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On the comedy front, George Santos says he won’t be running for reelection but has no intention of giving up his generous salary just because he is very, very credibly accused of financial chicanery. And really, who can blame him? It’s the last money he’ll be making for several years at least. If I were in his shoes I wouldn’t leave until they physically dragged me out.1
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The environmentally conscious UK is now recycling prime ministers.2
The New York Times marveled at the president’s “business as usual” conduct in the light of a New York Times poll showing him at electoral risk in five 2024 swing states. And he didn’t even mention the poll! Scoff scoff. What kind of president doesn’t mention a poll which shows him at a disadvantage a year out from an election?
President Biden, perhaps Amtrak’s most famous advocate, announced $16.4 billion in funding for rail projects on Monday, exhibiting a business-as-usual approach as polls show him trailing former President Donald J. Trump one year before Election Day.
Speaking at a maintenance warehouse where Amtrak trains are serviced in Bear, Del., Mr. Biden made no mention of the polling from The New York Times and Siena College polls.
Instead, he offered familiar anecdotes about his days as a senator, when a conductor named Angelo would call him “Joey, baby!” and squeeze his cheeks as he made the 90-minute ride between Washington and his home in Wilmington, Del.
The first three paragraphs are about the poll and Biden’s inexplicable failure to dwell on it. It’s a fucken mystery!
I suppose that’s not really funny, but it’s indicative, and it verges on if not crosses the border of camp.
Tom Nichols has the definitive take on the Daylight Savings Time debate, which is that morning people suck (present company excepted, of course).3
For whatever reason, tales of the long-ago season of orcas using dead salmon as fashion accessories have resurfaced.4
And now to the meat: Elon Musk goes balls-out Jew-and-employee hating; the planet is still melting and everybody who can do anything about is mostly not.
The richest man in the world is an anti-Semite and an eliminationist. From Media Matters:
Musk is promoting the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, as many have noted. That blood-soaked fantasy was touted by tiki torchbearers chanting “Jews will not replace us” and echoed by several murderous white supremacists, including the terrorist who massacred Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue, even as it spread through Fox News and the right-wing media and became a fixture of GOP politics. And unlike others who have adopted a less explicit version of the theory, Musk is, in the parlance of the white nationalists who applauded his remark, explicitly “naming the Jew” as the source of the problem.
Musk has spent the year since his takeover of Twitter (which he renamed X) transforming it into a friendly place for antisemites. He reinstated the accounts of white nationalists and neo-Nazis, refused to take down such content, ran ads from major companies alongside it, and apparently paid ad revenue sharing to a pro-Hitler account.
Musk is also into the migrants-polluting-the-nation vibe. One would never guess he grew up in apartheid South Africa.5
Elon Musk despises his employees, especially the ones of color. One would never guess he grew up in apartheid South Africa. Reuters has a long piece on how Musk’s SpaceX ignored and hid safety violations and employee injuries, including maimings and at least one death, with minimal consequences to the billionaire and his company.
Reuters documented at least 600 previously unreported workplace injuries at Musk’s rocket company: crushed limbs, amputations, electrocutions, head and eye wounds and one death. SpaceX employees say they’re paying the price for the billionaire’s push to colonize space at breakneck speed.
Among other tidbits, Reuters documented Musk’s insistence that equipment and employees not be daubed in safety colors because the colors offend his aesthetic.6
I don’t care if he’d taste bad. Throw the moral midget on the barbie.
Elsewhere in awful, 2023 looks to be the hottest year since 1940 by a pretty wide margin (.24 degrees C), coming in at 1.4 degrees C above pre-industrial temperatures. Lest you think 1940 was a particularly hot year, other than in geopolitical terms, don’t: it’s just the first year these particular measurements were taken.
Along with the temperatures came record low levels of ice in the Antarctic, with the Arctic remaining well below average. And we’re in an El Nino year, which means hotter and, in some places, wetter weather.7
Why is this happening? Well, the UK’s net-zero minister (not a personal insult; an actual designation) says it’s not a fossil fuel consumption problem per se, but an emissions from fossil fuels problem, and all we need do is capture those emissions and we can continue increasing our use of fossil fuels forever.
In words that suggested the UK could place yet more emphasis on technologies to capture and store carbon, Graham Stuart said fossil fuel production was not driving climate change, but demand for fossil fuels was.
His statements were a bullish defence of the government’s much-criticised stance.
It’s unlike The Guardian copy editors to let a misspelling of “bullshit” slip by.8 That’s the appropriate description, given what we know about carbon capture technology amid our increasing consumption of fossil fuels.
Oil executives betting they’ll be able to meet net zero emissions goals by relying on carbon-capture technology are deluding themselves, according to an influential group of corporate bosses, bankers and academics.
The Energy Transitions Commission, whose members include senior representatives from BP Plc and Bank of America Corp., says the role of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) in slashing emissions will be “vital but limited.” However, any carbon-intensive company assuming that CCUS is a license to continue expanding production, while holding on to net zero goals, is basing its business model on “a dangerous delusion,” the ETC said in a report published Thursday.9
When a corporate organization which has been a cheerleader for carbon capture says the technology is of “limited” utility, we can probably count on that being an insanely optimistic estimate.
To this point nobody has demonstrated that carbon capture technology is suitable for scaling up to capture the billions of tons of carbon necessary to offset our fossil fuel production and consumption, which is expected to continue rising through at least 2030 and most likely considerably past that date.
“There’s a huge range of evidence which is very clear that CCS [carbon capture systems] and CDR [carbon dioxide removal] will not be able to scale fast enough to make a meaningful contribution to cutting emissions this decade,” Neil Grant, climate and energy analyst at Climate Analytics, said during the report’s launch event. “And that means in this decade, the solution has to be reducing fossil fuel production and use.”
Carbon dioxide removal technologies, he added, “are very nascent.” Most existing direct air capture (DAC) operations are small-scale pilot projects. The world’s first commercial-scale DAC plant, called Orca and based in Iceland, has a capacity to capture up to 4,000 tons of CO2 per year – equivalent to the annual emissions of about 800 cars worldwide, or approximately three seconds worth of global CO2 emissions. 10
Hey, better three seconds than none, right?
Documented looks at the global warming-driven future of flood prone areas through the lens of one neighborhood in Queens, where an immigrant family is spending their life savings rebuilding after the Hurricane Ida floods.
Documented reached out to the DEP [New York City Department of Environmental Protection] to ask about initiatives and construction done in neighborhoods affected by Ida. The agency’s spokesperson pointed to statements made by the mayor and other city agencies at the storm’s one-year anniversary.
The statement noted that extreme and unpredictable storms are no longer anomalies, and that for more than a century, catch basins and sewers have been the primary drainage tool across the city. As a response, agencies are implementing new management tools that would direct stormwater away from residences to mitigate future flood risks. Other initiatives include real-time notifications to alert residents if their area is likely to flood during a storm, as well as maps to show if an address is at risk of flooding during a storm.
But because rainfall rates during storms are uneven across small areas, warning residents in harm’s way can be especially difficult, said Bernice Rosenzweig, a professor of environmental science at Sarah Lawrence College, who said more data and science is required before localized rainfall rates can be accurately forecast.11
Escape from New York.
Bill McKibben used to be among the most relentlessly optimistic climate hawks around but as previously noted,12 the past two or three years have shaken his confidence that the U.S. government will do anything on the energy front that doesn’t increase emissions.
Robert Howarth, a Cornell professor and the dean of methane science, last month released a new paper showing that America’s growing exports of liquefied natural gas represent a grave climate danger. Between the carbon released when the LNG is burned, the methane that leaks along the way, and the energy that it takes to ship it, he found that exported LNG is much worse for the climate even than burning coal—in many cases, twice as bad. This is huge news—and it builds on the superb work that frontline groups have been doing along the Gulf, from Port Arthur to Lake Charles, documenting the damage that these enormous export terminals are doing.
You’d think that would interest the Department of Energy, which is in charge of granting export licenses for LNG plants—indeed it’s licensed seven that are already up and running, certifying that they were in “the public interest” and in the process making America the largest natural gas exporter on Earth. But industry has proposed 20 more of these giant terminals; if it gets its way, in a few years America’s exports of natural gas will produce about as much greenhouse gas as everything that happens in Europe—every car and house and factory. This LNG expansion is the largest fossil fuel growth plan on planet earth. It matters more than any single other thing to our climate future.
Yr. editor mentioned the Howarth study not too long ago. McKibben says that the DOE honchos prefer alternative facts. He also says that Biden can’t be expected to micromanage every DOE decision so he can’t be expected to shoulder the blame for this issue, but it seems significant enough to catch somebody’s attention at the White House, and Biden did micromanage the approval of the benignly-named Willow environmental despoliation project in Alaska13, so one can’t assume he’ll arrive at a desk-pounding this shall not stand moment with respect to new LNG export terminals.14
National Geographic has pictures.15
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