Warming up to certain candidates

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Good work, mateys! Joe Biden’s new climate plan is pretty much in line with the Green New Deal. Way to pressure!

This moves Biden from bottom to middle tier for me, which makes me feel better about the fact that he is crushing everyone else in early polls.

California Convention. Since California a) has more electoral votes and more national party delegates than any other state, and b) is a Super Tuesday state now, all of the sudden for the first time in memory, the California Convention received additional special attention outside of California.

And, candidates were sorted. Have a look:

Yay Warren! Yay Sanders! Yay Buttigieg! Yay Harris! Boo Hefferlooper, Boo that other guy!

Perhaps California Democrats are not the same as other Democrats, but in fact, they aren’t different. The outliers in the Party of Kennedy and Wellstone are the right wingers found here and there in Old Dixie or or the High Plains, and a few machine cities or country states in Appalachia or the south. I think we saw some of the herd thinned out in California.

Head to heads. In a recent Quinnipiac poll held in Texas, Biden beat Trump in the head to head, but Trump beat all the other tested candidates. In Michigan, Biden and Sanders trounced trump in the head to head, and Warren, Harris, and Buttigieg did fine. Who cares. Trump was going to win Texas anyway, since Texas is populated with so many god fearing evangelicals who love them their transgressors.

Warren. Warren remains a weak third, but consistent in that spot. In the frontline primary states (New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina) it is typically Biden and Sanders in first (strong) and second place. In the latest North Carolina poll (which is not South Carolina, but still, has a lot of African American voters and it is near South Carolina) that held true, but Warren pulled a very strong third (39-22-15). But generally, Warren, while usually in third place, does not break single digits and is statistically in the same bed as Harris and Buttigieg.

Yang, Gabbard, Ryan and Inslee are number one candidates. And by that, I mean, if you round up their numbers, the get to 1%. I don’t see a way up for them, even though this is very early in the race. Klobuchar, Booker, and Castro are consistently in the wings, the one digit 1-3 point wings, and there are things about them that might make them factors later on. They seem to be keeping their powder dry. O’Rourke and Buttigieg could possibly be described as candidates that peaked but then sort of guttered. They are still in the race, but at the moment they were supposed to ride into town on their dark horse, the horse was doing something else that day.

Until proven otherwise, it feels like a race between Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Harris, with Warren and Harris ready to move ahead at any moment, though the Buttigieg-O’Rourke-Booker faction looms small in the background.

In other words, I have no faith in the idea that it is a totally open race. It is a race between twenty-whatever people in which a maximum of five are for real, and we know who the top two or three are and the next two or three will come from a small set of the remainders.

I also have no faith in the order of the leaders. Biden has a history of guttering. I don’t see Sander support moving because of Sanders, but rather, because he absorbs support from other candidates. If ever there was a primary season where an early adoption of a veep is tempting, it is this one. A wavering Biden could be surpassed by a suddenly formed team of two of the top non-front runners, as long as one of them is Sanders. I hasten to add this piece of classic advice about vice presidents: Don’t do that. No talk about the vice president until the convention.

(Hickenlooper and Delaney need new campaign managers. Or just don’t bother.)


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Pipelines: Just say no

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Two pieces of news about pipelines.

From MPR: MN court says PUC didn’t weigh oil spill impact in Line 3 pipeline decision

In a victory for Line 3 oil pipeline opponents, the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday reversed the state Public Utilities Commission’s approval of the Line 3 replacement project’s environmental review, saying it didn’t adequately address the potential impact of a spill in the Lake Superior watershed.

Last June, the PUC approved Enbridge Energy’s plan to replace its aging Line 3 oil pipeline, which has been transporting oil across northern Minnesota from Alberta, Canada, since the 1960s.

From Politico: Trump administration seeks criminal crackdown on pipeline protests

The Trump administration is joining calls to treat some pipeline protests as a federal crime, mirroring state legislative efforts that have spread in the wake of high-profile demonstrations around the country.

Bring it on, suckas. Even a conservative federal judge has read the constitution.


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Books On The Energy Transition

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Be informed, have a look.

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming edited by Paul Hawken.

This is a great resource for understanding the diverse strategies available to decarbonize. There is a flaw, and I think it is a fairly significant one. Drawdown ranks the different strategies, so you can see what (seemingly) should be done first. But the ranking is highly susceptible to how the data are organized. For example, on shore vs. off shore wind, if combined, would probably rise to the top of the heap, but separately, are merely in the top several. Also, these things change quickly over time in part because we do some of these things, inevitably moving them lower in ranking. So don’t take the ranking too seriously.

Free Market Environmentalism for the Next Generation by Terry Anderson and Donald Leal.

I mention this book because I hope it can help the free market doe what it never actually does. The energy business is not, never was, and can’t really be a free market, so expecting market forces to do much useful is roughly the same as expecting the actual second coming of the messiah. Won’t happen. This book is not an ode to those market forces, though, but rather, a third stab (I think), and a thoughtful one, at a complex problem.

Related, of interest: Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming by McKenzie Funk. “Funk visits the front lines of the melt, the drought, and the deluge to make a human accounting of the booming business of global warming. By letting climate change continue unchecked, we are choosing to adapt to a warming world. Containing the resulting surge will be big business; some will benefit, but much of the planet will suffer. McKenzie Funk has investigated both sides, and what he has found will shock us all. ”

Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy by Hal Harvey, Rovbbie Orvis and Jeffrey Rissman. ” A small set of energy policies, designed and implemented well, can put us on the path to a low carbon future. Energy systems are large and complex, so energy policy must be focused and cost-effective. One-size-fits-all approaches simply won’t get the job done. Policymakers need a clear, comprehensive resource that outlines the energy policies that will have the biggest impact on our climate future, and describes how to design these policies well.”


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Confessions Of A Rogue Nuclear Regulator: Review

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As the Midwest experiences unprecedented flooding, authorities assure us that a handful of nuclear power plants in the area will remain at full power and are not in danger. Flooding would be a disaster for a nuclear plant, as it could shut down cooling systems. In a very stormy situation, power to a nuclear plant, necessary to keep cooling systems going while the plant is experiencing an emergency shut down, could be interrupted, and flooding could then damage local petrolium based generators designed to keep the cooling pumps going.

Or course, it is impossible to imagine a nuclear power plant being built in such a way, or in such a place, or maintained in such a way, that mere flooding from excessive rain and a few dam or levy breaks, could threaten it. The nuclear plants are not built by idiots, and the regulatory agencies are very good at overseeing the whole process.

Rubble from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, with flooding of the plant and shutting down of cooling systems. The plant was built on the sea well below the elevation of the highest known tsunamis, so this disaster was presumably fully anticipated.

… um … ok, well, to continue…

Dr. Greg Jaczko served on US Representative Ed Markey’s staff as a science fellow, and taught Georgetown University. He served as Senatory Harry Reid’s science advisor, and in other roles for the US Senate. He became a commisioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) early in January 20905, andwas appointed by President Obama, in 2009, to chair that body.

His philosophy as a regulator has been transparency and public participation. He worked to improve security regulations for nuclear plants, and oversaw the initiative to make these plants airplane strike resistant. He is most well known for taking the lessons of the Fukushima nuclear disaster into account when considering further development in American nuclear energy. He took a role in stopping plans for the development of the Yucca Mountain repository. He is responsible for stopping plans for the Southern Co to build new reactors at the Vogtle plant in Georgia.

His time as commissioner and head of the NRC is not without controversy. There are complaints about his management style, and women who worked with him claim to have been treated in a more demeaning manner than their male counterparts. Jaczko’s response to these complains has been to cite a conspiracy by pro-nuclear forces against him, because of his lack of blind support for the industry. This position, that the pro-nukers have unfairly treated Jaczko, is supported by a number of third party individuals. He was asked to resign before the end of his term, but claims that this was a strategy of Senator Reid’s, to have control over who the next appointee would be.

I have no fully formed opinion on this, but I suspect that a pro-regulation regulator in Washington is essentially pre-doomed, because most of the regulatory agencies have been taken over by the industries they regulate.

Anyway, Jaczko wrote a book, and it is a rollicking, interesting, disturbing, and important read. Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator is the Jaczko story told by Jaczko.

If Jaczko is legit, if the points he is pushing are valid, then we should expect pushback from surrogates supportive of the nuclear industry in response to the book. That of course happened. I have no intention of getting into an internet fight with the greenwashers, but if you scan for reviews of Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator, you’ll find greenish pro nukers writing negative ones in widely read outlets. At the same time, the book is “liked” in the reviews by both independent thinking science reviewers and the usual anti-nuclear activists.

The book is an engaging and fast read, important, and you should judge for yourself.


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A New Book On Drought by NASA GISS’s Ben Cook

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Drought: An Interdisciplinary Perspective by Benjamin (Ben) Cook is the book you’ve always needed handy when the dry side of climate or climate change comes up in conversation.

The relationship between rainfall, groundwater, evaporation and transpiration, vegetation, bodies of water, animal distribution, agriculture, humans, and atmospheric conditions (not to mention oceanic factors and topography) underlie many different realms of academia and policy. Almost nothing I’ve ever done in my anthropological research didn’t include the hydrologic cycle, climate, and related issues. The weather weirding we are currently watching across the globe, including the current heavy rains and tornadoes, are part of this, and the long lived California Drought, the one that ended just recently, is as well.

In Drought: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, Cook looks at the dry end of the spectrum of the hydrologic cycle, but in so doing, he really has to cover the basics of rain related climate. There is math, and there is complicated science, in this book, but all of the material presented here is accessible to anyone who wishes to learn. If you are interested in climate change or agriculture, or paleoclimate, or any of that, Cook’s book is an essential reference, filling a gap that exists in the available range of current public-facing serious science books.

Cook covers the hydrologic cycle and the relationship between the hydrologic cycle and climatology. He defines the sometimes confusing concepts and measurements known as “drought” in a non-confusing and detailed way. I’ve found that in many discussions of drought, self defined experts who also happen to be climate change deniers tend to talk past (or over or around) others, making it difficult for the average non-expert to avoid frustration. Cook will arm you with the knowledge to stand up to such shenanigans!

Cook covers drought in the Holocene, and the relationship between climate change and drought. He provides two key detailed case studies (the American dust bowl, and droughts in the Sahel of Africa). He covers landscape degradation and desertification, and irrigation.

Drought: An Interdisciplinary Perspective is fully authoritative and thorough, and, as noted, very readable and understandable. Reading this book might make you thirsty but it will also make you smarter.

Ben Cook is a research scientist at NASA-Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, and he teaches at Columbia’s School of Professional Studies.


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Biden, Sanders, Harris, Warren, Are All About The Same

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How does this sound? In a two person race (among Democrats and LD’s),

Biden 43%
Sanders 41%

(statistical tie)

Biden 41%
Harris 38%

(statistical tie)

Sanders 42%
Harris 37%

(that may be statistically significant, but just barely)

Sanders 37%
Warren 40%

(statistical tie)

Conclusion: Among these front runners, they are all about the same, among Democrats, nationally. Note that recent polls showing Biden with a huge lead are all, as far as I know, among the First Four contests.

Source


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I’m warning you, watch for those tornadoes!

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Paul Douglas points out, as Item #1 in his thoughtful 6 Take-Aways From The Biggest Swarm of U.S. Tornadoes Since 2011, that “too many people still don’t know the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning. A Tornado Watch means “watch out”… Go about your normal activities but stay alert… A Tornado Warning … means that a tornado has been spotted … It means life-threatening weather is imminent… it’s time to take evasive action.”

I’ll note that the words “watch” and “warning” are, as words, not sufficiently hierarchializable (to coin a term) for this job, perhaps. I mean, yes, it makes sense — what Paul Douglas says makes sense — but there could be warning signs of a thing that never happens, and we all agree that if only the watch had been more alert, the Titanic would have veered to the left sooner, thus sailing forward into obscurity instead of infamy. Maybe we need new words.

Paul notes that a “tornado emergency” is also a term of art, and it means that there is a confirmed big tornado “on the ground and capable of significant damage and loss of life, … issued when a large tornado is on the ground and pushing into a more heavily-populated suburban or urban area.” Maybe extending the definition of Tornado Emergency to mean any imminent threat with greater than a certain likelihood? Or would that water it down?

Paul also points out several other aspects, both falsehoods and important truehoods, about tornadoes, so you should just click through and read, and absorb and remember, 6 Take-Aways From The Biggest Swarm of U.S. Tornadoes Since 2011

Do you remember the old Dick Van Dyke Show episode where they had a contest to come up with a new word for “butter?” Don’t remember that? Neither do I, really, but I’m pretty sure it happened. I can not remember what word they came up with. There is evidence that words like “climate change” and “global warming” don’t spark the brain as much as words like “climate chaos” and “climate disruption.” I think that evidence is weak, and at least one study looking at people’s brains, purporting to show this, seems to have some limitations. The idea here is that the words or phrases are less or more effective because of the way they sound. Maybe, and to a large extent words DO have different levels of effectiveness. But how much a word has ever been heard probably strongly influences its effectiveness as well. But that can be much more subtle and nuanced than people may realize. An oft heard word may numb the listeners and fail to cause a brain spark. But at the same time, an oft-heard phrase can insinuate itself into the truth-ish ether that we all swim around in, causing something to become more real whether it is real or not.

(See more about that topic here.)

Also, there is the “w” problem. Both “Watch” and “Warning” start with the same sound. At least they are not the same number of syllables, and at least they don’t rhyme.

Perhaps there should be three words in alphabetical order, at the beginning of the alphabet, allowing for us to speak of the “ABCs” of tornadoes.

Alert! — stay alert since tornadoes COULD form in your area today.
Buckle Down!! — There is a tornado or possible tornado in your area, assume for safety’s sake that you are in danger.
Crap!!!! — If you are listening to this warning you have not dug deep enough into your hole. DIG DEEPER!

Or something along those lines.

Ideas?


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Rocks for sale, Seasonality, and Why zat mattah anyway?

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These rocks are for sale up in Maple Grove:

They are described as “Huge rocks” but I question that because they look like small rocks to me.

Their condition is listed as “Used-Like New.” I question that too. This is new rock:

LOL Lavioli.

A typical Minnesota bus stop when the first day of shorts and the last day of coat happen on the same day:

Just in case you haven’t heard, the Wayzata (that’s our school) Science Bowl team won the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP this year. This is not a small feat. The teams that win, and compete to almost the end, tend to be 3-5K science and technology magnet schools. Wayzata is a great school, but it is a general high school for a fairly large district. Wayzata is pronounced “Why Zat Ah” rhymes with “Why’s it matter” said in a thick Boston accent.

An interest in science at high school age is a very healthy thing.

OK, maybe not.

How to write a letter to the editor. This one is a good example. At some point we’ll have a beer and I’ll point out the key features:


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Koch-Tank Drains Out Climate Denial Group: Michaels, Maue, Gone

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In 1974, libertarians Ed Crane, Murray Rothbard, and Charles Koch (of the Koch Industries conglomerate) founded the Charles Koch Foundation, a libertarian “think” tank. In 1976 the name was changed to the Cato Institute. The name “Cato” comes from the “Cato’s Letters, or Essays on Liberty Civil and Religious and Other Important Subjects” which were written by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon in the early 18th century, under the psuedonym “Cato” who was, in turn, an enemy of Julias Caesar. (For a treatment of the role of Cato’s Letters in the American Revolution see The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution by historian Bernard Bailyn.)

Cato took up the issue of anthropogenic global warming in around 2003, and the institute had a strong influence on Bush Administration policy. The most current and widespread Republican plank, among those Republicans that can read, is that global warming is real and at least some of it is human caused, but it does not matter, no big deal, climate changes, get over it. This philosophy (perhaps abusing the word “philosophy” there) is essentially a Cato product.

But now, Scott Waldman at E&E News reports that Cato is closing its climate shop. The biggest effect this will have is the departure of Patrick Michaels, often a commenter on Trump News, and the keeper of the nefarious policy on climate change. Waldman reports Michaels as saying, “They informed me that they didn’t think their vision of a think tank was in the science business, and so I said, ‘OK, bye.’ There had been some controversy going around the building for some time, so things got to a situation where they didn’t work out.”

Also gone from Cato, but his departure not necessarily connected with this change, is Richard Lindzen. Extremely annoying twitter denizen and supposed meteorologist Ryan Maue is also out.

For all the currently available details, see “Cato closes its climate shop.


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Michael Wolf on Trump Under Siege

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Michael Wolf’s book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, was the first widely distributed and read book about the Trump White House. It was good (despite some complaints about it). He has a new book that I’ve not read but thought you might want to know about.

Siege: Trump Under Fire

Michael Wolff, author of the bombshell bestseller Fire and Fury, once again takes us inside the Trump presidency to reveal a White House under siege.

With Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff defined the first phase of the Trump administration; now, in Siege, he has written an equally essential and explosive book about a presidency that is under fire from almost every side. A stunningly fresh narrative that begins just as Trump’s second year as president is getting underway and ends with the delivery of the Mueller report, Siege reveals an administration that is perpetually beleaguered by investigations and a president who is increasingly volatile, erratic, and exposed.


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Unexpected Methane Surge

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According to Climate Nexus,

An unexpected surge in global atmospheric methane is threatening to erase the anticipated gains of the Paris Climate Agreement. This past April NOAA posted preliminary data documenting an historic leap in the global level of atmospheric methane in 2018, underscoring a recent wave of science and data reporting that previously stable global methane levels have unexpectedly surged in recent years.

The scientific community recently responded to the surge into two high profile publications by calling for a reduction in methane emissions from the natural gas system…

It is not clear where this methane is coming from, but most bets are on wetlands that have shifted from being greenhouse gas sinks (or neutral) to being greenhouse gas emitters. Methane is a bad greenhouse gas while it lasts (decades) but eventually changes into CO2 and water. The CO2, of course, stays in the atmosphere for much much longer. So, this is really like CO2 release but with a giant kick in the gut right out of the gate.

See this for more.


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