Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Getting Centrist

Like the price of gas, the indictment of Ted Stevens, the standoff at Preah Vihear temple in Cambodia, the wind, the rain, the average daily temperature on Mars, and everything else in the phenomenal world, Obama's trip abroad reaffirms the value of centrism.

Georgie Anne Geyer explains:

As was shown on this trip, this man is a classic moderate, rooted in the more traditionally, if unevenly, centrist positions of Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy or even Richard Nixon.

In fact, we are coming out of the extremes. Bill Clinton was far to the multicultural left, even within the Democratic Party; George Bush is far to the neoconservative right, even within the Republican Party. We need to get centrist again.
Again! Never mind that almost every Bush-era disaster Geyer decries was either implemented under the banner of bipartisanship, or justified as a reaction to partisanship, by "centrist" politicians and commentators. And never mind that Clinton governed to the right of FDR, while Bush governed to the right of Nixon. What we need, according to her, are more daring people who are willing to flout convention by staking out a "sensible" position in between Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (preferably while doing their best to ramp up nativist paranoia).

Geyer's old columns give us a pretty good sense of what else centrism normally entails. First off, we should respect James Baker III and George H.W. Bush:
With Baker, perhaps there is a chance to return to the centrist, moral, politically savvy values of Father Bush's administration....
Next, we should fret over the elitism and corruption in the Democratic Party, which offers more support than it should to welfare programs and unions:
[T]he welfare state -- and its supporting constitutencies -- is alive and well among many elites in Al Gore's Democratic Party, if only because so many of them (the teachers' unions, the education departments, for example) depend upon dependency....
Having indentified the "moral impoverishment" of the Left, we may wish to look to the GOP for national renewal, as Geyer did back in 2000:
Most people would say that the Democrats are the party of liberal and centrist ideology and the Republicans (outside of the right wing, of course) are the party of business and individualism. That is still true on many levels, and yet a new political-social syndrome is developing in which the Republicans are the ones espousing the new ideology.

This is the anti-centrist but, more importantly, anti-dependency ideology that George W. Bush personifies.
Of course, no good centrist can remain silent about the evils of multiculturalism, "which began in the '60s as a U.S. adaptation of Marxism" and "makes it impossible for the society to fight militarily while at the same time destroying its will to resist philosophically."

And what would centrism be without due respect for Joe Lieberman? To say nothing of the "old-time liberal" Pat Buchanan, the "visionary" John Tanton, and the "brilliant" Shelby Steele?

As far as I've ever been able to tell, Geyer's ideal moderate voter is a libertarian superpatriot with a barely submerged authoritarian streak, who deeply resents welfare and unions, generally admires hard-right political insiders and thinktanks, and worries obsessively over what the cultural and intellectual failings of minorities are doing to "our" America. Given a choice between a Democratic elitist and an anti-dependency conservative, she'll usually lean to the right, but only because doing so is inherently centrist. If this choice turns out badly, the blame is laid not on any act or monument of centrism, but on an outbreak of partisanship to which more centrism is the only reasonable response (Lieberman in '12!).

I don't pretend to know whether Obama will turn out to be a "moderate" in the style of G.H.W. Bush and Richard Nixon. All I can do is comfort myself with the fact that Geyer's assessments of presidential gravitas been wrong before...like, for instance, when she insisted that Bush would be an "excellent" president because "has the charm and easy joyfulness of FDR, some of JFK's idealism, the "smarts" of Richard Nixon, the practical mind of Ike and nothing at all of Bill Clinton."

(Illustration via The Onion.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Nudibranch Blogging

Hush now baby don't say a word
Mama's going to buy you Hypselodoris maritima
The third
Joyful mystery.
The joy that descends on you when all the trees are cut down
and all the fountains polluted and you are still alive waiting
for an absent savior.

Friday Hope Blogging

Fishing vessels are increasingly using sail power:

Commercial fishermen are reverting to wind power in response to soaring fuel prices, as skippers rig their boats with auxiliary sails to cut the amount of diesel they use.

The move comes as a new generation of vessels is being developed that will rely almost exclusively on sails.
What'll they think of next?

The Sietch Blog has a nice series of renewable energy maps. Which reminds me that California has a new green building code. And that Hawaii's Republican governor has mandated that all new homes must have solar water heaters.
Hawaii relies on imported fossil fuels more than any other state, with about 90 percent of its energy sources coming from foreign countries, according to state data.

The new law prohibits issuing building permits for single-family homes that do not have solar water heaters.
The danger here, of course, is that short-term gains in energy efficiency will be outweighed by a decline in tourism, as the island descends into savagery and cannibalism a la Valerii Briusov's Republic of the Southern Cross.

Apropos of mania contradicens, San Francisco is considering banning cars from a stretch of Market Street.
Closing the 2.3-mile portion of Market Street would open the often-congested roadway to pedestrians and cyclists, though Daly said there would still need to be places where cars and other vehicles could cross.
Can mandatory gay abortions be far behind?

They've already arrived, more or less, in Massachusetts, where lawmakers have voted that gay couples are eligible for Medicaid:
The lawmakers' actions defy the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bans legally wed same-sex couples from receiving federally provided benefits such as Medicaid, the "safety-net" health care program administered by the states.

Supporters say Massachusetts can circumvent federal law by using only state dollars to pay for gay couples' benefits.
In the UK, meanwhile, MPs are pushing for abortion rights in Northern Ireland:
"When it comes to abortion rights, Northern Ireland women are effectively second class citizens: they don't have the same rights as women in England and Wales and Scotland and they even have fewer rights than women in the Republic of Ireland," [Labour MP Diane Abbott] said.

"So really the main way, if you want to have abortion and you're a woman in Northern Ireland, you have to travel to the UK. So every year thousands of women pay with their own money to have an abortion here.

"The effect of the amendment would be to give women in Northern Ireland exactly the same rights to abortion with NHS funding that women elsewhere in Britain have."
A federal judge has restored ESA protection for gray wolves in the northern Rockies:
Today Federal Judge Donald W. Molloy issued a temporary injunction restoring gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains to the endangered species list, and thus halting indiscriminate killing of wolves, for the duration of a trial in which conservationist plaintiffs contest the removal of the wolves from the protected list.
The EPA will no longer allow carbofuran residue on domestic and imported food:
"This could have major ramifications around the world, as there are many countries that export rice, coffee and bananas to the U.S.," said Michael Fry, director of conservation advocacy for the American Bird Conservancy. "It's one of the most widely used pesticides in the world."

The Conservancy and the Natural Resources Defense Council, another environmental group, had petitioned the agency to ban carbofuran residue on food on the grounds that the neurotoxin threatens animals as well as humans. Over the past four decades, the chemical has killed millions of wild birds, including golden and bald eagles, red-tailed hawks and migratory songbirds, the groups said.
A population of endangered lemurs has been found in a Madagascar swamp:
"Finding the extremely rare Prolemur simus in a place where nobody expected it was probably more exciting than discovering a new lemur species," conservation geneticist Edward Louis of Henry Doorly Zoo said in a statement.

A new species of manta ray has been discovered:
The species can reach a weight of 4500 pounds (2 metric tons) with a pectoral fins "windspan" of 26 feet (8 m). It appears to be more migratory and elusive, than its smaller, more common cousin.
And in Guyana, researchers may have found 600 new mushrooms:
One intriguing discovery from Guyana has gained particular interest from fellow mycologists. A new genus and species of macrofungi, called Pseudotulostoma volvata, has described as the "Fungus of the Century" by the journal, Mycological Research. "This one is a new genus that is very unusual" Aime said. "[It is] ectomycorrhial [symbiotic with trees], persistent (lasts for months), big, and, incredibly, is related to Penicillium and other molds.
A sweatshop in Queens is in a bit of hot water:
The factory, in Queens — which made women’s apparel for Banana Republic, the Gap, Macy’s, Urban Apparel and Victoria’s Secret — handed out instructions to its workers telling them to give false answers about working conditions when government inspectors visited.

Wage violations were so widespread, state labor officials said at a news conference on Wednesday, that the factory, Jin Shun, cheated its workers of $5.3 million. The case made by the State Labor Department against Jin Shun is one of the biggest involving back pay that it has ever brought.
California has adopted the world's strictest regulations on ship pollution:
The rules, which take effect in 2009, would require ships within 24 nautical miles of California to burn low-sulfur diesel instead of the tar-like sludge known as bunker fuel. About 2,000 vessels would be affected, including container ships, oil tankers and cruise ships.
I'm facing a deadline at the moment, so forgive me if I wrap things up a bit more quickly than usual.

Ecophotos has some of the best nature photography I've seen, as thus:

Some geographical links: A crystal river under New Mexico. Mysterious Chinese tunnels. The ephemeral state of Absaroka, USA. Soundings from the Estuary (via things). Bird's-eye views of Russia. And Terra Spiritus, a forty-meter panoramic drawing of the Tasmanian coastline.

Furthermore: Bad sex in fiction, and a list of fictional ducks (both via Coudal). Some beautiful magazine covers at (what is this?). Photos of labs at night. And lots of old typewriters.

(Photo by Caner.)

Last, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Lancashire in 1926.

(Photo at top by Manuel Álvarez Bravo.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Geopolitical Problems

The New York Times reports on the US Geological Survey's estimate of Arctic oil resources:

At today’s consumption rate of 86 million barrels a day, the potential oil in the Arctic could meet global demand for almost three years.
The article goes on to say that this potential windfall comprises "13 percent of the world's total undiscovered oil." Happy days are here again!

And they're here to stay:
Dr Peter McCabe, from the CSIRO, says predictions of a peak oil phenomenon date back to the 1920s but are no more relevant today than they were then.

He claims it's geopolitical problems in oil-producing countries such as Nigeria and Venezuela that's pushing up oil prices, rather than dwindling supply.
He's right, of course. We all remember the radical Enviropacifislamofemifascists who seized Kuwait's Burgan field, and have refused to let anyone get at a drop of it until Phil Donahue is restored to his rightful place on MSNBC.

Meanwhile, China's Daqing field remains firmly in the clawlike hand of Fu Manchu, despite the best efforts of Nayland Smith and the intrepid Dr. Petrie. And in Mexico, production at the Cantarell field remains lower than average, due to an ongoing struggle between wrestling women and an Aztec mummy.

Similar situations obtain at Ghawar, where sectarian conflict over whether Certs is a breath mint or a candy mint has almost entirely shut down operations, and at Samatlor, where Dostoevskian nihilist intellectuals have been waging a decades-long battle against Tolstoyan prophets of worldly renunciation.

In other news, John McCain has postponed his plan to praise the safety of offshore drilling from atop an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana, due to circumstances beyond his control:
The campaign blamed Hurricane Dolly, which had just crossed the Texas coast with winds reported at 100 miles per hour, or 160 kilometers per hour. It did not mention that an oil tanker had just collided with a barge near New Orleans, shutting down 29 miles of the Mississippi River and sending hundreds of thousands of gallons of heavy fuel oil into the water.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Certain Reservations

Martin Durkin, the anti-environmentalist film-maker, Bolshevist firebrand, and unrepentant goat-fucker who made The Great Global Warming Swindle, has been censured for "misrepresenting" the views of scientists who accept the reality of AGW.

This is OK, though, because these misrepresentations did not "mislead" the public.

Following a 15-month investigation, Ofcom yesterday found that The Great Global Warming Swindle broke its guidelines on impartiality in the concluding part of the 90-minute polemic, which claimed man-made global warming was a conspiracy and a fraud. But despite "certain reservations" on the part of the regulator, Channel 4 was "on balance" cleared of "materially misleading the audience so as to cause harm or offence".
In other words, the film became impartial when it set forth the assertion that's contained in its title. It's one of those little missteps that sometimes occur despite the best intentions in the world.

When asked for his comments on the ruling, Martin Durkin said this:
If I could get angry at you, I would try to kill every one of you. If that's guilt, I accept it....I'm probably one of the most dangerous men in the world if I want to be.
It would be hilarious, actually, if it weren't so sad.

(Illustration via Lost Wackys.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Month in Denialism

Be it known: A couple of commenters -- let's call 'em Pat and Mike -- recently rapped me on the knuckles for my use of the term "denialist." As far as I can tell, Pat feels that it's a logically incoherent attempt to conflate honest skepticism with a movement -- Holocaust denial -- whose goals and tactics it doesn't share; as such, it's an all too typical example of partisan idiocy from Communists like myself, who've cast aside science, common sense, and morality in order to join the Warming Cult.

Mike seems to find the term impolite, prejudicial, and insufficiently thoughtful, and to worry that my use of it may undercut the already-negligible effectiveness of my pointless pseudo-engagement with the "vermin" who write for politically inconsequential rags like National Review.

As you can see, it sux 2 B me. In light of this good-natured critique, I've decided that whereas I previously used the term out of arrogance, I'll now use it out of shame, so that all who read it may know just how impolite and biased I am.

On the bright side, this criticism did get me thinking about Pat's claim that sincere believers in AGW have a quasi-religious faith in the IPCC only because they don't understand Teh Science. I happen to agree with William of Ockham that "it is absurd to claim that I have scientific knowledge with respect to this or that conclusion by reason of the fact that you know principles which I accept on faith because you tell them to me," so I see Pat's point.

But of course, this is equally true of a non-expert's knowledge with respect to dissenting science. Since I'm not a climatologist, my belief will be somewhat faith-based no matter which side I choose to believe...except inasmuch as I don't have to be a climatologist to recognize that a denialist claim like CO2 is Life is completely irrelevant to the theory of AGW, and that any attempt to imply otherwise involves a certain amount of contempt both for science, and for the intelligence of one's audience.

This is where the issue of credibility comes into play, natch, which is why we hear so much about "Algore's Global Warming Theory," and not so much about the official stance of, say, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Or the American Meterological Society. Or Chevron.

With that out of the way, let's see what those goddamn denialist assholes have been saying lately. First up, we have Bjorn Lomborg, who's not a denialist so much as an inactivist. His claim, as usual, is that reducing emissions "would slow American economic growth by trillions of dollars over the next half-century." How do we know this? Projections and modeling, of course. (Sometimes they're actually reliable!)

Some of Lomborg's assumptions are impolitely described as "myths" by the McKinsey Global Institute, which claims that "the measures needed to stabilize emissions at 450 pppm have a net cost near zero." Obviously, Lomborg and MGI can't both be right...which means the only sensible thing to do is accept whichever theory is more optimistic. (You wouldn't want to be an "alarmist," would you?)

Greg Pollowitz notes that arctic ice is melting, and that volcanoes erupted under the Arctic in 1999. While he didn't get nearly as jubilant over this story as the rest of the Wingnuttosphere, he does imply that heat + ice = water, bwahaha! (Apropos of which, Coeruleus has some kind of chart that purports to show something or other. Who even knows what that's all about?)

Pollowitz's more general conclusion is that science sometimes gets things wrong, as is demonstrated by the former scientific belief that "this kind of so-called pyroclastic eruption could not happen at such depths due to the crushing pressure of the water." Let this be a lesson to all those who say that certain things are unlikely to happen!

Denialists were thrilled, recently, to learn that the American Physical Society has reversed its position on climate change.

The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming.
Denialists were annoyed, even more recently, to learn that the American Physical Union has done no such thing, and resents any implication that it has.
The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007:

"Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate."

An article at odds with this statement recently appeared in an online newsletter of the APS Forum on Physics and Society, one of 39 units of APS. The header of this newsletter carries the statement that "Opinions expressed are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APS or of the Forum." This newsletter is not a journal of the APS and it is not peer reviewed.
The bolded section would be the part that the author at Daily Tech left out of his "retraction." This may not do much good in the long run, though, since the APS has added the following disclaimer, in bright red letters, to the original article:
The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions.
The author complains that this warning was added without his knowledge or consent, and demands satisfaction on the field of honor. It's not at all clear to me why the APS would need his consent to distance itself from "findings" that it doesn't accept, especially since there's been an effort to make people believe it does accept them. Something further may follow of this masquerade.

David Evans says that there's no evidence whatsoever that CO2 is to blame for global warming. There's plenty to take issue with in his op-ed, but let's stick to the something nice and simple:
Satellite data is the only temperature data we can trust, but it only goes back to 1979. NASA reports only land-based data....
If only there were some way of finding out whether or not this is true.

Michael Gerson reasonably concedes that even a small possibility of a major climate disaster "should concentrate the mind," and attacks that vanishingly small group of conservatives whose "attitude seems to be: 'If Al Gore is upset about carbon, we must need more of it.'"

Having done so, he goes on to claim that the real threat to the environment comes from the failure of environmentalists to form effective coalitions with people who a) hate them; b) believe that there's absolutely no possibility of a major climate disaster; and c) would cheerfully eat a plate of dogshit if Al Gore told them not to. He also worries that environmentalists sometimes display a certain "hostility to the extractive industries." They're partisan, in other words, and must straighten up and fly right in order to avoid "causing suffering for many, including the ice bears."

Unfortunately, the part of the article where he explains how to save polar bears and avoid climate disasters without irritating the extractive industries and their hypercapitalist bedfellows seems to have been left out due to space considerations. But I'm sure it was at least as incisive and informative as what I've quoted here.

UPDATE: Regarding Monckton's "peer-reviewed" APS newsletter article, Duae Quartunciae makes a sobering point:
The initial decision by the APS editor was extraordinarily naïve. I don't know what they expected to achieve with this; but whatever happens now it's a big win for Monckton and his fans. He's got a pulpit, and any response will be dismissed as scientific close-mindedness. Treating it as a serious debate is all that the denialists really want to achieve. Firing the editor (as some have suggested) is surely an over-reaction that would only make everything even worse.
(Link via Deltoid.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Nudibranch Blogging

Friday Hope Blogging

The Senate has voted to repeal the HIV travel ban:

Language added to the Senate bill by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore., would reverse a policy that has made it difficult for HIV-positive foreigners to visit or seek residency in the United States.

"For 20 years, the United States has barred HIV-positive travelers from entering the country even for one day," said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality. "Today the Senate said loud and clear that AIDS exceptionalism must come to an end."
And the Massachussets Senate has voted to repeal a 1913 law that denies marriage licenses to out-of-state couples:
The law prohibits couples from obtaining marriage licenses if they couldn't legally wed in their home states.

After Massachusetts became the first state to allow gay marriages in 2004, then-Gov. Mitt Romney ordered town clerks to enforce the little-known law and deny licenses to out-of-state couples.
The Santa Fe National Forest will get some much-needed protection from off-road vehicles:
“The proposed travel plan is a good first step toward protecting wildlife and natural resources from off-road vehicles,” said Cyndi Tuell at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But we think protecting imperiled species will require going beyond what’s been proposed.”

The travel plan will reduce roads in the forest by 47 percent, protecting habitat for the Mexican spotted owl, goshawk, Jemez Mountain salamander, and Rio Grande cutthroat trout. The Santa Fe currently has one of the highest road densities of any forest in New Mexico.
Ontario claims that it will protect 55 million acres of the Northern Boreal Forest:
Monday, Primer Dalton McGuinty announced that Ontario will set aside 55 million acres of Northern Boreal Forest for permanent protection from development. The area, one of the world's largest intact forest and wetland ecosystems, is roughly the size of the United Kingdom.

More than 1,500 scientists worldwide sent letters to inspire the Canadian government to initiate the legislation, which, once enacted in 10 to 15 years, will work to protect the forest as well as its more than 200 sensitive animal species from oil, mining and logging interests.
(But what about the scientists who didn't send letters? They're obviously being suppressed! Teach the controversy!)

Wal-Mart claims that it will "participate in the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), an effort to rein in illegal and unsustainable logging."
Under the terms of the agreement, Wal-Mart has one year to complete an assessment of where its wood furniture is sourced and whether the wood is from legal and well-managed forests. Following the assessment, Wal-Mart will eliminate wood from illegal and unknown sources within five years. The company will also jettison wood from forests that are of "critical importance due to their environmental, socio-economic, biodiversity or landscape values and that aren't well-managed."
Trust, but verify, as the saying is.

A Kenyan court has temporarily blocked a plan to produce sugar and biofuels in a coastal wetland:
The government and the country's biggest sugar miller, Mumias, wants to plant cane on 20,000 hectares in the Tana River Delta to create jobs and plug an annual 200,000-tonne sugar deficit.

But the Malindi High Court ruled on Friday that environmentalists and groups representing local livestock keepers could apply for a judicial review, according to a copy of the order seen by Reuters on Sunday.
The discovery of a new migration route for the endangered leatherback turtle could aid conservation efforts:
"Given that the turtles seem to move in a predictable way from the nesting beach through the equatorial region from roughly February through April, we could potentially suspend fishing in certain areas while the leatherbacks are passing through that part of the eastern Pacific," George Shillinger said, a member of the large team who conducted the study and a doctoral candidate at Stanford.
In other turtle-related news, villagers in Madagascar have voted to protect green turtles:
In a move unprecedented in southwest Madagascar, residents of the remote village of Lamboara have now voted to protect surrounding beaches, outlawing turtle nest raiding and targeted turtle fishing.

The emergence of 92 live hatchlings marks the success of an awareness-raising campaign launched by Blue Ventures two years ago. This aims to find and protect turtle nests along a 50km stretch of coastline south of Morombe.

"The impact of a small amount of education on the lifecycle and biology of the turtle has been amazing," says marine biologist Charlotte Gough, campaign co-ordinator. "People here understand their resources are being overexploited, and that they need to do something to preserve them for future generations. The residents themselves put forward the idea of protecting whole beaches during the nesting season."

(Photo courtesy of Blue Ventures.)

This just in: No-take zones help overfished species to recover.
Five years without fishing around Lundy Island off the coast of Devon have brought a significant revival in sea life, scientists report.

Lobsters are seven times more abundant within the protected zone than outside.
New coral reefs have been discovered in Brazil:
Scientists have announced the discovery of reef structures they believe doubles the size of the Southern Atlantic Ocean's largest and richest reef system, the Abrolhos Bank, off the southern coast of Brazil's Bahia state. The newly discovered area is also far more abundant in marine life than the previously known Abrolhos reef system, one of the world's most unique and important reefs.
Red pandas bred in captivity have been released into the wild. You can see a video here.

Scientists at MIT have come up with an interesting new solar array:
MIT’s solar concentrator maximizes its mileage by using an efficient expanse of light-collecting glass to guide sunlight into a minute array of potent photovoltaics. The glass panels are coated with a dye that absorbs sunlight and channels it along the pane’s edges while altering its wavelength to reduce energy loss from light transportation. The result is a system that can collect light over a very large area, but requires a very small array of solar cells.

The versatile panels can be roof mounted or installed as windows, and their inherent design negates the need for a solar tracking system. Since little complex circuitry is required, the panes are very tolerant to defects, plus the dye used is extremely inexpensive, and it is easily “painted on” the glass panels. The development could be implemented as soon as three years from now.

At Purdue, meanwhile, researchers claim to have made a breakthrough in LED lighting:
LED lights now on the market are prohibitively expensive, in part because they are created on a substrate, or first layer, of sapphire. The Purdue researchers have solved this problem by developing a technique to create LEDs on low-cost, metal-coated silicon wafers....
Metaefficient reports on rainwater harvesting at a high school in Arlington, VA:
The building captures 280,000 gallons of water a year. Regrettably, the rainwater is only used for onsite irrigation, sidewalk washing, and other non-potable uses. However, the center does have waterless urinals which result in a 23% reduction in potable water use.

Nearby in Maryland, the Philip Merrill building (headquarters of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation), captures even more rainwater — 402,461 gallons a year — the rain provides almost all the water used in the building.
I don't know why these stupid hippies go to all this trouble, when you can get perfectly good water out of the tap!

Detroit's City Council may soon rescind its dubious sludge-recycling deal with Synagro:
The council voted 5-4 to pay Synagro $47 million a year to dispose of sewage sludge from the city's waste-treatment plant. Some of the sludge would be converted into fertilizer and the rest incinerated at a newly built burner....

Federal authorities are investigating whether bribes occurred to secure approval of the deal. At least four council members, staff, departmental personnel and people outside government are under investigation, sources have said.
NASA has released a useful carbon map of the United States:
The Vulcan Project, named after the Roman god of fire, found that different areas have different reasons for being at the top of the list.

"Consider the top three counties," says Kevin Gurney, referring to Harris, Texas, Los Angeles, California, and Cook County, Illinois. "Around Houston, it's industrial emissions that pushes them to the top of the list. In Los Angeles, it's cars. In Chicago, it's residential and commercial heating—because the temperatures are cold and the houses and buildings are old."
When you break the problem down this way, it seems quite a bit easier to address. The next step should be even more illuminating:
Project Hestia, named after the Greek goddess of home and hearth, proposes to create a global inventory of carbon emissions that will have information at the micro-level of neighborhoods.
To put things in a bit more perspective, here's all the water and air on earth.

That said: Grotesque Figures Carved on Modern Skyscrapers. A video Periodic Table. The sound of wobbling jelly (via Coudal). A somewhat gruesome survey of the "fascinating mold" Empusa (Entomophtora) muscae, and a veritable Grand Tour of Viper's Bugloss.

Agence Eureka explains how to make a rather frightening species of puppet. And BibliOdyssey has a collection of rare art by Beatrix Potter...very much worth looking at, even if you think you know her work all too well.

Also on display at BibliOdyssey, the remarkable work of Edward Bawden, which I hadn't come across before:

Last, "The Fugitive Futurist," from 1924. It's a little long, but stick with it.

(Photo at top by Irene Suchocki, via wood s lot.)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Forgetting About Injustice

Stephen Carter, a professor at Yale Law School, has written an article suggesting that affirmative action programs are merely "a way to pretend to be doing something" about racial inequality.

George Leef at Phi Beta Cons cheerfully assents to this. Where Carter loses him is in calling for a more substantive social commitment to "racial justice." What Carter fails to understand, y'see, is that the persistent human problem of racism is pretty much irrelevant, because the Free Market will fix everything (thanks to the aggregate choices of human beings who may or may not be influenced by racial prejudice, sensationalized reporting on black crime or what have you).

Sorry, but the troubles of the poor in the United States are not due to any lack of commitment to "racial justice." The trouble (or at least the biggest part of it) is that politicians have been short-sightedly attacking the foundations of our prosperity with all sorts of taxes and regulations that drive away investors.
That's the problem, alright. It's certainly not the collapsing or nonexistent infrastructure and services in our inner cities, nor the perception of their inhabitants as lazy, criminal welfare cheats (problems which politicians of both parties have done much to broaden and implement over the years). Mark my words, investors and businesses would be flocking to East Baltimore and Compton and East St. Louis with wheelbarrows full of cash if it weren't for the high taxes and red tape.

W.C. Fields once said that the best cure for insomnia is to get plenty of sleep. With equal discernment, Leef suggests that poverty could be addressed by giving people steady jobs (he left out the part about a living wage, but I'm sure he meant to include it).
Steady employment is the best anti-poverty program of all time, but politicians (mostly Democrats) have been hostile to capitalism for several generations and we see the consequences in cities such as Detroit and Baltimore.
Yeah, that's exactly what springs to mind when I think about Detroit's woes: the Democrats' multigenerational hostility to capitalism. Never mind ancient history like the building of freeways through historic black neighborhoods, or the redlining and restrictive covenants that encouraged white flight while trapping blacks in crumbling neighborhoods, or the shifting of auto plants to the suburbs, or the half-mile apartheid wall a developer built in 1940, or the segregation of hospitals, or (God forbid) the disastrous decisions of the auto industry, all of which were justified and made holy by the Invisible Hand. What blame could generations of demonstrable racial injustice possibly deserve, compared to decades of imaginary anti-capitalism?

It's lunatic revisionism like this that lets us know, just in case we doubted it, that we're dealing with a political movement that's racist down to its corpuscles.

Beyond that, if the prevalence of Democratic politics can be correlated with poverty, why is it that the flag-burning liberal Northeast has the highest average household income in the nation, while the God-fearing conservative South has the highest level of poverty?

Who knows? Who cares? The important thing is, race doesn't matter, so stop saying it does:
If you want to help the poor, the best thing to do is unshackle the economy. Forget about blaming racism and injustice. Forget about new government programs. Instead work to free up the economy. For upward mobility, emulate the laissez-faire policies of Hong Kong, no part of which looks like the ruined sections of Detroit and Baltimore.
Forget about blaming injustice...excellent advice for the free and the brave! Let the market decide which areas get banks and supermarkets, and which get lead contamination and refineries, and the whole question of "injustice" becomes meaningless.

Which is the whole point, really. The bedrock function of the conservatarian market is not to produce "upward mobility," but to shield the powerful from responsibility while encouraging the poor to blame themselves for not wanting food and shelter and medical treatment badly enough.

As you may know, some prisons used to have a couple of dummy switches in their execution chambers, along with the one that actually activated the electric chair. One man would be assigned to each, so that when the order came to throw the switch, each man could comfort himself with the thought that someone else had the live switch. Multiply that system by a few million people, make all the switches live, and pretend that the entire arrangement is as natural and impartial as the tides or the seasons, and you've got Leef's version of the "free market" in a nutshell.

(Photo: “Detroit, Michigan. Riot at the Sojourner Truth homes, a new U.S. federal housing project, caused by white neighbors' attempt to prevent Negro tenants from moving in. Sign with American flag ‘We want white tenants in our white community,’ directly opposite the housing project" by Arthur S. Siegel, 1942.)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Friday Nudibranch Blogging

Electric moons glow
On long bent stalks
The telegraph wires hum
In gentle unseen hands;

Circular amber clock faces
Brighten like magic above the crowd,
And a cool calm alights
On the parched slabs of pavement.

Beneath the fluttery, beguiling net
The misty park grows quiet,
And with a smile, evening kisses
The eyes of Hypselodoris kaname.

(Photo via Umiushi.)

Friday Hope Blogging

Most readers have probably heard about BushCo's astonishing decision to place solar projects in the desert West on hold for two years, so that federal officials could assess the environmental impact of solar energy. Thanks to public outcry, it has now decided not to stay the course.

“We’re encouraged that the B.L.M. lifted their moratorium, but we’re only halfway there,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “We now need to get them to expedite the permitting of the solar projects on public land.”

Mr. Resch said the decision was important given that while the bureau managed to approve a considerable number of oil and gas leases on public land, it “had yet to lease a single acre of land to the solar industry.”
A Georgia judge has ruled that a planned coal plant must obtain an emissions permit for its release of carbon dioxide:
Permit filings for the 1,200-megawatt Longleaf Energy Station coal plant, to be built by LS Power Group and Dynegy in Early County, Ga., did not include provisions detailing the plant's CO2 emissions. Yet EPD permitted it anyway on grounds that while CO2 may be a pollutant, the gas was not subject to regulation under the act.

Moore disagreed, saying the respondents' position "is untenable."

"There is no question that CO2 is subject to regulation under the act," Moore wrote.
The largest land conservation deal in US history has been announced:
{The] new reality - in which trees are worth more vertical than horizontal - was the inspiration behind the landmark conservation deal announced Monday....

The land purchase is expected to be complete in three years, and will place most of the 320,000 acres into either state or federal ownership. The small portion remaining in private hands will be burdened by conservation easements, allowing public access and continued timber harvest, but prohibiting subdivision and real estate development.
Pennsylvania is spending $120 million to address the problem of urban food deserts:
Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI) is believed to be the nation’s only statewide public-private funding initiative dedicated to opening grocery stores in underserved areas. In three years, the $120 million fund has provided “gap financing” – money beyond what a grocer normally could receive in grants and loans – to open or update 52 supermarkets statewide, creating some 4,000 jobs in the process.
Wal-Mart claims that it will sell local fruits and vegetables:
[T]he Bentonville-based company has focused on buying fruits and vegetables from farms closest to its distribution centers, making shipping easier while cutting down on trucking in produce from outside of the area, said spokeswoman Deisha Galberth.

For example, the retail giant once bought peaches from only a few suppliers. Now, Wal-Mart buys 12 million pounds of peaches annually from farms in 18 different states, she said.

Because of that, the company estimates, it saves about 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year and cuts away 672,000 food miles - the distance produce travels from farm to a customer's plate. That adds up to $1.4 million in annual savings, Galberth said
In related news, Wal-Mart and CostCo are rolling out redesigned milk jugs to improve efficiency:
The boxier containers stack better, eliminating the need for milk crates and conserving space in trucks and on refrigerated store shelves....

The new jugs probably reduce the environmental impact of milk in other important ways. Greater efficiency means less spoilage, which will help to shave down the large carbon footprint associated with dairy farming. Further, the "cold supply chain" is notoriously responsible for leaked refrigerants, which are powerful global warming agents. In addition to reduced energy use, less refrigeration means fewer such pollutants.
As I've hinted before, I take a rather dim view of green incarceration and eco-militarism. Still, this article on sustainability at a California prison is interesting in that some inmates seem to be getting behind the idea:
"Despite the fact that we're in here, we're still members of society, and if we can do something for the environment before our re-entry — why not?" said Bobby Kang, 35, as he spread mustard on his sandwich with his re-usable red spork.

"We were wasting a lot of spoons; it was a big waste," said Ken Watson, a 37-year-old inmate recently convicted in San Mateo County Superior Court for murder.
I'm dreaming of a day when criminals will shoot people with lead-free bullets -- "eat composite polymers, copper!" -- and use hybrid getaway cars.

Speaking of which, Mercedes claims that its cars will stop running on fossil fuels by 2015.
Already Mercedes has taken steps towards developing the technologies necessary for a petroleum-free fleet of vehicles. New A and B class models feature a start-stop feature that cuts the engine while stopped at a red light for a 9% increased fuel efficiency rating, and they have announced a “BlueTec” smart diesel for the UK that boasts an 80% reduction in emissions.
This is kind of interesting:
While the U.S. oil industry want access to more federal lands to help reduce reliance on foreign suppliers, American-based companies are shipping record amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel to other countries.

A record 1.6 million barrels a day in U.S. refined petroleum products were exported during the first four months of this year, up 33 percent from 1.2 million barrels a day over the same period in 2007. Shipments this February topped 1.8 million barrels a day for the first time during any month, according to final numbers from the Energy Department.

The surge in exports appears to contradict the pleas from the U.S. oil industry and the Bush administration for Congress to open more offshore waters and Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
Utah is experimenting with four-day work week for government employees:
Turning off the lights, the heat and the air conditioning on Fridays in 1,000 of 3,000 government buildings will save about $3 million a year out of a state budget of $11 billion, according to the governor's spokeswoman, Lisa Roskelley. The state will also save on gasoline used by official vehicles, but authorities have not figured out how much
Childhood lead poisoning decreased dramatically in New York City last year:
The 2007 figure — 1,970 poisonings among children 6 months to 6 years of age — is a 90 percent decline since 1995, when nearly 20,000 children were identified with lead poisoning.
City officials in Sacramento, CA have wisely decided not to fine a couple who allowed their lawn to turn brown during the ongoing drought.
"When you think about all the water being wasted everywhere, it's horrible they would go after that poor woman," said Ursula Crabtree of Carmichael. "If this person is being persecuted, something is wrong with the system."
A Kansas grand jury has declined to charge a doctor who performs late-term abortions with any crime:
The grand jury was convened in January through a petition drive by anti-abortion groups seeking an investigation into whether Tiller violated state abortion laws.

In a statement released by the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office, the grand jury said:

"After six months of conducting an investigation that included hearing extensive witness testimony, reviewing volumes of documents and medical records of patients of Women's Health Care Services (Tiller's clinic), this Grand Jury has not found sufficient evidence to bring an indictment on any crime related to the abortion laws."
Low-caste excrement collectors in India are improving their lot in life by helping to improve sanitation.
Many Indians today still treat the waste-collectors as "untouchables" and don't let them approach their villages, schools or temples or come into contact with their food and drinking water.

"If I was thirsty, they would give me water but would avoid touching me," Chaumar said.

Five years ago, her scavenging days ended when she joined the Sulabh International Social Service Organization, a non-profit group working to improve sanitation in India and the conditions for this marginalized segment of society.
Brownsville, TX is fighting DHS plans for a border wall:
On Tuesday, in Brownsville, a hearing was held on the Border Wall proposal and after hours of emotional debate, the City decided to delay an agreement with the DHS.

Border wall opponent John Moore spoke at the Commission’s hearing - calling for residents to stand against the wall - and saying that nearly 98% of residents opposed the plan.
In Virginia, meanwhile, Loudoun County's board of supervisors has voted not to accept money from developers:
Loudoun County supervisors voted yesterday to bar themselves from accepting campaign contributions from builders and others with proposals before the board as part of a broad effort to restore public confidence in a body that some have viewed as too close to the development community.

Supervisors voted overwhelmingly for the change, with only Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling) dissenting. Delgaudio said such a policy was tantamount to curbing freedom of expression.
A lost version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis has been discovered:
The wires are a-buzzing with the sensational news that a 16mm print of a lost version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis has surfaced in Argentina, which may well be the original cut - around a quarter of the original film is missing from existing prints. The German newspaper Die Zeit has reported the news and published a gallery of startling images from the previously lost sequences of the film.

This is fascinating, and a little frightening:
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have devised the first computerized method that can analyze a single photograph and determine where in the world the image likely was taken. It's a feat made possible by searching through millions of GPS-tagged images in the Flickr online photo collection.
I have enormous and intractable problems with Christopher Hitchens. But I admire the fact that he was willing to undergo waterboarding, and I respect the conclusions he drew from it.
One used to be told—and surely with truth—that the lethal fanatics of al-Qaeda were schooled to lie, and instructed to claim that they had been tortured and maltreated whether they had been tortured and maltreated or not. Did we notice what a frontier we had crossed when we admitted and even proclaimed that their stories might in fact be true? I had only a very slight encounter on that frontier, but I still wish that my experience were the only way in which the words “waterboard” and “American” could be mentioned in the same (gasping and sobbing) breath.
If you're looking for a worthy group to donate money to, I suggest AIDG (see, for example, this). You might also consider contacting the NOAA, which "is seeking comments through July 23 on its proposed authorization for U.S. Navy training exercises around the main Hawaiian Islands," or urging your representative to support the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (H.R. 5756).

Now, then. BibliOdyssey outdoes itself yet again with Scrapbook Florilegium.

The first photographs from Korea, (via Plep), portraits of schoolgirls from the borderlands of Anatolia, and zoological illustrations from colonial Victoria.

Furthermore: Oral histories from the Nevada Test Site. Many photos of a strange Russian building (text is in Russian). Eminent Domain: Contemporary Photography and the City. The watercolors of Thomas Burrowes.

Last, but not least, insects.

(Photo at top: "Exclamation" by Don Jim.)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Life of Sex

Anti-abortion activists in Portland, OR have managed to complicate the construction of a new Planned Parenthood facility by pressuring the contractor to drop the project.

[W]hen Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette signed on as the anchor tenant, Walsh said, he called other builders who had dealt with aggressive anti-abortion activists. He was told that protesters had gone as far as staking out contractors’ homes.

“It’s disruptive and very threatening,” he told The Oregonian. “I just didn’t want to put my family through that.”
One of the protest organizers is a man named Bill Diss, who has some interesting theories about human sexuality:
He called Planned Parenthood a “killing center” that targets young girls, teaching them about sex and masturbation, which he called “the gateway drug to lust.”
Young girls, mind you. Not children, and not teens. Girls.
“They’re up in North Portland targeting young black girls to get them into a life of sex,” said Diss, who is a science teacher at Portland’s Benson High.
I wasn't aware that lust required a "gateway," nor did I know that it would simply wither away in the absence of targeted vocational training. Consider the experiences of Saint Jerome in the Syrian desert:
There was I, who from fear of hell had condemned myself to such a prison, with only scorpions and wild beasts as companions. Yet I was often surrounded by dancing girls. My face was pale from fasting, and my mind was hot with desire in a body cold as ice.
Some might suggest that the intensity of these daydreams intensified Jerome's desire to control women's sex lives. Some might even claim that he lashed out at real women for the behavior of the imaginary dancing girls who disturbed his desert peace, and in doing so found a way to dwell persistently on female sexuality without having to feel guilty about it.

As for me, I've always seen adult obsessions with the sex lives of children and teens as...well, let's just say "problematic." Mr. Diss has the right to protest this clinic if he likes, of course. But if I had a kid in his class, I'd be very tempted to switch schools (and not just because I don't think a science teacher should be quite so horrified by the idea of "a life of sex").

(Illustration: "The Temptation of Saint Anthony" by Felicien Rops, 1878.)

Road Work Ahead

I'm traveling over the next couple of weeks, so posting may (or may not) be a bit more sporadic than usual. I hope to keep up with my Friday posting chores, if nothing else.

In the meantime, I'd been intending to link to my posts chez Echidne, but (typically) never quite got around to it. Here's seven at one blow, listed by subject rather than title, for any interested parties who missed 'em.

The political economy of child rape

Naturalizing auto dependency

Obama is a secret Hindoo!

Women "have not adapted" to meaningless sex

Dishonest narcissists have way more sex than the rest of us...just ask 'em!

Redefining fidelity

Slip it to the android
I'll bring you back something nice.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Pull the Pin and Roll

I've daydreamed for years about doing away with interstate trucking, on the grounds that it's stupid, wasteful, dangerous, exploitative, polluting, and a waste of time for all concerned.

Sure, "Convoy" was a great song, and the most cogent defense of libertarianism ever written. And the obscene messages scrawled by truckers in roadside toilet stalls provide the lonely traveler with plenty of food for thought. I also understand that once a sufficient number of maudlin songs have been written about a dull and dangerous job, it becomes a Proud Way of Life that must not be allowed to perish from the earth.

On the other hand, our heroic truckers could simply switch over to workin' on the railroad, all the live-long day. That was a proud way of life before anyone ever heard of 18-wheelers, as you can tell from the vast number of folk songs about being scalded to death by steam, or lying crushed beneath the boiler with your white-haired mother praying by your side.

If truckers became railroad workers, they'd still get to marvel at the beauty of God's own earth while eating three-day-old scrambled eggs, they'd still get to have anonymous sex with transients, and they'd still have the opportunity to go out in a blaze of glory, with nothing to regret but those two last drinks they wanted to try. And they could boast, with Jimmie Rodgers, that they'll eat their breakfast here and their dinner in New Orleans, and get them a mama they ain't never seen.

Best of all, they'd no longer have to suffer indignities like this.

Admittedly, I'm thinking with my heart rather than my head, as leftist sissy-boys so often do. Fortunately, a new study offers a more toughminded rationale for replacing trucks with trains:

Because one intermodal train can take nearly 300 trucks off our highways, shifting freight from trucks to trains reduces competition between commuters, drivers and freight traffic for space on the road," said Wendell Cox, author of the study and principal of Demographia, a market research and urban policy consultancy.

The study claims that if 25% of the volume moved by trucks was moved to rail transport by the year 2026, each American commuter could save, on average, $985 -- and 41 hours of time in their car -- a year. The survey also estimates that each year, a commuter could save 79 gallons of fuel and reduce air pollution by 920,000 tons."
You can find an interesting proposal for making a gradual switch from trucks to trains here; it also discusses the possibility of reducing air freight. Seems reasonable to me, for what little that's worth.

(Illustration at top by David Oram.)

A Necessary Weevil

The US has been invaded by European plants, and scientists are accordingly planning to import European insects that eat them:

Within a year, researchers in Minnesota and New York hope to unleash a German weevil that devours garlic mustard from root to leaf. They've been looking at the bug for a decade, plying it with dozens of other plants to learn whether it might eat anything else.
I assume that they're also looking at which predators eat these benevolent weevils, and with what effect. As this article notes, there have been cases in which insects that were imported to control other species caused more problems than they solved.
More serious is the case of an Argentine moth that dines on prickly pear cactus. Australians imported the creature in the 1920s to curb the spread of the cactus, which had been planted as a living fence. The moth worked splendidly, said George Schneider, biological administrator with the Florida Department of Agriculture.

Then other countries started using the moth, and in 1989 it appeared unbidden in the Sunshine State, chewing its way through already rare cactus species. It has since spread west, and agricultural officials fear eco-disaster should it make it to cactus-rich regions in Texas and Mexico.

Researchers are trying to curb its spread by releasing irradiated moths that will mate with the cactus killers to produce sterile offspring....
Obviously, it would've been better to keep things from getting to this point.

With that in mind, here's the proper way to proceed, as I see it. We should by all means use Ceutorhynchus scrobicollis to control garlic mustard. But instead of giving this pest the chance to get out of hand, we should import the dunnock to eat it. And while we're at it, we might as well bring the Eurasian sparrowhawk along, just to keep the dunnock in check. Planting a few acres of European hornbeam in target areas would help the sparrowhawk to feel at home, and would also present a pleasing picturesque aspect, particularly if we could import some full-bosomed peasant girls to sing Der Mai is Gekommen beneath their umbrageous boughs.

These bedirndled and rosy-cheeked maidens should ideally be employed at beer halls and grist mills (which could either be built according to traditional specifications or taken apart in Germany and reassembled here), and courted by dissolute but visionary students whose poems are overpopulated with naiads and trolls.

The only drawback I can see is the tendency of the Germans themselves to become invasive. While we're probably a match for them, it might be wise to import enough Russians and Brits to keep them from getting any ideas.

If anyone from the USDA would like to discuss this idea further, you can find me lying in the weeds near the corner of Yeon and Express, with a bottle of Cisco in my hand and my pants around my ankles.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Here Comes the Flood

In today's Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens announces that the science behind AGW has been "discredited." Here's one of his pieces of evidence:

Data from 3,000 scientific robots in the world's oceans show there has been slight cooling in the past five years, never mind that "80% to 90% of global warming involves heating up ocean waters," according to a report by NPR's Richard Harris.
In the imagined absence of "sound science," AGW must naturally be a) a commie plot; and b) a new, "virtue-centric" religion with -- horror of horrors -- a tendency towards self-denial. In other words, these eco-theo-communists figure that climate alarmism will convince us to wear hair shirts (or, if you prefer, hemp panties) in order to punish ourselves for the crimson sins of capitalism.

By an odd coincidence, today's WSJ also has an article on the insurance industry's response to climate change, which includes this passage:
"Losses from hurricanes and tropical storms have risen along with sea temperatures," says Eberhard Faust, a climate scientist at Munich Re. "This is [the assumption] from where all the modelers start."

That sea-surface temperatures are rising is no longer much in dispute. There is also near-consensus that rising temperatures are linked to greater hurricane activity
As the article points out, insurers are not exactly disinterested observers:
[T]he industry managed to realize huge profits in recent years -- despite record damages from back-to-back hurricanes in 2004 and 2005.
Still, it'd be a bit of a stretch to call them anti-capitalists or worshippers of Gaia. As usual, denialists like Stephens tend not to notice "alarmism" unless they can blame it on the cartoon leftists who infest their heads like animated bacteria in a sinus-pain commercial.

My favorite part comes towards the end. Climate alarmists, Stephens muses, say that coastal areas will be inundated by rising seas. Say, wasn't there something like that in teh Bible?
Surely it is no accident that the principal catastrophe predicted by global warming alarmists is diluvian in nature.
All the pieces are falling into place! The Good Book told us of a worldwide flood that wiped out everyone but Noah and Co. And then, a few short years later, a bunch of climatologists started claiming that certain areas of the world's coastlines might end up being partially or completely submerged. It's totally, like, the exact same thing, almost.

If that analogy isn't forced enough for you, try this one on for size:
Surely it is not a coincidence that modern-day environmentalists are awfully biblical in their critique of the depredations of modern society: "And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." That's Genesis, but it sounds like Jim Hansen.
Yea, verily! Consider this pitiless meditation on sin and death:
Demand for low-carbon, high-efficiency products will spur innovation, making U.S. products more competitive on international markets. Carbon emissions will plummet as energy efficiency and renewable energies grow rapidly. Black soot, mercury, and other fossil fuel emissions will decline. A brighter, cleaner future, with energy independence, is possible.
As you can see, Michael Wigglesworth had nothing on Hansen.

In other scientific news: Is summer hotter than winter? Views differ!