Be Moved

If you build it, will they take them? Trains, that is, super, high-speed and just regular intra-city transit. And Buses. Buses! But before even the lowest-frills fancy stuff, fix the bridges:

Most, if not all, Americans support the idea that bridges shouldn’t collapse as you drive over them, yet there are 44,741 bridges in the United States that are rated “poor” by the Federal Highway Administration. Nearly 45,000! That’s out of about 616,000, meaning that about 1 in 14 bridges indexed in the United States receive the government’s lowest rating.
But wait! It gets worse. The three ratings used — good, fair, poor — are simply reflections of the lowest rating a bridge gets on the condition of its deck, superstructure or substructure. (If you think of a standard highway bridge, the deck is what you drive on, the superstructure is what supports the deck and the substructure is what holds up the rest of it.) Those values are assessed on a zero-to-nine scale, with the average score for all three components being about 6.5 nationally.

There’s handy searchable map at that link where you can see the bridges in your area that need maintenance. Yikes! There‘s a are multiple tons of them.

It’s also important that the Biden Infrastructure bill includes, among many other things, no money for expanding roads. Stop expanding already uncross-able roads and intersections. The BIKE is the answer, not the ambulance. This is one of the subtle keys to the shift in transit. And I’ve written previously about taking Amtrak below Richmond, VA. The trains themselves are very dated, but it’s the rickety tracks beneath them that feel like such a hazard. It’s a disgrace, and like the state of the postal system, it’s decline by design. It’s been left in purposeful, deliberate disrepair.

So there’s plenty to fix, and feel good about while we’re doing it. Not feel triumphant – it’s not necessary. Just responsible for taking care of our sh*t and making it useful. Buy yourself a nice pen with what’s left over and write someone a letter. You might get one back. Write the next one on the train. Feel romantic, be moved.

Disastrophe

When I started writing this blog back in 2008, it included no small measure of wise-acre impatience with how green sustainability was quickly becoming just another fashion in marketing trend. Sure, ‘sustainable’ is an unimaginably low bar, but it had a kind of odd staying power – people though they understood it, even if they ignored it. Maybe it allowed them to ignore the greater crisis, so thoroughly did it couch the entire concept in ‘meh’. Why be alarmed? You/they didn’t come up with an alarming word. Sustainable. It seemed to infer, ‘We’ve got plenty of time.’
Well, now that the alarm has taken the shape of an iridescent human, it has brought with it a slew of other factors that must be ignored first, before we get back to ignoring the great existential thing we’ve been trying to ignore all along. Excusing and thus normalizing racism, sexism, homophobia, classicism, fascism and treason have now re-presented as the ante quod nihil of dealing with any of this planetary crisis business.

Remember, Tking-tides-globeides,
global warming is a hoax.
Exemplary measures,
equaling at most
a dollop
of time. Before we wade and watch.
Instead of just watch.

Categorical Dissonance

hwy-80Not a Can’t be sure it’s not a GBV song but, one of the most visible business news outlets tisk-tisks environmental groups in Washington State opposing the upcoming carbon tax ballot initiative,

Those groups haven’t put their own proposal on the ballot, so they’re saying it’s better to do nothing than vote for Initiative 732. This position is absurd. Curbing carbon emissions is, or ought to be, the primary goal, and the plan would do that. In addition, it’s an opportunity to prove the viability of the carbon-tax approach and set a valuable example for the rest of the country.

While climate change goes all but unmentioned at all three four presidential debates

But none of the moderators asked about global warming at all. Not in the first presidential debate. Not in the vice presidential debate. Not in the second presidential debate.* Not in the third presidential debate. Hillary Clinton name-checked the topic, occasionally, but that was it. Humanity is departing from the stable climatic conditions that allowed civilization to thrive, yet the most powerful nation on Earth can’t set aside five minutes to discuss.

It’s possible the debate moderators don’t understand what’s at stake. It’s possible they don’t care. Or it’s possible they’re afraid that any question on the topic might seem too partisan. After all, Clinton thinks the issue is pretty serious and has a bunch of proposals around it, whereas Trump says it’s all a hoax invented by the Chinese. Under the circumstances, even a halfway intelligent question about climate policy would sound “biased.”

Here we go, looking for validation from the business press – even the single-bottom line thinkers are acknowledging reality, but it’s still okay not to ask prospective leaders anything related, for fear of seeming partisan simply because they still claim not to believe it’s a real thing. The folks on Tybee will be relieved to know.
Image: Weather.com photo of Hwy 80 to Tybee Island, Georgia

What Does GreenLand Mean?

greenland_guardianRapid ice melts and calving glaciers are resulting in a dark snow phenomenon in Greenland. Look at these images in the Guardian and tell yourself over and over again that nothing is happening:

For most of us, science is an abstract subject but aerial photography is a powerful tool to translate what environmental science is telling us. It brings a different perspective to environmental problems. You can be very clear or very abstract to make images that are inspiring and beautiful, images don’t have to be read straight ahead. It’s sort of like teasing the viewer … to find clues in the image,’ say [photographer Daniel]Beltrá

In another coincidence I just noticed, this is the 1,001st post on the site.

No So Gently Lapping at Your Chamber Door

The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2014 was the highest among all years since record keeping began in 1880. The December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was also the highest on record.

And:

The acceleration of the rate of sea level rise over the past couple decades is even higher than scientists had thought, according to a new study that uses a novel method to estimate the global rise of the oceans.

The reason? The rate of rise across the 20th century has actually been overestimated — by as much as 30 percent — meaning there’s been a bigger jump in sea level rise rates from the beginning of the 1900s to now than previously thought.

But you know what? VousetesCharlieSelmaGotRobbedAllCountryMusicSoundsTheSameAmericaDoesn’tTortureElCapitanBokoHaramDukeSCOTUSIslam Gas prices are down.

It’s… It’s…

bus_week

Via DL, on fB, Bloomberg looks downtown:

Climate deniers exploit scientific complexity to avoid any discussion at all.

Clarity, however, is not beyond reach. Hurricane Sandy demands it: At least 40 U.S. deaths. Economic losses expected to climb as high as $50 billion. Eight million homes without power. Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated. More than 15,000 flights grounded. Factories, stores, and hospitals shut. Lower Manhattan dark, silent, and underwater.

Misogyny for the Planet

When Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock talks about rape and what God intends, is there any difference between that and rationale claimed by those who deny global warming? Aren’t the Kochs and BPs of the world spreading doubt about the effects of their/our actions on the planet as a way of justifying our/their right to pollute? After all, they don’t dispute global warming with science, but with ideology.

Another example is when Mr. Phillips discusses his take-no-prisoners strategy on Republicans who stray from the fold by talking about alternative energy sources.

Mr. Hockenberry: You said “We’ve made great headway.” What it means for candidates in the Republican side is, if you buy into green energy or you play footsie on this issue, you do so at your political peril?

Mr. Phillips: You do. Absolutely. And that’s the big change, and it is important. Again, I remember four, five or even three years ago, John, a lot of Republicans, they would play games with this. They’d say: “O.K., oh gosh, I think I need a green energy agenda. But I won’t go all the way and support cap and trade.” They did. They tried to walk down the middle. And that’s wrong. I think it’s philosophically inconsistent, but it’s also politically disadvantageous. And we’ve worked hard to make that so, by the way.

Legitimate rape? There is a very direct link between overt religiosity and not worrying when bad things happen to people or planet (though interestingly, the fate of profits are exempted from this formulation: evil visited upon profits is somehow the fault of government or other secular forces, by definition against God and thereby completing the circle) because it is somehow ordained by God. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be happening. You’ve got your Ipso in my facto. That is how they are defining their own logic. The consistency is startling.

That Sound You Hear, part MCMXLV

biff-21

This is, just, hilarious. If you think dumb is funny.

The cover story of this week’s National Journal takes a deeper dive into a question we’ve explored before: What happened to the Republican consensus on climate change?

Three years ago, prominent Republicans including Mitt RomneyNewt Gingrich, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Tim Pawlenty, and Sarah Palin all expressed belief in human-caused climate change. Several even voiced strong support for policies to cap and reduce carbon pollution. Today, all six of these leaders have joined the rest of the Republican Party in a sudden and near-unified retreat to silence or denial.

When contacted by the National Journal, only 65 out of all 289 GOP lawmakers in Congress would agree to be interviewed on the topic. Of those interviewed, only 19 said they believed that human activities are at least partly responsible for climate change. Of the 19, only five (or fewer than 2 percent of GOP lawmakers) attributed a “significant amount” of climate change to human activity.

So, what happened?

It’s not the science that has changed — it’s only gotten stronger. As Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the National Research Council, said: The level of scientific certainty that human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change is comparable to the strength of our understanding that vaccines prevent measles and polio.

They don’t deserve to lead a line to the port-o-let.

Ignore This

Don’t even think about the fact that 2010 saw the largest spike in global warming gases in 50 million years:

Harmful carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels made their biggest ever annual jump in 2010, according to the US Department of Energy’s latest world data released this week.

China led the way with a spike of 212 million metric tons of carbon in 2010 over 2009, compared to 59 million metric tons more from the United States and 48 million metric tons more from India in the same period.

“It’s big,” Tom Boden, director of the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center Environmental Sciences Division at the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, told AFP in an interview.

“Our data go back to 1751, even before the Industrial Revolution. Never before have we seen a 500-million-metric-ton carbon increase in a single year,” he said.

Mm Hmm. So there’s at least two levels here: what you are doing personally to address this fact (it counts) plus what are the useless politicians who represent you doing. Unless I’m mistaken (and/or you’re reading this from another country), that’s two levels of apathy. Blaming China and India isn’t going to do anything about your commute, your inefficient house, the amount of waste you generate. Find some place that seems just beyond manageable and start there. At first, it seems true; you can’t do anything. Until you start doing something, even a little, and wanting to do more. Nothing to gain but a little superiority and the transferable right to bitch.

via Juan Cole.