Opinion | Is Climate Change Inconvenient or Existential? Only Supercomputers Can Do the Math – By Sabine Hossenfelder – The New York Times

“Earth is warming, and we know why. Light is reflected and absorbed by clouds, air, oceans, ice and land. Greenhouse gases are released and adsorbed by organic and inorganic sources. Both exchanges depend on a variety of factors such as temperature, ocean acidity, the amount of vegetation and — yes — the burning of fossil fuels.

What’s less clear is what climate change means for our future. “It’s not like this is string theory,” said Timothy Palmer, professor of climate physics at the University of Oxford. “We know the equations.” But we don’t know how to solve them. The many factors that affect the climate interact with one another and give rise to interconnected feedback cycles. The mathematics is so complex, the only way scientists know to handle it is by feeding the problem into computers, which then approximately solve the equations.

The International Panel for Climate Change based its latest full report, in 2014, on predictions from about two dozen such computer models. These models were independently developed by institutions in multiple countries. While similar in methodology, the models arrive at somewhat different long-term predictions. They all agree that Earth will continue to warm, but disagree on how much and how quickly.”

Opinion | Connect the Dots to See Where Trump’s Taking Us – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“Some of the colds can even get colder, as when a weakened polar vortex, which normally keeps cold air trapped in the Arctic, allows more frigid polar air to push southward into the U.S. At the same time, the hurricanes that are fueled by warmer ocean temperatures get more violent.

That’s why you’re seeing weird weather extremes in all directions. So, The Washington Post reported that in Montana: “On March 3, the low temperature tanked to a bone-chilling minus-32 in Great Falls. Combined with a high of minus-8, the day finished a whopping 50 degrees below normal.” At the time, the city was in its longest stretch below freezing on record.

Temperatures in Great Falls, Mont., did not rise above freezing for 32 consecutive days between February and March.CreditRion Sanders/Great Falls Tribune

But then The Post reported that on May 11 in a town “near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia, the temperature surged to 84 degrees Fahrenheit” — in May! Near the Arctic! And this happened at the same time that “the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eclipsed 415 parts per million for the first time in human history.” “

David Lindsay: Most Scientists agree that we need to limit our carbon emmissions to no more than 350 parts per million. That is why Bill McKibben calls his organization 350.org.

Opinion | This Teenager Knows a Secret to Slowing Guatemalan Migration – by Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

“HUEHUETENANGO, Guatemala — When Lesly Cano Gómez was 15, she wrote out her plan to migrate to America.

“My dream is to go to the United States,” she wrote, followed by three discussion sections: “How Am I Going to Pay for It,” “Who’s Going to Take Me” and “Who’s Going to Meet Me When I Get to the United States.”

There were extensive family talks about the trip, which Cano Gómez would have undertaken with her cousin, Enilda, who is four years younger than her.

“There wasn’t anything here,” Cano Gómez explained. “That’s why I wanted to migrate.”

She knew that along the way she could be murdered or trafficked to a brothel, or else die of thirst in the desert. “But I felt I needed to go,” she added. “The people I went to school with had migrated, a ton of them.”

Yet today, four years later, Cano Gómez is still here in her village of Chichalum in the rugged Huehuetenango district. She now has a reason to stay — and therein lies a message for President Trump.”

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David Lindsay: Bravo Saint Nicholas. Here are two comments I endorsed.

Sun
Houston
Times Pick

Guatemalans actually really like Guatemala. I’m American, born and “white-bread”, but I do too. There is much to admire about the country and the culture. Migration to the US requires deep concerns about the current state of Guatemala and a sincere desire to seek a better life and more opportunities for their children. Trust me, if things were okay in Guatemala, they wouldn’t be hiring coyotes to come here.

3 Replies214 Recommended

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Barb M commented June 9

Barb M
Times Pick

I am part of a group that has provided scholarships to Salvadoran youth to help them stay in school. Ten years ago we were helping them go beyond 6th grade. Now we are helping some of them complete university. This has given the children of this village hope and very few of them have emigrated to the US. Instead they celebrate each graduation and count the number of professionals in the village.

208 Recommended

Opinion | Save Our Food. Free the Seed. – The New York Times

“We think that the behemoths of agribusiness known as Big Food control the food system from up high — distribution, processing and the marketplace muscling everything into position. But really it is the seed that determines the system, not the other way around.

The seeds in my palm optimized the farm for large-scale machinery and chemical regimens; they reduced the need for labor; they elbowed out the competition (formally known as biodiversity). In other words, seeds are a blueprint for how we eat.

We should be alarmed by the current architects.

Just 50 years ago, some 1,000 small and family-owned seed companies were producing and distributing seeds in the United States; by 2009, there were fewer than 100. Thanks to a series of mergers and acquisitions over the last few years, four multinational agrochemical firms — Corteva, ChemChina, Bayer and BASF — now control over 60 percent of global seed sales.”

Opinion | Maybe We’re Not Doomed After All – by Jon Gertner – The New York Times

“Glaciers and sea ice are melting at an alarming rate; temperatures are rising at a steady clip. To make matters worse, the Trump administration’s recent efforts to ignore a fact-based, scientific approach — rejecting, for instance, the use of computer projections to assess how a warming world might look after 2040 — leads me to worry that climate denialism is moving from the scientific fringes to the institutional center.

Still, it’s worth considering that things may not be as bad as they appear. I say this with a full understanding that most indicators are pointing in the wrong direction. Yet I also feel we’re in danger of losing sight of two crucial and encouraging aspects of our predicament.

The first is the extraordinary value of the climate knowledge we’ve amassed over the past 100 years — a vast archive of data and wisdom that gives us a fine-grained understanding of how the planet is warming and how we can change the trajectory we’re on.

The second is the emergence of potential solutions, the products of a half-century of technological innovation, which may help us avert the worst impacts of the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases we continue to release into the atmosphere. (Last year carbon dioxide emissions were the highest ever recorded.)”

Opinion | The Democratic Party Is Trying to Downplay Climate Change. Don’t Let It. – by Justin Gillis- The New York Times

“None of that is enough, apparently, for the Democratic Party to choose to put this issue front-and-center in the primary campaign. Not only did the D.N.C. turn Mr. Inslee down; according to him, the party informed him that he would be banned from party-sponsored debates if he took part in any unofficial candidate debate on climate change.

In a statement, the party declared it would not schedule any single-issue debates, so that voters would “have the ability to hear from candidates on dozens of issues of importance.” That might make sense if the D.N.C. were only planning two or three debates. It is planning 12; surely the party can afford to devote a twelfth of its debate time to the issue that threatens to throw human civilization into crisis.

Infuriating as this latest maneuver is, Democratic fecklessness on the subject of climate change is nothing new. The party has always made that most basic of political calculations — which voters does this issue get us that we don’t already have? — and come up with the answer: none.”

Opinion | The Roots of Big Tech Run Disturbingly Deep – The New York Times

” “Big tech” companies like Google and Facebook are, in reality, the products of hundreds of mergers. Each root below represents a company acquired by a tech giant at a particular moment in its history. A vast majority of these acquisitions, funded by public markets, have received minimal media coverage and limited regulatory scrutiny. But that is changing, given new concerns about consolidation in the tech industries.

Google
(Alphabet)270 Total Acquisitions171 Competitive 55 Conglomerate 44 Others

David Lindsay:  Yes, yes, yes. We should break up Amazon, Facebook, Google, and California.

Seriously, Amazon should be forced to sell every company it forced to sell to itself, like Diapers.com, as reported in Bloomberg Businessweek.

It appears that the other two giants are also guilty of throwing their weight around.

BUARLH!   Break Up And Regulate Like Hell!

Warning of ‘Pig Zero’: One Drugmaker’s Push to Sell More Antibiotics – The New York Times

“Facing a surge in drug-resistant infections, the World Health Organization issued a plea to farmers two years ago: “Stop using antibiotics in healthy animals.”

But at last year’s big swine industry trade show, the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, one of the largest manufacturers of drugs for livestock was pushing the opposite message.

“Don’t wait for Pig Zero,” warned a poster featuring a giant picture of a pig peeking through an enormous blue zero, at a booth run by the drugmaker Elanco.

The company’s Pig Zero brochures encouraged farmers to give antibiotics to every pig in their herds rather than waiting to treat a disease outbreak caused by an unknown Patient Zero. It was an appealing pitch for industrial farms, where crowded, germ-prone conditions have led to increasing reliance on drug interventions. The pamphlets also detailed how feeding pigs a daily regimen of two antibiotics would make them fatter and, as any farmer understands, a heavier pig is a more profitable pig.

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David Lindsay: Excellent article, thank you.
Here is my favorite comment so far:
Ron From Chicago
Chicago

This is a HUGE problem. We will soon be exiting the antibiotic age, and will be back to the same place humans have been most of our existence-completely at the mercy and randomness of not catching a bacterial infection. We have developed one of the most remarkable life-saving advances in human history-antibiotic drugs, and through greed and recklessness have squandered this advantage. Our children will look back on this and curse our collective actions.

2 Replies124 Recommended

Opinion | Donald and the Delusion Discount – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“But as I said, markets appear to be celebrating: As I write this, stock markets are up, while long-term interest rates — a better barometer of investor views about economic prospects — are off their recent lows. What’s going on?

The answer, I’d suggest, is that financial markets are basically discounting Trump’s rants; they’ve stopped treating evidence of his unfitness for office as news.

Yes, he’s deeply ignorant about policy. Yes, his rage-tweets constantly remind us of his egomania and insecurity. But we’ve known all that for a while; Trump’s personality is, in effect, already priced in.”

Our military can help lead the fight in combating climate change – By Elizabeth Warren

By Elizabeth Warren

“Last year, Hurricane Florence ripped through North Carolina, damaging Camp Lejeune. Hurricane Michael tore through Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, leaving airplane hangars that housed our fifth-generation aircraft shredded and largely roofless. At Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, floodwaters swamped more than one million square feet of buildings, forcing military personnel to scramble to save sensitive equipment and munitions. The total cost to repair just three bases? In the billions.

Climate change is already impacting the way the Pentagon operates — its training, equipment, supply chains, construction, maintenance, and deployments. More and more, accomplishing the mission depends on our ability to continue operations in the face of floods, drought, wildfires, and desertification. The changing climate has geopolitical implications, as well. It’s what the Pentagon calls a “threat multiplier,” exacerbating the dangers posed by everything from infectious diseases to terrorism. In the Arctic, for example, melting ice has made previously closed sea routes easier to navigate, creating greater chances for competition and conflict over access to these waters and natural resources. In Southeast Asia, rising seas are forcing thousands of people to migrate from their homes, increasing the risk of ethnic and political strife.

In short, climate change is real, it is worsening by the day, and it is undermining our military readiness. And instead of meeting this threat head-on, Washington is ignoring it — and making it worse.

We have the most capable military in the world. It’s also the single largestgovernment consumer of energy, and it’s dependent on fossil fuels. The Pentagon spends about $4 billion a year to power its bases at fixed locations and consumes tens of billions of barrels of fuel per year. An Arleigh-Burke class destroyer can consume 1,000 gallons of fuel in an hour while underway. It cost the Pentagon as much as $400 per gallon to transport the gas needed to keep bases operational at the height of the war in Afghanistan; in Iraq, convoys transporting oil and gas were vulnerable targets for insurgent attacks. And our non-combat bases often depend on a commercial power grid that can go down for any number of reasons: old infrastructure, extreme weather, cyber-attacks. When the power’s out, it costs the Pentagon real money — more than $179,000 each day.”

Source: Our military can help lead the fight in combating climate change