Bloomberg is a Climate Change Con Man ~ CounterPunch

It’s an open secret in environmental circles that Michael Bloomberg is a climate change con man, and organizations like the Sierra Club that take hundreds of millions in donations from the former New York City mayor to fight coal, are complicit in his fraudulent scheme to coopt the climate change movement for his own profit.

In Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, Bloomberg pompously claimed, “We’re closing the coal-fired power plants. If we could enforce some of the rules on fracking so that they don’t release methane into the air and into the water, you’ll make a big difference. But we’re not going to get rid of fracking for a while. And we, incidentally not just natural gas. You frack oil, as well. It is a technique, and when it’s done poorly, like they’re doing in too many places where the methane gets out into the air, it is very damaging. But it’s a transition fuel…”

There’s a reason the mumbling Bloomberg has committed a portion of his fortune to fight coal while arguing that fracked gas is a “transition fuel” — he has massive investments in natural gas. A mysterious money management group called Willett Advisors, that handles Bloomberg’s riches, states they “are natural gas bulls” and “we invest a lot in the energy sector.” He’s banking on fracked gas and not renewable energy to power the US economy into the future.

“I don’t want to ban fracking (just do it safely) or stop the Keystone pipeline (the oil is coming here one way or another), and I support nuclear power.” Bloomberg writes in his book Climate of Hope. “Natural gas, when safely and responsibly extracted, has been a godsend for the environment and public health,” and that “fracking allows for the most efficient extraction of natural gas”  and that “it makes sense to frack.”

Fracking might pad his portfolio, but it makes zero environmental sense.

While the US weens itself off of coal, it’s fast becoming a natural gas powerhouse, which is no doubt making Bloomberg even wealthier.  Many coal-fired power plants in the US have been converted to natural gas and over 150 new gas plants and hundreds of miles of pipelines have been proposed across America — a dirty gas boom Bloomberg embraces and wants to expand. According to Global Energy Monitor, there are also 300+ liquid natural gas export terminals under construction in the US, totaling $927 billion in investments. And despite Bloomberg’s bold assertion, no new rules will stop methane from being released during the extraction process, and of course, there are carbon dioxide emissions along every step of the natural gas lifecycle — from drilling to transporting to burning, which releases a fair amount of CO2 as well.

It’s also well-documented that natural gas pipelines crisscrossing the country are major contributors to climate change. These pipes are leaking a lot more methane than Bloomberg and his pals at the Sierra Club would like to admit. Methane emissions are considered 84 timesmore potent than CO2 in the initial twenty years after being released, which means methane has a more immediate impact on our climate than burning coal. In the US, these leaks account for approximately 32 percent of the natural gas industry’s total methane pollution.

Bloomberg believes capitalism and massive interests in natural gas will save our planet. He’s dead wrong. If Democrats nominate this billionaire huckster, they’ll get what they deserve. It’s just too bad the rest of the planet will end up paying the price.

 

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank.

Study: Colorado River’s Flow Decreases 9 Percent With Every Degree Of Warming ~ KNAU radio, Northern Arizona University

FEB 21, 2020

A new paper published today in Science shows a rising risk of water shortages in the Colorado River Basin. Scientists say diminishing snowpack from climate change plays a critical role—not just because snow supplies the river with water, but because it acts as a protective shield against evaporation. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with lead author Chris Milly of the U.S. Geological Survey.

 

The Colorado River at Navajo Bridge
CREDIT MELISSA SEVIGNY

Melissa Sevigny: Your study was about what’s going to happen to the Colorado River as the world continues to get warmer. What did you find out?

Chris Milly: We wanted to know what to expect about the future for the Colorado River since it is the major source of water supply for the U.S. Southwest….We analyzed historical data for streamflow, climate, that is, precipitation and temperature, we even looked at satellite observations from the last couple of decades which allow us to see how white the basin looks, that is, how much snow can be seen from space. After all that analysis we were able to determine how sensitive the flow of the river is to rising temperatures.

I have the number here with me, so you found the river’s flow decreases about 9 percent per every degree Celsius of warming.

That number is not the highest number that’s been reported in the past… The range goes from 2 to 15. We were able, we think, to nail down what this number really is, and why previous studies have had such a wide dispersion of their estimates.

So one of the unique things about your approach was looking at the reflection of sunlight off the snow affects the environment, can you talk about that?

That’s right. That’s the thing I found most fascinating about this study. As the snow cover dwindles due to warming, it’s reflecting less sunlight back to the atmosphere. So the basin’s absorbing more sunlight. That sunlight is powering evaporation out of the basin. Now when that evaporation—the water is taken out of the basin due to the evaporation, there’s less water flowing down the river to the 40 million people that are waiting for it.

So on our current track of warming, what do you think the Colorado River is going to look like a couple of decades from now?

Going into the future, there’s a large degree of uncertainty of how the climate is going to be changing… If we take the changes in temperature alone, something we’re pretty clear about what’s going on, the effect of those warming temperatures by the middle of the century, the year 2050, are expected to decrease the flow of the river from its historical levels by anywhere from 14-31 percent. If precipitation is brought in, that range becomes bigger on both ends. We might see in the very, very best case, a couple percent increase in the flow, but if you look at the range of projections for precipitation changes they take you down to as much as a 40 percent decrease in flow when combined with the warming that’s going on.

Chris Milly, thank you so much for joining me today.

Pleasure to be here.

Warmest January Ever Puts 2020 on Track to Be One of Top 10 Hottest Years ~ NYT

The Charles River Esplanade park in Boston in January. Temperatures climbed into the low 70s in many places in Massachusetts. 
Credit…Steven Senne/Associated Press

It may only be February, but 2020 is already “virtually certain” to be among the 10 warmest years on record, and has nearly a 50 percent chance of being the warmest ever, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.

The predictions follow a January that was the warmest ever in 141 years of record keeping, Karin Gleason, a climatologist with the National Centers for Environmental Information, said in a conference call. Global average temperatures last month were 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit (1.14 degrees Celsius) above average, slightly higher than in January 2016, the previous record-holder.

In comparing this year with previous years, Ms. Gleason said, one way to look at it is “we completed the first lap in a 12-lap race, and we are in the lead.”

“According to our probability statistics, it’s virtually certain that 2020 will rank among the top 10 years on record,” she said. Their analysis also showed a 49 percent chance of this year being the warmest ever, and a greater than 98 percent likelihood it will rank in the top five.

The forecasts are in keeping with a long-term trend of global warming that is occurring as a result of human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. All of the 10 current warmest years on record have occurred since 2004, and the past five years have been the hottest five. Last year was only slightly cooler than 2016, the hottest year ever.

The record warmth in January was all the more remarkable because it occurred when the world was no longer in the midst of an El Niño event.

An El Niño, which is linked to warmer than average sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, can affect weather patterns worldwide and also lead to generally warmer temperatures. A strong El Niño during the first half of 2016, for example, contributed to the record temperatures that year.

But the latest El Niño ended last year, and ocean temperatures in the Pacific have returned to much closer to normal. “We’re in sort of new territory here with a record in a non-El Niño month,” Ms. Gleason said.

2019 Was the Second-Hottest Year Ever, Closing Out the Warmest Decade
Antarctica Sets Record High Temperature: 64.9 Degrees (A uncomfirmed 70 Degree high was reported a few days later.)

March Temperatures in Alaska: 20 Degrees Hotter Than Usual

January temperatures were much warmer than average across most regions of the world, with Eastern Europe and Russia having the greatest departures from normal. Australia and Eastern China were also much warmer than usual. Central India was one of the few regions with cooler than average temperatures.

Temperatures last month were also warmer than average across the contiguous United States and much of Canada. Alaska was cooler than average, but NOAA forecasts for the next few months call for a return to the above-average warmth that has been the norm in Alaska in recent years and that has led to a large decline in sea ice, particularly off the state’s west coast.

NOAA is forecasting warmer-than-average temperatures into May across most of the country, from the West through the Southwest, Southeast, Midwest and into the Northeast. There is also a likelihood of a wet spring across most of the eastern half of the country.

California and the Southwest are expected to be dry, likely leading to the return of drought to California and intensification of drought in the Four Corners of the Southwest, NOAA said.

How Mexico’s Muralists Lit a Fire Under U.S. Artists ~ NYT

A stupendous show at the Whitney Museum explores the profound impact of Mexican painters — the meeting and mingling that enriched American culture.

“Zapatistas,” Clemente Orozco’s 1931 painting of the Mexican peasant guerrillas in the exhibition “Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925-1945.”
Credit…Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SOMAAP, Mexico City; The Museum of Modern Art, via Licensed by SCALA, via Art Resource, NY

 

That story, a hemispheric one, begins in Mexico in the 1920s. After 10 years of civil war and revolution, that country’s new constitutional government turned to art to invent and broadcast a unifying national self-image, one that emphasized both its deep roots in indigenous, pre-Hispanic culture and the heroisms of its recent revolutionary struggles.

The chosen medium for the message was mural painting — monumental, accessible, anti-elitist, in the public domain. And three very differently gifted practitioners quickly came to dominate the field: Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros: “Los Tres Grandes” — “the three great ones” — as they came to be known among admirers.

Many of those admirers were artists in the United States. Some had heard word of a lush, affordable, artist-honoring tropical utopia, and traveled south to experience it for themselves. Others, alert to social inequities rampant under United States capitalism — to be laid bare by the Great Depression — wanted to make art a tool for social change and took the Mexican revolutionary experiment as a model.

Left, Everett Gee Jackson’s “Women With Cactus,” 1928; right, María Izquierdo’s “My Nieces,” 1940. 
Credit…Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SOMAAP, Mexico City; Emiliano Granado for The New York Times
Alfredo Ramos Martínez’s “Calla Lily Vendor,” 1929.
Credit…The Alfredo Ramos Martínez Research Project
Diego Rivera’s “Dance in Tehuantepec,” 1928.
Credit…Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico City/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; via Malba, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires

For all parties, the model was an exhilarating one, and the bright pink walls of the exhibition’s opening gallery suggest a fiesta atmosphere, as do the paintings gathered there: Alfredo Ramos Martínez’s 1929 image of an itinerant flower vendor bending under her load of calla lilies; a 1928 painting by Rivera of Oaxacan dancers in orchidaceous gowns; and, from the same year, a scene, in Rivera’s volumetric, smooth-brushed, Paris-trained style, of women harvesting cactus by the American artist Everett Gee Jackson.

Jackson (1900-1995), who was born in Texas and trained at the Art Institute of Chicago, made an art jaunt to Mexico in 1923 and stayed four years. He saw Rivera’s mural work in Mexico City and created his own variation on what had already become a local “national” style. There he also met Anita Brenner, a Mexican writer of Latvian Jewish descent, who was the fulcrum of a lively international community, and whose widely read 1929 book “Idols Behind Altars” — there’s a copy on display — introduced North Americans to the history of Mexican culture, from pre-Columbian times forward.

Turn a corner into the next gallery and you find work from around the same time but on overtly polemical themes. It was important for a nation that identified itself with populist struggle to keep the memory of that struggle burning, and art was on the job. You see this in a large charcoal painting study by Rivera of the firebrand revolutionary Emiliano Zapata trampling an enemy underfoot. And in an inky Siqueiros portrait of the same leader, looking as blank-eyed as a corpse. And in a spiky, depressed Orozco painting of the peasant guerrillas known as Zapatistas, their figures as stiff as the machetes they carry, locked in a grim forced march.

“Zapata,” David Alfaro Siqueiros’s 1931 portrait of the firebrand leader Emiliano Zapata.
Credit…Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SOMAAP, Mexico City; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution

By the time these pictures were made in 1931, two of the artists were working primarily in the United States; the third would arrive the next year. There were reasons for this northern influx of émigré talent. With a change of leaders in Mexico, mural commissions had dropped off, and far-left politics — Rivera and Siqueiros self-identified as Communists — had become less welcome. Something like the opposite was true in the United States, where young artists radicalized by the Depression were eager to explore the possibilities of social consciousness-raising public art. To work with these masters was a dream come true.

Orozco came first, to New York in 1927. There he taught easel painting and printmaking to a rapt cohort of local artists before moving on to California to execute a mural commission for Pomona College in Claremont — a 1930 fresco called “Prometheus” that the teenage Jackson Pollock, then living in Los Angeles, saw and never forgot.

A photographic reproduction of Diego Rivera’s “Man, Controller of the Universe,” 1934, Palacio de Bellas Artes, INBA, Mexico City.
Credit…Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico City/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Emiliano Granado for The New York Times

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

Climate change is drying up the Colorado River, putting millions at risk of ‘severe water shortages’ ~ CNN

The Colorado River — which provides water to more than 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles — has seen its flow dwindle by 20 percent compared to the last century, and scientists have found that climate change is mainly to blame.

The Colorado River wraps around Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona. A new study finds that this vital river is in grave danger due to rising temperatures.

The researchers found that more than half of the decline in the river’s flow is connected to increasing temperatures, and as warming continues, they say the risk of “severe water shortages” for the millions that rely on it is expected to grow.
For each 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit of warming averaged across the river’s basin, the study found that its flow has decreased by nearly 10%. Over the course of the 20th and early 21st centuries, the region has already warmed by an average of roughly 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
The study also examined the impact that action to curb pollution of heat-trapping gases could have on the river’s water supply.
Some decrease in the flow is likely no matter what actions are taken, but without any cuts to emissions, the report says the river’s discharge could shrink by between 19% and 31% by the middle of this century.

Scientists say climate change is mainly to blame for declines in the Colorado River's flow.

The study — conducted by US Geological Survey scientists Chris Milly and Krista A. Dunne and published Thursday in the journal Science — adds urgency to efforts to protect one of the country’s most vital rivers.
The Colorado River starts high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming, before snaking its way across the Southwest on its way to the Gulf of California.
But by the time it arrives there, its flow is reduced to a trickle, says Brad Udall, a senior climate scientist at Colorado State University who has studied the Colorado River basin for 30 years.
En route, water is diverted to supply major cities like Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Diego, as well as farms in the US and Mexico that grow the vegetables that feed millions around the world.
All told, Milly and Dunne say the river supports around $1 trillion of economic activity each year.
“Without this river, American cities in the Southwest would dry up and blow away,” Udall said.
However, the river’s problems start well before it reaches people’s faucets.
Global warming is taking a severe toll on the snowpack that feeds the river, the scientists found. As temperatures increase, snow cover in the region is declining, meaning less energy from the sun is reflected back into space and more warms the ground as heat.
This triggers a vicious cycle that leads to even more evaporation and therefore, less water supply.

Colorado River under pressure: How long can it keep flowing?

The river’s flow has also been diminished by a severe drought that’s spanned much of the last two decades, leaving its two main reservoirs — Lake Powell and Lake Mead — barely half full.
Access to the Colorado River’s water has long been a contentious issue among the seven states that rely on it.
Last year, a new deal was reached that will govern the rights to it until 2026, but Udall says negotiations will get under way later this year to determine how to divvy up the water in a drier, more arid future.
Udall says these new findings show that the only way to save the river is by addressing the root cause of the problem: climate change.
“The science is crystal clear — we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions immediately,” he says. “We now have the technologies, the policies and favorable economics to accomplish greenhouse gas reductions. What we lack is the will.”
~~~~
The Colorado River winds its way along the West Rim of the Grand Canyon in the Hualapai Indian Reservation on Jan. 10, 2019, near Peach Springs, Arizona.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The Colorado River winds its way along the West Rim of the Grand Canyon in the Hualapai Indian Reservation on Jan. 10, 2019, near Peach Springs, Arizona. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Will be spinning disks and avalanche stories for KOTO radio’s annual winter fundraising drive with Mike Friedman and Matt Steen this Friday from 10 – 11.

~~~  LISTEN  ~~~

KOTO ski legends poster CLEAN.jpg

KOTO’s Winter Fund Drive

February 21st- March 6th.

Stop by the KOTO Studio at 207 N. Pine St. to drop off cash or check

Mail a donation to

KOTO Radio P.O. Box 1069 Telluride, CO 81435

Give us a call at (970) 728-4333 or 4334.

Donate online

KOTO’s Tax ID: 23-7317485

 

GDJD schedule 2-21-20-page0001.jpg

Marfa’s Answer to the Collapse of Local News: Coffee and Cocktails

 

Can drinks, community events and the occasional wedding subsidize small-town journalism?

The Sentinel is a cafe and cocktail bar that happens to have a newsroom attached to it.
Credit…Jessica Lutz for The New York Times

By

 

MARFA, Texas — When Landrie Moore was looking for a venue for her destination wedding, she knew she wanted a space that really reflected life in this small, remote desert town.

Her guests would be coming from as far as Ecuador and England, and Ms. Moore, 35, who works for a boutique hotel firm, hoped to provide a memorable and authentic experience for those travelers. When you visit a new place, she said in a phone interview, “you want to feel like a local.”

Which is why she decided to get married mere feet from the office of The Big Bend Sentinel, the region’s oldest newspaper (where I worked as a reporter in 2014 and 2015).

Ms. Moore’s wedding, in June, was the first of five held last year in the Sentinel, a cafe and cocktail bar in the newspaper’s newly renovated office building. The space is perhaps the most visible sign that The Big Bend Sentinel is under new ownership: Maisie Crow and Max Kabat, two transplants from New York, took over last year from Robert and Rosario Halpern, the paper’s publishers of 25 years.

“We kind of saw us in a way,” Mr. Halpern said of the couple.

Copies of the paper are spread throughout the retail space.
Credit…Jessica Lutz for The New York Times

 

“Buy a newspaper?” Mr. Kabat, 37, recalled thinking when the Halperns first approached him and Ms. Crow about a potential sale. “What are we, idiots?” Their background is in consulting and documentary filmmaking. (The New York Times is a producer of a forthcoming film by Ms. Crow.)

Since 2004, nearly 20 percent of local papers in the United States have folded or merged, according to a 2018 study by the Hussman School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina. In many cases, publishers have been replaced by a narrow network of large investment groups that have acquired hundreds of failing newspapers.

But Marfa is no ordinary town, and its newsweekly has been a pillar of the community for nearly a century — long before Marfa became cool. The Big Bend Sentinel’s pages are pasted up with major issues of the day (the death of Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court justice, on a nearby luxury ranch, for example, and the possibility of a border wall just 60 miles away) alongside valedictorian announcements, photo spreads of homecoming events and advance coverage of the town’s many festivals.

Before Mr. Kabat and Ms. Crow took over, the paper ran solely on an ad sales and subscriptions. “It was able to sustain itself on a shoestring, but we wanted to expand the potential,” Ms. Crow, 38, said. They hoped to bring locals closer, physically, to the institution covering their hometown.

So they bought the building previously occupied by Padre’s, a dive bar that went out of business in 2016, and before that, a funeral home, and began renovations.

“We had to sage the whole place,” said Callie Jenschke, whom the couple hired to handle interior design.

The paper’s publishers wanted to create a space where locals could work and tourists could recharge.
Credit…Jessica Lutz for The New York Times

 

She recognized that there was a familiar Marfa aesthetic that tourists had come to want and expect — “a nomadic austerity mixed with the warmth of the desert,” in her words — and married that with Scandinavian influences, including concrete floors and Hans Wegner chairs, while preserving the original adobe brick and plaster walled facade.

All the furniture had to be movable and multifunctional, Ms. Jenschke said, “because they didn’t really know how it was going to be used.” It could be a co-working space, Mr. Kabat and Ms. Crow thought initially, then decided a subscription model would go against their goal of inclusivity.

Instead, they landed on a cafe/bar where locals could work and tourists could recharge. They would rent the kitchen space to local cooks to serve food throughout the day. And though they wouldn’t make money off the food itself, they could turn a profit on drinks. Eventually, there would be requests to rent the space for private events.

On a visit in the fall, the morning crowd lined up for coffee, served in hand-thrown clay mugs and with the option of organic oat milk. By early afternoon, the bar offered watermelon ranch waters for happy hour. Newspapers were scattered on the surfaces of the space.

Yep! They make newspapers here.
Credit…Jessica Lutz for The New York Times

 

Next door, the Big Bend Sentinel’s staff squeezed into a dimly lit room just a fraction of the Sentinel’s size. Now and then, the two full-time reporters dropped into the cafe to refill their mugs.

A relic of the old office remains: a neon sign spelling out “newspaper.” In the evenings, when the light is turned on, the office glows red from within.

Sometimes the reporters work out of the Sentinel, which functions as a kind of public square. “It’s a great way to keep my finger on the pulse and get new leads and find stories,” said Abbie Perrault, 27, the managing editor.

For legal reasons, Ms. Crow and Mr. Kabat have decided to keep the businesses separate on paper. In Texas, any business with a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission license for serving alcohol is subject to warrantless searches by law enforcement, and they didn’t want to take that risk with the newsroom.

Max Kabat and Maisie Crow, the publishers of The Big Bend Sentinel, opened the cafe/bar to subsidize the paper’s operational costs and bring the community closer to its reporting.
Credit…Jessica Lutz for The New York Times

 

Still, the couple sees the Sentinel as a natural extension of the paper. During editorial meetings, the staff discusses greenlighting private events. When a political candidate asked to rent the space to host a meet-and-greet, they declined, concerned it might violate the ethics of the newspaper.

Since Ms. Crow and Mr. Kabat took over, they have expanded the newspaper’s digital platform, which has seen a 7 percent increase in traffic, Mr. Kabat said, and broadened its photographic coverage. At the newspaper’s sister publication, The International, which the couple also owns and which serves the largely Spanish-speaking neighboring border town of Presidio, every article is now translated into Spanish. They added a crossword puzzle and Sudoku to both papers, too.

The newspapers still sell ads, which account for the majority of revenue. But with additional income from private events and day-to-day drink sales, the publishers have been able to keep yearly subscription costs steady: $50 for area residents and $60 for anyone outside.

“If people come in and buy a coffee and buy something from our shop, rent the space, buy a cocktail, whatever it is, their dollar isn’t just going to that,” Ms. Crow said. “Their dollar is going to support something larger.”

%d bloggers like this: