Boyan Slat | To Keep Plastic Out of Oceans, Start With Rivers – The New York Times

Mr. Slat is the founder and chief executive of The Ocean Cleanup.

“The world is finally getting serious about plastic pollution.

Next week, delegates from U.N. member states will gather in Paris to debate the shape of what some hope will become the plastic-pollution equivalent of the Paris Climate Agreement.

There is no time to waste. Plastic is one of the biggest threats our oceans face today, causing untold harm to ecosystems, tremendous economic damage to coastal communities and posing a potential health threat to more than three billion people dependent on seafood.

The U.N. Environment Program has put forward a proposal to keep plastics in circulation as long as possible through reuse and recycling. Some activists and scientists advocate capping and reducing plastic production and use.”

Australia Tries to Break Its Dependence on China for Lithium Mining – The New York Times

Reporting from the Pilbara region of Western Australia

“Deep in rural Western Australia, Pilbara Minerals’ vast processing plant looms above the red dirt, quivering as tons of a lithium ore slurry move through its pipes.

The plant turns the ore from a nearby quarry into spodumene, a greenish crystalline powder that is about 6 percent lithium and sells for about $5,700 a ton. From there, the spodumene is shipped to China, where it is further refined so it can be used in the batteries that power goods like cellphones and electric cars.

Australia mines about 53 percent of the world’s supply of lithium, and virtually all of it is sold to China. But now the Australian government wants to break the world’s dependence on China for processing the minerals driving the green revolution.”

How the G7 Oil Price Cap Has Helped Choke Revenue to Russia – The New York Times

Jim Tankersley is an economics reporter who covers the White House. He has been tracking the Biden administration’s efforts to limit Russia’s oil revenues for the past year.

“In early June, at the behest of the Biden administration, German leaders assembled top economic officials from the Group of 7 nations for a video conference with the goal of striking a major financial blow to Russia.

The Americans had been trying, in a series of one-off conversations last year, to sound out their counterparts in Europe, Canada and Japan on an unusual and untested idea. Administration officials wanted to try to cap the price that Moscow could command for every barrel of oil it sold on the world market. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen had floated the plan a few weeks earlier at a meeting of finance ministers in Bonn, Germany.

The reception had been mixed, in part because other countries were not sure how serious the administration was about proceeding. But the call in early June left no doubt: American officials said they were committed to the oil price cap idea and urged everyone else to get on board. At the end of the month, the Group of 7 leaders signed on to the concept.

As the Group of 7 prepares to meet again in this week in Hiroshima, Japan, official and market data suggest the untried idea has helped achieve its twin initial goals since the price cap took effect in December. The cap appears to be forcing Russia to sell its oil for less than other major producers, when crude prices are down significantly from their levels immediately after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Thomas L. Friedman | It’s Time for Biden to Out-Trump Trump on Immigration – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“According to news reports, the recent surge of migrants from Latin America flooding our southern border was largely a result of the end of a Trump-era Covid policy. I beg to differ.

It’s the result of a new world.

And this new world is going to challenge both traditional Republican and traditional Democratic views on immigration. As I’ve argued before, there is only one way to deal with the waves of migrants who will continue to come America’s way. And that is with a very high wall with a very big gate.

Democrats don’t want to hear about high walls, and Republicans don’t want to hear about big gates. Too bad. We need both.

Donald Trump was a fraud on immigration. He never wanted to solve the problem. He exploited the fears of an uncontrolled border to stop immigration and appeal to racists and white supremacists in his base. And stoking those fears worked for Trump.”

Burning Man Becomes Latest Adversary in Geothermal Feud – The New York Times

“One of the darkest towns in America lies roughly 100 miles north of Reno, where the lights are few and rarely lit until one week each summer when pyrotechnics and LEDs set the sky and mountains aglow.

In tiny Gerlach, just outside the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, residents have watched the Burning Man festival grow over the last 30 years to a spectacle of nearly 80,000 countercultural hippies and tech billionaires, offering an economic lifeline for the unincorporated town. Now, Burning Man and Gerlach are more tightly aligned, joining conservationists and a Native American tribe in an alliance against a powerful adversary: Ormat Technology, the largest geothermal power company in the country.

Both Burning Man and Ormat share a vision for a greener future, yet neither can agree on the road to get there.

The festival promotes self-reliance and leaving no trace of its ephemeral metropolis, yet it contributes an enormous carbon footprint; the power company is vested in the future by battling climate change, but its clean energy facilities pose a threat to local habitats while reaping a sizable profit.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT   NYT Comment: 

Wow, thank you Arielle Paul. This is an excellent introduction to a really complicated face off. I hope there are follow up articles that dive into the arguments on both sides, and what the experts supporting both sides have to say. What is the track record of Ormat. Is this really the best place to put a large geothermal plant? Is this hippie NIMBYism, or another story of insensitive capitalists? What do the big shots, NRDC, and Sierra Club and the Nevada Dept of Environmental Protection think about this battle? The questions go on and on, but this is a worthy topic.

David blogs at

Can the World Make an Electric Car Battery Without China? – The New York Times

“It is one of the defining competitions of our age: The countries that can make batteries for electric cars will reap decades of economic and geopolitical advantages.

The only winner so far is China.

Despite billions in Western investment, China is so far ahead — mining rare minerals, training engineers and building huge factories — that the rest of the world may take decades to catch up.

Even by 2030, China will make more than twice as many batteries as every other country combined, according to estimates from Benchmark Minerals, a consulting group.

Here’s how China controls each step of lithium-ion battery production, from getting the raw materials out of the ground to making the cars, and why these advantages are likely to last.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT  NYT Comment:

Thank you Agnes Chang and Keith Bradsher for this amazing research and report. Don’t let the bastards get you down, my father liked to admonish his friends and family. My main thought to your critics, who think we are so smart to jump into the future, rather than dominate the present, is that famous engineers, like the famous leader of Intel Andrew Grove, have warned repeatedly, that if we off-shore manufacturing, we also lose the manufacturing engineers, who are the backbone of future engineering devolopment. We also off-shore the future. So Biden and his team are right, that we have to bring manufacturing back to the US, even if the greedy capitalists will have to pay more for labor and environmental protections. How would we ever face off in war against China, if we buy all of our technology and manufactured goods from them?

David blogs at

After Biden Predicted Chaos at the Border, a Quieter Than Expected Weekend – The New York Times

Reporting from Washington

“Two days before officials lifted the Title 42 pandemic restrictions at the southern border, President Biden gave a blunt assessment of his administration’s ability to manage the surge of migrants they expected to arrive last week.

“It’s going to be chaotic for a while,” Mr. Biden predicted grimly.

When the time came, what Republicans had insisted would be a career-ending moment for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas did not fully turn into the chaos Mr. Biden and others had anticipated.

An initial surge of about 10,000 migrants just hours before the rule expired on Thursday put a fresh strain on already full detention facilities and shelters, and scenes of migrants, some with no place to sleep but a sidewalk, underscored the searing reality of a broken immigration system.

But that was followed by a marked slowdown in migration across the 2,000-mile border with Mexico.”

David Lindsay: The comments are just as interesting as the article. Here is one of my favorites:

Downtown Verona, NJ2h ago

Joe Biden and his posse better get their anti-illegal immigration act together if they want to have an electoral chance in 2024. The vast majority of voters across the board are looking for tougher action at the border. The right has been feeding extra strength border panic and hysteria to the public for years now, and it’s a very effective recipe that overwhelms any other consideration with many voters. And I’m a loyal Democratic voter who would never vote Republican given their wrecking ball policies. Imagine what Republican and independent voters think about this issue. Wake up, sleepy Joe and clueless Kamala.

3 Replies50 Recommended

And yet, there are other excellent comments, with a different slant.


New York2h ago

The Republican Party is in effect aligned with the smugglers, both of them misleading desperate people and profiting off of their pain by claiming falsely that our border is open (After making the expensive and dangerous journey, believing these liars, 1.6 million people were deported just last year) Smugglers profit financially of course, while Republicans profit politically. In addition, Republican blockade of universal background checks and the ban on the purchase of new assault weapons enables gun smuggling that underlies so much of the deadly gang violence that drives people north. I watched Sec Mayorkas on C-span just before title 42 expired, briefing the press as part of the daily White House press briefing. The reporters kept asking, why didn’t you see this coming? Why didn’t you plan? and he kept answering that they have been planning for months and described the plans. They increased the number of people who can hear asylum claims and have set up a system where people don’t have to struggle to come here to have their asylum claim assessed, only to be deported if it is not accepted; rather the claim is assessed before crossing the border, even before leaving home. In addition, for those driven here by desperate economic pain, the Biden administration is working to provide opportunities in their home countries The Biden administration has been working to manage this humanitarian challenge with no help from, in fact only sabotage from, Republicans.

1 Reply49 Recommended

Nicholas Kristof | When One Almond Gulps 3.2 Gallons of Water – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist


“When interviewing people in their homes here, I didn’t have the heart to ask them if I could use the bathroom. There’s no water to spare, so some families flush only once a day.

As for showers, they’re rationed and timed: “You get in, you soap up, you turn the water off, and then when you’re done, you turn the water on and wash it off, and then you’re out,” said Cody Reim, who works in construction.

All this is because water has become scarce here this year, after the city of Scottsdale cut off this area from water it had supplied; it said it needed to conserve water for its own residents. The resulting crisis in these foothills outside Phoenix offers a glimpse of what more Americans may face unless we reconfigure how we manage water.

This is a crisis across the West, for the West was built on cheap water that is now running out from underpricing and overuse just as climate change is amplifying droughts.

Arizona lures retirees with lush golf courses, sometimes requiring as much as 200 million gallons of water per 18-hole golf course over a year. But the big user of water isn’t households, sprawling lawns, fountains, industry or golf courses. It’s farming.

One study found that 88 percent of water in 17 Western states was used by agriculture. Only 7 percent was consumed by homes. Alfalfa fields single-handedly drank up almost three times as much as all households.


An orchard stretching into the distance, with the trees surrounded by shallow water.
Almond trees in California’s San Joaquin Valley reflected in irrigation water.Credit…David Gomez/E+, via Getty Images

California produces a bounty of almonds, which gulp about 3.2 gallons of water for each almond, according to a 2019 study.

Researchers say that the Southwest is experiencing a megadrought that is the worst in at least 1,200 years. Wells have been drying up as far north as Oregon, and the Great Salt Lake in Utah has shrunk by two-thirds.”

” . . . . The Biden administration has proposed saving what’s left of the river by evenly cutting allotments to California, Arizona and Nevada, by as much as one-quarter.

A central problem is that water isn’t allocated by market price but inefficiently through a muddle of irrigation rights that were mostly awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis. This water is so cheap that there is little attempt to conserve or develop technical innovations to use less water.

Many of the shortages would disappear if water were rationed the way goods normally are in a market economy, by price: Farmers would not irrigate almond orchards if they had to buy 3.2 gallons of water at market rates to produce each almond.

Mostly we’re a market economy, but water allocation resembles a 1970s Soviet system, with the same lack of price signals and consequently the same inefficiency. Any rationalization of the system and raising of irrigation costs would be wrenching — consider a farm family that has gone into debt to plant a large almond orchard — but there is no other sensible path forward.”

Title 42 Ends, Swelling Immigration Case Backlog Amid Judge Shortage – The New York Times

Reporting from Washington

“President Biden’s attempt to deal efficiently with a new surge of migration following the end of Title 42 pandemic restrictions has focused new attention on a severe shortage of judges, the result of longstanding neglect that has overwhelmed the immigration court system with a backlog of more than two million cases.

The court system is riddled with yearslong delays and low morale as a work force of about 650 judges struggles to keep up with the volume of immigration cases, leaving undocumented immigrants who have long waited in the United States in limbo.

The bottleneck shows how the challenges of dealing with a surge in immigration do not end at the southern border. Even as scrutiny has focused on how Border Patrol agents will manage crowds of migrants, public officials and immigration experts say that bolstering the invisible work force of immigration judges is crucial to reforming the system.

Mr. Biden has made some progress — hiring more than 200 judges since he came into office — but is still falling short on his campaign pledge to double the number of immigration judges. Some of the judges will be working seven days a week for a time while the administration confronts the new surge, according to the Justice Department.”

Why Some Countries Find It Hard to Move Away From Fossil Fuels – The New York Times

Clifford Krauss, who has covered the energy industry for more than a decade, spent 10 days reporting in Trinidad and Tobago.

“Ribboned shovel in hand, Prime Minister Keith Rowley joined a ceremonial groundbreaking last month to celebrate Trinidad and Tobago’s first large solar farm project expected to generate power for 42,000 homes.

But if anyone thought the project symbolized the twilight of the island nation’s long embrace of fossil fuels, Mr. Rowley set them straight.

“We will continue to extract the hydrocarbons available to us as long as there is an international market,” Mr. Rowley said, as BP and Shell executives looked on. “If we are going to sell the last barrel of oil or the last molecule of gas, so be it.”

Trinidad and Tobago is known for its white sandy beaches, mountainous rainforests and steel pan drums. But its economy depends on oil and natural gas, not tourism.”