GM to Curb Economic Ties With Trump: Live Business Updates – GM Quits Trump lawsuit against CA

“Over the past four years, General Motors has emerged as one of President Trump’s favorite corporate targets. He attacked the company repeatedly for closing a plant in Ohio and lashed out at it even when the automaker offered to make ventilators this spring in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

And Mr. Trump ridiculed the company’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, one of the few women to lead a large U.S. corporation. “Always a mess with Mary B,” he wrote on Twitter in March.

The company and Ms. Barra have not responded to the presidential wrath, but on Monday G.M. broke ranks with the White House on the one major issue where they were aligned. The automaker said it would no longer back the Trump administration in a fight with California over clean-air standards.

California has sought tougher standards on tailpipe emissions to battle climate change. The Trump administration loosened Obama-era standards and revoked the authority of California and other states to set their own rules, which led to a lawsuit from several states. G.M., Toyota Motor and Fiat Chrysler intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of the administration. A few other automakers, including Ford Motor, BMW and Volkswagen, sided with California.

G.M.’s support for the Trump administration surprised many auto experts given the president’s repeated attacks on the company and Ms. Barra. It also seemed to be an odd position for G.M. to take because the automaker has outlined ambitious plans to add nearly two dozen electric models to its lineup.

In a letter to the leaders of some of the nation’s largest environmental groups on Monday, Ms. Barra indicated G.M. was now backing President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. in his plan to cut emissions and support the use of electric vehicles.”

Opinion | When Will Electricity Companies Finally Quit Natural Gas? – By Justin Gillis and Michael O’Boyle – The New York Times

By Justin Gillis and 

Mr. Gillis is a contributing opinion writer. Mr. O’Boyle is director of electricity policy for the research firm Energy Innovation.

Credit…Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group, via Getty Images

“As Americans suffer through immense wildfires, rising coastal flooding and an epic hurricane season, the nation’s corporations want you to believe they are coming to grips with the climate crisis.

Among the companies pledging bold emissions cuts are those that generate America’s electricity, which emit more than a quarter of the nation’s global-warming pollution. Yet, that same industry is about to make a strategic error that could render meeting its own goals far more expensive, if not impossible.

As they shut down costly and dirty coal-burning power plants, the electrical companies are planning to build 235 gas-fired power stations across the country, according to our analysis of figures compiled from commercial databases by the Sierra Club. The companies claim these are needed to replace the coal plants, and to balance fluctuations in electricity generation from rising levels of wind and solar power. This investment in new gas plants would exceed $100 billion.

If the plants are built, along with the pipelines to support them, they are likely to run for 30 or 40 years — long past the point that emissions from the electrical grid need to approach zero if we are to have a reasonable climate future.”

California Is Trying to Jump-Start the Hydrogen Economy – The New York Times

“IRVINE, Calif. — Since President George W. Bush fueled a minivan with hydrogen 15 years ago, the promise of cars and trucks powered by the fuel has come up mostly empty.

That hydrogen pump, in Washington, closed long ago. But in California, the beginnings of a hydrogen economy may finally be dawning after many fits and starts.

Dozens of hydrogen buses are lumbering down city streets, while more and larger fueling stations are appearing from San Diego to San Francisco, financed by the state and federal governments. With the costs of producing and shipping hydrogen coming down, California is setting ambitious goals to phase out vehicles that run on fossil fuels in favor of batteries and hydrogen. Large auto and energy companies like Toyota Motor and Royal Dutch Shell have committed to supplying more cars and fueling stations.

“In past cycles, there was always something missing,” said Matthew Blieske, Shell’s global hydrogen product manager. “There was a policy missing, or the technology wasn’t quite ready, or people were not so serious about decarbonization. We don’t see those barriers anymore.” “

Opinion | Captain Chain Saw’s Delusion – By Chris Feliciano Arnold – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Arnold is the author of “The Third Bank of the River: Power and Survival in the Twenty-First-Century Amazon.”

This article is part of the Opinion series The Amazon Has Seen Our Future, about how the people of the region are living through the most extreme versions of our planet’s problems.

“Amid political strife and smoke visible from space, the future of the Amazon has rarely been so hazy. Environmentalists see a vanishing rainforest of global consequence. Indigenous leaders see an ancestral home still being exploited by settlers after 500 years of genocidal violence. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, sees valuable acreage wasted by “cave men” and Marxists.

Sixty percent of the world’s largest tropical forest lies within Brazil’s borders, and since 2006 I’ve traveled thousands of miles in the Amazon, witnessing how the river and its people have experienced a century’s worth of ecological and cultural change in a generation. For a few weeks last year, record-setting fires in the region focused the world’s attention with an intensity reminiscent of the Save the Rainforest campaigns of the 1980s, but this year, the land is burning during a pandemic that has interrupted travel, stymied environmental protection efforts, and emboldened miners, loggers and ranchers to encroach on Indigenous land with impunity.”

Opinion | Amazon 4.0. How to Reinvent the Rainforest – By Bruno Carvalho and Carlos Nobre -The New York Times

By Bruno Carvalho and 

Bruno Carvalho is a scholar of urbanization. Carlos Nobre is a climate scientist.

This article is part of the Opinion series The Amazon Has Seen Our Future, about how the people of the region are living through the most extreme versions of our planet’s problems.

Rainforests are unique ecosystems of immense complexity that nurture an incredible diversity of plants, animals and micro-organisms. Bulldozers and chain saws don’t care about that.

Some people think of rainforests as faraway places that have little to do with their day-to-day existence. But millions of people live in cities and settlements throughout the Amazon. Many endure precarious conditions and become sources of cheap labor. The forest is sometimes destroyed in their name, with the justification that it develops and improves the economy. In Brazil, deforestation rates are breaking records. And if we continue to destroy the forest, we can expect dire consequences — not just for the region, but for the planet.

Over the past 50 years, human intervention has been increasingly disrupting the ecological balance of the Amazon. Climate change has led to an increase in temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius across the basin, and to more frequent severe droughts. The droughts of 2005, 2010 and 2015-16 were among the worst in more than 100 years. Since 1980, there’s been an increase in the duration of dry seasons by three to four weeks in the more degraded areas of the Amazon.

Maggots in Your Compost? Why It’s Actually a Good Thing – Public Goods Blog

Do you suddenly see tiny flies and worms all over your compost?

grass, dirt, compost, rocks

Yes, those are maggots, but don’t freak out! Typically these wiggly creatures usually cause us to shriek or turn away in disgust. But here’s why it can be a good thing to find maggots in compost — and how to get rid of them if you decide they’re not.

Put simply, maggots are able to break down food waste in a compost pile, making it decompose even faster. Despite the fact that you are dealing with garbage and creepy crawlers, there’s still a certain beauty to composting.

Let’s explore why legless larvae tend to show up in your compost bin, and why you might want to overcome your fears and keep them around.

Source: Maggots in Your Compost? Why It’s Actually a Good Thing – Public Goods Blog

Farmville, Va., covid outbreak linked to ICE flights bringing agents to protests – The Washington Post

September 11, 2020 at 4:07 p.m. EDT

The Trump administration flew immigrant detainees to Virginia this summer to facilitate the rapid deployment of Homeland Security tactical teams to quell protests in Washington, circumventing restrictions on the use of charter flights for employee travel, according to a current and a former U.S. official.

After the transfer, dozens of the new arrivals tested positive for the novel coronavirus, fueling an outbreak at the Farmville, Va., immigration jail that infected more than 300 inmates, one of whom died.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency moved the detainees on “ICE Air” charter flights to avoid overcrowding at detention facilities in Arizona and Florida, a precaution they said was taken because of the pandemic.

But a Department of Homeland Security official with direct knowledge of the operation, and a former ICE official who learned about it from other personnel, said the primary reason for the June 2 transfers was to skirt rules that bar ICE employees from traveling on the charter flights unless detainees are also aboard.

Source: Farmville, Va., covid outbreak linked to ICE flights bringing agents to protests – The Washington Post

Yale Experts Explain Biodiversity -Tom Lovejoy and Os Schmitz talk | Yale Sustainability

What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity – ‘biological’ (living) and ‘diversity’ – is the variety and variability of all life on Earth, including plants, animals, bacteria and microorganisms, and humans. The concept was introduced in 1980 by renowned conservation biologist Thomas Lovejoy (BA ‘63; Ph.D. ‘71), who is now the University Professor in the Environmental Science and Policy department at George Mason University. Lovejoy explains that biodiversity gives life on Earth an unimaginable variety.
“A single animal or single plant is more complex than anything else in the universe,” Lovejoy says. “If you looked at one chromosome from the cell of a mouse, you would have more information than all editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica combined.”
Os Schmitz, the Oastler Professor of Population and Community Ecology at the Yale School of the Environment, finds it helpful to think of biodiversity like an orchestra. “You’ve got a variety of different instruments,” Schmitz says. “You’ve got string instruments, woodwinds, brass, and within each of those groups, you also have different shapes and sizes of instruments that function together to create a wonderful harmony. That’s the kind of diversity that we’re interested in with species on Earth. There are groups of species we call carnivores, herbivores, omnivores, or microbes, and then within those groups are also varieties of different species with different sizes and different abilities.”
What are the benefits of biodiversity? 
Lovejoy explains that this “collective variety in nature” is integral to the heathy functioning of ecosystems. “All of these different individual species interact with one another and contribute to natural systems,” Lovejoy says. “Even something as domestic as a backyard lawn is composed of many, many species doing a lot of different jobs. Every time you look around, there is some sort of ecosystem service going on.”
Ecosystem services are the environmental, economic, social, cultural and spiritual benefits that are made available due to complex species interactions on Earth. We as humans rely on these benefits every single day.  Biodiversity is responsible for the production of oxygen, the filtration of natural drinking water, the fertility of our soil, the pollination of plants that allow us to produce crops, the protection of coastlines from erosion, and more. Lovejoy estimates that these services provide trillions of dollars of benefits to the human economy.

Source: Yale Experts Explain Biodiversity | Yale Sustainability

Opinion | A 150,000-Bird Orchestra in the Sky – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

“NASHVILLE — At first they circle high in the evening sky. But as night descends, they, too, begin to descend, bird by bird, one at a time, and then all in a rush: 150,000 purple martins swirling together, each bird calling to the others in the failing light as they sweep past the tops of buildings in the heart of downtown Nashville. To anyone watching from the ground, they look like one great airborne beast, one unmistakable, singular mind.

Their music grows louder and louder as the circles tighten and the birds swing lower and lower, settling in the branches of sidewalk trees, or swerving to take off again as new waves of birds dip down. They circle the building and return. They lift off, circle, reverse, settle, lift off again. Again and again and again, until finally it is dark. Their chittering voices fall silent. Their rustling wings fall still.

It is not like Hitchcock: Watching these birds is nothing at all like watching crows and sea gulls and sparrows attack the characters in “The Birds,” Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror film. The purple martins that have been gathering here the past few weeks are merely doing what purple martins always do this time of year: flocking together to fatten up on insects before making the long flight to South America, where they will spend the winter.”

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