AuthorTopic: The Surlynewz Channel  (Read 577467 times)

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Punk Rock Legend Henry Rollins Has A Grim Reminder For Trump Supporters
« Reply #3885 on: August 16, 2019, 07:23:24 AM »
Punk Rock Legend Henry Rollins Has A Grim Reminder For Trump Supporters
The former Black Flag frontman said Trump is only speeding up what his supporters fear most.




Punk rock legend Henry Rollins predicted that President Donald Trump will likely win a second term next year ― but said it will hasten the change in the nation that he and his supporters fear. 

I think it’s going to blow up in their faces,” he told the Daily Beast.  

“What’s happening now is young people are saying, ‘Oh, part of my job today, besides being a gorgeous 17-year-old young person, is to not hate gay people, is to not be racist, is to not call someone a ‘fag’ or anyone a ‘bitch.’ I’m not going to be a misogynist like my weird uncle who spouts off at Thanksgiving dinner. Like, that’s one of my jobs, is to not repeat this.’”

Rollins offered Trump supporters a stark reminder of their own mortality given their age. 

“Literally, their demographic is dying,” he told the Daily Beast.

In their place is a younger and more tolerant generation ― one that shows their punk attitude in ways outside of music. 

“You’re going to see ‘our prom queen this year is my friend Cedric and he got a unanimous vote and the teachers are so pissed,’” he said, adding: 

“That’s what’s going to happen. I think there’s going to be a huge rejection of this really antiquated bigotry. And so I think what you’re seeing right now is the old guard kicking and screaming as it’s dying off. And that, to me, is 2019 punk rock.” 

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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A Weather Station Above the Arctic Circle Hit 94.6 Degrees Fahrenheit
« Reply #3886 on: August 16, 2019, 07:52:05 AM »
Illustration for article titled A Weather Station Above the Arctic Circle Hit 94.6 Degrees Fahrenheit

Amid the hottest month in recorded history, some records still stand out as absolutely jaw dropping. That’s definitely true of a measurement made in the Arctic this July.

According to data released in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) monthly climate analysis, a weather station in Sweden north of the Arctic Circle hit a stunning 94.6 Fahrenheit (34.8 degrees Celsius) last month. As an isolated data point, it would be shocking. But coupled with a host of other maladies, from no sea ice within 125 miles of Alaska to the unruly fires ravaging Siberia, it’s an exclamation point on the climate crisis.

The steamy temperature was recorded on July 26 in the small Swedish outpost of Markusvinsa, which sits on the southern edge of the Arctic Circle. Deke Arndt, a NOAA climate scientist, said on a call with reporters that the data was analyzed and quality controlled by the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute and that “they have established that as highest temperature north of the Arctic Circle” for the country. For comparison, the hottest temperature recorded in New York City last month was 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius).

The heat wave that enveloped the Arctic spread a lot farther than Markusvinsa, though. Alaska recorded its hottest month ever amid extremely weird weather for the state. The heat has driven massive wildfire, and smoke from those fires enveloped Anchorage and Fairbanks, the former of which has had its smokiest summer on record, according to Alaska weather expert Rick Thoman. Salmon dieoffs, the earliest walrus haul out ever recorded, and emaciated animals have also been reported around the state.

During the same press call, Thoman expanded on the reasons why it’s been so weird in Alaska. The big one is the disappearance of sea ice six to eight weeks ahead of schedule, which has left a 125-mile ring of open water around the state. Oceans were already warm going into the summer, but the dark exposed ocean water has absorbed even more heat compared to the normally reflective ice cover.

Thoman called it “remarkable warmth” and said it surpassed the oceanic heat wave dubbed The Blob that gripped the northeastern Pacific in 2015. The hot oceans have in turn heated up the land. Increased evaporation has thus cranked up the humidity, leading to some uncomfortably warm nights in Alaska.

Just as the heat hasn’t been confined to Markusvinsa, the disappearing sea ice isn’t just an Alaskan coast thing. The Arctic Ocean as a whole recorded its lowest July sea ice extent ever, which could have in part helped fuel a bizarre lightning storm just a few hundred miles from the North Pole. Sea ice was a staggering 19.8 percent below average, dipping well under the previous low set in July 2012. Sea ice stans may recall 2012 as the year sea ice hit a record minimum extent. While we’re still six to eight weeks away from the annual sea ice minimum, and things could change in the coming month or so, this year’s icepack is in decidedly bad shape.

July’s Arctic heat is part of a larger global trend driven by carbon pollution. The NOAA data released on Thursday also confirmed that July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth, with temperature edging 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit (0.95 degrees Celsius) above the 20th-century average. Based on the heat in the first seven months of 2019, the world is almost certain to have one of its five warmest years on record. Using data analyzed separately by Berkeley Earth, climate scientist Robert Rohde tweeted that there’s a 90 percent chance that 2019 will go down as the second hottest year on record, trailing only 2016.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Arctic sea ice loaded with microplastics
« Reply #3887 on: August 17, 2019, 04:14:24 AM »
Arctic sea ice loaded with microplastics

Arctic sea ice loaded with microplastics

by Marlowe Hood

Scientists who collected the Arctic sea ice were shocked at the amount of plastic of all kinds it contained—beads, filaments, ny

At first glance, it looks like hard candy laced with flecks of fake fruit, or a third grader's art project confected from recycled debris.

In reality, it's a sliver of Arctic Ocean sea ice riddled with microplastics, extracted by scientists from deep inside an ice block that likely drifted southward past Greenland into Canada's increasingly navigable Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

"We didn't expect this amount of plastic, we were shocked," said University of Rhode Island ice expert Alessandra D'Angelo, one of a dozen scientists collecting and analysing data during an 18-day expedition aboard the Swedish icebreaker Oden.

"There is so much of it, and of every kind—beads, filaments, nylons," she told AFP from Greenland, days after completing the voyage.

Plastic pollution was not a primary focus of the Northwest Passage Project, funded by the US National Science Foundation and Heising-Simons Foundation.

Led by oceanographer Brice Loose, the multi-year mission is investigating how global warming might transform the biochemistry and ecosystems of the expansive Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

'Punch to the stomach'

One key question is whether the receding ice pack and influx of fresh water will boost the release into the atmosphere of methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent that CO2.

The Arctic region has warmed twice as quickly as the global average, some two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Average Arctic sea ice extent set a record low for July, nearly 20 percent below the 1981-2010 average, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported on Thursday.

But plastics has inserted itself onto the research agenda all the same.

Map showing the likely path of a drifting Arctic sea ice block in which samples extracted by scientists showed microplastic cont

"The ubiquity of plastic, for us it was kind of a punch to the stomach," Loose said.

"Just to see what looked like a normal ice core in such a pristine environment chock full of this completely foreign material."

A study published Thursday in Science Advances concluded that a large quantity of microplastic fragments and fibres are transported by winds into the Arctic region, and then hitch a ride Earthward in snowflakes.

At the same time, several million tonnes of plastics find their way each year directly into oceans, where waves and the Sun break them down into microscopic bits over time.

'Acts like a sieve'

For the samples collected by Loose's team—near the hamlet of Resolute—the low salinity and thickness of the ice left no doubt that it was more than a year old, and had originated in the northern Arctic Ocean.

The concentration of plastic bits in the ice was far higher than in surrounding water.

"As water freezes it forms crystals," explained Jacob Strock, another member of the team from the University of Rhode Island.

"Water passes through these crystals as they form," he told AFP. "The ice acts like a sieve, filtering out particles in the water."

Tiny plants and animals, called plankton, also get trapped in the ice. Some plankton ingest the plastic bits, which then work their way up the ocean food chain.

Plastic particles have recently been found inside fish in the deepest recesses of the ocean, called the Mariana Trench, and blanketing the most pristine snows in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain.

In the last two decades, the world has produced as much as during the rest of history, and the industry is set to grow by four percent a year until 2025, according to a recent report by Grand View Research.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Dangerous Lake Erie Algal Bloom Is Now Eight Times the Size of Cleveland
« Reply #3888 on: August 17, 2019, 04:22:49 AM »
Dangerous Lake Erie Algal Bloom Is Now Eight Times the Size of Cleveland



By Pam Wright

19 hours ago

weather.com

At a Glance

  • An outbreak of microcystis cyanobacteria, the organism responsible for harmful algae blooms, has become a yearly occurrence on Lake Erie.
  • NASA captured an image the massive bloom on July 30, when it covered 300 square miles, roughly the size of New York City.
  • By Aug. 13, the bloom had doubled to more than 620 square miles, eight times the size of Cleveland.

A harmful algae bloom that began growing in western Lake Erie in July has more than doubled in size in a few weeks.

On July 30, NASA captured an image of the bloom from space. At the time, the bloom covered 300 square miles, roughly the size of New York City. By Aug. 13, the bloom had doubled to more than 620 square miles, according to NASA. That's eight times the size of Cleveland, which sits on the shore of Lake Erie.

Outbreaks of microcystis cyanobacteria, the organism responsible for harmful algae blooms, has become a yearly occurrence on Lake Erie. Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted a severe bloom this summer, which became a reality in July primarily as a result of calm winds and abundant rainfall.

"Calm winds in July allowed algal toxins to accumulate at the surface (instead of being dispersed). Strong winds in August have since mixed some surface algae to deeper depths. Heavy rains carry excess nutrients (often fertilizer) from farms into the lake," NASA said in a statement.

NOAA noted in its prediction that this summer's bloom was expected to be larger than the mild bloom in 2018 and would measure greater than a 7 on the severity index, which is based on a bloom’s biomass, or the amount of its harmful algae, over a sustained period.

The largest blooms, 2011 and 2015, were 10 and 10.5, respectively, according to NOAA.

NOAA's 2019 harmful algae bloom outlook on Lake Erie, compared to previous years.
(NOAA)

On July 29, NOAA reported unsafe toxin concentrations in Lake Erie and have since advised people and their pets to stay away from areas where "scum is forming on the water surface."

"Green patches show where the bloom was most dense and where toxicity levels were unsafe for recreational activities," NASA said in its statement.

On Thursday, NOAA said in a weekly Lake Erie bulletin that measured toxin concentrations had decreased since the previous week but "may continue to exceed the recreational threshold where the bloom is most dense (appearing green from a boat)." The agency continued to warn people to keep themselves and their pets out of water where scum had formed.

Harmful algal blooms come from the runoff from nearby farms and ordinary neighborhoods that contain human waste and fertilizers. Nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as other nutrients in the polluted runoff, can act like fertilizer for the algae, creating large and extensive blooms.

(MORE: Millions in Major Cities Lack Access to Safe, Reliable Water Systems, and It's Getting Worse, Report Says)

NASA noted that this spring's heavy rainfall was a mixed blessing: It helped create the bloom in the first place but also prevented the situation from becoming worse.

"Nutrient runoff may have been less than anticipated this year because heavy spring rains and flooding prevented many farmers from planting crops," NASA said.

NOAA said the bloom is expected to continue into early fall.

If ingested, water contaminated with toxic cyanobacteria can cause nausea, vomiting and, in severe cases, acute liver failure, according to Florida's FWCC. While there have been no documented cases of anyone becoming ill from drinking water containing these toxins, it remains a concern.

The Centers for Disease Control says coming in direct contact with the algae can cause a rash and some research indicates a link between long-term inhalation of toxic algae fumes and neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s diseases.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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8-year-old Mexican Girl Wins Nuclear Sciences Prize For Her Invention
« Reply #3889 on: August 17, 2019, 12:03:35 PM »
8-year-old Mexican Girl Wins Nuclear Sciences Prize For Her Invention
A little girl from Chiapas was recognized by UNAM's Institute of Nuclear Sciences for her outstanding scientific achievement.


By O. DELGADO640946 views
8-year-old Mexican Girl Wins Nuclear Sciences Prize For Her Invention

At just 8 years old, Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz has invented a device to help low-income families.

The little girl from Chiapas was recognized by UNAM's Institute of Nuclear Sciences for her outstanding scientific achievement.

In Xóchitl's community in Chiapas, Mexico, resources are scarce. "People don't have the money to buy heaters, so they chop down trees to get firewood [to heat the water]," she says.

The 3rd grader took it upon herself to do something about it. 

A veteran of science projects - she's been competing in science fairs since she was four - Xochitl set about putting her knowledge and ingenuity to work. Using only discarded materials like bottles, wood, and plastics, she crafted a heating device that runs on a free and readily available energy source: the sun.

Her device not only functions to provide hot water to low-income families in her community, it also saves trees! 

Xóchitl's family helped her set up the device on their roof and have been using it to heat water to bathe. Xóchitl says she always bathes quickly though, "so [the hot water] will last for my little brother."

The young inventor was recently recognized by the Nuclear Sciences Institute at Mexico's Autonomous University for her solar-powered water-heating device, which has the potential to improve lives and the environment not only in rural Mexican communities, but in countries around the world.

If this is what Xóchitl is doing at eight, we can only imagine what the future holds.

« Last Edit: August 17, 2019, 12:21:29 PM by Surly1 »
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Plague-infected prairie dogs have shut down parts of a Denver suburb
« Reply #3890 on: August 18, 2019, 07:04:33 AM »
Plague-infected prairie dogs have shut down parts of a Denver suburb

Plague-infected prairie dogs have shut down parts of a Denver suburb

(CNN)Prairie dogs infected with the plague -- yes, the plague -- have shut down parts of a city and wildlife area near Denver this summer.

Sections of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge were closed in late July as a precautionary measure after the discovery of the disease, the US Fish and WIldlife Service said.
Unaffected refuge areas reopened Saturday, but other locations in Commerce City, a suburb north of Denver, will remain closed until Labor Day weekend, the Tri-County Health Department said.
"The prairie dog colonies are being monitored and burrows are being treated with insecticide, but there is still evidence of fleas in the hiking and camping areas, which could put people and pets at risk, so those areas will remain closed," said John M. Douglas, Jr., the Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department.
No human infections have been reported, he said.
Despite its name and fatal history in the Middle Ages, the plague is rare and generally treatable, at least in the United States.
The plague is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria and is fairly common in the rural western US, including Colorado, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On average, seven human plague cases have been reported each year in recent decades, according to the CDC.
In general, small mammals and rodents with infected fleas carry the disease, which can spread to pets or humans by flea bites or contact with an infected mammal.
More than 80% of US cases have been the bubonic form. Untreated bubonic plague can turn into the more serious pneumonic plague, which causes rapidly developing pneumonia after bacteria spread to the lungs.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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China needs more water. So it's building a rain-making network 3X Spain
« Reply #3891 on: August 18, 2019, 07:15:19 AM »
China needs more water. So it's building a rain-making network three times the size of Spain
Vast system of chambers on Tibetan plateau could send enough particles into the atmosphere to allow extensive clouds to form


Stephen Chen


The Tibetan Plateau is the source of most of Asia’s largest rivers, but it suffers from low annual rainfall. Photo: Alamy

China is testing cutting-edge defence technology to develop a powerful yet relatively low-cost weather modification system to bring substantially more rain to the Tibetan plateau, Asia’s biggest freshwater reserve.

The system, which involves an enormous network of fuel-burning chambers installed high up on the Tibetan mountains, could increase rainfall in the region by up to 10 billion cubic metres a year – about 7 per cent of China’s total water consumption – according to researchers involved in the project.

Tens of thousands of chambers will be built at selected locations across the Tibetan plateau to produce rainfall over a total area of about 1.6 million square kilometres (620,000 square miles), or three times the size of Spain. It will be the world’s biggest such project.

The chambers burn solid fuel to produce silver iodide, a cloud-seeding agent with a crystalline structure much like ice.


One of the fuel-burning chambers that have been deployed on the Tibetan plateau. Photo: maduo.gov.cn

“[So far,] more than 500 burners have been deployed on alpine slopes in Tibet, Xinjiang and other areas for experimental use. The data we have collected show very promising results,” a researcher working on the system told the South China Morning Post.

The system is being developed by the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation – a major space and defence contractor that is also leading other ambitious national projects, including lunar exploration and the construction of China’s space station.

Space scientists designed and constructed the chambers using cutting-edge military rocket engine technology, enabling them to safely and efficiently burn the high-density solid fuel in the oxygen-scarce environment at an altitude of over 5,000 metres (16,400 feet), according to the researcher who declined to be named due to the project’s sensitivity.

While the idea is not new – other countries like the United States have conducted similar tests on small sites – China is the first to attempt such a large-scale application of the technology.

The chambers’ daily operation will be guided by highly precise real-time data collected from a network of 30 small weather satellites monitoring monsoon activities over the Indian Ocean.

The ground-based network will also employ other cloud-seeding methods using planes, drones and artillery to maximise the effect of the weather modification system.

The chambers stand on steep mountain ridges facing the moist monsoon from south Asia. As wind hits the mountain, it produces an upward draft and sweeps the particles into the clouds to induce rain and snow.

Is Mekong River set to become the new South China Sea for regional disputes?

The gigantic glaciers and enormous underground reservoirs found on the Tibetan plateau, which is often referred to as Asia’s water tower, render it the source of most of the continent’s biggest rivers – including the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween and Brahmaputra.

The rivers, which flow through China, India, Nepal, Laos, Myanmar and several other countries, are a lifeline to almost half of the world’s population.



But because of shortages across the continent, the Tibetan plateau is also seen as a potential flashpoint as Asian nations struggle to secure control over freshwater resources.

Despite the large volume of water-rich air currents that pass over the plateau each day, the plateau is one of the driest places on Earth. Most areas receive less than 10cm of rain a year. An area that sees less than 25cm of rain annually is defined as a desert by the US Geological Survey.
Rain is formed when moist air cools and collides with particles floating in the atmosphere, creating heavy water droplets.

Resource-hungry China is in overdrive as it wages water wars by stealth

The silver iodide produced by the burning chambers will provide the particles required to form rain.
Radar data showed that a gentle breeze could carry the cloud-seeding particles more than 1,000 metres above the mountain peaks, according to the researcher.

A single chamber can form a strip of thick clouds stretching across more than 5km.

“Sometimes snow would start falling almost immediately after we ignited the chamber. It was like standing on the stage of a magic show,” he said.

The technology was initially developed as part of the Chinese military’s weather modification programme.
China and other countries, including Russia and the United States, have been researching ways to trigger natural disasters such as floods, droughts and tornadoes to weaken their enemies in the event of severe conflict.
Efforts to employ the defence technology for civilian use began over a decade ago, the researcher said.
One of the biggest challenges the rainmakers faced was finding a way to keep the chambers operating in one of the world’s most remote and hostile environments.
“In our early trials, the flame often extinguished midway [because of the lack of oxygen in the area],” the researcher said.
But now, after several improvements to the design, the chambers should be able to operate in a near-vacuum for months, or even years, without requiring maintenance.
China diverts 10 billion cubic metres of water to arid north
They also burn fuel as cleanly and efficiently as rocket engines, releasing only vapours and carbon dioxide, which makes them suitable for use even in environmentally protected areas.
Communications and other electronic equipment is powered by solar energy and the chambers can be operated by a smart phone app thousands of kilometres away for through the satellite forecasting system.
The chambers have one clear advantage over other cloud-seeding methods such as using planes, cannons and drones to blast silver iodide into the atmosphere.
“Other methods requires the establishment of a no-fly zone. This can be time-consuming and troublesome in any country, especially China,” the researcher said.

The ground-based network also comes at a relatively low price – each burning unit costs about 50,000 yuan (US$8,000) to build and install. Costs are likely to drop further due to mass production.
In comparison, a cloud-seeding plane costs several million yuan and covers a smaller area. One downside of the burning chambers, however, is that they will not work in the absence of wind or when the wind is blowing the wrong direction.

This month, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation signed an agreement with Tsinghua University and Qinghai province to set up a large-scale weather modification system on the Tibetan plateau.

In 2016 researchers from Tsinghua, China’s leading research university, first proposed a project – named Tianhe or Sky River – to increase the water supply in China’s arid northern regions by manipulating the climate.

The project aims to intercept the water vapour carried by the Indian monsoon over the Tibetan plateau and redistribute it in the northern regions to increase the water supply there by five to 10 billion cubic metres a year.

Chinese engineers plan 1,000km tunnel to make Xinjiang desert bloom

The aerospace corporation’s president, Lei Fanpei, said in a speech that China’s space industry would integrate its weather modification programme with Tsinghua’s Sky River project.

“[Modifying the weather in Tibet] is a critical innovation to solve China’s water shortage problem,” Lei said. “It will make an important contribution not only to China’s development and world prosperity, but also the well being of the entire human race.”

Tsinghua president Qiu Yong said the agreement signalled the central government’s determination to apply cutting-edge military technology in civilian sectors. The technology will significantly spur development in China’s western regions, he added.

The contents of the agreement are being kept confidential as it contains sensitive information that the authorities have deemed unsuitable to be revealed at the moment, a Tsinghua professor with knowledge of the deal told the Post.

“The satellite network and weather modification measures are to make preparations for the worst-case scenario,” the Tsinghua researcher said.
The exact scale and launch date for the programme has not been fixed as it is pending final approval from the central government, he said.
Debate is also ongoing within the project team over the best approach for the project, he added. While some favour the use of the chambers, others prefer cloud-seeding planes as they have a smaller environmental footprint.

Spring is coming earlier to the Tibetan plateau and it could affect the lives of millions
Ma Weiqiang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, said a cloud-seeding experiment on such a scale was unprecedented and could help answer many intriguing scientific questions.

In theory, the chambers could affect the weather and even the climate in the region if they are built in large enough numbers. But they might not work as perfectly in real life, according to the researcher.

“I am sceptical about the amount of rainfall they can produce. A weather system can be huge. It can make all human efforts look vain,” Ma said.
Beijing might not give the green light for the project either, he added, as intercepting the moisture in the skies over Tibet could have a knock-on effect and reduce rainfall in other Chinese regions.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2019, 12:48:11 PM by Surly1 »
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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CEO's decide saving planet is #4 on their do list right after milking customers
« Reply #3892 on: August 19, 2019, 12:50:17 PM »
CEO's decide saving planet is #4 on their to do list right after milking customers, oppressing workers and tyrannize suppliers.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Companies should focus on social responsibilities as well as profits, the Business Roundtable, a group of corporate chief executives that includes the head of the largest U.S. bank and the CEO of the world’s largest airline, said on Monday.

The statement of corporate purpose, which shifts from shareholder primacy, was signed by the heads of more than 180 U.S. companies, including the CEOs of Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), American Airlines (AAL.O), the largest airline in the world; and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), the biggest American bank.

The statement marks the first time the nearly 50-year-old group has said shareholder value is not the No. 1 one priority. It comes at a time when companies are increasingly taking stances on issues outside of the corporate sphere due to pressure from activists amplified over social media and calls from their own employees.

“This new statement better reflects the way corporations can and should operate today,” Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky said in a news release. “It affirms the essential role corporations can play in improving our society when CEOs are truly committed to meeting the needs of all stakeholders.”

The statement outlines five priorities, including commitments to invest in employees by providing fair wages and “important benefits,” support communities where they operate and dealing ethically with suppliers
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Trump 2020: Be Very Afraid
« Reply #3893 on: August 19, 2019, 04:04:40 PM »
Trump 2020: Be Very Afraid
America is the first country to ever elect a Mad King, and the way things are going, we may be dumb enough to do it twice




Illustration by Victor Juhasz for Rolling Stone

Early evening, August, Cincinnati. The Queen City’s many bridges are sealed off, its sky is dirty with helicopters, and seemingly every cop for 100 miles is patrolling Pete Rose Way along the Ohio River. A crowd of 20,000 or more stands in punishing heat, waiting to enter U.S. Bank Arena. The evil rumor buzzing down the line of MAGA hats is that not everyone will get in to see Donald Trump.

“Can we just get in for a minute?” complains a boy of about 10 to his mother. There are a lot of kids here.

Donald Trump doesn’t visit Middle America. He descends upon it. His rallies are awesome spectacles. Gawkers come down from the hills. If NASA traveled the country holding showings of the first captured alien life-form, the turnout would be similar. The pope driving monster trucks might get this much attention.

Almost everyone in line is wearing 45 merch. Trump is the most T-shirtable president in history, and it’s not even close. Trumpinator tees are big (“2020: I’LL BE BACK”), but you’ll also see Trump as Rambo (complete with headband, ammo belt, and phallic rocket-launcher), Trump as the Punisher (a Trump pompadour atop the famous skull), even Trump as Superman (pulling his suit open to reveal a giant T).

Slogans include “Trump 2020: Grab ’em by the Pussy Again!” and the ubiquitous “Trump 2020: Fuck Your Feelings.”

One merch hawker — an African American man with a visor, wraparound sunglasses, and spiked, dyed-white hair — is snaking through the crowd, pushing a T-shirt: “Donald Fuckin’ Trump.” On the back, the shirt reads “Bitch I’m the President!” “Five bucks for hats, 10 for tees!” he yells. “ ‘Bitch, I’m the president!’ ‘Make America great again!’ ”

“Four more years!” someone in the crowd yells back, to cheers.

Two and a half years into his presidency, Trump has already staked a claim to a role in history usually reserved for hereditary monarchs at the end of a line of inbreeding. Historians will list him somewhere between Vlad the Impaler and France’s Charles VI, who thought his buttocks were made of glass.

Much of America loves its Mad King, whose works are regularly on display. Russians under Ivan the Terrible used to watch dogs being hurled over the Kremlin walls when the tsar’s mood was bad. Americans have grown used to late-night insults tweeted at nuclear powers from the White Housebedroom.

Royal lunacy is traditionally a secret, but in Twitter-age America it’s a shared national experience. We are all somersaulting down and out the sanity chute. The astonishing thing about Trump is that he wasn’t foisted on us by a council of Bourbons, or by succession law. We elected the man, and are poised to do it again.

History will judge us harshly for this, and will look with particular venom at Trump’s political opponents in both parties, who over the years were unable to win popularity contests against a man most people would not leave alone with a decent wristwatch, let alone their children.

Trump’s original destiny was the destruction of the Republicans as a viable entity in modern American politics. Then he ran a general election like he was trying to lose, and won. Now his legacy is the spectacular end of America’s fragile racial consensus.

Ten years ago, an African American won the White House in a landslide; today, the president is somewhere between a Klansman and Jimmy the Greek. The media legend is that Trump succeeds because he’s a racist, but this undersells it. Trump is 50 years behind the worst elements of the Republican Party, which spent decades carefully stuffing race under bromides like “states’ rights” and “free stuff.” The GOP now is in an all-out bucket brigade to rescue the dog whistle.

The rescue is failing. We’ve gone from Trump being skeptical of Obama’s citizenship to musing about “very fine” neo-Nazis to a Twitter version of “Go back to Africa.” In Cincinnati, even his most hardcore supporters talk about wanting him to shut up. “I wish,” says one fan, “he would edit himself a little bit.”

TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump gestures as he arrives to a "Make America Great Again" campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, on August 1, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump gestures as he arrives to a “Make America Great Again” campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, on August 1, 2019.

For all this, every time Trump seems headed for the dustbin of history, he bounces up again off the messageless paralysis of his Democratic opposition. When Trump vanquished a giant primary field of Republicans in 2016, Democrats cheered. When they lost the general election, they acted like it was an unrelated surprise event, an outrage to decency itself. They remain ineffective as anything but a punchline to the Trump story.

This cycle has led to more alienation and made the 2020 election a gruesome, exhausting black comedy. This is our penance for turning the presidential campaign into a bread-and-circus entertainment. Middle Americans got so used to getting nothing out of elections, they started treating national politics for what it had become to them, a distant, pretentious sitcom.

Now they’re writing their own script. They can’t arrange for Jake Tapper to be fed to a shark, so they’ll settle for rolling Donald Trump into Washington. It’s hard to see right now, it being the end of our society and all, but the situation is not without humor, in a “What does this button marked ‘Detonate’ do?” sort of way. Can America shoot itself in the head a second time? It sounds, appropriately enough, like the premise of a Trump TV show.

Here’s how degraded the political landscape has become: Mike Pence looks like a vice president now. In 2016, especially after the “grab ’em by the pussy” episode, the genuflecting Indianan often came across like a man appointed public defender to a ring of child cannibals. Now, onstage in Cincinnati, he looks stoked to be introducing His Trumpness.

“And now, it’s my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce you to my friend” — Pence sells it hard — “and the 45th president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump!”

The crowd bursts into roars, hoots, cheers. Trump pops out onstage. Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” booms over the stadium.

Trump takes his sweet time to get to the podium. He gives photogs every pose: the clap, the wave, the arms akimbo, the blown kiss. It’s “I’m Too Sexy” brought to politics. A lot of candidates scan crowds like they’re looking for the sniper, but Trump acts like he’s ready for a mass frottage session.

“There’s that, too,” agrees a young Trump supporter named Andrew Walls later. “He l-o-o-o-ves what he does.”

Trump gives a double-fist pump in the direction of a man in a red headband and a green Army vest. When Trump looks in his direction, the man spasms like a dog blowing a load. Others are waving their arms like Pentecostals or doing V-for-victory signs. It’s pandemonium.

Trump takes the lectern. His hair has visibly yellowed since 2016. It’s an amazing, unnatural color, like he was electrocuted in French’s mustard. His neckless physique is likewise a wonder. He looks like he ate Nancy Pelosi.

“You know,” Trump says, referencing the Democrats’ debate in Detroit, “I was watching the so-called debates last night. . . .”

Boooo!

“. . . That was long, long television.”

That part is true enough. One wonders if Trump scheduled a rally the day after the debates on purpose, to steal the end of the flailing Democrats’ news cycle. He goes on:

“The Democrats spent more time attacking Barack Obama than they did attacking me, practically,” he says, to cheers. “And this morning that’s all the fake news was talking about.”

BOOOOOOO!!!!

Nobody draws bigger catcalls than the “fake” news media. Trump knows this and pauses to let the bile rise. He expresses pleasure at being back in “the American heart land,” which he pronounces as if he’s just learned the term.

He then reflects on his 2016 run, when hordes of people turned out to send him to D.C., from places he, Trump, would never have visited, except maybe by plane crash.

“You came from the mountains and the valleys and the rivers, and, uh, you came for —” He seems to not know what comes after rivers. “I mean, look, you came from wherever you came from, and there were a lot of you.”

He ends up telling a story about early voting in Tennessee in 2016, and a congressman who told him if the whole country was voting like this, he was going to win by a lot. “And we won,” he says. “And we won by a lot.”

Press accounts will call this a lie, and of course it is, and even the crowd knows it. But they cheer anyway. In response, Trump stops and does his trademark stump flourish, turning sideways to flash his iguanoid profile before stalking around the lectern in resplendent, obese glory, inviting all to Get a load of me!

It’s indulgent, absurd, narcissistic, and appalling, unless you’re a Trump fan, in which case it’s hilarious, a continuation of the belly laughs that began in many parts of America with Hillary Clinton’s concession speech.

Trump crowds have changed. At the beginning of 2016, trying to pull quotes out of Trump rallies was like stopping a bunch of straight men who’d just whacked each other off behind a trailer. They didn’t want to talk about it.

As time progressed, the crowd’s profile widened. You met union members, veterans, and where it got weird was the stream of people who appeared to be neither traditional Republicans nor, seemingly, interested in politics at all. Among both young and old, people turned out who had no conception of Trump as anything but a TV star. This second group’s numbers seemed to have swelled.

“I watched the Celebrity Apprentice, and I loved that,” says Jackie Hoffman, a 60-year-old grandmother who gushes “we never had” someone like Trump run for president before. “Ronald Reagan was a celebrity, but he wasn’t, like, a big celebrity,” she says.

“I just want to get a feel for the spectacle,” says Walls. As we talk, he’s gazing at a stand full of Trump merch. He likes the Punisher motif, but also the Terminator tee. “If I had money,” he says, “I’d probably buy that.”

Walls and his friend James Monroe drove in from Kentucky. Walls is an enthusiastic Trump supporter, Monroe not — he’s here for the show. Though they disagree about Trump’s politics, they express surprise he won the last time.

A man in a shirt with images of Donald Trump during the rally.US President Donald Trump, US Presidential Election campaigning, Cincinnati, USA - 01 Aug 2019 President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence held a rally at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.

A man in a shirt with images of Donald Trump during the rally.
US President Donald Trump, US Presidential Election campaigning, Cincinnati, USA – 01 Aug 2019
President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence held a rally at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.

This is a common theme, when you ask people what impresses them most about Trump, i.e., that he won despite the press. The news media rate somewhere between herpes and ISIS in much of the country. “A lot of the media are very liberal,” says Monroe. “I don’t know how he won.”

Skylar Easter, 23, and Sahara Hollingshead, 19, are a young couple who came down from Circleville, Ohio. Skylar’s got long blond hair, a beard, and a tie-dye shirt, and looks vaguely like the True Romance version of Brad Pitt. Sahara’s got purple glasses and says, “There are more minorities and women employed right now than there’s been in almost 30 years. That’s great.” Both recently landed jobs at a company called TriMold, making parts for Hondas. “We stand in one place and operate a machine,” says Skylar. Sahara likes Trump’s attitude, because he’s “not scared to go for it.”

The most common remark you hear from Trump voters is that he’s “relatable” and isn’t “phony.” Blue-state audiences tempted to howl at this should try to understand this phenomenon, because it speaks to a legitimate problem Democrats have.

The average American likes meat, sports, money, porn, cars, cartoons, and shopping. Less popular: socialism, privilege-checking, and the world ending in 10 years. Ironically, perhaps because of Trump, Democratic Party rhetoric in 2020 is relentlessly negative about the American experience. Every speech is a horror story about synagogue massacres or people dying without insulin or atrocities at the border. Republicans who used to complain about liberals “apologizing for America” were being silly, but 2020 Democrats sound like escapees from the Killing Fields.

Ronald Reagan once took working-class voters away from Democrats by offering permission to be proud of the flag. Trump offers permission to occupy the statistical American mean: out of shape, suffering from gas, poorly read, anti-intellectual, treasuring things above meaning, and hiding an awful credit history.

Trump in this way is more all-American than Mark Spitz, Liberace, Oprah, Audie Murphy, and Marilyn Monroe. He’s a monument to the consumption economy. He represents fake boobs, the short con, the tall tale, gas guzzlers, and a hundred other American traditions.

This is why the endless chronicling of Trump’s lies does little to dent his popularity. Trump’s voters don’t need to read PolitiFact to see what Trump’s about. They see it in his waistline. Few politicians in history have revealed what they are to voters more than Trump. Christ, we even know what the man’s penis looks like.

“The cool thing about Trump,” says 38-year-old Cincinnati native Jeremy Holtkamp, “is that it’s just about being an American.”

Trump’s political strategy is primitive but effective. He picks something that polls badly, and kicks it in the crotch. Then he backs off and lets three eternal truths do the rest of the work.

One: A news media that pretends moral outrage will greedily cover his every move (cable-news profits have soared 36 percent since Trump began his run four years ago).

Two: In a fractured political landscape, the so-called “legitimate” politicians who are his main competition will spend more time fighting one another than him. This is because intellectuals can’t bring themselves to take Trump’s dumbed-down version of politics seriously.

Third: America’s upper classes and their proxies in government and media have no capacity for self-reflection, and will make asses of themselves in a fight. This is where Trump makes his living, getting people who should know better to rise to his bait. It’s a simple formula: Incite brawls that seem like clear political losers, only to eventually maneuver controversies to his advantage.

Trump launched his 2020 re-election campaign on June 18th in Orlando. Within a month, he was picking his first major campaign fight. The backdrop was Trump’s decision to increase the number of criminal prosecutions for illegal border entry. His innovation was making systematic the separation of families in custody, a move that seemed to have no practical purpose except as a deterrent of the Game of Thrones heads-on-spikes variety.

When everyone from the American Academy of Pediatrics to his wife to Lindsey Graham expressed revulsion — dude, kids? — Trump finally signed an executive order reversing the policy. He then characteristically blamed the mess on Democrats. By then, the situation had become a fiasco and, like all things in the Trump era, a media goat rope of monstrous proportions.

In response, House Speaker Pelosi and her “mighty moderates” attempted to pass a bipartisan border bill backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Progressives who have called for the entire border-enforcement machinery to be reformed freaked.

A representative from Wisconsin compared Democratic moderates to child abusers, and debonair Twitter subversive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez cried, “Hell, no.” When Pelosi yawned back at Ocasio-Cortez and three other young female members for “their public whatever and their Twitter world,” the Bronx congresswoman called Pelosi out for the “singling out of newly elected women of color.”

In perhaps the most predictable moment of his presidency, a gleeful Trump jumped on this Democrat-on-Democrat racial food fight. Using the backdrop of Marine One, he said Ocasio-Cortez was being “very disrespectful,” adding, “I don’t think Nancy can let that go on.”

Nancy! The lascivious familiarity with which Trump dropped her name must have stuck like a tongue in Pelosi’s ear. The speaker, from that moment, was cornered. A step forward meant welcoming the boils-and-all embrace of Donald Trump. A step back meant bitter intramural surrender and a likely trip to intersectionality re-education camp.

A normal, self-aware politician, meaning one who is not Donald Trump, would have waited for Pelosi to step off this land mine. But Trump then issued his infamous tweet about “the squad” — Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tliab, and Ayanna Pressley — needing to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

For the 10 millionth time since he launched his presidential campaign, Trump seemed to make a fatal miscalculation, revealing himself to be a meandering, incoherent racist on a political suicide mission. But we should recognize by now, these outbursts by Trump are never fatal.

The practical impact of Trump’s summer freakouts was to make everyone on Earth forget the original controversy. Instead, the country ended up engaged in a full-scale melee over Pelosi’s racial attitudes, the relative dirtiness of Baltimore, whether or not Al Sharpton hates white people, and a dozen other questions.

Soon, the Democratic candidates were in such a fury about all things immigration that they ganged up on hapless Joe Biden for not stopping the “Deporter-in-Chief,” Obama.

This was classic Trump. He creates controversies so quickly that no one can keep track of them all. When the dust settles, everyone is covered with welts and King Donald is bragging about having done it all on purpose, which he may have. In the end, what everyone remembers is Trump antagonists tying themselves in knots over his whims.

America is messed up, sure, but are we this messed up? What if we didn’t have a perma-tweeting Archie Bunker president, or turned off our TVs? Trump’s 2016 victory only happened with a slew of unwitting accomplices. Republicans split the primary vote, Democrats nominated a high-negatives insider, and the media not only tossed to Trump billions of dollars in free coverage, but also constantly validated his mockery with snooty mis-predictions. A child knows not to fall for the pull-my-finger joke a second time. But the assembled brainpower of institutional America seems determined to clear a path for Trump by playing straight man again.

A supporter attends a US President Donald Trump "Make America Great Again" campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, on August 1, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

A supporter attends a US President Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, on August 1, 2019.

Back on Pete Rose Way, a meager crowd of 100 or so protesters remains gathered across the street. A few anguished-looking college-educated types hold a banner reading “Hate Has No Home Here.” Walking up and down their side is a young activist with a bullhorn.

“I hate to break the bad news to you,” he shouts across the asphalt divide. “Trump doesn’t give a shit about working people!”

“Fuck you!” one of a trio of young MAGA dudes shouts in reply.

His buddies are laughing and high-fiving. They’re having a blast. The anguish of the lefty protesters is the best part.

Throughout Trump’s speech, spectators came down to taunt the libs. It got tense enough that a row of helmeted cops showed up, stringing patrol bicycles end to end in the middle of the street to create an ad-hoc barricade.

“He’s a fucking con man,” the would-be Ortega on the other side is chanting now. “Don the con . . . All power to the working class!”

“We are the working class, buddy!” an older man shouts. More laughs.

“No more hate!” the protesters chant.

“Four more years, bitch!” comes the reply.

The road is only four lanes wide, but it might as well be a continent. Two groups of people, calling each other assholes across a barricade. Welcome to America in the Donald Trump era.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: Trump 2020: Be Very Afraid
« Reply #3894 on: August 19, 2019, 04:09:55 PM »
America is the first country to ever elect a Mad King

The Germans elected Hitler.

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Re: Trump 2020: Be Very Afraid
« Reply #3895 on: August 19, 2019, 05:10:27 PM »
America is the first country to ever elect a Mad King
The Germans elected Hitler.

Some of the same forces that produced Hitler seem to be operating in the US now.

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Re: Trump 2020: Be Very Afraid
« Reply #3896 on: August 19, 2019, 05:25:00 PM »
America is the first country to ever elect a Mad King
The Germans elected Hitler.

Some of the same forces that produced Hitler seem to be operating in the US now.

Indeed.  And in the UK with Boris Johnson; and in France with Marine LePen and so forth and so on.

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Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change
« Reply #3897 on: August 21, 2019, 04:02:49 AM »
Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change
A book entitled Discerning Experts explains why—and what can be done about it

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/scientists-have-been-underestimating-the-pace-of-climate-change/?fbclid=IwAR3LsvswnmWMp6V49UkSxgV1u85YO2uodXgvgb2uL2by0g1-LdBI4QWfYv8



Recently, the U.K. Met Office announced a revision to the Hadley Center historical analysis of sea surface temperatures (SST), suggesting that the oceans have warmed about 0.1 degree Celsius more than previously thought. The need for revision arises from the long-recognized problem that in the past sea surface temperatures were measured using a variety of error-prone methods such as using open buckets, lamb’s wool–wrapped thermometers, and canvas bags. It was not until the 1990s that oceanographers developed a network of consistent and reliable measurement buoys.

Then, to develop a consistent picture of long-term trends, techniques had to be developed to compensate for the errors in the older measurements and reconcile them with the newer ones. The Hadley Centre has led this effort, and the new data set—dubbed HadSST4—is a welcome advance in our understanding of global climate change.

But that’s where the good news ends. Because the oceans cover three fifths of the globe, this correction implies that previous estimates of overall global warming have been too low. Moreover it was reported recently that in the one place where it was carefully measured, the underwater melting that is driving disintegration of ice sheets and glaciers is occurring far faster than predicted by theory—as much as two orders of magnitude faster—throwing current model projections of sea level rise further in doubt.

These recent updates, suggesting that climate change and its impacts are emerging faster than scientists previously thought, are consistent with observations that we and other colleagues have made identifying a pattern in assessments of climate research of underestimation of certain key climate indicators, and therefore underestimation of the threat of climate disruption. When new observations of the climate system have provided more or better data, or permitted us to reevaluate old ones, the findings for ice extent, sea level rise and ocean temperature have generally been worse than earlier prevailing views.

Consistent underestimation is a form of bias—in the literal meaning of a systematic tendency to lean in one direction or another—which raises the question: what is causing this bias in scientific analyses of the climate system?

The question is significant for two reasons. First, climate skeptics and deniers have often accused scientists of exaggerating the threat of climate change, but the evidence shows that not only have they not exaggerated, they have underestimated. This is important for the interpretation of the scientific evidence, for the defense of the integrity of climate science, and for public comprehension of the urgency of the climate issue. Second, objectivity is an essential ideal in scientific work, so if we have evidence that findings are biased in any direction—towards alarmism or complacency—this should concern us We should seek to identify the sources of that bias and correct them if we can.

In our new book, Discerning Experts, we explored the workings of scientific assessments for policy, with particular attention to their internal dynamics, as we attempted to illuminate how the scientists working in assessments make the judgments they do. Among other things, we wanted to know how scientists respond to the pressures—sometimes subtle, sometimes overt—that arise when they know that their conclusions will be disseminated beyond the research community—in short, when they know that the world is watching. The view that scientific evidence should guide public policy presumes that the evidence is of high quality, and that scientists’ interpretations of it are broadly correct. But, until now, those assumptions have rarely been closely examined.

We found little reason to doubt the results of scientific assessments, overall. We found no evidence of fraud, malfeasance or deliberate deception or manipulation. Nor did we find any reason to doubt that scientific assessments accurately reflect the views of their expert communities. But we did find that scientists tend to underestimate the severity of threats and the rapidity with which they might unfold.

Among the factors that appear to contribute to underestimation is the perceived need for consensus, or what we label univocality: the felt need to speak in a single voice. Many scientists worry that if disagreement is publicly aired, government officials will conflate differences of opinion with ignorance and use this as justification for inaction. Others worry that even if policy makers want to act, they will find it difficult to do so if scientists fail to send an unambiguous message. Therefore, they will actively seek to find their common ground and focus on areas of agreement; in some cases, they will only put forward conclusions on which they can all agree.

How does this lead to underestimation? Consider a case in which most scientists think that the correct answer to a question is in the range 1–10, but some believe that it could be as high as 100. In such a case, everyone will agree that it is at least 1–10, but not everyone will agree that it could be as high as 100. Therefore, the area of agreement is 1–10, and this is reported as the consensus view. Wherever there is a range of possible outcomes that includes a long, high-end tail of probability, the area of overlap will necessarily lie at or near the low end. Error bars can be (and generally are) used to express the range of possible outcomes, but it may be difficult to achieve consensus on the high end of the error estimate.

The push toward agreement may also be driven by a mental model that sees facts as matters about which all reasonable people should be able to agree versus differences of opinion or judgment that are potentially irresolvable. If the conclusions of an assessment report are not univocal, then (it may be thought that) they will be viewed as opinions rather than facts and dismissed not only by hostile critics but even by friendly forces. The drive toward consensus may therefore be an attempt to present the findings of the assessment as matters of fact rather than judgment.
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The impulse toward univocality arose strongly in a debate over how to characterize the risk of disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC (AR4). Nearly all experts agreed there was such a risk as climate warmed, but some thought it was only very far in the future while others thought it might be more imminent. An additional complication was that some scientists felt that the available data were simply not sufficient to draw any defensible conclusion about the short-term risk, and so they made no estimate at all.

However, everyone concurred that, if WAIS did not disintegrate soon, it would likely disintegrate in the long run. Therefore, the area of agreement lay in the domain of the long run—the conclusion of a non-imminent risk—and so that is what was reported. The result was a minimalist conclusion, and we know now that the estimates that were offered were almost certainly too low.

This offers a significant point of contrast with academic science, where there is no particular pressure to achieve agreement by any particular deadline (except perhaps within a lab group, in order to be able to publish findings or meet a grant proposal deadline). Moreover, in academic life scientists garner attention and sometimes prestige by disagreeing with their colleagues, particularly if the latter are prominent. The reward structure of academic life leans toward criticism and dissent; the demands of assessment push toward agreement.

A second reason for underestimation involves an asymmetry in how scientists think about error and its effects on their reputations. Many scientists worry that if they over-estimate a threat, they will lose credibility, whereas if they under-estimate it, it will have little (if any) reputational impact. In climate science, this anxiety is reinforced by the drumbeat of climate denial, in which scientists are accused of being “alarmists” who “exaggerate the threat.” In this context, scientists may go the extra mile to disprove the stereotype by down-playing known risks and denying critics the opportunity to label them as alarmists.

Many scientists consider underestimates to be “conservative,” because they are conservative with respect to the question of when to sound an alarm or how loudly to sound it. The logic of this can be questioned, because underestimation is not conservative when viewed in terms of giving people adequate time to prepare. (Consider for example, an underestimate of an imminent hurricane, tornado, or earthquake.) In the AR4 WAIS debate, scientists underestimated the threat of rapid ice sheet disintegration because many of the scientists who participated were more comfortable with an estimate that they viewed as "conservative" than with one that was not.

The combination of these three factors—the push for univocality, the belief that conservatism is socially and politically protective, and the reluctance to make estimates at all when the available data are contradictory—can lead to “least common denominator'' results—minimalist conclusions that are weak or incomplete.

Moreover, if consensus is viewed as a requirement, scientists may avoid discussing tricky issues that engender controversy (but might still be important), or exclude certain experts whose opinions are known to be “controversial” (but may nevertheless have pertinent expertise). They may also consciously or unconsciously pull back from reporting on extreme outcomes. (Elsewhere we have labeled this tendency "erring on the side of least drama.”) In short, the push for agreement and caution may undermine other important goals, including inclusivity, accuracy and comprehension.

We are not suggesting that every example of underestimation is necessarily caused by the factors we observed in our work, nor that the demand for consensus always leads to conservatism. Without looking closely at any given case, we cannot be sure whether the effects we observed are operating or not. But we found that the pattern of underestimation that we observed in the WAIS debate also occurred in assessments of acid rain and the ozone hole.

We found that the institutional aspects of assessment, including who the authors are and how they are chosen, how the substance is divided into chapters, and guidance emphasizing consensus, also mitigate in favor of scientific conservatism. Thus, so far as our evidence goes, it appears that scientists working in assessments are more likely to underestimate than to overestimate threats.

In our book, we make some concrete recommendations. While scientists in assessments generally aim for consensus, we suggest that they should not view consensus as a goal of the assessment. Depending on the state of scientific knowledge, consensus may or may not emerge from an assessment, but it should not be viewed as something that needs to be achieved and certainly not as something to be enforced. Where there are substantive differences of opinion, they should be acknowledged and the reasons for them explained (to the extent that they can be explained).

Scientific communities should also be open to experimenting with alternative models for making and expressing group judgments, and to learning more about how policy makers actually interpret the findings that result.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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This Is How Trump Will Tank the Economy and His Presidency
« Reply #3898 on: August 26, 2019, 02:23:55 AM »
This Is How Trump Will Tank the Economy and His Presidency

Trump's trade war is in a dangerous new phase.
Trump’s trade war is in a dangerous new phase. Photo: Luke Sharrett

I don’t know what the president expected Jay Powell to do.

The Fed chairman’s remarks at the Jackson Hole Federal Reserve conference on Friday were in line with his comments after July’s Fed meeting, and with the minutes from that meeting. There are increasingly worrying signs in the global economy, he said. Global trade tensions are one factor worsening the outlook. And the Fed stands ready to pursue appropriate policy adjustments to support the economy as needed.

The financial markets took Powell’s statement as mildly dovish. Bond yields fell a little, stocks rose a little, the dollar fell a little — all signs the speech gave market participants a little more confidence the Fed would pursue at least a couple more interest rate cuts. But mostly, the speech seemed to contain what people expected it to contain.

In response, the president attacked Powell on Twitter, asking who’s the bigger enemy: him, or Chinese president Xi Jinping.

That tweet didn’t move financial markets. But the next few tweets did. The president declared he’d be announcing a response to China’s most recent tariff escalation this afternoon, and that he “hereby” instructs U.S. companies to find somewhere other than China to do business. Stocks promptly fell by 500 points.

Obviously, there has often been market turmoil related to the president’s trade policies. But today feels different. For the last couple of years, there had been a pattern: The president escalates, the markets hate it, then the president finds a way to back off, and stocks go back up. For a long time it looked like the president’s China policy was a negative factor for economy, but its effects were manageable, in significant part because Trump faced political incentives to limit the damage.

Now, as the economy shows signs of weakening (in part for reasons unrelated to the president’s actions) he seems panicked. He wants the Fed to clean up his mess but — despite public perception — his public jawboning of the Fed appears to be having little effect on monetary policy. The main way the president has been affecting monetary policy has been by taking concrete policy actions that hurt the economic outlook, which changes the parameters the Fed considers as it decides how to set interest rates. The bigger a mess Trump makes, the more rate cuts he can get, but not enough rate cuts to actually offset the mess. And this is making him angry.

The main lever he has left is his trade policy itself. If he wanted less China-related economic drag, he could back off the tariff threats. And indeed, he did a little of that a couple of weeks ago, delaying some of the new tariffs he announced for September 1 so they won’t take effect until December 15. His administration said this delay was for national security reasons, though he said himself it was because he didn’t want to interfere with the Christmas shopping season.

But the Chinese appear to have read the delay as a sign of weakness. This week they announced more tariffs, infuriating the president. Since backing off didn’t work, he decided to escalate today. And that’s what’s so nerve-racking for the markets: His trade policy no longer appears to be self-limiting. In fact, it could be self-reinforcing, where tariffs cause damage and the president tries to “fix” the damage with more tariffs.

It’s also worth considering the possibility that we have gotten too far down the trade-war road for the president to unwind the problems he’s caused. To the extent there are signs of weakness in the domestic economy, they are largely on the producer side. The consumer sector still looks decent. But tariffs and uncertainty over future tariffs have already discouraged businesses from producing and investing. And China has less reason to participate in a de-escalation than they did a year ago, since they can just ride out the next year and hope to be facing a new, less-hostile president. As Jonathan Chait notes, Xi Jinping doesn’t have to worry about reelection like Trump does.

With a China less willing to back down and a trade war maybe too far along to stop, the president is backed into a corner. He may feel he can’t save the economy by folding. And so he may follow his instinct — one of the few consistent policy views he has expressed for decades — that protectionism is good for the economy, and that despite what the markets and his advisers are telling him, trade wars are good and easy to win and more tariffs and more disruption will only mean more winning for the U.S.

What the president showed us today is he’s prepared to hit the gas as he approaches the cliff. That should make us all worried about the economic outlook — and it should make Republicans very worried about the political outlook.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Trump’s Trade War Linked To Amazon Rainforest Destruction
As U.S. soybeans sit in silos, Brazilian farmers push to break new ground to satisfy the Chinese market.


As unsold U.S. soybeans are stored in silos across the farm belt, Brazilian farmers and corporations scramble to satisfy the voracious Chinese market. The push to break new ground amid President Donald Trump’s trade war with China is putting increasing pressure on the Amazon rainforest and is likely linked to the region’s devastating fires, according to experts.

“There is concern that market pressures related to the disruptions in global trade contributed to the fires in the Amazon,” a spokesman for the industry group the U.S. Soybean Export Council said in an email to HuffPost. 

Brazil is America’s biggest soybean competitor and has stepped up its production now that China has slashed its purchases of U.S. crops in retaliation for Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports. Soy shipments from Brazil jumped 27% from 2017 to 2018. Chinese imports from Brazil in the 12 months through April amounted to 71 million tons — nearly as much as China imported from the entire world in 2014, according to Bloomberg. 

Amid increasing demands for farm products from China, Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has pledged to open up the 2 million-square-mile Amazon forest — including inside protected indigenous areas — to more farming and mining. He has jokingly referred to himself as “Captain Chainsaw.” Many suspect that raging fires in the region, which were largely unchecked for weeks, are part of a strategy to speed up that policy. The Amazon Environmental Research Institute has concluded that the recent increase in the number of fires in the Amazon is directly related to deliberate deforestation, the BBC reported.

“Citizens around the world should be concerned by the global environmental and individual health impact of the devastating fires in Brazil, potentially started to clear land for crops and cattle,” Jim Sutter, CEO of the Soybean Export Council, said in a statement to HuffPost. “Meanwhile, U.S. crops remain unsold.”

Not only do American farmers have soybeans to sell, but also the crops are generally grown under far more stringent environmental standards than in Brazil, Sutter noted.

“It’s such a waste,” Gary Wertish, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, told HuffPost. “We have plenty of soybeans to sell, while you worry that more and more land is being put into production in Brazil to satisfy the market. And the rainforest is so crucially important to the world.” 

The consequences are devastating not only for Brazil but also for the world. The Amazon basin — the globe’s biggest rainforest and home to 3 million species of plants and animals — is crucial to regulating global warming. Its forests absorb millions of tons of carbon emissions each year.

The Group of Seven agreed at its summit in France last week to provide $22 million and other support to Brazil to help with firefighting, which it appears Bolsonaro will likely reject.

Trump skipped the G-7 meeting on climate change on Monday. The president claimed he had other meetings with the leaders of Germany and India. But both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were in the climate change meeting. 

Trump later claimed that he knows “more than most people about the environment.” He noted: “I’m an environmentalist. A lot of people don’t understand that.”

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

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