Saturday, August 6, 2011

Via Truthout: S.&P. Downgrades Debt Rating of U.S. For the First Time

 
www.truth-out.org
 
Standard & Poor’s removed the United States government from its list of risk-free borrowers for the first time on Friday night, a downgrade that is freighted with symbolic significance but carries few clear financial implications.

Via Left Action: Republicans are Morons

 
It's time to just admit the obvious: Republicans are morons.
After this debt downgrade, a downgrade caused 100% by Republican intransigence... I find it hard to disagree with the sentiment expressed by this page.  Maybe not ALL Republicans, but... seems like a higher and higher percentage with each passing day.

Via Juan R. I. Cole:

Downgraded US Credit Rating: What comes of Coddling the Super-Rich 
http://www.juancole.com/2011/0​8/downgraded-us-credit-rating-​what-comes-of-coddling-the-sup​er-rich.html

Via Senator Bernie Sanders on S&P downgrade:


I find it interesting to see S&P so vigilant today in downgrading the US credit rating. 

Where were they 4 years ago when they, and other credit rating agencies, helped cause this horrendous recession by providing AAA ratings to worthless sub-prime mortgage securities on behalf of Wall Street investment firms? 

Where were they last December when Congress and the White House drove up the national debt by $700 billion by extending Bush's tax breaks for the rich?

Via Climate Progress: Stuff White People Like: Denying Climate Change



While I’m on vacation, I’m cross-posting some of my favorite writers.  Here is Dave Roberts from Grist.
There’s a study running soon in the journal Global Environmental Change called “Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States.” It analyzes poll and survey data from the last 10 years and finds that … are you sitting down? … conservative white men are far more likely to deny the threat of climate change than other people.

OK, that’s no surprise to anyone who’s been awake over the last decade. But the paper goes beyond that to put forward some theories about why conservative white men (CWM) are so loathe to accept climate change. The explanation is some mix of the following, all of which overlap in various ways:

  • First there’s the “white male effect” — generally speaking, white males are less concerned with a variety of risks. This probably has to do with the fact that they are less exposed to risk than other demographics, what with running things and all.
  • Then, as Chris Mooney notes, there’s the “social dominance orientation” of conservatives, who see social life as following the law of the jungle. One’s choice is to dominate or be dominated; that is the natural order of things. Such folk are leery of climate change solutions premised on fairness or egalitarianism.
  • Then there are the well-understood “system-justifying tendencies” of conservatives. The authors explain that conservatives …
    … strongly display tendencies to justify and defend the current social and economic system. Conservatives dislike change and uncertainty and attempt to simplify complexity. Further, conservative white males have disproportionately occupied positions of power within our economic system. Given the expansive challenge that climate change poses to the industrial capitalist economic system, it should not be surprising that conservative white males’ strong system-justifying attitudes would be triggered to deny climate change.
  • Finally, there’s “identity-protective cognition,” a notion borrowed from Dan Kahan at Yale. (See this PDF.) Here’s how Kahan and colleagues sum it up:
    We propose that variance in risk perceptions — across persons generally, and across race and gender in particular — reflects a form of motivated cognition through which people seek to deflect threats to identities they hold, and roles they occupy, by virtue of contested cultural norms.
    “Motivated cognition” refers to reasoning done in service of justifying an already held belief or goal. It helps explain why the CWM who know the most about climate science are the most likely to reject it; they learn about it in order to reject it. See Chris Mooney’s great piece on that. Point being: when facts (or the implications of those facts) threaten people’s social identities, they tend to dismiss the facts rather than the identity.
To all these reasons, I’d add “epistemic closure,” the extraordinary way that the modern right has constructed a self-contained, hermetically sealed media environment in which conservatives can be protected from ever encountering a contrary view. It’s an accelerant to all the tendencies described above.
Anyway, as you can see, the rejection of climate science among CWM is basically overdetermined. Climate change threatens their values, their privileges, and their worldview. They are reacting as one would expect them to react.
So what? What follows from this? I’ll address that in my next post.
– David Roberts, staff writer for Grist, in a cross post.
JR:  For those not online 24/7, “Stuff White People Like” is the name of an actual satirical blog.

Via Steve Benen: National Debt Chart under Republicans and Democrats

National Debt Chart under Republicans and Democrats
http://www.lunacanus.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Natl_Debt_Chart.jpg?cda6c1
 
1980: Ronald Reagan runs for president, promising a balanced budget
 
1981 – 1989: With support from congressional Republicans, Reagan runs enormous deficits, adds $2 trillion to the debt.
 
1993: Bill Clinton passes economic plan that lowers deficit, gets zero votes from congressional Republicans.
 
1998: U.S. deficit disappears for the first time in three decades. Debt clock is unplugged.
 
2000: George W. Bush runs for president, promising to maintain a balanced budget.
 
2001: CBO shows the United States is on track to pay off the entirety of its national debt within a decade.
 
2001 – 2009: With support from congressional Republicans, Bush runs enormous deficits, adds nearly $5 trillion to the debt.
 
2002: Dick Cheney declares, “Deficits don’t matter.” Congressional Republicans agree, approving tax cuts, two wars, and Medicare expansion without even trying to pay for them.
 
2009: Barack Obama inherits $1.3 trillion deficit from Bush; Republicans immediately condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.
 
2009: Congressional Democrats unveil several domestic policy initiatives …. which would lower the deficit. GOP opposes all of them, while continuing to push for deficit reduction.
 
September 2010: In Obama’s first fiscal year, the deficit shrinks by $122 billion. Republicans again condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.
 
October 2010: S&P endorses the nation’s AAA rating with a stable outlook….
 
November 2010: Republicans win a U.S. House majority, citing the need for fiscal responsibility.
 
December 2010: Congressional Republicans demand extension of Bush tax cuts ….. GOP continues to accuse Obama of fiscal irresponsibility.
 
March 2011: Congressional Republicans declare intention to hold full faith and credit of the United States hostage – a move without precedent in American history – until massive debt-reduction plan is approved.
 
July 2011: Obama offers Republicans a $4 trillion debt-reduction deal. GOP refuses, pushes debt-ceiling standoff until the last possible day, rattling international markets.
 
August 2011: S&P downgrades U.S. debt, citing GOP refusal to consider new revenues. Republicans rejoice and blame Obama for fiscal irresponsibility…..
 
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_08/a_timeline_of_events031362.php

Via JMG: Today Is Lucille Ball's 100th Birthday


And Google is paying tribute on their home page.


reposted from Joe

Clark Retirement Community LipDub *OFFICIAL* - thanks to JMG for this!

ViaJMG: Crazy Eyes Blames Obama For Downgrade

Shocking.




posted by Joe

onMN763 says:

Today, 11:02:59
The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. ~ S&P downgrade statement 08/05/2011

In other words, when Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Michele Bachmann, Rob Portman and Paul Ryan tell the American people that holding debt ceiling increases hostage to draconian cuts while threatening to default will be the "template" for ALL future negotiations, they create a real fear that if they don't get what they want, America will not pay our bills.

There are a lot of things republicans could do to make the situation better. Threatening to default as political strategy is stupid and, as we see now, dangerous.

How far away from treason are their actions?

Quote via the Coffee Party Movement

Congress has failed the people once again. Their single minded focus on protecting the money their wealthy funders are hoarding has cost America its credit worthiness. This failure will cost billions of dollars in debt service and they and their wealthy funders should pay every single penny.

Caminhada de hoje - Daily Walk - A Foggy walk // uma caminhada no nevoeiro




Dew on the poinsettas
as you get older, it gets easier to spot an address with your age...

fusca verde na praça




Via NPR: Still In Love With 'Lucy' On Her 100th Birthday


  Scott Simon shares I Love Lucy highlights in honor of what would have been Lucille Ball's 100th.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Best Debt Ceiling Word Cloud Graphic We've Seen This Week

I received this from a close friend, and believe it to be true

Despite the negatives flooding the airwaves and our lives, the good in all of us shall come out and form a cover to protect us and those around us.  Positives will win.

A Spiritual Conspiracy

On the surface of the world right now there is war and violence and things seem dark. 

But calmly and quietly, at the same time, something else is happening underground. 

An inner revolution is taking place and certain individuals are being called to a higher light. It is a silent revolution. From the inside out. From the ground up. This is a Global operation... A spiritual conspiracy. 

There are sleeper cells in every nation on the planet. You won't see us on the T.V. You won't read about us in the newspaper. You won't hear about us on the radio. We don't seek any glory. We don't wear any uniform. We come in all shapes and sizes, colors and styles.

Most of us work anonymously. We are quietly working behind the scenes in every country and culture of the world. Cities big and small, mountains and valleys, in farms and villages, tribes and remote islands. You could pass by one of us on the street and not even notice. We go undercover. We remain behind the scenes. It is of no concern to us who takes the final credit. But simply that the work gets done.

Occasionally we spot each other in the street. We give a quiet nod and continue on our way. During the day many of us pretend we have normal jobs. But behind the false storefront at night is where the real work takes a place. Some call us the 'Conscious Army'. We are slowly creating a new world with the power of our minds and hearts. We follow, with passion and joy. Our orders are from the Central Spiritual Intelligence. We are dropping soft, secret love bombs when no one is looking.

Poems - Hugs - Music - Photography - Movies - Kind words - Smiles - Meditation and prayer - Dance - Social activism - Websites - Blogs - Random acts of kindness.

We each express ourselves in our own unique ways with our own unique gifts and talents. 'Be the change you want to see in the world.' That is the motto that fills our hearts. We know it is the only way real transformation takes place. We know that quietly and humbly we have the power of all the oceans combined.

Our work is slow and meticulous. Like the formation of mountains. It is not even visible at first glance. And yet with it entire tectonic plates shall be moved in the centuries to come.

Love is the new religion of the 21st century. You don't have to be a highly educated person. Or have any exceptional knowledge to understand it. It comes from the intelligence of the heart. Embedded in the timeless evolutionary pulse of all human beings.

Be the change you want to see in the world. Nobody else can do it for you.

We are now recruiting. Perhaps you will join us. Or already have.... All are welcome... The door is open.

~Author Unknown

----

Bal wrote: "Thanks , the author is Brian Piergrossi. http://www.facebook.com/l/PAQCQXVeh/brianpiergrossi.com/"

An office burns down. The spirit survives.

Office burns

Via The Second City Network: I am feeling irreverent...

Adele - Hometown Glory

Via Rachel Maddow:


Recall the Right!

Via Climate Progress: Bombshell: Warming May Shrink Russian Permafrost 30% by 2050

Browse image of Permafrost Extent
MOSCOW — Russia’s vast permafrost areas may shrink by a third by the middle of the century due to global warming, endangering infrastructure in the Arctic zone, an emergencies ministry official said Friday.
This AFP story snuck across my desk on little cat feet.  It didn’t get much attention,  in part because they buried the lede in the very last sentence:
Scientists have said that permafrost thawing will set off another problem because the process will release massive amounts of greenhouse gas methane currently trapped in the frozen soil.
Ya think?
The permafrost permamelt contains a staggering “1.5 trillion tons of frozen carbon, about twice as much carbon as contained in the atmosphere, much of which would be released as methane.  Methane is 25 times as potent a heat-trapping gas as CO2 over a 100 year time horizon, but 72 (to 100) times as potent over 20 years!
The carbon is locked in a freezer in the part of the planet warming up the fastest (see “Tundra 4: Permafrost loss linked to Arctic sea ice loss“).  Countless studies make clear that global warming will release vast quantities of GHGs into the atmosphere this decade.  Yet, no climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra.
Here’s more from the AFP story:

“In the next 25 to 30 years, the area of permafrost in Russia may shrink by 10-18 percent,” the head of the ministry’s disaster monitoring department Andrei Bolov told the RIA Novosti news agency.
“By the middle of the century, it can shrink by 15-30 percent, and the boundary of the permafrost may shift to the north-east by 150-200 kilometres,” he said.
The temperature of the zones of frozen soil in oil and gas-rich western Siberia territories will rise by up to two degrees Celsius to just three or four degrees below zero, he predicted.
Permafrost, or soil that is permanently frozen, covers about 63 percent of Russia, but has been greatly affected by climate change in recent decades.
Here is  a good 2010 video on what is happening to the Russian tundra.
Back in the February, NOAA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) dropped their own bombshell — Thawing permafrost feedback will turn Arctic from carbon sink to source in the 2020s, releasing 100 billion tons of carbon by 2100:

Figure:  Carbon emission (in billions of tons of carbon a year) from thawing permafrost.

The thaw and release of carbon currently frozen in permafrost will increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations and amplify surface warming to initiate a positive permafrost carbon feedback (PCF) on climate…. [Our] estimate may be low because it does not account for amplified surface warming due to the PCF itself….  We predict that the PCF will change the arctic from a carbon sink to a source after the mid-2020s and is strong enough to cancel 42-88% of the total global land sink. The thaw and decay of permafrost carbon is irreversible and accounting for the PCF will require larger reductions in fossil fuel emissions to reach a target atmospheric CO2 concentration.
The NSIDC/NOAA study itself doesn’t even incorporate the CO2 released by the permafrost carbon feedback into its warming model!  Even so, in their study, the permafrost is adding more than one billion tons of carbon a year to the atmosphere by the mid-2030s!
The authors note that of the dozen or so studies done to date on permafrost melt by 2100, “Our projections of permafrost degradation fall on the low side, but well within the range of other published projections.”  An earlier NCAR-led study found half the land-based permafrost would vanish by mid-century on our current emissions path (see “Tundra, Part 2: The point of no return“).
This conservative study “found that between 29-59 percent of the permafrost will disappear by 2200.”   Given that the head of the Russian ministry’s disaster monitoring department believes that 2°C warming is enough to shrink up to 30% of the Russian permafrost by 2050 — and  given that northern Russia is looking at as much as 10°C warming by century’s end (see here) — I’d  say we need to do a complete reevaluation of the risk of losing most of the permafrost by century’s end, resulting in rates of carbon flux this century more than double what NSIDC/NOAA considered
Further, the NSIDC-led study acknowledges that it almost certainly underestimates the warming the PCF will cause.  It assumes all of the carbon released will come out as CO2, not methane. If  even half of the carbon comes out as methane, then the warming impact over  a 20-year time frame would be 10 times as much!
Finally, that study only looked at the land-based permafrost.  Let’s remember the study from last year:
Science: Vast East Siberian Arctic Shelf methane stores destabilizing and venting:  NSF issues world a wake-up call: “Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.”Methane and carbon release from the Arctic is the most dangerous amplifying feedback in the entire carbon cycle. This research finds a key “lid” on “the large sub-sea permafrost carbon reservoir” near Eastern Siberia “is clearly perforated, and sedimentary CH4 [methane] is escaping to the atmosphere.”
Again, the “climate pragmatists” out there who think R&D or an energy quest is going to stop us from multiple catastrophes are deluding themselves and others.  We need to start aggressive mitigation now as every major independent study concludes.  And if we don’t, then those who follow the science at least have the moral obligation to warn the public about what is coming, so they can prepare, even if their political leaders refuse to do so (see “The GOP War Against Climate Adaptation“).
Related posts and amplifying feedbacks:

Via Climate Progress: NOAA: Prepare for ‘High Hurricane Activity’ in the Atlantic



As tropical storm Emily — the fifth named storm this year — finally dissipates in the Carribean, many more may be waiting to take her place.

According to new projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this year’s hurricane season could be even more intense than previously projected. NOAA says there’s an 85 percent chance this year’s activity in the Atlantic will be above average — up from a 65% probability in May.

A major hurricane hasn’t hit the U.S. coast since 2008. But NOAA’s outlook for “high hurricane activity” has communities preparing for a season in which 19 major storms could form — ten of them hurricanes and five “major” hurricanes. A number of forces are driving this year’s potentially-active season, including temperatures in the Atlantic that are the third-warmest on record.

Meanwhile in Washington, NOAA could be undergoing some major changes that could impact the agency’s ability to monitor hurricanes and help coastal communities protect themselves. America’s satellites are in need of some serious upgrades — about $700 million worth. NOAA officials say that without an overhaul of the satellite system, hurricane and severe weather predictions would “spell disaster.”

With major budget cuts on the table, NOAA is facing some difficult choices. The House of Representatives has put aside about $450 million for satellite upgrades, a number that the agency says it “can live with.” But that money comes from NOAA’s oceans and fisheries programs, which would take away another very crucial piece of severe weather preparation, explains Center for American Progress’ Director of Oceans Policy Michael Conathan:
Funding the weather service and increasing the commitment to satellite programs by slashing the NOAA’s ocean programs simply displaces the problem. The best protection we have against coastal storms are natural surge barriers in the form of healthy wetland ecosystems, yet Congress has failed to address the critical need to protect and restore these vital areas. Knowing when and where a hurricane will hit is the first step, but we also must make sure we’re doing everything in our power to mitigate the damage caused by these increasingly frequent storms.
Despite the GOP’s goal of making government more efficient, a proposed House spending bill also explicitly prevents NOAA from streamlining and consolidating its operations to create a comprehensive climate service. Although the climate service would help the military, farmers, home builders and others more efficiently acquire data to help them in their operations, lawmakers have called it a “policy advocacy,” a grossly inaccurate description— and indeed, a political statement in itself.

Today, there are double the number of hurricanes forming in the Atlantic than there were a century ago. NOAA projects that rising ocean temperatures will decrease the number of weaker hurricanes, but possibly double the number of strong hurricanes over the next 80 years.

World Stock Markets Plunging Again

Via JMG: Mystery Company Vanishes After Donating $1M To Magic Underpants' Campaign

Here's GOP fundraising for you.
Three firms gave $1 million apiece to Restore Our Future, a conservative "super PAC" planning to spend millions to help Romney's White House bid. One of those companies was W. Spann LLC, a mysterious New York-based company that apparently closed up shop last month shortly after its contribution to the pro-Romney PAC. As NBC News's Michael Isikoff reports, the company was formed in March by Boston estate tax lawyer Cameron Casey and listed a midtown Manhattan address where the landlord says there's no record of the firm being a tenant. The company gave $1 million to Restore Our Future on April 28, and according to records obtained by Isikoff, dissolved on July 12th, just two weeks before the pro-Romney PAC disclosed its donors to the Federal Election Commission. There's no indication in the records of what the company did or who its owners or principals were. Casey did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The other two companies, which share a Utah address, are mysteries as well.
 
reposted from Joe

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Via Progressive Alliance/Children's Hope:

Dear Mr. President, First off, please let me wish you a very Happy 50th Birthday on behalf of the Sacramento Progressive Alliance! Second, since I'm sure you read my FB page and our Progressive Alliance page religiously, I want to assure you that the vicious, nasty accusation that I "hate the player" (aka, you) that was made against me yesterday on this page is 100% false. I don't hate your Mr. President. In fact, like Chris Matthews, I still sometimes get that tingle up my leg when I watch you speak... though, to be honest, not as often as I used to. I not only don't hate you, I happen to like you... a lot. Like so many of my fellow Americans, I worked my ass off on your campaign, donating both time and money that I didn't have to help you get to the White House, and serving as Co-Chair of Faculty for Obama on the campus where I teach. On the night you wont the election, I wept openly, hugged dozens of strangers, and drank lots of beer (there may be a connection there somewhere) while celebrating your -- and our -- historic electoral triumph. I wept again the next morning while talking on the phone with my 80-year old Mom about your victory, in large part because neither of us ever thought we'd see an African American President in our lifetime. A few months later I spent more time and more money that I couldn't afford to take my family to DC for your Inauguration party, not because were invited or had tickets to any fancy balls, just because we wanted to experience an amazing moment in our nation's history. Of course we didn't know it was going to be 1000 degrees below zero and that all of the events were outside (I still get cold when I think about it), but it was worth the frostbite and the night we were stranded and lost at a suburban DC bus stop for hours and thought we would sure die. It still would have been worth it. Your inauguration was the best party I've ever been to and the proudest I've ever been to be an American. So no, I don't hate the player. In fact, if you and Skip Gates are ever free I'd love to share a near beer with you... you can even invite the racist cop. Or we could shoot hoops. I used to play in high school and I think I might be able to give you a game. Better yet, let's go bowling... I'm not very good, but I've seen you bowl and I know I can take you. Mr. President, I don't hate you, and neither do my progressive friends. Heck, I still think I have a bit of a man crush on you, but please don't tell anyone. We still love you, but since honesty is an important part of an healthy relationship, we do think you should know that your first 2 1/2 years in office have been a bit disappointing for many of us. And yes, we do think you could do a better job championing the progressive values that you ran on, the ones that inspired us. So no, we don't hate the player... but we will continue to to criticize, pressure, nudge, cajole, demand, beg and whatever else we can do to convince you to fight for vigilantly for the change we believed in. Happy Birthday. : )
Paul Burke 8:41pm Aug 4
Dear Mr. President, First off, please let me wish you a very Happy 50th Birthday on behalf of the Sacramento Progressive Alliance! Second, since I'm sure you read my FB page and our Progressive Alliance page religiously, I want to assure you that the vicious, nasty accusation that I "hate the player" (aka, you) that was made against me yesterday on this page is 100% false. I don't hate your Mr. President. In fact, like Chris Matthews, I still sometimes get that tingle up my leg when I watch you speak... though, to be honest, not as often as I used to. I not only don't hate you, I happen to like you... a lot. Like so many of my fellow Americans, I worked my ass off on your campaign, donating both time and money that I didn't have to help you get to the White House, and serving as Co-Chair of Faculty for Obama on the campus where I teach. On the night you wont the election, I wept openly, hugged dozens of strangers, and drank lots of beer (there may be a connection there somewhere) while celebrating your -- and our -- historic electoral triumph. I wept again the next morning while talking on the phone with my 80-year old Mom about your victory, in large part because neither of us ever thought we'd see an African American President in our lifetime. A few months later I spent more time and more money that I couldn't afford to take my family to DC for your Inauguration party, not because were invited or had tickets to any fancy balls, just because we wanted to experience an amazing moment in our nation's history. Of course we didn't know it was going to be 1000 degrees below zero and that all of the events were outside (I still get cold when I think about it), but it was worth the frostbite and the night we were stranded and lost at a suburban DC bus stop for hours and thought we would sure die. It still would have been worth it. Your inauguration was the best party I've ever been to and the proudest I've ever been to be an American. So no, I don't hate the player. In fact, if you and Skip Gates are ever free I'd love to share a near beer with you... you can even invite the racist cop. Or we could shoot hoops. I used to play in high school and I think I might be able to give you a game. Better yet, let's go bowling... I'm not very good, but I've seen you bowl and I know I can take you. Mr. President, I don't hate you, and neither do my progressive friends. Heck, I still think I have a bit of a man crush on you, but please don't tell anyone. We still love you, but since honesty is an important part of an healthy relationship, we do think you should know that your first 2 1/2 years in office have been a bit disappointing for many of us. And yes, we do think you could do a better job championing the progressive values that you ran on, the ones that inspired us. So no, we don't hate the player... but we will continue to to criticize, pressure, nudge, cajole, demand, beg and whatever else we can do to convince you to fight for vigilantly for the change we believed in. Happy Birthday. : )
Obama Celebrates 50th Birthday with White House Party
www.voanews.com
President Obama will host an afternoon party with family and friends at the White House Rose Garden.
    Progressive Alliance/Children's Hope.

Mourning in America

Spence'n 'Rents...

My Dad  & Spencer
 



My Mom & Spencer
 
Spencer & Xodo

Via Climate Progress: Mysterious Nationwide Heat Wave Causes Exploding Sidewalks and a Blood-Red Reservoir

For reasons that no major U.S. news outlet can apparently explain, it is really, really, really hot.  How hot is it?  It was so hot
  • “Dick Cheney waterboarded himself.”
  • “So hot Charlie Sheen was snorting actual snow.”
  • “It was so hot presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was fanning herself with pornography.
  • “It was so hot in Washington that Congress had to install a fan on the debt ceiling.”
But not so hot that one can actually find any articles talking about global warming.  I’m not certain how hot it would have to be for that, but hotter than this:

This was the hottest July in Oklahoma history by a full 1°F, and the drought was so bad the Governor told residents to pray for rain.  But this would actually be a rather average July by the second half of this century if we keep listening to the politicians from the Sooner Dust Bowl state — see “U.S. southwest could see a 60-year drought this century.”

ABC News reports, “Heat Wave Causes Exploding Sidewalks and a Blood-Red Reservoir in Texas,” but they can’t bring themselves to invoke any climate science.  Quite the reverse, in fact:

Doomsayers are always on the lookout for signs of the Apocalypse, and few have been more captivating than record-setting temperatures scorching the nation these days….
With the elevated temperatures has come even more compelling fodder for the students of prophesy, including a reservoir stained blood-red in Texas,  exploding sidewalks in Iowa, snail-slow railroad trains in the Midwest and ant infestations in Florida….
Farquhar said he had heard about apocalypse believers commenting on the blood-red reservoir signaling the end of the world. But the scientist said  the red growth, called Chromatiaceae bacteria, is a “naturally-occurring phenomenon.”
Seriously.

Now  as I’ve said many times, every story about extreme weather does not need to mention global warming.  But if ABC News is going to set up believers in Revelation and then invoke science to dismiss them, they could perhaps talk to a climatologist.  Some day.

And that is especially true for a monster heatwave like this that is so uniquely extensive in space and time — just the kind of heat wave climate scientists have warned would become increasingly likely.

Steve Scolnik at Capital Climate analyzed the data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center and found U.S. heat records have been outnumbering cold records by a huge amount.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5baWZYXDlCo/Tjhrbi97kpI/AAAAAAAACSg/YYzIk2KsANo/s1600/temp.records.073111.jpg
Monthly total number of daily high temperature and low temperature records set in the U.S. for June 2010 through June 2011, data from NOAA.
Scolnik notes:
U.S. daily high temperature records were dominating cold records in July by a ratio of over 5 to 1, based on preliminary data from the National Climatic Data Center. A surge of heat records in the final week of the month has pushed the total ratio to 6.1 to 1. For the summer as a whole (June and July combined), the ratio has increased to 8.4 to 1. This also increases the year-to-date ratio to 2.7 to 1.
Out of the 1601 daily high temperature records broken in July, 49 were all-time records for any day of any month. Combined with the updated count of 20 all-time records in June, this gives a total of 69 so far this summer. In comparison, only 8 all-time cold records were set in all 3 months of last winter combined.
I like the statistical aggregation across the country, since it gets us beyond the oft-repeated point that you can’t pin any one record temperature on global warming.  If you want to know how to judge whether these ratios are a big deal, see “Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across U.S.” which is the source of this figure:
temps
Spurred by a warming climate, daily record high temperatures occurred twice as often as record lows over the last decade across the continental United States, new research shows. The ratio of record highs to lows is likely to increase dramatically in coming decades if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to climb.
Our science-based institutions, like the National Center for Atmospheric Research, have no difficulty straightforwardly explaining the connection between human-caused global warming and these monster heatwaves.  If only our news-based institutions could do the same.

Via Climate Progress: August 4 News: Philips Wins Energy Dept’s Lighting Prize

Philips's prize-winning bulb uses just 9.7 watts to match the light output of a 60-watt incandescent.

Philips’s prize-winning bulb uses just 9.7 watts to match the light output of a 60-watt incandescent. It lasts 25,000 hours, compared with 1,000 to 2,000 for an incandescent.

A $10 price is when these lamps will take off,” Mr. Crawford [CEO of Philips Lighting North America] said. “That is absolutely achievable in five to six years.”
Philips Wins Energy Department’s Lighting Prize
Philips, the Netherlands-based consumer electronics giant, is now $10 million richer, having just won the L Prize, awarded by the federal Department of Energy in a contest to invent the next generation of solid-state lighting.

Formally titled the Bright Lighting Tomorrow Prize, the award was introduced to encourage companies to create highly efficient alternatives to standard incandescent lamps. Two categories were established: a 60-watt LED equivalent to the standard light bulb, and a new version of the large PAR 38 reflector lamp commonly found on ceilings. (That second contest has been delayed by the Department of Energy as it re-evaluates the competition’s specifications.)
… While the company already sells a 60-watt equivalent LED lamp at retail chains like The Home Depot, the L Prize winner is even more efficient. The prize bulb uses just 9.7 watts to match the light output of a 60-watt incandescent, compared with 12.5 watts for the product currently sold. The new lamp is also brighter than the one marketed now, at 910 lumens versus 800 lumens. And it is closer in color to a standard incandescent.

“The L Prize lamp absolutely mimics an incandescent lamp,” said Ed Crawford, chief executive of Philips Lighting North America.
One way it doesn’t mimic a standard lamp is in its look when it is turned off. The lamp itself is bright yellow when it is not illuminated, which prompted Philips to clarify on its planned packaging that the lamp produces “white light when lit.” The company decided not to change the color of its off state because “this is the best way to achieve the performance,” Mr. Crawford said….

In an article I wrote about the L Prize, I quoted a Philips executive who was confident that the industry could get the cost of LED lamps down to the $20 to 25 range. Already the company is predicting that this will be a no-brainer.

“A $10 price is when these lamps will take off,” Mr. Crawford said. “That is absolutely achievable in five to six years.”

The L Prize winner in its non-illuminated state.
Senate Democrats Confident They Can Keep Anti-EPA Bills at Bay in Fall
When Congress returns in September from its monthlong recess, House Republicans say they will pick up where they left off in crafting and passing legislation to restrict U.S. EPA’s air quality rules.
But Senate Democrats say they expect to have no trouble killing those proposals from the GOP-controlled House.

“They keep trying to do that,” said Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). “They keep trying to overturn the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act. That’s not going to happen.”

The House has already approved several bills this year to reduce EPA’s authority, including one (H.R. 910 (pdf)) in April that would prevent the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources, such as power plants.
House to Keep Up Drumbeat on EPA’s Air Rules, Targeting Vulnerable Senate Dems, Says Rep. Whitfield
House Republicans will keep U.S. EPA’s new Clean Air Act rules front and center between now and next year’s elections in part to ramp up the pressure on vulnerable Democratic senators from states where environmental regulation is hurting the local economy, a key GOP leader on energy issues said this morning.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who heads the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, has said for months that he plans to take a comprehensive look at the Clean Air Act in order to reassert Congress’ oversight of that landmark environmental law. Today he said he does not see legislation to rein in EPA’s rules passing both chambers of a politically divided Congress.

“I don’t think much can pass in the Senate,” he said at a briefing with reporters this morning. “It never does. I’m not particularly optimistic.”

Still, he plans to continue holding hearings and producing legislation to take on environmental rules he says are onerous to business, if only to keep the issue alive going into next year’s election. A disproportionate number of Democratic senators are up for re-election next year, many running in states that rely on coal and manufacturing.
Enel Green Power adds 16 MW wind capacity in Spain
Italy’s biggest renewable energy company, Enel Green Power (EGP) has started up a new 16 megawatt wind farm in Spain as it expands in the Spanish renewable energy market, EGP said on Thursday.

Capacity at EGP, controlled by Italy’s biggest utility Enel, is keenly watched by investors. It has driven a 35 percent jump in EGP’s core earnings in the first half of 2011.

The new wind farm, in the province of Avila, will produce 42.7 million kilowatt hours of power a year, enough to meet the energy needs of about 15,800 households, and will cut CO2 emissions by 31,600 tonnes a year, EGP said in a statement.
Federal judge dismisses enviro oil sands lawsuit
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by two environmental groups alleging that the Defense Department violated the law by procuring Canadian oil sands.

The Sierra Club and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy had alleged the Defense Department violated Section 526 of a 2007 energy law that prevents the military and other agencies from buying alternative fuels that have higher greenhouse gas emissions than conventional petroleum fuels.

But United States District Judge Claude Hilton, out of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, dismissed the case late last week because he said the plaintiffs lacked standing.
EPA petition heralds escalation of gas ‘fracking’ battle
Environmental and public health groups are turning up pressure on the Obama administration to impose new rules on the controversial natural-gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing.
Earthjustice, on behalf of various groups, will formally petition the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday to require companies to conduct new testing on chemicals used in “fracking” and produce data needed to gauge the health and environmental risks.

The petition indicates that fracking opponents hope to force the Obama administration to take a tougher line on the issue by crafting new regulations, even as EPA and Energy Department reviews of fracking are under way.

It will also call on EPA to mandate that Halliburton and other drilling services companies “provide any documentation these companies have of environmental or health problems associated with the chemicals they manufacture, process, or distribute,” according to Earthjustice.
Tesla hints at larger potential deal with Toyota
Electric car maker Tesla Motors reported it’s second quarter results today, and in a call with the media and investors, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted at a much larger supply deal under discussion with auto maker Toyota. While Tesla announced a $100 million deal with Toyota last month to produce an electric RAV4, Musk said in the call that there is a potential deal under discussion with Toyota that could be “an order of a magnitude larger” than the $100 million deal.

Musk also called Tesla’s most recent “the best quarter in Tesla’s history.” Tesla recorded solid growth in revenues, generating $58.17 million, up from $28.41 million in the second quarter of 2010.
Warmer temperatures to expand California exotic grass populations
Warmer temperatures in California could lead to a substantial statewide expansion of exotic grass populations, according to a new study that catalogued over 400 native and exotic grasses in the state.
Researchers from UC Berkeley say exotic grasses dry out faster than native varieties, making the state more vulnerable to wildfires. Exotic grasses also hold pathogens that attack crops, such as wheat, or affect people who eat beef from cows that graze on exotic species. They also compete with native grasses for water.

“As climate changes in the coming century, which at this point is quite certain, this means we expect the distributions of the grasses to change as well,” said David Ackerly, a UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology and the inspiration behind the study. “Sadly, what this predicts is that the alien species that already dominate the Central Valley and other hotter regions of the state will become even more widespread in the future.”
Bingaman to review energy bills for Reid’s jobs agenda
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) plans to help put meat on the bones of Democratic leaders’ plans to make “clean energy” part of their jobs agenda.
Bingaman said Wednesday that he plans to review bills the committee has approved to determine the best candidates to fit Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) agenda, which will be a major political focus for Democrats now that the debt-ceiling fight is over.

Reid said Tuesday that energy measures will be in the mix but offered no specifics. Bingaman noted that his panel has approved 14 energy-related bills thus far.
“Most of those are clean-energy-type legislation which will create jobs. I haven’t sat down with [Reid] and sorted through which of them would have the greatest impact on job creation and which ones I would recommend he try to move ahead with,” Bingaman told reporters.
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