Over the jump, an open letter to the Chemistry Committee of the Nobel Prizes urging them at long last to award the Nobel Prize to Professor John Goodenough, who invented the lithium-ion battery. If you agree, you can email a message of support to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences at email@example.com. Continue Reading…
We knew first that air pollution from tailpipe exhausts causes respiratory diseases like asthma. Then the epidemiologists added heart disease, and the mortality estimates went up. Then cancer, and they went up again. The latest addition is dementia. The death rates don’t go up, which is not for many of us a plus.
Thoreau was not the only Yankee to be shocked by the naked imperialism of the Mexican War. The Unitarian pastor and abolitionist Edmund Sears wrote the great hymn It came upon the midnight clear in December 1849. I won’t say it’s my favourite carol – Mary MacDonald gets my vote for her gem-like Celtic lullaby – because, being an inhibited Brit, I am embarrassed to shed tears in public.
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world hath suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.
As a Unitarian, Sears was unconvinced by the paradoxical orthodox view that the redemption has strangely already happened, in the birth, life and legacy of Jesus of Nazareth, and in spite of his failure, martyrdom, and systematic betrayals by his followers up to our own time. Sears places his hope, as much as any Orthodox rabbi, in a remote eschatological future:
For now the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.
But what if we are looking for a more immediate hope today? Savagery continues in Iraq and Syria, the Arctic melts, and another Herod moves into the White House to prepare a larger rerun of the massacre of the innocents, to the complacent plaudits of conservative Pharisees?
I give you an unlikely gold-bearing Mage in the form of investment bankers Lazards. They have been surveying levelized US electricity generating costs for years, and have just published the 10th version. It’s a fat report, but this is the key chart. (Sorry for the poor resolution, go to the report link for a better image.)
Almost two years ago, I was kvelling about a progressive land use policy improvement in Berkeley that loosened the parking and other screws on accessory dwelling units (ADUs, “mother-in-law units”, or “granny units”), a special kind of owner-occupied rental housing. The political wheels turn slowly, but now we have well-conceived ADU legislation statewide–HT to my Cal colleague Karen Chapple, who Debbie informs me lobbied effectively for it in Sacramento–that relaxes density, utility connection, and parking requirements. It won’t solve the housing crisis but it will help, in addition to providing a package of other good stuff (see the earlier post for details).
Will Trump denounce the Paris Agreement? He didn’t mention it in his 100-day programme, and is saying he has “an open mind” on AGW. So there is a little hope. How much?
Trump poses a unique problem for politicians, diplomats, pundits and bloggers trying to figure out his intentions. Continue Reading…
This is not the republic of my imagination.
–Charles Dickens, letter to William Macready, from Baltimore (1842)
Duh, you Americans say. We have a REALLY IMPORTANT election coming up! Donald Trump might become the leader of the most powerful country on the planet!
True, but. In a hundred years’ time, which do you think will be remembered? November 8th, the day the United States dodged a bullet and failed to elect an unstable racist conman to the Presidency? Sam Wang gives the chance at less than 1%. Trump has never led in the polls from the day he announced his candidacy. It matters a great deal to the United States whether the Democrats regain control of the Senate (merely a two-thirds chance), for if they don’t, Clinton’s presidency will be one long constitutional crisis.
No. It will be November 4th 2016, the day the world started to fight back against climate change and swore to abandon its addiction to fossil fuels.
Some uplifting media for you. Continue Reading…
As of today (7 October) 76 signatories have ratified the Paris Agreement, well over the 55 required. The European Union ratified on October 5th, along with seven of its member states (Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Portugal and Slovakia). Counting just these seven, that takes the percentage of declared emissions comfortably over the 55% required. The Agreement will therefore enter into force on November 4th, in time for the next assembly of the parties to the framework Rio treaty in Marrakesh, and also for the US elections.
This news will not change anybody’s assessment of the value of the Agreement. If it’s well-meaning hot air, entry ino force does not make it effective. But if like me you think it is an epochal achievement, entry into force – with nearly unprecedented speed, only the original UN Charter having been faster – is a historic moment.
Now for the work.
Getting depressed by Trump and Brexit and Syria and Trump? Time for a slightly cheerful update on the Paris climate agreement.
Slightly cheerful. Houston, we have a problem.
The current diplomatic action is about bringing it into force quickly. This is happening. Continue Reading…
Only 13 people were killed in Louisiana in the floods last month. Not so bad? Wikipedia has the map of the parishes declared federal disaster areas by FEMA:
Because it was so spread out, the disaster did not have the media resonance of hurricane Katrina and tropical storm Sandy. So the photo reporting by Julie Dermansky at DeSmog Blog comes as a shock. All photos her copyright.