Thursday, July 17, 2014

Climate Action

From the New York Times:

"President Obama announced a series of climate change initiatives on Wednesday aimed at guarding the electricity supply; improving local planning for flooding, coastal erosion and storm surges; and better predicting landslide risks as sea levels rise and storms and droughts intensify.

The actions, involving a variety of federal agencies, were among the recommendations of the president’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, a group of 26 officials who have worked since November to develop the proposals.

One of the projects involves shoring up the power supply during climate catastrophes, and the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday awarded a total of $236.3 million to eight states to improve electricity infrastructure in rural areas. A government study released in May concluded that climate change would strain utility companies’ ability to deliver power as extreme weather damaged power lines and hotter temperatures drove surges in demand."

Here's the White House story on this conference and these announcements. What's significant about this task force apart from its topic is that it includes tribal leaders, and they've made substantial commitments to address these problems on Indian lands.

 Thanks I'm sure in great measure to climate adviser and White House counselor John Podesta, the Obama administration is proceeding on real efforts to deal with the effects of climate disruptions already underway and in the pipeline, and to deal with the causes of future global heating by reducing carbon pollution and advancing carbon capture technologies as well as clean energy for the future.

The need for both becomes evident every day.  On Wednesday a typhoon that's killed at least 38 in the Philippines is headed for China.  So it makes sense that the US and China have signed eight new agreements on various matters relating to climate.  The emphasis is on sharing technology, research and expertise on a range of technologies, including "clean coal."

The New Divestiture Movement

When a few months ago Stanford University announced that it was divesting from coal companies, the industry all but laughed in public.  But the divestiture movement that was so effective in pushing South Africa to end apartheid  started slowly and with much more controversy.

Now the climate crisis divestiture movement got a very big and significant participant--the World Council of Churches that represents half a billion Christians announced it is ceasing investments in fossil fuels.

“The World Council of Churches reminds us that morality demands thinking as much about the future as about ourselves — and that there’s no threat to the future greater than the unchecked burning of fossil fuels,” Bill McKibben, the founder of, said in a statement. “This is a remarkable moment for the 590 million Christians in its member denominations: a huge percentage of humanity says today ‘this far and no further.’”

 These may not have immediate major economic impact, but the writing is on the wall.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

It Must Have Been Supermoon glow

Another overcast night meant the "Super Moon" was visible here only in photos.  Oh well.  The photos are neat.

Speaking of Sports

NBA: LeBron James is going back to Cleveland.  The response in sports media is overwhelming positive: he's going back to his home town area, he's admitted his mistakes in the way he left, and incidentally, he's making $88 million.  The move led to this Bill Simmons piece on basketball genius, a lot of it about Michael Jordan as well as LeBron--it's the best basketball piece I've read in a long time.  It says a lot about what happened in Miami and why LeBron left, plus Bird and Magic lore.

Once LeBron made his move, others followed quickly.  Contrary to my prediction, Bosh turned down a really good situation in Houston to rake in the dough by resigning with Miami, which lost its superstar but gained a lot of cash (otherwise known as "cap room.")  Pau Gasol left the Lakers for the Chicago Bulls.  Carmelo Anthony is reportedly negotiating with the Knicks to stay in New York.  The Lakers got point guard Jeremy Lin.

So who wins and who loses?  The clearest winner is the Eastern Conference.  The Bulls and of course Cleveland strengthened, the Knicks at least haven't lost ground.   Charlotte is improved.  Miami obviously will no longer dominate the conference, so it's going to be a lot more competitive and probably a lot better.The Chicago Bulls could be the team to beat--a long time since that could be said.

The Lakers got a point guard and lost their crucial big man and Kobe's experienced partner.  The Lakers organization has screwed up so badly for the past several years that it's going to take several years to just get even, and by that time, Kobe will likely be gone and LA may well enter another dry period with no face to the franchise.

That said, no other Western Conference team has conspicuously improved through free agency.  There's still time for teams to make moves and it's likely there will be some with the potential to change things.  In fact both the Lakers and Knicks have to make moves--they don't have enough players signed to field a decent team.

Baseball: After some tough--even freakish--losses against St. Louis and a blown lead in Cincinnati, the Pittsburgh Pirates showed why they are one of the most exciting teams in baseball.  Again losing a lead and down to their last inning, Andrew McCutchen blasted a 95 mph fastball over the wall in center to tie the game.  The Reds almost won it in the 10th but the mighty arm of super-rookie Gregory Polanco got the runner at the plate.  And with two outs in the 11th, McCutchen blasted a changeup out of the park to left, the game winner.

Meanwhile the Giants don't seem able to win for anybody but Lincecum.  Update: Unless the starting pitcher (Bumgarner) and catcher (Posey) hit grand slams in the same game for the first time in major league history.  And guess which one of them hit his second slam this season?  Hint: it wasn't Posey.  Giants won 8-4 Sunday.