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Spotlight on green news & views: Cities redeem COP25; electric cars review; 5th kingdom—fungi!

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This is the 623rd edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue). Here is the Dec. 14 edition. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES

Desert Scientist writes—Fungi! The Fifth Kingdom: “When I was very young, probably about eight years old, I used to explore the pecan grove around the agricultural workers shack that my father had rented on Magnolia Avenue in Yuma, Arizona (not one magnolia on this street, at least when I was living there!)  One year they tried growing cotton under the pecan canopy and I wondered out to see the tall cotton plants.  To my delight I found several pure white mushrooms growing under the cotton plants with neat little rings around the stems.  I cannot know for sure because many years have passed, but I suspect that these were Amanita ocreata, although they should not have been in such a low elevation (they might have been brought in on the cattle manure used in the field). Still pure white mushrooms should certainly be avoided by amateurs who are foraging for edibles. I was intelligent enough to only look. Mushrooms are the spore producing bodies of fungi that represent a reproductive stage in the life of masses of underground thread-like structures called mycelia. Forest soils are literally crammed with these structures and some are very ancient (See: www.scientificamerican.com/…) However, mushrooms are only one kind of fungus and also there are many organisms that in the popular knowledge are considered to be fungi. The other true fungi include molds, smuts, mildews, and some “aberrant  mushrooms” like the stinkhorns and jellies. The not-fungi include the water molds, slime molds and a few others. Mushrooms can be found just about anywhere, but the Pacific Northwest, where I now reside, is a prime environment for them. Here mushroom gatherers harvest several species, including the delectable chanterelles, and mushroom farmers raise others for market.”

smjhunt writes—An Ode to the Eve of the Gas Powered Car:
In the great green garage
There was a brand new car with an electric motor
And a red charger
Goodbye Gas Tanks
and Gas Pumps and Gas Stations
Goodbye Radiators
and Water Pumps and Pulleys and Fans
Goodbye Pistons
Goodbye Crankshafts
and Oil Pumps and Valves and Springs and Cams
Goodbye Generators
Goodbye Alternators
and Spark Plugs and Rotors and Starter Motors
Goodbye Carburetors
Goodbye Fuel Injectors
and Fuel Pumps and Filters and Emission Controllers
Goodbye Mufflers
Goodbye Exhaust Pipes
Goodbye Clutches and Transmissions and Brakes that quickly wear
Good Bye CO2 and NOx and Hydrocarbons Everywhere”

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – one day’s pause in stormy weather: “Salish Sea, PacificNorthwest. Blustery and spitting rain this morning. But yesterday was a rare December’s day that was calm and even a little sunny. Sure, the sun was so low in the sky it was barely visible above any trees, and dim overall, but a clement day like that is one to grab for going out boating. So we did. It was a very high tide, as it tends to be in midwinter during the daytime. Not much tidal water movement though when you’re in between a low of 7.2’ and a high of 7.7’, so we encountered no tide rips or swirling. Easy peasy boating. In today’s gusty 30 knot weather it would be very bumpy and splashy. Not so nice.”

OceanDiver writes—Dawn Chorus: Winter at the Seedfeeder: “I was thinking recently how different the birds are in winter compared to summer. Seed gets consumed at about the same rate (less in fall and spring) so it’s not because more birds are feeding there now. In summer it’s breeding birds and fledglings munching down and in winter it’s our residents who are finding food less abundant or easy to find. Our climate is far more benign than most locations in the northern states — it rarely snows or even freezes — but seeds and berries start to run low by mid winter, and as I mentioned, birds don’t have much daylight time to forage for them: it’s just getting light at 8am and it’s dark by 4pm. Birds have to chow down on enough seed in 8 hours to keep them going through 16 hours of night. Some of our winter birds are as common in winter as summer. The House Finches are among the most abundant birds we have all year. Purple Finches are as abundant if not more so in summer, but sparse and unpredictable in winter. I don’t know where they go. Birds of North America says: “The Purple Finch is noted for quasicyclical irruptions across portions of its winter range, thought to be associated with year to year variation in the production of northern conifer cones.” 

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – hoodies on a rock: “Salish Sea, PacificNorthwest. Blustery and spitting rain these past two days and the ducks have taken shelter, wisely. Before the storm rolled in, I saw two pairs of Hooded Mergansers cruising the bay. They began grooming, but then one of the hens decided to use a nearby rock for that. Ducks are perfectly capable of grooming while floating, but it’s easier to reach some parts while standing on solid ground. The rest followed her.Video of them hopping up and engaging in a thorough preening session (if not displaying in HD, you can adjust the settings wheel):”

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Dan Bacher writes—Commission Postpones Adoption of Delta Fisheries Management and Striped Bass Policies: “After hearing from three scientific experts and over 40 Delta and Northern California anglers and guides, the California Fish and Game Commission in a packed meeting in Sacramento on December 11 decided to postpone adoption of a Delta Fisheries Management Policy and potential amendments to the Commission’s Striped Bass Policy to a future meeting. The next Commission meeting where this issue will be discussed is on February 21.”

CaptBLI writes—The Daily Bucket: The Storms have passed: “There were tornadoes in several Southern states on Monday (December 16th, 2019).  A tiny twister touched down 4 miles from my house but did minor damage.  We in Mississippi were lucky compared to the carnage from years past. Today the cold winds that pushed the storms through, motivated humans and animals alike to clean up debris. Here are some participants in that task. […] There were tornadoes in several Southern states on Monday (December 16th, 2019).  A tiny twister touched down 4 miles from my house but did minor damage. We in Mississippi were lucky compared to the carnage from years past. Today the cold winds that pushed the storms through, motivated humans and animals alike to clean up debris. […] A group of Juncos buzzed in to help the Cardinals and Carolina Wrens sweep the driveway free of insects. […] The Wren in charge (a self appointed alarm) finally called an end to the frenzy and the crowd dispersed. The total time from the beginning to the end of the feasting was 45 minutes. It has taken longer to put this article together than the moment in my driveway. Things move fast here when necessary.” 

Angmar writes—The Daily Bucket: Winter Solstice: “Being the longest day of the year also means that people in the areas south of the Antarctic Circle towards the South Pole will see the Midnight Sun, i.e. have 24 hours of daylight, during this time of the year. For people in the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice marks the exact opposite, the day of the year with fewest hours of daylight. North of the Arctic Circle towards the North Pole there is no direct sunlight at all during this time of the year.” 

CLIMATE CHAOS

Mrmuni12 writes—The War Over Responses to Climate Change: The GAO Stands with us against the EPA: “In a not-quite-new but little noticed battle on climate change (November), the Government Accountability Office took on the EPA regarding serious threats to superfund sites from major weather events that are being magnified by climate change: ‘EPA Should Take Additional Actions to Manage Risks from Climate Change.’ […] Climate change may increase the frequency and intensity of certain natural disasters, which could damage Superfund sites—the nation’s most contaminated hazardous waste sites. Federal data suggests about 60 percent of Superfund sites overseen by EPA are in areas that may be impacted by wildfires and different types of flooding—natural hazards that may be exacerbated by climate change. We found that EPA has taken some actions to manage risks at these sites. However, we recommend it provide direction on integrating climate information into site-level decision making to ensure long-term protection of human health and the environment.” 

Helenoftrouble writes—A Must Read on Climate Change Mitigation: “You must read Kevin Drum’s new article in Mother Jones: We Need a Massive Climate War Effort Now. Among his major points is that expecting people to cut back on their energy use is not realistic: Even if we could get wealthy Western countries to accept serious belt-­tightening, they’re not where the growth of greenhouse gas emissions is taking place right now. It’s happening in developing countries like China and India. Most people in these countries have living standards that are a fraction of ours, and they justifiably ask why they should cut back on energy consumption and consign themselves to poverty while those of us in affluent countries—which caused most of the problem in the first place—are still driving SUVs and running air conditioners all summer. This is the hinge point on which the future of climate change rests. Clearly the West is not going to collectively agree to live like Chinese farmers. Just as clearly, Chinese farmers aren’t willing to keep living in shacks while we sit around watching football on 60-inch TV screens in our climate-controlled houses as we lecture them about climate change.” 

boatsie writes—Climate Emergency? In Whose World? Another COP Failure: “Despite running two days into overtime, Climate Negotiators at Madrid’s UNFCCC COP25 delivered a document which failed to agree on regulating carbon markets or address loss and damage reparations to the global south, those nations most severely impacted by the climate crisis. ‘As time ran out, the COP looked more and more like a hostage situation inside a burning building — together with most negotiators, people and planet were held captive,’ said May Boeve, Executive Director of climate campaign group 350.org, in a statement. Boeve added that, ‘after forcing negotiators to keep at it for three days straight,’ the world’s biggest carbon emitters and fossil fuel industry ‘got what they wanted — a weakened text that kicks most of the big issues down the road to COP26.’ The final declaration did require that decisions on reducing carbon emissions be established within the next year and that countries work harder to strengthen their goals for emissions as set forth in the Paris Agreement. Kera Sherwood O’Regan of Indigenous Peoples Organizations expressed outrage over the failure to include ‘human rights and indigenous people’s rights in Article Six [of the Paris agreement] when we know that market approaches have already directly harmed our communities. Our knowledge cannot be upheld if our rights are not upheld. You treat negotiations like a zero sum game where you make deals behind closed doors, trading off our rights for the profits of the very corporations who caused this problem in the first place. But you forget that we cannot negotiate with nature’.” 

writeon1 writes—“In other news” World Ends Soon: “This will be brief. I’m just feeling a bit frustrated. ‘U.N. Climate Talks End With Big Polluters Blocking Stronger Action.’ Scroll down past the important stuff on the NYT website and you will get to this under the heading ‘In Other News.’ It gets a story on the WSJ page about halfway down the website beside a film review of ‘Bombshell. The WaPo coverage wasn’t half bad, second heading in the left column. I haven’t noticed anything on Kos yet. Forget Jeremiah and Isaiah, Ezekiel and Moses. The true prophets were Byron Kennedy and George Miller and James McCausland—the guys who wrote Mad Max.” 

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Big Oil Advertises Most When Climate Policy Nears Reality, Because Who Wants Limits On Freedom Gas? “The most wonderfully commercial time of the year is upon us, so it’s only appropriate to look at advertisements. Emily Atkin’s set up a new instagram to track fossil fuel ads, and she recently discussed the $3.6 billion that the five biggest fossil fuel companies spent on advertising between 1986 and 2015, per a new study from Dr. Robert Brulle. Published in Climatic Change, the study sought to divine what motivates fossil fuel companies to shell out on ads, focusing on four key factors: overall reputation of the industry, congressional attention on climate change as an issue, media attention to the issue, and external events like oil spills, major science reports, oil prices, GDP and public concern. What they found was that, despite expectations, it’s not public opinion about climate change or the issue that appears to spur big ad buys, but instead media coverage and congressional interest. When the possibility of legislation seemed real during the cap and trade debate, their ad spending skyrocketed.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—A Fragile Petro-Masculinity Embraces Denial, Can’t Stand Greta: “We’ve talked before about the intersection of denial and misogyny, particularly when it comes to the overwrought reactions to Greta Thunberg. But now, thanks to a WUWT post pointing to an op-ed by professor Megan MacKenzie that asked if fragile masculinity is the biggest hurdle to climate action, we know there’s actually an emerging term for it: petro-masculinity. The term, coined by Virginia Tech’s Dr. Cara Daggett in a 2018 paper, is a concept that looks at ‘the historic role of fossil fuel systems in buttressing white patriarchal rule’ and finds that ‘fossil fuels mean more than profit; fossil fuels also contribute to making identities.’ And with an accompanying proclivity towards authoritarianism, Daggett explains ‘how fossil fuel use can function as a violent compensatory practice in reaction to gender and climate trouble.’ Like most things intersectional, it’s both intricately woven and relatively straightforward. Fossil fuel extraction powered Western economies that allowed the white men at the top of the socioeconomic order to reap the bulk of the benefits. The stereotype of the noble coal miner, risking his life in the mines to provide for his family; the oil baron who becomes the noble patriarch of a wealthy dynasty; the coal-rolling truck driver blowing smoke at Prius drivers– these are all different expressions of the same sort of petro-masculinity.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Follow the Money to Understand Denial, From Think Tanks To Universities to the Federal Government: “Yesterday’s news that bankrupt Bob “eat shit” Murray funded a variety of climate denial organizations as his coal company went bankrupt was unsurprising. But it was still an important confirmation that people like Chris Horner don’t attack climate scientists for free or for fun, but as part of a concerted fossil-fueled strategy to protect donors interests. Another key part of that strategy is the Independent Petroleum Association of America’s $2 million in spending on Energy in Depth over the last two years, which HuffPo revealed yesterday. EiD is a propaganda shop dressed up to look somewhat like a news blog, creating decidedly pro-oil content for the benefit of its financial backers, like Shell, BP, Chevron and Halliburton. One of the things both EiD and Chris Horner have in common, besides pockets dripping with dirty money, is their antagonism towards climate litigation efforts, which is perhaps most easily understood by reading a recent op-ed in the Washington Examiner.”

7th term is small writes—Impeachment — done! Now about that carbon footprint…: “I am a bicycle commuter. I started thanks to a shaming by my sophomores during the unit on climate change. I don’t actually like biking. Given the choice of walking and biking, I choose walking every time. But work is 8 miles away which is just over a two-hour walk. It is 30 minutes by bike and the time savings is worth it (to me). For the past three years my goal has been to achieve a zero-car work year.  Every year I get a little closer. The big step forward this year was breaking the 5F barrier.  (That’s not a cycling term — it just means five degrees Fahrenheit). As the air temperature drops, the winter cyclist faces two problems. The first is ice from automobile exhaust (usually called black ice although it is actually clear). Exhaust from an internal combustion engine is full of water vapor.  Usually when water vapor comes out a tailpipe it wafts away but when the air and pavement temperatures are very low, the exhaust exits the tailpipe, hits the road and freezes.  Since this happens molecule by molecule the layer of ice is freakishly smooth and, in the dark, very hard to see. If it is cold enough for black ice to form it is also cold enough for chemical ice melt to be ineffective. Finally, black ice is most reliably deposited at intersections — where cars spend time in the same place.  Unfortunately intersections are also where acceleration, braking and turning are most common. Black ice is a real problem for a four wheeled vehicle — and a disaster on a bike.”

CANDIDATES, STATE AND DC ECO-RELATED POLITICS

poopdogcomedy writes—Warren, “If You Refuse To Roll Back The Filibuster, You Aren’t Serious About Climate Change”: “This is why I fully support U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D. MA) in this primary: One voter praised Warren for her ‘wonderful’ policy proposals, but asked how she would see any of them come to fruition as Republicans will try to block her agenda if she is elected. ‘It is time to roll back the filibuster and I will lead that fight,’ Warren said to cheers. ‘If [Sen.] Mitch McConnell ‘I will use whatever power I’ve got to block the agenda’ like he did with President Obama then I’m done. I will step up and say, ‘come on Democrats, it’s time to roll back the filibuster.’ Without naming anyone specifically, Warren took a jab at her opponents who aren’t firmly supportive of getting rid of the filibuster. Only Warren and candidate Tom Steyer have clearly stated they support eliminating it, according to The Washington Post. When people come to you and talk about climate change and say, ‘I’ve got these great plans for climate change’but then you ask them about the filibuster and then say, ‘no, I’m not going to roll back the filibuster.’ Then you really have to say: you’re not serious,’ Warren said.” 

Michael Brune writes—Why We’re Calling for Trump’s Impeachment: “Today, I’m writing with a message no executive director of the Sierra Club has ever sent: That this organization supports the impeachment and removal of our sitting president. It’s unprecedented, but so many things about this presidency have been: from Trump’s astonishing willingness to shred the protections that keep our air and water clean and our climate habitable, to his astonishing cruelty toward immigrant families and children. Trump’s flagrant disregard for the rule of law — and his willingness to use his office to enrich himself — are also unprecedented in our nation’s history. He has regularly, illegally used his position to benefit himself at the expense of the American people and our democracy.” 

Mokurai writes—Renewable Monday: America’s Cities Redeem COP25: “COP25 was a notable failure. The US and other Denialist-led countries prevented meaningful official action. But it was great for 3,800 mayors, county executives, tribal leaders and businesses that account for more than half of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.  ACCELERATING AMERICA’S PLEDGE, GOING ALL-IN TO BUILD A PROSPEROUS, LOW-CARBON ECONOMY FOR THE UNITED STATES: An unprecedented coalition of U.S. states, cities, businesses, communities of faith, universities, health care and cultural institutions, and other organizations are now acting to fulfill America’s climate pledge to the world. This commitment is reflected in the large number of American actors continuing to back the Paris Agreement, including members of the We Are Still In network, U.S. Climate Alliance, Climate Mayors, We Mean Business, and many others. A lot of these actions are what we would consider to be no-brainers, but they still aren’t happening enough. Mayors and city councils need to hear that these things are happening, that they are working, and that they are saving money, not just the world.”

FORESTS, NATIONAL PARKS & OTHER PUBLIC LANDS

Mokurai writes—Renewable Tuesday: A Trillion Trees, Pro and Con: “A trillion trees would sequester a large fraction of our excess CO2, cheap. A lot of organizations want to do their part. But the doubters and deniers have gathered. And we are losing 10 billion trees a year. There is no time to waste. You can help. The Trillion Tree Solution. […] Science: The global tree restoration potentialThe restoration of trees remains among the most effective strategies for climate change mitigation. We mapped the global potential tree coverage to show that 4.4 billion hectares of canopy cover could exist under the current climate. Excluding existing trees and agricultural and urban areas, we found that there is room for an extra 0.9 billion hectares of canopy cover, which could store 205 gigatonnes of carbon in areas that would naturally support woodlands and forests. This highlights global tree restoration as one of the most effective carbon drawdown solutions to date. However, climate change will alter this potential tree coverage. We estimate that if we cannot deviate from the current trajectory, the global potential canopy cover may shrink by ~223 million hectares by 2050, with the vast majority of losses occurring in the tropics. Our results highlight the opportunity of climate change mitigation through global tree restoration but also the urgent need for action.”

Pakalolo writes—For millions of years, the permanent wet remnants of Gondwana forest have never burned, until now: “Gondwana was a supercontinent that existed five hundred and fifty million years ago. In the early years of the Jurassic period one hundred and eighty years million years ago is when the supercontinent broke up. Most of today’s landmass that was part of Gondwana, are now known as India, South America, Australia, Antarctica, Africa, Arabia, and Madagascar. Gondwana rainforests in Australia are recognized as the largest sub-tropical rainforests on earth by the World Heritage Foundation. The rainforest remnants in Australia are mainly in Queensland and New South Wales. Antarctic temperate beech rainforests provide proof that the fossil record of Australia was a part of the supercontinent. It is one of a few remnants of ancient forests in the world and includes plants and animals that have survived since ancient times. Australia’s eucalyptus forests use fire to regenerate. But the soaking wet moss-covered rainforest has never burned.”

Magnifico writes—Overnight News Digest: Amazon Deforestation in Brazil up by more than double in 2019: “Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon up by more than double: data. Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon in November surged by 104 percent compared to the same month in 2018, according to official data released Saturday. The 563 square kilometers (217 square miles) deforested that month is also the highest number for any November since 2015, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which provides official data on deforestation. That is considered a significant increase, particularly during the rainy season, when deforestation generally slows. For the first 11 months of the year—also the first months in office of Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right leader who has eased restrictions on exploiting the Amazon’s vast riches—deforestation totaled 8,974.3 square kilometers.”

ENERGY

Fossil Fuels & Emissions Controls

Dan Bacher writes—AG Becerra slams Trump plan to increase drilling on federal land in California: “On December 12, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra blasted the Trump Administration’s decision to open up 1.2 million acres of public lands in Central California, mainly in the San Joaquin Valley, to oil and gas drilling, including environmentally destructive fracking. Becerra made his comments after Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its final decision for the Bakersfield Field Office Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing the potential effects of fracking of oil and gas resources on public lands and Federal minerals within the planning area, claiming there would be ‘no adverse impacts.’ ‘The BLM’s analysis shows that there are no adverse environmental impacts due to hydraulic fracturing that cannot be alleviated,’ the BLM claimed in a press release. ‘This Supplemental EIS supports the decisions made within the 2014 Bakersfield Field Office Resource Management Plan (RMP) and does not make any new public lands or Federal minerals available to oil and gas development’.”

Mark Sumner writes—A single fracking well in Ohio vented more methane in 20 days than whole nations do in a year: “Less than a week ago, a study on methane “super emitters” revealed something about the scope of the environmental threat represented by Donald Trump’s refusal to regulate methane release at wells. Not only are these sources making a significant and often unrecognized contribution to the climate crisis, but they can be difficult to find. Methane is invisible and, without the mercaptan added by utility companies to give gas its distinctive stink, even high levels of the gas can be odorless. Even when a satellite or plane identifies high methane in an area, pinpointing a specific well or storage facility is almost impossible without the kind of monitoring devices that the Trump Environmental Protection Agency is trying to eliminate. Or it is almost impossible most of the time. A brand-new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows an example of a single well venting methane in a way that was not only highly visible, but almost unbelievable. As in, this single well released more methane in three weeks than most entire nations do in a year. So much methane that this single well, venting over a period of about 20 days, may have been a significant contributor to altering the climate.” 

Renewables, Efficiency, Energy Storage & Conservation

Mokurai writes—Renewable Wednesday: The Remedy for Anxiety is Doing the Work: “Hi, everybody. I only discovered the Climate Anxiety Support Group last week, and joined post-haste. I see that much of the group content is more anxiety-raising, and want you to know that there is Good News. We can do this. We are doing it. Back in March I wrote. The First Green Terawatt Was the Hardest. The MSM won’t tell you, but last year the world reached one terawatt of renewable energy capacity. The Motley Fool: According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), global capacity for solar and wind power generation has exceeded 1 terawatt. And it won’t be long before we celebrate the next terawatt. BNEF estimates that the second terawatt of generating capacity will be installed in 2023 at a cost 46% lower than the first. Now, to be fair, various financial, economic, science, and tech sites have taken notice.” 

Mokurai writes—Renewable Thursday: Big Tech Cobalt Lawsuit: “Cobalt comes from child labor in copper mines and wars in Congo. The materials industry is trying to clean up on corrupt sourcing, while tech companies seek to make better batteries with less cobalt or none at all. Now they face a lawsuit about it. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Tesla and Dell sued over cobalt mined by children in Congo for batteries—CBS. Some of the biggest technology firms in the United States have been accused in a lawsuit of complicity in the death and maiming of hundreds, if not thousands of African children who mine cobalt, a mineral vital to the production of the lithium-ion batteries in everything from smartphones to electric cars. The defendants named in the suit are Apple, Google parent company Alphabet, Microsoft, Dell and Tesla. The lawsuit was filed Sunday in the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. by the non-profit organization International Rights Advocates, on behalf of 13 anonymous plaintiffs from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The complaint accuses the tech giants of ‘knowingly benefiting from and aiding and abetting the cruel and brutal use of young children in Democratic Republic of Congo (‘DRC’) to mine cobalt.’ What’s going on here?” 

Mokurai writes—Renewable Friday: Oil and Gaslighting V, Renewable Natural Gas: “Renewable Natural Gas sounds like the biggest energy oxymoron since Clean Coal. Gas from biowaste is real, but can’t supply whole countries, just niche markets. These people are lying with a kernel of truth. What can we do about it? Of course, when natural gas for electricity goes away, we could consider sticking with some carbon-neutral biogas for cooking and heating. There is an estimate from NREL that biogas could supply 1.5% of current gas needs. Right now, there is a market for biogas in transportation, at least until EVs take over.” 

Meteor Blades writes—Open thread for night owls: GOP wipes out renewable energy credits in congressional budget deal: “A hefty portion of the Republican contingent in Congress comprises outright climate science deniers. They aren’t all tossing snowballs around in the Senate the way Sen. Jim Inhofe has done to supposedly prove his assertion that the climate crisis is a hoax, but they nevertheless challenge the assessment of scientists who almost uniformly agree that the planet is warming and human beings are the cause. Congressional Republicans who aren’t either dumbbells or greedheads spouting the deniers’ disinformation for campaign cash nonetheless keep showing themselves unwilling to take steps necessary to ameliorate or prevent the worst impacts of what the Oxford Dictionary folks made its word of the year for 2019: the ‘climate emergency.’ In the latest example of this reckless myopia, they willingly cranked up spending for the Pentagon—adding an entirely new branch of the armed forces so we can fight wars in outer space—but opposed continuing to incentivize the transition from dirty energy to clean and green. As you can read below, they are determined to keep us on the path of burning every last drop of oil, every crumb of coal, every molecule of natural gas. Given their age, they can do this without fear they will be alive when the worst effects of the climate crisis envelop the planet. Apparently, none of them cares what happens to their children or their grandchildren. Nor your and my children and grandchildren.”

Michael Brune writes—The Decade of the Green New Deal: “When I look back at the work done by the Sierra Club’s staff, members, and supporters this past year, I am awed. Day after day, you demonstrated your deep commitment to your communities and the natural world that sustains us. You marched against fossil fuel infrastructure and for a Green New Deal. You called your congressional representatives, attended city council meetings, and brought more environmental justice into this world. You got outside and connected to nature’s healing power. It’s impossible to choose the accomplishment I’m most impressed by. But there’s one that I find myself thinking about at this point in the year: our Art of the Green New Deal project. The Sierra Club’s Green New Deal team put out a call for posters, paintings, songs, and other artworks that imagine what a Green New Deal would  look like. You can see some of our favorite responses here.” 

Meteor Blades writes—Federal regulators’ vote protecting fossil fuel generators attacks state clean energy policies: “A year and a half after bellyaching about rules in the electricity capacity market, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted 2-1 Thursday to hamper investments in renewables and energy storage while giving an advantage to fossil fuel-burning power plants. The latest assault from the Trump regime on state moves to decarbonize in the face of the climate crisis means that plants generating electricity from solar, wind, and nuclear can be assessed what amounts to a surcharge when bidding to build new plants in the nation’s largest market for electricity, while those powered by coal and natural gas cannot. The rule only covers grid operator PJM Interconnection, which provides electricity to 65 million customers in 13 states. Result: Not only will customers have to pay more for power coming from fossil fuel plants at risk of retiring—mostly coal—but they will also have to pay more for power generated by clean sources. This directly undermines state mandates to cut carbon emissions by expanding the amount of electricity generated from clean sources.”

POPULATION, EXTINCTION, SUSTAINABILITY

Angmar writes—“I’m Choosing Not To Have Kids Because I Care About The Environment”: “In my mind, having a child means multiplying my impact on the environment. And due to our increased life expectancy, we are consuming resources and producing waste for around 40% longer compared to six decades ago. That makes me feel deeply uncomfortable. On top of that, the huge population and its density in certain areas exerts a strain on social infrastructure ― such as health care, welfare and housing ― and increases unemployment. This is something I’ve been ruminating over for a long time, but the intense pressure I’ve felt as a woman to have children has still etched away at my thoughts. I feel comfortable with my individuality, which has often diverged from social norms, but that hasn’t made the decision not to have kids easy. I’ve often thought: Would I be missing out on something I’d be better off with? Would I regret not experiencing motherhood? I was brought up in a nuclear family with two brothers, and I envisioned that I would have a family like that myself one day, but I truthfully never really gave it much thought, until I was 22 and my then-boyfriend was keen on having kids soon. It was definitely not the right time for me, but it started to make me wonder if it was something I would ever want for myself. It’s a very romantic idea, so I played with it for some time, as I was in no rush to make a decision.”www.huffpost.com/…

REGULATIONS & PROTECTION

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—EPA Lashed Out At California’s 82 Noncompliant Areas, But The Real Number Was More Like 20: “Last September, Trump’s EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler sent a letter to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) threatening to cut funding because the state wasn’t meeting Clean Air Act standards in 82 areas. But as CARB pointed out in response, that is a gross over-exaggeration, as it double, triple or quadruple-counts areas that are out of compliance with several pollution standards. Really, there were only 20 unique places where pollution exceeds the standards. Why such a huge discrepancy? Did the EPA know it was inflating the figure by a factor of four, or was it an honest mistake made by someone who just doesn’t count so good? (This is the Trump administration, after all.) New reporting from E&E’s Maxine Joselow sheds some light on the situation, as emails show that former EPA appointee Clint Woods was the likely source of the figure.” 

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

Rei writes—EV Tuesday – Electric 2020. Every Electric Car Coming Out, Compared In Every Way! (Infographics) 1/3: “2020 is almost upon us, and there’s many people out there who will be making a New Year’s resolution to buy a new electric car during the course of the year.  The number of offerings on the market keeps expanding every year, so what will this year look like?  Join us for a very deep dive into all mass-market electric cars (e.g. excl. trucks, vans, etc) that will be on the market in the US (this information took a long time to collect and turn into all of these graphics!) This is part one of a three-part series. “Part 2: Price, Performance, Efficiency, Range and Charging” is now posted here, and “Part 3: Cargo, Internal and External Dimensions, Purchasing” is posted here.”

Rei writes—EV Wednesday- Electric 2020. Every Electric Car Coming Out Compared In Every Way! (Infographics) 2/3: “1. Price vs. Range. Let’s begin by listing and graphing the numbers  🙂  All prices include doc/delivery fees — both base and fully optioned.  All ranges are EPA highway, since highway driving is where range matters the most, and generally increases in lower-speed driving.   Numbers in italics are calculated / estimated. [a long chart appears in the diary here] …  At present, Tesla remains the range champions — price-competitive on the low-end, and with no peers at the high end (note: the SR- can only be purchased “off-menu”). Porsche is a standout for its very poor range-to-price ratio — but that is not the market they’re going for, and they try to make up for their low range with Tesla-competitive DC charge rates (more on this later). Jaguar has announced that an upcoming update will increase their range by improving the I-Pace’s motor efficiency; the updated range is included in the above graph, even though it hasn’t happened yet.”

Rei writes—EV Thursday – Electric 2020. Every Electric Car Coming Out Compared In Every Way! (Infographics) 3/3: “This is part three of our three-part series comparing all major electric vehicles that will be on sale in the US in 2020.  For “Part 1: Offerings, Basic Stats, Safety, and Manufacturers”, click here. For “Part 2: Price, Performance, Efficiency, Range and Charging”, click here. […] No vehicle is one-size fits all. Thankfully, the vehicle market has expanded to the point that there’s an EV out there for almost any new car buyer (as for trucks and vans, that’s the topic of an entirely different article!). Some details cannot be graphed well. I cannot graph how comfortable a seat is for your back, or what you think about a user interface.  I could list every single tech feature in each car, but in practice, the best way for you to experience it all is to try the vehicles for yourself. Trust me, dealerships would be more than happy to let you!”

OCEANS, WATER, DROUGHT

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—New Study Links Half of Ocean Acidification To 88 Polluters: “Last week was not a great one for climate litigation, with New York losing its case against Exxon for securities fraud. But while the fossil fuel industry is trumpeting that ruling as the end of such suits, the fact that the case was narrowly defined as a financial fraud case means it’s not as relevant to the other ongoing suits as the industry might want you to think. And there may still be more to come, particularly as the science linking polluters with impacts continues to sharpen. On that front, a new study published last week in Environmental Research Letters attributes half of the observed ocean acidification to 88 major emitters from the gas, oil, coal and cement industries. As coverage at ClimateLiability mentions, several of those crazy 88 are already facing lawsuits related to climate change, including Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips and Total.With this line of research, ‘scientists can now quantify how much more acidic the ocean has become as a result of each fossil fuel company’s products,’ lead author Rachel Licker said.” 

Dan Bacher writes—Reclamation releases final environmental impact statement on CVP and SWP long term operations: “Reclamation has released a final environmental impact statement analyzing Central Valley Project and State Water Project long-term operations based on new biological opinions from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries that will allow increased water exports from the Delta to corporate agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley. Since the key factor in salmon, Delta smelt and other fish collapses is water exports from the Delta, this new water plan will Indeed “optimize water delivery” but it sure won’t help ‘species protection.’ The final EIS has been issued at at a critical time for Delta smelt, Sacramento River winter Chinook salmon, steelhead and other fish populations that depend on a healthy Bay-Delta Estuary to survive and thrive. The Delta smelt is moving closer and extinction, due to a combination of massive water exports to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness operations and toxic water releases into the San Joaquin River and San Francisco Bay-Delta.” 

AGRICULTURE​, FOOD & GARDENING

Dartagnan writes—NBC News: New Trump rule may allow ‘feces, sex organs, toenails, unwanted hair’ into pork products: “No, this is not a joke. As a sop to agricultural conglomerates always eager to increase their profit margins, the Trump administration has modified Federal USDA rules governing the inspection of pork consumed by Americans. As first reported by NBC News, the new rules (known as the ‘New Swine Inspection System”) will reduce the number of meat inspectors who evaluate pork products during their processing, a ‘deregulation’ that will impact over 90% of the pork that is processed in this country. NBC reports: ALBERT LEA, Minnesota — America’s food inspectors are warning that ‘unsafe’ pork is likely making it to consumers under a change in rules for meat inspection. That change is now set to roll out nationwide to plants that process more than 90 percent of the pork Americans eat.” 

MISCELLANY

gmoke writes—What I Read in the Green New Deal for Public Housing Bill: “The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act  (these comments come from the draft https://ocasio-cortez.house.gov/sites/ocasio-cortez.house.gov/files/OCASNY_053_xml.pdf but the actual bill has now been filed at https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5185/text) (thanks to DocGonzo for the clarification) is the first binding legislation drafted.  It will reconstruct “the entire public housing stock of the United States, as swiftly and seamlessly as possible,” into zero-carbon homes, “a highly energy-efficient home that produces on-site, or procures, enough carbon-free renewable energy to meet the total annual energy consumption of the home” within a decade. Public housing stock will be eligible for deep energy retrofits, including energy-efficient windows; super insulation of roofs and exterior walls, including the addition of new cladding to buildings and the rerouting of plumbing and electricity; electrification of water heating and building heating systems using electric heat pumps; and electric heat pumps to provide air conditioning, where feasible; materials and technology to increase airtightness of the building envelope, including air sealant paints; the acquisition and installation of heat-recovery ventilation systems; and energy monitoring devices including smart meters and smart thermostats.”

beaky writes—Saturday Morning Garden Blogging, Vol. 15.51: Longwood Gardens: “My mother visits every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Her two loves are gardening and decorating for Christmas. My husband and I have treated her in the past few years with a day trip to Longwood Gardens (the site isn’t working properly at the moment). It is botanic garden with an enormous conservatory that once belonged to Pierre Du Pont. We made the trip yesterday (Friday) and I took lots of pictures.” 

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