Farhad Manjoo | With Elon Musk, the Drama Is the Point – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Previously on “Elon,” our man rushed into a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter just before the bottom fell out of tech stocks, including his own. Not the best timing, but fret not, for Elon’s always got an out.

This time it’s bots. Eradicating the scammy, automated accounts that plague Twitter had been one of his ideas for turning the company around: “Defeat the spam bots or die trying!” he’d vowed.

Well, new war plan: Retreat! Twitter says bots make up less than 5 percent of its user base, but what if there are lots more bots than we thought? Couldn’t, say, 20 percent of Twitter’s users be bots? And maybe it’s even more! What if Twitter has been underreporting its bot count in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission? Hence Elon’s new plot: Unless Twitter can prove who’s bot and who’s not, the deal’s shot.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Maybe Musk will continue to do well, My partner and I set aside money for an S3 Tesla, and then Musk announced he planned to reopen Twitter to Trump and his ilk. We decided not to buy a Tesla after all. Luckily, there will be more choices by next year.

Edward Niedermeyer | Elon Musk’s Tesla Management Is a Bad Sign for Twitter – The New York Times

Mr. Niedermeyer is the author of “Ludicrous: The Unvarnished Story of Tesla Motors” and has interviewed over 100 former Tesla employees.

“Elon Musk’s repeated wavering on his deal to buy Twitter has roiled markets and raised fresh questions about his seriousness. His promises to preserve free speech, ban spam bots and dramatically boost revenue may have earned the blessing of the company’s founder, Jack Dorsey, but with Twitter’s stock falling well below his offer price, Mr. Musk appears to be reneging on a deal that has made even Wall Street grow skeptical.

For those of us who have followed Mr. Musk’s antics for some time, the latest twist in his bid for the social media platform is entirely in character. The way that he has managed and marketed his businesses from Tesla’s early days reveals a dysfunction behind the automaker’s veneer of technofuturism and past stock market successes. Often announcing new features without consultation with his team, he forces his employees to bridge the enormous gap between technological reality and his dreams. This disconnect fosters a negligent and sometimes cruel workplace, to disastrous effect.”

GM’s Mary Barra Has a Plan to Win the Electric Vehicle Race – The New York Times

“WARREN, Mich. — General Motors made a splash last year when it announced a bold plan to ramp up sales of electric vehicles and said it would stop making gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.

But more than a year later, some other automakers appear better positioned to lead the industry’s transition to E.V.s. Tesla had global sales of more than 310,000 electric cars in the first quarter of this year, while G.M. is far behind unless it counts E.V.s made by its Chinese joint ventures. It sold fewer than 500 E.V.s in the United States in the quarter. Ford Motor has just started production of an electric F-150 pickup truck and has taken customer reservations for more than 200,000 of them.

Yet, G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, is unconcerned. In her view, the G.M. strategy should enable the company to make more affordable E.V.s than most competitors, and eventually to win over many of the tens of millions of mainstream car buyers who are not yet shopping for electric vehicles.

Last year E.V.s accounted for about 3 percent of the 15 million cars and trucks sold in the United States. As that percentage grows, G.M. expects this cost advantage to allow it to overtake most of its rivals within a few years and to challenge Tesla for the lead in E.V. sales before the end of the decade.”

Farhad Manjoo | Riding a Bike in America Should Not Be This Dangerous – The New York Times

     Opinion Columnist

“MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — At about 8:15 a.m. on a Thursday morning in March, Andre Retana, a 13-year-old riding his bike to middle school, pulled up to a red light at the intersection of El Camino Real and Grant Road in this Silicon Valley suburb.

Near two major state highways, the El Camino and Grant crossing is one of the area’s busiest and most dangerous sections of roadway. The intersection lacks dedicated bike lanes and other features to protect bicyclists and pedestrians from fast-moving motor vehicle traffic. Instead the intersection is an asphalt-and-concrete love letter to cars. Gas stations occupy two corners; an America’s Tire store sits on a third, a BMW dealership on the fourth. Its traffic design, too, prioritizes the efficient movement of cars and trucks over other uses of the road. To keep traffic humming along, motorists on all of its corners are allowed to turn right on red lights.

As Andre approached the intersection’s southeast corner, he rode alongside a construction truck waiting at the light to turn right. A police investigation would later determine that the truck had come to a complete stop at the red light. Police say the truck driver, high up in the cab, had never seen Andre, who was in the truck’s blind spot.”

How the Supply Chain Crunch is Hurting California Farmers. – The New York Times

Peter S. Goodman has covered the supply chain chaos for the past two years. He reported this story from Manteca and Fresno, in California’s Central Valley, as well as Washington, D.C., and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“During a normal spring, the sight of orchards bursting with clusters of almonds is a boon throughout California’s Central Valley. Here is money growing on trees.

Not this year.

As Scott Phippen looks out on his orchard on a recent afternoon, he feels a sense of foreboding tinged with rage. His warehouse is stuffed with the leftovers of last year’s harvest — 30 million pounds of almonds stored in wooden and plastic bins stacked to the rafters, and overflowing into his yard. Orders assembled for customers sit in giant white plastic bags and cardboard cartons arrayed across pallets, awaiting ships that can carry them across the water to Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The almonds are here, the customers are over there, and the global shipping industry is failing to span the divide.”

How Billions in Infrastructure Funding Could Worsen Global Warming – The New York Times

The highways in Colorado, one of the nation’s fastest-growing states, are frequently clogged with suburban workers driving into Denver, skiers heading high into the Rocky Mountains and trucks rumbling across the Interstates.

A Western frontier state with an affinity for the open road and Subaru Outbacks, Colorado’s traditional answer to traffic congestion could be summed up in two words: more asphalt.

But widening highways and paving new roads often just spurs people to drive more, research shows. And as concerns grow about how tailpipe emissions are heating the planet, Colorado is among a handful of car-dominated states that are rethinking road building.

In December, Colorado adopted a first-of-its-kind climate change regulation that will push transportation planners to redirect funding away from highway expansions and toward projects that cut vehicle pollution, such as buses and bike lanes.

Why This Could Be a Critical Year for Electric Cars – The New York Times

“Sales of cars powered solely by batteries surged in the United States, Europe and China last year, while deliveries of fossil fuel vehicles were stagnant. Demand for electric cars is so strong that manufacturers are requiring buyers to put down deposits months in advance. And some models are effectively sold out for the next two years.

Battery-powered cars are having a breakthrough moment and will enter the mainstream this year as automakers begin selling electric versions of one of Americans’ favorite vehicle type: pickup trucks. Their arrival represents the biggest upheaval in the auto industry since Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908 and could have far-reaching consequences for factory workers, businesses and the environment. Tailpipe emissions are among the largest contributors to climate change.

While electric vehicles still account for a small slice of the market — nearly 9 percent of the new cars sold last year worldwide were electric, up from 2.5 percent in 2019, according to the International Energy Agency — their rapid growth could make 2022 the year when the march of battery-powered cars became unstoppable, erasing any doubt that the internal combustion engine is lurching toward obsolescence.”

Opinion | For the Climate, Biden Must Be More Aggressive in Ending New Truck and Bus Emissions – The New York Times

Margo Oge and 

“Ms. Oge is the chair of the International Council on Clean Transportation and was the director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality from 1994 to 2012. Mr. Kodjak is the executive director of the I.C.C.T.

At a gathering on the White House lawn last August, President Biden spoke of a future in which electric cars and trucks will be the only vehicles on the road. “The question,” he said, “is whether we’ll lead or fall behind” in the global race to achieve that vision.

Mr. Biden has been vigorous in pushing for the end of the internal combustion engine for cars and light trucks. In August he signed an executive order that called on the federal government to do all it can to ensure that half of those vehicles sold in the United States are electric by 2030.

But when it comes to electrifying heavy trucks and buses, among the most polluting vehicles on the road, the country is in danger of falling behind the efforts of other nations. After the global climate summit in Glasgow last fall, 15 nations, including Canada and Britain, agreed to work together so that by 2040, all trucks and buses sold in those countries will be emission-free.

Missing from that group was the United States (and China and Germany, for that matter). Developing standards in the United States to make those vehicles electric is essential if the nation is to meet its global climate commitments. Heavy-duty trucks are responsible for nearly a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s transportation sector, itself the biggest contributor of those emissions in the economy. Clearly this segment of the transportation sector cannot be ignored.”

YSE Study Finds Electric Vehicles Provide Lower Carbon Emissions Through Additional Channels | Yale School of the Environment

“With new major spending packages investing billions of dollars in electric vehicles in the U.S., some analysts have raised concerns over how green the electric vehicle industry actually is, focusing particularly on indirect emissions caused within the supply chains of the vehicle components and the fuels used to power electricity that charges the vehicles.

But a recent study from the Yale School of the Environment published in Nature Communications found that the total indirect emissions from electric vehicles pale in comparison to the indirect emissions from fossil fuel-powered vehicles. This is in addition to the direct emissions from combusting fossil fuels — either at the tailpipe for conventional vehicles or at the power plant smokestack for electricity generation — showing electric vehicles have a clear advantage emissions-wise over conventional vehicles.

“The surprising element was how much lower the emissions of electric vehicles were,” says postdoctoral associate Stephanie Weber. “The supply chain for combustion vehicles is just so dirty that electric vehicles can’t surpass them, even when you factor in indirect emissions.” ”

Source: YSE Study Finds Electric Vehicles Provide Lower Carbon Emissions Through Additional Channels | Yale School of the Environment

Peter Coy | I Got to the Bottom of All Those Flight Cancellations – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“The rash of flight cancellations over the winter break — is it a major blunder by the airlines or the forgivable consequence of the outbreak of Omicron? I looked into this over the past couple of days and my conclusion is that it’s a little of each.

First, the case against the airlines. They’re running with a precariously low ratio of employees to passengers, leaving themselves vulnerable to surprises like Omicron, the more contagious new variant of the virus that causes Covid-19, which drastically thinned the ranks of flight crews.

This fall, some airline executives even bragged to Wall Street analysts about how they were able to do more with less — providing more flights per employee. “We estimate that we can fly a schedule 10 percent larger than 2019 with the same number of employees we needed in 2019,” Gerald Laderman, the chief financial officer of United Airlines Holdings, told analysts on the company’s third-quarter earnings call on Oct. 20.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Peter Coy, this was interesting. The comments are not pleased that you point out the airlines viewpoint, but it seems clear, few saw the success of omicron coming. I do often hate the way I feel mistreated when I fly, so I enjoyed the anger your piece stirred up. FYI, we watched a show on PBS called, Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops, narrated by Richard Gere, a series of five short films featuring 12 world-renowned climate scientists, that was made in January 2021. It explains very well the feedback loops that are approaching tipping points, and there are more than I knew about, and this is my beat. I recommend this 58 minute film to everyone. It looks bad for humans. We should probably think seriously about flying around a lot less on carbon based fuels.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net