I just wrote to Dr. Richard Spinrad, Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to urge him to continue supporting the designation of Hudson Canyon as a National Marine Sanctuary. The protections afforded by Sanctuary status will maintain this essential ecosystem for generations to come. The nomination was made by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the organization that runs the NY Aquarium in Coney Island, as well as the zoos in the city.
Hudson Canyon, just off the coast of New York and New Jersey, is a key ecological hotspot for marine wildlife, including deep sea corals, sharks, whales and dolphins, turtles, seabirds and numerous fish species. It’s also a driver for the local economy, fueling commercial and recreational fishing, shipping, and tourism. However, this undersea treasure remains vulnerable to oil, gas, and mineral exploration and extraction, which would threaten its valuable living resources. Please write to Dr. Richard Spinrad today, thanking him for beginning the designation process and urging him to continue to support the future of Hudson Canyon:
Starting last Thursday night (6/9/22), The United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, began a series of eight public hearings, on the events leading up to and culminating with the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6, with the attempt to overturn the election of 2021. The very first thing that became apparent was how fragile our democracy is. The cornerstone of our democracy is the right to vote. Every citizen is entitled to vote and have their vote counted.
In New York State, early voting begins on June 18 – 26, and on June 28, the Primary Election for New York State Governor and Lt. Governor. The Democratic candidates for Governor are:
1. Congressman Tom Suozzi. Tom was the four-term Mayor of Glen Cove, the youngest elected Nassau County Executive, and the first Democrat in thirty years to be elected to that position. Tom was elected three times to The United States Congress from CD 3. Tom’s running mate is Diana Reyna for Lt. Governor. Diana served as Deputy Borough President of Brooklyn and was a twelve-year member of the New York City Council.
2. Governor Kathy Hochul. Kathy became Governor when Governor Cuomo resigned. Kathy was a one-term Congresswoman from upstate New York and proud to be one of only two Democrats to be approved by the NRA. Kathy’s running mate is Antonio Delgado for Lt. Governor. Antonio was appointed to the post of Lt. Governor after Brian Benjamin was indicted and resigned
3. Jumaane Williams. Jumaane served as New York City Public Advocate and as a member of the New York City Council. Jumaane’s running mate for Lt. Governor is Ana Maria Archila. Ana Maria is a Civil Rights advocate.
President Jimmy Carter – “I now fear that what we have fought so hard to achieve Globally – the right to free, fair elections, unhindered by Strongman Politicians who seek nothing more than to grow their own power – has become dangerously fragile at home.”
TO ALL REGISTERED DEMOCRATS, YOU HAVE A CHOICE OF CANDIDATES IN THIS PRIMARY – VOTE WISELY
I had several COVID positive patients this week, all vaccinated. All relatively speaking mild (i.e. no respiratory distress), including members of my family. COVID is constantly mutating. It would appear that one of the mutations is responsible for the new wave; but for sure it is all propelled by the large disappearance of masks from indoor use and low vaccination rates. A significant percentage of these patients will develop Long Covid; we are beginning to understand the long-term ramifications, with a large percentage, for example, of those on respiratory support developing chronic lung problems.
We hit a tragic milestone since the last COVID notes: a million (understated) COVID deaths. It is an unfathomable tragedy. I met with one of my diabetic patients whose son died of COVID. The son was in his 30s and had a family of his own. My own patient has suffered terribly with ongoing chest pain necessitating an ER visit. I am currently evaluating the cause, but emotional “heartbreak” is real.
Cruises are back in style. That doesn’t mean that COVID has left cruise ships alone. The CDC’s cruise ship status report shows that 76 of 92 ships have reported cases of the coronavirus on board.
I’ve previously referred to the path, highlighted in a recent NYT article, that Australia took in dealing with the COVID pandemic which resulted in a death rate 1/10th of that in the U.S. Despite our scientific innovations, our vaccination rate continues to be much lower than any other industrialized country. There are differences between regions with the Southeast having the highest death rate in the country – together with high poverty rates, very low vaccination rates, and high percentage of people with multiple chronic illnesses.
The issue is trust – between people, trust in government, trust in science. Trust in government is not an empty phrase. How should we move forward on this objective? Biden, Jha (the new Biden Covid leader), and other government leaders should personally ask Democrats and Republicans (D and R) to reach across the aisle – politicians and health professionals. Government leaders need to work with our remarkable scientific industry and convince them to license the vaccine technology to ramp up worldwide vaccine production. This should have happened at the Global COVID summit that Biden held last week. No matter, Biden should call a 50 state COVID summit (I get it not all states would come) and, in advance, identify D&R politicians, D&R scientific/ medical leaders willing to work together. Let’s not forget COVID and other pandemics are here to stay and will continue to have a dramatic impact on history – with so many of these tragedies being avoidable.
I also understand that there are limits – there will be no national COVID policy. Instead states and localities can take the lead; AND is trying to contribute to state health policies. But while there will be no national COVID policy, there can be national- state collaboration. Wastewater analysis is an excellent example. From this excellent Government Accounting Office report (short and great graphics):
“Wastewater surveillance, also known as wastewater-based epidemiology, is the monitoring of pathogens (e.g., viruses), as well as pharmaceuticals and toxic or other chemicals by testing sewage. Public health officials can use this approach to monitor for outbreaks, identify threats (e.g., antibiotic-resistant bacteria), and, in response, support the mobilization of resources… Australia, for example, is using a wastewater surveillance program to track the amounts of illicit drug use in the population to estimate the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts to seize drugs”
Building on an article that nurses and AND leaders recently published, AND approached a state medical society last week suggesting that D and R physicians appear together throughout the state. Last week, AND submitted an op-ed to a small town newspaper in PA advocating new COVID state policies. We will learn from this experience and try to replicate anything positive that occurs in other states. I will personally continue to reach out to each and every one of my patients who are still unvaccinated – one a Republican; several who place their faith in God; many vaccinated patients of mine don’t know about the booster. I keep asking them whether they trust me and tell them openly that everyone in my family has been vaccinated. When it doesn’t work – I contact them again and again.
The Covid pandemic has brought vaccines back into the limelight and a review of the history of vaccination seems timely.
Current day vaccines have saved millions of lives but a vigorous anti-vaccine movement has led to a culture war of sorts. The anti-VAXXers in the US have joined forces with right wing Republican politicians such as Eric Trump, son of the ex-president, Roger Stone, and others including Democrat Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of the late Democratic Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. The main gripe of anti-VAXXers seems to be the perceived infringement on individual rights, or the right to refuse medical treatment. For example, Pastor Mark Burns, who is running for Congress in South Carolina, likened the choice about vaccination to smoking: “Cigarettes kill people every day, but yet you can go to the supermarket right now and buy it with no issue, that’s their choice. If they want to go put cancer into their lungs, they have a right to do so.” He felt his position would help him win the primary in the conservative district where he hopes to be elected.
There is a difference, however. Smoking is prohibited in many public spaces because passive exposure to smoke also leads to cancer. Your smoking is dangerous to me and my smoking is dangerous to you. Likewise, Covid outbreaks endanger all of us, including those that have kept up with vaccinations and booster shots. That is because outbreaks anywhere on the planet can lead to the emergence of new subvariants (Omicron f.ex.) and some of these could be resistant to treatment and to vaccines
Mandates for vaccination are not new in America. For example, children enrolled in public schools must show proof of vaccination, although the rules are different from one state to the other. Persons working in healthcare can endanger their patients if they have an infectious disease. Having had a career in medicine, I am well acquainted with yearly Tb testing mandated for all hospital staff myself included!
It’s interesting that a new analysis by NPR suggests that Republicans are probably dying at a higher rate as a result of their much lower vaccination rate. A nationwide comparison of 2020 presidential election results and COVID-19 death rates since vaccines became available for all adults, found that counties that voted heavily for Trump had nearly three times the COVID-19 mortality rate of those that went for Joe Biden. Those counties also had far lower vaccination rates.
It boils down to a sentiment that took hold even before vaccines were available, namely that Covid wasn’t that serious, i.e. similar to the flu, and that it was hyped up as a threat for political purposes by Democrats. If Covid isn’t serious, why even bother with an “unproven” vaccine? This argument was repeated by then Pres. Trump, and disseminated on Fox News and social media. After Trump was hospitalized for Covid he triumphantly returned to the White House and refused to wear a mask (when he was still likely infectious) trying to make the point that we can lick this “China virus” and that Covid is not that serious at all, i.e. nothing to be afraid of.
Currently, we have a sorry state of affairs with Republicans losing faith in other vaccines, including stalwart vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella as per data discussed in the analysis by Joss Fong
An English doctor named Edward Jenner gets credit for the procedure of vaccination based on his publication in 1798. He took material from the hand lesions of Sarah Nelms, a milkmaid afflicted with Cowpox, and injected this crude preparation of cowpox into an 8-year-old boy, James Phipps, the son of his gardener. The boy developed mild fever and discomfort in the axilla, but 10 days later felt good again. Two months later Jenner inoculated the boy again, but this time with matter from a smallpox lesion. No disease developed and Jenner concluded the boy was protected, or “vaccinated”, vacca meaning cow in Latin. Similar protection was observed in other patients vaccinated with cowpox. It took quite a few years before the medical community accepted the new treatment.
It helped that Lady Mary Wortley Montague (1689-1762) was a big advocate for variolation in England. Variolation was the procedure used prior to vaccination: healthy persons were inoculated with smallpox itself (rather than cowpox). Variolation was thought to be protective, but 2-3% of variolated persons died of smallpox! And many others had disfiguring smallpox or became the source of another epidemic. Nevertheless, European royals were so terrified of smallpox that many chose to get variolated including the Empress Marie-Therese of Austria, her children, and grandchildren, Frederick II of Prussia, Louis XVI of France. Frederick II inoculated all of his Prussian soldiers! (A mandate for sure.) There was a reason to protect your army. American soldiers under George Washington were unable to take Quebec from the British troops, because of a smallpox epidemic among the American soldiers. All the while, the British troops were all variolated giving them some degree of protection!
As far back as 430 BC survivors of smallpox, presumably with a degree of immunity, were used to nurse the afflicted. Therefore I assume that the idea of immunity is age-old.
In England, cowpox vaccination gradually replaced variolation (which was prohibited in 1840). In America, Thomas Jefferson supported the vaccine effort and founded the National Vaccine Institute. Although Jenner was honored by the British Parliament and received prizes and cash, he was subjected to attacks and ridicule from the anti-VAXXers of the time. In many countries vaccination against smallpox became mandatory. Now, as a result, smallpox has been eradicated throughout the world. In 1980 the WHO announced that smallpox was eradicated worldwide.
Vaccination is arguably the biggest success story in modern medicine. It is also the basis of a whole new field of medicine: Immunology.
Vaccines currently cover many diseases: Tb (88% of one-year-olds vaccinated worldwide), Polio (eradicated), Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (85% of one-year-olds vaccinated worldwide), Hepatitis B (85% of one-year-olds vaccinated worldwide), Influenza type B (72%of one-year-olds vaccinated worldwide), Measles (71-85%of one-year-olds vaccinated worldwide), Rubella (71% of one-year-olds vaccinated worldwide), Pneumococcus (48% of one-year-olds vaccinated worldwide), Yellow fever (46% of one-year-olds vaccinated worldwide), Rotavirus (39% of one-year-olds vaccinated worldwide).
This graph on measles cases is perhaps most instructive. The measles vaccine was first introduced in 1963:
WHO estimates (conservatively) that 2-3 million deaths are prevented every year just from vaccines to Diphtheria, Tetanus, whooping cough, and measles. But WHO also estimates that vaccine-preventable deaths are still responsible for 1.5 million deaths per year. Higher vaccination rates would help prevent these deaths.
Subsaharan Africa is a geographical location notorious for poor vaccination rates, thought to be due to economic factors. Essentially, poor countries have poor vaccination rates and as a consequence, children die.
It includes data on how people support vaccination across the world. While the large majority of the world supports vaccines, there are curious pockets of distrust. People were asked “are vaccines safe? are they effective?” Usually, 90% or more approve of vaccines in these surveys. An interesting outlier is France. Over 30% of the population disagree that vaccines are safe! And 20% don’t think they are effective. However, this does not translate into low vaccination rates or into distrust in nurses and doctors among the French!
It is not a perfect world out there. The planet itself could be considered “endangered”. The following is a recent Nature article from 28 February 2022:
But, somehow humanity’s lot has improved over the last 5000 years. It is perhaps of interest that the world’s population hardly increased between 10,000 and 5,000 BC and this was primarily because of a succession of pandemics with high mortality (see James C. Scott, “Against the Grain”). If anything, the Covid pandemic reminds me that we are a fragile species living on a fragile planet. Vaccination could help save the species.
Much of the resistance to the South Fork Wind farm, currently being constructed 35 miles east of Montauk’s Lighthouse, has centered on the question of whether it might impact our local fishing industry. There have been numerous studies of marine species in Europe’s North Sea, probing whether their wind farms, in operation for more than 20 years, may have caused harm. They have not. Some species (like mussels) thrived, especially around the base of the wind turbines!
North America’s first offshore wind farm began operation in October 2016: The Block Island Wind Farm. Just last month (March 2022) a study was published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science examining whether the abundance of fish was affected by either construction (2014-2015) of the Block Island turbines, or operation (2016-2019) of the Block Island turbines. The study is available online as a pdf. It is a highly technical study that begs for a lay language summary.
The abundance of bottom species was assessed in the area of the Block Island Wind Farm and compared to two reference areas: to the south and to the east of Block Island. This was done both prior to, during, and after construction of the Block Island turbines, by monthly trawling. 663,970 fish, representing 61 species, were collected over 7 years. What stands out is the following.
No species were adversely affected by the construction or operation of the Block Island turbines. Black sea bass increased nearly 10-fold in the Block Island turbines area, but not in the reference areas, during operation 2016-2019.
During construction, there were surges in the frequency of spiny dogfish. One catch was too large to be brought on board! These are predators and their frequency is linked to that of their prey (Atlantic cod, herring, squid, butterfish, and mackerel). Maybe they were attracted to the wind farm because their prey was more abundant?
It is important to remember that an increase in a species may mean many different things. There could be increased food for the species. Or there may be a decrease in predators, etc.
The paper contains a ton of data not covered in this brief synopsis. The general gist, however, is that fish are doing well around the Block Island turbines.
I note that this study was authored by marine scientists of INSPIRE Environmental in Newport R.I. This is a company that performs studies commissioned and paid for by private enterprises, like Orsted, with a vested interest in wind farms. One author is an employee of Orsted. The study also relied on commercial fishing partners although these are not listed as authors.
This is a very valuable type of study. I hope it will be repeated as further wind farms are constructed all along Atlantic shores. I also hope that other entities (not only the companies building the wind farms) become involved in funding such studies.
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Climate Change Resources was created in 2016 by publishers Lena Tabori and Mike Shatzkin to educate and empower us all to be climate activists, and to take the critical steps necessary to rescue humanity’s future. There is simply no time to waste.
This is your weekly newsletter from Climate Change Resources, keeping you informed and involved in the fight against climate change as we all search for solutions. Each week, you’ll find breaking news, valuable resources, actions to take, answers to common questions, and more — even sustainable shopping suggestions. • The hideous war continues. CCR’s People Are Talking About (PATA) are keeping track of the way war and climate change interact here. • For Earth Day, climate reporters from The Washington Post wrote about some of their favorite stories–from Juliet Eilperin’s magnificent piece about a tree in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to Michael Robinson Chavez’s terrifying photographs of Hurricane Ida slamming the Gulf Coast. Our lead story on CCR’s Earth Day PATA is both angry and somber as Bill McKibben is struck by what we haven’t done. • Disinformation reporting ramped up with the first of a 3-part series from PBS on big oil, a new report on social media companies, and, not surprisingly, rampant corporate climate denial on Earth Day. Much more on CCR’s Greenwashing page and CCR’s PATA…misinformation page. • Americans are beginning to migrate in the hope of finding more climate friendly homes. The Northeast is where they should be heading, reports CNBC. More on CCR’s Migration page. • They took a poll in Massachusetts and discovered that residents are less concerned about climate change now than they were in 2019; Democrats were more alarmed than Republicans; Latina women considered climate change a more serious issue than any other group; nearly half of the respondents are considering acquiring an electric car, and climate change trailed several other priorities. • Just in time for Spring, one of our wonderful contributors, Mary Foster Morgan, reminds us of the power of eating locally, wasting little and composting much in her latest blog, Farm Stands Open, Don’t Look Up, Kiss The Ground.
FYI• Our website, Climate Change Resources, has now been live for nine months! Press materials are here. Please forward this newsletter to anyone you feel should know more about climate change with the intention of doing more. –Lena Tabori, Co-Founder & Publisher The description of each item below is drawn from copy provided in the article or website cited.
TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook Are Letting Climate Denial Run Rampant By Lauren Leffer Gizmodo, 4/22/2022 Twitter is the worst of the bunch, followed by TikTok. YouTube and Pinterest are a bit better. Fossil fuel companies have known about climate change since 1966, and for almost as long, they’ve been buying TV, radio and newspaper ads trying to make sure you don’t. Decades later, lies about climate change haven’t disappeared; they’ve just gonedigital. Almost half of people in the U.S. regularly get their news from social media, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey. Those social networks are often chock-full of lies. Social media companies like Facebook have claimed to be combating false information on climate change, but their efforts are inadequate to the challenge, according to a new report by the environmental non-profit groups Friends of the Earth, Avaaz, and Greenpeace USA. In order from best to worst, the report ranked the platforms as follows: Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, and, lastly, Twitter. More here.
Greenwashing 101: How to decipher corporate claims about climate By Douglas MacMillan The Washington Post, 4/21/2022 Companies are eager to tout their environmental progress on Earth Day. As big businesses face more pressure to act on climate change, corporations have unleashed a tsunami of environmental pledges, net-zero commitments and sustainability certifications, all designed to show they are part of the solution. Here are five tips for investigating whether their claims tell the full story. More here.
Biden restores climate safeguards in key environmental law, reversing Trump By Dino Grandoni and Anna Phillips The Washington Post, 4/19/2022 The White House on Tuesday announced it has restored key protections to a landmark environmental law governing the construction of pipelines, highways and other projects that President Donald Trump had swept away as part of an effort to cut red tape. The new rule will require federal agencies to scrutinize the climate impacts of major infrastructure projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a 1970 law that required the government to assess the environmental consequences of federal actions, such as approving the construction of oil and gas pipelines. More here.
Low-producing oil wells cause 50% of methane emissions By Carlos Anchondo E&E Energy Wire, 4/21/2022 Low-producing oil and gas wells are to blame for roughly half of the methane emitted from all U.S. well sites, despite making up 6% of the country’s total production, according to new research published this week. The study, published in Nature Communications, is the first comprehensive look at low-production well site emissions nationwide, researchers said. The paper found that low-producing or “marginal” wells emit methane at a rate 6 to 12 times higher than the national average — releasing some 4 million metric tons of the potent greenhouse gas a year. “Our research shows that the total methane emitted from the country’s half million low-producing wells has the same impact on the climate every year as 88 coal-fired power plants,” said Mark Omara, a scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund and lead author, in a statement. More here.
Natural gas-fired generation peaked in 2020 amid growing renewable energy production By Ethan Howland Utility Drive, 4/13/2022 The Institute for Energy Economics and Finance expects wind, solar and hydroelectric generation will make up a third of U.S. power production by 2027, up from about 19% in December, according to its report. “The transition has just started,” Wamsted said. “We do believe that the takeoff is right now.” More here.
Green infrastructure helps cities with climate change. So why isn’t there more of it? By Lauren Sommer NPR, 4/15/2022 Federal agencies are beginning to hand out billions of dollars in infrastructure spending, the largest investment ever made in the country’s water system. Much of it will go to improving pipes, drains and stormwater systems. But some scientists and urban planners are pushing to fund projects that are better adapted to the changing climate. Instead of just gray infrastructure, supporters say the answer is green. Green infrastructure, whether it’s large rain gardens or plants along a street median, has the same purpose as big storm sewers: to manage large amounts of water that can build up during heavy rains. Plants and soil absorb and slow runoff from rainstorms, while a stormwater drain captures water that runs down a street gutter and diverts it underground into pipes. More here.
Big fight brewing over California ballot measure to reduce single-use plastics By Suzanne Rust Los Angeles Times, 4/17/2022 Oakridge Mall food court overflow with plastic spoons, forks, soft drink cups and takeout food containers. Paper frozen yogurt containers are mashed in with plastic boba tea cups and soda bottles. The same can be seen across California — piles of single-use plastics that can’t easily be recycled, pollute roadsides and waterways and add to the garbage that clogs landfills. In November, Californians may get a chance to shrink that waste. An initiative designed to reduce single-use plastics and polystyrene food containers will be on the ballot, a move by environmentalists to bypass the Legislature, where such measures have repeatedly failed in the face of industry lobbying. The initiative — known as the California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act — would require all single-use plastic packaging and food ware used in California to be recyclable, reusable, refillable or compostable by 2030, and single-use plastic production to be reduced by 25% by 2030. More here.
Gas Hikes Prompt New York to Investigate Potential Price Gouging by Oil Companies By Lauren Leffer Gizmodo, 4/15/2022 Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and BP, four of the largest petroleum companies, are raking in record profits. Meanwhile, prices at the pump have surpassed the (non-inflation adjusted) highs of 2008. If that dynamic seems fishy to you, you’re in good company. First, U.S. House Democrats and President Joe Biden raised concerns. Now, Letitia James, New York State’s attorney general, is officially suspicious, as well. On Thursday, the attorney general’s office launched a statewide investigation into whether or not the gas industry is engaging in price gouging. The probe was first announced in a CNN report. More here.
In Pennsylvania, Ukraine invasion and urgent climate report drive new interest in renewables, efficiency By Jon Hurdle WHYY, 4/17/2022 Pennsylvania’s renewables industry may have an opportunity to sell more solar panels or wind turbines as prices of fossil fuel-powered energy spike in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and warnings of climate chaos intensify, analysts said. With U.S. natural gas prices at their highest in more than a decade, and electricity costs rising in tandem, individuals and businesses are more inclined to seek alternative energy sources that will be less costly and more sustainable, energy industry observers said. More here.
As Earth’s temperature rises, Massachusetts residents’ sense of urgency on climate change declines By Sabrina Shankman and Darma Noor Boston Globe, 4/19/2022 Despite increasingly urgent international warnings and an onslaught of catastrophic wildfires and weather linked to global warming, fewer Massachusetts residents see the climate crisis as a very serious concern than they did three years ago, according to a new poll. It’s not that respondents weren’t aware of the climate threat; a large majority acknowledged that symptoms of the crisis such as increased flooding, extreme heat waves, and more powerful storms are either already happening or very likely within five years, according to the poll, a collaboration of The Boston Globe and The MassINC Polling Group. And more than three quarters called climate change a “very serious” or “serious” concern.” But with a pandemic and war in Ukraine as a backdrop, fewer than half, 48 percent, ranked climate in the highest category of concern, down from 53 percent in 2019, the last time the poll was taken. Less than half said they would vote along climate lines or take steps such as switching their home heat off fossil fuel. More here.
Unregulated Texas gas pipeline triggers a huge methane leak By Aaron Clark and Naureen Malik Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 4/19/2022 A natural gas pipeline in Texas leaked so much of the super-potent greenhouse gas methane in little more than an hour that by one estimate its climate impact was equivalent to the annual emissions from about 16,000 U.S. cars. The leak came from a 16-inch pipe that’s a tiny part of a vast web of unregulated lines across the U.S., linking production fields and other sites to bigger transmission lines. Although new federal reporting requirements start next month for so-called gathering lines, the incident highlights the massive climate damage even minor parts of the network can inflict. More here.
New York green lights massive renewable energy projects to cut fossil fuel reliance By Shirin Ali The Hill, 4/15/2022 New York state has made a big step in cutting off its reliance on fossil fuels, announcing contracts for projects that will channel clean, renewable solar, wind and hydroelectric power from upstate New York to New York City. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced on Thursday that the State Public Service Commission approved contracts for the Clean Path NY project and the Champlain Hudson Power Express project. Both are expected to reduce the city’s reliance on fossil fuels by more than 50% in 2030, pushing towards the goal of having 70% of the state’s electricity fueled by renewable sources by 2030. New York hopes to have a zero-emission electricity grid by 2040. Hochul’s office said both projects are expected to deliver $5.8 billion in overall societal benefits statewide and $8.2 billion in economic developments across the state. More here.
The Next American Migration: What Cities Should Know About Climate Change and Populations on the Move National League of Cities, 4/22/2022 Climate change is no longer just a problem for future generations – it is here now, with storms, wildfires, droughts and extreme temperatures becoming more prevalent in our cities, towns and villages. As these impacts intensify, more Americans are being forced out of their homes or are voluntarily relocating in advance of catastrophes. With new sources of federal funding now flowing directly to cities, local leaders have a critical opportunity to transform their communities into equitable and resilient places to live. Download the report to learn more. More here.
The hottest electric vehicles at New York’s auto show have two wheels By Maria Gallucci Canary Media, 4/15/2022 A staggering number of electric vehicles are projected to hit roads worldwide this year as automakers launch new plug-in models and drivers ditch their oil-guzzling engines. But another mode of electrified transportation is booming and, in the United States, even outpacing sales of battery-powered cars: bicycles. More here.
In a comparison of life-cycle emissions, EVs crushed combustion cars By Prachi Patel Anthropocene Magazine, 1/13/2022 Electric vehicles have lower tailpipe emissions compared to fossil fuel-burning cars, but they don’t go scot-free when it comes to the environment. Mining the raw materials for batteries is dirty business, and manufacturing and charging them can produce emissions. Those overlooked indirect emissions have led skeptics to argue whether EVs are really as green as touted. New research from Yale University should put those arguments to rest. The study finds that the total indirect emissions from EVs pale in comparison to the indirect emissions from fossil fuel-powered vehicles. And if a carbon price is placed on all the emissions, both direct and indirect, from a vehicle’s full life cycle, EVs become far more attractive to buyers. “The elephant in the room is the supply chain of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, not that of electric vehicles,” says lead researcher. More here.
‘Truth Has Nothing to Do With Who Wins the Argument’: New Details on Big Oil’s Campaign to Defeat Climate Action Frontline’s latest documentary, 4/22/2022 Through new documents and exclusive, on-camera interviews, “Denial”, the first episode of The Power of Big Oil, reveals the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to forestall action on climate change and to sow seeds of doubt. Among those efforts was the media campaign spearheaded by the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), an industry group comprising major fossil fuel companies, trade associations and corporate consumers of fossil fuels. More here.
TAKE ACTION – INDIVIDUALS
‘Truth Has Nothing to Do With Who Wins the Argument’: New Details on Big Oil’s Campaign to Defeat Climate Action Frontline’s latest documentary, 4/22/2022 Through new documents and exclusive, on-camera interviews, “Denial”, the first episode of The Power of Big Oil, reveals the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to forestall action on climate change and to sow seeds of doubt. Among those efforts was the media campaign spearheaded by the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), an industry group comprising major fossil fuel companies, trade associations and corporate consumers of fossil fuels. More here.
TAKE ACTION – BUSINESSES
Salesforce Ramps Up Investments in Global Fight Against Climate Change By Gary E. Frank Triple Pundit, 4/19/2022 Salesforce is giving a total of $11 million to 12 global nonprofits in the first round of donations from its $100 million Ecosystem Restoration and Global Justice Fund. The donations, which were announced April 12 at the company’s Net Zero Summit, support key programs that have embarked on various strategies to tackle climate change, including ones that enhance natural carbon sinks, protect biodiversity and create green jobs. “We believe that philanthropy can be a powerful tool in fighting climate change,” said Naomi Morenzoni, senior vice president of philanthropy at Salesforce, in a public statement. “Climate change impacts everyone, and it disproportionately affects the world’s most vulnerable communities. Through our philanthropic donations, we aim to support organizations that work with local communities to find meaningful, nature-based climate solutions.” The organizations receiving the funds include American Forests, the Arbor Day Foundation, Conservation International, Fundación Natura, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, One Tree Planted, Restor, Save The Bay, the Nature Conservancy, the Ocean Foundation, Wetlands International, and the World Resources Institute. More here.
Q: Why are we talking about anything but climate change?
A: This is a question I ask myself every time scientists release one of their consistently alarming reports on the projected countdown to doomsday. Doomsday being the moment when the ability to lower the atmospheric temperature has slipped from our control. The moment when we puny humans are finally and irrevocably at the mercy of hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, drought, food shortages, rising sea levels and all the socio-political carnage that will accompany same. The moment that, by the latest estimates, is less than 10 years away. So the first thing we need to do is stop using the term “climate change,” which makes the situation seem relatively benign and natural, as if the Earth were entering menopause and all those scientists just want us to know that hot flashes can be expected. The man-made shift they are predicting will cause a large number of humans to regularly die by heat, fire, water, drought and famine. More here.
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Tanya is not a monster (at least not fulltime)—she is a highly educated woman that plays the piano and casually quotes Russian literature in everyday conversations. But if you ask her about the Bucha massacre, she’ll tell you it didn’t happen.
There are millions like her in Moldova, Ukraine, Russia itself, and even in Western countries like Germany, Canada and the US. We call them the “deceived generation,” the last victims of Soviet propaganda.
The break-up of the USSR marked the start of nation-building (actually re-building), pitting Russian minorities against the ethnic majorities. After more than 50 years of repression (think Bucha), the ethnic majorities finally got a say in the politics of their own states.
This nation-building consisted of downplaying or outright rejecting everything Soviet (read Russian) in favor of national (Moldovan, Ukrainian), and the corresponding change in the distribution of power and wealth.
All of a sudden, ethnic Russians who refused to learn the national language, started getting passed over for promotions in favor of those (including ethnic Russians) who spoke the national language.
In Moldova where I lived, everything around me—TV programming, store signs, street signs, and ever street names—changed from Russian to Romanian.
Other changes included an increase in the hours of Romanian (in schools for Russian-speakers, like the one I attended), as well as the content of literature and history classes.
I was a child, so none of this was a big deal. I quickly picked up Romanian, as children do. For the Russian-speaking adults, however, it was not so easy. It is difficult to learn a completely new language as an adult. But the real obstacle was the hubris.
Decades of Soviet propaganda (backed with repression) taught the ethnic Russians about their undeniable superiority over everyone else. Why should they learn some backward language like Romanian or Ukrainian if Russian is the “purest and the most beautiful language”?
How and why should they accept a government made up of non-Russians? And anyway, there was no point in trying, because Russia was going to come back and re-absorb all the former satellites soon enough, setting everything back how it was.
I kid you not, these were the conversations I listened to as a kid in our Russian-speaking circle of friends. More surprisingly, these are the conversations I still hear (even from my own relatives) today, 30 years later.
These people still hope that Russia will come to save them from the “inferior” national majorities AND give them their coveted Russian pension. These people are still waiting for Russia to give back the money they lost (na knijke) when the Soviet Union broke up.
These people did not cause the Russian invasion—contrary to what they think, protecting them is the last thing on Putin’s mind (he doesn’t actually want to pay them pensions). But these people are complicit in the crimes being committed against Ukrainians.
I have been following the situation in Ukraine closely. Over the past week we have witnessed atrocities against men, women and children on a scale we have not seen since World War II. The list of crimes and barbarity multiplies each day as adults and children are tortured, raped, murdered, and their corpses defiled. The words coming from Moscow make it clear they are fully committed to genocide against the Ukrainian people. I am very upset about these horrific crimes, as I am sure you are. It should be obvious that we cannot ask the Ukrainian people to submit to such evil as it would mean their complete destruction.
The key question in all this is what can we do to defeat Russia, push it out of Ukraine, and bring an end to the suffering of innocent people. The most obvious thing we can do is to provide more arms, and equipment, while strengthening economic sanctions. Here is list of weapons that Ukraine needs the most:
1. Long Range Integrated Air Defense Systems (IADS) – The Ukrainians have a few Soviet-era systems that are progressively being destroyed and they need more to form a ground based “no fly zone” without our direct military intervention. We need to facilitate transfer of S300, and Buk air defense systems.
2. Long Range Artillery and Counter Artillery Assets – These are necessary to counterattack against the Russian seized positions inside occupied Ukraine. The Ukrainian military desperately needs 155mm artillery systems with ammunition, 152mm artillery shells, Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) Grad, Tornado, Smerch, and M142 HIMARS.
3. Aircraft – While ground based IADs can neutralize the Russian bombers, aircraft will be necessary for close air support of counterattack operations as this is a vital capacity in modern military operations;
4. Anti-Ship Missile (ASM) – The Russian offensive on Odesa and Mariupol rely almost entirely on naval resupply, and disrupting those supply lines will be necessary for the Ukrainian Army to defend its coastal cities; and
5. Modern Western and Soviet Tanks – To help expel Russian forces from the occupied territories, we should provide Ukraine with T-72 tanks in the short term, as Ukrainian soldiers are familiar with these. The medium-term goal should be to move towards German Leopard or US M1 tanks. The sooner we will start training Ukrainian crews to use these, the faster they will be able to free the occupied territories.
6. Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) – APCs are necessary for Ukraine to maneuver their infantry forces into position and provide heavier fire suppression while these forces employ anti-armor munitions. Armored forces require a mix of Tanks, APCs and light infantry to successfully conduct counter offensives inside Ukraine;
7. Full trade embargo of Russian goods to deprive Russia of the ability to finance its invasion.
These actions are time sensitive with the situation on the ground rapidly evolving. Weapons and sanctions a month from now may be too late. I strongly urge you and your fellow elected officials to act immediately.
“It’s impossible to understand the destruction and death that Vladimir Putin is unleashing in Ukraine without understanding his most basic conviction: that the breakup of the Soviet empire was a catastrophe from which Russia has yet to recover. Some experts, including John Mearsheimer, have blamed NATO expansion for the invasion of Ukraine, arguing that it has provoked Vladimir Putin to defend his sphere of influence. Stephen Kotkin, a professor of history and international affairs at Princeton University, and a research scholar at the Hoover Institution, respectfully disagrees. Putin’s aggression is “not some kind of deviation from the historical pattern,” he tells David Remnick. Russia in the nineteenth century looked much as it does today, he says. “It had an autocrat. It had repression. It had militarism. It had suspicion of foreigners and the West.” Kotkin describes how and why the Putin regime has evolved toward despotism, and he speculates that the strategic blunders in invading Ukraine likely resulted from the biases of authoritarian rulers like Putin, and the lack of good information available to them. Kotkin is the author of an authoritative biography of Joseph Stalin, two volumes of which have been published; a third is in the making.” (The New Yorker Radio Hour)
And this one too:
(2) Putin’s Road to War: Julia Ioffe (interview) | PBS FRONTLINE
Mar 9, 2022
“Brilliant analysis of Putin’s current mindset and it’s implications. About 40 minutes well spent.”
Shared below are excerpts from the Climate Action Now weekly enewsletter. I have been spending a few minutes each day taking “planet-saving actions” on the amazing, easy-to-use, free app Climate Action Now. Impact to date: “274,418 planet-saving actions taken by our community — up 10,527 from last week!” And you earn tree plantings too!
PUTIN’S FOSSIL-FUELED WAR
How to Stop a Petro-Criminal
While the fossil fool industry and its shills have seized on the Ukrainian crisis to call for ramping up oil, gas and coal production, the rest of the world is beginning to draw a very different conclusion.
As usual, Bill McKibben was one of the first to see that our global addiction to fossil fuels is directly financing Putin’s horrifying war on Ukraine. He entreats President Biden to immediately invoke the Defense Production Act, which he could do without the approval of Congress, to produce millions of heat pumps and send them to Europe in time to dramatically weaken Putin’s oil-based chokehold on the continent.
Last week, Ukrainian leaders sent an open letter to governments around the world calling on them to “reject and ban the importation of Russian oil and gas, and rapidly phase out all fossil fuels in the name of peace.” (Climate Action Now also signed the letter.) “Reliance on coal, oil and gas is the intentional embrace of death, misery, and collapse at a global scale. It is our duty to finally get real about that if we want to have a livable future.”
And next week, according to the New York Times, the leaders of the European Union are expected to announce a proposal to “accelerate the clean energy transition and reduce permanently our dependence on imports of natural gas.”
What all of these people see that the fossil fools can’t see by dint of their self-interest is that getting off fossil fuels is now an urgent matter of national security.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK “A different tomorrow is feasible.A tomorrow free from Putin and other petro-dictators.A tomorrow free from climate-hostile and war-feeding fossil fuels…Our joint, brighter future demands nothing less.” – Excerpt from Ukrainian activists’ letter to global leaders
The Climate Action Nowcommunity is made up of like-minded people committed to fighting climate change. Our Climate Action Now app is the hub of the community and the tool that lets us take, collectively, thousands (someday, millions) of planet-saving actions each and every day.
Our hearts continue to break for the devastations faced by Ukrainians, even while we’re inspired by the confidence and courage they are showing the world each day in refusing to give in to occupation by a dictator with imperial ambitions.
Vladimir Putin’s destructive choice to launch an unprovoked invasion is backfiring as the global community unites around Ukraine. And every action that we take to live into that solidarity is important. Wherever we are, we can help keep the light of peace and hope alive for the people of Ukraine by showing our solidarity with them in our homes and our communities—and by reaching into our pockets to put food into their hands.
Putin might have thought that violently forcing himself upon the people of Ukraine would splinter them along ethnic, linguistic, and religious lines, expand his legacy at home, and result in Ukraine allying with Putin. The exact opposite is happening: He has united Ukrainians against him, inspired a wave of protests in Russia, and unified the global embrace of an independent, democratic, and free Ukraine.1 Rather than conceding to Putin’s demands, the European Parliament has voted to advance Ukraine’s application to join the European Union.2
We’re part of that global outcry. Over 150,000 of us have signed the MoveOn statement in support for the people of Ukraine, just as a crowd of 100,000 reportedly marched in Berlin on Sunday against Putin’s war.3
Solidarity takes many shapes. Our governments have a critical role to play, as the Biden administration has joined with countries from Switzerland to Japan in taking strong economic action against Putin’s government—freezing offshore assets of government cronies, blocking financial transfers, and holding Putin and Russia’s foreign minister accountable. Those steps are crucial, but they aren’t the only avenue for action. Cultural acts of solidarity have come from all sorts of places: From sports leagues, who have moved their games out of Russia in protest of the invasion of Ukraine, to New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Munich Philharmonic, who cut ties with a conductor and close ally of Putin’s who refused to denounce the invasion, there are many important ways to act against war.4
MoveOn members have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars directly to Ukrainian relief efforts, while also using our collective voice to advocate for a diplomacy-first, peaceful end to this conflict. One more simple way is to display your support for Ukraine’s democracy to your friends and family, or by donating to food relief efforts.
Experts estimated that 7 million people in Ukraine could be displaced by Putin’s war.5 Already, hundreds of thousands of people have flooded across borders to neighboring Poland, Hungary, Romania, and beyond in the dead of winter. World Central Kitchen is responding to the acute need, using their experience in bringing food relief to areas hit by disasters and war to help give people food and hope. We might not be able to go join them, but we can help their work by making a generous donation, small or large, right now.
Though tanks might have crossed into Ukraine last week, we know that this invasion is not an isolated act of violence. The cluster bombs seen in Ukraine’s second-largest city, widely banned because they are designed to kill civilians indiscriminately, were used on the Syrian people by Russian and Russian-backed forces propping up dictator Bashar al-Assad.6,7 Meanwhile, thousands of conscripted Russian soldiers, many of them young and poor, have lost their lives due to Putin’s senseless aggression.8
Unless we stop Putin from seeing war as a positive choice, we’ll continue to see more death and destruction. So let’s come together now and show solidarity with Ukraine.
Thanks for all you do.
–David, Mana, Amy, Isbah, and the rest of the team
1. “Attack on Ukraine brings rare sight in Russia: Protests in cities against Putin and invasion,” The Washington Post, February 24, 2022
2. “European Parliament Backs Ukraine’s EU Application, But Long Road Ahead,” Newsweek, March 1, 2022
3. “As over 100,000 rally for Ukraine, Germany announces vast defense spending increase that may upend European security policy,” The Washington Post, February 27, 2022
4. “Munich Philharmonic drops star conductor Valery Gergiev over Putin ties,” DW Akademie, March 1, 2022
5. “EU says expects millions of displaced Ukrainians,” Reuters, February 27, 2022
6. “Ukraine’s Kharkiv struck by cluster bombs, experts say,” Reuters, March 1, 2022
7. “What are cluster and vacuum weapons, and how has Russia used them in the past?,” The Washington Post, March 2, 2022
8. “Russian Troop Deaths Expose a Potential Weakness of Putin’s Strategy,” The New York Times, March 2, 2022
From Norbert Goldfield, M.D., Ask Nurses and Doctors (AND)
We are continuing to build up health professional networks in preparation for the 2022 elections. As part of this effort, Jeff Lerner (AND lead in Pennsylvania) and I appeared on the Robert Hubbell podcast last week. Hope to see you all next week on March 9 at 730 pm when AND will host a webinar on Engaging Social Media and Policymakers as we build and prepare for the elections. Appearing will be
Jeff Lerner PhD, President Emeritus, ECRI and adjunct senior fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics of the University of Pennsylvania; AND consultant; director of AND PA
Dan Stone MD: Medical Director Cedars Sinai Hospital Los Angeles, CA AND Consultant
Gail Wilensky PhD Project Hope and CMS Administrator under President GHW Bush, AND Board of Advisors
It never happened to me before during this pandemic – out of the 23 patients, I saw last Tuesday I had four who I convinced to get the vaccine. I failed at two others including one patient of mine. But I felt an incredible high; what a strange idea – again unique during my lifetime that I feel a sense of exhilaration at the end of the day having convinced four previously unvaccinated individuals to change their minds.
A remarkable COVID statistic: in the six months between April and October 2021, the number of children experiencing the death of a parent or primary caregiver as a result of COVID-19 nearly doubled to more than 5·2 million globally – surpassing the total number of reported COVID deaths worldwide. The mental health and substance abuse impact is staggering. Just as I am writing this, I am working with a young mother using ten bags of heroin a day laced with fentanyl (she has Narcan) who is now in withdrawal and we are trying to convince her to switch to suboxone.
Many of you have heard of the new CDC Covid guidelines. Bottom line, I will continue to wear masks when I go to the grocery store. As the Post reported, instead of focusing on eliminating transmission of the virus, the framework is aimed at preventing hospitals and healthcare systems from being overwhelmed and protecting people at high risk for severe illness, officials said.
Public health in the U.S. is deteriorating with public health officers continuing to leave their positions. Not surprisingly, private companies have stepped into this increasing void. After bankruptcy, the Detroit Public Health Department was privatized with disastrous consequences. Trust is the key. National public health systems simply will not occur at this point in the US. But they could happen, I am convinced, at a state level. I continue to have meetings in Massachusetts. Poor public health services exacerbate the social disparities impact of COVID. Here are some specifics: In Virginia, 41% of Medicaid enrollees 5 and older are vaccinated, compared with 76% of state residents in that age group. Sadly the new surgeon general in Florida is not clear that vaccines work and that ivermectin doesn’t.
Vaccines for all, throughout the globe, should be a basic public health tenet. We are still falling short on this goal – both in terms of the financial commitment of all countries including the US and the willingness of countries such as the U.S. and Germany to waive intellectual property rights on the vaccines and allow countries to produce this life-saving treatment at a lower cost.
Bob Herman from Axios gave a very nice summary of the overall challenges the U.S. health care system faces. An overarching issue is the price. Take the example of hip replacement: Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield paid $98,000; Cigna paid almost $71,000; UnitedHealthcare paid $66,000. Medicare paid around $20,000. Most agree that Medicare payment is “reasonable.” But while Obamacare was a significant step forward, there is no agreement on next steps. Health professionals and voters will have a significant role. As we look to the 2022 election midterm elections AND continues to work on vaccines, public health and healthcare reform.
Reminder: join us if you can on March 9 at 7:30 pm eastern. We are beginning to build our health professional networks now, in preparation for the 2022 elections. Hopefully, you can either play a part for just 1 hour/month. Perhaps you know health professionals who are interested. Effective use of social media is key.
Whales are facing ‘alarming threats’ from fishing gear and ghost nets, a new WWF report warns.
The world’s whales are facing increasing threats in their key habitats and the ‘blue corridors’ they use to migrate, warns World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
A new report from the wildlife conservation organization details that whales are encountering many growing threats in their critical ocean habitats – locations where they feed, mate, give birth, and nurse their young – and along their migration superhighways or ‘blue corridors’.
To identify the mounting threats that whales face along the superhighways, WWF and marine scientists used satellite tracking data from 845 whales worldwide collected over the past 30 years to create the first-of-its-kind whale migration map.
This map highlights the growing dangers they face from human activity, both in their critical habitats and during migration along coasts and across oceans such as the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic.
By far the deadliest threat facing these marine giants is the fishing industry, with the entanglement in fishing gear and “ghost nets” – fishing equipment which is lost or abandoned in the sea – responsible for the death of around 300,000 whales each year, according to the report.
Ship strikes, chemical plastic, noise pollution, habitat loss, and climate change are also factors in creating a hazardous and sometimes fatal obstacle course for whales, said Chris Johnson, Global Lead for whale and dolphin conservation at WWF.
Six of the 13 great whale species have been categorized as endangered or vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a result of these threats, despite decades of protection following commercial whaling. The highly critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, which migrates between Canada and the United States, is one of the most vulnerable populations. It is at its lowest point in 20 years – numbering only 336 individuals.
A disturbing 86 percent of known right whales have been entangled in fishing gear at least once, and between 2017 – 2021, 34 North Atlantic right whales died off the Canadian and United States coasts due to ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.
In light of the report, WWF is calling for urgent action to safeguard whales amid mounting threats along their migratory routes.
“This report presents some of the most comprehensive data to date on large scale movements of whales through the world’s oceans,” said Dr. Margaret Kinnard, WWF Global Wildlife Practice Lead. “The emerging picture underscores the need for swift, concerted action and investment of resources from national governments, international bodies, local communities, industry and conservation groups like WWF to stop this underwater assault on whales and protect these critical blue corridors.”
Comment 1: as a frequent recreational sailor in the waters of Gardiners Bay (between the South and North Forks) I have gotten my rudder or keel entangled by fishing gear (lobster pot lines presumably) at least once every year. Why should this not also happen to whales? DP
I apologize for running late this morning— I gave an Activism 101 workshop to a lovely group of folks on the East Coast at 9AM and it’s pushed everything else back a bit. (The “lovely group of folks”, that’s us, R&R!Note added by D. Posnett)
Speaking of Activism 101, ‘tis the season for it again! 🎉
For those who haven’t taken it, Activism 101 is a one-hour workshop I put together before the 2020 elections. It’s designed to give newer-to-activism folks easy ways to help us win races. It’s part survey course, part training, part pep talk, (and part therapy session 😂); at the end I give participants a link to a google doc—one I’ll be updating all year—with places to postcard, write letters, phonebank, canvass, register voters, and give money strategically.
I did over 50 of these free workshops in 2020, and I expect to do even more this year. I’ll present one for any group of 6 or more, pretty much at any agreed-upon time. I just want the information out there!
Why? Because WE CAN WIN IN NOVEMBER! We have the voters, we have the policies, we have the demographics, we have the good candidates, we have the field game. And more!
We just need to do the work to turn those voters out. That’s what Activism 101 is all about.
So write me back if you want to set one up—I’ll do it for your friends, your book club, your fishing pals…you name it.
OK, all. Let’s get to work making our calls, sending our letters, and generally showing our patriotism through our democracy-loving actions.
Have a great weekend!
P.S. A brand new online publication, Bolts, launched this week. I’m VERY excited. Covering the “nuts and bolts of power and political change, from the local up,” it’s well worth subscribing to. REMEMBER STEVE BANNON!! Also? It has a fantastic resource doc called “Who Runs Our Elections?” that everyone should check out. (Bannon already has. 🤨)
Hi, I’m a constituent calling from [zip]. My name is ______.
First, I want the Senator to vote yes on S. 1720, the Postal Service Reform Act, when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote. And also please ask the Senator to demand that Louis DeJoy stop the purchase of 160,000 gas-powered trucks for the USPS and go with electric vehicles instead. We’re in a climate emergency.
Hi, I’m a constituent calling from [zip]. My name is _______.
I want the Congressmember to do everything in his/her power to pass legislation that bans members of Congress from buying or selling individual stocks while they’re in office. This is a bipartisan issue that the majority of Americans support—and s/he should too. Thanks. [H/T]
Extra Credit ✅
Post this on social please.
Want to stop #LouisDeJoy from sabotaging our climate progress by buying 165K new gas-powered trucks for the #USPS? Here’s a toolkit with a few *really* easy actions. We need to #electrifyeverything—not buy a new fleet of gas guzzlers!
Join Indivisible South Peninsula this Sunday, February 13th, 1:00 PM PST, for a one-hour webinar, “Understanding the Threats to the 2022 and 2024 Elections and What We Can Do,” featuring Alexandra Chandlerfrom Protect Democracy.
Chandler will outline the core threats to U.S. election integrity and how they will change the playing field compared to 2020, and she will speak to how ordinary citizens and civil society groups can form alliances, take action to reduce the risk of an election crisis, and join the fight to preserve democracy itself. This talk will be moderated by Bruce Hahne, and co-sponsored by Indivisible San Jose, Silicon Valley Courageous Resistance, Orchard City Indivisible and Indivisible Sonoma County.
Are you wondering how you can help Democrats win in 2022? Where you should focus for the biggest impact? Whether what you’re doing is enough? You have another chance to hear David Pepper—this time at one of his new zoom “pep rallies!”
Pepper, former Ohio Democratic Party Chair and author of Laboratories of Autocracy, will hold pep talk/strategy sessions on Tuesday, February 15 and Thursday, February 17). These are really supposed to be great. I for sure will be attending.
Sign up here and he will email registration information to you.
Resistbot Text (new to Resistbot? Go here! And then here.)
On everything from combating the opioid epidemic to strengthening our schools to improving veterans’ health care, it’s critical that Congress pass an omnibus appropriations bill by February 18th with updated funding to ensure our families and communities are receiving the support they need from the federal government.
Since 2010, 68% of programs of importance to people with low and moderate incomes have seen their funding cut, taking inflation into account.
I urge you to take immediate action to increase investments in education, housing, child welfare services, job training, nutrition, home heating and cooling for people with low incomes, and more.
A failure to do so is directly hurting our communities. Thank you.
OK, you did it again! You helped save democracy! You’re amazing.
I was curious whether anyone had ever been awarded a Nobel prize in the sciences or medicine, first initiated in 1901, and then later been canonized (sainthood). There are some interesting stories throughout the history of canonized scientists, but most of them antedate 1901. However, Dr. Jérôme Lejeune piqued my interest. He discovered trisomy 21 as the cause of Down syndrome in 1959. Read Ref (2).
The science led to prenatal diagnosis of genetic disorders and termination of pregnancy as an option, widely practiced nowadays. Lejeune strongly opposed this practice:
“It was a bitter irony for Lejeune, when the young discipline [of cytogenetics] spawned by his research, permitted the diagnosis of Down syndrome in utero, facilitating the termination of affected pregnancies. A devout Catholic who staunchly opposed abortion, Lejeune hoped that research into the causes of Down syndrome and other genetic disabilities could lead to improved treatment and even cures. He was active in treating Down syndrome patients, counseling their families, and advocating against abortion. In 1994, Pope John Paul II appointed him founding president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Lejeune’s views were well known in the scientific world. At the William Allan Memorial Award ceremony, instead of presenting the customary lecture on research, Lejeune gave a talk called “On the Nature of Men,” during which he noted that “geneticists have not broken the secret of the human condition, and … scientific arguments are of little help in ethical issues.” He ended with an impassioned rejection of genetics as a basis for terminating pregnancies. Afterward, he reportedly told his wife, “Today, I lost my Nobel Prize in medicine.” Lejeune, who died in 1994, never got the call from Stockholm.”
However Lejeune’s chances of becoming a Saint are still alive, see (1). On 21 January 2021, Pope Francis declared Lejeune’s heroic virtues, and Lejeune was named “Venerable”.
But there is a twist to the story. Second author on the original 1959 paper, Marthe Gautier, published an article in Human Genetics at the 50thanniversary of the discovery, stating that she, not Lejeune, made the first observations.She writes that she did not have the equipment capable of reliably documenting the discovery, so she “entrusted the slides to Lejuene…I was too young to know the rules of the game. … I suspected political maneuvering, and I was not wrong…I felt cheated in every respect,”
This reminds us of the fate of Rosalind Franklin, who was the British researcher who took the famous “Photograph 51” that gave James Watson and Francis Crick crucial information on which they based their model of the double-helix structure of DNA. Franklin died before the pair, plus Maurice Wilkins, won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1962. Watson disparaged Franklin in his best-selling book,The Double Helix, but now admits that had she lived, she should have shared the prize.
Is Lejeune an example of a case of “selective morality”? Lejeune seems to have picked and chosen when to have a moral stance. To him, abortion was morally inadmissible. But taking advantage of a young inexperienced female colleague and possibly presenting her scientific data as his own, seems to have been morally permissible.
Last Friday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases involving vaccine mandates issued by federal agencies—OSHA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Rulings in both cases will be issued soon because they involve the question of whether lower courts can issue “preliminary injunctions.” Such injunctions are temporary, remaining in place while the trial courts consider the merits of the challenges to the mandates. As a practical matter, by the time the lower courts hold trials on the merits of the mandates, the pandemics will be over. Thus, the preliminary injunctions, if granted, will effectively strip the Biden administration of power to issue vaccine mandates. Americans will die as a result.
While the question before the Court seemed narrow—the authority of federal agencies to issue vaccine mandates—the implications are sweeping. The Court seemed to signal that the “individual liberty” to refuse the vaccine outweighs the societal interest in preventing harm to others. The Court also seemed to be signaling its desire to strip federal agencies of vast swaths of regulatory authority—a long-term goal of the most conservative wing of the Republican Party. Finally, the Court is poised to claim for itself the right to decide which federal regulations can be issued under a congressional grant of authority to an agency. We may be witnessing a massive shift of rulemaking authority from the executive to the judicial branch—a radical seizure of federal power entirely at odds with the traditional conservative view of the federal judiciary’s role.
Before discussing details, let’s skip to the end: The reactionary majority of the Court is about to undo five decades of judicial deference to rulemaking by federal agencies. That revolution will occur because Mitch McConnell denied Barack Obama the right to appoint justices as provided in the Constitution and because Donald Trump appointed a justice a week before a presidential election. Two justices of the reactionary majority thus occupy seats that were obtained in violation of the Constitution or centuries-long norms relating to appointments of justices. The Court must be enlarged to prevent the illegitimate majority from taking a wrecking ball to decades of settled precedent.
On the issue of vaccines, Justice Gorsuch made a jaw-dropping statement, comparing Covid-19 to the flu. In the official transcript of the proceeding, Gorsuch allegedly said that the flu kills “hundreds of thousands of people a year”—a patent falsehood. (Official Sup. Ct. transcript here.) The audio of the hearing is ambiguous, suggesting that Gorsuch said that the flu kills “hundreds, thousands of people a year.” It does not matter which of the contested statements that Gorsuch made. It is an outrage either way. Comparing Covid-19 to the flu tracks the talking points of conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, and Fox News. Justice Alito joined in the anti-vaccine hysteria by saying that some vaccinated people “will suffer adverse consequences”—suggesting that vaccines are unsafe. (Before he made that point, Alito said three times, “I am not making that point.”) In short, anti-vaccination propaganda has made its way onto the reactionary majority, which appears ready to substitute their political views about the vaccine in place of the federal agencies charged with protecting the health and safety of workers.
An equally disturbing implication of the hearing is that the Court will abolish traditional judicial deference to federal rulemaking by agencies. The legal issues are complicated and beyond the scope of this newsletter. Interested readers should consult the excellent analyses by Ian Millhiser in Vox, “The Supreme Court appears more afraid of Joe Biden than it is of Covid-19,” and Kimberly Wehle in The Atlantic, “What the Supreme Court’s Vaccine-Mandate Case Is Really About, (“This could be the start of a major dismantling of the federal government.”) If the reactionary majority uses the vaccine mandate cases to strike down large swaths of federal workplace regulation, it will hurt workers, businesses, and the American economy. But the ideals of the Federalist Society will be protected from harm.
Democrats can stop this judicial carnage by enlarging the Court. Congress could do so tomorrow—if it abolished the filibuster. Dozens of other worthy suggestions for reforming the Court require a constitutional amendment and ratification by 38 states—which will neverhappen. We have a mechanism to rehabilitate the Court, and we should use that mechanism now.
Neal Katyal on Merrick Garland.
I have taken Merrick Garland at his word that the DOJ investigations of the January 6th insurrection will hold accountable those responsible “at every level” and “whether present or otherwise.” Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal is dubious. Katyal also notes that even if Garland will eventually get around to investigating Trump, the delay in doing so is prejudicial to the integrity of any such investigation. See Neal Katyal in The Atlantic, “The Justice Department Needs to Investigate Trump and His Enablers.”
Please read this article in the NYTimes by Ezra Klein.
Early Sunday morning, readers started sending me links to Ezra Klein’s op-ed in the NYTimes, “Steve Bannon Is Onto Something.” I was put off by the title but read the op-ed anyway. Wow, am I glad I did! Klein makes essential points that every Democrat worried about 2022 should read. Klein starts with some tough love. He says that being involved in politics is notdoom-scrolling on Twitter and then complaining to family and friends about all the things you just read. Real political work isthe intentional, strategic accumulation of power in service of a defined end. It is action in service of change, not information in service of outrage.
That phrase worth remembering: Political work is “action in service of change.”
\Klein devotes much of his essay extolling the necessity and virtue of political action at the local level. He quotes Amanda Litman of Run for Something, who says,
We do not have one federal election. We have 50 state elections and then thousands of county elections. And each of those ladder up to give us results. While Congress can write, in some ways, rules or boundaries for how elections are administered, state legislatures are making decisions about who can and can’t vote. Counties and towns are making decisions about how much money they’re spending, what technology they’re using, the rules around which candidates can participate.
Whether Democrats “win” or “lose” in 2022 will be defined by tens of thousands of races up and down the ballot—not merely by who controls the House and Senate. As Amanda Litman notes, Congress controls some things, but state legislatures and city councils control other important aspects of political and civic life. So, as you practice the art of “action in the service of change,” don’t limit your field of vision to federal races only. Yes, they matter, but driving people to the ballot box for races at the bottom of the ticket can boost candidates in close races at the top of the ticket!Field Team 6 interview on Today’s Edition Podcast
On Saturday, I interviewed Jason Berlin, the founder and driving force behind Field Team 6. If you want a reason to feel hopeful about our prospects for 2022, listen to the Today’s Edition Podcast, “Interview with Jason Berlin of Field Team 6.” Volunteers with Field Team 6 do one of the hardest things possible in politics: They approach strangers and ask them if they want to register to vote! Field Team 6 trains volunteers to be fearless, organized, and effective. You can start your own voter registration drive by using the “Voter Drive in a Box” available on the Field Team 6 website. And if you run a local organization interested in partnering with Field Team 6, they will welcome you with open arms and great resources! And, of course, Field Team 6 welcomes donations to help fund its voter registration drives. (About 90% of Field Team 6’s budget goes directly to registration drives.)
It is easy to see why Jason has built such an effective organization. If you don’t have time to listen to the entire podcast, listen to this two-minute snippet from Jason’s conclding comments for your daily inspiration: Jason Berlin’s concluding comments.Contact information for corporations donating to Sedition Caucus members.
Last week, I mentioned articles in Popular Information and the New York Times highlighting corporations that pledged to suspend donations to Sedition Caucus members and subsequently violated that pledge. A couple of dozen readers asked for contact information for those companies. Reader Cathy Murphree put together this document that contains mailing addresses and electronic addresses for companies that appear to be supporting members of the Sedition Caucus. Thank you, Cathy!
In my interview with Jason Berlin, he said two things that gave me hope for 2022. In describing his journey from writer in the entertainment industry to leading political activist, he said that “You come for the cause, and stay for the people.” In that statement lies the essence of political activism: joining with like-minded people who lift you up and give you strength. You become part of a community that helps everyone in the community to endure tough times and push on to victory.
Second, Jason noted that we now have millions of Democrats who have five years of experience in political organizing and activism. Groups like Field Team Six, Swing Left, Indivisible, Sister District, PostCardsToVoters, Voter Riders, Voter Movement Project, Fair Fight, and many others have existing staff, dedicated volunteers, and databases. 2021 was adrift in the political doldrums, but people are re-engaging for 2022. I have heard that sentiment from many readers. If you took a hiatus in 2021, you deserved a break! But now is the moment to re-engage. Your friends and colleagues are waiting with open arms to welcome you back!
Talk to you tomorrow!LikeCommentShareYou’re on the free list for Today’s Edition Newsletter. This post is public, so feel free to share it. Share Today’s Edition NewsletterIf you are not a subscriber and would like to receive Today’s Edition Newsletter daily (Monday – Friday), click the “Subscribe” button below:Subscribe nowPlease consider becoming a paying subscriber to help support the work of Today’s Edition Newsletter. Paying subscribers can post in the Comments section for each newsletter.
As They Highlight the January 2022 Drawdown Festival
“Join the Regeneration” says acclaimed Australian filmmaker of 2040, keynote speaker and festival partner for the 2022 Drawdown Festival – Tools For Regeneration: Forums! Fun! Films! coming to the Southampton Arts Center, Friday–Sunday, January 21-23, 2022, with talks, workshops and films scheduled all weekend (virtual). Registration is free, hosted by Southampton Arts Center, who is also accepting donations to cover costs.
Damon Gameau will be joined by Paul Hawken, author of the New York Times bestseller Drawdown, which has grown into an international climate research organization, and the newly-released Regeneration: Solving the Climate Crisis in One Generation. Gameau’s award-winning film 2040 and accompanying book 2040 is based on the top Drawdown climate solutions. They will be co-hosting the opening event Friday January 21 from 6:44 – 830pm.
Join a Carbon CREW
In addition to Damon Gameau, SAC is co-partnering with the newly-formed Carbon CREW Project, cofounded by Dorothy Reilly of Southampton. The founders of CREW, which stands for Carbon Reduction for Earth Well-being, highlight a recent international study: Did you know the U.N. has found that 2/3 of all greenhouse gas emissions originate from decisions made at the household level? “The choices made by each of us make all the difference! Together our choices are powerful” said Ms. Reilly. Over the weekend there will be an option to enroll in a Carbon CREW program to guide you to a 50% carbon reduction lifestyle by 2030.
Climate Action = Climate Safety
“This is all about climate action, climate safety, climate hope. Learn about how you can begin now to cut emissions, address equity issues, protect and restore ecosystems and create a regenerating, thriving world,” said Mary Morgan, cofounder of Drawdown East End, also a festival partner, a group inspired by the science of Project Drawdown to guide local climate solutions to reverse global warming.
Join Friday’s Climate Youth Festival
The Festival promises an array of talks, workshops, and films — on soil and sea sequestration, climate cuisine, electrify-everything, the debut of Stories of Regeneration on ways that we can all participate in regenerating our earth and reversing climate devastation — and, on Friday evening, the opportunity to join the Climate Youth Festival from LIU.
Session curators include: League of Women Voters of the Hamptons, Shelter Island and the North Fork, Sean Barrett, founder, Montauk Seaweed Supply Co., journalist Alexandra Talty, Mark Haubner, VP, North Fork Environmental Council, Sheila Pfeiffer, co-founder of Carbon CREW Project, Scott Carlin, professor, Long Island University, author “Gratitude and Climate Change,” and more.
Schedule of Events*
All times are EST. We suggest that all registrants watch the uplifting climate solutions film 2040 before the Festival.
Friday, January 21, 2022
Evening – 6:45 PM to 8:30 PM – We welcome you with an opening Shinnecock Blessing and Co-Host filmmaker Damon Gameau (2040) with Drawdown’s Paul Hawken.
8:30 – 10:00 Climate Youth Festival from LIU.
Saturday, January 22, 2022
Morning – 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM – Welcome back ceremony, hear talks on Indigenous Wisdom, Electrify Everything and Soil Sequestration, with Drawdown and Carbon CREW explained.
Afternoon – 1:00 PM to 5:45 PM – panels on Sea Sequestration, Climate Cuisine, Women and Girls with talks on Climate Games, Instant Actions and the Environmental Voter Project, ending the afternoon with One Million Women singing.
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Morning – 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM – Panels on Model Towns and Regenerator Web Resources.
Afternoon – 1:00 PM to 5:30 PM – Panels on Communicating for Changing Times, Protect Nature Now, Consumption, Financial Impact for Regeneration, ending with our closing ceremony at 5:15 PM.
The redistricting maps in Suffolk county were voted upon and the legal hurdles were overcome. And this just hours before the county legislature was ceded to Republican control!
But (as per Newsday), despite Friday’s vote, the fate of the map remains uncertain. The court battle is expected to continue in the new year, and County Executive Steve Bellone, whose office did not respond to requests for comment, has not said whether he will sign the legislation.
On a national scale too, Dems did not fare too badly. It’s interesting that Republicans were playing defense in some places because of demographic shifts.
It is a pretty convincing (and depressing) opinion piece in The Guardian. I quote: “…The legal system grows less legitimate by the day. Trust in government at all levels is in freefall, or, like Congress, with approval ratings hovering around 20%, cannot fall any lower. Right now, elected sheriffs openly promote resistance to federal authority. Right now, militias train and arm themselves in preparation for the fall of the Republic. Right now, doctrines of a radical, unachievable, messianic freedom spread across the internet, on talk radio, on cable television, in the malls….”
I am vacationing in the Caribbean (on Turks and Caicos). This morning we encountered a turtle. It might have been a (a) leatherback (b) green (c) hawksbill or a (d) loggerhead according to local tourist websites. Some local Jet ski enthusiasts diagnosed the turtle with an injury and I contacted the local preservation society. But islanders retain a culture of turtle use, with the current regulated and legitimate harvest likely to be one of the largest among the Caribbean Islands. One of the presumed rescuers joked that he would catch the turtle and offer it to me for supper. I think the turtles probably have a more uncertain future than we do, civil war or not. And certainly, they don’t deserve their fate.