I wrote my first column for The Times on this, months ago. Let me say it again: Social media platforms — and Facebook and Twitter are as guilty of this as Gab is — are designed so that the awful travels twice as fast as the good. And they are operating with sloppy disregard of the consequences of that awful speech, leading to disasters that they then have to clean up after.
And they are doing a very bad job of that, too, because they are unwilling to pay the price to make needed fixes. Why? because draining the cesspool would mean losing users, and that would hurt the bottom line. Consider this: On Monday, New York Times reporters easily found almost 12,000 anti-Semitic messages that had been uploaded to Instagram in the wake of the synagogue attack.
Will voters in Washington State breathe new life into the idea of taxing carbon emissions? Plenty of people worried about the earth’s future certainly hope so.
Climate scientists and economists have long argued that the single best way to slow global warming is to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and raise that price over time, thus creating a sensible market incentive to reduce emissions and invest in cleaner energy sources. Carbon pricing was also high on the list of urgent recommendations of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warned in a major report this month that without swift action to control emissions the world will begin suffering global warming’s worst consequences — including, but not limited to, the displacement of millions of people by drought and sea-level rise — as early as 2040, much sooner than previously forecast.
It is thus encouraging that in this time of torpor and climate denial at the highest levels of the federal government, voters in the state of Washington will soon be given the chance to adopt, by initiative, a carbon pricing plan that would charge polluters like refineries a fee for emitting greenhouse gases. This would be what economists call a Pigovian tax, after the British economist Arthur Pigou. In this case, the fee would factor in the now unaccounted for costs of more frequent and intense hurricanes, wildfires, droughts and other natural disasters linked to climate change. In the words of George Frampton, a senior environmental adviser to Bill Clinton and co-founder of a group that favors carbon taxes, Partnership for Responsible Growth, it’s an overdue stab at “honestly pricing carbon,” which industry has until now been able to hurl into the atmosphere pretty much for free.
Polling so far suggests a close vote. Opponents of the measure, including such big oil companies as BP and Chevron, have raised more than $25 million to get people to vote no; in addition, Washington voters soundly defeated a carbon tax the last time it appeared on the ballot, in 2016. But other powerful forces, including Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, have ponied up in support this time.
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If the proposal, Initiative 1631, wins — as we hope it does — the result could ripple beyond Washington’s boundaries. No state can match California’s impressively broad suite of clean-energy programs, but the initiative, if successful, could catapult Jay Inslee, Washington’s governor, into the climate leadership role long occupied by the outgoing California governor, Jerry Brown. More important, it could provide a template, or at least valuable lessons, for other states to follow; and (let’s dream for a moment) it might even encourage Congress to take action on a national program.
Initiative 1631 is substantially different from the measure that failed spectacularly two years ago, and which Mr. Inslee voted against. That measure was advertised as revenue-neutral (meaning no net gain to the government). The money raised through carbon taxes would have been mostly returned to state residents through a reduction in the sales tax. This was intended to appeal to conservatives who didn’t want the tax to underwrite new government programs, but it turned out that many conservatives, like a lot of others, wanted real programs for their money, not just a tax shift.
The gravity of the world’s current extinction rate becomes clearer upon knowing what it was before people came along. A new estimate finds that species die off as much as 1,000 times more frequently nowadays than they used to. That’s 10 times worse than the old estimate of 100 times.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — It’s hard to comprehend how bad the current rate of species extinction around the world has become without knowing what it was before people came along. The newest estimate is that the pre-human rate was 10 times lower than scientists had thought, which means that the current level is 10 times worse.
Extinctions are about 1,000 times more frequent now than in the 60 million years before people came along. The explanation from lead author Jurriaan de Vos, a Brown University postdoctoral researcher, senior author Stuart Pimm, a Duke University professor, and their team appears online in the journal Conservation Biology.
By Hansjörg Wyss
Mr. Wyss is a philanthropist and conservationist.
Oct. 31, 2018 152 comments
Tourists watching the Perito Moreno Glacier, at Los Glaciares National Park, near El Calafate in the Argentine province of Santa Cruz, last March.CreditCreditWalter Diaz/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
WILSON, Wyo. — Plant and animal species are estimated to be disappearing at a rate 1,000 times faster than they were before humans arrived on the scene. Climate change is upending natural systems across the planet. Forests, fisheries and drinking water supplies are imperiled as extractive industries chew further into the wild.
But there is another, encouraging side to this depressing story: how a simple idea, born in the United States in the 19th century and now racing around the globe, may yet preserve a substantial portion of our planet in a natural state.
It is the idea that wild lands and waters are best conserved not in private hands, locked behind gates, but as public national parks, wildlife refuges and marine reserves, forever open for everyone to experience and explore. The notion of holding these places in public trust was one I became deeply influenced by as a young man, when I first climbed and hiked on public lands in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
Nora Ephron once wrote a brilliant essay about the trajectory of her and many other people’s infatuations with email, from the thrill of discovering this speedy new way of keeping in touch to the hell of not being able to turn it off.
I’ve come to feel that way about the whole of the internet.
What a glittering dream of expanded knowledge and enhanced connection it was at the start. What a nightmare of manipulated biases and metastasized hate it has turned into.
Before he allegedly began mailing pipe bombs to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and others, Cesar Sayoc found encouragement online — maybe not in the form of explosives instructions, but in the sense that he could scream his resentments in a theater that did the opposite of repudiating them. It echoed them back. It validated and cultivated them. It took something dark and colored it darker still.
“By the time he was arrested in Florida on Friday,” The T
By Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Matto Mildenberger and Leah C. Stokes
Mr. Hertel-Fernandez is an assistant professor of public affairs at Columbia University. Mr. Mildenberger and Ms. Stokes are assistant professors of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Oct. 31, 2018
People on Capitol Hill are often in the dark as to what policies Americans support.CreditCreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times
Whether the Democrats or the Republicans seize control of Congress after the midterms, you can be sure of one thing: They will have very little idea what laws the public actually wants them to act on.
The current Republican-controlled Congress is a good example. Its signature accomplishment is a tax-cut bill that hardly anyone likes or asked for and that is estimated to add about $2 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.
Only about 30 percent of Americans supported it — unlike the well over 70 percent of Americans who consistently support raising the minimum wage, background checks for gun sales and taking action on the climate crisis. Bills were actually proposed on these issues, but you would hardly know it; they were barely considered, and it goes without saying that none passed.
Congress doesn’t know what policies Americans support. We know that because we asked the most senior staff members in Congress — the people who help their bosses decide what bills to pursue and support — what they believed public opinion was in their district or state on a range of issues.
“What’s driving American politics off a cliff? Racial hatred and the cynicism of politicians willing to exploit it play a central role. But there are other factors. And an opinion piece by Hertel-Fernandez, Mildenberger, and Stokes in today’s Times (which is actually social science, not opinion!) seems to confirm something I already suspected: misunderstanding of what voters want is distorting both political positioning and public policy.
What the authors of the piece show is that congressional aides grossly misperceive the views of their bosses’ constituents; this is true in both parties, but more so of Republicans. What they don’t point out explicitly is that with the exception of A.C.A. repeal, Democrats err in the same direction as Republicans, just less so. Specifically, both parties believe that the public is to the right of where it really is.”
I supported this young man JD Scholten, Steve King’s opponent in Iowa’s 4th Congressional race, with a whopping $25., way back in September when Elizabeth Warren emailed me personally and asked her friends to help out this young, super environmentalist and ex-minor league baseball player who played professionally in Canada and Iowa for the Sioux City Explorers, and for teams in Belgium, Germany and France. I figured out that the DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committeee, left JD Scholten off their list of candidates to support, since Steve King was too popular and ensconed, although a super Trumpist, climate change denying, and white supremacist. Don’t take my word, read the article below, which starts:
“WASHINGTON — As Pittsburgh began burying the victims of Saturday’s synagogue massacre, the head of the House Republican campaign arm all but jettisoned Representative Steve King of Iowa from the House Republican Conference, declaring, “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms.”
The impossible to win, written off race is now tied in the polls! I call upon all of my followers and friends, all five of you, to cough up $5 or $25 or $50 for young farmer J D Sholten, who wrote one of the best position pieces on Climate Change and how to use agrigulture as a carbon sink, that I have read on any Democratic candidates’ web site this election cycle, and I have studied a lot of them, because, if truth were told, I am normally reluctant to part with my money. This election is different.
J.D. Scholten For Congress –
Introducing the newest op-ed writer for the New York Times, Michelle Alexander, who writes:
“I can’t say that I believe in reincarnation, but I understand why some people do. In fact, I had a bizarre experience as a teenager that made me wonder if I had known someone in a past life.”
“, , , , This month, the world’s leading climate scientists released a report warning of catastrophic consequences as soon as 2040 if global warming increases at its current rate. Democratic politicians expressed alarm, yet many continue to accept campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry that is responsible for such a large percentage of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s nearly impossible to imagine that our elected officials would be so indifferent if they knew climate scientists were foretelling a future that they would have to live without any of the privileges they now enjoy.”
“Dear Reader. I think you know, after 23 years of my writing this column, that I’m not lazy. I always try to come up with fresh ideas. Today, though, I am fresh out of fresh ideas. More than any time in my career, I think our country is in danger. It has a disturbed man as president, whose job description — to be a healer of the country in times of great national hurt and to pull us together to do big hard things that can be done only together — conflicts with his political strategy, which is to divide us and mobilize his base with anger and fear. And time and again he has chosen the latter.
When a person is promoted to a top job in life, usually one of two things happens: He either grows or he swells — he either evolves and grows into that job or all of his worst instincts and habits become swollen and just expand over a wider field. I don’t have to tell you what happened with President Trump. He is a shameless liar and an abusive bully — only now he is doing it from the bully pulpit of the presidency.
When you have a president without shame, backed by a party without a spine, amplified by a TV network without integrity, reason is not an option and hope is not a strategy. The only restraint on Trump is a lever of national power in the hands of the opposition party that can force some accountability.”