Greta Thunberg’s Message at Davos Forum: ‘Our House Is Still on Fire’ – By Somini Sengupta – The New York Times

“Ms. Thunberg, a climate activist known for speaking bluntly to power, rebuked the crowd for promises that she said would do too little: reducing planet-warming gases to net zero by 2050, offsetting emissions by planting one trillion trees, transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

“Let’s be clear. We don’t need a ‘low carbon economy.’ We don’t need to ‘lower emissions,’” she said. “Our emissions have to stop.”

Only that, she said, would enable the world to keep temperatures from rising past 1.5 degrees from preindustrial levels, which scientists say is necessary to avert the worst effects of climate change. She and a group of young climate activists have called on private investors and governments to immediately halt exploration for fossil fuels, to stop funding their production, to end taxpayer subsidies for the industry and to fully divest their existing stakes in the sector.

Scientists have said emissions must be reduced by half in the next decade to reach the 1.5-degree target. The opposite is happening. Global emissions continued to rise, hitting a record high in 2019, according to research published in December.”

Thank you Greta Thunberg.  Here is one of many good comments I endorsed:

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts

Such an articulate and impassioned cry from a member of the generation who will be left holding the bag of climate crisis.

Nobody with the power to do anything will be alive when their inaction translates into an uninhabitable planet.

This isn’t a simple abdiction of reponsiblity. It’s wholesale abandonment of the powerless, the children who today see imending doom but lack the authority to stop it.

Reply67 Recommended
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David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment
Thank you Greta and Somini and the NYT for this story. I hope Greta, that you can take a break soon, and go to college, or university, as it is often called. Taking some time for yourself wouldn’t muzzle you, and might be helpful.
I read somewhere, some souce like the NYT, that historians of science and engineering have noted that it takes about 50 years for any civilization to radically change from one major technology to another. If this is true, then it will be a stretch for the world to completely move off of fossil fuels by 2050.
Also, what the IPCC reported last fall, was according to their newest work, we have about 10 years to really change direction, and make dramatic progress. I don’t think they thought in ten years we could get to zero emissions, so they put in a more realitic goal.

Carbon pollution would have to be cut by 45% by 2030 – compared with a 20% cut under the 2C pathway – and come down to zero by 2050, compared with 2075 for 2C. This would require carbon prices that are three to four times higher than for a 2C target. But the costs of doing nothing would be far higher.

see the source article in my next post.

Opinion | Senate Republicans Are Bathed in Shame – By Frank Bruni – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Illustration by Ben Wiseman; Photograph by Drew Angerer/Getty Image

“The impeachment trial of Donald John Trump began on Thursday when John Roberts, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, directed all of the senators to stand and raise their right hands. Ever since I can’t get two questions out of my head.

The first: How in God’s name — and it was in God’s name — can the Republicans who have already decided to acquit President Trump take a solemn oath to administer “impartial justice”? They’re partial to the core, unabashedly so, as their united march toward a foregone conclusion shows. A mind-meld this ironclad isn’t a reflection of facts. It’s a triumph of factionalism.

The majority of the party’s senators have said outright or clearly signaled that they have no intention of finding the president guilty and removing him from office. Yapping lap dogs like Lindsey Graham and obedient manservants like Mitch McConnell have gone further, mocking the whole impeachment process.

So the oath they took: How does that work? Did they cross the fingers on their left hands? Do they reason that American politics has reached a nadir of such fundamental hypocrisy and overweening partisanship that no one regards that pledge as anything but window dressing?”

Opinion | Nobody Cared When Nashville Drowned – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Larry McCormack/The Tennessean, via Frist Art Museum

“NASHVILLE — On the Saturday I had set aside to visit a new exhibit at the Frist Art Museum, it rained so hard I was afraid to leave the house. Nashville was built on the Cumberland River, and even those of us who live far from its banks are invariably a stone’s throw from at least one creek that drains into the great Cumberland or one of its tributaries. A deluge falling on saturated soil will flood the creeks and leave water pooling on low-lying roads. “Turn Around Don’t Drown” is a truism I conscientiously heed.

The exhibit I planned to visit that day, ironically enough, was a retrospective of the devastating 2010 flood that dropped more than 13 inches of rain on this area in 36 hours — obliterating, twice over, the previous two-day rainfall record. The Cumberland River crested more than 11 feet above flood level, leaving 10,000 people displaced in the region and 26 others dead, including an elderly couple who drowned when their car was swept off the road not far from my house.

Area landmarks were shut down for months. Opry Mills, a massive mall on the banks of the Cumberland, was closed for nearly two years. Nearby, the Opryland Resort & Convention Center had to evacuate 1,500 hotel guests, and the first floor of the Grand Ole Opry House itself was completely submerged. Twenty-four feet of water entered the Schermerhorn, Nashville’s transcendently beautiful symphony hall, where the losses included two Steinway concert grand pianos. Soundcheck, a sprawling rehearsal and equipment-storage facility in East Nashville, took a nearly fatal blow, with millions of dollars of instruments — belonging to both session musicians and industry superstars — lost to the water. It all felt almost personal: What would Music City be without the music?”

Opinion | Why Questions on Women Candidates Strike a Nerve – by Michelle Cottle – The New York Times

 

“. . . . Such biases can provoke a visceral response, noted Peter Beinart, a professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York, in a 2016 piece for The Atlantic. Among other studies, he cited a 2010 paper by two Yale researchers who found that “people’s views of a fictional male state senator did not change when they were told he was ambitious. When told that a fictional female state senator was ambitious, however, men and women alike ‘experienced feelings of moral outrage,’ such as contempt, anger, and disgust.”

Contempt. Anger. Disgust. That’s hardly the basis for a level playing field.

Polling doesn’t much clarify the matter. While most Americans claim they are ready for a woman president, far fewer see other people as quite so open to the possibility. A September poll by Lean In, a women’s advocacy group, found that while 53 percent of voters considered themselves “extremely” or “very ready” for a woman president, only 16 percent thought most Americans felt the same.

A poll conducted in June by Ipsos for The Daily Beast found that 74 percent of independents and Democrats said they were personally comfortable with a woman president, but only 33 percent thought the same of their neighbors. (A full 20 percent of Independent and Democratic men agreed that “women are less effective in politics than men.”) An August survey by Ipsos and USA Today found that only 44 percent of likely Democratic primary voters thought their neighbors would be comfortable with a woman president.

This goes beyond the time-honored dodge of: I’m not sexist/racist/homophobic, but I’m not so sure about my neighbors. “If voters don’t think that America is ready, they tend to be less likely to vote for a woman themselves,” the chief executive of Lean In, Rachel Thomas, told ABC News.”

Amen, Thank you Michelle Cottle. Here is one of the top comments at the NYT I endorsed:

Teddi
Oregon
Times Pick

I am a 68 year old woman who has worked on women’s issues for 50 years. It is not anti-women for someone not to believe a woman can win the Presidency. Many people don’t think it is possible. I think many women don’t think it is possible. That doesn’t mean they don’t want it to happen. I believe that there was a misunderstanding in the conversation that Warren and Sanders had. If I had to choose sides I would think that Sanders is correct. The bigger point to me is, if Sanders had made the statement, why make such a big issue out of someone’s honest opinion? Why attack a fellow Democrat? As a feminist I do not require everyone to believe a woman could win a Presidential election in the United States at this time. I do draw the line at opposing a woman as President. That is a different matter.

12 Replies287 Recommended

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Opinion | Trump’s Code of Dishonor – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Gregory Bull/Associated Press

“Iran’s Qassim Suleimani was an engine of mayhem in the Middle East. His business model was to go to Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq and recruit Arab Shiites to kill Arab Sunnis (and Americans and Israelis) and to create pro-Iranian statelets inside Iran’s Arab neighbors to weaken them from the inside. I followed this man closely. No one should mourn his passing.

So why do I still question the wisdom of his assassination? Because it was done without a clear strategic or moral framework. And the biggest lesson I learned from covering the U.S. interventions in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan is: When administrations are not constantly forced to answer hard questions from the outside about what they’re thinking strategically and morally — when questioners are dismissed as unpatriotic — that administrations’ inside thinking gets sloppy, their intelligence gets manipulated and trouble follows.

Never assume that people who are in charge know what they are doing just because they are in charge.

What is President Trump’s strategic framework? One day, without any consultation with allies or our commanders, he ordered U.S. troops out of Syria, where they were serving as a critical block on Iran’s ability to build a land bridge to Lebanon and were a key source of intelligence. In the process, he abandoned our most important allies in fighting ISIS: the Syrian Kurds, who were also creating an island of decency in their region, where islands of decency are the most we can hope for.

And then, a few weeks later, Trump ordered the killing of Suleimani, an action that required him to shift more troops into the region and tell Iraqis that we’re not leaving their territory, even though their Parliament voted to evict us. It also prompted Iran to restart its nuclear weapons program, which could well necessitate U.S. military action.”

Opinion | Elizabeth Warren Is the Democrats’ Unity Candidate – By Michelle Goldberg – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Nick Oxford for The New York Times

“Over the weekend, a minor conflict broke out between the presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, longtime friends who have, until now, seemed to operate under an unspoken nonaggression pact.

It started when Politico reported on a script that Sanders volunteers had been given to persuade voters leaning toward other candidates. Warren backers, the script said, are “highly educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what” and that she’s “bringing no new bases into the Democratic Party.”

Attacking another candidate’s supporters rather than her record is kind of obnoxious, but as far as political combat goes, it was pretty mild. The reason it caused a small uproar is that in much of the Democratic Party, there’s tremendous resentment of Sanders left over from 2016. Many believe he weakened Hillary Clinton by dragging out the primary — at one point even threatening a contested convention — and then only halfheartedly rallying his fans behind her when it was over. Warren alluded to this anger in a fund-raising email keyed to the Politico article that said, “We can’t afford to repeat the factionalism of the 2016 primary.” “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
So much misguided, uniformed, optimism. I don’t argue about Elizabeths outstanding qualities, you are all right about that. But she is not, and will not, be my candidate, when she loses the polls by Nate Cohn etc, as described by David Leonhardt, in the swing states that supported Trump.
The polls of the places that should matter to the most of us, in the 6 red swing states that handed Trump the electoral colllege over the extraodinairy Hillary Clinton, when last reviewed, showed that Joe Biden beats Trump there, and Warren doesn’t.
(David blogs at InconvenientNews.net.)

Opinion | Trump’s Plot Against Health Care Continues – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Erik S Lesser/E.P.A., via Shutterstock

“Make no mistake: Health care will be on the ballot this November. But not in the way ardent progressives imagine.

Democrats running for president have spent a lot of time debating so-called Medicare for all, with some supporters of Bernie Sanders claiming that any politician who doesn’t demand immediate implementation of single-payer health care is a corporate tool, or something. But the reality is that whatever its merits, universal, government-provided health insurance isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

I say this because even if Democrats take the Senate in addition to the White House, the votes for eliminating private health insurance won’t be there; nor will the kind of overwhelming public support that might change that calculus. In practice, any of the Democratic candidates — even Sanders — will, if victorious, end up building on and improving Obamacare.

On the other hand, if Donald Trump wins, he will probably find a way to kill Obamacare, and tens of millions of Americans will lose health coverage.”

BlackRock C.E.O. Larry Fink: Climate Crisis Will Reshape Finance – By Andrew Ross Sorkin – The New York Times

“Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of BlackRock, announced Tuesday that his firm would make investment decisions with environmental sustainability as a core goal.

BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with nearly $7 trillion in investments, and this move will fundamentally shift its investing policy — and could reshape how corporate America does business and put pressure on other large money managers to follow suit.

Mr. Fink’s annual letter to the chief executives of the world’s largest companies is closely watched, and in the 2020 edition he said BlackRock would begin to exit certain investments that “present a high sustainability-related risk,” such as those in coal producers. His intent is to encourage every company, not just energy firms, to rethink their carbon footprints.

“Awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance,” Mr. Fink wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. “The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance.” “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

An open letter to the NYT. This piece about Blackrock moving sustainability to central to its investing decisions is significant and exciting, but I would like the Times to do a major story on whether or not those investors with stock in fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil should divest or remain as shareholders, if they want such companies to change direction and move rapidly away from fossil fuel extraction.

Many of my environmental friends think divestment is the only solution. I do not. I feel like environmentalists have more influence as an insiders and complainers and voters for change. I would love to hear what famous economists and financial experts think on this difficult subject.

Sincerely,
David Lindsay
Hamden CT.

Opinion | Trump Has Made Us All Stupid – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Eric Thayer for The New York Times

“Donald Trump is impulse-driven, ignorant, narcissistic and intellectually dishonest. So you’d think that those of us in the anti-Trump camp would go out of our way to show we’re not like him — that we are judicious, informed, mature and reasonable.

But the events of the past week have shown that the anti-Trump echo chamber is becoming a mirror image of Trump himself — overwrought, uncalibrated and incapable of having an intelligent conversation about any complex policy problem.

For example, there’s a complex policy problem at the heart of this week’s Iran episode. Iran is not powerful because it has a strong economy or military. It is powerful because it sponsors militias across the Middle East, destabilizing regimes and spreading genocide and sectarian cleansing. Over the past few years those militias, orchestrated by Qassim Suleimani, have felt free to operate more in the open with greater destructive effect.

We’re not going to go in and destroy the militias. So how can we keep them in check so they don’t destabilize the region? That’s the hard problem — one that stymied past administrations.

The attack is a way to seize control of the escalation process and set a boundary marker.”    DL: Please finish the article, it gets better. Did you know that the CIA decided that the rewards outwayed the risks, and supported the assassignation?

Opinion | Australia Shows Us the Road to Hell – By Paul Krugman- The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

“In a rational world, the burning of Australia would be a historical turning point. After all, it’s exactly the kind of catastrophe climate scientists long warned us to expect if we didn’t take action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, a 2008 report commissioned by the Australian government predicted that global warming would cause the nation’s fire seasons to begin earlier, end later, and be more intense — starting around 2020.

Furthermore, though it may seem callous to say it, this disaster is unusually photogenic. You don’t need to pore over charts and statistical tables; this is a horror story told by walls of fire and terrified refugees huddled on beaches.

So this should be the moment when governments finally began urgent efforts to stave off climate catastrophe.

But the world isn’t rational. In fact, Australia’s anti-environmentalist government seems utterly unmoved as the nightmares of environmentalists become reality. And the anti-environmentalist media, the Murdoch empire in particular, has gone all-out on disinformation, trying to place the blame on arsonists and “greenies” who won’t let fire services get rid of enough trees.

These political reactions are more terrifying than the fires themselves.”

“. . . . .  The answer, pretty clearly, is that scientific persuasion is running into sharply diminishing returns. Very few of the people still denying the reality of climate change or at least opposing doing anything about it will be moved by further accumulation of evidence, or even by a proliferation of new disasters. Any action that does take place will have to do so in the face of intractable right-wing opposition.

This means, in turn, that climate action will have to offer immediate benefits to large numbers of voters, because policies that seem to require widespread sacrifice — such as policies that rely mainly on carbon taxes — would be viable only with the kind of political consensus we clearly aren’t going to get.

What might an effective political strategy look like? I’ve been rereading a 2014 speech by the eminent political scientist Robert Keohane, who suggested that one way to get past the political impasse on climate might be via “an emphasis on huge infrastructural projects that created jobs” — in other words, a Green New Deal. Such a strategy could give birth to a “large climate-industrial complex,” which would actually be a good thing in terms of political sustainability.”