Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The California Green and Gold Deal: What a plan for climate change looks like as it's implemented.

Here is a page with links to the extensive details of The California Green and Gold Deal. It should be informative for anyone who is curious about what over a decade of work on an integrated plan addressing climate change by numerous officials under the leadership of two California Governors, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, looks like.

If you research all the elements you'll learn that everything from the successful cap-and-trade program to the requirement that new homes be built with solar panels each required months, even years, to gain approval. And then implementation presents the real challenges.

And this was in a state where the Legislature was controlled by Democrats who acknowledged the threat of Climate Change. But it is getting done in California which is good because we have the worlds 5th largest economy.

For nearly two decades we used to have annual meetings in Marin County where folks talked about what a "Green New Deal" required. We can't use that name any more. Folks east of us when using that name just couldn't resist filling their already polluted air with hostile talk about 19th Century economic ideology instead of the slowly expanding Climate Change Black Death.

An Integrated Plan for Addressing Climate Change
Vision

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
to 40% Below 1990 levels by 2030
Goals

Increase to 50% Renewable Electricity Production

Reduce Petroleum Use by 50% in Vehicles

Double Existing Building Energy Efficiency Savings

Reduce Lands GHG Emissions

Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

Safeguard California

Monday, February 18, 2019

Old California Progressives sense déjà vu when looking at the Newsom Era despite the need to secure states' rights because of Trump's America


Is it déjà vu when California's political scene seems to look like it did six decades ago?

I am a native Californian who came of age when Pat Brown (Jerry's dad) was Governor. His term started in 1959, 60 years ago.

In 1960 Brown signed the California Master Plan for Higher Education defining the roles of the University of California, the California State University, and California Community College systems, and providing tuition-free higher education for California students. In his second term he signed into law the Rumford Fair Housing Act, which provided that landlords could not deny people housing because of ethnicity, religion, sex, marital status, physical handicap, or familial status. He advocated gun control and proposed that the death penalty be abolished.

His infrastructure projects are considered key to creating California's long-term economic strength:
  • aqueducts, canals, and pump stations established new fertile lands in the Central Valley; and
  • four new Universities of California, and seven new California State Universities were built, making the Master Plan's education system the largest in the world.
But he was blamed for the civil disorders of the Watts riots and the early anti–Vietnam War demonstrations at U.C. Berkeley, resulting in the loss of his 1966 election bid for a third term to Ronald Reagan.

Among other "conservative" policy changes, Neoliberal Reagan restored student tuition to attend state colleges. But nonetheless, Reagan signed the groundbreaking 1967 Therapeutic Abortion Act and the 1970 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

That is the Progressive California I knew. It is part of the Progressive Pacific advocated here. And despite the fact that over that 60 years not every day has been a win for Progressives, today we have a 21st Century version of that Progressive California.

At this time, our Legislature is made up as follows:
  • State Assembly membership : Democratic 61 (76.25%), Republican 19 (23.75%)
  • State Senate membership: Democratic 28 (70.00%), Republican 10 (25.00%), Vacant 2, (5.00%)
All of our statewide elected officials are the Democrats and the Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and Republican Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives are from California, all as indicated in the chart below:



California has the world's fifth largest economy and is the world's 36th largest country. Well...it isn't actually a country, but it sure feels like it right now. This is because we are forced to advance a version of states' rights.

California, the home of Silicon Valley, because of the Republican Congress refusal to regulate corporations in June of 2018 found it necessary to adopt the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) which affords California residents an array of new rights, starting with the right to be informed about what kinds of personal data companies have collected and why it was collected.

Among other novel protections, the law stipulates that consumers have the right to request the deletion of personal information, opt out of the sale of personal information, and access the personal information in a “readily useable format” that enables its transfer to third parties without hindrance. It is not as expansive as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, or G.D.P.R.

This issue is extremely important in the 21st Century and California was forced to address the failure of the federal government. But it isn't even the most significant need for California to assert a states' rights agenda.

Trump has challenged California's core identity. California is, and will, fight back. And he and middle America better take a long look at the heritage of our elected officials listed in the chart above.

California officials are directly challenging the Trump Administration's trade, immigration and border policies. As explained in this blog in The Roles of Migration and Spain, not England, in California History and The essential Pacific-centric world view of California's economy and culture California historically was part of New Spain then Mexico and has over 400 years of trade history with Asia.

Simply California does not share an Atlantic European/African perspective with the Eastern United States having had no historical colonial or sovereign ties to Britain or France. California's coastline is on the Pacific Ocean facing China, Korea, Japan, and Siberia. It shares a southern border with Mexico.

On the front page of the Sunday Los Angeles Times, we read that "over the course of his first term, Newsom and state Democrats are expected to refocus attention on what they consider the real issues at the heart of the U.S.-Mexico relationship."(Click on the image to read the article.)

Trump's anti-immigration attitude it is admittedly confusing since Trump's paternal grandparents were German Lutheran immigrants from Bavaria and his mother Mary Anne MacLeod was an immigrant born in Tong, Lewis, Scotland. Further his wife is a Slovenian immigrant Melania Knauss. It is likely that Trump's attitude can be attributed to racist attitudes towards people from other than Northern and Central Europe.

Truthfully, from both a Progressive policy advocacy and a political power standpoint, California is where no other state can be. The Governor and the Legislature are putting together further policy advances in pre-school through community college education, higher education, health care, low-and-moderate income housing, programs for the homeless, and criminal justice reform. The City of Stockton is testing whether a long-term basic income program is a viable approach to lifting residents out of poverty and state officials are discussing the idea of a universal basic income as they watch Stockton's test.

California political leadership is doing all this while recognizing that in the context of the economy when starting at the top there’s nowhere to go but down. Former Gov. Jerry Brown has been preparing for coming economic hard times for years now. By the end of next July, the state is projected to have $13 billion socked away for a rainy day. But most analysts say that cushion will only last a year or two in the face of even a moderate recession.

Recessions tend to have a disproportionate impact on investment returns and 30%± of the state’s discretionary spending comes from the top 1% of earners, the investor class, because its top marginal income tax rate of 12.3% is the highest state income tax rate in the country. That tax rate was approved by the voters in 2012 and in 2016 they extended it through 2030. Governor Newsom and the Legislature are considering policy changes to mediate the greater budgetary risks resulting from sharing the economy's general dependency on this Gilded Age pattern of wealth creation. (See in this blog After the 21st Century Gilded Age economy collapses.)

Climate Change. In her book The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, author Gretchen Bakke notes  (emphasis added):

    Transitioning to sustainability is the big, long-term challenge. But left out of this picture is the fact that for the most part, America does not run on gas, oil, or coal any more than we may one day run on wind, solar, or tidal power. America runs on electricity.

It has been said that no other technical innovation had such a far-reaching impact on modern civilization as the creation of a reliable system of electricity generation and transmission. While certainly it had an impact on living in the 20th Century, the "lifestyle" changes brought on by electronic "devices" in the early 21st Century have locked into our brains (in some cases literally) the need for reliable electricity. 

The problem for California is that the electrical transmission system is literally burning up the state. Recent wildfires have resulted in the deaths of many California senior citizens. Those fires are the result of the impacts of Climate Change.

Climate Change is, of course, the most ominous threat to the future well-being of younger Californians. It is very clear that we residents of the world's fifth largest economy cannot depend upon the United States to address Climate Change because of attitudes dominating politics in the central and southern U.S. populace. Simply we have to pay attention to the oft-repeated advice of Benjamin Franklin, who among the Found Fathers of the United States was the most prominent non-slaveholder, author, political theorist, scientist, and diplomat as well as the founder of Philadelphia's first fire department and the University of Pennsylvania.

On behalf of our children and grandchildren, we must help ourselves. And so we have.

The State is committed to assuring that its massive global climate change agenda succeeds including its commitment to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions to 40% Below 1990 levels by 2030 and implementing it's Safeguarding California Climate Change Adaptation Policy.

California’s cap-and-trade program is one of the strongest market-based mechanisms in the nation to combat climate change. Outgoing Governor Jerry Brown working with Legislative leaders last year extended the state's cap-and-trade program through 2030 with supermajority support that included votes from some Republicans. Incoming Governor Gavin Newsom intends to have California “maintain leadership in this space.”

We will continue to do what we need to do even if that means denying U.S. policy that risks the lives of coming generations. As noted here in the post "Clear waters and green mountains are mountains of gold and silver." Seeking a Beautiful China and California together in harmony for our grandchildren:

    We need to be seeking together in harmony a beautiful China and California with clear waters and green mountains for our grandchildren. Xi and Brown are making the effort. So should all of us.

Redwood trees.    On the American Continent two redwood species were well known
to the Native American tribes living near the Pacific Ocean, including the Yurok people and the Tule River Tribe among others. One other species of redwood lives today, the dawn redwood, native to Lichuan, in southwestern Hubei province of China, an area which was home to sophisticated Neolithic cultures.

In the coming months The Redwood Guardian will continue to advocate for a California that protects the future of all the world's redwood trees and the generations that will live among them, as well as the Gray Whales and other Pacific Ocean species always in danger.

We can only hope that more Americans in other states will grow to understand that the 21st Century already offers new fundamental challenges to how we understand the Earth and humanity, challenges that must be met now.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Has Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez cost us decades of progress on the Green New Deal?


Have we lost decades of work on the Green New Deal?

It was really hopeful to see headlines that Congress might address a "Green New Deal" targeting the 21st Century Climate Change Black Death.

But then immediately came controversy as reported in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s rocky rollout of the Green New Deal, explained.

And now the headline is Mitch McConnell is going to force the Senate to vote on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal for a story that tells us:

    The bill, which is not expected to pass the Republican-dominated upper chamber, could force some Democrats to make a politically awkward calculation.
    ...Only 11 of the 47 senators who caucus with the Democrats have signed on to sponsor the bill
    Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who is widely expected to enter into the 2020 race, has declined to say whether he supports the proposal.
    "I'm not going to take position on every bill that's coming out," he said Tuesday, according to Politico. "I support a Green New Deal. I think we need to aggressively support climate change [legislation]. That's my answer."

The more I see and read, the more obvious it becomes that somehow Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), a freshman member of the House who has gained Trump-like media coverage and like Trump has never held another elected public office, suddenly is the face of a new version of the Green New Deal.

That version is partly the old evolving, climate-focused Green New Deal plan. But it is weighted down with a leftist plans for economics and cultural diversity. And it seems likely that AOC just doesn't understand that 51 U.S. Senators representing 26 states containing only 17.6% of the U.S. population that is 72% non-hispanic white, Senators put into office by less than 8% of eligible American voters, can kill any legislation passed by the House of Representatives. (More on this later.)

The worry is the possible loss of any momentum American Green New Deal advocates have established in the first two decades of the 21st Century. This writer has advocated for strong egalitarian progressive ideas. But the need to immediately address Climate Change outweighs any desire to return to a more equalized economy.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was 14 years old when Kenny Ausubel called for a "Green New Deal" at the 2003 Bioneers environmental conference in Marin County, California. About 3,400 attendees (plus an equal number hooked up in 12 cities internationally via satellite) paid up to $300 to hear from and share with those on the cutting edge of the environmental movement.

In his coverage of the story, San Francisco Chronicle senior political writer Joe Garofoli described the event as follows:

    Celebrating this group hug of like minds has been a hallmark of the annual conferences of biological pioneers -- the so-called Bioneers -- in Marin County, the spiritual home of the environmental movement, and a comfy cradle for many of its offshoots. The common theme is a call to join in a search: How can we use nature's own properties to "heal itself"?
    It's a crowd that gave a minute-long standing ovation Sunday to Percy Schmeiser, the Canadian farmer who's battling agribusiness giant Monsanto all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court and listened intently to the Los Angeles ex-gang member who's trying to get his neighborhood to care about asbestos- riddled buildings.
    Although it receives little mainstream publicity, the Bioneers has grown from a gathering of "a couple dozen people" 14 years ago in Santa Fe, N.M., into this year's international confab that attracts big thinkers and doers from science to social justice. This isn't a bunch of theorists and academics, said founder Kenny Ausubel, but people who are actually doing something practical. While many of the speakers command five-figure paychecks on the lecture circuit, they donate their services to Bioneers; the organizers only accept donations from "socially-conscious" corporations.
    Now, said Ausubel, the challenge is to take the energy and ideas generated at Bioneers and make it politically powerful. While he called for a "Green New Deal," and other investments in repairing the Earth, he said he realizes that most politicians won't react until they see a groundswell from below them. "Once people learn that there are practical solutions, it changes things," Ausubel said Sunday.

Fast forward 15 years. At the 2018 Bioneers Conference in Marin County, California, Ausubel told the crowd:

    What we need government to do today is a Green New Deal. The same battle over corporate state capture that’s playing out today took place in the 1930s when FDR saved capitalism from the capitalists with the New Deal.
    The parallels are striking: extreme inequality and wealth concentration — wholesale deregulation — corporatized courts — restrictive immigration policy — and the rise of white nationalism and Fascism.
    As the late Tom Hayden pointed out, “The great work then was to save us from the Depression. The great work today is to save us from climate catastrophe and the end of civilization as we know it. We need to put every person in this country and on this planet who’s out of a job or underemployed into a great green employment project. The starting point is to combine the notions of reducing emissions and achieving jobs and environmental justice.”

Here is video of his presentation:


While Ausubel has been advocating for a "Green New Deal" at least since 2003, in 2007 three-time Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times writer Thomas L. Friedman first discussed a "Green New Deal" in A Warning From the Garden published January 19, 2007. He followed that up on April 15, 2007, in the New York Times Magazine article The Power of Green. That same year - the year Ocasio-Cortez turned 18 - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi created a House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis specifically to address Climate Change.

The next year, 2008, Democrats won the Presidency and control of both the House and the Senate. In 2009 the United Nations Environmental Programme was promoting a Global Green New Deal at a U.N Summit on Climate Change in New York and at a G20 Summit in Pittsburgh.Things seem to be advancing....

In 2010 the Democrats lost the House and the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis was disbanded by the Republicans. In 2014 the Democrats lost the Senate. And in 2016 Donald Trump, a spokesperson for climate change denial, won the Presidency. Since then, much national policy that might have been included in a description of a "Green New Deal" has been rolled back.

As noted in Ausubel's 2018 presentation, the late Tom Hayden pointed out in a speech to the Bioneer's 2014 California Climate Leadership Conference, “The great work then was to save us from the Depression. The great work today is to save us from climate catastrophe and the end of civilization as we know it. We need to put every person in this country and on this planet who’s out of a job or underemployed into a great green employment project. The starting point is to combine the notions of reducing emissions and achieving jobs and environmental justice.”

Also in that speech, Hayden noted that in 33 states climate policy is controlled by the oil and coal industries. Hayden died in 2016 before Donald Trump was anointed President by the electors from those states.

Which brings us to the problem with AOC's House Resolution 109 - Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal Introduced in House (02/07/2019) by Representative Ocasio-Cortez.

To understand the problem, you first have to understand the structure of American government. In American government policy is made by the state legislatures and the United States Congress. The United States Congress consists of two chambers, both of which must approve a policy before it becomes effective. 

One chamber is U.S. House of Representatives with 435 members elected from Congressional Districts of approximately the same population...well...sort of.

Seats in the House of Representatives are apportioned among the states by population, as determined by the census conducted every ten years. But each state is entitled to at least one Representative, however small its population. This results in a somewhat
unfair representation. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the Representative of New York's 14th district which has a population of 691,715. Nancy Pelosi is the Representative of California's 12th district which has a population of 700,605. Liz Cheney is the Representative of Wyoming's single statewide district which has a population of 585,501. But all things considered, it's probably fair enough. The problem related to the "Green New Deal" resolution as introduced by Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, is that it is now "her" bill and within it is language that reflects the makeup of her constituency as reflected in the table to the right, as does she. Instead of being a straightforward environmental policy statement with employment goals, AOC's Green New Deal now includes as a goal...

    to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (referred to in this resolution as “frontline and vulnerable communities”).

Here in California, that goal statement would be strongly supported in our Legislature. But....

The other chamber of Congress that must approve all legislation is the U..S. Senate with 100 members, two elected from each state. The two U.S. Senators from Wyoming each represent those 585,501 people represented in the House by Liz Cheney. The two Senators from New York each represent 19,875,625 people. The two Senators from California each represent 40,017,007 people. What some young people (and old people) don't understand is that each New York and California person as represented in the Senate has about 2% of the power of each of the mostly non-hispanic white people in Wyoming.

Quite literally, legislation passed in the House can be killed or passed by a vote of 51 Senators who represent the least populous of the 26 states containing only 17.6% of the U.S. population that is 72% non-hispanic white and who were put into office by less than 8% of eligible American voters. In that situation it does not matter that the remaining 49 Senators, representing 82.4% of the U.S. population and who were put into office by more than 92% of eligible American voters, disagree.

One statistic is critically important. Those 51 Senators together represent  a population that is 72% non-hispanic white. AOC represents a District that is 18.4% non-hispanic white. Nancy Pelosi represents a District that is 44.0% non-hispanic white. Neither represent a constituency that is typical for a U.S. Senator.

Only 10 of the 100 U.S. Senators represent the five states in which non-hispanic whites are less than half the population. Of the 100 U.S. Senators, 52 represent state in which over 70% of the population is non-hispanic white. Even New York is 55% non-hispanic white. Ocasio-Cortez's District is the exception, not the rule, in her own state.

When Kenny Ausubel called for a "Green New Deal" at the 2003 Bioneers environmental conference, when Thomas Friedman in 2007 wrote about a "Green New Deal" in the New York Times, and when Tom Hayden spoke at the Bioneer's 2014 California Climate Leadership Conference, "environmental justice" was a stated objective while "social justice" was recognized as the political tripwire that could blow up the plan. All three knew that the American political system requires finesse from someone proposing policy that will be opposed by a groups as powerful as the oil and coal industry and the Koch Bros Neoliberals.

As Friedman wrote in 2007: "Once the Geo-Green interest group comes of age, especially if it is after another 9/11 or Katrina, Mandelbaum said, 'it will be the biggest interest group in history — but by then it could be too late.' "

For many in the world outside the United States in “frontline and vulnerable communities” it is already too late. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reinstated the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis in an effort to move forward with efforts to address Climate Change. I certainly hope she can somehow prevent political amateurs from destroying any chance of Congress passing serious Climate Change legislation, legislation focused on reducing the impact of Climate Change.

It isn't, or at least wasn't, an impossible task. A article today with the headline The Senate just passed the decade’s biggest public lands package. Here’s what’s in it. tells us that the bipartisan measure would create more than 1.3 million acres of wilderness, add three national park units and expand eight others. There is no Senator who is the "face" of that bill. There was no media glut about the proposal. Having a face and a media glut may kill the Green New Deal.

Because 12 years has past since Friedman published his articles which contains some outdated data, it might be tempting to dismiss his thinking.  But here is the core of his 2007 words from the two articles reorganized into an advocacy presentation:

Don’t know about you, but when I see things in nature that I’ve never seen in my life, like daffodils blooming in January, it starts to feel creepy, like a “Twilight Zone” segment. I half expect to wake one day and find Rod Serling mowing my lawn — in shorts.

Neither the White House nor the Democratic Party seems to grasp that the public and business community are miles ahead of them on this energy/environment issue. The presidential candidate who finally figures that out, though — and comes up with a compelling energy/environment agenda — is going to have a real leg up.

What would be compelling? I used to think it would be a “Manhattan Project” on energy. I don’t any longer. I’ve learned that there is no magic bullet for reducing our dependence on oil and emissions of greenhouse gases — and politicians who call for one are usually just trying to avoid asking for sacrifice today.

An unusual situation like this calls for the ethic of stewardship. Stewardship is what parents do for their kids: think about the long term, so they can have a better future. It is much easier to get families to do that than whole societies, but that is our challenge. In many ways, our parents rose to such a challenge in World War II — when an entire generation mobilized to preserve our way of life. That is why they were called the Greatest Generation. Our kids will only call us the Greatest Generation if we rise to our challenge and become the Greenest Generation.

In the world of ideas, to name something is to own it. If you can name an issue, you can own the issue. One thing that always struck me about the term "green" was the degree to which, for so many years, it was defined by its opponents — by the people who wanted to disparage it. And they defined it as "liberal," "tree-hugging," "sissy," "girlie-man," "unpatriotic," "vaguely French."

Well, I want to rename "green." I want to rename it geostrategic, geoeconomic, capitalistic and patriotic. I want to do that because I think that living, working, designing, manufacturing and projecting America in a green way can be the basis of a new unifying political movement for the 21st century. A redefined, broader and more muscular green ideology is not meant to trump the traditional Republican and Democratic agendas but rather to bridge them when it comes to addressing the three major issues facing every American today: jobs, temperature and terrorism.

The right rallying call is for a “Green New Deal.” It takes a Green New Deal because to nurture all of these technologies to a point that they really scale would be a huge industrial project. If you have put a windmill in your yard or some solar panels on your roof, bless your heart. But we will only green the world when we change the very nature of the electricity grid.

To spark a Green New Deal today requires getting two things right: government regulations and prices. Look at California. By setting steadily higher standards for the energy efficiency of buildings and appliances — and creating incentives for utilities to work with consumers to use less power — California has held its per-capita electricity use constant for 30 years, while the rest of the nation has seen per- capita electricity use increase by nearly 50 percent, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. That has saved California from building 24 giant power plants.

How do our kids compete in a flatter world? How do they thrive in a warmer world? How do they survive in a more dangerous world? Those are, in a nutshell, the big questions facing America at the dawn of the 21st century. But these problems are so large in scale that they can only be effectively addressed by an America with 50 green states — not an America divided between red and blue states.

But here's the bad news: While green has hit Main Street — more Americans than ever now identify themselves as greens, or what I call "Geo-Greens" to differentiate their more muscular and strategic green ideology — green has not gone very far down Main Street. It certainly has not gone anywhere near the distance required to preserve our lifestyle. The dirty little secret is that we're fooling ourselves. We in America talk like we're already "the greenest generation." But here's the really inconvenient truth: We have not even begun to be serious about the costs, the effort and the scale of change that will be required to shift our country, and eventually the world, to a largely emissions-free energy infrastructure over the next 50 years.

Green has gone Main Street because global warming has. A decade ago, it was mostly experts who worried that climate change was real, largely brought about by humans and likely to lead to species loss and environmental crises. Now Main Street is starting to worry because people are seeing things they've never seen before in their own front yards and reading things they've never read before in their papers.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California summed up the new climate around climate when he said to me recently: "If 98 doctors say my son is ill and needs medication and two say 'No, he doesn't, he is fine,' I will go with the 98. It's common sense — the same with global warming. We go with the majority, the large majority. The key thing now is that since we know this industrial age has created it, let's get our act together and do everything we can to roll it back.

The only way to stimulate the scale of sustained investment in research and development of non-CO2 emitting power at the China price is if the developed countries, who can afford to do so, force their people to pay the full climate, economic and geopolitical costs of using gasoline and dirty coal. Those countries that have signed the Kyoto Protocol are starting to do that. But America is not.

The politicians who best understand this are America's governors, some of whom have started to just ignore Washington, set their own energy standards and reap the benefits for their states. As Schwarzenegger told me, "We have seen in California so many companies that have been created that work just on things that have do with clean environment." California's state-imposed efficiency standards have resulted in per-capita energy consumption in California remaining almost flat for the last 30 years, while in the rest of the country it has gone up 50 percent. "There are a lot of industries that are exploding right now because of setting these new standards," he said.

Equally important, presidential candidates need to help Americans understand that green is not about cutting back. It's about creating a new cornucopia of abundance for the next generation by inventing a whole new industry. It's about getting our best brains out of hedge funds and into innovations that will not only give us the clean-power industrial assets to preserve our American dream but also give us the technologies that billions of others need to realize their own dreams without destroying the planet. It's about making America the global environmental leader, instead of laggard, which as Schwarzenegger argues would "create a very powerful side product." Those who dislike America because of Iraq, he explained, would at least be able to say, "Well, I don't like them for the war, but I do like them because they show such unbelievable leadership — not just with their blue jeans and hamburgers but with the environment. People will love us for that. That's not existing right now."

In sum, as John Hennessy, the president of Stanford, taught me: Confronting this climate-energy issue is the epitome of what John Gardner, the founder of Common Cause, once described as "a series of great opportunities disguised as insoluble problems."

Green has hit Main Street — it's now more than a hobby — but it's still less than a new way of life. Why? Because big transformations — women's suffrage, for instance — usually happen when a lot of aggrieved people take to the streets, the politicians react and laws get changed. But the climate-energy debate is more muted and slow-moving. Why? Because the people who will be most harmed by the climate-energy crisis haven't been born yet.

"This issue doesn't pit haves versus have-nots," notes the Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum, "but the present versus the future — today's generation versus its kids and unborn grandchildren." Once the Geo-Green interest group comes of age, especially if it is after another 9/11 or Katrina, Mandelbaum said, "it will be the biggest interest group in history — but by then it could be too late."

The 21st Century Climate Change Black Death is happening now.

                                                                                                                       If you're new to this blog here's the link to the listing of the 30+ previous posts in the Blog regarding Climate Change and the Environment.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Climate Change Black Death surrounds us
The personally disturbing population collapse of Monarch Butterflies and nearly all other insects



According to the Guardian article published yesterday because of Climate Change "more than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered" and "rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles."

Regarding the insect population, many of us in Northern California have been concerned about the insect decline as reflected in the article last month Are We Watching the End of the Monarch Butterfly? It hits a bit close as it tells a story:

    ...A small group of these citizen scientists recently descended on the sleepy coastal town of Bolinas, near Stinson Beach, north of San Francisco, to conduct the latest tally in a place where thousands of these butterflies were once counted during their winter migration.
    The group was met by Mia Monroe, a ranger for the National Park Service for 40 years. She was representing the Xerces Society, a nonprofit devoted to invertebrate conservation.
    “We aren’t expecting many butterflies today,” Ms. Monroe warned. Monarch numbers have been plummeting for decades, and recent surveys of their breeding habitats had reported low numbers. Making matters worse, only weeks before, wildfires had swept through the region, engulfing the Bay Area with smoke for two weeks.
    “Maybe the monarchs have taken a different route, around the fire and smoke?” someone asked. “That’s a dream,” Ms. Monroe said. “But we are here to honor the survivors, and to be together in a difficult moment.”
    Last year’s count in Bolinas had been very low; still, the trees had been festooned with scores of butterfly clumps, in which hundreds of monarchs hung together for warmth and protection. This time, there was just one clump. Later we would learn that the total count of this site in Bolinas, which the previous year tallied 12,360 butterflies, plummeted this winter to just 1,256 monarchs. “This animal story that has been going on for centuries and perhaps thousands of years is disappearing and may be gone” soon, Ms. Monroe told us, her eyes tearing.

For this native California who has considered the Western Monarch migration a given, this is disturbing. Having lived 12 years in the Monterey Bay area and 10 years in  Bolinas/Stinson Beach area, both destinations for visitors who wished to experience the Monarch migration, I recognize the absence of the Monarch migration would be symbolic of the Climate Change Black Death.

Insects are critical to the food cycle, as they pollinate the large majority of plant species, keep the soil healthy, recycle nutrients, control pests, and much more. One of the biggest impacts of insect loss is on the many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects. Simply the long term impact on most animal species, particularly humans, will be catastrophic.

The 21st Century Climate Change Black Death is happening now.

                                                                                                                       If you're new to this blog here's the link to the listing of the 30+ previous posts in the Blog regarding Climate Change and the Environment.

This post is a part of a series: Climate Change Black Death surrounds us

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Climate Change Black Death surrounds us
The coming Climate Change Black Death. If only humanity knew in advance what was coming and that something could be done about it! Oh, wait....


The Black Death (aka Bubonic plague). In the 14th Century it killed 20%-25% of the world's population of 450 million.

According to Wikipedia, the outbreak was thought to have originated in the dry plains of Central Asia killing an estimated 25 million Chinese and other Asians during the fifteen years before it reached Crimea by 1343. By the end of 1346, reports of plague had reached the seaports of Europe: "India was depopulated, Tartary, Mesopotamia, Syria, Armenia were covered with dead bodies". Spreading throughout the Mediterranean Basin and Europe, it is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe's total population.

Back then people didn't know what caused it. But because of the severity of impact from the mass mortality rate, society subsequently became unstable, destroying economies around the world, and increasing warfare, crime, popular revolt, waves of religious bigotry, and persecution.

Wow. If only humanity knew in advance what was coming and that something could be done about it, they would have avoided it. Just like we have been doing to deal with Climate Change and its impacts on 8 billion people....

Make no mistake about the Climate Change disruption. It's coming in this century, it will cause economic dislocation around the world and will increase disease, warfare, crime, popular revolt, waves of religious bigotry, and persecution. And it will result in the deaths of 20%+ of the world's population.

Note that no qualifier was offered. I didn't say "it's coming" unless the Paris Climate Accord goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C, above pre-industrial levels is achieved.

As previously noted in this blog "in 2018 in both the U.S. and China formal findings have been made that we have 'locked in warming' of 4°± Celsius most likely within 60 years." And the United Kingdom's Met Office (National Meteorological Service) announced this month that their calculations indicate there is a chance of a year within the next five years in which the average temperature rise above pre-industrial levels will exceed that 1.5C, the lowest of the two Paris agreement targets set for the end of the century.

Now I hate repeating myself, but make no mistake about the Climate Change disruption. It's coming in this century, it will cause economic dislocation around the world and will increase disease, warfare, crime, popular revolt, waves of religious bigotry, and persecution. And it will result in the deaths of 20%± of the world's population.

Climate Change will be the 21st Century equivalent of the Black Death.

The good thing about it is that in the coming decades it will disrupt the lives of, and kill, without regard to nationality, ethnicity, race, sex, age, sexual preference, or even wealth - you know, the issues that American liberals have used to create headlines. Meanwhile, Republicans are basically Climate Change deniers.

Then again, except for Al Gore who started his efforts in 1974 - 45 years ago, historically until now no U.S. politician has made Climate Change policy an issue because the American electorate doesn't want to hear about it. Until now....

Today you will read and hear about the "Green New Deal."

Now don't get confused. Three-time Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times Columnist Thomas L. Friedman first discussed a "Green New Deal" in A Warning From the Garden published January 19, 2007. In a March 14, 2009, interview with Al Gore, The Guardian UK readers saw a headline We will create green new deal, says Gore.

For the most part, every American who is a Baby Boomer or older will not be alive to see the Climate Change disruption.

Instead, we are the ones who failed to protect the succeeding generations, a failure explained in a previous post. Here in the good old USofA, as explained in that post, we could start the process of adaptation and relocation, while attempting to reduce the impacts of Climate Change.

Some states and local governments are trying. But there is just not the will to focus on the problem at the national level. In fact there is not the will among 40% of the population to acknowledge that there is a problem.

And because we are who we are, Climate Change really won't become important until enough people are actually dying. Notice that I said "enough" because people are already dying, in small numbers in California due to drought-related wildfires and on the East and Gulf Coasts due to storms, and in much, much larger numbers in parts of Africa and around the Indian Ocean.

Ironically, part of the communication problem surrounding Climate Change is science.

One of the complexities of science is that it depends on observations. Scientists cannot offer educated guesses about the physical world based upon what they think about people. They can only tell us what's happened and provide probabilities about the future based on calculations using the data they have collected.

No good scientist is going to tell you without qualifiers that world-wide disruption will occur in this century from Climate Change with impacts comparable to or worse than the Black Death of the 14th Century. The most you'll get is "the data indicates it could happen."

At the end of this post is a link to the listing of 30+ previous posts dealing with Climate Change and the environment. It almost seems like a waste of time to update this blog with new information reported since the first of the year, newly reported data collected by scientists. Heck, we're only a month into 2019. But here it goes....
  • A new report indicates that the oceans "are heating up 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago", "ocean temperatures have broken records for several straight years", and "the surging water temperatures are already killing off marine ecosystems, raising sea levels and making hurricanes more destructive."
     
  • The Thwaites Glacier on Antarctica’s western coast is responsible for about 4 percent of the world’s rising sea levels and is unstable and melting. Scientists have discovered an enormous underwater cavity about two-thirds the area of Manhattan and nearly 1,000 feet tall which contained about 14 billion tons of ice, most of which the researchers say melted in three years,  that will probably speed up the glacier’s decay. Note that I have deleted the word "probably" because that's scientists hedging their bets.
     
  • Greenland’s enormous ice sheet is melting at such an accelerated rate that it may have reached a “tipping point” and could [has] become a major factor in sea-level rise around the world within two decades. The article that reports this tells us "the Arctic is warming at twice the average rate of the rest of the planet" and "the oceans are warming far faster than earlier estimates."
     
  • In a different report we learned that at least a third of the huge ice fields in the Himalayas are doomed to melt, endangering the lives of 2 billion people who depend upon them for water for everything from drinking to growing crops to transport on rivers.
     
  • Here in California we were informed that due to subsidence - the gradual sinking of land in the Sacramento Valley - the small town of Arbuckle in Northern California sank more than two feet in nine years.
     
  • Commonly found all the way from Alaskan waters to the coasts of Mexico, sunflower sea stars - a huge, voracious, unmistakable alpha predator - have more or less completely disappeared from their 2,000-mile range and are gone from the California coast. Today sea urchins the sea stars used to hunt are running amok, eating their way through the Pacific’s kelp forests.
I'm sure we will be updated regarding Climate Change data by scientists in the coming months. And it won't be good news.

Wow. If only humanity knew in advance what was coming and that something could be done about it! Except we do know that. And there are American politicians trying to do something about it. And, guess what.... The Koch Bros Neoliberal attack on The Green New Deal has begun, very subtly.

                                                                                                                       If you're new to this blog here's the link to the listing of the 30+ previous posts in the Blog regarding Climate Change and the Environment.

This post is a part of a series: Climate Change Black Death surrounds us

Climate Change Black Death surrounds us
No, The Green New Deal is not new. But two generations of Democrats - Ocasio-Cortez and Pelosi - begin the push toward implementation



Today, February 7, 2019, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass) laid out in the form of a Congressional Resolution the goals of a “Green New Deal” to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions which can be summarized as follows:

    The Green New Deal fully tackles the existential threat posed by climate change by presenting a comprehensive, 10-year plan that is as big as the problem it hopes to solve while creating a new era of shared prosperity calling for such policies as:
  • Meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.
  • Upgrading all existing buildings in the country for energy efficiency.
  • Working with farmers to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions as much as is technologically feasible" (while supporting family farms and promoting universal access to healthy food.
  • Overhauling transportation systems to reduce emissions — including expanding electric car manufacturing, building charging stations everywhere, and expanding high-speed rail to a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.
  • A guaranteed job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security for every American.
  • High-quality health care for all Americans.

As noted in the previous post three-time Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times Columnist Thomas L. Friedman first discussed a "Green New Deal" in A Warning From the Garden published January 19, 2007.

He followed that up on April 15, 2007, in the New York Times Magazine article The Power of Green in which he noted:

    In the world of ideas, to name something is to own it. If you can name an issue, you can own the issue. One thing that always struck me about the term "green" was the degree to which, for so many years, it was defined by its opponents — by the people who wanted to disparage it. And they defined it as "liberal," "tree-hugging," "sissy," "girlie-man," "unpatriotic," "vaguely French."
    Well, I want to rename "green." I want to rename it geostrategic, geoeconomic, capitalistic and patriotic. I want to do that because I think that living, working, designing, manufacturing and projecting America in a green way can be the basis of a new unifying political movement for the 21st century. A redefined, broader and more muscular green ideology is not meant to trump the traditional Republican and Democratic agendas but rather to bridge them when it comes to addressing the three major issues facing every American today: jobs, temperature and terrorism.
    How do our kids compete in a flatter world? How do they thrive in a warmer world? How do they survive in a more dangerous world? Those are, in a nutshell, the big questions facing America at the dawn of the 21st century. But these problems are so large in scale that they can only be effectively addressed by an America with 50 green states — not an America divided between red and blue states.
    Because a new green ideology, properly defined, has the power to mobilize liberals and conservatives, evangelicals and atheists, big business and environmentalists around an agenda that can both pull us together and propel us forward. That's why I say: We don't just need the first black president. We need the first green president. We don't just need the first woman president. We need the first environmental president. We don't just need a president who has been toughened by years as a prisoner of war but a president who is tough enough to level with the American people about the profound economic, geopolitical and climate threats posed by our addiction to oil — and to offer a real plan to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

In the earlier January 2007 article Friedman noted:

    To spark a Green New Deal today requires getting two things right: government regulations and prices. Look at California. By setting steadily higher standards for the energy efficiency of buildings and appliances — and creating incentives for utilities to work with consumers to use less power — California has held its per-capita electricity use constant for 30 years, while the rest of the nation has seen per- capita electricity use increase by nearly 50 percent, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. That has saved California from building 24 giant power plants.
    Had Ronald Reagan not rolled back the higher fuel efficiency standards imposed on Detroit, we might need no Middle East oil today. High standards force innovation, and innovation leads to conservation at scale.

Of course he mentioned Ronald Reagan. As noted in our Progressive Pacific website, Ronald Reagan was America's first Neoliberal President. Because Trump has included key Neoliberals in his administration, the most notable of whom is Vice-President Mike Pence, it shouldn't be surprising that opposition to the Green New Deal by the Administration and from the Senate will be (already is) fierce and angry.

"Socialism" will be the basic attack word and it will be used in the 2020 election. It will be effective outside the Pacific Coast states and a few other Blue states.

The earliest reported use of "Green New Deal" was from the Bioneers 2003 Marin County annual environmental conference. The San Francisco Chronicle noted that Bioneers founder Kenny Ausubel called for a "Green New Deal" but stated he realizes that most politicians won't react until they see a groundswell from below them. Ausubel was correct.

Whether those behind the 29-year-old Ocasio-Cortez can create such a groundswell is a big question. Nonetheless 78-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is bringing back the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis that she created back in 2007, when she first became speaker. Republicans disbanded the group when they regained control in 2011. The problem we have is that these two women from the youngest and oldest generations in Congress are from the two most progressive/liberal Congressional Districts in two of the most Democratic states in the United States.

At risk is the 2020 election. And while Ocasio-Cortez may think there is a groundswell for this, in fact at least 40% of Americans will oppose it at the outset and another 20% will have grave, or at least some, reservations. The problem Pelosi and others have noted is that there are no details, and as we all know the devil is in the details.

As explained in the previous post, the alternative for Ocasio-Cortez's generation, the generation ahead of them, and the generations that follow them is a world-wide Climate Change Black Death, the symptoms of which have already been seen.

                                                                                                                       If you're new to this blog here's the link to the listing of the 30+ previous posts in the Blog regarding Climate Change and the Environment.

This post is a part of a series: Climate Change Black Death surrounds us

Friday, February 1, 2019

5G Technology: it may start a world war, it won't be available to all, you don't need it, it is important to corporate interests and government. Why is that?

At some level the rapid adoption by the general population of all the personal technology made rapidly available in the 21st Century bothers me.

"Personal technology" is essentially what one might call non-business-enterprise consumer tech though there is overlap with enterprise technology. Devices, gadgets, apps, computing, consoles, video games, tv/video streaming, GPS, and even 21st Century household appliance and automobile tech come under the broad umbrella of personal technology.

Understand that I'm not a Luddite - I love technology. Even though we are seniors in our 70's, our home is filled with computers and devices. I began writing computer code in 1970 and continue to do so today. In 1980 we began a computer services business.

I'm known as the family pessimist, so I have worried excessively about the widespread use of personal technology, particularly about its excessive use around and by infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents because of negative impacts on brain development.

Recently something new to worry about has come up - all this government paranoia about something called "5G" cellular network technology. It has gotten loud though 5G really doesn't yet exist in 99.9% of the world. Wow! A world war is literally possible because of it. What did I miss???

Well, hey, 5th generation cell technology known as "5G" is going to be super fast.

Supposedly, assuming the internet is working OK (that's a big assumption) you'll be able to download super-high-resolution movies to your 5G smartphone in a few seconds. With this 5th generation cellular technology, you'll be able to play complex games in 3D in real time, perhaps controlling it thoughts, supposedly with no noticeable data flow glitches.

But because of the radio frequency bandwidths that will be used, carriers are planning to use “small cells.” They will need small cells on every pole, fence post, street sign, building, etc. Finding secure places to put all those cells will be a challenge. And since every carrier is planning to use different spectrum for their 5G, as with your current 4G phone you won’t be able to use your 5G phone on more than one network. So there will have to be three small cells on every pole, fence post, street sign, building, etc.


And as explained in Computerworld: “That stop sign in front of your car? Bleck! There went your signal.”

According to networking companies, the incredibly low latency of 5G paired with its fast speeds will enable all sorts of localized internal network uses from controlling in real time manufacturing machines within an industrial site to the dream of IoT (internet of things) home appliances communicating at the speed of thought.

This is what we'd start a world war over???

The Chinese government seems to be enthusiastic about this technology.

And so is the American government - except they don't want Chinese boxes all over our cities. If you haven't noticed the recent alarmist discussion, Google: 5G China. One thing you may find is that a leaked National Security Council document written by a retired general hinted that the US government consider building a 5G network.

You see, in addition to its commercial benefits, 5G will revolutionize military technology and bringing with it national security issues. This is why 5G coincided with U.S. efforts to contain China's tech power. The future of warfare and cybersecurity will be fundamentally changed by 5G.

Except 5G is more susceptible to hacking than previous networks. This why Huawei, the world’s largest telecom equipment supplier, is seen as a threat.

You may have wondered why one cell phone company, Huawei, is under attack by the U.S. intelligence community. After all, every cell phone - Apple, Samsung, Motorola, et al. - is more or less made in China. But smartphones aren't the issue. Hauwei is ready to market - heck, is marketing - 5G network equipment around the world. It can do so now. And we're afraid Huawei’s telecommunications equipment could contain “back doors” for Chinese espionage. Not that the U.S. government wouldn't pressure Qualcomm, a U.S. manufacturer, or even its European 5G partner Nokia, a Finnish company, for back doors. It's not like they haven't pressured Apple and others for access to private data.

In December Retired Air Force Brigadier General and former National Security Council member Robert Spalding said in that memo on China’s desire to dominate new wireless technology:

    The more connected we are, and 5G will make us the most connected by far, the more vulnerable we become.
    Think of self-driving cars that suddenly mow down unsuspecting pedestrians. Think of drones that fly into the intakes of airliners.

Just keep in mind that it isn't AT&T or Verizon or T-Mobile or whatever that manufactures the 5G hardware.

Those of us in rural areas of our country would prefer that those "phone service provider" companies keep improving the availability of 4G by installing more of those old antennas. You see in the United States there are the haves and the have-nots when it comes to true high speed internet access generally. The have-nots live in rural areas or are among the urban and suburban poor.

(But we understand that rich urban folks experience occasional "no signal" frustration and would prefer billions be spent to have their devices connected to a new 5G system that can establish in real time each user's location within 50 feet or less even if half the time they won't get a 5G signal.)

The only good thing about living in a rural area is that widespread use of 5G isn't likely to happen for some time, if ever. The service providers really can't put in a system on every 50th tree in forests and 100th corn stalk in corn fields.

Of course some people probably will set up localized 5G IoT systems within their houses just to control through their thoughts the heating and cooling system in real time. If the system was made in China it might even be affordable for the middle class. Of course, it could be made cheaply in Vietnam which I guess is ok right now, at least until Trump figures out that it is one of the very few Communist countries.

In the meantime we in Northern California must worry if we will be able to continue to get reliable electricity at some affordable level, but that's another story....