Bret Stephens | Climate Change Is Real. Markets, Not Governments, Offer the Cure. – The New York Times

“ILULISSAT, GREENLAND — On a clear day in August, a helicopter set me and a few companions down on the northern end of the Jakobshavn Glacier in Western Greenland, about 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The ground under our feet seemed almost lunar: gray silt and dust, loose rocks and boulders, and, at the edge of the glacier’s face, mud so deep it nearly ate my boots. To the south, the calving front of the glacier known in Greenlandic as Sermeq Kujalleq periodically deposited enormous slabs of ice, some more than 100 feet high, into the open water.

I asked the pilot to give me a sense of how much the glacier had retreated since he had been flying the route. He pointed to a distant rocky island in the middle of the fjord.

“That’s where the glacier was in 2007,” he said.

Over the course of the 20th century, the Jakobshavn Glacier retreated about 10 to 15 kilometers. Over just the next eight years, it retreated about the same amount, according to the oceanographer Josh Willis of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Later the front advanced a little — a function of complex dynamics partly involving ocean currents — before resuming its retreat.

For anyone who has entertained doubts about the warming of the planet, a trip to Greenland serves as a bracing corrective. Flying low over the vast ice sheet that covers most of the island, I immediately noticed large ponds of cerulean meltwater and dozens of fast-flowing streams rushing through gullies of white ice and sometimes disappearing into vertical ice caverns thousands of feet deep. Such lakes, scientists report, have become far more common over the last two decades, occurring earlier in the year at higher elevations. Last year, it even rained at the highest point of the ice sheet, some 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle. That’s a first since record keeping began in the 1980s.”

David Lindsay:  Hallelujah. Thank you Bret, for this careful and honest essay.  One climate crisis denier starts to understand.  Here is a comment I especially liked, of many I endorsed.

Former American engineering professor
EuropeOct. 28

I have been waiting for this column. I liked it. Thank you for stating everything so carefully. Mostly I agree with what you have said, but as FunkyIrishman points out, we would not be in nearly as much of a bind if the earth had the same population it did in the 1950’s. “Grow and multiply until you fill the earth” doesn’t mean standing room only. The earth is “full” when population starts to stress the system in potentially dangerous or irreversible ways. I know conservatives hate regulation and I can relate, but consider the horrible photochemical smog that plagued Los Angeles in 1970. We had the ability to make it go away all along, but it did not start to go away until a regulation limited vehicle emissions. It is naïve to assume companies will consider the wellbeing of society. I am not saying companies are bad. Companies are certainly indispensable, but they exist to make a profit and nothing more. They are incredibly good at that. Once a clean-air level playing field was established in California, they made profits while improving air quality. Having said that, regulation needs to have the lightest touch possible to get the job done, and it needs to be straightforward. About having a lot of time to deal with it – the idea worries me because policy makers are so good at kicking the can down the road. I think you were a little unfair to climate scientists. They have tried to explain about the uncertainties, but the public have a hard time with that concept.

3 Replies 265 Recommended

David Lindsay: Most of the top comments were hyper critical, and they scored great points, without recognizing the strengths of Stephen’s piece. He overstates the case for letting markets solve the problem, and yet keeps mentioning regulations that were successful in guiding markets to sanity. It is as if, he hasn’t digested all that he has just learned. I reread the piece and marked most of the good or excellent and bad or terrible points, and the count came out, 42 good or excellent points, 17 bad or terrible points, so the score or grade was 42/59= .71 or 71%. Many of the comments discuss the 17 terrible points, without acknowledging all the many good points in the piece, which is typical of the carelessness of many commenters in this space.

I’m rereading the second half of the Fritjof Capra book, “The Hidden Connections, A Science for Sustainable Living,” which I recommend to Bret Stephens, for an introduction to the new economics of sustainability, which is not based on GDP, but bringing humans into balance with nature, and a healthy environment and ecosystems, in an economy that recycle everything and doesn’t pollute.

David Lindsay Jr  is the author of the Tay Son Rebellion about 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net. 

 

 

 

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Ibrahim Buriro | My Elders in Pakistan Predicted Calamity. Now It’s Here. – The New York Times

Mr. Buriro is an organizer for the Awami Workers Party and a master’s student in development studies. He lives in Karachi, Pakistan.

KARACHI, Pakistan — On Aug. 24, I received a frantic call from my mother. She told me that Sabu Buriro, our village on the shore of Lake Hamal in northwest Sindh Province, was underwater after weeks of heavy rains. Just two months earlier, extreme heat had dried the lake. Now, after weeks of monsoon rains, the lake was so full that the dike protecting us from it was about to burst.

After 10 hours of travel from Karachi, where I am a student, I arrived in a village full of panic-stricken relatives and neighbors. A few army trucks came to evacuate some of the women and children while the rest of us did what we could to salvage our dried grains, our livestock and our homes. After the army trucks left, no more government help appeared. I called comrades from the city, who came with vans; for three frantic days we did what we could to help before the dike broke and floodwaters consumed the village.

My immediate family is among the millions of Pakistanis displaced by this year’s disastrous floods, which were primarily caused by record monsoon rains, made worse by global warming. But the magnitude of this disaster was made larger by Pakistan’s exploitation of nature in the name of “progress.” My country needs to abandon its excessively industrial approach to water infrastructure, lest our ecological and economic situation becomes even more tenuous.

Opinion | Brazil’s Bolsonaro Is Preparing for a Revolution – The New York Times

Mr. Lago teaches at Columbia University and writes often about Brazil’s politics and society.

“RIO DE JANEIRO — It’s election season in Brazil, and the usual buzz of activity fills the air. The press is eagerly following the campaigns, running profiles of candidates and speculating about future coalitions. Supporters of the candidate in the lead, the former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, are heatedly debating who the next cabinet ministers will be. And all involved are crisscrossing the country for rallies, in an energetic effort to get out the vote.

Yet Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s far-right president, stands apart. While his challengers have spent months looking forward to the election, he has sought to preemptively discredit it. He has questioned the role of the Supreme Court and cast doubt, volubly and often, on the electoral process. He speaks as if the election is an encumbrance, an irritation. He says he will not accept any result that is not a victory.

To some, this looks like the groundwork for a coup. In this view, Mr. Bolsonaro intends to refuse any election result that does not please him and, with the help of the military, install himself as president permanently. The reading is half right: Mr. Bolsonaro doesn’t intend to leave office, regardless of the election results. But it’s not a coup, with its need for elite consensus and eschewal of mass mobilization, he’s after. It’s a revolution.”

Mexico Sees Its , Not Renewables – The New York Times

“MEXICO CITY — On a recent scorching afternoon in his home state of Tabasco, the president of Mexico celebrated his government’s latest triumph: a new oil refinery.

Though not yet operational, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hailed the refinery as a centerpiece in his grand campaign to secure Mexico’s energy independence.

“We ignored the sirens’ song, the voices that predicted, in good faith, perhaps, the end of the oil age and the massive arrival of electric cars and renewable energies,” he told the cheering crowd.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
If the US can get its own house in order, it will be able to put pressure on Mexico to get on the clean energy band wagon, with carbon tax tariffs on dirty goods, goods made with a large carbon footprint. We are all in a pickle. It is not clear at all that we can slow our carbon footprint fast enough to stop cascading events from dozens of existing feedback loops, that can, if allowed to grow, become unstoppable.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

How Republicans Are ‘Weaponizing’ Public Office Against Climate Action – The New York Times

Gelles reviewed more than 10,000 pages of documents and emails while reporting for this article.

“Nearly two dozen Republican state treasurers around the country are working to thwart climate action on state and federal levels, fighting regulations that would make clear the economic risks posed by a warming world, lobbying against climate-minded nominees to key federal posts and using the tax dollars they control to punish companies that want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the past year, treasurers in nearly half the United States have been coordinating tactics and talking points, meeting in private and cheering each other in public as part of a well-funded campaign to protect the fossil fuel companies that bolster their local economies.

Last week, Riley Moore, the treasurer of West Virginia, announced that several major banks — including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo — would be barred from government contracts with his state because they are reducing their investments in coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
My partner Kathleen Schomaker and I think that the insurance companies should be all over this. What exactly should they do? We have no idea. What could the insurance industry do to protect itself from anti-science, climate crisis deniers? It is time for all the corporations of America to divest themselves from Republicans who deny science and the climate crisis. It has not escaped our notice that the oil gas and coal companies, which say they are into the green transition in their annual reports, are playing hard ball under the table.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Paul Krugman | Another Step Toward Climate Apocalypse – The New York Times

    Opinion Columnist

“We’re having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave. Also a temperate heat wave and an Arctic heat wave, with temperatures reaching the high 80s in northern Norway. The megadrought in the Western United States has reduced Lake Mead to a small fraction of its former size, and it now threatens to become a “dead pool” that can no longer supply water to major cities. Climate change is already doing immense damage, and it’s probably only a matter of time before we experience huge catastrophes that take thousands of lives.

And the Republican majority on the Supreme Court just voted to limit the Biden administration’s ability to do anything about it.

It says something about the state of U.S. politics that a number of environmental experts I follow were actually relieved by the ruling, which was less sweeping than they feared and still left the administration with some possible paths for climate action. I guess, given where we are, objectively bad decisions must be graded on a curve.

And for what it’s worth, I have a suspicion that at least some of the Republican justices understood the enormity of what they were doing and tried to do as little as possible while maintaining their party fealty.

For party fealty is, of course, what this is all about. Anyone who believes that the recent series of blockbuster court rulings reflects any consistent legal theory is being willfully naïve: Clearly, the way this court interprets the law is almost entirely determined by what serves Republican interests. If states want to ban abortion, well, that’s their prerogative. If New York has a law restricting the concealed carrying of firearms, well, that’s unconstitutional.”

How Logging Is Affecting the Democratic Republic of Congo – The New York Times

“The mighty Congo River has become a highway for sprawling flotillas of logs — African teak, wenge and bomanga in colors of licorice, candy bars and carrot sticks. For months at a time, crews in the Democratic Republic of Congo live aboard these perilous rafts, piloting the timber in pursuit of a sliver of profit from the dismantling of a crucial forest.

The biggest rafts are industrial-scale, serving mostly international companies that see riches in the rainforest. But puny versions also make their way downriver, tended by men and their families who work and sleep atop the floating logs.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you. Breathtaking, heartbreaking, a real cause for grief for the future of life as we know it on the planet. Edward O Wilson, and many others, say we are on track to lose about 80% of the world’s species in the next 80 years, and if we lose 50%, humans probably won’t survive. There are solutions, and ideas to develop, but we need to change our ways in this decade to avoid ugly outcomes, like the losing of half of earths human population through starvation and war. If you love rocks, take comfort, the planet and it’s rocks will do fine. Its just the wonderful life forms that will perish from the overheating of the planet. Climate Change is a marketing euphemism for global warming, and it is here now, the wolf is at your door.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net

Paul Krugman | What a Dying Lake Says About the Future – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“A few days ago The Times published a report on the drying up of the Great Salt Lake, a story I’m ashamed to admit had flown under my personal radar. We’re not talking about a hypothetical event in the distant future: The lake has already lost two-thirds of its surface area, and ecological disasters — salinity rising to the point where wildlife dies off, occasional poisonous dust storms sweeping through a metropolitan area of 2.5 million people — seem imminent.

As an aside, I was a bit surprised that the article didn’t mention the obvious parallels with the Aral Sea, a huge lake that the Soviet Union had managed to turn into a toxic desert.

In any case, what’s happening to the Great Salt Lake is pretty bad. But what I found really scary about the report is what the lack of an effective response to the lake’s crisis says about our ability to respond to the larger, indeed existential threat of climate change.”

Bret Stephens | The Left Is Being Mugged by Reality, Again – The New York Times

     Opinion Columnist

This column has been updated to reflect news developments.

“Is a decade of destructive progressive ideology finally coming to an end?

That San Franciscans, some of America’s most reliably liberal voters, chose on Tuesday to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin, one of America’s most leftward D.A.s, is a sign of hope.

Voter patience for what Mayor London Breed of San Francisco calls “all the bullshit that has destroyed our city” — aggressive shopliftingrampant car burglariesopen-air drug use, filthy homeless encampmentssidewalks turned into toilets — is finally running thin.

Progressive overreach has its price. Even for progressives.

What’s going on in San Francisco is happening nationwide, and not just in matters of criminal justice and urban governance. In one area after another, the left is being mugged by reality, to borrow Irving Kristol’s famous phrase. Consider a few examples:     . . . . . “

David Lindsay:

Great points Bret, thank you.

My beyond beef, is that you sound ignorant, or dumb, on the threat of climate change. Your brilliance is your hard honesty, that we climate hawks have a tough job, since, as you point out, most folks are for the environment, as long as it won’t cost them more than an extra $10 a year. The irony, is that as you sound almost gloating over our failures to mitigate climate change, you seem oblivious to the fact that the planet we are trying to keep habitable, is the same one you and your family live on.

Your punishment, or assignment, is to go study Edward O Wilson, and learn about the sixth great extinction of species going on right now all around us. Why did he conclude that at current rates of growth and pollution, we will lose 80% of the world’s species in the next 80 years, and humans will be probably one of the casualties.  Some aliens in outer space are probably gloating, since those humans won’t last very long.

David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

How a Trash-Talking Crypto Bro Caused a $40 Billion Crash – The New York Times

“Do Kwon, a trash-talking entrepreneur from South Korea, called the cryptocurrency he created in 2018 “my greatest invention.” In countless tweets and interviews, he trumpeted the world-changing potential of the currency, Luna, rallying a band of investors and supporters he proudly referred to as “Lunatics.”

Mr. Kwon’s company, Terraform Labs, raised more than $200 million from investment firms such as Lightspeed Venture Partners and Galaxy Digital to fund crypto projects built with the currency, even as critics questioned its technological underpinnings. Luna’s total value ballooned to more than $40 billion, creating a frenzy of excitement that swept up day traders and start-up founders, as well as wealthy investors.

Mr. Kwon dismissed concerns with a taunt: “I don’t debate the poor.”

But last week, Luna and another currency that Mr. Kwon developed, TerraUSD, suffered a spectacular collapse. Their meltdowns had a domino effect on the rest of the cryptocurrency market, tanking the price of Bitcoin and accelerating the loss of $300 billion in value across the crypto economy. This week, the price of Luna remained close to zero, while TerraUSD continued to slide.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
It appears to be just a ponzi scheme, and like bitcoin, has a large carbon footprint. Therefore, all these products should probably be banned. I am a successful investor, and one important rule is, if you can’t understand it, don’t invest in it. I did try to understand bitcoin, and it apparently only has anonymous record keeping with an extraordinarily high carbon footprint. It is a haven for gangsters and corrupt officials. What could be worse than owning a share in a high carbon footprint virtual asset, that doesn’t have any oil or gas or coal to sell.
InconvenientNews.net