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.

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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 | 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.)

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 | My Journey to Radical Environmentalism – By Charles M. Blow – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“I can’t quite remember the moment when I became radicalized about protecting the environment and the planet, but it happened last year. That’s late in life, I know. At 49 years old, it is very possible and even likely that I have more years behind me than in front of me, but that is when it happened.

Before that, I didn’t do more than was required by law.

I have lived in New York City since 1994. Mandatory recycling was phased in citywide by 1997. So, I recycled what was required.

Five years ago, when my last two children went away to college, I got rid of my car, but not for environmental reasons. I just didn’t need it anymore, and it was expensive to maintain.

But something happened to me last year.

Maybe it was Greta Thunberg’s advocacy, and hearing her impassioned United Nations speech in which she blasted world leaders, saying:

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying; entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” “

David Lindsay: I read this piece with delight. I wrote a comment that started: Welcome Charles Blow, welcome.

Here are the two most liked comments I approved:

Daniel Smith
Leverett, MA
Times Pick

I’m very glad to see that Charles Blow, someone I respect a great deal, has discovered the environment. But the environmentalism he describes is in no way radical. It is not radical in the popular sense of embracing major change and it is not radical in the classical sense of going to the roots of a problem. (On both of those counts, a good example of radical environmentalism would be the Green New Deal, which is notably absent here.) We are not going to be saved by changing individual consumption or by proselytizing–this has been the mantra for decades and it has failed miserably–but only by organized and massive political activism that changes the way our society as a whole governs itself. The problem is systemic and social, and the solution must occur at that level also. This is certainly Greta Thunberg’s message, and also the message of virtually every expert you can find on social change and social movements. So I hope Charles will keep us posted (and soon!) on how his environmentalism evolves in a truly radical dimension.

7 Replies380 Recommended

John Williams commented January 8

John Williams
Petrolia, CA

“I think that the only way to prevent the radical alteration of our planet is to commit to a radical alteration of our own behavior.” Yup, that’s what the Green New Deal is about. As an old man who learned the basic physics of global warming i 1970, and who watched economic inequality grow obscenely over the second half of his life, I say it is about time.

5 Replies331 Recommended

Opinion | We Can’t Afford Trump as Our Commander in Chief – By Frank Bruni – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“We choose our presidents in happy times and sad, amid bull and bear markets, when we’re trying to conserve what is and when we’re itching to discover what might be.

We should always choose them as if we’re on the brink of war, because it’s impossible to predict when we’ll find ourselves there, in petrified need of a strong, stable leader we can trust.

Donald Trump was chosen in a fit of long-building and largely warranted cynicism, as a gamble and protest. He hadn’t demonstrated any particular strength, only that he could perform a peculiar burlesque of it. He showed zilch in the way of honor, but had a genius for stoking doubts that it still existed in politics at all. His supporters thrilled to a pledge of disruption, not a promise of safe harbor.

And here we are, with an inexperienced, impulsive and perpetually aggrieved commander in chief precisely when we can’t afford one.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Times Comment:
“We choose our presidents in happy times and sad, amid bull and bear markets, when we’re trying to conserve what is and when we’re itching to discover what might be. We should always choose them as if we’re on the brink of war, because it’s impossible to predict when we’ll find ourselves there, in petrified need of a strong, stable leader we can trust.” This is an amazingly excellent op-ed by Frank Bruni. If I could write like he does, I wouldn’t be the doorman at the hotel he stays in when visiting New York. There is an articulate zinger in almost every other paragraph, such as Nixon’s idea, that it is good for our defense to appear to have a reckless madman at the helm.
David is the author of The Tay Son Rebellion, and blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Opinion | The Odd Couples of the Democratic Party – Bret and Gail, at The New York Times

“Bret: Rest assured that no matter what happens this year, the Knicks will embarrass us. The key for Democrats isn’t so much to take a position on Suleimani as it is to convey a sense of sobriety when it comes to questions of peace and war.

Gail: Well, that’s certainly fair. And not too tough. If you look at the contenders, they’re not exactly a bunch of what-the-heck-let’s-party people.

Bret: If I wanted the Democratic nomination (I don’t!), or were a Democrat (I’m not!), I’d say something along these lines: “Suleimani killed Americans, and on my watch anyone who kills Americans is a dead man walking. Period. But the goal of saving American lives requires prudence and vision, not bravado, impulse and political calculation. As president, I will oppose Iran’s dangerous behavior at every turn, whether against us or our allies. But I’m not going to hazard our position in the region, or risk a reckless war, or ruin the chances for a negotiated nuclear deal, just to kill one evil but easily replaceable man. And, unlike Trump, I’m going to listen closely to my soldiers and diplomats before I go around signing kill orders just because I like feeling tough.”

Gail: I would definitely vote for you, if you’d just consider embracing “Medicare for all” and a tax hike for the wealthy.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Lovely column, makes for pleasant reading. The best part for me was when Bret pointed out that killing Suliemani wasn’t as important as returning to the Iran Nuclear deal that Trump pulled out of, and which caused the Iranians to start shooting at us again. From the Iranian government point of view, the US is the biggest terrorist in the middle east.
My current choice for the Democrats is Biden/Buttigieg. These are all excellent people, miles above Drumpf the con, but all these musing will need to be reassessed by new swing state polling. Warren/Klobushar would be a fantastic ticket, if we could do away with the electoral college before the next election.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Opinion | American Foreign Policy Is Broken. Suleimani’s Killing Proves It. – By Jonathan Stevenson – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Stevenson is a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

“The targeted killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani and four others in a precision strike by an MQ-9 Reaper drone at Baghdad International Airport was an impressive display of American military prowess. And it liquidated a destabilizing figure: The general was the commander of the Quds Force, which is responsible for Iran’s covert and extraterritorial military operations. In the scheme of things, he had it coming. Yet killing him made little strategic sense for the United States. In some ways, the most significant thing about his death is what it shows about the breakdown of American foreign policymaking.

President Trump ordered the strike directly, prompted by the death of an American contractor on Dec. 27 in a rocket attack by Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-sponsored Iraqi Shia militia. Mr. Trump did not bother to consult congressional leaders. As with his other displays of martial fiat, his immediate impulse was probably to shock the liberal domestic audience, vicariously make himself feel tough, and assert raw executive power by going around the normal channels of decision making.

Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had considered taking out General Suleimani but rejected it — not for lack of nerve, but for fear of undue escalation and an unnecessary war with Iran. The fundamental facts on the ground have not changed, and in the kind of robust interagency, national security decision-making process that the National Security Council staff is supposed to supervise, such concerns would have been systematically raised, dissected and discussed, and a consensus reached to inform presidential action. No such process seems to have occurred here.

The Pentagon has claimed, facilely, that General Suleimani was hit because the Revolutionary Guard was planning attacks on American targets in the region. But in a proper interagency review, the intelligence community could have pointed out that “decapitation” is a patently unreliable means of pre-emption — particularly when the organization in question is the Revolutionary Guard, an integral part of a well-honed security state with considerable depth of command talent.”

David Lindsay:

This is possibly the best of three very good pieces on Qassim Suleimani’s Killing from the NYT which I have posted at my blog InconvenientNews.net
After the first piece, by Thomas Friedman, I wrote an ugly comment, wondering if Trump is trying to help the Russians, since he is certainly weakening the US. The comments section of each op-ed offers more darkness and sadness. One of the most salient issues, is that Iran was off to making peace with the US, until Trump walked away from the denuclearization deal, and started raising old and new sanctions. Suleimani was our ally against ISIS, and only turned his forces against us after we pulled out of the denuclearization deal and reimposed sanctions.

Opinion | Trump Kills Iran’s Most Overrated Warrior – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

A portrait of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani carried during a demonstration in Baghdad in 2015.
Credit…Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

“One day they may name a street after President Trump in Tehran. Why? Because Trump just ordered the assassination of possibly the dumbest man in Iran and the most overrated strategist in the Middle East: Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

Think of the miscalculations this guy made. In 2015, the United States and the major European powers agreed to lift virtually all their sanctions on Iran, many dating back to 1979, in return for Iran halting its nuclear weapons program for a mere 15 years, but still maintaining the right to have a peaceful nuclear program. It was a great deal for Iran. Its economy grew by over 12 percent the next year. And what did Suleimani do with that windfall?

He and Iran’s supreme leader launched an aggressive regional imperial project that made Iran and its proxies the de facto controlling power in Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Sana. This freaked out U.S. allies in the Sunni Arab world and Israel — and they pressed the Trump administration to respond. Trump himself was eager to tear up any treaty forged by President Obama, so he exited the nuclear deal and imposed oil sanctions on Iran that have now shrunk the Iranian economy by almost 10 percent and sent unemployment over 16 percent.”

David Lindsay:

Ouch. I want to support this assassination, because that would be easy. But if Suleimani was so dumb, and so bad for Iran, why did we turn him into a gigantic martyr?  Why didn’t the Israelis, who had penetrated his organization, take him out?  The awful probable truth, is that Trump is in trouble and he needs a war. The Ayatollah of Iran is in trouble, and he needs a war. Why, with so many issues and questions, did the Pentagon go along with the orange orangutan who is president, and who continually serves the interests of Putin and the Russians? Did any of you reading this, see the exposé in the NYT the other day, about how the Russians and Syrian air force are bombing hospitals and schools in northern Syria? They are bombing our allies, whom we fought with and for. Perhaps the best question, is, why did Putin want this to happen? It will probably go very badly for the United States.

Opinion | A New Year’s Climate Diet – By Paul Greenberg – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Greenberg is the author of “The Omega Principle: Seafood and the Quest for a Long Life and a Healthier Planet.”

Credit…Adam McCauley

“Most diets fail. They fail mostly because after a period of bingeing (for example, New Year’s Eve) we set unrealistic goals for reforming our bad ways. In time, self-control breaks down and we hunger to throw open the cupboards and binge again.

The same is true of the American carbon diet. After a period of bingeing (say, the last century), the United States is per capita the most prodigious emitter of carbon dioxide among the world’s top 10 economies. The average American generated around 15 metric tons of carbon per year in 2016, according to the International Energy Agency, using what it says is the most recent data available. Svelte France, by comparison, weighed in at 4.5 tons per capita, while Indians put out just 1.6 tons each.

To bring the planet to climate equilibrium would require a global per capita goal that falls halfway between France’s and India’s outputs, three metric tons, by 2050, according to a United Nations report from 2011. All of this may make the conscientious American want to drive the family S.U.V. into the nearest body of water and subsist on locally grown radishes. But I am fairly certain that as with food regimens, an extreme carbon diet will falter, and practitioners will soon retrieve their S.U.V.s and cheat so often with hamburgers that those local radishes will molder in the vegetable crisper.

But some diets do work. They tend to be modest in their goals, incorporating minor changes over long periods. That we need to transform the roots of our economy is unquestionable and something that must be fought for with intense social and political commitment.”

David Lindsay: I find this article useful, informative and challenging. I’m not sure the writer is corect about divestment being a simple cure all. That subject will require serious study and debate. It might be best for environmentalist to own oil and gas stock, and vote their shares for changes in corporate strategy.

Opinion | The Legacy of Destructive Austerity – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Gregory Bull/Associated Press

“A decade ago, the world was living in the aftermath of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Financial markets had stabilized, but the real economy was still in terrible shape, with around 40 million European and North American workers unemployed.

Fortunately, economists had learned a lot from the experience of the Great Depression. In particular, they knew that fiscal austerity — slashing government spending in an attempt to balance the budget — is a really bad idea in a depressed economy.

Unfortunately, policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic spent the first half of the 2010s doing exactly what both theory and history told them not to do. And this wrong turn on policy cast a long shadow, economically and politically. In particular, the deficit obsession of 2010-2015 helped set the stage for the current crisis of democracy.

Why is austerity in a depressed economy a bad idea? Because an economy is not like a household, whose income and spending are separate things. In the economy as a whole, my spending is your income and your spending is my income.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment
Thank you Paul Krugman, this is so correct, if tragic. It is because of your ability to bring such analysis to bear on the confusing issues of our era, that I created a catelogue for you at my blog, InconvenientNews.net called:
Paul Krugman: the Oracle from MIT, Yale, Stamford, Princeton & CUNY.
I remember when you begged Barak Obama and his administration to double their stimulus spending, from about .8 to 2 trillion.You wrote that the depression was so great, that it would take a big stimulus to get the leviathan ship of state moving again in the water. If they had taken your advice then, we might never have suffered the world set back of Trump’s immature, self-centered and corrupt excuse for world leadership.