would have created a dramatic reaction. Instead, there has not been a single comment by any of the leaders of the 196 countries in which the planet’s 7.5 billion “consumers” reside.
It’s just been business as usual.
 
Anthropologists, who study human beings’ similarity to and divergence from other animals, concluded a long time ago that humans are not superior in every aspect. For instance, human beings are less adaptable than many animals to survive in, for example, earthquakes, hurricanes and any other type of natural disaster.
You can be sure that, by now, other animals would be showing signs of alertness and uneasiness.
 
The first part of the report, released in September 2013 in Stockholm, declared with a 95 percent or greater certainty that humans are the main cause of global warming, while the second part, released in Yokohama at the end of March, reported that “in recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans”.
 
The IPCC is made up of over 2,000 scientists, and this is the first time that it has come to firm and final conclusions since its creation in 1988 by the United Nations.
 
The main conclusion of the report is that to slow the race to a point of no return, global emissions must be cut by 40 to 70 percent by 2050, and that “only major institutional and technological changes will give a better than even chance” that global warming will not go beyond the safety threshold and that these must start at the latest in 15 years, and be completed in 35 years.
 
It is worth noting that roughly half of the world’s population is under the age of 30, and it is largely the young who will have to bear the enormous costs of fighting climate change.
 
The IPCC’s main recommendation is very simple: major economies should place a tax on carbon pollution, raising the cost of fossil fuels and thus pushing the market toward clean sources such as wind, solar or nuclear energy. It is here that “major institutional changes” are required.
 
Ten countries are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas pollution, with the United States and China accounting for over 55 percent of that share. Both countries are taking serious steps to fight pollution.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama tried in vain to obtain Senate support, and has used his authority under the 1970 Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from vehicles and industrial plants and encourage clean technologies. 
But he cannot do anything more without backing from the Senate.
 
The all-powerful new president of China, Xi Jinping, has made the environment a priority, also because official sources put the number of deaths in China each year from pollution at five million.
 
But China needs coal for its growth, and Xi’s position is: “Why should we slow down our development when it was you rich countries that created the problem by achieving your growth?” And that gives rise to a vicious circle. The countries of the South want the rich countries to finance their costs for reducing pollution, and the countries of the North want them to stop polluting.
 
As a result, the report’s executive summary, which is intended for political leaders, has been stripped of
charts which could have been read as showing the need for the South to do more, while the rich countries
put pressure on avoiding any language that could have been interpreted as the need for them to assume any financial obligations.
 
This should {and we say rather that the word is should - ST.info editor} make it easier to reach an agreement at the next Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Lima, where a new global agreement should be reached (remember the disaster at the climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009? {that we really did not call a disaster as thanks to President Obama – it was in Copenhagen that China came first time on board - ST.info editor }).
 
The key to any agreement is in the hands of the United States. The U.S. Congress has blocked any initiative on climate control, providing an easy escape for China, India and other polluters: why should we make commitments and sacrifices if the U.S. does not participate?
 
The problem is that the Republicans have made climate change denial one of their points of identity.
 
They have mocked and denied climate change and attacked Democrats who support carbon taxing as waging a war on coal. The American energy industry financially supports the Republican Party and it is considered political suicide to talk about climate change.
 
The last time a carbon tax was proposed in 2009, after a positive vote by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, the Republican-dominated Senate shot it down.
 
And in the 2010 elections, a number of politicians who voted for the carbon tax lost their seats, contributing to the Republican takeover of the House. The hope now for those who want a change is to wait for the 2016 elections, and hope that the new president will be able to change the situation – which is a good example of why the ancient Greeks said that Hope is the last Goddess.
 
And this brings us to a very simple reality. The U.S. Senate is made up of 100 members, and this means that you need 51 votes to kill any bill for a fossil fuels tax. In China, the situation is different, but decisions are taken, in the best of hypotheses, not by the president alone, but by the seven-member Standing Committee of the Central Committee, which holds the real power in the Communist Party.
 
In other words, the future of our planet is decided by 58 persons. With the current global population standing at close to 7.7 billion people, so much for a democratic world!
*Roberto Savio, founder and  president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Sunday
April 27
Symposium

Oil & Water Symposium

The   Museum of Chinese in America in New York City (MOCA) will host a   scholarly
symposium in conjunction with MOCA’s upcoming exhibition Oil   & Water: Reinterpreting
Ink, opening April 24th.  The exhibition will  feature the work of three renowned
Chinese  contemporary artists: Qiu  Deshu, Wei Jia, and Zhang Hongtu, guest  curated
by Michelle Y. Loh.

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Museum of Chinese in America
215 Centre Street

Registration required

For more information and to register, click here [r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=00167beTHns6pzj-cS2-Xdec62GSqZdAXks51UXUXm3grc0kRAzdKXUmAdxPSN6LlicUEsRnMIQiL3oaydnIO66kIpQV-zavHy-YApl9TvXVSim2x0ku5dAUfHKSJgok-HhqKQQD4UHr_VWGjnovZniX-mIxdHdybBekLdKLUPRjVU=]

Sponsored by the Museum of Chinese in America

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

WE HOPE WE CAN CONVINCE THESE CHINESE TO TAKE A LOOK AT OIL & WATER IN THE FUTURE OF CHINA – AND TALK OF OIL & WATER IN TERMS OF SUSTAINABLILITY!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Photo

Credit Scott Menchin

 

 

WHAT can Washington, D.C., learn from a Buddhist monk?

Arthur C. Burns writes: In early 2013, I traveled with two colleagues to Dharamsala, India, to meet with the Dalai Lama. His Holiness has lived there since being driven from his Tibetan homeland by the Chinese government in 1959. From his outpost in the Himalayan foothills, he anchored the Tibetan government until 2011 and continues to serve as a spiritual shepherd for hundreds of millions of people, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.

Very early one morning during the visit, I was invited to meditate with the monks. About an hour had passed when hunger pangs began, but I worked hard to ignore them. It seemed to me that such earthly concerns had no place in the superconscious atmosphere of the monastery.

Incorrect. Not a minute later, a basket of freshly baked bread made its way down the silent line, followed by a jar of peanut butter with a single knife. We ate breakfast in silence, and resumed our meditation. This, I soon learned, is the Dalai Lama in a nutshell: transcendence and pragmatism together. Higher consciousness and utter practicality rolled into one.

That same duality was on display in February when the Dalai Lama joined a two-day summit at my institution, the American Enterprise Institute. At first, his visit caused confusion. Some people couldn’t imagine why he would visit us; as Vanity Fair asked in a headline, “Why Was the Dalai Lama Hanging Out with the Right-Wing American Enterprise Institute?”

There was no dissonance, though, because the Dalai Lama’s teaching defies freighted ideological labels. During our discussions, he returned over and over to two practical yet transcendent points.

First, his secret to human flourishing is the development of every individual.
In his own words: “Where does a happy world start?
From government? No.
From United Nations? No.
From individual.”

But his second message made it abundantly clear that he did not advocate an every-man-for-himself economy.

He insisted that while free enterprise could be a blessing, it was not guaranteed to be so.

Markets are instrumental, not intrinsic, for human flourishing.

As with any tool, wielding capitalism for good requires deep moral awareness.

Only activities motivated by a concern for others’ well-being, he declared, could be truly “constructive.”

Tibetan Buddhists actually count wealth among the four factors in a happy life, along with worldly satisfaction, spirituality and enlightenment.

Money per se is not evil. For the Dalai Lama, the key question is whether “we utilize our favorable circumstances, such as our good health or wealth, in positive ways, in helping others.”

There is much for Americans to absorb here.

Advocates of free enterprise must remember that the system’s moral core is neither profits nor efficiency. It is creating opportunity for individuals who need it the most.

Historically, free enterprise has done this to astonishing effect. In a remarkable paper, Maxim Pinkovskiy of M.I.T. and Xavier Sala-i-Martin of Columbia University calculate that the fraction of the world’s population living on a dollar a day — after adjusting for inflation — plummeted by 80 percent between 1970 and 2006. This is history’s greatest antipoverty achievement.

But while free enterprise keeps expanding globally, its success may be faltering in the United States. According to research from Pew’s Economic Mobility Project, men in their 30s in 2004 were earning 12 percent less in real terms than their fathers’ generation at the same point in their lives. That was before the financial crisis, the Great Recession, and years of federal policies that have done a great deal for the wealthy and well-connected but little to lift up the bottom half.

The solution does not lie in the dubious “fair share” class-baiting of politicians. We need to combine an effective, reliable safety net for the poor with a hard look at modern barriers to upward mobility. That means attacking cronyism that protects the well-connected. It means lifting poor children out of ineffective schools that leave them unable to compete. It entails pruning back outmoded licensing laws that restrain low-income entrepreneurs. And it means creating real solutions — not just proposing market distortions — for people who cannot find jobs that pay enough to support their families.

In other words, Washington needs to be more like the Dalai Lama. Without abandoning principles, we need practical policies based on moral empathy. Tackling these issues may offend entrenched interests, but this is immaterial. It must be done. And temporary political discomfort pales in comparison with the suffering that vulnerable people bear every day.

At one point in our summit, I deviated from the suffering of the poor and queried the Dalai Lama about discomfort in his own life. “Your Holiness,” I asked, “what gives you suffering?” I expected something quotably profound, perhaps about the loss of his homeland. Instead, he thought for a moment, loosened his maroon robe slightly, and once again married the practical with the rhapsodic.

“Right now,” he said, “I am a little hot.”

—————————–
THE DALAI LAMA MARRIES THE PRACTICAL WITH THE RHAPSODIC!

________________

 

Arthur C. Brooks, a contributing opinion writer, is the president of the American Enterprise Institute.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Opinion Pages   —   Op-Ed Columnist

 

Salvation Gets Cheap.

 

 

 

 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which pools the efforts of scientists around the globe, has begun releasing draft chapters from its latest assessment, and, for the most part, the reading is as grim as you might expect. We are still on the road to catastrophe without major policy changes.

But there is one piece of the assessment that is surprisingly, if conditionally, upbeat: Its take on the economics of mitigation. Even as the report calls for drastic action to limit emissions of greenhouse gases, it asserts that the economic impact of such drastic action would be surprisingly small. In fact, even under the most ambitious goals the assessment considers, the estimated reduction in economic growth would basically amount to a rounding error, around 0.06 percent per year.

What’s behind this economic optimism? To a large extent, it reflects a technological revolution many people don’t know about, the incredible recent decline in the cost of renewable energy, solar power in particular.

Before I get to that revolution, however, let’s talk for a minute about the overall relationship between economic growth and the environment.

Other things equal, more G.D.P. tends to mean more pollution. What transformed China into the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases? Explosive economic growth. But other things don’t have to be equal. There’s no necessary one-to-one relationship between growth and pollution.

People on both the left and the right often fail to understand this point. (I hate it when pundits try to make every issue into a case of “both sides are wrong,” but, in this case, it happens to be true.) On the left, you sometimes find environmentalists asserting that to save the planet we must give up on the idea of an ever-growing economy; on the right, you often find assertions that any attempt to limit pollution will have devastating impacts on growth. But there’s no reason we can’t become richer while reducing our impact on the environment.

Let me add that free-market advocates seem to experience a peculiar loss of faith whenever the subject of the environment comes up. They normally trumpet their belief that the magic of the market can surmount all obstacles — that the private sector’s flexibility and talent for innovation can easily cope with limiting factors like scarcity of land or minerals. But suggest the possibility of market-friendly environmental measures, like a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, and they suddenly assert that the private sector would be unable to cope, that the costs would be immense. Funny how that works.

The sensible position on the economics of climate change has always been that it’s like the economics of everything else — that if we give corporations and individuals an incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they will respond. What form would that response take? Until a few years ago, the best guess was that it would proceed on many fronts, involving everything from better insulation and more fuel-efficient cars to increased use of nuclear power.

One front many people didn’t take too seriously, however, was renewable energy. Sure, cap-and-trade might make more room for wind and the sun, but how important could such sources really end up being? And I have to admit that I shared that skepticism. If truth be told, I thought of the idea that wind and sun could be major players as hippie-dippy wishful thinking.

But I was wrong.

The climate change panel, in its usual deadpan prose, notes that “many RE [renewable energy] technologies have demonstrated substantial performance improvements and cost reductions” since it released its last assessment, back in 2007. The Department of Energy is willing to display a bit more open enthusiasm;
it titled a report on clean energy released last year “Revolution Now.” That sounds like hyperbole, but you realize that it isn’t when you learn that the price of solar panels has fallen more than 75 percent just since 2008.

 

Thanks to this technological leap forward, the climate panel can talk about “decarbonizing” electricity generation as a realistic goal — and since coal-fired power plants are a very large part of the climate problem, that’s a big part of the solution right there.

It’s even possible that decarbonizing will take place without special encouragement, but we can’t and shouldn’t count on that. The point, instead, is that drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are now within fairly easy reach.

So is the climate threat solved? Well, it should be.

The science is solid; the technology is there; the economics look far more favorable than anyone expected. All that stands in the way of saving the planet is a combination of ignorance, prejudice and vested interests.

What could go wrong? Oh, wait.

———————————–

A version of this op-ed appears in print on April 18, 2014, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Salvation Gets Cheap.

———————————-

Some  Comments:

Michael N. Alexander

Okay. I’ll accept the climate change panel’s statement that “many [renewable energy] technologies have demonstrated substantial performance…

Brian

I believe that market approaches can work, however we would have to see more freedom in the energy market. Freedom would mean “pay world…

RichWa

Professor Krugman, I am a fan of yours but I find myself questioning this op-ed. First what makes you think that it’s not already too late…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

    Tax Breaks That Are Killing the Planet

 The comments show how deep is the Republican brainwashing of the population. You have here pundits for whom loss of life is nothing when compared to what they think is the right of corporations to make a profit.

What is even worse, nobody asked whose oil and coal is it anyway?  If Natural Resources are the property of the Whole Nation, then why should a company get depletion subsidies for their appropriating to themselves the natural National treasures? The whole system of paying royalties is inadequate – but the payment to them for the deletion of the resources is ridiculous. Getting a bonus for gains from misappropriated resources is much more like rewarding the CEOs for being great thieves! Just give it some more rational thinking and use the babble of the comments as your guideline.   ST.info editor)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

PRESS RELEASE: Brazil Kicks Off Carbon Neutral Goal for FIFA World Cup.

(16 April 2014) – The globe’s biggest sporting event – the FIFA World Cup –
is aiming to offset its greenhouse gas emissions this summer in a move that
should inspire more event organizers to undertake high-profile climate
action.

The Government of Brazil has announced an initiative encouraging holders of
carbon credits from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), called certified
emission reductions (CERs), to donate them to organizers to offset
emissions from construction and renovation of stadia, consumption of fossil
fuels from official and public transport, and other sources.

By some estimates, offsetting these sources of emissions – just during the days of the Soccer Championship games – would require above one million CERs or more, depending on what was covered in the calculation.
That would be equivalent to taking nearly 300,000 passenger cars off the road for a year.

“Brazil’s call for carbon credits to offset emissions from the world’s
largest mass spectator event is a welcome move and part of a global trend
by organizers to green big sporting events like football tournaments and
the Olympics,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) after being informed of the
news.

It has also been reported that FIFA is planning to offset the emissions of officials and fans by perhaps buying carbon offsets.

 ”I wish Brazil and FIFA every success in their endeavors and look forward
to a rigorous assessment after the final whistle blows on what was actually
achieved in respect to climate neutrality. Big sporting events are
increasingly winning green medals for their environmental performance. In
doing so they can inspire the wider society towards climate action in
support of a better world,” added Ms. Figueres.

All donated credits must originate from Brazilian CDM projects. Nearly 150
Brazilian CDM projects have issued more than 90 million CERs; an estimated
14 million of these could be available for donation. Each CER is equal to
one tonne of avoided carbon dioxide. The smallest accepted donation is
5,000 CERs and donors will receive an official certificate acknowledging
their contribution to offsetting the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Since being established as part of the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first
emissions reduction treaty, more than 7,600 CDM projects and programmes in
105 developing countries have been approved.

These range from projects that reduce emissions by replacing inefficient
wood stoves and ones improving energy efficiency to solar, wind and hydro
power projects. The CDM to date has generated more than 1.4 billion CERs
and has driven climate-focused investment worth $396 billion.

“When emission reductions come with other benefits, such as technology
transfer, sustainable energy, increased household prosperity, clean air,
education, or spur other types of sustainable development, then clearly
this is in the best interest of everyone, in developed and developing
countries,” said Hugh Sealy, Chair of the Executive Board that oversees the
CDM. “The CDM delivers these kinds of benefits, so companies that use CDM
offsets are doing the right thing and have a great story to tell.”

The Executive Board Chair made the remarks at the close of the Board’s most
recent meeting, which gave the green light to an initiative intended to
increase CDM’s use by environmentally aware emitters in the private and
public sector. The initiative will include a range of outreach activities
and communication efforts in the coming two years, including encouraging
events like the FIFA World Cup to offset emissions using the UN-certified
emission reductions.

“Measuring and reducing emissions is the responsibility of all companies
and significant emitters. Investors, customers and a fast-growing
proportion of the public expect it,” said Dr. Sealy. “The use of offsets
offers a cost-effective way to approach climate neutrality by going outside
the company boundaries and investing in emission reductions elsewhere.”

The value of CERs has in recent years gone down as demand has fallen, due
ultimately to countries’ level of ambition to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions. A new universal climate agreement in Paris in 2015 could make
mechanisms like the CDM indispensable as a means to mobilize investment to
reduce emissions and spur development.

More information:
www.mma.gov.br/governanca-ambiental/copa-verde/nucleo-mudancas-climaticas/item/10076

News release from the Brazilian government:
www.mma.gov.br/informma/item/10081-mma-chama-empresas-interessadas-na-doa%C3%A7%C3%A3o-de-cr%C3%A9ditos-de-carbono-para-copa

About the CDM:
The CDM allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to earn
certified emission reductions (CERs), each equivalent to one tonne of CO2.
CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialized countries to meet a
part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol. With
more than 7,600 registered projects and programmes in 105 developing
countries, the CDM has proven to be a powerful mechanism to deliver finance
for emission-reduction projects and contribute to sustainable development.

About the UNFCCC:
With 195 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997
Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC
Parties. For the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 37 States,
consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the
process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission
limitation and reduction commitments. In Doha in 2012, the Conference of
the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which establishes the second
commitment period under the Protocol. The ultimate objective of both
treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at
a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate
system.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Brazen Hamas Billboard Links Hamas to Turkey, Qatar.

April 3, 2014    1 comment
Hamas's publicity billboard that reads, 'Jerusalem is Waiting for Men.' Photo: Screenshot.

Hamas’s publicity billboard that reads, ‘Jerusalem is Waiting for Men.’ Photo: Screenshot.

In a rather conspicuous propaganda stunt, Hamas, the terror group ruling Gaza, foisted a new billboard showing the heads of its Islamist leadership, along with the leaders of Turkey and Qatar, with a caption that implies their help has been recruited to wrest Jerusalem from Israeli control.

The billboard shows Hamas political chief  Khaled Meshal and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, alongside previous and current Qatari leaders Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The billboard reads ”Jerusalem is Waiting for Men,” along with a photo of the Dome of the Rock.

The massive banner was photographed in Gaza by the Palestinian News Agency, and flagged on Thursday by blogger Elder of Ziyon.

The blogger wrote that the sign also implies two other messages.

First, the belittling of leaders of other Arab countries, especially Egypt, where Hamas gained under the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, and is now being shunned after that group, its political “big brother,” was expelled last year.

And, second, that Hamas, which played second fiddle to Islamic Jihad in last month’s shelling of Israel, is the stronger of the two groups and will be on the winning team to, one day, take Jerusalem.

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Egyptian Entrepreneur Laments Lack of Open Business With Israel.

April 3, 2014   3 comments
Cairo International Airport, where sources spied Israeli and Egyptian security officials meeting to discuss cooperation to fight terrorists in the Sinai. Photo: Cairo International Airport.

Cairo International Airport, where sources spied Israeli and Egyptian security officials meeting to discuss cooperation to fight terrorists in the Sinai. Photo: Cairo International Airport.

An Egyptian entrepreneur said he resents his country’s hostility to Israel which prevents him from openly conducting any business with the Jewish state, Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported late last week.

“It is very unfortunate that we cannot be pragmatic and say this particular country has good quality and inexpensive commodities and we are going to import from it because it is in our interest,” said the unnamed Egyptian, who still does business with Israel on the down low. “After all these years an Israeli commodity on, say, the shelf of a supermarket would not be picked up except by a few people — if we assume that any supermarket would at all dare to carry, say, Israeli fruit juice.”

Like most Egyptian businessmen who work with Israelis, he insisted on remaining anonymous for fear of being “stigmatized as dealing with the enemy,” he told Al-Ahram.

“I really don’t understand; we have a peace deal and we cannot do business, it has been 35 years since this peace treaty was signed and still it is a big issue if someone said let us do business with Israel or let us benefit of their agricultural expertise,” he said.

Trade between Israel and Egypt dropped after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011, but government officials in Cairo say the fall was possibly a result of the subsequent political turmoil, according to the report.

Despite any current animosity Egypt may harbor toward Israel, an independent economic source told Al-Ahram that Egyptian authorities are considering all options in dealing with the country’s current severe energy shortages, not excluding the import of natural gas from Israel.

“Cooperation in natural gas has been very stable for many years despite the suspension and trade dispute that occurred after the 25 January Revolution removed Mubarak — but this is the case with trade cooperation in general, limited and stable,” said a government official.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

CNN 

Alleged Kansas Jewish center gunman charged with murder.

By Saeed Ahmed, Ed Lavandara and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
April 16, 2014 — Updated 0228 GMT (1028 HKT)

Watch this video

Kansas shooting suspect appears in court.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: “Yeah, that sounds like something he would do,” mayor says after learning of killings
  • Frazier Glenn Cross is charged with capital murder and premeditated murder
  • No decision on whether to seek the death penalty for Cross has been made yet, official says
  • Cross is accused of killing three people at two Jewish-affiliated facilities

Overland Park, Kansas (CNN) — The man accused of killing three people at two Jewish-affiliated facilities in Kansas made no secret of his racist views, writing letters to newspapers and inviting people to white-supremacist meetings at his home, say those who knew him.

So when news broke that Frazier Glenn Cross had been charged with one count of capital murder and one count of first-degree premeditated murder in connection with the killings, it didn’t come as a surprise to the mayor of Marionville, Missouri.

“It was kind of shocking at first. But then reading the article and thinking about it, I thought ‘yeah that sounds like something he would do,’” said Dan Clevenger, who has known Cross for 12 years, describing him as a client at his business where he services law mowers and other small engines.

Cross is accused of shooting to death a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center near Kansas City, Kansas, on Sunday and then a woman at a nearby Jewish assisted living facility.

Photos: Deadly shootings in Kansas
Photos: Deadly shootings in Kansas

  Hear suspect’s anti-Semitic rants

  Murder charges for Jewish Center suspect

   Suspect described as ‘anti-Semite’

The capital murder count is connected to the deaths of William Lewis Corporon and Reat Griffin Underwood, said Steve Howe, district attorney for Johnson County. The premeditated murder count is linked to the death of Terri LaManno, he said.

Hate crime charges are possible, as police investigators say they have “unquestionably determined” that Cross’ actions were a hate crime, Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said.

Cross appeared in court Tuesday in a wheelchair, wearing an anti-suicide smock. He said only that he couldn’t afford an attorney.

He is being held on $10 million bond, and he was ordered to return to court on April 24.

U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said that federal prosecutors are still collecting evidence and that federal charges could come later.

Legal experts say hate crime charges are possible, even though the victims were Christian.

The capital murder charge carries the possibility of a life sentence or the death penalty. No decision on whether to seek the death penalty for Cross has been made yet, Howe said.

Former KKK leader

Cross, 73, is the founder and former leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. Both organizations operated as paramilitary groups in the 1980s, according to the SPLC.

The accused killer’s neo-pagan religion

In Cross’ anti-Semitic and white-supremacist activities, he has also used the name Frazier Glenn Miller, the SPLC said.

After he was apprehended at a nearby elementary school, Cross sat in the back of a patrol car and shouted “Heil Hitler!” video from CNN affiliate KMBC shows.

He obtained firearms from a “straw buyer,” a middleman with a clean record who could buy weapons legally and then sell or give them to Cross, allowing Cross to avoid federal background checks, a U.S. law enforcement official said. He had three guns when he was arrested Sunday, authorities said.

The shootings took place at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and the Village Shalom Retirement Community in Overland Park a day before the start of Passover, a major Jewish holiday.

The police chief said the gunman shot at five people, none of whom he is believed to have known. There were no other injuries, authorities said.

Police were investigating statements Cross made after his arrest but declined to provide additional details, Douglass said.

The Anti-Defamation League said it warned last week of the increased possibility of violent attacks against community centers in the coming weeks, “which coincide both with the Passover holiday and Hitler’s birthday on April 20, a day around which in the United States has historically been marked by extremist acts of violence and terrorism.”

On Monday, the ADL reissued a security bulletin to synagogues and Jewish communal institutions across the country, urging them to review their security plans for the Passover holiday, which began at sundown Monday.

  Mom ‘felt God immediately’ after shooting

  Son: Shooter knocked family to its knees

    Cop: Elderly shooting suspect in custody

READ: What the killings say about U.S. hate groups

‘That idiot … knocked a family to its knees’

The shooting began just after 1 p.m. Sunday in the Jewish community center’s parking lot.

Inside, the center was a hive of activity. A performance of “To Kill a Mockingbird” was about to begin, and auditions were under way for “KC Superstar,” an “American Idol”-style contest for the best high school singer in the Kansas City area.

Outside, the gunman opened fire. Police said he was armed with a shotgun and may have been carrying other weapons. Reat, 14, was there to audition for the singing competition. His grandfather, Corporon, was driving him. The bullets struck them in their car. Both died.

“That idiot absolutely knocked a family to its knees for no reason,” Reat’s uncle and William’s son, Will Corporon, said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Grandfather and grandson were Methodists, their pastor, the Rev. Adam Hamilton, told CNN on Monday.

Marionville’s mayor said Cross’ alleged actions “shows that he didn’t care.”

“He didn’t have much regard for life. He just wanted to make a show, and he didn’t care who paid for it,” he told CNN.

Clevenger wonders whether Cross, who he says told him he wasn’t going to live much longer, wanted to “go out, make the big show.”

READ: ‘I know they’re in heaven together,’ says woman who lost son, dad

A woman caring for her mother

The gunman then drove to the retirement home, where he shot the third victim in the parking lot. Authorities identified her as LaManno, who was visiting her mother as she usually did every Sunday at Village Shalom.

LaManno’s Catholic church, St. Peter’s Parish, posted a message on its website calling LaManno “a loving mother and wife, and a gentle and giving woman.”

The Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired in Kansas City, where LaManno worked as an occupational therapist, described her as a “gracious, generous, skilled and deeply caring individual who made a great difference in the lives of so many children and their families.”

‘A raging anti-Semite’

Cross is a “raging anti-Semite” who has posted extensively in online forums that advocate exterminating Jews, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

He has called Jews “swarthy, hairy, bow-legged, beady-eyed, parasitic midgets.”

According to the SPLC, Cross founded and ran the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1980s. He was forced to shut down after the SPLC sued him for operating an illegal paramilitary organization and intimidating African-Americans.

He then formed another group, the White Patriot Party.

In the late 1980s, Cross spent three years in prison on weapons charges and for plotting the assassination of SPLC founder Morris Dees. The short sentence was a result of a plea bargain he struck with federal prosecutors. In exchange, he testified against 14 white supremacists in a sedition trial in Arkansas in 1988.

“He was reviled in white supremacist circles as a ‘race traitor,’ and, for a while, kept a low profile,” according to an SPLC profile of him. “Now he’s making a comeback with The Aryan Alternative, a racist tabloid he’s been printing since 2005.”

READ: Suspect ‘entrenched in the hate movement’

CNN’s George Howell, Matthew Stucker, Nick Valencia, Janet DiGiacomo, Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Don Lemon contributed to this report.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Opinion Pages  — Op-Ed Contributors to the New York Times

 

Global Warming Scare Tactics.

 

Photo

Credit Leigh Guldig

Ted Nordhaus is the chairman and Michael Shellenberger is the president of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental research organization.  (?? – our own note – the ST.info editor)

 

OAKLAND, Calif. — IF you were looking for ways to increase public skepticism about global warming, you could hardly do better than the forthcoming nine-part series on climate change and natural disasters, starting this Sunday on Showtime. A trailer for “Years of Living Dangerously” is terrifying, replete with images of melting glaciers, raging wildfires and rampaging floods. “I don’t think scary is the right word,” intones one voice. “Dangerous, definitely.”

Showtime’s producers undoubtedly have the best of intentions. There are serious long-term risks associated with rising greenhouse gas emissions, ranging from ocean acidification to sea-level rise to decreasing agricultural output.

But there is every reason to believe that efforts to raise public concern about climate change by linking it to natural disasters will backfire. More than a decade’s worth of research suggests that fear-based appeals about climate change inspire denial, fatalism and polarization.

For instance, Al Gore’s 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” popularized the idea that today’s natural disasters are increasing in severity and frequency because of human-caused global warming. It also contributed to public backlash and division. Since 2006, the number of Americans telling Gallup that the media was exaggerating global warming grew to 42 percent today from about 34 percent. Meanwhile, the gap between Democrats and Republicans on whether global warming is caused by humans rose to 42 percent last year from 26 percent in 2006, according to the Pew Research Center.

Other factors contributed. Some conservatives and fossil-fuel interests questioned the link between carbon emissions and global warming. And beginning in 2007, as the country was falling into recession, public support for environmental protection declined.

Still, environmental groups have known since 2000 that efforts to link climate change to natural disasters could backfire, after researchers at the Frameworks Institute studied public attitudes for its report “How to Talk About Global Warming.” Messages focused on extreme weather events, they found, made many Americans more likely to view climate change as an act of God — something to be weathered, not prevented.

Some people, the report noted, “are likely to buy a SUV to help them through the erratic weather to come” for example, rather than support fuel-efficiency standards.

Since then, evidence that a fear-based approach backfires has grown stronger. A frequently cited 2009 study in the journal Science Communication summed up the scholarly consensus. “Although shocking, catastrophic, and large-scale representations of the impacts of climate change may well act as an initial hook for people’s attention and concern,” the researchers wrote, “they clearly do not motivate a sense of personal engagement with the issue and indeed may act to trigger barriers to engagement such as denial.”  In a controlled laboratory experiment published in Psychological Science in 2010, researchers were able to use “dire messages” about global warming to increase skepticism about the problem.

Many climate advocates ignore these findings, arguing that they have an obligation to convey the alarming facts.

But claims linking the latest blizzard, drought or hurricane to global warming simply can’t be supported by the science. Our warming world is, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, increasing heat waves and intense precipitation in some places, and is likely to bring more extreme weather in the future. But the panel also said there is little evidence that this warming is increasing the loss of life or the economic costs of natural disasters. “Economic growth, including greater concentrations of people and wealth in periled areas and rising insurance penetration,” the climate panel noted, “is the most important driver of increasing losses.”

Claims that current disasters are connected to climate change do seem to motivate many liberals to support action. But they alienate conservatives in roughly equal measure.

What works, say environmental pollsters and researchers, is focusing on popular solutions. Climate advocates often do this, arguing that solar and wind can reduce emissions while strengthening the economy. But when renewable energy technologies are offered as solutions to the exclusion of other low-carbon alternatives, they polarize rather than unite.

 

One recent study, published by Yale Law School’s Cultural Cognition Project, found that conservatives become less skeptical about global warming if they first read articles suggesting nuclear energy or geoengineering as solutions. Another study, in the journal Nature Climate Change in 2012, concluded that “communication should focus on how mitigation efforts can promote a better society” rather than “on the reality of climate change and averting its risks.”

Nonetheless, virtually every major national environmental organization continues to reject nuclear energy, even after four leading climate scientists wrote them an open letter last fall, imploring them to embrace the technology as a key climate solution. Together with catastrophic rhetoric, the rejection of technologies like nuclear and natural gas by environmental groups is most likely feeding the perception among many that climate change is being exaggerated. After all, if climate change is a planetary emergency, why take nuclear and natural gas off the table?

While the urgency that motivates exaggerated claims is understandable, turning down the rhetoric and embracing solutions like nuclear energy will better serve efforts to slow global warming.

Some Comments

Alan Gregory

All the polling and surveying and such described in this op-ed does not change the reality: Humans’ propensity to pollute and foul the…

—-

Elaine Bergstrom

Some ten years back, I had the opportunity to interview a Canadian climatologist while covering a, excellent 3-part series “The Great…

Jan

We are most likely to believe what we are told — which depends on what news programs and which e-mails we attract. It’s hard for mere facts…

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We are not going to debate this article – it speaks for itself when it comes to reveal the intentions of the two authors that hide in the corridors of a main university and spew their stuff in the public domain that a major newspaper offers them.
Pincas Jawetz

 

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

IPCC Approves Third Contribution to its Fifth Assessment

ipcc-39            13 April 2014: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) approved the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of its third contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) on mitigation of climate change. Human-generated emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) are continuing to rise to unprecedented levels, according to the report, which underscores the inadequacy of existing levels of effort to curb emissions.

The 12th Session of the IPCC Working Group III (WGIII-12) and 29th Session of the IPCC took place from 7-12 April 2014, in Berlin, Germany. WGIII convened to approve the WGIII SPM line-by-line and to accept the underlying assessment of scientific literature. 

The WGIII report outlines technological and behavioral changes that can limit the increase in global average temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius, the point at which science shows that climate impacts begin to overwhelm human coping efforts. The report further notes that only major institutional and technological change will result in a better than even chance that global warming will not exceed this threshold.

After adopting the report, IPCC-39 then convened to discuss, inter alia, future work of the IPCC, admission of observer organizations, and conflict of interest.

The report, titled ‘Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change,’ is the IPCC’s Working Group III report.

The Panel adopted its WGI contribution on the physical science basis of climate change in in September 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Panel adopted the WGII contribution on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability in March 2014,
in Yokohama, Japan.

A Synthesis Report of all three WG volumes is expected to be finalized by the IPCC at a meeting that will take place
in October 2014, in Copenhagen, Denmark. 

[UNFCCC Press Release] [IPCC Press Release] [IISD RS Coverage] [UNEP Press Release] [UN Press Release] [WMO Press Release]

==========================
Photo

President Obama yesterday morning. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The United States needs to enact a major climate change law, such as a tax on carbon pollution, by the end of this decade to stave off the most catastrophic impacts of global warming, according to the authors of a report released this week by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But aggressive efforts to tackle climate change have repeatedly collided with political reality in Washington, where some Republicans question the underlying science of global warming and lawmakers’ ties to the fossil fuel industry have made them resistant to change. The rise of the Tea Party in recent years has also made a tax increase unlikely.

This week’s report makes clear, however, that the window is rapidly narrowing to forge new policies that will protect the globe from a future of serious food and water shortages, a drastic sea level rise, increased poverty and disease and other profound risks.

“What would be required is a nationwide carbon pricing policy,” said Robert Stavins, director of Harvard’s environmental economics program and a lead author of the report. “And that would not be possible without action from Congress.”

Photo

President Obama has used his authority under the Clean Air Act to issue new E.P.A. regulations to slash pollution from cars and coal-fired power plants. Credit Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Democrats have twice pushed serious bills to force greenhouse gas polluters like coal-fired power plants and oil refiners to pay to pollute. Both of those bills — one by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and one by President Obama in 2010 — ultimately failed, contributing to heavy Democratic losses in midterm elections.

Lawmakers who back such efforts, which represent a threat to the bottom lines of the fossil fuel industry, particularly coal, the nation’s top source of carbon pollution, have been criticized by campaigns from Republicans, Tea Party-affiliated “super PACs” like Americans for Prosperity, and the coal and oil industries.

Many members of the Republican Party question the established science that carbon pollution contributes to climate change — and hundreds have also signed on to a pledge promising never to raise taxes.

But there has not been a huge public outcry to endorse new climate change policy. Polls consistently show that while a majority of Americans accept that climate change is real, addressing it ranks at the bottom of voters’ priorities.

In the absence of action from Congress, Mr. Obama has taken controversial measures to counter climate change;
he has already used his executive authority under the Clean Air Act to create Environmental Protection Agency regulations that will slash greenhouse gas pollution from cars and coal-fired power plants.

During this year’s midterm election campaigns, Republicans have used carbon-control policies as a political weapon, calling Mr. Obama’s E.P.A. rules a “war on coal.” The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, who is running for re-election in the coal-heavy state of Kentucky, has vowed to use every legislative tactic available to block, repeal or delay those rules if Republicans win control of the Senate this fall.

Within that context, many in the Republican establishment think that talking about climate change — and, particularly, any policy endorsing a tax on fossil fuels — would be political suicide for a Republican seeking to win the party’s nomination in 2016.

The United Nations report says that if the world’s major economies do not enact steep, fast climate policies well before 2030, in order to cut total global emissions 40 to 70 percent by 2050, the prospects of avoiding a global atmospheric temperature increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the point past which scientists say the planet will be locked into a dangerous future, will be far more difficult and expensive.

Ten countries are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas pollution. While the report makes clear that all major economies must act, the actions of China and the United States, the top two carbon polluters, will be most crucial.

The authors of the report say Mr. Obama’s E.P.A. regulations represent a significant first step to cutting United States carbon pollution — but not enough to avert the worst effects of a warming world.

The next president will have to both carry out Mr. Obama’s climate change rules and quickly push through even more stringent pollution-cutting policies, according to the report’s authors.

“We need to increase the slope and the pace of the change,” said David Victor, one of the report’s authors and an expert on climate and energy policy at the University of California, San Diego. “Accelerating what we’re doing in the U.S. will be very important for the next administration.”

Despite the history of roadblocks to enacting climate change policy, some experts say they do see some potential for a legislative path to cut United States carbon pollution.

One window could open if Congress takes up a comprehensive effort to overhaul the nation’s corporate tax code, which could happen after the 2016 presidential election.

Lawmakers from both parties have pushed tax reform — and in that context, there could be room for a grand bargain incorporating new carbon tax, which Democrats want, paired with a cut in corporate or income taxes, which Republicans want. Prominent conservative economists, like Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who advised Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, and Gregory Mankiw, who advised Mitt Romney’s 2012 bid, have endorsed that proposal.

Experts also note that a shift at the national level could come as more states enact climate change policies. Currently California and several Northeastern states, including New York, have enacted state-level programs to force carbon polluters to pay to pollute.

Historically, California’s environmental laws have served as a vanguard and model for national environmental policy. The push for state-level policies could rise, say experts, if there is a significant increase in extreme weather like droughts and flooding, which contribute to higher adaptation costs for state and local governments.

“The question is whether state and local entities want to see action — and if that can then be translated to local action,” said Thomas Peterson, founder of the Center for Climate Strategies, a nonprofit group that works on climate policy with state governments.

This week’s report said the impact of climate change was already being experienced, and it followed on earlier scientific reports that have noted that climate change was exacerbating drought in Texas, rapidly rising sea levels along the Atlantic coast and higher storm surges caused by hurricanes in states like Florida and Louisiana. Among the likely Republican contenders for the 2016 presidential nomination are Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Of courses, some of those contenders, like Mr. Cruz, Mr. Jindal and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, also hail from states where fossil fuel development is a key part of the economy — and have thus led the way in fighting carbon control policies.

A version of this article appears in print on April 15, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Political Divide Slows U.S. Action on Climate Laws.

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Some Comments

dave commenter

One poster mentioned that since the first Earth Day when the alarms began sounding, not much has changed.
In the 1960′s Vance Packard wrote…

Sten Deadio

Does anyone else find it ironic that Conservatives deny a 97% scientific certainty in Climate Change AND accept with ZERO
PERCENT certainty…

Capt. Penny

As 300+ other comments ahead of mine have noted, politics trumps physics and reality.So what are WE going to do about that?
Take 3 simple…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 The original of April 4th 2014:

QUOTATION OF THE DAY

“There is no right in our democracy more basic than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN G. ROBERTS JR., in a Supreme Court decision striking down a cap on campaign contributions in the name of a majority of 5 out of 9.

 

QUOTATION OF THE DAY

“Where enough money calls the tune, the general public will not be heard.”

JUSTICE STEPHEN G. BREYER, writing for the dissenting minority of 4.

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Editorial

The Court Follows the Money.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD of The New York Times.

 

Five justices voted to eliminate sensible contribution limits to federal campaigns, giving those few people with the most money the loudest voice in politics.

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

By now you know that the Supreme Court on Wednesday issued an expected — though still horrendous — decision in McCutcheon v FEC.

The Roberts Court’s majority ignored four decades of campaign finance law and struck down overall limits on what an individual can give to federal candidates, fundraising committees and national political parties.

The decision is certain to give elite donors even more influence and power over our public policies, and ripple down to elections in states.

 ALTERNET:

The new book, “Flash Boys” by Michael Lewis, about how the stock market is rigged by super-fast computer trading; or perhaps you saw Lewis tell the story on 60 Minutes Sunday night.

But it’s not just the stock market that is rigged. The whole system is rigged. 

With Wednesday’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court has doubled down on Citizen’s United crushing the last aspect of campaign finance reform. It is now official, or perhaps more “official.” Plutocracy = The United States of America. The rich will rule at levels beyond our imagination even just a few years ago.

Justice Breyer writing for the four Justices who don’t represent the billionaire class said the decision undermines the political integrity of our governmental institutions:

“It creates a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate’s campaign. …What has this to do with corruption? It has everything to do with corruption…. Today’s decision eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.”

Breyer couldn’t be clearer. And we can’t be clearer. This is depressing, infuriating, and it is time for us to revolt. Seriously. We can’t take this any more. We need to double down on our belief in democracy and fairness, not on the most elitist, disgusting Supreme Court in history – thanks to George Bush.

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The Update of April 5th 2014:

The Opinion Pages    Editorial

 

How to Squeeze the Political Parties

 

The Campaign Finance Ruling Helps Big Donors

 

Reince Priebus, the Republican Party chairman, was practically giddy on Wednesday imagining the riches he can squeeze from big private bank accounts as a result of the Supreme Court decision that knocked down yet another campaign finance limit. “We are grateful and we are excited,” he said, explaining that donors will now be able to “max out” in giving to more party committees, at far higher levels than previously allowed.

But actually, it is the big donors who will be squeezing the parties, not the other way around. They now have far more power to dictate terms to politicians, and will soon begin issuing demands to benefit their special interests.

 

 

Why? Donors will now have a wide array of choices in where to spend their political dollars, thanks to the Supreme Court. The 2010 Citizens United decision, combined with lower-court rulings, opened the door to giving unlimited amounts of money to “super PACs” and nonprofit political groups, money that was spent on electing and defeating specific candidates. The court’s McCutcheon decision on Wednesday allows donors to give as much as $3.6 million to joint fund-raising committees set up by the parties, which can be used to benefit individual candidates.

That makes the parties players in the big-money race for the first time, since an individual’s contributions to party committees had been limited to $74,600 per election cycle. But the parties will be competing with the super PACs for those six-figure checks, and the check writers know it. For that kind of money, donors expect something beyond a nice table at a fund-raiser and a photo with a party leader. And the parties, which are controlled by the top lawmakers, are in a position to provide it — tax benefits, special clauses in regulatory bills, spending that helps a particular industry.

Donors, of course, have differing needs and demands. Some, like the Koch brothers, seek broad ideological change, knowing that reducing the overall power of government will give their widely scattered industries more freedom and higher profits, unburdened by pesky environmental and financial regulations. Others, like Tom Steyer, a billionaire investor, are more narrowly focused on specific issues, like reducing man-made climate change.

Industries and their executives often have even more closely tailored demands of government, and are willing to pay to make those demands in person. A cable company wants approval of a merger. Wireless companies and broadcasters want pieces of the frequency spectrum. Banks and payday lenders want less regulation and oversight. Medical device makers want to get rid of a tax. All of them spend fortunes on lobbying, and now their executives can dangle the prospect of millions before the parties to get the access they need. (The companies themselves can’t write those checks, but they can give whatever they want to super PACs and nonprofits.)

A memo by Covington & Burling, a legal and lobbying firm, explains to its corporate clients how giving post-McCutcheon will work. “The difference here is that, unlike with super PACs, elected politicians are able to request the contributions directly from the high-net-worth donor,” the firm wrote. The decision will “allow power to collect around any member [of Congress] who can command a national or regional base of wealthy donors, such as a prominent Tea Party or environmental advocate.” In other words, lawmakers who are the most responsive to special interests and ideologies will reel in the biggest donations to their parties, thereby gaining more power.

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., showing insincere naïveté, doesn’t consider that purchase of access to be corruption, which he apparently detects only in bribery. But the donors know that American politics is now for sale, and they are ready to buy.

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Some Comments

 

Melvyn Polatchek

As people voted for republican after republican on the basis of social issues, those republicans bided their time until they could control…

 

giatny

Joining with the DNC to vilify the Kochs destroys any credibility that might be left from your front page false account on Benghazi. Without…

 

Sonny Pitchumani

 

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., showing insincere naïveté, doesn’t consider that purchase of access to be corruption, which he apparently…

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The Opinion Pages   Op-Ed Columnist for The New York Times

 

Party All the Time

 Over the last several decades, the United States has adopted a series of campaign finance reform laws. If these laws were designed to reduce the power of money in politics, they have failed. Spending on political campaigns has exploded. Washington booms with masses of lobbyists and consultants.

But campaign finance laws weren’t merely designed to take money out of politics; they were designed to protect incumbents from political defeat. In this regard, the laws have been fantastically successful.

The laws rigged the system to make it harder for challengers to raise money. In 1972, at about the time the Federal Election Campaign Act was first passed, incumbents had a campaign spending advantage over challengers of about 3 to 2. These days, incumbents have a spending advantage of at least 4 to 1. In some election years, 98 percent of the incumbents are swept back into office.

One of the ways incumbents secured this advantage is by weakening the power of the parties. They imposed caps on how much donors can give to parties and how much parties can give directly to candidates. By 2008, direct party contributions to Senate candidates accounted for only 0.18 percent of total spending.

The members of Congress did this because an unregulated party can direct large amounts of money to knock off an incumbent of the opposing party. By restricting parties, incumbents defanged a potent foe.

These laws pushed us from a party-centric campaign system to a candidate-centric system. This change has made life less pleasant for lawmakers but it has made their jobs more secure, and they have been willing to accept this trade-off.

Life is less pleasant because with the parties weakened, lawmakers have to do many campaign tasks on their own. They have to do their own fund-raising and their own kissing up to special interests. They have to hire consultants to do the messaging tasks that parties used to do.

But incumbents accept this because the candidate-centric system makes life miserable for challengers. With direct contributions severely limited and parties defanged, challengers find it hard to quickly build the vast network of donors they need to raise serious cash. High-quality challengers choose not to run because they don’t want to spend their lives begging for dough.

The shift to a candidate-centric system was horrifically antidemocratic. It pushed money from transparent, tightly regulated parties to the shadowy world of PACs and 527s. It weakened party leaders, who have to think about building broad national coalitions, and gave power to special interests.

Then came the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which managed to make everything even worse. It moved us from a candidate-centric system to a donor-centric system. Donors were unleashed to create their own opaque yet torrential money flows outside both parties and candidates. This created an explosion in the number of groups with veto power over legislation and reform. It polarized politics further because donors tend to be more extreme than politicians or voters. The candidate-centric system empowered special interests; the donor-centric system makes them practically invincible.

The McCutcheon decision is a rare win for the parties. It enables party establishments to claw back some of the power that has flowed to donors and “super PACs.” It effectively raises the limits on what party establishments can solicit. It gives party leaders the chance to form joint fund-raising committees they can use to marshal large pools of cash and influence. McCutcheon is a small step back toward a party-centric system.

In their book “Better Parties, Better Government,” Peter J. Wallison and Joel M. Gora propose the best way to reform campaign finance: eliminate the restrictions on political parties to finance the campaigns of their candidates; loosen the limitations on giving to parties; keep the limits on giving to PACs.

Parties are not perfect, Lord knows. But they have broad national outlooks. They foster coalition thinking. They are relatively transparent. They are accountable to voters. They ally with special interests, but they transcend the influence of any one. Strengthened parties will make races more competitive and democracy more legitimate. Strong parties mobilize volunteers and activists and broaden political participation. Unlike super PACs, parties welcome large numbers of people into the political process.

Since the progressive era, campaign reformers have intuitively distrusted parties. These reformers seem driven by a naïve hope that they can avoid any visible concentration of power. But their approach to reform has manifestly failed. By restricting parties, they just concentrated power in ways that are much worse.

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Some  Comments

Francisco Gonzalez

Under the new SCOTUS paradigm of 1 dollar 1 vote, who wants to be a millionaire? Chief Justice Roberts is clear and absolutely correct that…

Donna S

I wonder how many of us reading David Brooks’s piece would be able to summon potential 2016 presidential candidates to our home towns in the…

NA

So, the silver lining of McCutcheon is that soft money is back. That’s the punchline I keep hearing: parties will be able to solicit lots…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 4th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Reject and Protect!Stop the KX
NATIONAL MOBILIZATION AND MARCH IN WASHINGTON DC
Saturday, April 26th 2014
Hello
We have buses? Will you join us?
March with 350NYC and the Cowboy and Indian Alliance on Saturday, April 26th
Reject the Keystone XL Pipeline and protect our planet.  Please join 350NYC on the bus and at the march.

On Saturday, April 26th, people from all across the country will gather in DC and march once more to the White House, sending a final, unmistakable message to President Obama – reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and protect our land, our water, and our climate.  This march is being led by the Cowboy and Indian Alliance – a coalition of farmers, ranchers, and Native Americans who’ve come together to oppose this pipeline that threatens the land that they work and love.

 “We’ll gather at 11 AM on Saturday the 26th at the Alliance encampment on the Mall to hear from farmers, ranchers, tribal leaders and others who will be directly impacted by KXL and the tar sands.  Then we’ll march to the White House to present a ceremonial painted tipi to President Obama. This tipi will represent our hope that he will reject KXL, and our promise that we will protect our land, water and climate if he chooses to let the pipeline move forward. Once the tipi is delivered, we’ll return to the encampment in song and make our pledge to continue resistance to the pipeline should it be approved.” 

Are you ready to get on the bus with us?

What: Reject and Protect Gathering
Who: The Cowboy Indian Alliance, allied groups, and you!
Where: The National Mall, between 9th Street and 12th Street NW, in front of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Washington, D.C. [Map]
When: Saturday, April 26 (note the new date). Gather at 10:30 a.m., speakers will begin at 11 a.m., and the procession will begin at 12:30 p.m.
NYC Bus Departure: The first bus will leave from 34th and 8th Ave.  As more buses are added, other departure points may also be added.Please sign up NOW at our event web siteso we have time to assess the demand and add buses as needed.
Bus Schedule– subject to change

  • Bus departure from NYC: 6:00 a.m.  Arrive in Washington: 10:00/10:30 a.m.
  • Departure from Washington DC: 3:30 p.m.  Arrive back in NYC: 8:00/8:30 p.m.

To sign up for a seat on the bus please go to our event web site: Questions?  Contact 350NYC@gmail.com

  • Standard tickets, round trip:   $30
  • Scholarship tickets: $15  (For special code to access scholarship ticket please e-mail 350NYC@gmail.com)
  • Donation ticket:  If you cannot come to the march please consider making a donation to support scholarships for those who want to attend but cannot afford to.

Note: commercial bus companies (Greyhound, Bolt etc.) may have cheaper fares so please check them out also.
 

March with us on April 26th

Reject the KXL pipeline and protect our planet.
Demand environmental justice and investment in a sustainable, green energy future

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