John James Bulletins

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  • The John James Newsletter 260 The John James Newsletter  260 24 November 2018 The $4bn takeover of the Sydney Morning Herald will shrink the major sources of Australian news from five to four – Channel Nine, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media and the ABC      Lenore Taylor Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals       Martin Luther King, Jr.Facts are stern things       John Curtin The hypocrisy, arrogance, and hubris of a family that has sought to turn the Presidency into another Trump franchise. You can’t do that in that position unless you think that you are bulletproof, and you don’t really give a damn what people ...
    Posted Nov 25, 2018, 1:38 PM by Clement Clarke
  • The John James Newsletter 259 The John James Newsletter  259 17 November 2018 Our firefighters have been experiencing some extreme, tough fire conditions that they said they’ve never seen in their life. We just ended the hottest summer on record. We have fuels that are in critical drought state. This is the sixth year of seven years of drought.       Daryl Osby, chief LA County Fire Dpt The way the fire came through, as fast as it did, was unreal. It was apocalyptic, like something you’d see in a movie. My place went up in flames with no insurance. Now I’m probably permanently homeless. I don’t know how we’ll recover from here.       Robert from Paradise We just had 10% of our ...
    Posted Nov 25, 2018, 1:30 PM by Clement Clarke
  • The John James Newsletter 258 The John James Newsletter  25810 November 2018Why don't the Americans get it? The terrorists are already in their midst, already in their homes: the mad gun-wielding members of the NRA.      John JamesThe drive towards personal excellence fuelled by the system of private enterprise has an embedded need for exponential growth and seems incapable of protecting key resources such as air quality, fertile soil and clean water      Bruce PascoeWhen plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it      Frédéric BastiatBritish Columbia’s southern resident killer whale population ...
    Posted Nov 10, 2018, 9:15 PM by Clement Clarke
  • The John James Newsletter 257 The John James Newsletter  2573 November 2018You want sanity, democracy, community, an intact Earth? We can't get there obeying Constitutional theory and law crafted by slave masters, imperialists, corporate controllers, and Nature destroyers. We can't get there kneeling before robed lawyers stockpiling class plunder precedent up their venerable sleeves. So isn't disobedience the challenge of our age? Principled, inventive, escalating disobedience to liberate our souls, to transfigure our work as humans on this Earth      Richard GrossmanHaving said sorry we still refuse to say thanks      Bruce PascoeOutbreaks don't end well      Charles MannIn the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends        Martin Luther King ...
    Posted Nov 10, 2018, 9:12 PM by Clement Clarke
  • The John James Newsletter 256 The John James Newsletter  25627 October 2018Men with black hearts and clean fingernails      George MonbiotHow CAN anyone imagine that there can be jobs for all when the population keeps wildly rising AND the share of the resource base, including water and food provisions, keeps shrinking?      Emily SpenceThe radical reorganisation of global capitalism from sanctions may not appeal to multi-nationals because they would lose all the cost-benefit advantages that seduced them to delocalise to China in the first place - and the lost advantages won’t be offset by more tax cuts at home      Pepe EscobarIt would take the average Ethiopian 240 years to register the same carbon footprint as the average American     Amadou Sy ...
    Posted Nov 10, 2018, 9:10 PM by Clement Clarke
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 70. View more »


 Activism without inner work is impotent

Consciousness. Those who have done the work to bring consciousness to their social habits and inner lives are not randomly floating about at the whims of chance in a tornado of information, but are grounded in a clear sense of themselves and who they are. They thus have a much better chance of correctly figuring the truth, the manipulation, and essential value for the path they’d like to see society walk along. In a culture that is saturated with media propaganda, I’ve cultivated this inner knowing through many years of dedicated personal development. The most compassionate thing you can do for the world is to clear your inner being of falsehood and delusion so that with a clear mind and body you can be useful without attachment. Read more

The John James Newsletter 260

posted Nov 25, 2018, 1:38 PM by Clement Clarke

The John James Newsletter  260

24 November 2018

The $4bn takeover of the Sydney Morning Herald will shrink the major sources of Australian news from five to four – Channel Nine, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media and the ABC
      Lenore Taylor

Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Facts are stern things
John Curtin

The hypocrisy, arrogance, and hubris of a family that has sought to turn the Presidency into another Trump franchise. You can’t do that in that position unless you think that you are bulletproof, and you don’t really give a damn what people think
John Cassidy

The growth-bug, if it becomes an addiction, is itself a disease. Out of control, it is a cancer, which can destroy the organism.
      Eric Zuesse

Imagine two 18-year-olds, one in China, one in the US. Who has a better chance at upward mobility? Not too long ago, the answer might have been the teenager in the US But China has risen so quickly that, today, a young person’s chances of improving their living situation vastly exceeds those in the U.S. Here’s why, by the numbers:
800 million: The number of people in China that have been lifted out of poverty since 1990. That’s two and a half times the US population.
500 percent: The average per capita income growth in China between 1980 and 2014.
$12,000: China’s economic output per capita. A decade ago, it was $3,500.
1/4: The share of the world’s middle class that was in China in 2016.
29: China’s score on the Gini coefficient, a worldwide measure of inequality, where a lower score represents a more equal economy. The U.S. scores 37.
Despite that progress, 40 percent of China’s population still lives on less than $5.50 a day.

      NY Times

Either Brexit agreement will leave the UK economically weakened, with no say in EU rules  must follow and years of uncertainty for business, or a no-deal Brexit I know as minister of transport will inflict untold damage on our nation. To present the nation with a choice between two deeply unattractive outcomes, vassalage and chaos, is a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis
      Jo Johnson

It takes a lot less money to defend a homeland, than to prepare to attack another country - or to police an empire that stretches across the entire planet
      John Rachel

I can't run no more
With that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers out loud
But they've summoned up
A thundercloud
And they're going to hear from me.  

      Leonard Cohen

Extinction Rebellion Shuts Down London Bridges to Save Mother Earth
The day of revolt leads to mass arrests in the UK as protestors argue too many still don't "recognise the seriousness of our existential crisis" and almost nobody is doing enough to end humanity's reckless assault on planet's living systems. Mass arrests on Saturday as thousands of people and members of the 'Extinction Rebellion' movement—for "the first time in living memory"—shut down the five main bridges of central London in the name of saving the planet, and those who live upon it, from destructive over-consumption, runaway greenhouse gas emissions, and the ongoing failure of global leaders to address the intensifying threats.
People are risking their liberty in defence of the living world in large numbers. It is only when we are prepared to take action that people begin to recognise the seriousness of our existential crisis.
      George Monbiot

The 'social contract' has been broken … [and] it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the government's inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself
      Gail Bradbrook, Extinction Rebellion organizer

We have tried marching, and lobbying, and signing petitions. Nothing has brought about the change that is needed.
      Tiana Jacout
The laws of physics, not to mention social and economic forces, tell us that infinite growth is not possible on a finite planet. Please read this article so you can disabuse yourself of any notion that industrial-scope capitalism dependent on endless growth can persist ….. whether with or without renewable energy. Please distribute this article.
The Limits of Renewable Energy and the Case for Degrowth

Between 1990 and 2015, the share of fossil fuels in the global energy mix (including nuclear energy in this particular calculation based on data from the BP Statistical Review) declined from 88% to 86% — a marginal decrease of 1% per decade. And more recently, in spite of the significant growth of renewables, in actual quantities, the share of petroleum and gas increased twice as much as renewable electricity 2011 - 2016.
What accounts for the gap between what people perceive as a rapid transition to renewable energy and the reality of quite meagre progress? Part of the explanation lies with the use of relative data expressed as percentages: it’s easy to report big percentage increases when you’re talking about small numbers. Then there’s also the problem of media hype: boasting about achievements while remaining mum about failures. There is a real selection bias for success stories. Another typical media strategy is to publish forecasts of objectives to be achieved at some point in the distant future, which recede from memory as the day of reckoning approaches — no one is likely to recall dated, overly optimistic predictions.
The public discourse on renewables is intended to be reassuring, to bolster confidence in the State and industry, and in the belief that the market system will take us to where we need to go. It shores up the status quo.
Our smart devices will become the new and  massive surveillance network
In Britain there’s one surveillance camera for every 11 people, illustrating the rapid rise of the surveillance state in industrialised Western democracies. Elsewhere, security services and local law enforcement authorities are   warming to the idea of using more devices to surveil the general population. With facial recognition technology growing so compact and efficient they’ll soon be cataloging the face and identity of everyone who passes a police officer or checkpoint on the street. Smart devices in our homes will begin to pry into our personal lives; invasive technology is only going to get more advanced, necessitating that it will become easier to establish a surveillance network just about anywhere. Even our homes won’t be safe sooner rather than later; Amazon recently filed for a patent to detect user illnesses by analysing the emotional state of a voice, illustrating the awesome and infiltrative potential these smart devices have. The digital technology of your phone is already sufficient to record and send every conversation (even if switched off) to an unknown "Listener". The Stasi has arrived in a new form!
The fire in Paradise: From natural disaster to social catastrophe
The victims in Paradise were older and poorer than the rest of California. The median age was 50, and the median household income $20,000 a year less than for the state as a whole. As far as the government response has been concerned, their lives and continued survival are a matter of indifference. Aside from a handful of shelters—where a norovirus outbreak sent at least 25 survivors to the hospital—and a pittance in FEMA supplies, those fleeing Paradise have had to rely on friends, family and charity. The Camp Fire joins the long list of disasters over the past few years, including Hurricanes Michael (60 dead), Florence (53 dead) and Maria (3,057 dead) in the US. It comes four months after the Attica wildfires in Greece, which killed 99. In each case, natural events have been compounded by crumbling infrastructure and inadequate emergency planning to create social catastrophes.
The abnormal has become the new normal
The wildfire ravaging California is now the deadliest in state history. This isn't the new normal, it's the new abnormal, and we need to talk about causes and remedies.
How Extreme Weather Is Shrinking the Planet
With wildfires, heat waves, and rising sea levels, large tracts of the earth are at risk of becoming uninhabitable. But the fossil-fuel industry continues its assault on the facts.  California is ablaze. A big fire near Los Angeles forced the evacuation of Malibu, and an even larger fire, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, has become the most destructive in California’s history.
After a summer of unprecedented high temperatures and a fall “rainy season” with less than half the usual precipitation, the northern firestorm turned a city called Paradise into an inferno within an hour, razing more than ten thousand buildings and killing at least sixty-three people; more than six hundred others are missing. The authorities brought in cadaver dogs, a lab to match evacuees’ DNA with swabs taken from the dead, and anthropologists from California State University at Chico to advise on how to identify bodies from charred bone fragments.
A period of contraction is setting in as we lose habitable parts of the earth.
  Hurricane Michael, the strongest hurricane ever to hit the Florida Panhandle, inflicted thirty billion dollars’ worth of material damage and killed forty-five people.
  The effort to evacuate the blazing California towns along narrow roads was so chaotic that many people died in their cars. But most of the pullback will be slower, starting along the world’s coastlines.
  Each year, another twenty-four thousand people abandon Vietnam’s sublimely fertile Mekong Delta as crop fields are polluted with salt.
  As sea ice melts along the Alaskan coast, there is nothing to protect towns, cities, and native villages from the waves.
  In Mexico Beach, Florida, which was all but eradicated by Hurricane Michael, a resident told the Post, “The older people can’t rebuild; it’s too late in their lives. Who is going to be left? Who is going to care?”
  In Jakarta, a city with a population of ten million,  a rising Java Sea had flooded the streets., and in the first days of 2018, a nor’easter flooded downtown Boston; dumpsters and cars floated through the financial district. 
  In Louisiana, government officials were finalizing a plan to relocate thousands of people threatened by the rising Gulf. “Not everybody is going to live where they are now and continue their way of life, and that is a terrible, and emotional, reality to face”.
Lithium and the Battle for Afghanistan’s Mineral Riches
More American Troops to Afghanistan, To Keep the Chinese Out? Unknown to the broader public, Afghanistan has significant oil, natural gas and strategic raw material resources, not to mention opium, a multibillion dollar industry which feeds America’s illegal heroin market. These mineral reserves include huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and lithium, which is a strategic raw material used in the production of high tech batteries for laptops, cell phones and electric cars. The implication of Trump’s resolve is to plunder and steal Afghanistan’s mineral riches that could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.” This resource has been known to both Russia and China since the 1970s.
The reality of environmental protection
We are at a stage where we humans have wiped out 85% of wildlife and are facing the specter of extinction. It is true that my tiger jinx was broken in Ranthambore and in three days I saw twelve tigers. It is true that when I watch Blue Planet or Planet Earth, with Sir David Attenborough commenting on the glory of nature and the profusion of wildlife, I am carried away with the sheer beauty of what I see. But it is good to remember that the reality is far from this. Very far. Yes, I saw twelve tigers in Ranthambore, but tigers are so seriously endangered as to be close to becoming extinct in the wild in India. Our population pressure, total ignorance and apathy towards forests and wildlife, greed to make money at any costs and a political class that is innocent of any ethics, responsibility or knowledge, means that forests and wildlife continue to get short shrift. Every mining concession, highway or railway line tends to get precedence over the forest that it will either seriously endanger or completely destroy. It is no secret that tiger reserves which get a higher level of protection from reserve forests, were systematically de-tigered so that the status of the forest could be officially downgraded to reserve forest, in order to start mining for marble.

US Could Lose in War with China or Russia
A  bipartisan congressional panel highlights a new era of "Great Power competition" with Moscow and Beijing. The panel, run by a dozen former top Democratic and Republican officials, found that just as the US military faced budget cuts and diminishing military advantages, authoritarian nations like China and Russia are pursuing buildups aimed "at neutralising US strengths.. America's military superiority - the hard-power backbone of its global influence and national security - has eroded to a dangerous degree."
Cities Will Soon Face Six Climate Disasters at Once
Before century's end the frightening new normal could be cities and states facing multiple extreme climate events all at once.  New York, Sydney, and Rio de Janeiro could soon face up to five catastrophic weather events in a single year—including wildfires, hurricanes, storm surges, and droughts. Florida has experienced more than 100 wildfires, drought, and the severely destructive Hurricane Michael in the past year—but with most news reports and climate researchers focusing on one disastrous weather event at a time, the current reality has been obscured. "A focus on one or few hazards may mask the impacts of other hazards, resulting in incomplete assessments of the consequences of climate change on humanity," writes Camilo Mora
How did Trump react to the news that the Russian hypersonic nuclear missile Avangard was ready?
He announced that his country would withdraw from the INF Treaty. So, instead of making a plan to catch up and quickly developing hypersonic missiles, he intends to reassemble the US medium range nuclear missile arsenal.  Valentin Vasilescu observes that the US is no longer manufacturing motors for this type of missile and is using Russian motors for its Atlas V rockets. Conclusion: Trump has given Moscow yet another advantage.
US vice president beats war drums in Asia:
Pence issued an ultimatum to China: either accept a subservient, semi-colonial status, or confront the full force of US diplomatic, economic and ultimately military weight. Washington is insisting that Beijing abandon plans to develop hi-tech industries to compete with US companies, further open up to American corporate exploitation, bow to the “international rules-based system” determined by the US, and halt any efforts to counter increasingly aggressive anti-Chinese propaganda.
These 4,000-year-old termite mounds are visible from space
Some 200 million conical termite mounds rise from the ground in northeastern Brazil, each about 2 to 4 meters high and about 9 meters wide, visible on Google Earth. Researchers dated the soil from 11 of these mounds and found that the piles are up to about 4,000 years old, making them almost as ancient as the pyramids of Giza. The mounds are still inhabited by the termite species, Syntermes dirus, that first made them. The mounds themselves lack any definite internal architecture, but there are extensive networks of underground tunnels that the termites use to safely access fallen leaves on the forest floor.

Poverty in Britain: a social calamity
He visited Newcastle where he found people struggling to negotiate the benefits system and going hungry. He called it a ‘social calamity and an economic disaster’. The UK government has inflicted “great misery” on its people with “punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous” austerity policies. He found people struggling to cope within a benefits system designed to force people into work with built-in delays to payments. Many have been referred to food banks with some still going hungry.
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
The primary concern is the preservation of the new feudal mythology that they have created: that the world is a dangerous place, that they are the protectors, that the danger is omnipresent, eternal, and omnidirectional, comes from without, and comes from within. The mythology is constructed and presented through all media; journals, films, television, radio, music, advertising, books, the internet in all its variety. All available information systems are used to create and maintain scenarios and dramas to convince the people that they, the protectors, are the good and all others are the bad. We are bombarded with this message incessantly. In following much of American political leaders’ rhetoric or media coverage of the conflict, one is struck by the deliberate disregard of empirical facts, and the contempt for established legal constructs and precedents.

Which planet is the media living on?
While extreme weather events are being reported almost daily on news bulletins, only rarely is it conveyed that these events constitute the manifestation of advanced global warming and a fundamental shift in the state of the atmosphere. Rarely do major ABC TV forums, such as The Drum, The Insiders, Q and A, Four-Corners, the 7.30 Report, Breakfast, Matter of Fact and other programs include climate scientists to discuss the trends and consequences of climate disruption, mitigation and adaptation. In a recent interview with the ex-PM on the ABC Q&A program, the climate has hardly been mentioned, yet on the 12th August 2010 he said “Now our response to climate change must be guided by science. The science tells us that we have already exceeded the safe upper limit for atmospheric carbon dioxide. We are as humans conducting a massive science experiment with this planet. It’s the only planet we’ve got”.

“Keep Tathra Cool, Climate Action Now”
Frustrated by inaction and squabbling on climate change 12 years after they first took a stand, the Tathra community has again come out en-mass to lead the discussion and advocate for the future. With Dr Matthew Nott, the founder of Clean Energy for Eternity directing the traffic, hundreds of people turned out on Lawrence Park on 30 September to create a human sign that spoke not just to the atmosphere above that could see it best but more so our political leaders. “It’s 2006 since we did our first human sign on Tathra Beach, today was bigger, bolder, and more beautiful. Today’s sign is born out of frustration, we did our sign in 2006 because we were frustrated by the lack of government action and now it’s even worse. Our country now has no strategy for reducing emissions – that’s outrageous.”


The John James Newsletter 259

posted Nov 25, 2018, 1:30 PM by Clement Clarke

The John James Newsletter  259
 17 November 2018

Our firefighters have been experiencing some extreme, tough fire conditions that they said they’ve never seen in their life. We just ended the hottest summer on record. We have fuels that are in critical drought state. This is the sixth year of seven years of drought.
Daryl Osby, chief LA County Fire Dpt

The way the fire came through, as fast as it did, was unreal. It was apocalyptic, like something you’d see in a movie. My place went up in flames with no insurance. Now I’m probably permanently homeless. I don’t know how we’ll recover from here.
      Robert from Paradise

We just had 10% of our county's housing stock erased in one day; it's hard to convey the significance of that
      Ed Mayer

We know with high confidence that the progressive disintegration of ice sheets and the transgression of other tipping elements are difficult to reverse after critical levels of warming are reached; Earth’s recent geological past suggest that a Hothouse Earth is likely at CO2 concentration either already realised or projected
Will Stephen

Trump has much greater affinity for autocrats, claiming warm, even affectionate, relations with Putin, Kim Jong-un, Xi Jinping, Mohammed bin Salman, Rodrigo Duterte and now Brazil’s , Jair Bolsonaro
The Guardian

Children born today may be the last generation to see coral reefs in all their glory. Today’s reefs have a history going back 25 million to 50 million years and have survived tectonic collisions, such as that of Africa into Europe, and India into Asia. Yet in five decades we have undermined the global climate so fundamentally that in the next generation we will lose the globally connected reef system that has survived tens of millions of years.
      David Obura

If the trend of the past 600 years continues to hold, there is a larger than zero probability that we'll see a new conflagration that could surpass that of the the second world war in destruction and victims
Cassandra's Legacy

A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world's three most advanced and economically productive regions ... control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa's subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania (Australia) geopolitically peripheral to the world's central continent. About 75 per cent of the world's people live in Eurasia, and most of the world's physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about three-fourths of the world's known energy resources.
Zbigniew Brzezinski

The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us
Climate breakdown could be rapid and unpredictable. We can no longer tinker around the edges and hope minor changes will avert collapse. Public figures talk and act as if environmental change will be linear and gradual. But the Earth’s systems are highly complex, and complex systems do not respond to pressure in linear ways. When these systems interact, their reactions to change become highly unpredictable. Small perturbations can ramify wildly. Tipping points are likely to remain invisible until we have passed them. We could see changes of state so abrupt and profound that no continuity can be safely assumed.    Read more
Human activity is dissolving the ocean floor
Normally the deep sea bottom is a chalky white. It’s composed, to a large extent, of the mineral calcite (CaCO3) formed from the skeletons and shells of many planktonic organisms and corals. The seafloor plays a crucial role in controlling the degree of ocean acidification. The dissolution of calcite neutralises the acidity of the CO2, and in the process prevents seawater from becoming too acidic. But these days, at least in certain hotspots such as the northern Atlantic and the southern oceans, the ocean’s chalky bed is becoming more of a murky brown. Because of human activity, the level of CO2 in the water so high—and the water is so acidic—that the calcite is simply dissolving. “Because it takes decades or even centuries for CO2 to drop down to the bottom of the ocean, almost all the CO2 created through human activity is still at the surface, but in the future, it will invade the deep-ocean, spread above the ocean floor, and cause even more calcite particles at the seafloor to dissolve,”    Read more
Elephants come up with a foolproof way to survive ivory poachers
Never ever underestimate the intelligence of Mother Nature. A strange thing has been observed among the young female elephants of Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park: About a third of them never developed tusks. While tusklessness is not unheard of in female African elephants, normally it would only happen in about two to four percent of them. The tuskless crew in question here are amongst the first generation born after the end of Mozambique’s 15-year-long civil war, a war in which much was financed through the slaughter of elephants for ivory. Ninety percent of the area’s elephants were killed, yet those without tusks survived. And now they’ve passed the trait on to their daughters.     Read more
If you think the conflicts are bad now, just wait until a critical amount of resources run out in large portions of the world (including food and water) due to a combination of climate change factors, overpopulation and other matters intersected.
Half Million Killed by America's Global War on Terror 'Just Scratches the Surface'

"This new body count signals that, far from diminishing, the war is only intensifying." The new report estimates that since 2001, between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed because of war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan—a tally that does not include the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011, which the U.S. joined in August 2014, and "indirect deaths," or those killed by war's impact on public health, such as limiting access to food, water, hospitals, and electricity.     Read more
Our future is here, now ... day by day.
On the 10th - California wildfires kill nine, drive 150,000 from their homes

Early Thursday morning, a small fire started along the Feather River in Northern California. Due to high winds and dry conditions, the fire spread rapidly to the west, and by Friday evening had burned 90,000 acres and erased the town of Paradise (population 26,000) from the map. The road to Paradise is now littered with the burned-out remains of abandoned cars.
On the 12th - 300,000 people were forced to flee their homes as the worst wildfires in Californian history rage through the US state.
The ‘Woolsey Fire’ swept through hills around Malibu, killing at least 25 people and decimating thousands of homes including those of some well-known celebrities.
On the 13th - Demands for 'Real Climate Action' as Death Toll From California Wildfires Hits Record
"This is not the new normal. This is the new abnormal," said Gov. Jerry Brown. The statewide death toll hit 31 and destroyed more than 6,000 structures. It tops the record for the most destructive fire ever. Some areas now burning had fires in 2005 and 2008, so they aren't fuel-choked closed-canopy forests.
On the 14th - The confirmed death toll from the Camp Fire in Northern California soared to 48
as officials continued a systematic examination of the destroyed city of Paradise, a city of 26,000 people, destroyed in minutes. Hundreds of people remain missing.
On the 16th - Searches intensify with more than 600 reported missing in California's Camp Fire
The Camp Fire -- the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history -- has left 63 people dead, destroyed about 9,700 homes and scorched 142,000 acres.
The Fossil Fuel Industry Spent $100 Million to Kill Green Ballot Measures in Three States — and Won
“We had a pretty good shot, but they definitely had way more resources than we did. I guess the oil and gas industry is just another example of money buying elections.We have had a warning,” Nelson said, referencing that report, “that we either end our dependence on fossil fuels or things are going to get extremely rough for mankind. For me, it shows that it’s just about greed and money for this industry.”      Read more
World has no capacity to absorb new fossil fuel plants
The IEA calculated that existing infrastructure would “lock in” 550 gigatonnes of C02 over the next 22 years. That leaves only 40 gigatonnes, or around a year’s worth of emissions, of wriggle room if temperatures are not to overshoot the 2C threshold. The group’s annual World Energy Outlook, published on Tuesday, revised future CO2 emissions upwards on last year’s report.     Read report
G20 nations still led by fossil fuel industry
Stimulated by an increase of about 50% in subsidies over the past 10 years to compete with increasingly cheap wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. The G20 nations spent $147bn (£114bn) on subsidies in 2016, although they pledged to phase them out more than 10 years ago.Coal, oil and gas subsidies risking rise in global temperatures to 3.2C, well beyond agreed Paris goal.     lRead more
10°C  in a decade  - rapid climate change is possible
The Younger Dryas is one of the most well known examples of abrupt change. About 14,500 years ago, Earth's climate began to shift from a cold glacial world to a warmer interglacial state. Partway through this transition, temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere suddenly returned to near-glacial conditions. This near-glacial period is called the Younger Dryas, named after a flower (Dryas octopetala) that grows in cold conditions and that became common in Europe during this time. The end of the Younger Dryas, about 11,500 years ago, was particularly abrupt. In Greenland, temperatures rose 10°C in a decade. Other proxy records, including varved lake sediments in Europe, also display these abrupt shifts.  Read more

The John James Newsletter 258

posted Nov 10, 2018, 9:15 PM by Clement Clarke

The John James Newsletter  258

10 November 2018

Why don't the Americans get it? The terrorists are already in their midst, already in their homes: the mad gun-wielding members of the NRA.
      John James

The drive towards personal excellence fuelled by the system of private enterprise has an embedded need for exponential growth and seems incapable of protecting key resources such as air quality, fertile soil and clean water
Bruce Pascoe

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it
Frédéric Bastiat

British Columbia’s southern resident killer whale population is down to only 76 animals because human fishers have displaced the orcas from their favoured food, Chinook salmon, as we simultaneously displace the salmon from their spawning streams through hydro dams, pollution and urbanization.
William Rees

It is always easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them
Alfred Adler

The biggest crime scene on the planet is on the planet
Gavin Schmidt

The bellicose actions of the Trump Administration against trade with Iran is forcing major countries into cooperation that ultimately could spell the demise of the dollar hegemony, a hegemony that has allowed a debt-bloated US Government to finance global tyranny
      Willian Engdahl

The EU resents and fears the consequences of the Trump administration’s reckless and provocative offensive against Iran. They resent it because Washington’s scuttling of the nuclear deal has pulled the rug from European capital’s plans to capture a leading position in Iran’s domestic market and exploit Iranian offers of massive oil and natural gas concessions. They fear it, because the US confrontation with Iran threatens to ignite a war that would invariably set the entire Mideast ablaze, triggering a new refugee crisis, a massive spike in oil prices and, last but not least, a re-partition of the region when the European powers lack the military means to independently determine the outcome.
Keith Jones

The US is now an Oligarchy
Economic elites and organised business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. “When the preferences of economic elites are catered for, the preferences of the average American have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy. Though Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise, policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans. Therefore, America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”      Read more
Trump's $2.1 trillion deal with the devil has failed
Ominous signs are already evident in sectors most sensitive to higher borrowing costs. The Freddie Mac rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage has risen 100 basis points to 4.83% over the last year. Home sales have dropped by 21%. Average house prices have slipped 3.5%. This is remarkable given that the fiscal pedal is pushed to floor. The federal budget deficit is nearing 5% of GDP, at a time when full employment should restore balance.      Read details
Global warming is eroding the polar vortex that once insulated the frozen north.
The north pole gets no sunlight until March, but an influx of warm air has pushed temperatures in Siberia 35C above averages. Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018 - more than three times as in any previous year. “This is an anomaly among anomalies. It is far enough outside the historical range that suggests there are further surprises in store as we continue to poke the angry beast that is our climate,” said Michael Mann. “The Arctic has always been regarded as a bellwether because of the vicious circle that amplify human-caused warming in that particular region. And it is sending out a clear warning.” This is a displacement of what ought to be happening farther north. Some recent temperatures have been warmer than London and Zurich, which are thousands of miles to the south.      Read more
Summer weather is getting 'stuck' due to Arctic warming
Rising Arctic temperatures mean we face a future of ‘extreme extremes’ where sunny days become heatwaves and rain becomes floods, leading to “very extreme extremes”, which occur when abnormally high temperatures linger for an unusually prolonged period, turning sunny days into heat waves, tinder-dry conditions into wildfires, and rains into floods.      Read more
Comma tips.  See here

Efforts to Fight Climate Change Had a Tough Election Day
On Election Day, the House went to the Democrats, the Senate to the Republicans, and only two of seven climate-related measures on ballots across the country went in the planet’s favour. In Washington State, oil companies—led by BP America—spent more than thirty million dollars to defeat Initiative 1631, which would have established the country’s first-ever carbon fee. The proceeds that the state collected from its worst carbon polluters would have been put back into clean-energy infrastructure and other investments to adapt to the effects of climate change. Nevertheless the Democrats say “We will look to restore the environmental protections that have been gutted over the last two years.”      Read this
Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans
A virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, are leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them. “These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information, and yet, somehow, they have developed defences that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive. More worryingly, as facts have multiplied, their defences against those facts have only grown more powerful. Our research shows it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen.”      Humerous or true?
China’s 'extraordinary' ambitions: the futuristic city being built on reclaimed land
Colombo Port City is a project local politicians hope will spearhead the city’s bid to become a new Singapore-like economic hub in the Indian Ocean. China’s role in the project has also raised concerns in India, which is suspicious of Beijing’s intentions in the region. The project has strategic "implications, for by increasing Chinese leverage over Sri Lanka through debt-trap diplomacy, it promises to give China a strategic foothold in the Sri Lankan capital. Chinese projects can quickly acquire a strategic dimension.”      Read more
Europe and America clash over Washington’s economic war on Iran
Washington’s imposition of sweeping new sanctions on Iran—aimed at strangling its economy and precipitating “regime change” in Tehran—is roiling world politics. The US is embargoing all Iranian energy exports and freezing Iran out of the US-dominated world financial system to cripple the remainder of its trade and deny it access to machinery, spare parts and even basic foodstuffs and medicine. American imperialism is once again acting as a law unto itself. The sanctions are illegal under international law. It is tantamount to a declaration of war.    Read more

Putin to Trump: Thanks for Helping Make Russia Great Again!
I am writing to thank you, Donald the Great, for helping me make Russia great again. What you have done by unilaterally withdrawing from Iran nuclear deal and by re-imposing and adding more sanctions on Iran on November 5 was a blessing for us and I love it! And here is why. The resource-rich Iran still needs to feed and take care of its more than 80 million people. And I am there for them, right up the road on the Caspian Sea, that technically and for all practical purpose makes us neighbors. BTW & FYI, at my behest, we just signed a major agreement divvying it up with Iran and three other littoral states. Donald, I cannot thank you enough for pushing Iran deeper into my lap, which in the near future will become entirely a “client state” of Russia. Pretty soon I will be their largest supplier, trading partner, freight forwarder, middleman, salesman, banker, capital projects builder, and agent, all combined! But wait a minute: I have to be careful of your trade menace, the sneaky Xi Jinping who is my menace too! He undoubtedly will try to compete with me, as he dreams to corner Iran’s market by bartering for their discounted oil and selling them all sort of Chinese goods and services, as well as pushing for his new global initiative of building more “belts and roads”!      Read more
Ocean shock
Reuters reveals the climate crisis beneath the waves. Driven by warming waters, marine life is on the move — and life on land is forever changed. Fish and other sea life are fleeing for their lives, seeking the even temperatures they need to breed and thrive.      Read here
El Nino alert with 70pc chance of hot and dry conditions
The Met has just upped the chance of an El Nino this year, meaning there is now three times the normal risk of the climate being hotter and dryer this year. It had been a slow boil."This is absolutely not the outlook many people hoped to hear."      Read more
David Attenborough has betrayed the living world he loves
It is not proselytising or alarmist to tell us the raw truth about what is happening to the world, however much it might discomfit us. For many years, wildlife film-making has presented a pristine living world. It has created an impression of security and abundance, even in places afflicted by cascading ecological collapse. The cameras reassure us that there are vast tracts of wilderness in which wildlife continues to thrive. They cultivate complacency, not action. You cannot do such a thing passively. Wildlife film-makers I know tell me that the effort to portray what looks like an untouched ecosystem becomes harder every year. They have to choose their camera angles ever more carefully to exclude the evidence of destruction, travel further to find the Edens they depict. They know – and many feel deeply uncomfortable about it – that they are telling a false story, creating a fairytale world that persuades us all is well, in the midst of an existential crisis.      Read the whole argument
World Bank ends its support for coal worldwide
The World Bank has abandoned the last coal project on its books, with its president publicly dumping the Kosovo e Re plant on Wednesday. “We are required by our by-laws to go with the lowest cost option and renewables have now come below the cost of coal. So without question, we are not going to [support the plant].     Read more
Spain to close most coalmines in €250m transition deal
By the end of the year after government and unions struck a deal that will mean €250m will be invested in mining regions over the next decade. Unions hailed the mining deal – which covers Spain’s privately owned pits – as a model agreement. It mixes early retirement schemes for miners over 48, with environmental restoration work in pit communities and re-skilling schemes for cutting-edge green industries.      Read more
A Day in Pompeii - Full-length animation
Fascinating.          Watch this

The psychosocial dimension of power: An emotional analysis of the Davos elite’s discourse on globalization
The central feature of the Davos elite culture of globalisation that emerged from this analysis is the lack of democracy in the decision-making processes, both at relational and organisational level. To change this entails recovering the sense of public good, conceived as pertaining to the collectivity, in contrast to the private good, referring to an exclusive possession, that deprives someone of something.      Read more
Arctic Methane Catastrophe
55 million years ago it took less than 200 years for global temperature to rise about 10C. There was a critical level of C02, beyond which rapid and unstoppable temperature rise occurred.    Video worth warching

China’s 'extraordinary' ambitions: the futuristic city being built on reclaimed land
olombo Port City, a project local politicians hope will spearhead the city’s bid to become a new Singapore-like economic hub in the Indian Ocean. China’s role in the project has also raised concerns in India, which is suspicious of Beijing’s intentions in the region. The project has strategic "implications, for by increasing Chinese leverage over Sri Lanka through debt-trap diplomacy, it promises to give China a strategic foothold in the Sri Lankan capital. Chinese projects can quickly acquire a strategic dimension.”     Read more
$2.7 billion deal opening Madagascar to Chinese fishing
Life on the coast of Madagascar is increasingly precarious. In recent decades, the overexploitation of marine life has made it difficult for hundreds of thousands of small-scale fishers to make a living. Two months ago, a little-known private Malagasy association signed a 10-year, $2.7 billion fishing deal — the largest in the country’s history — with a group of Chinese companies that plans to send 330 fishing vessels to Madagascar. The country’s fisheries minister said he learned about it in the newspaper. Local fishers are already struggling with foreign competition for Madagascar’s dwindling marine stocks. No draft of the deal has been made public and the association that signed it did not conduct an environmental impact assessment or any public consultation.      Not pleasant reading
A Theory of Human Thinking
"By connecting all these previous discoveries, we came to the assumption that the brain stores a mental map, regardless of whether we are thinking about a real space or the space between dimensions of our thoughts. Our train of thought can be considered a path though the spaces of our thoughts, along different mental dimensions. These processes are especially useful for making inferences about new objects or situations, even if we have never experienced them," the neuroscientist continues. Using existing maps of cognitive spaces humans can anticipate how similar something new is to something they already know by putting it in relation to existing dimensions. If they've already experienced tigers, lions, or panthers, but have never seen a leopard, we would place the leopard in a similar position as the other big cats in our cognitive space. Based on our knowledge about the concept 'big cat', already stored in a mental map, we can adequately react to the encounter with the leopard. We can generalise to novel situations, which we constantly face, and infer how we should behave."    This is my experience, too
"The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread to the law courts. And then to the army, and finally the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors"      

The past two years Trump has abandoned or threatened the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris Climate Accord, the JCPOA with Iran, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the International Criminal Court, the Postal Union Treaty, and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The liberal world order is under threat from its principal architect, the UDS.
      Matthew Shannon

The cut in corporate tax rates from 35% to 21% has fed stock buybacks by US companies. Why would they invest into an ageing boom, in the midst of a global trade war? The mechanical consequence of a US consumption boom and a soaring dollar is to suck in imports, painting the current account deficit in Gothic colours.
      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Climate change is impacting the Caribbean, with millions facing increasing food insecurity and decreasing freshwater availability as droughts become more likely across the region
       Blaine Friedlander
Russia & China Invest in Infrastructure; US Spends on Military
China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” is famous as an extension of their domestic infrastructure investments, but Russia is also investing heavily in infrastructure. Both countries need to do it in order to improve the future for their respective populations, and both Governments have avoided the Western development model of going heavily into debt in order to pay for creating and maintaining infrastructure. Both are, in fact, exceptionally low-debt Governments. China has a public debt/GDP of 17.7%, and Russia’s is 8.0%. For comparison, America’s is 93.6%. (Others are: Germany 85.8%, Spain 91.2%, Italy 122.6%, Greece 147.1%, India 54.2%, Pakistan 47.0%, and Brazil 55.0%.) The US isn’t going into public debt in order to finance building or maintenance of infrastructure, but instead to finance expansions of its military, which is already (and by far) the world’s largest (in terms of its costs, but not of its numbers of troops). A nation that spends over a trillion dollars a year on ‘national defence’ can’t have much left over to spend on things that ‘can wait’ — such as repairing its bridges, roads, etc. — and so those repairs do wait, while even more money, than before, becomes devoted to purchases of new weaponry.   Read more
Russia, India & Iran want to create alternative trade route to Suez Canal
The new shipment passage, North-South Transport Corridor, to connect the Indian Ocean with the Persian Gulf through Iran to Russia and Europe. The 7,200-kilometers long corridor will combine sea and rail routes.Currently, Indian logistics companies have to route shipments through China, Europe or Iran to get an access to Central Asian markets - long, time-consuming and inevitably expensive: with the Iranian route seen as the most viable.     Read the details
Apocalyptic Climate Reporting Completely Misses the Point
Reporting on the IPCC, and climate change more broadly, is unbalanced. It’s fixated on the predictions of climate science and the opinions of climate scientists, with cursory gestures to the social, economic, and political causes of the problem. Yet analysis of these causes is as important to climate scholarship as modelling ice-sheet dynamics and sea-level rise. Reductionist climate reporting misses this. Many references to policy are framed in terms of carbon pricing. This endorses the prevailing contempt in establishment circles for people’s capacity to govern themselves beyond the restrictions of market rule. Meanwhile, the IPCC report is overflowing with analyses showing that we can avoid runaway climate change, improve most people’s lives, and prioritise equality through a broad set of interventions.      Read more
Population: The Multiplier of Everything Else
Conservative demographic projections show the world’s population growing by 2.5 billion people over the next four decades - a 40% increase. Many people are simply not aware of the scale and speed at which world population is expected to continue growing - by about 80 million annually. This is like adding a new Egypt every year. The total population is approaching 7 billion, seven times what it was in 1800. The cost in human suffering from unplanned and excessive childbearing is staggering: 500,000 women and girls die worldwide every year from pregnancy and childbirth. Most of the women who die are in their teens and early twenties, forced by their societies into bearing children too young and far too frequently. The lives of billions are being rendered increasingly desperate by being denied access to family-planning. The surge is not the result of rising birth rates, which have dropped since 1970, but primarily from declining death rates —the result of widespread vaccination, etc.      Read more
Black-starting the grid after a power outage
Large blackouts can be quite devastating and it isn’t easy to restart the electric grid again. This is typically done by designated black start units of natural gas, coal, hydro, or nuclear power plants that can restart themselves using their own power with no help from the rest of the electrical grid.         Read more
"It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism."         Blog source


The John James Newsletter 257

posted Nov 10, 2018, 9:12 PM by Clement Clarke

The John James Newsletter  257

3 November 2018

You want sanity, democracy, community, an intact Earth? We can't get there obeying Constitutional theory and law crafted by slave masters, imperialists, corporate controllers, and Nature destroyers. We can't get there kneeling before robed lawyers stockpiling class plunder precedent up their venerable sleeves. So isn't disobedience the challenge of our age? Principled, inventive, escalating disobedience to liberate our souls, to transfigure our work as humans on this Earth
Richard Grossman

Having said sorry we still refuse to say thanks
      Bruce Pascoe

Outbreaks don't end well
Charles Mann

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends
        Martin Luther King Jr.

Frankly I am deeply torn. ...20 million at risk for starvation according to UN. Thousands if not millions trying to escape dire circumstances in regions of Africa, parts of the Middle East, areas of South America and certain countries of Central America.  Who is to pay for schools for their children, medical care, food, shelter and so on? ... Should the poor pay when the poor here already can barely tend themselves? ... I see a dichotomy and it it is not a pretty one. Serve all the people who want to come or salvage for the future?... The uneducated often hate the immigrants since they take away low paying jobs from the unskilled already here. ... Tensions are on the rise and, of course, Trump is not helpful. ... Who should take the millions into their countries year after year as human numbers keep growing year after year.? ...
      Sally D

Pigheadedness is to be our demise. We have to totally transform our most cherished institutions, yet institutions are designed not to change. They have constitutions, created after much effort, even conflict, to define governments, charities, companies, the UN. Everything we do is encompassed by entities with constitutions that are not meant to change, or only slowly. Therefore, how can we expect to transform the untransformable without revolution – like the bloody and violent upheavals in the past? If that is the only way, why isn't it happening?
      John James

Energy policy in Australia is a major failure. The electricity sector, which is responsible for 34% of our emissions, has no credible reduction policy. We need state-based legislation, independent of the federal government.
Tony Wood

We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last that can do anything about it.
      Tanya Steele

Ecocide Is On The Horizon - extinction would then be automatic
The greenhouse gases around the planet trap heat radiation. The oceans, which cover about 75% of the planet, have enormous heat capacity and can soak up a lot of energy. Being very deep, they take a long time to heat up. As the oceans absorb the heat, it takes decades for the atmosphere to heat up. This “climate lag” delays the full impact of global warming. As temperatures rise, the feedback mechanisms come into play and the planet arrives at tipping points at which things spin out of control. Once that happens, it is too late to control carbon emissions. The release of methane and nitrous oxide, the acidification of the oceans, the destruction of rain forests—which turns them from their service as carbon sinks into net carbon sources—work together to destroy the oceans and as a source of food, to deplete water resources, and to raise temperatures beyond those at which life can exist.     Read more
UN Says Climate Genocide Is Coming. It’s Actually Worse Than That.
Avoiding that scale of suffering requires such a thorough transformation of the world’s economy, agriculture, and culture that “there is no documented historical precedent.” The  report showed a “strong risk” of climate crisis in the coming decades: civilisation is at stake. If you are alarmed by those sentences, you should be — they are horrifying. But it is, actually, worse than that — considerably worse. That is because the new report’s worst-case scenario is, actually, a best case. In fact, it is a beyond-best-case scenario. What has been called a genocidal level of warming is already our inevitable future. The question is how much worse than that it will get. Barring the arrival of dramatic new carbon-sucking technologies, which are so far from scalability at present that they are best described as fantasies of industrial absolution, it will not be possible to keep warming below two degrees Celsius — the level the UN report describes as a climate catastrophe.     Read this
2069380.jpgAn indigenous Ch’orti’ Maya, Canan abandoned his lands this year after repeated crop failures – which he attributed to drought and changing weather patterns. “It didn’t rain this year. Last year it didn’t rain,” he said softly. “My maize field didn’t produce a thing. With my expenses, we didn’t have any earnings. There was no harvest.”
Desperate, and dreaming of the United States, Canan hit the road in early October and joined the migrant caravan. He left behind a wife and three children – ages 16, 14 and 11 – who were forced to abandon school because Canan couldn’t afford to pay for supplies.
“It wasn’t the same before. This is forcing us to emigrate. In past years, it rained on time. My plants produced, but there’s no longer any pattern to the weather.”

This story of climate change
Within two years will China control the major part of Israel’s agro-food industry, its high technology and its international exchanges?
With these agreements the geopolitics of the whole region will be turned upside down. By massively exporting its production, China will take over the commercial place that the UK, and later with the US, has occupied since the industrial revolution. It was to maintain this supremacy that Churchill and Roosevelt signed the Atlantic Charter and the US engaged in the Second World War. It is therefore probable that they will not hesitate to employ military force to hinder the Chinese project, just as they did in 1941 when faced with the German and Japanese projects. In 2013, the Pentagon published the Wright plan, which programmed the creation of a new state straddling Iraq and Syria in order to cut the Silk Road between Baghdad and Damascus. This mission was carried out by Daesh - China therefore modified the layout of its route and finally decided to build the route through Egypt, and invested in the doubling of the Suez Canal and the creation of a vast industrial zone 120 kilometres from Cairo. Simultaneously the Pentagon organised a "colour revolution" in Ukraine to cut the European route, and stirred up trouble in Nicaragua to prevent a new canal linking the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.     Read this analysis
China’s Xi tells military to prepare for war as US Navy warns of high seas encounters
Xi made the blunt remarks last week as he was meeting the Southern Theatre Command, the military officials responsible for one of China’s five strategic war zones. “It’s necessary to strengthen the mission… and concentrate preparations for fighting a war. We need to take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly."     On the warpath
A brief video about the China-led Belt & Road Initiative
By far the biggest driver of environmental and societal change we are facing this century.
     Please take a minute to watch this
China's trillion dollar plan to dominate global trade
NASA Has Discovered Arctic Lakes Bubbling With Methane
A little known phenomenon called “abrupt thawing” occurs when the permafrost thaws faster than expected. Scientists have long known that the thawing permafrost has the potential to release large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. As the organic matter that has been locked up in the ground defrosts it decomposes, releasing carbon and methane (a hydrocarbon) in the process. If all this was released into the atmosphere, the impact on climate change would be huge. There is about 1,500 billion tons of carbon locked up in the permafrost—almost double the amount of carbon in the atmosphere right now.      Read more
Startling new research finds large buildup of heat in the oceans
This tells us we face a faster rate of global warming. “We thought that we got away with less warming in both the ocean and the atmosphere for the amount of CO2 that we emitted. But we were wrong. The planet warmed more than we thought. It was hidden from us just because we didn’t sample it right. But it was there. It was in the ocean already. Over the past quarter-century, Earth’s oceans have retained 60 percent more heat each year than scientists previously had thought.”     Read more
The bone hunters
What archaeologists find in a cave deep in the heart of Borneo’s rainforest could shed light on one of the biggest mysteries in human history: that modern humans first arrived in South-East Asia between about 60,000 and 70,000 years ago. Seems almost contemporary with the first arrival of Aboriginal people in Australia.That would place modern humans in the region soon after one of the most catastrophic events in Earth’s history. “Just before the time that modern humans get into South-East Asia, we have the largest volcanic eruption that’s happened on the planet in the last two million years.” A massive crater lake on the Indonesian island of Sumatra — around 1,700 kilometres west of Trader’s Cave — marks what is left of the Mt Toba super-volcano. Around 74,000 years ago, the cataclysmic explosion showered the region in ash and plunged the planet into a volcanic winter, which some scientists believe wiped out most humans on Earth.     Read more
India is choking.
It’s pollution season in India, when the air can become so toxic that experts say it could lead to permanent brain damage in children. And data show that air pollution continues to rise in major cities, many of which are among the world’s most polluted, according to recent rankings. Some progress is being made: The government, for the first time, is spending more than $150 million to dissuade farmers from burning their fields — a major polluter. But the country is still struggling to balance economic growth against environmental damage.      Read this
The world’s 10 most polluted cities – 9 are in India
Whittled down from the WHO's study of over 4,000 cities in 100 countries, CNBC takes a look at the 10 most polluted cities in the world based on a comparison of the amount of PM2.5 — a particle considered so small that it can enter the lungs and cause serious health problems.      Read more
Threats to soil biodiversity across the globe
Eight potential stressors to soil organisms: loss of above-ground diversity, pollution and nutrient overloading, overgrazing, intensive agriculture, fire, soil erosion, desertification and climate change. The figure shows the distribution of scores to assess the distribution of threats to soil organisms at global scale. The areas with the lowest level of risk are mainly concentrated in the northern part of the northern hemisphere. These regions are generally less subjected to direct anthropogenic effects of agriculture although indirect effects such as climate change may become more significant in the future. Not surprisingly, the areas with highest risk are those that reflect the greatest exposure to human activities, such as intensive agriculture, increased urbanisation and pollution.     Read more

Australia's east coast named as 'deforestation front'
Australia’s east coast has been compared to the Amazon as a “deforestation front” in a new global report by the World Wide Fund for Nature. The Living Planet report says clearing for livestock is the primary cause of deforestation on the east coast, also unsustainable logging. “It is time we realised that a healthy, sustainable future for all is only possible on a planet where nature thrives and forests, oceans and rivers are teeming with biodiversity and life,”      Read more
Queensland passes land-clearing laws after gruelling three-day debate
The state parliament has passed a new land-clearing laws, a move welcomed by environmental groups as a step towards curbing the state’s soaring deforestation rates. The laws were passed late on Thursday night after an exhausting three-day debate and fierce protests outside parliament from farmers who say the new restrictions will harm Queensland’s agricultural industry.     Read more
American Muslim groups express solidarity with the Jewish community
American Muslim civil advocacy groups have strongly denounced the killing of worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. In solidarity with the Jewish community two Muslim organisations have raised around $200,000 to help victims and their families of the synagogue shooting.     Read more
A sustainable global population - and why we cannot achieve it
During last 45 years world population increased by 30%. The global average daily food supply per person has risen only 20%. Consequently, over 800 million people are undernourished.     Read more
Our ecological footprint
Notice that in spite of the growing population, the impact from food production and forest products have not increased to the same proportion as carbon emissions. This has increased four-fold since 1960 whereas population has increased just 55%. Roughly, for every 1% increase in our numbers there has been a 2% increase in carbon cost. In the last 50 years  economic development has driven a phenomenal increase in the demand for energy that is fundamentally changing Earth’s operating system. In other words, our woes come mainly from fossil fuels to create that energy, itself driven by the profits stolen from the commons.     WWF Living Planet Report 2018


The John James Newsletter 256

posted Nov 10, 2018, 9:10 PM by Clement Clarke

The John James Newsletter  256

27 October 2018

Men with black hearts and clean fingernails
George Monbiot

How CAN anyone imagine that there can be jobs for all when the population keeps wildly rising AND the share of the resource base, including water and food provisions, keeps shrinking?
      Emily Spence

The radical reorganisation of global capitalism from sanctions may not appeal to multi-nationals because they would lose all the cost-benefit advantages that seduced them to delocalise to China in the first place - and the lost advantages won’t be offset by more tax cuts at home
      Pepe Escobar

It would take the average Ethiopian 240 years to register the same carbon footprint as the average American
     Amadou Sy

“We’re a sovereign nation,” bleated Scott Morrison. And then proceeded to act as if Australia was not merely an American vassal, but a Donald Trump toy
Michael Pascoe

Despite population growth, the global daily food supply per person rose 20 percent in 40 years - AND over 800 million people are undernourished and 300 million adults are obese
      Bernard Gillan

The trouble is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt
      Bertrand Russell

The rule of the uber-rich is terrifying. They know no limits. They have never abided by the norms of society and never will. We pay taxes—they don’t. We work hard to get into an elite university or get a job—they don’t. We have to pay for our failures—they don’t. We are prosecuted for our crimes—they are not.
Chris Hedges

The Rule of the Uber-Rich Means Either Tyranny or Revolution
Political theorists, from Aristotle and Karl Marx to Sheldon Wolin, have warned against the rule of the uber-rich. Once the uber-rich take over, Aristotle writes, the only options are tyranny and revolution. They do not know how to nurture or build. They know only how to feed their bottomless greed. No matter how many billions they possess, they never have enough. They are the Hungry Ghosts of Buddhism. They seek, through the accumulation of power, money and objects, an unachievable happiness. The state apparatus the uber-rich controls now exclusively serves their interests. They are deaf to the cries of the dispossessed. They empower those institutions that keep us oppressed—the security and surveillance systems of domestic control, militarised police, Homeland Security and the military—and gut or degrade those institutions or programs that blunt social, economic and political inequality, among them public education, health care, welfare, Social Security, an equitable tax system, food stamps, public transportation and infrastructure, and the courts. The uber-rich extract greater and greater sums of money from those they steadily impoverish. And when citizens object or resist, they crush or kill them.      Read more

The Rule of the Uber-Rich Means Either Tyranny or Revolution
Political theorists have warned against the rule of the uber-rich. Once the uber-rich take over, the only options are tyranny and revolution. They do not know how to nurture or build. They know only how to feed their bottomless greed. No matter how many billions they possess, they never have enough. They are the Hungry Ghosts of Buddhism. They seek, through the accumulation of power, money and objects, an unachievable happiness. The state apparatus the uber-rich controls now exclusively serves their interests. They are deaf to the cries of the dispossessed. They empower those institutions that keep us oppressed—the security and surveillance systems of domestic control, militarised police, Homeland Security and the military—and gut or degrade those institutions or programs that blunt social, economic and political inequality, among them public education, health care, welfare, Social Security, an equitable tax system, food stamps, public transportation and infrastructure, and the courts. The uber-rich extract greater and greater sums of money from those they steadily impoverish. And when citizens object or resist, they crush or kill them.      Read more

The Extinction Rebellion
Children alive today will face unimaginable horrors as a result of floods, wildfires, extreme weather, crop failures and the inevitable breakdown of society when the pressures are so great. We are unprepared for the danger our future holds. Climate change = mass murder.
"From the 31 October citizens of the UK will commit repeated acts of disruptive, non-violent civil disobedience. We demand the UK declares a state of emergency, takes action to create a zero carbon economy by 2025, and creates a national assembly of ordinary people to decide what our zero carbon future will look like. There will be mass arrests. We are willing to make personal sacrifices. We are prepared to be arrested and to go to prison. We will lead by example, to inspire similar actions around the world. This requires a global effort but we believe it must begin in the UK, today, where the industrial revolution began. We will not be led quietly to annihilation by the elites and politicians. We will fight their genocidal behaviour with honour, resilience, and peace, in the spirit of all those who fought for our freedoms before us. We call on everyone, regardless of your political beliefs to join us in fighting for life on earth. "    Read the challenge
How organic agriculture in Cuba saved its population from hunger
The fall of the Soviet Union left Cuba in a dire economic situation. Citizens started to grow crops on their balconies whilst farmers, left with no petrol or pesticides, were forced to resort to traditional methods. This started a true revolution: that of organic agriculture. They returned to ploughing fields with oxen, got closer to their customers through direct sales and used natural alternatives to pesticides. Cuba's example shows that sustainable development isn't only possible, it's necessary. This country was forced to abandon its sugar monoculture and has survived thanks to organic agriculture.    Read more

Ban entire pesticide class to protect children's health
Evidence is ‘compelling’ that organophosphates increase risk of reduced IQs, memory and attention deficits, and autism for prenatal children. “We found no evidence of a safe level of organophosphate pesticide exposure for children. Well before birth, pesticides are disrupting the brain in its earliest stages, putting them on track for difficulties in learning, memory and attention, effects which may not appear until they reach school-age. Government officials around the world need to listen to science, not chemical lobbyists.”    Read more
Global legal actions on climate change
Our Children's Trust is working to support youth and attorneys around the world who are developing and advancing legal actions to compel science-based government action on climate change in their own countries, which will protect present and future generations. The success of our partners include Norway's successful adoption of a public trust-based constitutional climate amendment; Urgenda’s big court win in the Netherlands mandating specific national emission reductions; and the Supreme Court of Pakistan allowing young Rabab Ali’s constitutional climate case to proceed on behalf of the public and future generations. Consideration underway for actions in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, France, India, Holland, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Uganda, Ukraine and UK.      Read more
New York Sues Exxon Mobil, Saying It Deceived Shareholders on Climate Change
The litigation, which follows more than three years of investigation, represents the most significant legal effort yet to establish that a fossil fuel company misled the public on climate change and to hold it responsible. Not only does it pose a financial threat to Exxon that could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars or more, but it could also strike a blow to the reputation of a company that has worked to rehabilitate its image, framing itself as a leader on global warming. Exxon kept two sets of books when accounting for the effects of climate change. The company told the world that it was prepared for the more stringent regulations that would inevitably be required to combat global warming, but in reality Exxon’s internal estimates discounted the potential future costs of climate policies, even though government action “exposed the company to greater risk from climate change regulation than investors were led to believe.”     Read more
Plastic Can Take 500 Years To Bio-Degrade In The Ocean
Estimated number of years to bio-degrade in a marine environment.     Read more
As the US and China fight a trade war, the whole world could lose from climate change
A cold war could devastate the world’s technological landscape. Restrictions on technology transfers and linkages will give rise to competing and incompatible standards. The internet would splinter into competing domains. Innovation would suffer, resulting in higher costs, slower adoption and inferior products. If the US and China actually decide to engage in a prolonged cold war, the economic consequences – however dire – would be dwarfed by the lack of action to combat climate change. As it stands, China produces over 9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, making it the world’s largest emitter. The US comes in second, emitting about 5 billion tonnes annually. If these two countries, which together are responsible for 38% of annual global carbon dioxide emissions, are unable to find common ground on climate action, it is all but guaranteed that humanity will miss its last chance.     Read more
Wales Pledges to Leave Its Remaining Coal in the Ground
Wales' proposed plan to reject all future coal mining applications is set to be finalised by the end of the year as part of the country's new energy strategy which will aim to ensure that 70% of energy is derived from renewable sources by 2030. "We applaud the Welsh government in taking these vital steps for a climate safe future. Their actions are in direct contrast to its English neighbour who this week has given the green light to start fracking and created an unfavourable environment for renewable energy,"    Read more
Plundering the planet: a report to the Club of Rome
Our overshoot of the earth's carrying capacity and the depletion rates of resources are for too high for an ordered reduction. All people in power are still pushing for more growth. Population overeach is still a taboo. Recently, "Green Growth" and "Green Development" have become fashion. But their promotors fail to correctly define "green", "growth" and "development". Green must be defined as capable to be maintained for a very long time. Growth and development are always material and therefore increase the depletion rates.      Read more
Survival of the Richest
The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers – if that technology could be developed in time to insulate themselves from the very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.     Read more
Five Pacific islands lost to rising seas as climate change hits
The submerged islands were part of the Solomon Islands, an archipelago that over the last two decades has seen annual sea levels rise. But six other islands had large swaths of land washed into the sea and on two of those, entire villages were destroyed and people forced to relocate, the researchers found. One was Nuatambu island, home to 25 families, which has lost 11 houses and half its inhabitable area since 2011.     Read more
Most atolls will be uninhabitable because sea-level rise will exacerbate wave-driven flooding
Read the report
How urban infrastructure falls apart: a medieval cautionary climate tale
The downfall Angkor contains lessons about the vulnerability of modern cities to extreme weather events – the kind that are likely to increase in frequency and intensity with climate change. Angkor, in present-day Cambodia, was the largest city in the pre-industrial world, covering more than 1,000 square kilometres. Flood damage to the city’s complex water distribution system touched off a cascading series of failures that lead to near-abandonment. In the late 14th century, the climate of Southeast Asia abruptly became wetter. This is the first study to show specifically how urban infrastructure was involved in such a collapse. “The basic pathology of Angkor’s collapse is analogous to the challenges faced by networked urban infrastructures in the modern world. This was not an exotic catastrophe with no modern analog.”     Read more
As Michael wrote "The future is arriving"
Frightening category 5+ Typhoon Yutu ravaging Northern Mariana Islands

Yutu is the worst-case scenario, the kind of storm future storms will be compared to. While the western Pacific is where the world's most powerful tropical cyclones tend to form, Yutu's strength is likely to be unprecedented in modern history. Gusts could top 320km/h, producing devastating damage from the collapse of residential structures, partial or total destruction of industrial and apartment buildings, and loss of water and electricity for days to weeks.     Read more
The US, the Biggest Carbon Polluter in History, has just Walked Away From the Paris Climate Deal.
With its love of big cars, big houses and blasting air-conditioners, the US has contributed more than any other country to the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is scorching the planet. But over the past 20 years China has massively surpassed the US and the EU combined. Russia is a very small player, in comparison.      Read more
Around Australia Electric Highway - now complete!
Occasionally, you still hear people remark that electric vehicles are city-bound.  Well thanks to the efforts of the AEVA and the Tesla Owners Club, naysayers now have one less argument.     Read more
California’s Underwater Forests Are Being Decimated by the ‘Cockroaches of the Ocean’
The underwater kelp forests are just as important to the oceans as trees are to the land. Like trees, they absorb carbon emissions and they provide critical habitat and food for a wide range of species. But when climate change helped trigger a 60-fold explosion of purple urchins off Northern California’s coast, the urchins went on a feeding frenzy and 93% of the kelp was devoured. And in Tasmania, kelp forests have succumbed to a purple urchin outbreak.    Read more
A voyage to Antarctica - a pictorial journey
Parts of the continent are warming faster than anywhere else on the planet. Scientists want to know how this will affect the region, its abundant wildlife and the rest of the world. Antarctica contains 90% of all ice and 70% of fresh water on the planet. The ice sheet is more than 4,000 metres thick and if it were to melt, the worlds oceans would rise by nearly 60 metres.       Read more

The John James Newsletter 255

posted Nov 10, 2018, 9:08 PM by Clement Clarke

The John James Newsletter  255

23 October 2018

This isn’t about the future, it’s about right now. What is the matter with these people? Either they really don’t know, or they are so corrupt that they pretend they don’t know. That’s the real story. Because the planet is facing profound dangers and we’re all at risk, our governments need to act. And they promised they would, but right now they’re not.
Jeffrey Sachs

World acknowledges unprecedented climate challenge, so what should a Labor federal government do?
Code Red

Quite suddenly, in the wake of the recent IPCC report, it's become commonplace to talk about a global climate emergency. Al Gore told PBS on 12 October: “We have a global emergency. You use a phrase like that and some people immediately say, ‘okay calm down, it can’t be that bad.’ But it it is."

On 9 October, a stunning editorial was published in the UK. “The Guardian view on climate change: a global emergency” opened with the sentence: “Climate change is an existential threat to the human race.” A year ago, that would have been extraordinary, but no longer. (An existential risk is one that poses permanent adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or curtail its potential.)

In many ways, the recent IPCC report on 1.5°C was too conservative, overestimating the time till we hit 1.5°C, and failing to account for crucial feedbacks in the climate system. Yet the report's evidence was that 2°C of warming would be catastrophic. The current Paris commitments are a path to 3.4°C of warming, and closer to 5°C when the full range of feedbacks are included.

But even an understatement of the evidence leads to radical conclusions. In response to the report's release, there was a certain shock and awe, for example by Jeff Goodell in Rolling Stone ("What’s Another Way to Say ‘We’re F-cked’?") and David Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine ("UN Says Climate Genocide Is Coming. It’s Actually Worse Than That").    

“We face a direct existential threat” on climate for “the emergency we face”,  UN Secretary General António Guterres had told a New York audience on 10 September 2018, a month before the report was published.

Some Australian politicians have endorsed a climate emergency statement, and an Australian Senate report released in May this year recognised that: “(climate change is) a current and existential national security risk”. “It has never been clearer that we have a climate emergency on our hands,” Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham wrote recently. “This is a climate emergency,” said Karin Nansen, chair of Friends of the Earth International.

None of this is new. Back in 2007, then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said of Antarctica and climate warming: “This is an emergency and for emergency situations we need emergency action.” “We respond well to an emergency, but global warming is an emergency too,” The Age in January 2011.

“We are now at a tipping point that threatens to flip the world into a full blown climate emergency,” wrote Tony de Brum, Marshall Islands political leader, Kelly Rigg and Mary Robinson, former President Republic of Ireland, in The Guardian in November 2013.

In July 2016,  President ACF Geoff Cousins, CEO Greenpeace Australia David Ritter, GetUp National Director Paul Oosting and 20 others endorsed a statement in The Age which started: “The Earth is already too hot. It’s time to declare a climate emergency.”  Last year, Naomi Klein declared: “We are living in a climate emergency of shocking proportions we never expected so soon.”

We have reached crunch time. “There is no documented historical precedent” for the speed and scale of transformative action needed to keep warming to 1.5°C, said the new IPCC report.  “Climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences,” wrote Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuberr, in a foreword to the recent report What Lies Beneath.

Climate Councillor and lead author of the recent “hothouse Earth” paper, Prof. Will Steffen, said in August that getting greenhouse gas emissions down fast has to be the primary target of policy  and economics, with something “like wartime footing”.  An emergency response, akin to a wartime footing in terms of the size and scale of the response, is now absolutely necessary. And the reason is simple, as Prof. Steffen explained recently:
I think the dominant linear, deterministic framework for assessing climate change is flawed, especially at higher levels of temperature rise …model projections using models that don’t include these [feedback] processes become less useful at higher temperature levels. Or, as my co-author John Schellnhuber says, we are making a big mistake when we think we can “park” the Earth System at any given temperature rise – say 2C – and expect it to stay there… Even at the current level of warming of about 1C above pre-industrial, we may have already crossed a tipping point for one of the feedback processes (Arctic summer sea ice), and we see instabilities in others – permafrost melting, Amazon forest dieback, boreal forest dieback and weakening of land and ocean physiological carbon sinks. And we emphasise that these processes are not linear and often have built-in feedback processes that generate tipping point behaviour. For example, for melting permafrost, the chemical process that decomposes the peat generates heat itself, which leads to further melting and so on.
The characteristics of an emergency response were described in a recent Breakthrough guide, How to explain emergency mode climate action.In particular, the guide emphasises two essential starting points: 
  • Risk assessment: An emergency response starts by fully assessing all the risks and potential damage, especially the “high-end” and existential risks which would be devastating for human societies. Special precautions that go well beyond conventional risk management practice are required if the increased likelihood of very large climate impacts are to be adequately dealt with.
  •  Frank conversationEmergency mode is a whole-of-society effort which requires an aware and motivated population. In most cases it also requires political bipartisanship. A full and frank discussion of the threat, the response and what that means for the society is critical is building and maintaining active commitment across the community.

So what should an incoming federal Labor government do? Here are six steps that could be taken straight away, without legislation.
  1. Commission an inter-agency national climate risk assessment, in the manner of the National Climate Assessment in the United States, to report within six months.  A full climate assessment for Australia which incorporates the high-end risks has never been done. It's almost a decade since the Rudd government initiated an assessment of sea-level rise impacts, for example, and that is now way out of date and understates the likely impacts, leaving communities in the dark and infrastructure vulnerable.

  2. Start an honest conversation with Australians about the risks and opportunities and what really needs to be done. People are hanging out for some honest climate leadership, across the country. Exit polling for the Wentworth by-election identified an unrequited desire for climate change action.

  3. Enhance the government’s capacity to protect the Australian people by properly managing climate risks. The extreme risks to humanity from climate system change justify strong precautionary management. A reframing of scientific research within an existential risk-management framework is now urgently required, especially for a national climate risk assessment, and then in policymaking.

  4. Hit the start button for the White Paper on climate change and human and national security, as recommended by the Labor-chaired Senate inquiry on this issue which reported in mid-2018. Australia’s near region is “Disaster alley” for climate change which, at its most fundamental level, means more extreme and unliveable climate conditions, threats to the water and food security of billions of people, and growing human insecurity.
  5. Acknowledge that Australia must "choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences" (Schellnhuber) and commit to unprecedented action. Whilst acknowledging that “there is no documented historical precedent” (IPCC) for what needs to be done in terms of scale, the government can state clearly that getting greenhouse  gas emissions down fast has to be the primary target of policy and economics, with something “like wartime footing" (Steffen).

  6. Announce an immediate moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects. Allowing new fossil fuel infrastructure which locks in two-to-four decades of additional emissions is completely contrary to deciding to take unprecedented action.  It's one or the other. Allowing Adani to proceed would be a clearcut statement by the Shorten government that it doesn't get the "unprecedented" challenge, but rather is part of the problem.  ClimateCodeRed?i=3Cmtt1AyHjE:CZcLDfOhIsU

The John James Newsletter 254

posted Nov 10, 2018, 9:05 PM by Clement Clarke

The John James Newsletter  254

20 October 2018

Bumbling to meltdown
Aggie Marsham

History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other options
      Abba Eban
There is no documented historical precedent for the changes needed to prevent 2C 

Average global temperatures have risen 1C in 200 years. At the current pace we now expect to one fifth of that each decade - triple the rate prior to  2012
IPCC report

Trump has launched a series of trade wars that will damage the global economy in 2019 as the tax cuts (sold as growth-inspiring) will so dramatically increase the deficit that US economy will  slow
IMF Economic outlook

This is one of the most disturbing articles I have ever read. 
Hyperalarming’ study shows massive insect loss
In 2014, an international team of biologists estimated that, in the past 35 years, the abundance of invertebrates such as beetles and bees had decreased by 45%. In places where long-term insect data are available, mainly in Europe, insect numbers are plummeting. A study last year showed a 76% decrease in flying insects in the past few decades in German nature preserves. Between 1977 and 2013, the catch rate in the sticky ground traps fell 60-fold.Not 60%, but 60 times. Everything is dropping. The most common invertebrates — the moths, the butterflies, the grasshoppers, the spiders and others — are all far less abundant. Insect-eating frogs and birds plummeted, too. The food web appears to have been obliterated from the bottom.     Read here  and  here 
I strongly advise you to read this analysis that criticises the more "comfortable" conclusions in the report. We have already questioned the accuracy of its forecasts. This sets out why, and that the situation is more dangerous than is admitted. This is our future, and it deserves a little attention so we can see whats in store over the next few years.
IPCC keeps feeding the addiction
The IPCC bends over backward to make it look as if temperatures were lower than they really are, in an effort to make it look as if there were carbon budgets to be divided, and polluters should be allowed to keep polluting until those budgets had run out. This is like saying that drug junkies who cause damage and are deeply in debt, should be handed over more money. In reality, there is no carbon budget to be divided, there is just a huge carbon debt to be repaid.     Read more
New IPCC climate report actually understates threat
A number of scientists contend that the report wasn't strong enough and that it downplayed the full extent of the real threat. They say it doesn't account for all of the warming that has already occurred and that it downplays the economic costs of severe storms and displacement of people through drought and deadly heat waves. The danger of omitting the big risks is that policymakers underestimate the scale and urgency of the situation. Policymakers may misinterpret their omission as a sign that the authors examined the risks and decided either that the impacts would be unimportant or that the probabilities are zero. It is the difference between an academic literature review and a professional risk assessment.     Read here
Australia heading for a 'battle royal' on solar power
Australia has been installing around 100 megawatts of new solar power every month in 2018 and there are predictions that the country could become the first country in the world where the grid cannot handle the excess electricity generated.  Power generated would be wasted as it could not be transported to where it could be used. “We’ll be one of the first countries in the world to hit that solar peak. We’re going to see it way before anyone else does. We’ll hit a point where there is no point in putting any more solar power into the system without something changing. For somewhere like South Australia, I don’t think that it's far away when they won’t be able to add any more solar because there is nowhere to take it." On average six rooftop solar panels are is installed in Australia every minute, adding the equivalent of a new coal-fired power station every year. The government needs to stop blocking the efficient use of this power and properl;y integrate solar into the system.      Read more
Tipping Elements - the Achilles Heels of the Earth System
Tipping elements are components of the Earth system of supra-regional scale which - in terms of background climate - are characterised by a threshold behaviour. Once operating near a threshold, these components can be tipped into a qualitatively different state by small external perturbations. To compare them with the human body, tipping elements could be described as organs which drastically alter or stop their usual function if certain requirements, such as oxygen supply, are not sufficiently fulfilled. The threshold behaviour is often based on self-reinforcing processes which, once tipped, can continue without further forcing. It is thus possible that the new state of a tipping element persists, even if the background climate falls back behind the threshold. The transition resulting from the exceedance of a system-specific tipping point can be either abrupt or gradual. Its large-scale environmental impacts could endanger the livelihood of millions of people.    Read more

How to grapple with soaring world population? An answer from Botswana
Botswana has one of the fastest falling fertility rates. Maternal and child health and family planning services were integrated more than 40 years ago. The median age has improved from 16 to 25 and the fertility rate from 6.7 to 2.8. A suite of contraceptives are now available through facilities ranging from the most rural health posts to urban hospitals. An NGO, the Botswana Family Welfare Association, works with the government to reach out to even the most rural of locations  to improve access to sexual and reproductive health services, particularly among young people. At the same time the infant mortality rate decreased from 97.1 deaths per 1,000 births in 1971 to 17 in 2011      Read more  
   Compare with Uganda where median age is stuck around 16 and the fertility rate shifted only from 7.1 to5.8.   
Precipitation in the 2050s
How will climate change affect rainfall and snow in your community? We mapped what the world will look like under current climate-change projections.     Read more

Iran Deserves Credit for the Ruin of ISIS
But is the U.S. now allowing its last remnants to survive in Syria to spite Tehran? In a campaign to defeat the terror group in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Syria, there is no doubt that the bulk of the effort came from Iran, not the US. Without Iranian involvement, ISIS would still have a formidable presence in both Iraq and Syria.  ISIS was born out of the ashes of the American invasion of Iraq. Their rise was the logical extension of a process that saw the fabric of secular Sunni society torn asunder by an American occupier unwilling to further empower a Sunni ruling elite that had been loyal to Saddam Hussein.     Read more

Dangerous Rapidly Intensifying Hurricanes Like Michael and Harvey to grow More Common
Not only will global warming make the strongest hurricanes stronger, it will also increase how fast they intensify. Troublingly, intensification rates don’t increase linearly as the intensity of a storm increases--they increase by the square power of the intensity. Thus, we can expect future hurricanes to intensify at unprecedented rates, and the ones that happen to perform their rapid intensification will be extremely dangerous.      Read more

157 of World's 200 Richest Entities Are Now Corporations, Not Governments
From massive inequality to the climate crisis, these powerful corporations "are able to demand that governments do their bidding". The world's most profitable companies are raking in revenue "far in excess of most governments," giving them unprecedented power to influence policy in their favour and skirt accountability. "The vast wealth and power of corporations is at the heart of so many of the world's problems—like inequality and climate change," Dearden noted. The drive for short-term profits today seems to trump basic human rights for millions of people on the planet. Yet there are very few ways that citizens can hold these corporations to account for their behaviour.      Read here

Fire fundamentally alters carbon dynamics in the Amazon
With higher temperatures and increasingly severe droughts resulting from climate change, fires are becoming a more frequent phenomenon in the Amazon. New research finds that fires fundamentally change the structure of the forest, leading it to stockpile less carbon even decades after a burn. The research also shows that the burning of dead organic matter in the understory can release far more carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought.     Read here


Watching the wildlife return
In the mid-2000s, villagers from the Jola ethnic group in the Casamance region of Senegal noticed a decline in local fish stocks and forest cover, and an increase in water salinity, all of which threatened their food supply and way of life. They formed a fishing association in 2006 that grew into a community-wide conservation group known as the Kawawana ICCA in 2010, and have since turned their dire situation around by reviving traditional fishing and forestry methods. As part of that effort, the Kawawana ICCA established a team to check up on the state of the river and forest, counting birds, fish, crocodiles, otters and dolphins, whose presence indicates healthy fish stocks, and monitoring rainfall and river salinity.     Read here

Trump’s Psychopathology Is Getting Worse
In fact, Trump suffers from several psychological pathologies that render him a clear and present danger to the world. Trump shows signs of at least three dangerous traits: paranoia, lack of empathy, and sadism. Paranoia is a form of detachment from reality in which an individual perceives threats that do not exist. The paranoid can create dangers for others in the course of fighting against imaginary threats. Lack of empathy can derive from an individual’s preoccupation with the self and a view of others as mere tools. Harming others causes no remorse when it serves one’s own purposes. Sadism means finding pleasure in inflicting pain or humiliating others, especially those who represent a perceived threat or a reminder of one’s weaknesses.     Read more
The Geopolitics of the Khashoggi Murder
In reality it is the ideological gulf between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, not Iran, that is more deeply rooted—even if less publicly aired—than the so-called Iranian threat. It is about the future face of the Middle East, For starters, it was the Ottoman Turkish Empire that undertook to  roll back and overthrow the first Wahhabi state to arise in Arabia in the early 19th century that had already rampaged across the peninsula when the Holy Places were under the legal protection of the Ottoman Sultan. But what are the fissures today?     Read more
Global CO2 emissions will increase once again, according to the head of the IEA.
Energy sector carbon emissions will rise in 2018 after hitting record levels the year before, dimming prospects for meeting Paris climate treaty goals. The energy sector accounts for 80 per cent of global CO2 emissions, with most of the rest caused by deforestation and agriculture, With one degree Celsius of warming so far, Earth has seen a crescendo of deadly extreme weather, including heatwaves, droughts, floods and deadly storm surges made worse by rising seas. Next two years are critical.     Read more
US-China War is Inevitable?
That collision course was ramped up last week when US Vice President Mike Pence delivered a barnstorming speech declaring China as global enemy number one. Speaking at the rightwing Hudson Institute in DC, Pence castigated China for “increased economic and military aggression”, and warned: “We will not back down.”Last year, the acclaimed journalist and film-maker John Pilger released a documentary entitled: "The Coming War With China". Pilger recounted the proliferation of American military bases in the Pacific Rim region which are evidently meant to encircle China for an eventual shooting war, or at least to serve as a means of threatening Beijing into submission. Pilger's documentary is proving to be prescient given the ratcheting up of provocations by Washington.     Read more


The John James Newsletter 253

posted Nov 10, 2018, 9:02 PM by Clement Clarke

The John James Newsletter  253

13 October 2018
The recent IPCC report says we could, but will we?
It tells us we can limit planetary destruction if we act now, but we know from the world's response to that report that we won't act, not now and probably not ever. Since the Paris agreement, the mining of fossil fuels has increased, and we are still constructing coal powered plants, and planning more oil extraction. No country has instituted a carbon tax, no country has passed mandatory energy efficiency measures, no country has reduced car emissions or the production of cement, or plastics, or weapons of war. There has been not one agricultural reform to reduce methane emissions. Not one country has started to do anything commensurate with the risk, not one!
And we know the weather is being destabilised, the world is getting too hot for life, cereal production is threatened and the permafrost is melting and releasing more methane - something this report, like its predecessors, does not mention.
And what of population growth around the tropics that further stretch the earth's capacity for food, goods, energy, homes and water.
The IPCC state that a condition for success is that we withdraw much of the carbon we have put into the air. Not only do we not have the technology, but every calculation shows there would be little net gain as the environmental cost would be too high.
What the report does not say is that it would be better to reduce our wealth and comfort to safeguard our future; better to end all fossil fuel use right now; better to shut down all operating coal plants and cancel any under construction; better to impose a stiff carbon tax; better to end the use of plastics; better to develop a recycling economy at all levels; better to stop fighting.
This latest report offers hope that something could be still be done in spite of history. The report warns our leaders, but is it likely they will lead? Do you reckon??? Read it here.
As long as our current political and economic system remains we cannot avoid paying the extreme penalty for what we have inflicted on our planet, our only home.
      John James

The scariest thing about the IPCC Report is that it's the watered down, consensus version. The latest science is much, much, much more terrifying
Jamie Henn

The IPCC understates a key risk: that self-reinforcing feedback loops could push the climate system into chaos before we have time to tame our energy system, and the other sources of climate pollution
      Mario Molina

Capitalism cannot save nature because it sees nature only as another collection of commodities, the long-term persistence of which comes second to immediate profit concerns
      Jeffrey Hollander

Politics is the not-so-gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other
      Oscar Ameringer  

You have no idea of how much the people must be misled if the support of the masses is required
Mien Kampf

From 1952 to 1985, the western edge of the Vavilov ice cap, 1,820 square kilometres in area and between 300 metres and 600 metres in thickness, shifted at about 12 metres a year. By 2011 it had stepped up the pace to 75 metres a year. By 2015, the ice front had broken into tongues that moved at more than 1,000 metres a year. And within a year the leading edge had started racing into the Kara Sea at 5,000 metres a year. By the way, it is also thinning at the rate of a third of a metre a day,
Michael Willis

Nations have lost control of their own economies: it doesn’t matter what people want as there is no way to vote against the global interests of Goldman Sachs or ExxonMobil. This is the core of today's political crises. The global result is movements of resistance, of which Trump is just a part. 
      Chris Hedges

The problem with carbon capture is that it is energy-intensive and expensive. The process uses chemicals to absorb carbon dioxide from exhaust gas. Then they have to be separated so that they can be reused and the carbon dioxide can be buried. All of this consumes energy. Power plants equipped with carbon capture systems generally use up to 30 percent of the electricity they generate just to power the capture, release, and storage of carbon dioxide.
      Prachi Patel   

Our climate's natural variability is now on steroids
Joelle Gergis

At this point both 1.5 and 2C climate goals goals are starting to look wildly out of reach
      New York Times

Today, 2 degrees is aspirational and 1.5 degrees is ridiculously aspirational. We need to face the fact that we might not stop at either, and start thinking seriously about what a 2.5 degree or 3 degree world might look like
Gary Yohe

Planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change
The IPCC report warns that the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 C by 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people. The date falls well within the lifetime of most people alive today. It is based on current levels of greenhouse gas emissions. The window on keeping global warming below 1.5 C is closing rapidly and the current emissions pledges made by signatories to the Paris Agreement do not add up to us achieving that goalTo limit global warming to 1.5 degree C is "possible within the laws of chemistry and physics." But doing so would require unprecedented changes.    Read more

Lets ponder those changes. Reduce coal and gas production and (and!) use by 10% each year, so phased out by 2030. Compensation? Share market losses? Massive equipment junked? Enforcement? Silence the barons? If we haven't begun this process so far, what makes you believe its going to be any different from here?     The report is our obituary, premature but timely.

Sketch shows that even were we to stop now there would still be overshoot. This, like all studies, does not take methane into account, nor the almost 1C increase that would occur as the pollution falls out of the atmosphere, our blanket of filth that has been keeping the temperature lower.
What's Not in the Latest Terrifying IPCC Report?
"The scariest thing about the report is that it's the watered down, consensus version. The latest science is much, much, much more terrifying" because it does not cover the threat from methane and the threatened tipping points when self-reinforcing feedback loops push the climate system into chaos before we have time to tame our capitalist energy system. The world has less than twelve years to drastically alter course to avoid the worst impacts of human-caused global warming and that nothing less than keeping all fossil fuels in the ground is the solution to avoid future calamities. Experts responding to the report have a potentially unwelcome message for your already over-burdened hearts and minds: It's very likely much worse than you're being told.    Read more
Vast costs of Arctic change
The costs of a melting Arctic will be huge, because the region is pivotal to the functioning of Earth systems of oceans and climate. The release of methane from thawing permafrost beneath the East Siberian Sea, off northern Russia, would cost $60 trillion in the absence of mitigating action — a figure comparable to the size of the world economy in 2012. A 50-gigatonne reservoir of methane, stored in the form of hydrates, exists on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. It is likely to be emitted as the seabed warms, either steadily over 50 years - or suddenly. The total cost of Arctic change will be much higher, mostly borne by developing countries, which will face extreme weather, poorer  health and lower agricultural production.     Read more
Reactions of the Least Developed Countries to the IPCC Report    Read more
'There's nowhere to hide': companies warned on climate risks
When it comes to corporate Australia and climate change, 2018 is shaping up as a perfect storm. Investors and lawyers are all circling, ramping up their scrutiny on how companies are planning for climate change, how they are trying to tackle it, and what information they are releasing about the risks it poses to their operations. More than 200 institutional investors with $26 trillion in assets under management said they would step up pressure on the world's biggest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to combat climate change.    Read more
Final warning
These projections underestimate what is happening in the atmosphere-ocean-land system since, due to amplifying feedbacks from desiccating land, warming oceans, melting ice, methane release and fires, no temperature limit can be specified for global warming. The Paris agreement, which focuses on limits to emissions, hardly acknowledges the essential need to down-draw atmospheric carbon which has already reached >450 ppm CO2 including methane. The report takes little account of the non-linear to abrupt behaviour of atmospheric conditions, no of aerosol blanketing. Together these mean global temperatures are tracking closer 2 degrees. The “Paris target” of 1.5oC is meaningless since: (1) no mechanism is known to arrest amplifying feedbacks rom rising above this limit, and (2) no plans for draw-down of atmospheric CO2 appear to be at hand, the $trillions required for such endeavor being spent on the military and wars.    Read more

Climate Change Kills More People Than Terrorism
Twenty governments commissioned a study of the human and economic costs of climate change. It linked 400,000 deaths worldwide to climate change each year, projecting deaths to increase to over 600,000 per year by 2030. When scientists attribute deaths to climate change, they don't just mean succumbing to a heat wave. Heat waves devastate food security, nutrition, and water safety, increase malaria and dengue and floods contaminate drinking water with bacteria and pollution.  MAP of the most vulnerable countries.   Read this

Dutch Court orders Government to Move Faster on Emission Cuts
The government of the Netherlands, said the court, "has done too little to prevent the dangers of climate change and is doing too little to catch up." Dennis van Berkel, the legal counsel for Urgenda, added that the move "has consequences for all governments. They should look at this closely and realise that they are not acting in the interests of their own people. By delaying [climate] actions and not increasing them to the highest possible level—they are violating the rights of their people."      Read more
How to protect your private data when you travel to the United States
First, use a cloud-based service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive or to backup all of your data. Use another service like Boxcryptor, Cryptomator or Sookasa to protect your data such that neither the storage provider nor government agencies can read it. Next, cross the border with no or clean devices. If a border agent asks you to unlock your device, simply do so and hand it over. There should be nothing for them to find. You can access your data from the cloud at your destination. However, border agents do not need your device to access your online accounts. What happens if they simply demand your login credentials? Protecting your cloud data requires a more sophisticated strategy.     Read more
Baulking at the Chinese - wisdom at last
Pakistan, following in the footsteps of Malaysia and Myanmar, is the latest country to baulk at the infrastructure focus of Beijing’s Belt and Road-related investments. They require it shifts to agriculture, job creation and foreign investment. Various Asian and African countries worry that Belt and Road-related investments in infrastructure risk trapping them in debt and forcing them to surrender control of critical national infrastructure, and in some cases media assets. Malaysia has suspended or cancelled $26 billion in Chinese-funded projects while Myanmar is negotiating a significant scaling back of a Chinese-funded port project on the Bay of Bengal in a bid to avoid shouldering an unsustainable debt.      Read more
India alarmed at Saudi oil refinery project in strategic Gawadar port.  Read here
Stephen Hawking's final scientific paper
Black Hole Entropy and Soft Hair was completed in the days before the physicist’s death in March. It may have been the last scientific exchange Hawking had. “It was very difficult for Stephen to communicate and I was put on a loudspeaker to explain where we had got to. When I explained it, he simply produced an enormous smile. I told him we’d got somewhere. He knew the final result.”     Read more
Cerrado towns terrorized to provide toilet paper for the world
Global consumers who buy brand name toilet paper and tissues may unwittingly be fuelling land conflicts, environmental crimes and the loss of native vegetation in Brazil. Residents of Forquilha, a traditional community in Maranhão state, allege that an agricultural entrepreneur used armed gunmen to try and force them out in 2014. The businessman took land claimed by the community and converted it to eucalyptus plantations, intending to sell the trees to Suzano, Brazil’s biggest pulp provider. Kimberly-Clark confirmed that it sources a significant amount of eucalyptus in Brazil from Suzano and Fibria, with pulp used to make “tissue and towel products like Scott, Cottonelle, Kleenex and Andrex.”      Read more
Longer and more frequent marine heatwaves over the past century
We identify significant increases in marine heatwaves over the past century. From 1925 to 2016, global average marine heatwave frequency increased by 34%, resulting in a 54% increase in annual marine heatwave days globally. These trends can largely be explained by increases in mean ocean temperatures, suggesting that we can expect further increases in marine heatwave days under continued global warming.     Read this

What Does Runaway Warming Look Like?
The forcing caused by the rapid rise in the levels of greenhouse gases is far out of line with current temperatures. A 10°C higher temperature is more in line with these levels, as illustrated by the image below. Carbon dioxide levels have been above 400 ppm for years. Methane levels above 1900 ppb were recorded in September 2018. Such high levels are more in line with a 10°C higher temperature based on 420,000 years of ice core data from Vostok, Antarctica, research station.     Read more
US Women Earned More PhDs Than Men Last Year    Read more
A mature response to the inevitable - at last!
Governor Baker Signs Legislation Directing $2.4 Billion to Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental Protection, and Community Investments.    Read more
The power of a hug
Being hugged leads to release of the hormone oxytocin, setting off a range of downstream outcomes that could explain the benefits of hugging. Oxytocin is involved in a complex range of social processes, but has been implicated romantic bonding and trust. The benefits of hugs and affectionate touch more generally rest within the cardiovascular system. One study found lower systolic blood pressure in the husbands of couples asked to increase the frequency of affectionate touch with one another. Other research documents lowered blood pressure and heart rate among women who receive frequent hugs. We hug to convey that we care, that we’re grateful for a benefit received, that we share in an achievement.     Read more
Why the American empire has lost control
The dollar as the world’s reserve currency is running on fumes. The moment that’s over, American financial supremacy is instantly finished. It will be very similar to the aftermath of the Suez disaster—something like that is a characteristic of late empire. And the fragility of an empire means that when collapse comes it’s almost instantaneous. You look back at the rapid fall of the old Soviet Union. A failing empire is like a house of cards that just comes down—it’s not a slow descent. We know from history what happens. It’s not a mystery.     Read more

‘There’s no plan B’: Chris Hedges on the collapse of America
We’re on the cusp of disintegration and I’m also clear that this has been a long process in which this is the culmination of a political, economic, and cultural deterioration.     Read more
Got a political problem? Commission a report
Reports are the tried and true method to look like your doing something - without burning any political capital. In Australia we have had eight or more reports on climate change and energy policy. Let’s survey the field, charred as it is with the remains of ashed reviews and inquiries.
1. In 2006 we had the Switkowski report into nuclear power.
2. The Garnaut climate change review was released in 2008,
3. then updated in 2011, after the release of eight interim papers. It recommended, of course, a carbon tax, an idea that now seems laughably utopian.
4. The Finkel report in 2017 was supposed to form the basis for a credible, coming-together policy on energy and emissions reductions. Its chief recommendation - the creation of a clean energy target - was ignored.
5. In the last year the Climate Change Authority has done three reviews - into the Emissions Reductions Fund, The National Wind Farm Commissioner and the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting legislation.
Yet climate policy in this country remains constipated. It is a boom time for reports, if not for their recommendations.     Read more
Facebook deletes alternative health pages as the war on free news escalates
False health information can be disastrous, but “alternative” doesn’t always mean illegitimate. Can Facebook tell the difference? Facebook has deleted dozens of pages dedicated to fringe or holistic medicine in an apparent crackdown on pseudoscience. The Global Freedom Movement, an alternative media site, reported that the social platform purged over 80 accounts and that “no reason was provided. No responses to inquiries have been forthcoming.” This includes rather large accounts focused on health, natural remedies, and organic living, such as Just Natural Medicine (1 million followers), Natural Cures Not Medicine (2.3 million followers), and People’s Awakening (3.6 million followers). Small accounts with under 15,000 followers were also hit. Jake Passi spent six years building his Collectively Conscious page, which covered alternative health, spirituality, science, and “information that isn’t covered on mainstream media networks” and laments that his Facebook community was suddenly erased without warning. It had 915,000 followers.     Read more
The Pentagon’s Insect Army
Swarms of insects, transporting genetically modified infectious viruses, attack the agricultural crops of a country and destroy its food production – this is not a science-fiction scenario, but a plan that is actually being prepared by DARPA, the Pentagon’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency. This scenario of an attack on agricultural cultures in Russia, China and other countries, led by the Pentagon with swarms of insects transporting the virus, is not a science-fiction fable. DARPA’s programme is not the only one to use insects as a weapon of war. The US Office of Naval Research has asked for research from Washington University in St Louis in order to transform locusts into biological drones.     Read more

Farmers’ climate denial begins to wane as reality bites
Australia has been described as the “front line of the battle for climate change adaptation”, and our farmers are the ones who have to lead the charge. Farmers will have to cope, among other pressures, with longer droughts, more erratic rainfall, higher temperatures, and changes to the timing of seasons. Yet, puzzlingly enough to many commentators, climate denial has been widespread among farmers and in the ranks of the National Party, which purports to represent their interests. There are signs we may be on the brink of a wholesale shift in farmers’ attitudes towards climate change. For a farmer, accepting the science means facing up to the prospect of a harsher, more uncertain future.      Read more
Salmon Farmers Are Scanning Fish Faces to Fight Killer Lice
New technology will use facial recognition to build individual medical records for millions of fish to prevent the spread of epidemics like sea lice that infect hundreds of millions of farmed fish and cost the global industry $1 billion each year. “We can build a medical record for each individual fish, like a revolution.” Also a facial-recognition system to monitor cows so farmers can adjust feeding regimens to enhance milk production. Scanners will allow them to track food and water intake and even detect when females are having fertile days.    Read more
How can politicians lie about climate change after signing off on the truth?
"Approval" means that the material has been subjected to detailed line by line discussion and agreement. "By endorsing the IPCC reports, governments acknowledge the authority of their scientific content." So, both the US and the Australian governments - which means Republicans and Coalition members, for they are the government - know, but still promulgate denial. They lie for political reasons and for gain. PIC.    Read more


The John James Newsletter 252

posted Nov 10, 2018, 9:00 PM by Clement Clarke

The John James Newsletter  252

6 October 2018

As we stumble through a second consecutive season of record hurricanes and fires, more academics are approaching questions once reserved for doomsday cults. Can modern society prepare for a world in which global warming threatens large-scale social, economic, and political upheaval? What are the policy and social implications of rapid, and mostly unpleasant, climate disruption?
Jonathan Gosling

"Elites" aren't accustomed to adversity, being challenged, or having their birthright entitlements questioned. They coast through their prep schools and Ivy League, and slide into their preordained adult lives without ever experiencing the daily struggles of working people. Their lives exist in a collective bubble, constantly protected from the harsh realities of life that most of us face.
      Hampton Institute

The discussion I’m inviting is about collective responses to reduce harm, rather than how a few people could tough it out to survive longer than others.
Jem Bendell

Robots will wipe out humanity in few hundred years
Martin Rees
People with dementia may be taken to a mock-up bus stop, where they sit and wait for a bus that never comes. At some point, when they are tired, and have forgotten what they are doing there, they are persuaded to go back
Larissa MacFarquar - a parable

Australia’s transport sector adds 100 million tonnes of greenhouse gas per year. Transport is the second largest source of greenhouse gas pollution (after electricity), rising by around 2.5% each year and expected to double by 2050. Nearly 80% travel to work, etc.We have no greenhouse emissions standards for vehicles
      Climate Council

British tourists’ pets would face four days of quarantine, and flights could indeed be grounded despite claims to the contrary emanating from Whitehall. Somebody should’ve told them that beforehand
Jean-Claude Juncker

Deep Adaptation to Climate Chaos
This analysis leads the author to conclude that climate-induced collapse is now inevitable. The measured changes in our current environment have outpaced even the worst predictions of the IPCC over the past decades. "The leading climate scientists are reporting a much worse situation than the IPCC.” The paper looks at peer reviewed journals and supplements that with the latest data direct from research institutes on climate. “The whole field of sustainable development research, policy and education, and sustainable business in particular, is based on the view that we can halt climate change and avert catastrophe. By returning to the science, I discovered that this view is no longer tenable."    Important, if you have any doubts, read this

There is a 93 per cent chance that global warming will exceed 4C
Worst-case global warming predictions are the most accurate, say climate experts
Current predictions of climate change may significantly underestimate the speed and severity of global warming. Reappraisal of the models climate scientists use to determine future warming has revealed that less optimistic estimates are more realistic. Models of energy flow from Earth to space, as measured by satellites, suggest that the amount of sunlight reflected away from the planet by clouds will decrease as the world gets warmer, increasing the magnitude of climate change.      Read this

A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy
The purpose is to provide readers with an opportunity to reassess their work and life in the face of an inevitable near term social collapse due to climate change by analysing recent studies on climate change and its implications for our ecosystems, economies and societies, as provided by academic publications from research institutes. That synthesis leads to a conclusion there will be a near term collapse in society with serious ramifications in our lives. The Deep Adaptation Agenda with key aspects of resilience, relinquishment and restoration are explained with the view that social collapse is now inevitable in the near term.     Read this

How to Adapt to the End of the World
Propelling the movement are signs that the problem is worsening at an accelerating rate. “The evidence before us suggests that we are set for disruptive and uncontrollable levels of climate change, bringing starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war. We need to appreciate what kind of adaptation is possible.”     Read this

BP and Shell planning for catastrophic 5°C global warming despite publicly backing Paris climate agreement
They are planning for global temperatures to rise as much as 5°C during the next 30 years. [30 years!! Does that imply 2.5C in 15 years? You mean, I really can experience the end of my world before I die?  !!@!!] Companies are trying to 'have their oil and drink it' by committing to 2°C in public while planning for much higher temperature rises, and keeping shareholders in the dark about the risks from climate change. Neither company sets targets to reduce emissions and BP’s total investment in renewable and clean technologies has actually shrunk since 2005, and that’s despite the company’s public-facing image of being “beyond petroleum”.  Read this
Origin Energy calculates that solar is cheaper than coal
“I have been in this game for so long … the one thing I have seen is just the cost of renewables really change the game. It is amazing what we have been seeing." The cost of solar in the mid $40s/MWh and the cost of wind at the low $50s/MWh. That cost of solar is around half the average price of wholesale electricity this year.   Read this 

In the ongoing battle between coal-produced power and renewables  - with the Coalition government on the side of the coal barons - only the now out-of-date regulations that limit what can be done on the grid with the new giant batteries - like the Tesla storage in South Australia - are preventing not only a secure supply but much cheaper prices. The government is trying to bully the suppliers to get the prices down (think elections) while doing nothing to enable the combination of wind+solar and big batteries that have now proven they can do the job. The national grid is the largest single industry in the country and is being run to support the existing coal+gas power system, and (from government directives) is not altering the rules to make a cheaper future possible. Two articles will give you more of the picture, complex as it is.  Read this and Read this

Coal binge puts Paris climate targets further out of reach
The capacity of the world's coal-fired power stations would increase by a third if all 1380 plants planned or under development are built, making it tougher to meet Paris climate goals. Plants will be built in 16 nations that do not currently generate electricity from coal, while 11 other countries now have just 600 megawatts of capacity or less. All up, the projects would add more than 672 gigawatts of capacity.   Read it
A joyful flashmob staged in Spain
If you don’t know what a flashmob is, it is a gathering of people who have rehearsed some sort of innocent activity and spring it on the general public.   Watch this

Stephen Hawking warned artificial intelligence could end mankind
"The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."     Read more
In 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming
"Carbon dioxide has a strange property. It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect [....] It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York." And ten years later one oil executive in that audience told Congress "We in the petroleum industry are convinced that by the time a practical electric car can be mass-produced and marketed, it will not enjoy any meaningful advantage from an air pollution standpoint. Emissions from internal-combustion engines will have long since been controlled."     Read more
6 Months Before Brexit, Many in UK Fear ‘It’s Looking Very Grisly’
Northern Ireland has only one energy link to the mainland, so a no-deal Brexit could lead to rolling blackouts and steep price rises; and the energy system could collapse, forcing the military to redeploy generators from Afghanistan to the Irish Sea. With an eye toward the March 29 deadline, the government has appointed a minister to guarantee food supplies. Pharmaceutical companies are planning a six-week stockpile of lifesaving medications like insulin and considering flying planeloads of medicine into the country until imports resume. That is, if planes can still land in Britain — something thrown into doubt after the government admitted that aircraft could, in theory, be grounded by a sudden exit. In many ways, the country is in the same position it was on the morning after the 2016 referendum: without a clear plan. "We’re just rolling toward the cliff, and nobody out there is going to stop it,"    Read more
The new normal? How climate change is making droughts worse
According to the most recent State of the Climate report, Australia has already warmed by 1C since 1910. Here, you can see the trend towards warmer years over the period:
This drought is different: it's drier and hotter – and getting worse   Read more and This2049636.png
The Comforting Fictions of Dementia Care
In order to keep a person safely inside their world, it was necessary to figure out the boundaries and contents of their world—who lived in it, what activities took place there, and in what era—so there would be as little dissonance as possible when the person used information from that past world to interpret the present. If there was someone missing from the present, for instance—because that person had moved away, or died—it was necessary to arrive at an explanation for this absence that the person with dementia would accept. If, for example, the person asked often where their son was, it was necessary to find out, by experimenting with answers and watching their reactions, how old they believed their son to be at that moment. If they believed him to be a small child, then telling them truthfully that he was out of town at a medical conference would cause bewilderment or suspicion; but if they believed their son to be a college student, telling them that he was playing in the garden would also be a mistake. Continuity was essential. Even a momentary glimpse of another reality that led patients to doubt their understanding of things could be horribly traumatic. With proper care, a person can live as good a life with dementia as without—in some ways and in some cases even better. Sometimes relationships between a person with dementia and their family grow more fulfilling and intimate as talking falls away.     Read more
China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate Industry
The attack by Chinese spies reached almost 30 US companies, including Amazon and Apple, a major bank and government contractors, by compromising America’s technology supply chain. Nested on the servers’ motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn’t part of the boards’ original design. Amazon reported the discovery to U.S. authorities, sending a shudder through the intelligence community. The chips allowed the attackers to create a stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines. China’s spies appear to have found a perfect conduit for the most significant supply chain attack known to have been carried out against American companies.   Read more
The March to War with Iran - one has to ask on whose behalf?
A steady, coordinated drumbeat of anti-Iran activities. It began with the US withdrawal from the successful anti-nuclear deal that had reduced Iran’s nuclear program to a fraction of its former size, froze it for at least 15 years, and put it under the most intrusive inspection regime ever negotiated. But Bolton saw it as an obstacle to a regime-change strategy. Trump, obsessed with demolishing all that President Barack Obama achieved, was only too happy to raze the agreement. The day Trump abandoned the accord, Bolton signaled that “what comes next” would be “a much broader resolution of the malign behavior that we see from Iran.” He quickly established an Iran Action Group to coordinate activities across agencies. The operation appears modeled on the White House Iraq Group created by the Bush administration to sell the public on the invasion of Iraq. It is not clear if Trump actually wants a war, but Bolton and Pompeo certainly seem to.   Read more
Photographer Sunil Sharma took this glistening shot of undulating patterns in the snow, captioned
"Life always finds a way"


The John James Newsletter 251

posted Nov 10, 2018, 8:58 PM by Clement Clarke

The John James Newsletter  251

29 September 2018

Its a long weekend  - a special read just for you

Mike Pence went to kiss his wife, Karen, and she turned away from him. “You got what you wanted, Mike,” she said. “Now leave me alone.” She wouldn’t so much as say hello to Trump. Trump himself just stared at the TV without saying anything. His campaign hadn’t even bothered to prepare an acceptance speech. It was not hard to see why Trump hadn’t seen the point in preparing to take over the federal government: why study for a test you will never need to take?...

They were about to take control of the portfolio of existential risks managed by the US government. Only they weren’t. On the morning after the election the hundreds of people who had prepared to brief the incoming Trump administration sat waiting. A day became a week and a week became a month … and no one showed up. The parking spots that had been set aside for Trump’s people remained empty, and the briefing books were never opened. You could walk into almost any department of the US government and hear people asking the same question: where were these people who were meant to be running the place?


‘This guy doesn’t know anything, and he doesn't give a ......’
The inside story of Trump’s shambolic transition team

Chris Christie noticed a piece in the New York Times – that’s how it all started. The New Jersey governor had dropped out of the presidential race in February 2016 and thrown what support he had behind Donald Trump. In late April, he saw the article. It described meetings between representatives of the remaining candidates still in the race – Trump, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – and the Obama White House. Anyone who still had any kind of shot at becoming president of the United States apparently needed to start preparing to run the federal government. The guy Trump sent to the meeting was, in Christie’s estimation, comically underqualified. Christie called up Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to ask why this critical job had not been handed to someone who actually knew something about government. “We don’t have anyone,” said Lewandowski.

Christie volunteered himself for the job: head of the Donald Trump presidential transition team. “It’s the next best thing to being president,” he told friends. “You get to plan the presidency.” He went to see Trump about it. Trump said he didn’t want a presidential transition team. Why did anyone need to plan anything before he actually became president? It’s legally required, said Christie. Trump asked where the money was going to come from to pay for the transition team. Christie explained that Trump could either pay for it himself or take it out of campaign funds. Trump didn’t want to pay for it himself. He didn’t want to take it out of campaign funds, either, but he agreed, grudgingly, that Christie should go ahead and raise a separate fund to pay for his transition team. “But not too much!” he said.

And so Christie set out to prepare for the unlikely event that Donald Trump would one day be elected president of the United States. Not everyone in Trump’s campaign was happy to see him on the job. In June, Christie received a call from Trump adviser Paul Manafort. “The kid is paranoid about you,” Manafort said. The kid was Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. Back in 2005, when he was US attorney for New Jersey, Christie had prosecuted and jailed Kushner’s father, Charles, for tax fraud. Christie’s investigation revealed, in the bargain, that Charles Kushner had hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, whom he suspected of cooperating with Christie, videotaped the sexual encounter and sent the tape to his sister. The Kushners apparently took their grudges seriously, and Christie sensed that Jared still harboured one against him. On the other hand, Trump, whom Christie considered almost a friend, could not have cared less.

Christie viewed Kushner as one of those people who thinks that, because he is rich, he must also be smart. Still, he had a certain cunning about him. And Christie soon found himself reporting everything he did to prepare for a Trump administration to an “executive committee”. The committee consisted of Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, Manafort, Steve Mnuchin and Jeff Sessions. “I’m kind of like the church elder who double-counts the collection plate every Sunday for the pastor,” said Sessions, who appeared uncomfortable with the entire situation. The elder’s job became more complicated in July 2016, when Trump was formally named the Republican nominee. The transition team now moved into an office in downtown Washington DC, and went looking for people to occupy the top 500 jobs in the federal government. They needed to fill all the cabinet positions, of course, but also a whole bunch of others that no one in the Trump campaign even knew existed. It is not obvious how you find the next secretary of state, much less the next secretary of transportation – never mind who should sit on the board of trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

By August, 130 people were showing up every day, and hundreds more working part-time, at Trump transition headquarters, on the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The transition team made lists of likely candidates for all 500 jobs, plus other lists of informed people to roll into the various federal agencies the day after the election, to be briefed on whatever the federal agencies were doing. They gathered the names for these lists by travelling the country and talking to people: Republicans who had served in government, Trump’s closest advisers, recent occupants of the jobs that needed filling. Then they set about investigating any candidates for glaring flaws and embarrassing secrets and conflicts of interest. At the end of each week, Christie handed over binders, with lists of names of people who might do the jobs well, to Kushner, Donald Jr and the others. “They probed everything,” says a senior Trump transition official. “‘Who is this person?’ ‘Where did this person come from?’ They only ever rejected one person: Manafort’s secretary.”

In transition ... Donald Trump and Chris Christie on 20 November 2016. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

The first time Trump paid attention to any of this was when he read about it in the newspaper. The story revealed that Trump’s very own transition team had raised several million dollars to pay the staff. The moment he saw it, Trump called Steve Bannon, the chief executive of his campaign, from his office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower, and told him to come immediately to his residence, many floors above. Bannon stepped off the elevator to find Christie seated on a sofa, being hollered at. Trump was apoplectic, yelling: You’re stealing my money! You’re stealing my fucking money! What the fuck is this?

Seeing Bannon, Trump turned on him and screamed: Why are you letting him steal my fucking money? Bannon and Christie together set out to explain to Trump federal law. Months before the election, the law said, the nominees of the two major parties were expected to prepare to take control of the government. The government supplied them with office space in downtown DC, along with computers and rubbish bins and so on, but the campaigns paid their people. To which Trump replied: Fuck the law. I don’t give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money. Bannon and Christie tried to explain that Trump couldn’t have both his money and a transition.

Shut it down, said Trump. Shut down the transition.

Here Christie and Bannon parted ways. Neither thought it was a good idea to shut down the transition, but each had his own misgivings. Christie thought that Trump had little chance of running the government without a formal transition. Bannon wasn’t so sure if Trump would ever get his mind around running the federal government; he just thought it would look bad if Trump didn’t at least seem to prepare. Seeing that Trump wasn’t listening to Christie, he said: “What do you think Morning Joe will say if you shut down your transition?” What Morning Joe would say – or at least what Bannon thought it would say – was that Trump was closing his presidential transition office because he didn’t think he had any chance of being president.

Trump stopped hollering. For the first time he seemed to have listened.

“That makes sense,” he said.

With that, Christie went back to preparing for a Trump administration. He tried to stay out of the news, but that proved difficult. From time to time, Trump would see something in the paper about Christie’s fundraising and become upset all over again. The money that people donated to his campaign Trump considered, effectively, his own. He thought the planning and forethought pointless. At one point he turned to Christie and said: “Chris, you and I are so smart that we can leave the victory party two hours early and do the transition ourselves.”

At that moment in American history, if you could somehow organise the entire population into a single line, all 350 million people, ordered not by height or weight or age but by each citizen’s interest in the federal government, and Donald Trump loitered somewhere near one end of it, Max Stier would occupy the other.

By the autumn of 2016, Stier might have been the American with the greatest understanding of how the US government worked. Oddly, for an American of his age and status, he had romanticised public service since he was a child. He had gone through Yale in the mid-80s and Stanford law school in the early 90s without ever being tempted by money or anything else. He thought the US government was the single most important and interesting institution in the history of the planet and could not imagine doing anything but working to improve it. A few years out of law school he had met a financier named Sam Heyman, who was as disturbed as Stier was by how uninterested talented young people were in government work. Stier persuaded Heyman to set aside $25m for him so that he might create an organisation to address the problem.

Stier soon realised that to attract talented young people to government service, he would need to turn the government into a place that talented young people wanted to work. He would need to fix the US government. Partnership for Public Service, as Stier called his organisation, was not nearly as dull as its name. It trained civil servants to be business managers; it brokered new relationships across the federal government; it surveyed the federal workforce to identify specific management failures and success; and it lobbied Congress to fix deep structural problems. It was Stier who had persuaded Congress to pass the laws that made it so annoyingly difficult for Trump to avoid preparing to be president.

Anyway, from the point of view of a smart, talented person trying to decide whether to work for the US government, the single most glaring defect was the absence of an upside. The jobs were not well-paid compared with their equivalents in the private sector. And the only time government employees were recognised was if they screwed up – in which case they often became the wrong kind of famous. In 2002, Stier created an annual black tie, Oscars-like awards ceremony to celebrate people who had done extraordinary things in government.

Every year the Sammies – as Stier called them, in honour of his original patron – attracted a few more celebrities and a bit more media attention. And every year, the list of achievements was mind-blowing. A guy in the energy department (Frazer Lockhart) organised the first successful cleanup of a nuclear weapons factory, in Rocky Flats, Colorado, and had brought it in 60 years early and $30bn under budget. A woman at the Federal Trade Commission (Eileen Harrington) had built the Do Not Call Registry, which spared the entire country from trillions of irritating sales pitches. A National Institutes of Health researcher (Steven Rosenberg) had pioneered immunotherapy, which had successfully treated previously incurable cancers. There were hundreds of fantastically important success stories in the US government. They just never got told.

Stier knew an astonishing number of them. He had detected a pattern: a surprising number of the people responsible for them were first-generation Americans who had come from places without well-functioning governments. People who had lived without government were more likely to find meaning in it. On the other hand, people who had never experienced a collapsed state were slow to appreciate a state that had not yet collapsed.

That was maybe Stier’s biggest challenge: explaining the value of this enterprise at the centre of a democratic society to people who either took it for granted or imagined it as a pernicious force in their lives over which they had no control. He would explain that the federal government provided services that the private sector could not or would not: medical care for veterans, air traffic control, national highways, food safety guidelines. He would explain that the federal government was an engine of opportunity: millions of American children, for instance, would have found it even harder than they did to make the most of their lives without the basic nutrition supplied by the federal government. When all else failed, he would explain the many places the US government stood between Americans and the things that might kill them. “The basic role of government is to keep us safe,” he would say.

The US government employed 2 million people, 70% of them one way or another in national security. It managed a portfolio of risks that no private person or corporation was able to manage. Some of the risks were easy to imagine: a financial crisis, a hurricane, a terrorist attack. Most were not: the risk, say, that some prescription drug proves to be both so addictive and so accessible that each year it kills more Americans than were killed in action by the peak of the Vietnam war. Many of the risks that fell into the government’s lap felt so remote as to be unreal: that a cyberattack left half the country without electricity, or that some airborne virus wiped out millions, or that economic inequality reached the point where it triggered a violent revolution. Maybe the least visible risks were of things not happening that, with better government, might have happened. A cure for cancer, for instance.

Enter the presidential transition. A bad transition took this entire portfolio of catastrophic risks – the biggest portfolio of such risks ever managed by a single institution in the history of the world – and made all the bad things more likely to happen and the good things less likely to happen. Even before Stier created an organisation to fix the federal government, the haphazard nature of presidential transitions drove him nuts. “We have a legacy government that hasn’t kept up with the world we live in, largely because of disruptions from bad transitions,” he said. “People don’t understand that a bungled transition becomes a bungled presidency.” The new people taking over the job of running the government were at best only partially informed, and often deeply suspicious, of whatever happened to be going on before they arrived. By the time they fully grasped the problems they were dealing with, it was time to go. “It’s Groundhog Day,” said Stier. “The new people come in and think that the previous administration and the civil service are lazy or stupid. Then they actually get to know the place they are managing. And when they leave they say: ‘This was a really hard job, and those are the best people I’ve ever worked with.’ This happens over and over and over.”

Most of the big problems inside the US government were of the practical management sort and had nothing to do with political ideology. A mundane but important example was how hard it was for any government agency to hire new people. Some agencies couldn’t hire anyone without 60 different people signing off on him. The George W Bush administration had begun to attack that particular mundane problem. The Obama administration, instead of running with the work done during the Bush years, had simply started all over again.

Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner on 11 January 2017. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

Stier’s Partnership for Public Service had helped to push through three separate laws related to the transition. In 2010, Congress gave free office space and other resources to the nominees of the two major political parties immediately after the summer conventions. “The reason campaigns didn’t prepare is that they thought it would cost them politically: no one wanted to be seen measuring the drapes,” said Stier. “The idea was to give the nominees of the major political parties cover to do what they should do.” In 2011-2012, to enable the president to put people in jobs more quickly, Congress reduced the number of presidential appointments that required Senate confirmation from about 1,400 to roughly 1,200 – still more than 1,000 too many, in Stier’s view, but a start. Finally, in 2015, Congress required the sitting president to prepare in various ways to hand the government over to his or her successor. The person who had already taken the test was now required by law to help the person who may not have studied for it.

As the 2016 presidential election approached, Stier was about as hopeful as he had ever been that the US government would be handed from one leader to another with minimum stupidity. His partnership had worked with both the Clinton and the Trump campaigns. “Their work was good,” said Stier. He was disappointed with Obama in some ways. Obama had been slow to engage with the federal workforce. He had appointed some poor managers to run some agencies. The fiasco of the rollout of was not an accident but a byproduct of bad management. But Obama’s preparations to hand over the government had been superb: the Obama administration had created what amounted to the best course ever on the inner workings of the most powerful institution on earth. What could go wrong?

Chris Christie was sitting on a sofa beside Trump when Pennsylvania was finally called. It was 1.35am, but that wasn’t the only reason the feeling in the room was odd. Mike Pence went to kiss his wife, Karen, and she turned away from him. “You got what you wanted, Mike,” she said. “Now leave me alone.” She wouldn’t so much as say hello to Trump. Trump himself just stared at the TV without saying anything, like a man with a pair of twos whose bluff has been called. His campaign hadn’t even bothered to prepare an acceptance speech. It was not hard to see why Trump hadn’t seen the point in preparing to take over the federal government: why study for a test you will never need to take? Why take the risk of discovering you might, at your very best, be a C student? This was the real part of becoming president of the US. And, Christie thought, it scared the crap out of the president-elect.

Not long after the people on TV announced that Trump had won Pennsylvania, Jared Kushner grabbed Christie anxiously and said: “We have to have a transition meeting tomorrow morning!” Even before that meeting, Christie had made sure that Trump knew the protocol for his discussions with foreign leaders. The transition team had prepared a document to let him know how these were meant to go. The first few calls were easy – the very first was always with the prime minister of Great Britain – but two dozen calls in you were talking to some kleptocrat and tiptoeing around sensitive security issues. Before any of the calls could be made, however, the president of Egypt called in to the switchboard at Trump Tower and somehow got the operator to put him straight through to Trump. “Trump was like ... I love the Bangles! You know that song Walk Like an Egyptian?” recalled one of his advisers on the scene.

That had been the first hint Christie had of trouble. He had asked Kushner what that was about, and Kushner had simply said, Trump ran a very unconventional campaign, and he’s not going to follow any of the protocols. The next hint that the transition might not go as planned came from Pence – now, incredibly, the vice-president-elect. Christie met with Pence the day after the election, to discuss the previous lists of people who had been vetted for jobs. The meeting began with a prayer, followed by Pence’s first, ominous question: “Why isn’t Puzder on the list for labour?” Andrew Puzder, the head of CKE Restaurants, the holding company for the fast-food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr, wanted to be the secretary of labour. Christie explained that Puzder’s ex-wife had accused him of abuse (although she later retracted the allegation) and his fast-food restaurant employees had complained of mistreatment. Even if he was somehow the ideal candidate to become the next secretary of labour, he wouldn’t survive his Senate confirmation hearings. (Trump ignored the advice and nominated Puzder. In the controversy that followed, Puzder not only failed to be confirmed, but also stepped down from his job.)

After meeting with Pence, Christie was scheduled to brief the Trump children, Kushner and the other members of Trump’s inner circle. He was surprised to find, suddenly included in this group, retired army lieutenant general Michael Flynn. Flynn was a jobseeker the transition team had found reasons to be extremely wary of. Now he wanted to be named Trump’s national security adviser, which was maybe the most important job in the entire national security apparatus. The national security team inside the Trump transition – staffed with senior former military and intelligence officials – had thought that was an especially bad idea. Flynn’s name was not on the list. But here he was, in the meeting to decide who would do what in the Trump administration, and Ivanka was asking him which job he would like to have.

Before Christie could intercede, Bannon grabbed him and asked to see him privately. Christie followed Bannon to his office impatiently. Hey, this is going to have to be quick, said Christie.

It’s really quick, said Bannon. You’re out.

Why? asked Christie, stunned.

We’re making a change.

“Okay, what are we changing?



It’s really not important.

The method of his execution was unsurprising: Trump always avoided firing people himself. The man who played Mr You’re Fired on TV avoided personal confrontation in real life. The surprise was that it was being done now, just when the work of the transition team was most critical. Only when Christie threatened to go down and tell reporters that Bannon had fired him did Bannon concede, “It was Jared.”

In the days after the election, the people in the building on 17th and Pennsylvania were meant to move to another building in downtown DC, a kind of White House-in-waiting. They soon discovered that the lists that they had created of people to staff the Trump administration were not the lists that mattered. There was now this other list, of people allowed into the new building, and most of their names weren’t on it. “People would show up to the new building and say: ‘Let me in,’ and the secret service would say: ‘Sorry, you’re not on the list,’” said a civil servant who worked in the new building.

It wasn’t just Christie who had been fired. It was the entire transition team – although no one ever told them so directly. As Nancy Cook reported in Politico, Bannon visited the transition headquarters a few days after he had given Christie the news, and made a show of tossing the work the people there had done for Trump into the bin. Trump was going to handle the transition more or less by himself. Not even Bannon thought this was a good idea. “I was fucking nervous as shit,” Bannon later told friends. “I go, ‘Holy fuck, this guy [Trump] doesn’t know anything. And he doesn’t give a shit.’”

They were about to take control of the portfolio of existential risks managed by the US government. Only they weren’t. On the morning after the election the hundreds of people who had prepared to brief the incoming Trump administration sat waiting. A day became a week and a week became a month … and no one showed up. The parking spots that had been set aside for Trump’s people remained empty, and the briefing books were never opened. You could walk into almost any department of the US government and hear people asking the same question: where were these people who were meant to be running the place?

The department of agriculture was an excellent case study. The place had an annual budget of $164bn and was charged with so many missions critical to the society that the people who worked there played a drinking game called Does the Department of Agriculture Do It? Someone would name a function of government, say, making sure that geese don’t gather at US airports, and fly into jet engines. Someone else would have to guess whether the agriculture department did it. (In this case, it did.) Guess wrong and you had to drink. Among other things, the department essentially maintained rural America, and also ensured that the American poor and the elderly did not starve. Much of its work was complicated and technical – and yet for the months between the election and the inauguration, Trump people never turned up to learn about it. Only on inauguration day did they flood into the building, but the people who showed up had no idea why they were there or what they were meant to do. Trump sent, among others, a long-haul truck driver, a telephone company clerk, a gas company meter reader, a country club cabana attendant, a Republican National Committee intern and the owner of a scented candle company. One of the CVs listed the new appointee’s only skill as “a pleasant demeanor”.

All these people had two things in common. They were Trump loyalists. And they knew nothing whatsoever about the job they suddenly found themselves in. A new American experiment was underway.

This is an edited extract from The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis, published by Penguin on 2 October.

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