Most scientists are progressive, but is science too conservative?

Two stories appeared last week that have extremely serious implications. Donald Trump Jr.’s sneering confession of conspiracy may have kept them from getting the attention they deserve, but in any rational world—a place we clearly left some time ago—both would be at the center of public discussion. First, on Monday, there was a paper from the journal PNAS—the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study carries a title that combines the usual complexity of a scientific paper, but with a bit of extra punch: Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines.

Obviously “biological annihilation” seems like something that could be a bit concerning, and it is. The paper—co-authored by Paul Erlich, a name that might be familiar to anyone who has attended high school in the last 50 years—focuses on how biodiversity is actually dropping much more quickly than

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Spotlight on green news & views: superabundant ‘Green tides’; help climate by having fewer kids?

This is the 511th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) usually appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here is the July 12 Green Spotlight. More than 27,390 environmentally oriented stories have been rescued to appear in this series since 2006. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES

eelgrass drifts
Each sheet of Sea Lettuce is only two cell layers thick, but there’s so much now that the accumulation along the shore is one-two feet deep at low tide.

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket ~ “green tide,” an excess of algae this summer: “We’ve all heard about red tides, those sudden population explosions of algae in lakes or seas that can cause serious health problems for aquatic wildlife and people who

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EPA’s Pruitt wants a televised debate on climate science. Next up: Is the Earth really spherical?

Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency-hating chief of the EPA, wants to have a televised debate among scientists on climate change. When my colleague Mark Sumner read the news about this, he pictured a climate Thunderdome in which two scientists enter and a hunk of the public leaves still believing that there really is a debate to be had. 

Pruitt obviously believes that the subject is debatable, and he has made clear which side he comes down on. Anyone who has followed his work as attorney general of Oklahoma filing 14 lawsuits against the EPA, including a joint challenge to block the Clean Power Plan to reduce emissions from fossil fuel power plants, recognizes just how little he cares about the environment and the people harmed by pollution—including the pollution of greenhouse gas emissions. The oil and gas industry has consequently showered him with campaign contributions and, on official attorney general stationery, he’s been

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Cartoon: Welcome to Camp Suburbia

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In communique, 19 of G20 nations affirm commitment to Paris climate accord as ‘irreversible’

While Donald Frederickovich was making nice with Vladimir Vladimirovich and having daughter Ivanka keep his seat warm at the adults table during parts of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, the assembled leaders struggled to come up with climate language in their final communique that the world’s 20 richest nations could all agree to. Thanks to the stubborn climate science denial of the Trump regime, the communique had to recognize that only 19 of those nations accept the seriousness of the matter and remain firmly committed to the Paris Climate Accord. 

This was no surprise. To groans and sighs in the scientific and environmental activist communities, Pr*sident Trump announced the first of last month that the United States will withdraw from the 2015 agreement. 

That withdrawal cannot take place under Article 28 of the agreement until November 2020. Indeed, the United States must wait until three years after entering the agreement before giving written

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Tea party extremists want Trump regime to rescind 10 national monuments, shrink 13 others

As the nation prepared for the holiday weekend last Friday, 17 tea party Republicans—members of the Congressional Western Caucus—sent a letter to Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke asking that he downsize or eliminate 27 national monuments across the western United States. Although the caucus is theoretically open to anyone in Congress, all 70 members are Republicans, including some of the most extremist representatives in the government.

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“Land grab” makes it sound as if the federal government is stealing land from the states. But since taking over this land from the Native inhabitants in the 19th and early 20th centuries, it has never been held by the states, nor is there any statutory or constitutional mandate for the feds to turn the land over to them.

Zinke, himself a member of the caucus before he was appointed to head Interior earlier this year, is in the midst of a contentious 120-day review

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Spotlight on green news & views: Pruitt’s ‘red team’; Siberian methane; Volvo goes electric

This is the 509th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) usually appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here is the July 1 Green Spotlight. More than 27,325 environmentally oriented stories have been rescued to appear in this series since 2006. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES

Pakalolo writes—Two gaping holes recently emerged in Siberia accompanied by explosions with billowing smoke and fire: “The indigenous reindeer herding Nenets people, who reside in the Yamal region of Siberia, alerted local media of two recent explosions in their remote and empty permafrost landscape. The Nenets reported what is believed to be methane explosions where they saw ‘fire in winter 2017, but it might mean January to March or April. In other words, it

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D.C. court hands EPA’s Pruitt a defeat for delaying enforcement of Obama-initiated methane rule

In case you missed it, a divided three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency-hating EPA administrator, overstepped his authority by delaying enforcement of the standards in a rule designed by the Obama administration to reduce methane emissions from new equipment at oil and gas operations. The court ordered Pruitt to begin immediate enforcement.

Eighty-six times more potent as a greenhouse gas over a period of 20 years than carbon dioxide, methane emissions have been rising for a decade. While there are numerous sources of methane, emissions from leaky fossil fuel operations have been greatly underestimated. One reason for this? The EPA has accepted industry’s emissions data.

The ruling put a smile on the face of Tim Ballo, an Earthjustice attorney who represented some of the groups who sued over the delay:

Nuts & Bolts: A guide to Democratic campaigns—Multiplying your efforts

Welcome back, Saturday Campaign D.I.Y.ers! For those who tune in, welcome to the Nuts & Bolts of a Democratic campaign. Each week we discuss issues that help drive successful campaigns. If you’ve missed prior diaries, please visit our group or follow Nuts & Bolts Guide.

During the 2015-2016 election cycle, we focused a lot on a specific candidate, Jessica Jones, who ran for state Senate. Thanks to so many groups looking for social and direct activism, we’re going to start this cycle following three different fictional people: an educator in Tim Smith, a stay-at-home mom in Nancy Wood, and an accountant activist in Sarah Goodnow.

Last week, we talked about how they worked to build up their activism. This week, I want to focus on how a division of duties and purpose is truly critical for the long-term success of your efforts.

When groups like Indivisible and PSN

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Spotlight on green news & views: Bye-bye White House science division; climate ‘debate’ BS

This is the 508th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) usually appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here is the June 28 Green Spotlight. More than 27,310 environmentally oriented stories have been rescued to appear in this series since 2006. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES

Dartagnan writes—An Ominous Prediction Of The Impact Of Climate Change On The Southern States: “In a stark analysis based on a study published by the journal Science, the New York Times examines the economic impact of man-made climate change on the United States over the next century. Its conclusion? Southern states will be devastated. In a new study in the journal Science, researchers analyzed the

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Spotlight on green news & views: Lesson for Earthlings from woodpecker that destroyed its home

This is the 507th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) usually appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here is the June 24 Green Spotlight. More than 27,290 environmentally oriented stories have been rescued to appear in this series since 2006. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES

lenamoffitt83 and Matt Remie write—Divesting from ‘Dirty Banks’ is a Form of Resistance: “After the Trump Administration’s reckless decision to exit the Paris climate agreement, many people are looking to divest their money from fossil fuels as a way to fight back. Fuel for their fire is last week’s federal court ruling on the inadequacy of the Army Corps’ environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which provides renewed leverage against the banks

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Good news! Mayors resist Trump’s rotten climate policies with commitment to 100% renewables by 2035

Remember that decades-old phrase “think globally, act locally”? The message behind it made a big splash Monday. Activists are needed to turn the message into reality.

While the Trump regime works diligently to turn its lethal, climate science-denying lunacy into federal policy, 1,400 American mayors have added their numbers to the resistance against it.

In a unanimous vote Monday, the typically staid U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution backing municipalities’ efforts to obtain 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2035. If the words in that resolution are backed up with local planning and policy actions, as well as pressure from city officials on officials at other levels of government, the vote would go far to accomplish the much-needed acceleration of the transformation of our energy system.

The resolution bolsters the efforts of the nation’s Climate Mayors. Since Pr*sident Donald Trump announced that he will withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, those mayors—now totaling 338—have aligned themselves with the accord. That

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Our new secretary of the Energy is completely addled when it comes to basic climate science

Up until this last experiment in American governance, it was widely expected that the secretary of Energy, a position responsible for our nation’s nuclear weapons and reactor research, among other duties, would be a person with at least basic competency in the sciences. Past secretaries have included nuclear physicists, Nobel Prize winners, chemical engineers, and Navy admirals.

The new hire is known primarily for pledging to eliminate the department despite forgetting what it was. His own grasp of the sciences is just baffling.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry told CNBC Monday morning that he doesn’t believe carbon dioxide is primarily responsible for global warming, contradicting the overwhelming scientific consensus on the causes of climate change.
When asked by interviewer Joe Kernan whether CO2 is the “primary” driver of changing temperatures, Perry responded, “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.”

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Dakota Access Pipeline ruling favoring Standing Rock Sioux a victory, but the battle is not over

“When we first entered into this, we understood the history, we knew the facts, we knew the laws. We still have to bring it all up. […] Just because [the situation] is legally right, it’s morally and ethically wrong. What happened at Standing Rock is a movement, and you don’t see the benefits of a movement until way later.”
               ~
David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, addressing court ruling

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The 91-page decision issued Wednesday by a federal court ruling against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for violating the law with an inadequate environmental review of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline garnered some long-delayed activist hurrahs this week. But it is a victory with caveats.

The pipeline—which runs 1,172 miles from the Bakken Formation of North Dakota (and Montana) through South Dakota and Iowa to refineries

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In London speech, Al Gore says Trump will not wreck the Paris agreement or sustainability revolution

Former Vice President Al Gore gave an upbeat speech at the Ashden Awards 2017 before the Royal Geographic Society in London Thursday night. The awards are financial prizes given to groups that provide practical assistance to organizations that promote renewable energy, cleaner air and sustainable transportation. So far, those awards have gone to 200 groups serving 80 million people. 

Gore told those present that the climate movement is akin to great movements of the past—such as the abolition of slavery—which encountered fierce, long-lasting resistance along the way to ultimate triumph:

When the president of my country was preparing to make his announcement about the Paris Agreement and we didn’t know what it would be, I was very worried that if he pulled the US out of the agreement then other countries, perhaps those not entirely enthusiastic about the Paris Agreement, would use it as an excuse for pulling out themselves. I can

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Good news department: U.S. generated 10 percent of March electricity from solar and wind power

Data in a publication of the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that for March, monthly generation of electricity from wind and solar in the United States exceeded 10 percent of the total generation for the first time. This includes utility-scale facilities as well as smaller-scale systems. At the same time, EIA’s Electric Power Monthly reports that wind and solar made up 7 percent of total U.S. electric generation in 2016.

Electricity generation from wind and solar follows seasonal patterns that reflect the seasonal availability of wind and sunshine. Within the United States, wind patterns vary based on geography. For example, wind-powered generating units in Texas, Oklahoma, and nearby states often have their highest output in spring months, while wind-powered generators in California are more likely to have their highest output in summer months.

Based on annual data for 2016, Texas accounted for the largest total amount

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Pitiful ‘report’ urges shrinking of Bear Ears Nat’l Monument. American Indians screwed again

From the moment in April that Donald Trump put a 45-day deadline on a report on the Bears Ears National Monument, it was obvious that a skimpy document the likes of the draft that Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke released Monday would be forthcoming.

It’s essentially a four-page boilerplate preface with a one-page “report” and set of recommendations that will presumably be spelled out more fully when the full review of Bears Ears and the other 26 monuments is done 72 days from now. Bottom Line: The 1.35-million-acre monument designated by President Barack Obama is too damned big and should be downsized. The amount of acreage in this proposed shrink job is yet to be determined. The report reads:

The review shows that rather than designating an area encompassing almost 1.5 million acres as a national monument, it would have been more appropriate to identify and separate the areas that have significant objects to be protected to meet the purposes of the

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Spotlight on green news & views: Governors, mayors push link to Paris agreement; ‘coal is dead’

This is the 504th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) usually appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here is the June 3 Green Spotlight. More than 27,160 environmentally oriented stories have been rescued to appear in this series since 2006. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES

SemDem writes—You Probably Missed It: Saudi Arabia Now Has Full Control of America’s Largest Oil Refinery: “If the time traveler would have done his job and saved humanity from Trump, and this deal went through under a President Hillary, I’m quite sure this would be the scandal of the year. (Beats the email thing hands down.) Port Arthur would roll off your tongue like ‘Benghazi’ as the GOP—and thus the media—would

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Open thread for night owls: Infrastructure upgrade needed? Desperately. Trump’s plan is fool’s gold

Leo W. Gerard is the president of the United Steelworkers union and vice president of the AFL-CIO. He cross-posted an essay today at Daily Kos and Alternet from the USW blog. It attracted far fewer readers than it deserved, which is why I am excerpting it below. Don’t let your eyes glaze over because the subject is infrastructure. Gerard cogently addresses our need to arrest the decay in key elements of what makes us a civilization as well as to modernize and innovate for the future. He contrasts this with the rot of a different kind contained in Donald J. Trump’s profiteering infrastructure proposal:

[…] The Wall Street Journal reported last fall that to raise the private funds, Trump planned to give massive tax breaks of 82 percent of equity to investors that help pay for infrastructure repair. For citizens, that’s a crappy deal – giving Wall Street

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Cartoon: Trump pulls out of Paris Accord to negotiate a better deal

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