Why the U.N.’s Biodiversity Conference Is So Important – The New York Times

“As 20,000 government leaders, journalists, activists and celebrities from around the world prepare to descend on Glasgow for a crucial climate summit starting late this month, another high-level international environmental meeting got started this week. The problem it seeks to tackle: A rapid collapse of species and systems that collectively sustain life on earth.

The stakes at the two meetings are equally high, many leading scientists say, but the biodiversity crisis has received far less attention.

“If the global community continues to see it as a side event, and they continue thinking that climate change is now the thing to really listen to, by the time they wake up on biodiversity it might be too late,” said Francis Ogwal, one of the leaders of the working group charged with shaping an agreement among nations.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Hallelujah. I didn’t even know about this important group, since the NYT didn’t ever put it on their front page before. It certainly hasn’t made a big enough noise. “The Most Important Global Meeting You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Is Now.” Countries are gathering in an effort to stop a biodiversity collapse that scientists say could equal climate change as an existential crisis. I am disappointed that the NYT, which I study daily, didn’t give this front page space until today. Better late than never I guess.

Thomas L. Friedman | A Scary Energy Winter Is Coming. Don’t Blame the Greens. – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Every so often the tectonic geopolitical plates that hold up the world economy suddenly shift in ways that can rattle and destabilize everything on the surface. That’s happening right now in the energy sphere.

Several forces are coming together that could make Vladimir Putin the king of Europe, enable Iran to thumb its nose at America and build an atomic bomb, and disrupt European power markets enough that the upcoming U.N. climate conference in Glasgow could suffer blackouts owing to too little clean energy.

Yes, this is a big one.

Natural gas and coal prices in Europe and Asia just hit their highest levels on record, oil prices in America hit a seven-year high and U.S. gasoline prices are up $1 a gallon from last year. If this winter is as bad as some experts predict — with some in the poor and middle classes unable to heat their homes — I fear we’ll see a populist backlash to the whole climate/green movement. You can already smell that coming in Britain. . . .

. . . .  Sadly, in an overreaction to the Fukushima nuclear accident, Germany decided in 2011 to phase out all of its nuclear power by 2022 — nuclear power stations that in the year 2000 generated 29.5 percent of Germany’s power generation mix. All of that has to be replaced by wind, solar, hydro and natural gas, and there is just not enough now.

As Bill Gates points out in his smart book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” the only way to reach our climate targets is to shift production of all the big heavy industries, like steel, cement and automobiles, as well as how we heat our homes and power our cars, to electricity generated from clean energy. Safe and affordable nuclear power has to be part of our mix because, Gates argues, “it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day.” “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Thomas Friedman, for this entire essay. I read Bill Gate’s book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” and I recommend to to all Americans who can read. For the others, there is already an audio book. Gates has a team of scientists that have reinvented a new nuclear power plant that cannot explode or melt down, and runs on old nuclear waste. What is holding them up, is that no one will let them build the first one. I nominate Connecticut to step up and be first. Gate’s book doesn’t go into his nuclear plant work. My reference for that is a documentary on Netflix called, Inside Bill’s Brain, part three.
David lives in Connecticut, and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | What’s a Little Disagreement Among Factions? – The New York Times

Gail Collins and 

Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens are Opinion columnists. They converse every week.

“Bret Stephens: Hi, Gail. I have a new grand theory of politics: The Stupid Party is whichever party happens to be in power. Fair?

Gail Collins: Bret, why do I think you have something specific in mind? Could it be … the Biden agenda? Preceded by … the Trump agenda? And, if my memory is correct, back in the day you didn’t think the Obama agenda was all that great either.

Bret: Well, I’m rooting for Biden to succeed, which wasn’t quite the way I felt about his immediate predecessor.

My point about the Stupid Party is that Democrats could have had a popular legislative win with a $1 trillion infrastructure bill. Instead, the Sandernistas in Congress effectively vetoed it for the sake of social spending that they aren’t likely to get. Now they’ve got nothing and may very likely end up with nothing — a classic case of two birds in the bush instead of one in hand. And Biden is going along with it! It’s political malpractice.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Is this a weak conversation, or do I just have a lot on my plate? A lot of repeats here. I’m sorry Bret needs population growth for economic growth, that is so 19th century. We are on a planet teeming with humans, 7.8 billion and counting, and our pollution is spoiling the garden from which we grow our food, and the oceans, which we try to fish. I’m disappointed with these two wonderful reporters, and their peers at the NYT and NPR, and the NewHours on PBS, for ignoring the harpy on the left, Jayapal. Bernie Sanders lost the primary to Joe Biden, and there is no mandate for all of his programs, at this immediate moment. She is willing to hand the government to theTrumpistas, if she can’t have her left wing utopia now. The infrastructure bill alone would strengthen the Democrats in the mid term elections in just over a year. The Family rehab bill, is great, only it has many moderate opponents. I liked Johnathan Capehart’s idea, do it for less than 10 years. Do it for two, three or four years. But get the infractucture bill passed and get it started. Please go after the lefty in Washington. “Pramila Jayapal United States Representative house.gov Pramila Jayapal is an American activist and politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Washington’s 7th congressional district since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, she represents most of Seattle, as well as some suburban areas of King County. Wikipedia Born: September 21, 1965 (age 56 years), Chennai, India Nationality: American Office: Representative (D-WA 7th District) since 2017 Education: Northwestern University (1990).”
She is also the leader of the House Democratic Progressive Caucus, that boasts 100 members, but most of these folks are from safe, blue states.

Protected Too Late: U.S. Officials Report More Than 20 Extinctions – The New York Times

Video

Cinemagraph
Ivory-billed woodpeckers filmed in in Louisiana in 1935, when the birds were already rare. Despite pleas from conservationists and wildlife officials, the area was later logged by the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company.CreditCredit…Arthur A. Allen/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornitholog

“The ivory-billed woodpecker, which birders have been seeking in the bayous of Arkansas, is gone forever, according to federal officials. So is the Bachman’s warbler, a yellow-breasted songbird that once migrated between the Southeastern United States and Cuba. The song of the Kauai O’o, a Hawaiian forest bird, exists only on recordings. And there is no longer any hope for several types of freshwater mussels that once filtered streams and rivers from Georgia to Illinois.

In all, 22 animals and one plant should be declared extinct and removed from the endangered species list, federal wildlife officials announced on Wednesday.

The announcement could also offer a glimpse of the future. It comes amid a worsening global biodiversity crisis that threatens a million species with extinction, many within decades. Human activities like farming, logging, mining and damming take habitat from animals and pollute much of what’s left. People poach and overfish. Climate change adds new peril.

“Each of these 23 species represents a permanent loss to our nation’s natural heritage and to global biodiversity,” said Bridget Fahey, who oversees species classification for the Fish and Wildlife Service. “And it’s a sobering reminder that extinction is a consequence of human-caused environmental change.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment
Sad but true. Thank you Catrin Einhorn and the NYT for this report. I recommend the booklet, “Half Earth,” by the famous etymologist Edward O Wilson, retired from Harvard. He and his associates around the world see us possibly losing 80% of the world’s species in the next 80 years. ( He talks mostly in ranges, like in 50 to 100 years) He predicts that if we lose 50% of the world’s species, the human species will not survive, because of dependencies that exist, but are not yet all understood. The message of the Half Earth Foundation and movement, is their strong sense that we need to preserve half the of the world’s area for non human species, to allow them to survive, and to guarantee our own survival. David Lindsay blogs at InconvenientNews.Net, and is writing a book on climate change and the sixth extinction.

Jamelle Bouie | We Underestimated Trump Before. It Didn’t Go Well. – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Sometimes, and much to our detriment, we find real events are simply too outlandish to take seriously.

Many professional Republicans, for example, initially dismissed the movement to “Stop the Steal” as a ridiculous stunt.

“What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change,” an anonymous senior Republican official told The Washington Post a few days after Joe Biden claimed victory:

He went golfing this weekend. It’s not like he’s plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power on Jan. 20. He’s tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he’ll tweet some more about how the election was stolen, and then he’ll leave.

Republicans went ahead and humored the president, who then urged his followers to assault the Capitol and try to void the election results in his favor.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Jamelle Bouie, for an extraordinary essay– a prize winner. Let me explore. You pointed out that the northern Republicans completely underestimated the willingness of the new confederacy to fight. They thought it was a bluff, and the civil war ensued. What if Lincoln and the GOP just allowed the succession? How would history have changed? Might make a good mini series. In my own study of history, I have read several writers claim that slavery was dying out relatively quickly, without civil wars, because it didn’t have the right economic model for the new industrial societies that were developing in the western world. If the United States was allowed to break in two, would the Nazi party of Germany and the Japanese militarists be in power over most of the world today? One can easily make the dots go in that direction.
Could the Northern and the Southern States come together and fight fascism in the WW II, and if they did, would they be ready to become the industrial engine of the Allies in a relative short period of time? This thought makes me even more grateful for Lincoln and the soldiers who sacrificed for the Union. Now, who will stop this new menace, and would be dictator Donald Trump, who threatens us from within. In reading, “Inside the Third Reich,” by Albert Speer, one can see many similarities. They both designed their platforms, by what enraged their audiences. Neither had scruples.
Author of The Tayson Rebellion, and blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Gail Collins and Bret Stephens | This Is No Way to Run a Democracy – The New York Times

Gail Collins and 

Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens are opinion columnists. They converse every week.

“Bret Stephens: Hi Gail. So it turns out that Joe Biden really did win Arizona last year. Are you … shocked?

Gail Collins: Pass the champagne, Bret. We’ll drink a toast to the fact that recount-wise, it’s been easy to find excuses to celebrate.

Arizona’s recheck showed Biden actually getting a few more votes than originally tallied. And some of the state’s Republican leaders nodded their approval — one called it “encouraging.” Despite one little cyclone of outrage spotted over Mar-a-Lago.

Did you start out here because it’s the only good news in the country right now? If so, appreciate the effort.

Bret: The truly bad news is that even this modestly good news is actually awful news.

Gail: Ah, welcome to our world.

Bret: What I mean is that this Republican-ordered, Republican-financed audit of ballots in Maricopa County, which is Arizona’s largest, won’t make any difference to Donald Trump’s true believers. There was a similar audit of votes in Michigan that finished earlier this year, also overseen by Republicans, which proved that Biden won that state, too, and it also didn’t have the slightest effect on the two-thirds of Republicans who, as of August, thought the election was rigged.

Gail: Congratulations — you’ve convinced me to be depressed again.

Bret: It reminds me of a line from Huck Finn: “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?” That sums up Trump’s political strategy, and if the Biden presidency continues to stumble the way it’s been stumbling, it might just work.”

David Lindsay: Bret thinks Biden should separate the infrastructure bill from the larger reconciliation package, and I agree with him on that issue. I thought it was dangerous to tie them together. Biden will thrive politically if he can get the infrastructure bill over the finish line in a timely fashion, and the rest will follow at some point, but he needs to survive with his majorities in congress for eight years to get the climate crisis addressed. Kathleen calls out the left wing of her democratic party for naivete on how to govern to achieve progressive goals. “They need to be more strategic about leading the country from where we are now to where we need to go. They are ahead of the country on some issues, and too siloed in their thinking at times.”

Paul Krugman | Why Are Democratic Centrists Spouting Right-Wing Propaganda? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Everyone who paid attention during the Obama years knew that Republicans would also try to undermine Democratic presidencies. Some of the G.O.P.’s actions — notably, the efforts of governors like Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott to prevent an effective response to a deadly pandemic — have shocked even the cynics. Still, a Republican attempt to make President Biden fail, no matter how much it hurt the rest of the country, was predictable.

More surprising, at least to me, has been the self-destructive behavior of Democratic centrists — a term I prefer to “moderates,” because it’s hard to see what’s moderate about demanding that Biden abandon highly popular policies like taxing corporations and reducing drug prices. At this point it seems all too possible that a handful of recalcitrant Democrats will blow up the whole Biden agenda — and yes, it’s the centrists who are throwing a tantrum, while the party’s progressives are acting like adults.

So what’s motivating the sabotage squad? Part of the answer, I’d argue, is that they have internalized decades of right-wing economic propaganda, that their gut reaction to any proposal to improve Americans’ lives is that it must be unworkable and unaffordable.

Of course, this isn’t the whole story. We certainly shouldn’t underrate the influence of money: Both wealthy donors and Big Pharma have been nakedly throwing their weight around. Nor should we discount the importance of simple innumeracy: $3.5 trillion sounds like a lot of money, and you shouldn’t assume politicians understand (or think constituents understand) that this is proposed spending over the course of a decade, not a single year. It would amount to little more than 1 percent of gross domestic product over that period and would still leave overall government spending far below its level in other wealthy democracies. It also ignores the fact that the true cost, after net savings and new revenue, would be much less than $3.5 trillion.”

David Lindsay: In other words, this big package is only $350 billion per year, for ten years, and is easily affordable, and focus on real needs, mitigating climate change and income inequality, while helping grow the economy. Just improving tax collections could pay for it.

David Brooks | Moderates and Progressives, Get Together! – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“The Biden administration is in mortal peril. Hemmed in by circumstances, the Democrats bet nearly their entire domestic agenda on the passage of two gigantic bills, the trillion-dollar infrastructure package and the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.

Both are now in serious trouble because Democratic moderates and progressives aren’t close to agreeing on what should be in the bills, how much they should cost or even when they should be voted on. If these bills crumble, the Democrats will fail as a governing majority, and it will be far more likely that Donald Trump will win the presidency in 2024.

We don’t want that, so the question is, how can moderate and progressive Democrats create a package they both can live with? The best way to do that is to build on each side’s best insights.

The best progressive insight is that we need a really big package right now.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
While I have enjoyed many of the critical comments, David Brooks makes a number of good points. I particularly like his fear that the Biden team will not pass anything, if they aren’t careful. While the outcome eludes me,
I had a bad feeling when the Democrats refused to pass the first infrastructure bill, till they saw success for the 3.5 trillion package through budget reconciliation. The Republicans were outraged, and for once, I was sympathetic. My instincts tell me that the Biden Team should pass the infrastructure bill first and alone, as a clean win for the country, and for bi-partisanship. It also makes the process of trying for the second bill, in some ways simpler. If critical leverage is lost, someone please explain that.
What is needed, is probably all of both bills, but that does not mean they have to all be tied together. Mitigating climate change now, and preventing the return of Trump, are both very important. Just passing the infrastructure bill, will make the Biden team look like winners, and leave the 3.5 trillion bill on the table, to be passed in toto, or possibly in tranches. In the latter case, I would put all the climate change mitigation elements at the top of the to do list.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Steven Pinker Thinks Your Sense of Imminent Doom Is Wrong – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/09/06/magazine/steven-pinker-interview.html?action=click&algo=lda_unique&block=editors_picks_recirc&fellback=false&imp_id=114485650&impression_id=34eee837-1179-11ec-8bf9-11a4c5ca1b69&index=1&pgtype=Article&pool=pool%2Fe76d7165-92f7-4bd2-bc6e-298322d3680a&region=footer&req_id=367884245&surface=eos-home-featured&variant=1_lda_unique

“. . . I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that rising authoritarianism, the pandemic and the climate crisis, among other things, are signs that we’re going to hell in a handbasket. Is that irrational of me? It’s not irrational to identify genuine threats to our well-being. It is irrational to interpret a number of crises occurring at the same time as signs that we’re doomed. It’s a statistical phenomenon that when events are randomly sprinkled in time they cluster. That sounds paradoxical, but unless you have a nonrandom process that spaced them apart — We’re going to have a crisis every six months but we’re never going to have two crises in a month — events cluster. That’s what random events will always do. ”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
This piece lost me. Climate change, the pandemic, and the rise of authoritarianism are not equals. Bad questions lead to bad answers. Why exactly is this professor not deeply concerned about the existential threat of climate change and the sixth extinction? Perhaps there should be a follow up interview by an environmentalist. Does he know what the sixth extinction is? Does he know that in the last 50 years, human population doubled, while the populations of most species were cut in half, and thousands were eliminated. Some studies show insects and birds are down 70% Half the great barrier reef is bleached or dead. How is Mr. Pinker optimistic, when we went from 2 billion humans to almost 8 billion humans, 7.8 billion human beings, in just under 100 year– probably since 1930 to the present. Edward O Wilson, also of Harvard, but a naturalist, has written that if we lose half the world’s species, the human species will probably not survive.

David Brooks | How the Brain Shapes Reality and Imagination – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“You may think you understand the difference between seeing something and imagining it. When you see something, it’s really there; when you imagine it, you make it up. That feels very different.

The problem is that when researchers ask people to imagine something, like a tomato, and then give some of them a just barely visible image of a tomato, they find that the process of imagining it is hard to totally separate from the process of seeing it. In fact, they use a lot of the same brain areas.

And when you stop to think about it, that makes some sense. Your brain is locked in the pitch-black bony vault of your skull, trying to use scraps of information to piece together the world. Even when it’s seeing, it’s partly constructing what’s out there based on experience. “It turns out, reality and imagination are completely intermixed in our brain,” Nadine Dijkstra writes in Nautilus, “which means that the separation between our inner world and the outside world is not as clear as we might like to think.”

Bravo David Brooks.  Don’t let the bastards get you down. Many of the top commenters do not see any relevance between this column and the problems we face today. Brooks lets his readers connect the dots, and some of them can not.  I am currently reading, “Inside the Third Reich” by Albert Speer, a famous member of Hitler’s inner group. Still in the beginning of this biography, the connections between Hitler, Trump, and the essay by Brooks are apparent. People who are depressed and scared are easily manipulated by someone who sees their fears and wants to turn them against some enemy or enemies, to relieve them of their suffering. The complexity of the human mind, which naturally mixes facts with fantasy, is fertile for such charlatans.

Here are two of my favorite comments.

Hannah M
Baltimore Sept. 3
Times Pick

Genuinely surprised to see so many people comment that this is an indulgent or throwaway topic. My first thought after catching the column’s drift was—exactly! This is the science that explains why we’re so polarized as a country, why it feels as if people are living in side-by-side realities. Fear is the emotional basis for many of our “rational” stances and decisions—for white Trump supporters, the fear of losing power and being “replaced.” This science is a mechanism by which we could admit when we’re wrong and start to come out of delusions—and that reconciliation is what has to happen for democracy to continue here (if you’re in doubt, read Caste by Isabel Wilkerson). Just because it isn’t likely that Americans will start to learn about this science and apply it to themselves doesn’t mean it isn’t hugely relevant.

9 Replies334 Recommended
David
Lexington, MASept. 3
Times Pick

I appreciate Brooks’ sketch of open questions and debates in cognitive neuroscience and in theory of mind. It points toward the possibility of a radical, experiential shift in understanding the self. Buddhist teaching grounded in mediation and articulated in Madhyamaka philosophy has a lot to say about the un-findability of the conventional self. My favorite short summary comes from Kalu Rinpoche: “You live in a world of illusion. There is a reality. You are that reality. When you realize this, you realize you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That is all.”

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