Monday, April 28, 2014

The Scale of the Fight On Climate Change

This is a really great piece from Chris Hayes on climate change. It's sobering:
In 2012, the writer and activist Bill McKibben published a heart-stopping essay in Rolling Stone titled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” I’ve read hundreds of thousands of words about climate change over the last decade, but that essay haunts me the most.

The piece walks through a fairly straightforward bit of arithmetic that goes as follows. The scientific consensus is that human civilization cannot survive in any recognizable form a temperature increase this century more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Given that we’ve already warmed the earth about 0.8 degrees Celsius, that means we have 1.2 degrees left—and some of that warming is already in motion. Given the relationship between carbon emissions and global average temperatures, that means we can release about 565 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere by mid-century. Total. That’s all we get to emit if we hope to keep inhabiting the planet in a manner that resembles current conditions.

Now here’s the terrifying part. The Carbon Tracker Initiative, a consortium of financial analysts and environmentalists, set out to tally the amount of carbon contained in the proven fossil fuel reserves of the world’s energy companies and major fossil fuel–producing countries. That is, the total amount of carbon we know is in the ground that we can, with present technology, extract, burn and put into the atmosphere. The number that the Carbon Tracker Initiative came up with is… 2,795 gigatons. Which means the total amount of known, proven extractable fossil fuel in the ground at this very moment is almost five times the amount we can safely burn.

Proceeding from this fact, McKibben leads us inexorably to the staggering conclusion that the work of the climate movement is to find a way to force the powers that be, from the government of Saudi Arabia to the board and shareholders of ExxonMobil, to leave 80 percent of the carbon they have claims on in the ground. That stuff you own, that property you’re counting on and pricing into your stocks? You can’t have it.

Given the fluctuations of fuel prices, it’s a bit tricky to put an exact price tag on how much money all that unexcavated carbon would be worth, but one financial analyst puts the price at somewhere in the ballpark of $20 trillion. So in order to preserve a roughly habitable planet, we somehow need to convince or coerce the world’s most profitable corporations and the nations that partner with them to walk away from $20 trillion of wealth. Since all of these numbers are fairly complex estimates, let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that we’ve overestimated the total amount of carbon and attendant cost by a factor of 2. Let’s say that it’s just $10 trillion.

The last time in American history that some powerful set of interests relinquished its claim on $10 trillion of wealth was in 1865—and then only after four years and more than 600,000 lives lost in the bloodiest, most horrific war we’ve ever fought.
Read the whole thing, I think understanding the scale puts the fight in a different light and makes me rethink what organizing methods would be most effective.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Up 2-0 over the Bulls, heading back home...

Also I could look at this picture for hours:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Train of Thought Lounge: Backyard Band

One of my favorite gogo covers.

Sorry for the lack of posting. End school... forever... is near.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pharoahe Monch On TV

So this happened and it was amazing. Pharoahe Monch, my all time favorite rapper was on Melissa Harris Perry's weekend show. His album comes out tomorrow, and it will be bought at midnight.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Change the Fucking Name

This is a thing that happened in Cleveland.

Amazingly enough, as predicted by this cartoon.

Change the fucking name.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Worst Interview By Any Politician, Ever?

I put this on twitter, but in case people missed it I wanted to make sure I gave it more airtime because it's so genuinely jaw-dropping. This is from a DCist interview with the next mayor of DC, Muriel Bowser (read the whole thing here):

The response of the DCist reporter is incredible because she seems legitimately stunned at Bowser's repeated question of "what does introducing legislation have to do with being mayor?" Her response is so patronizing it would be inappropriate under "not dealing with a question that idiotic" circumstances.

And this isn't even a case of someone who has been on the council for a year or so before running. She has been on the city council for SEVEN YEARS.

My god. I am always happy to be wrong/surprised, but Bowser seems like Fenty style neoliberal platitudes except without the substance. I just don't see how this ends well.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Female Senator Too "Emotional" about Torture

These words come from former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden:
Former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden suggested Sunday that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) might have compromised the objectivity of a report on CIA interrogation techniques because she personally wants to change them.

On "Fox News Sunday," Hayden cited comments Feinstein made last month in which she said declassifying the report would "ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted."

Hayden suggested Feinstein feels too strongly about the issue on an "emotional" level.

"That sentence -- that motivation for the report -- may show deep, emotional feeling on the part of the senator, but I don't think it leads you to an objective report," Hayden said.
I for one am glad this guy led the agency that was able to spy on all Americans at any time for any reason. He seems swell.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

DC's Democracy Not In Great Shape

Via Charles Davis on Twitter:
This is obviously a problem.

The usual answer is anger at people, but as someone who has spent a lot of time on voter registration in my past, I have a very hard time with that argument.

This seems like a case of bad candidates depressing interest combined with structural problems with DC's governance that make the mayor less powerful and able to do things. The last election that swept Gray into power was much more about hatred of Fenty and Rhee than it was positive feeling about Gray, so with those villains out of the picture this type of result seems likely. It also didn't help matters that the two main candidates were: Bowser (maybe the worst politician I remember winning an office this large, ever) and Gray (under a federal investigation). Not good times.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

GOP Offered VW 300 Million To Stop Union

Holy fuck, this is actually worse than I thought:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Were hundreds of millions of your tax dollars offered to Volkswagen -- and then pulled back -- to try to keep the United Auto Workers out of Chattanooga?

For months, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has denied any connection.

But documents leaked to NewsChannel 5 Investigates offer conclusive proof that the Haslam administration wanted a say in the automaker's deal with organized labor -- in exchange for $300 million in economic incentives to help VW expand its Chattanooga operations.

Volkswagen opened the Hamilton County facility in May 2011 with great fanfare.

Initially producing the midsize Passat, there were hints of more to come. It was located on a 1,400-acre site with plenty of room for expansion.

Last year, when Volkswagen began talking about adding a midsize SUV to its product line, the Haslam administration began discussing financial incentives to convince the company to build it in Chattanooga.

At the same time, VW began talks with the UAW about creating a workers council to help run the plant.

Yet, the governor had emphatically denied rumors heard by Democratic lawmakers that state incentives were tied to Volkswagen rejecting the UAW.

"This is exactly what we was looking for," said House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner when we showed him the evidence.

But while the state refused to give the documents to the Nashville Democrat, NewsChannel 5 Investigates obtained a summary from last August for what the Haslam administration called "Project Trinity."

Marked confidential, it offers Volkswagen incentives of some $300 million -- in exchange for 1,350 full-time jobs at a new SUV facility.

The catch?

"The incentives … are subject to works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee."
God knows labor law in this country is totally fucked, but this might be enough of a smoking gun to get a new election. You can basically threaten all this stuff and not fear penalties (even though it's technically illegal as well), but if you actually offered an extra 300 million in incentives... that could be just enough of a BFD to get attention.