It’d be easier to sympathize with the Cuban government over the idiotic U.S. embargo if it wasn’t for its equally stupid ban on Cuban baseball players actually making money for their labor, thus forcing players to choose between seeing their family or making a better life for themselves by defecting and signing with an American team.
Author Page for Erik Loomis
Thanks New York Times. I always wondered how those poor plutocrat women with babies manage it! It’s so hard being a billionaire! I’m glad you are focusing on the right kind of working mothers, not all those poor women without the free childcare that would allow them to escape poverty.
If this doesn’t destroy the reputation of Tony Robbins and hopefully every other motivational speaker/New Age faith healer/grifter in America, what will?
Fire officials said 21 people at an event hosted by motivational speaker Tony Robbins suffered burns while walking across hot coals and three of the injured were treated at hospitals.
The injuries took place during the first day Thursday of a four-day event at the San Jose Convention Center hosted by Robbins called “Unleash the Power Within.” Most of those hurt had second and third degree burns, said San Jose Fire Department Capt. Reggie Williams.
Walking across hot coals on lanes measuring 10 feet long and heated to between 1,200 to 2,000 degrees provides attendees an opportunity to “understand that there is absolutely nothing you can’t overcome,” according to the motivational speaker’s website.
Nothing you can’t overcome. Except 2000 degree hot coals.
I’m glad that Rick Warren, America’s Pastor (TM), responded to the Colorado tragedy with such grace and class. He did what any good American would do–connected the shootings to teaching the theory of evolution.
Bill McKibben lays it out for us–climate change is the greatest problem of the 21st century by enormous levels of magnitude.
If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven’t convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.
Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation – in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the “largest temperature departure from average of any season on record.” The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet’s history.
Not that our leaders seemed to notice. Last month the world’s nations, meeting in Rio for the 20th-anniversary reprise of a massive 1992 environmental summit, accomplished nothing. Unlike George H.W. Bush, who flew in for the first conclave, Barack Obama didn’t even attend. It was “a ghost of the glad, confident meeting 20 years ago,” the British journalist George Monbiot wrote; no one paid it much attention, footsteps echoing through the halls “once thronged by multitudes.” Since I wrote one of the first books for a general audience about global warming way back in 1989, and since I’ve spent the intervening decades working ineffectively to slow that warming, I can say with some confidence that we’re losing the fight, badly and quickly – losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.
When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math. For the past year, an easy and powerful bit of arithmetical analysis first published by financial analysts in the U.K. has been making the rounds of environmental conferences and journals, but it hasn’t yet broken through to the larger public. This analysis upends most of the conventional political thinking about climate change. And it allows us to understand our precarious – our almost-but-not-quite-finally hopeless – position with three simple numbers.
McKibben names a clear enemy: the fossil fuel industry and the greed of their executives. I don’t disagree with this, but I think it is a bit more complicated–the person who wants a monster truck that gets 7 mpg is also kind of the enemy, as is the suburban family who wants to commute 50 miles each way to work with an 9 mpg SUV. Of course, this is also too simplistic since we can have conversations about how and why capitalists stoked those demands. But that’s fine, I guess I understand the need to make this argument. Plus there’s no question that early 21st century monopoly capitalism is a huge issue. If the government made a good faith effort to open the energy market to clean innovators, maybe we could make some progress, but as we’ve seen with the Solyndra non-scandal, even the slightest attempts to do so will spark fake outrage among oil’s bought politicians in Congress.
More problematic is the false hope McKibben provides at the end of the article, when he suggests that we should put pressure on the petroleum corporations like activists in the 80s did to the apartheid regime of South Africa:
The fossil-fuel industry is obviously a tougher opponent, and even if you could force the hand of particular companies, you’d still have to figure out a strategy for dealing with all the sovereign nations that, in effect, act as fossil-fuel companies. But the link for college students is even more obvious in this case. If their college’s endowment portfolio has fossil-fuel stock, then their educations are being subsidized by investments that guarantee they won’t have much of a planet on which to make use of their degree. (The same logic applies to the world’s largest investors, pension funds, which are also theoretically interested in the future – that’s when their members will “enjoy their retirement.”) “Given the severity of the climate crisis, a comparable demand that our institutions dump stock from companies that are destroying the planet would not only be appropriate but effective,” says Bob Massie, a former anti-apartheid activist who helped found the Investor Network on Climate Risk. “The message is simple: We have had enough. We must sever the ties with those who profit from climate change – now.”
Yeah, I don’t know. The environmental movement is really concerned that it doesn’t come across as too negative. The fear is that if they tell the unvarnished truth without providing hope that people will just shut off. So rather than give the full jeremiad, screaming from the rooftops about the horror about to change all of our lives if we don’t change our ways RIGHT NOW!!!!, McKibben suggest pressuring students pressuring college administrations to pressure corporations to change their ways. That’d be great if we were talking about social policy. But instead we are taking about the future of life on the planet. Given the very real nature of the crisis, something that during this horrible heat wave and drought most Americans are just beginning to feel (but nothing compared to what it will look like 10 or 20 years from now), the call for traditional types of campaigns that make liberals feel good just feel inadequate. Climate change writers shouldn’t pull their punches. The issue is too important.
Glad to see Andrew Cuomo take advantage of the Colorado tragedy to release a long-awaited letter about his ties to the casino industry. That’s the kind of politician cynicism that just warms the heart.
The Culinary Union in Nevada has threatened to sit out the 2012 election. This could be a big deal. The most powerful labor union in Nevada, with deep roots in the Las Vegas Latino community, the Culinary Union could really threaten Obama’s ability to win the state. Why is the union doing this? It claims because it is too busy fighting for new contracts and organizing workplaces. But the more likely reason is because Democrats rely on labor to win elections and then do very little to press labor’s agenda.
Now I’m not sure I support this action myself. When it comes to brass tacks, defeating Romney is a pretty top priority of mine. But I sure can understand why labor would do this. And lest one think that the idea of distancing the labor movement from the Democratic Party is some intellectual heighten-the-contradictions argument disconnected from reality, these conversations are taking place at the upper echelon of the labor movement, as the Culinary Union’s announcement shows. Will the union really follow through with this? Kind of doubt it. Is it worth it to put the fear of god into Democrats in order to extract some concessions? Probably. Should labor routinely endorse the Democratic candidate a solid year before the election every 4 years, as it has already done this election cycle? Probably not, at least unless Democrats earn it.
No? It was scorching hot and dry, even if humid? Hard to imagine why, given that this week’s drought update shows the nation in officially the worst drought of the 21st century. An amazing 42% of the nation is in Severe Drought and 14% in Extreme Drought, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.
As we see during most heat waves, the number of people who believe climate change is happening peaking. During cold spells in the winter, the number dives. This reminds me of one of the biggest problem in creating long-term environmental reform–everybody believes their personal experience in the norm. There’s a Facebook cartoon I’ve seen a couple of people put up recently that tells everyone to shut up because it’s the summer and it’s supposed to be hot. Well, no. Or at least not like this. 2012 is almost certainly going to go down as the hottest year in the history of the United States. Most of the other leading years are also in the very recent past. There has basically never been a heat wave in the history of this country like the current one plaguing the eastern half of the country for the last month.
But we very quickly internalize this as normal.
This isn’t just climate. I was talking to a environmental scientist friend of mine recently who recalled a conversation with the owner I think of a timber operation. The guy didn’t understand why he needed to comply with stormwater drainage regulations. He said the rivers turn brown anyway. And my friend was like, that’s not natural! It’s the result of logging and erosion and other issues. But if you see it for more than a short time, you can easily internalize it and assume that you are not responsible.
That’s hardly a recent phenomenon. Whites moved onto the western Great Plains in large numbers in the late 19th century. Places like western Nebraska and eastern New Mexico became exciting spots to start a farm. It seemed like a great idea at the time because there was enough rain. Everyone assumed there would always be enough rain. But the 1880s and 1890s were unusually wet decades and when the land dried up, it became impossible to live out there. That’s why you see so many abandoned buildings in these places–they are the homesteads of people from 50, 70, 100 years ago who finally gave up on the land. Plus the farming out there had major environmental impacts, particularly the plowing of the sod to plant grains. When the drought came, nothing grew and the soil blew away, leading to the Dust Bowl.
I’m not sure what you do about this. But it’s really really hard to create policies to fight climate change when we assume our own experiences are normal. Combine this with the right-wing propaganda machine telling everyone climate change is a liberal myth and you have a recipe for doing nothing.
I can see why presidential campaigns would want to approve the quotes the media uses in its stories. I think it is cowardly and awful of the media to allow this to happen. It is another step in the media being willing to serve as mouthpieces of power rather than actually report. After all, one wouldn’t want to lose access! To its credit, AP refuses to participate in this, at least for the moment.
Turning downtown Springfield, Oregon into a Simpsons-themed shopping district actually makes a tiny bit of sense, as cheesy as it would be, considering that downtown Springfield reminds one of a city like Canton or Schenectady more than Eugene or Portland.