Hawk Haiku

Hawk soars in the sky

As we watch branches whiten

She alights for now.



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Likely 2020 voters support parts of Green New Deal, despite reservations over the cost

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This story was originally published by the HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

A majority of likely 2020 voters supports key aspects of a Green New Deal even when faced with potential costs and downsides, but strict regulations to decarbonize the nation’s top polluters could trigger a backlash, according to a new poll from proponents of the policy.

The survey, released by the think tank Data for Progress and shared with HuffPost, found net support for a range of policies, including improving drinking water infrastructure, reforesting land, providing job training and insurance to displaced workers, and guaranteeing clean-energy jobs.

“At the core, the Green New Deal is about a moral imperative to transform our economy and improve people’s lives for the better,” said Greg Carlock, the researcher at Data for Progress and architect of the first Green New Deal blueprint published last September. “You can’t put a price on that, but even when you do, people still support it.”

But faced with a range of possible price tags, voters’ support varied, suggesting costs could factor high into the Green New Deal’s political viability. The results showed a majority of voters would likely oppose policies with stringent mandates — rules requiring all cars be electric by 2030 and every fossil fuel power plant close by 2035.

To test the support, Data for Progress commissioned the Democratic pollster Civis Analytics to survey 3,496 likely voters between January 4 – 26 on 11 policies expected to be included a Green New Deal. The poll tested four different cost scenarios on each question, randomly alternating between zero, low, medium, and high prices to test how the cost of a policy weighed on one-quarter of respondents’ opinions.

The green jobs guarantee, considered by Green New Deal proponents to be the heart of the suite of policies, proved one of the tricker components. In a lengthy prompt, the survey asked respondents if they support or oppose a policy that Democrats promised would “guarantee an environmentally friendly job to every American adult, with the government providing jobs for people who can’t find employment in the private sector.”

The question described the job as a position that would pay “at least $15 an hour, included healthcare benefits, and collective bargaining rights.” The surveyors added that Republicans warned the policy “would increase the national debt, endanger the long term health of our economy, and this policy will end up paying people who can’t contribute in the job market to perform pointless busy work.”

Thirty-nine percent supported the green jobs guarantee, 33 percent opposed, and 27 didn’t know. Without a price, voters were 9 percentage points likelier to support than oppose the policy. At a low of $100 billion, support hit 2 percentage points. Voters were about evenly divided on policies costing $500 billion or $1 trillion.

Mandates requiring the country to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2050 enjoyed sweeping support. The question noted that Democrats believed such a policy would “kickstart the renewable energy sector, creating jobs for many Americans and ensuring that America leads the world in green technology,” while Republicans said, “this would take away freedom from American consumers, put people out of work, and raise prices for everything from transportation to consumer goods.”

Thirty-eight percent supported the proposal, 33 percent opposed and 30 percent didn’t know. Without a price, voters backed the policy by 7 percentage points. At a low of $25 billion, that figure fell to 2 percentage points. Support held steady at 1 percentage point for both a medium cost of $37.5 billion and a high of $50 billion. Age impacted support at the unstated price level. Voters aged 18 to 34 supported the policy by 15 percentage points, while those 65 and older opposed the policy by 11 percentage points.

Policies improving drinking water infrastructure proved to be the most popular. The survey outlined a proposal to improve infrastructure “and replace lead pipes,” considering that Republicans “say that our drinking infrastructure is in good shape already, and this represents a wasteful use of resources that will burden our children with debt.”

Half of the respondents supported the proposal, 21 percent opposed, and 29 percent didn’t know. At no stated price, voters supported the proposal by 36 percentage points. Faced with a low cost of $25 billion, support sank to 27 percentage points. At a medium cost of $37.5 billion, the percentage dropped to 23. At a high of $50 billion, it fell to 22 percentage points.

The least popular policy was one “proposing requiring that all new cars sold be electric by 2030.” The question said, “Democrats say this would help stop climate change, save thousands of lives by reducing pollution, and make the U.S. the definitive leader in the electric car industry.”

Republicans say this would take away freedom from American consumers, put people making cars out of work, and make new cars unaffordable for the average American.

Just 26 percent supported the policy, with 44 percent opposed, and 33 percent unsure. Without even seeing a price, voters opposed the electric car mandate by 15 percentage points.

The second-least popular was a proposal “requiring that all fossil fuel plants (coal, natural gas, and oil) cease operating by 2035” in an effort to “help stop climate change” that Republicans say “would put many Americans out of work, and could lead to an energy crisis as energy prices soar.”

Voters opposed the measure by 3 percentage points, again without seeing a price.

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The findings come just weeks before the Senate is expected to hold a vote on the Green New Deal resolution Senator Ed Markey (a Democrat from Massachussetts) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (a Democrat from New York) released last week. The measure, essentially a political statement outlining the scope of what’s needed to prepare the U.S. for a rapidly warming climate, staked out an ambitious list of policies to protect vulnerable communities already suffering from pollution.

In what Green New Deal supporters called a cynical ploy to halt their movement’s growing momentum, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (a Republican from Kentucky), a veteran climate change denier who’s taken millions from the fossil fuel industry, vowed this week to hold a vote, forcing swing-state senators to take positions on a policy Republicans are aggressively working to vilify.

The vast majority of Americans understand climate change is happening and human-caused emissions are the primary cause. In December, 81 percent of registered voters supported the goals of the Green New Deal, including 64 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of conservative Republicans, according to a poll from Yale and George Mason universities. But the pollsters warned that the overwhelming bipartisan support could erode as the Green New Deal became more closely associated with individual politicians.

The Sunrise Movement, the grassroots climate advocacy group whose thousands of volunteers helped propel the Green New Deal into the national stage in November with a series of protests against top Democrats, said Wednesday it would ramp up actions confronting both Democrats and swing-state Republicans, urging them to support the policy. Groups like Justice Democrats, the left-wing organization that helped run Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign, and Data for Progress vowed to aid efforts to primary any Democrats who oppose the Green New Deal.

“The Green New Deal won’t hurt Democrats politically,” said Sean McElwee, the co-founder of Data for Progress. “But failing to take aggressive action on climate change could demoralize the millennial base who demand immediate action on climate change.”

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Likely 2020 voters support parts of Green New Deal, despite reservations over the cost

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Liquid Rules – Mark Miodownik


Liquid Rules

The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives

Mark Miodownik

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $14.99

Expected Publish Date: February 19, 2019

Publisher: HMH Books

Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Sometimes explosive, often delicious, occasionally poisonous, but always interesting: the New York Times- bestselling author of Stuff Matters shows us the secret lives of liquids: the shadow counterpart of our solid “stuff.” We all know that without water we couldn’t survive, and that sometimes a cup of coffee or a glass of wine feels just as vital. But do we really understand how much we rely on liquids, or the destructive power they hold?   Set over the course of a flight from London to San Francisco, Liquid Rules offers readers a fascinating tour of these formless substances, told through the language of molecules, droplets, heartbeats, and ocean waves. Throughout the trip, we encounter fluids within the plane—from a seemingly ordinary cup of tea to a liquid crystal display screen—and without, in the volcanoes of Iceland, the frozen expanse of Greenland, and the marvelous California coastline. We come to see liquids as substances of wonder and fascination, and to understand their potential for death and destruction. Just as in Stuff Matters, Mark Miodownik’s unique brand of scientific storytelling brings liquids and their mysterious properties to life in a captivating new way.


Liquid Rules – Mark Miodownik

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Youth-led climate protests sweep across Europe

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Thousands of young people in the U.K. are up in arms — not about Brexit, or the latest royal family gossip, but about climate change.

Students walked out of schools today in cities across the U.K., and other parts of Europe — the latest demonstration in what has become a global youth climate strike. This movement started six months ago when Swedish teen Greta Thunberg began leaving school every Friday to protest on the steps of her country’s parliament. Thunberg’s environmental activism is still going strong, and she has delivered powerful speeches to both the U.N. and the World Economic Forum on the urgency of climate change.

This is week 26 of her climate strike. But she’s no longer in it alone.

These kids aren’t just hooting and hollering, either. The U.K. Student Climate Network, a group that helped coordinate some of the biggest protests in London, Brighton, Oxford, and Exeter, has four very specific demands.

They want leaders in government to:

Declare a climate emergency and take “active steps to achieve climate justice”
Adjust curriculum to make the ecological crisis a priority in public education
Do more to communicate the severity of the problem to the general public
Lower the voting age to 16, so that young people can have a voice in determining their future

The young protestors were keen to apply their Gen Z wit to the climate cause, with slogans like: “I’ve seen smarter cabinets at Ikea,” “Make Earth cool again,” “Like the oceans we rise,” “Nobody minds if you miss school on a dead planet,” and the straightforward “Don’t f*ck us over.” Sometimes simplicity wins.

Don’t worry if you’re feeling left out in the U.S. The climate strike is spreading stateside as well, with a major national action planned for Friday, March 15. And some young American activists, like Alexandria Villasenor, have already been at it for weeks.

Next month’s climate march is expected to galvanize not only students from around the globe, but also major environmental groups like 350.org, Extinction Rebellion, and the Sunrise Movement.

If one teen can spark a movement this size, we’d better be keeping an eye on all these youngsters. Who’s telling what they might do next — save the world, maybe?

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Youth-led climate protests sweep across Europe

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What would a national emergency over climate change look like?

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Well, it finally happened: President Trump declared a national emergency in order to secure funding for his barrier between Mexico and the United States. We are under virtually no threat from illegal immigration through the southern border. Phew! But don’t put up your feet just yet, the U.S. actually is facing a pretty terrifying threat, not from immigrants, but from climate change.

Now that Trump has set a precedent, some are raising the point that a different president could use the same maneuver to declare a national emergency over rising temperatures. After all, rising sea levels, worsening hurricanes, wildfires, invasive species, and droughts threaten millions of Americans. Talk about a national security crisis.

Shortly after Trump made his declaration, Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar took to Twitter to call on the next president to declare climate change a national emergency upon taking office. If the idea catches on, 2020 Democrats might have to decide not only whether they support the Green New Deal, but also whether they would be willing to take that commitment to the next level.

Hold your horses, can a future president use emergency power to combat climate change? And if so, what would that even look like?

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Dan Farber, professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, examined the idea of a climate change national emergency in a blog post. It turns out there are a few things a future president might be able to do to mitigate climate change through such a move. Here are the areas Farber thinks are worth exploring (these options are as of yet untested, could look different in practice, AND, as Farber told us in an earlier story, just ’cause it’s possible in theory doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea):

Oil drilling could be put on pause. “Oil leases are required to have clauses allowing them to be suspended during national emergencies,” Farber writes. If climate change is causing the emergency, doesn’t it make sense to pump the brakes on the stuff causing it? Hmmm?
The Secretary of Transportation, who is in charge of transportation coordination during national emergencies, could restrict use of gas-powered vehicles.
The renewable energy industry could get an influx of financial support, because a provision allows “the President to extend loan guarantees to critical industries during national emergencies,” Farber writes.
There’s even an act that could be invoked to give the president power to “impose sanctions on individuals and countries.” In a national climate change emergency scenario, the act could be used to sanction oil-producing countries.

In a national emergency, the president gets nearly 150 special powers. The options listed above are just a few of the ways those powers could be used in the name of climate change mitigation.

Already, Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer has announced he will be introducing a “congressional emergency declaration on the climate crisis” in Congress. Get ready, GOP! Even if the Supreme Court ends up striking down the border wall, Trump just opened Pandora’s Box.

Originally posted here: 

What would a national emergency over climate change look like?

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Enviros get ready to throw down over Trump’s border wall national emergency

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On Friday morning, President Trump declared a national emergency to secure funding for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Opponents of the wall argue the issue does not warrant national emergency status. In usual Trumpian style, the president told journalists exactly what many were already thinking.“I didn’t need to do this,” he said. “But I’d rather do it much faster.” Whoomp, there it is!

The wall isn’t just an expensive political maneuver; its construction poses a threat to Tohono O’odham Nation land and culture, as well as biodiversity, wildlife refuges along the border, and endangered species. Case in point: One study shows that the wall threatens 93 endangered species.

Elected officials and the environmental community came out swinging against the executive order mere minutes after it was announced, promising lawsuits and counter-bills.

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The Sierra Club vowed swift legal action against the declaration. “We are repulsed by this unprecedented attack on the borderlands and on our democracy, and we intend to resist it with every tool possible,” the organization’s executive director said in a statement.

The League of Conservation Voters, an organization that keeps tabs on how Congress votes on environmental legislation, called the wall “xenophobic, racist and environmentally destructive” in an emailed statement.

And the National Butterfly Center, home to “the greatest volume and variety of wild, free-flying butterflies in the nation,” has already filed a restraining order to keep federal workers from trampling all over the sanctuary and its delicate inhabitants as they plan out a wall that would cut directly through the property.

On the congressional side, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced on Twitter that she plans to introduce a bill with fellow Democrat Joaquin Castro to block the executive order. “[We] aren’t going to let the President declare a fake national emergency without a fight,” she said. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a statement calling the order “unlawful.”

Meanwhile, Trump is preparing for battle. “I expect to be sued,” he told reporters. You got that right, buddy!


Enviros get ready to throw down over Trump’s border wall national emergency

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The EPA made two big announcements this week that could affect your water

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The Environmental Protection Agency has been busy this week, moving on two major water-related issues. Whether either action will result in cleaner water, though, is still up for debate.

The EPA proposes replacement to Clean Water Rule

The EPA, along with the he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, proposed a replacement to the Obama-era Clean Water Rule, which defined which bodies are protected by the longstanding Clean Water Act, extending protections to some contested waterways. That didn’t sit well with some farmers and ranchers, who felt the law was an overreach and too burdensome on their operations.

With its new rule, the EPA seeks to redefine “waters of the United States” so it applies to fewer bodies of water. Critics of the move — including Sierra Club and the Cincinnati NAACP — have dubbed the new proposal the “#DirtyWaterRule.”

President Trump has denounced Obama’s Clean Water Rule since he was on the campaign trail, eventually signing an executive order asking the EPA to review the rule. The Agency suspended the rule in January 2018 until a federal judge reinstituted it in 26 states later that year.

When the EPA released a statement last December saying it planned to propose a new definition of the nation’s waters, acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said, “Our simpler and clearer definition would help landowners understand whether a project on their property will require a federal permit or not without spending thousands of dollars on engineering and legal professionals.”

Now the public will have 60 days (until April 15) to comment on the proposed change.

The EPA moves (but not too fast) to limit toxic “forever chemicals”

The EPA released an action plan on a class of widely-used, man-made water and oil-repelling chemicals known as Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. The so-called “forever chemicals,” named for how long they persist in your body and the environment, are found in everything from food packaging to non-stick pans and dental floss. They’ve also been found in around 6 million Americans’ drinking water. A growing body of research suggests that PFAS could have negative effects on fertility, hormones, immune systems, and place people at a higher risk of certain cancers.

Last spring, the EPA said it would evaluate whether it should set a cap on PFAS levels in drinking water. The plan released Thursday disappointed lawmakers and advocacy groups because the agency signaled that it may take until the end of the year to determine whether it will set a maximum contaminant level for the substance.

“This is a non-action plan,” Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement Thursday. “The big winners today are polluting corporations, not the people affected by this industrial waste in their drinking water supplies.”

Critics say there is already ample evidence of the chemicals’ harmfulness and that the administration should act more quickly. Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who is a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement: “After a year of hemming and hawing, Scott Pruitt and Andrew Wheeler’s EPA is punting on action to tackle a serious public health risk lurking in Americans’ drinking water … I hope this episode makes my Republican colleagues think twice before confirming Andrew Wheeler as EPA Administrator.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have supported taking action on PFAS; Politico reported last month that the EPA’s decisions on the chemical now could affect the acting administrator’s confirmation to the post.

In a statement, Wheeler lauded the EPA’s PFAS plan: “For the first time in Agency history, we utilized all of our program offices to construct an all-encompassing plan to help states and local communities address PFAS and protect our nation’s drinking water. We are moving forward with several important actions, including the maximum contaminant level process, that will help affected communities better monitor, detect, and address PFAS.”


The EPA made two big announcements this week that could affect your water

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How Can I Reduce the Cost of My Solar System?

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How Can I Reduce the Cost of My Solar System?

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Botany for Gardeners – Brian Capon


Botany for Gardeners

Third Edition

Brian Capon

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $9.99

Publish Date: September 10, 2010

Publisher: Timber Press

Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.

A bestseller since its debut in 1990, this indispensable and handy reference has now been expanded and updated to include an appendix on plant taxonomy and a comprehensive index. Two dozen new photos and illustrations make this new edition even richer with information. Its convenient paperback format makes it easy to carry and access, whether you are in or out of the garden. An essential overview of the science behind plants for beginning and advanced gardeners alike.


Botany for Gardeners – Brian Capon

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A member of the GOP says the Green New Deal is the next Fyre Fest. Wait, what?

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North Carolina Representative Mark Walker is trying to one-up Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s social media game. On Wednesday, the Republican released a trailer on Twitter that takes a … unique approach to Green New Deal fear-mongering:

The 90-second video plays off the recent Fyre Festival boondoggle and documentary. “A socialist utopia” scrolls across the screen as blond women smile and millennials party, “kill off all the cows, ban all the airplanes.” The actual Green New Deal resolution doesn’t call for banning cows or planes, but Walker and his team of what I can only imagine are a bunch of 20-year-old bros don’t seem to care.

Watch the trailer to catch this reporter’s favorite part, a five-second clip of partiers holding pitchforks and celebrating under a title card that reads “so much energy.”

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A member of the GOP says the Green New Deal is the next Fyre Fest. Wait, what?

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It’s official: El Niño is back. Now what?

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Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that El Niño — the periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, with weather consequences worldwide — has officially arrived.

El Niño typically peaks between October and March, so it’s pretty late in the season for a new one to form. This year’s El Niño is expected to remain relatively weak, but that doesn’t mean this one won’t be felt — in fact, its cascading consequences already in motion.

El Niños normally happen every two-to-seven years, but this is already the sixth El Niño of the 21st century. It’s also the first since the so-called “Godzilla” El Niño of 2015-2016, which boosted global temperatures to all-time records, snuffed out entire coral reef ecosystems, and created havoc for about 60 million people worldwide. There’s some evidence that El Niños are becoming more frequent and more intense due to climate change.

The advent of this El Niño means that 2019 is “almost certain to be another top-5 year,” wrote Gavin Schmidt director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in an email to Grist. He gave “roughly 1-in-3 odds” that 2019 will surpass 2016 as the warmest year on record, thanks in part to the boost from El Niño.

Most short-term climate models show Pacific Ocean temperatures remaining unusually warm for at least the rest of this year, and a few hint that a bigger El Niño could form within about six months — though forecasting that far ahead is notoriously tricky.

This winter has been warmer and wetter than usual for most of the West Coast — a classic sign of El Niño weather. After years of drought, California snowpack currently sits at about 130 percent of normal, and on Thursday, Los Angeles officially surpassed its “normal” annual rainfall threshold for the first time in years.

In the short term, this El Niño is likely to keep pushing stormy weather ashore out West, especially in Southern California. Judging by past weak El Niños, the rest of winter elsewhere in the country could be cooler and wetter than normal, especially for the Northeast where snow has been notably absent so far. El Niño could bring some late-season snowstorm doozies for the East Coast as well as severe weather and flooding in the Southeast. Later this year, it’s likely that widespread wildfires will return to portions of the West Coast (new grasses and brush from the wet weather will become kindling in dry weather) and Southeast Asia, and severe drought could afflict East Africa and Australia.

The biggest potential consequence of this El Niño is its effect on global temperatures. Carbon dioxide is driving the long-term acceleration of global warming, of course, but there’s evidence that El Niño droughts prevent carbon dioxide uptake and permanently worsen climate change. The five warmest years in history have occurred in the past five years, and odds are that 2019 temps will rank second in all-time weather records. Should El Niño intensify later this year, 2020 would be even warmer, and may even be the first year to breach the much-feared 1.5 degree Celsius mark.


It’s official: El Niño is back. Now what?

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