The Evening Blues - 9-23-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues and soul singer Harold Burrage. Enjoy!
Harold Burrage - Crying For My Baby
"Let us be clear: censorship is cowardice. ... It masks corruption. It is a school of torture: it teaches, and accustoms one to the use of force against an idea, to submit thought to an alien "other." But worst still, censorship destroys criticism, which is the essential ingredient of culture."
-- Pablo Antonio Cuadra
News and Opinion
Glenn Greenwald, worth a full read, especially if you don't have the time to watch the video:
A severe escalation of the war on a free internet and free discourse has taken place over the last twelve months. Numerous examples of brute and dangerous censorship have emerged: the destruction by Big Tech monopolies of Parler at the behest of Democratic politicians at the time that it was the most-downloaded app in the country; the banning of the sitting president from social media; and the increasingly explicit threats from elected officials in the majority party of legal and regulatory reprisals in the event that tech platforms do not censor more in accordance with their demands.
But the most severe episode of all was the joint campaign — in the weeks before the 2020 election — by the CIA, Big Tech, the liberal wing of the corporate media and the Democratic Party to censor and suppress a series of major reports about then-presidential frontrunner Joe Biden. On October 14 and then October 15, 2020, The New York Post, the nation's oldest newspaper, published two news reports on Joe Biden's activities in Ukraine and China that raised serious questions about his integrity and ethics: specifically whether he and his family were trading on his name and influence to generate profit for themselves. The Post said that the documents were obtained from a laptop left by Joe Biden's son Hunter at a repair shop.
From the start, the evidence of authenticity was overwhelming. The Post published obviously genuine photos of Hunter that were taken from the laptop. Investigations from media outlets found people who had received the emails in real-time and they compared the emails in their possession to the ones in the Post's archive, and they matched word-for-word. One of Hunter's own business associates involved in many of these deals, Tony Bobulinski, confirmed publicly and in interviews that the key emails were genuine and that they referenced Joe Biden's profit participation in one deal being pursued in China. A forensics analyst issued a report concluding the archive had all the earmarks of authenticity. Not even the Bidens denied that the emails were real: something they of course would have done if they had been forged or altered. In sum, as someone who has reported on numerous large archives similar to this one and was faced with the heavy burden of ensuring the documents were genuine before risking one's career and reputation by reporting them, it was clear early on that all the key metrics demonstrated that these documents were real.
Despite all that, former intelligence officials such as Obama's CIA Director John Brennan and his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper led a group of dozens of former spooks in issuing a public statement that disseminated an outright lie: namely, that the laptop was "Russian disinformation.” Note that this phrase contains two separate assertions: 1) the documents came from Russia and 2) they are fake ("disinformation"). The intelligence officials admitted in this letter that — in their words — “we do not know if the emails are genuine or not,” and also admitted that “we do not have evidence of Russian involvement.” Yet it repeatedly insinuated that everyone should nonetheless believe this. [See link for portion of document referred to.]
But the complete lack of evidence for these claims — that even these career CIA liars acknowledged plagued their assertions — did not stop the corporate media or Big Tech from repeating this lie over and over, and, far worse, using this lie to censor this reporting from the internet.
Joe Biden, in his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, told world leaders Tuesday: “I stand here today, for the first time in 20 years, with the United States not at war.”
According to the latest available White House war report, the U.S. was involved in seven wars in 2018: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger. The U.S. withdrew last month from Afghanistan, so the number of current U.S. wars is likely six. Likely because in an age of so-called counter-terrorism operations it’s not entirely clear where U.S. forces are deployed. U.S. involvement, for instance, in Niger came as a complete surprise. Biden has already carried out airstrikes in Syria and Somalia and he vowed to continue a drone war in Afghanistan. U.S. troops continue to occupy Syrian territory. There are officially 2,500 U.S. troops still in Iraq.
In any case, the United States is not at peace, as Biden implied. With 800 military bases and installations around the world the U.S. remains perpetually on a war footing. ...
Biden told the U.N. he was keen on diplomacy. “We must redouble our diplomacy and commit to political negotiations, not violence, as the tool of first resort to manage tensions around the world,” he said. But the words ring hollow, coming from a prominent supporter of the illegal invasion of Iraq. After just one term as U.N. secretary-general, after the Clinton administration essentially fired him, Boutros Boutros Ghali concluded that the U.S. had no need for diplomacy. He wrote in his memoir:
“Coming from a developing country, I was trained extensively in international law and diplomacy and mistakenly assumed that the great powers, especially the United States, also trained their representatives in diplomacy and accepted the value of it. But the Roman Empire had no need of diplomacy. Neither does the United States.”
Not to carry the idea of diplomacy too far, Biden, of course, told the world he’s still ready to use force whenever he thinks it’s necessary. ...
After leaving Afghanistan last month Biden indicated the Pentagon’s attention would focus even more intently on Russia and China. The controversial, new U.S.-U.K.-Australia defense pact is clearly aimed at Beijing. Unlike Obama, Biden did not utter the words Russia or China in his speech. Instead he condemned them under the coded language of “authoritarianism.”
War is over. Welcome to the new war.
United States of War: How AUKUS Nuclear Submarine Deal Could Inflame Tension, Provoke War with China
France has agreed to return its ambassador to the US and Joe Biden has vowed not to cut Paris out of key future defence decisions in the Indo-Pacific after a phone call designed to calm French fury after he struck a submarine deal with Australia and the UK behind Emmanuel Macron’s back.
In a joint statement, issued after the phone call ended a five-day standoff between the leaders, the two men agreed to meet in Europe in late October, probably at the G20 summit, to discuss how to improve consultations in future.
Macron said he would dispatch his withdrawn ambassador back to Washington next week, but there was no sign that the US or Australia would go back on their decision to work together on building nuclear-powered submarines, a decision that led Canberra to cancel its €56bn contract for the French to build diesel-based submarines.
Biden instead said the US would be supplying extra help to the French-led anti-terrorist operations in the Sahel. The joint statement also sought to remove any suggestion that the US regarded the independently minded French as unreliable partners in the efforts to constrain China in the Indo-Pacific, the chief unstated purpose of the Aukus pact.
While the text stopped short of an apology and offered no practical remedy, it did concede that the French should have been better consulted, and deserve to be so in the future.
In a chilling reminder of the war crimes committed during the 20-year Afghanistan War, former inmates of a notorious prison at the largest U.S. military base in the country recently returned there to recount the torture and other horrors they endured during their captivity.
Al Jazeera reported Tuesday that former prisoner Hajimumin Hamza recently led the Taliban fighters who now control Bagram Air Base in Parwan province on a tour of the facility that once held more than 5,000 people, including children, and has been called "Afghanistan's Abu Ghraib."
"There were a lot of different forms of torture, including sexual abuse," Hamza told Al Jazeera. "It is psychologically hard for me to recall all that was happening. The torture was mostly done by Afghans, sometimes the Americans. But the orders came from the U.S."
"They used to tie us to this chair, our hands and feet, and then applied electric shocks," recalled Hamza, pointing to a chair. "Sometimes they used it for beatings, too."
According to Al Jazeera:
Hamza remembers much more than the electric shocks. Hanging upside down for hours. Water and tear gas being poured on sleeping prisoners from the bars on a cell's ceiling. Confinement in tiny, windowless, solitary cells for weeks or months with either no light or a bright bulb switched on 24/7.
Hamza showed where prisoners wrote on walls in Pashto and Dari.
"People were writing memories, like a diary," he explained. "We did that because we wanted to leave a testimony in case the Americans kill us. So that people know that we were here."
In May 2005, The New York Times obtained a 2,000-page U.S. Army report detailing the torture and murder of two unarmed Afghan civilians named Habibullah and Dilawar at Bagram, part of a wider pattern of at least dozens of detainee and prisoner homicides committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq during the so-called War on Terror.
Fifteen low-ranking U.S. soldiers—including one who served at the notorious Abu Ghraib torture prison in Iraq—were court-martialed and charged with crimes ranging from assault to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the deaths of Habibullah and Dilawar. Some of the soldiers were acquitted; others received reprimands and rank reductions. Two of the troops were sentenced to prison terms of two and five months.
Moazzam Begg—a British citizen who was imprisoned for three years, first at Bagram and then at Guantánamo Bay, before being released without charge or trial—and others have also asserted that Aafia Siddiqui, a U.S.-educated Pakistani neuroscientist, was held for years as the only woman prisoner at Bagram.
Begg, who is now the outreach director at the U.K.-based advocacy group CAGE, recently called Siddiqui's imprisonment—she is currently serving an 86-year sentence in a federal penitentiary in Texas for allegedly trying to kill U.S. troops during an interrogation—"one of the most troubling in the sordid history of the War on Terror."
President Biden addressed the UN General Assembly on September 21 with a warning that the climate crisis is fast approaching a “point of no return,” and a promise that the United States would rally the world to action. “We will lead not just with the example of our power but, God willing, with the power of our example,” he said.
But the U.S. is not a leader when it comes to saving our planet. Yahoo News recently published a report titled “Why the U.S. Lags Behind Europe on Climate Goals by 10 or 15 years." The article was a rare acknowledgment in the U.S. corporate media that the United States has not only failed to lead the world on the climate crisis, but has actually been the main culprit blocking timely collective action to head off a global existential crisis.
The anniversary of September 11th and the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan should be ringing alarm bells inside the head of every American, warning us that we have allowed our government to spend trillions of dollars waging war, chasing shadows, selling arms and fueling conflict all over the world, while ignoring real existential dangers to our civilization and all of humanity.
The world’s youth are dismayed by their parents’ failures to tackle the climate crisis. A new survey of 10,000 people between the ages of 16 and 25 in ten countries around the world found that many of them think humanity is doomed and that they have no future.
Three quarters of the young people surveyed said they are afraid of what the future will bring, and 40% say the crisis makes them hesitant to have children. They are also frightened, confused and angered by the failure of governments to respond to the crisis. As the BBC reported, “They feel betrayed, ignored and abandoned by politicians and adults.”
Young people in the U.S. have even more reason to feel betrayed than their European counterparts. America lags far behind Europe on renewable energy. European countries started fulfilling their climate commitments under the Kyoto Protocol in the 1990s and now get 40% of their electricity from renewable sources, while renewables provide only 20% of electric power in America.
Since 1990, the baseline year for emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol, Europe has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 24%, while the United States has failed to cut them at all, spewing out 2% more than it did in 1990. In 2019, before the Covid pandemic, the United States produced more oil and more natural gas than ever before in its history.
NATO, our politicians and the corporate media on both sides of the Atlantic promote the idea that the United States and Europe share a common “Western” culture and values. But our very different lifestyles, priorities and responses to this climate crisis tell a tale of two very different, even divergent economic and political systems.
The idea that human activity is responsible for climate change was understood decades ago and is not controversial in Europe. But in America, politicians and news media have blindly or cynically parroted fraudulent, self-serving disinformation campaigns by ExxonMobil and other vested interests.
While the Democrats have been better at “listening to the scientists,” let’s not forget that, while Europe was replacing fossil fuels and nuclear plants with renewable energy, the Obama administration was unleashing a fracking boom to switch from coal-fired power plants to new plants running on fracked gas.
Why is the U.S. so far behind Europe when it comes to addressing global warming? Why do only 60% of Europeans own cars, compared with 90% of Americans? And why does each U.S. car owner clock double the mileage that European drivers do? Why does the United States not have modern, energy-efficient, widely-accessible public transportation, as Europe does?
We can ask similar questions about other stark differences between the United States and Europe. On poverty, inequality, healthcare, education and social insurance, why is the United States an outlier from what are considered societal norms in other wealthy countries?
One answer is the enormous amount of money the U.S. spends on militarism. Since 2001, the United States has allocated $15 trillion (in FY2022 dollars) to its military budget, outspending its 20 closest military competitors combined.
The U.S. spends far more of its GDP (the total value of goods produced and services) on the military than any of the other 29 Nato countries—3.7% in 2020 compared to 1.77%. And while the U.S. has been putting intense pressure on NATO countries to spend at least 2% of their GDP on their militaries, only ten of them have done so. Unlike in the U.S., the military establishment in Europe has to contend with significant opposition from liberal politicians and a more educated and mobilized public.
From the lack of universal healthcare to levels of child poverty that would be unacceptable in other wealthy countries, our government’s under-investment in everything else is the inevitable result of these skewed priorities, which leave America struggling to get by on what is left over after the U.S. military bureaucracy has raked off the lion’s share—or should we say the “generals’ share”?—of the available resources.
Federal infrastructure and “social” spending in 2021 amount to only about 30% of the money spent on militarism. The infrastructure package that Congress is debating is desperately needed, but the $3.5 trillion is spread over 10 years and is not enough.
On climate change, the infrastructure bill includes only $10 billion per year for conversion to green energy, an important but small step that will not reverse our current course toward a catastrophic future. Investments in a Green New Deal must be bookended by corresponding reductions in the military budget if we are to correct our government’s perverted and destructive priorities in any lasting way. This means standing up to the weapons industry and military contractors, which the Biden administration has so far failed to do.
The reality of America’s 20-year arms race with itself makes complete nonsense of the administration's claims that the recent arms build-up by China now requires the U.S. to spend even more. China spends only a third of what the U.S. spends, and what is driving China’s increased military spending is its need to defend itself against the ever-growing U.S. war machine that has been “pivoting” to the waters, skies and islands surrounding its shores since the Obama administration.
Biden told the UN General Assembly that “...as we close this period of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy.” But his exclusive new military alliance with the U.K. and Australia, and his request for a further increase in military spending to escalate a dangerous arms race with China that the United States started in the first place, reveal just how far Biden has to go to live up to his own rhetoric, on diplomacy as well as on climate change.
The United States must go to the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow in November ready to sign on to the kind of radical steps that the UN and less developed countries are calling for. It must make a real commitment to leaving fossil fuels in the ground; quickly convert to a net-zero renewable energy economy; and help developing countries to do the same. As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says, the summit in Glasgow “must be the turning point” in the climate crisis.
That will require the United States to seriously reduce the military budget and commit to peaceful, practical diplomacy with China and Russia. Genuinely moving on from our self-inflicted military failures and the militarism that led to them would free up the U.S. to enact programs that address the real existential crisis our planet faces—a crisis against which warships, bombs and missiles are worse than useless.
Infectious Disease Expert: Vaccinated NOT As Likely To SPREAD Covid, Delta OUTSMARTING Other Strains
Joe Biden has announced that the US will donate an additional 500m Covid-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries around the world, bringing America’s total global donation to more than 1.1bn doses.
The US president outlined the plan on Wednesday at a virtual coronavirus summit where he urged world leaders to “go big” in tackling the pandemic and closing the vaccination gap with poorer nations.
The meeting on the margins of the UN general assembly offers Biden a chance to exercise soft power and gain an edge on rivals such as China in “vaccine diplomacy”.
In June Biden announced that the US would buy and donate half a billion Pfizer vaccines to 92 low- and lower-middle-income countries and the African Union through Covax, the global vaccine initiative. These have begun to ship, though the logistical challenges of distribution and storage are considerable.
A medical professor who is opposed to mask and vaccine mandates, attacked concern over the pandemic as “Covid mania” and likened the eating of fruit and vegetables to the benefits of vaccination has been named as Florida’s new surgeon general.
Dr Joseph Ladapo has been appointed to the role by Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Republican governor who has railed against restrictions placed upon day-to-day life to dampen the Covid-19 pandemic and has sought to block funding for schools in the state that have attempted to make students wear masks to stop the spread of the virus that has killed more than 675,000 people in the US since the pandemic began.
Ladapo is a Harvard-trained doctor who was until recently a researcher at UCLA. His new position for the state government will come alongside a new position he has accepted at the University of Florida College of Medicine.
At a press conference on Tuesday to mark his appointment, Lapado said he would “reject fear” in his dealing with the pandemic. “Florida will completely reject fear,” he said. “Fear is done.”
Like DeSantis, Ladapo is opposed to mask mandates and has said that getting vaccinated is a personal choice that individuals have to make. “There is nothing special about them compared to any other preventive measure,” he said about vaccines, despite widespread evidence that unvaccinated people are overwhelmingly more likely to become seriously ill or die from Covid.
The Federal Reserve signaled on Wednesday that it may start cutting its enormous pandemic stimulus programs as soon as November and could raise interest rates next year.
The US central bank left interest rates unchanged at near zero after its latest meeting. Rates were cut in March 2020 as the US economy reeled from the impact of the pandemic. But the Fed also indicated it may soon start pulling back on the $120bn in monthly asset purchases program that it started when the coronavirus hit the US.
“If progress continues broadly as expected, the Committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted,” the Fed’s post-meeting statement said. ...
The latest Fed statement also showed that more members of the Fed committee now believe that interest rates should rise in the near future. Nine of the 18 officials expect to raise interest rates by the end of 2022, up from seven officials in June when a majority said they thought rates would rise in 2023.
By the end of the year Texas may have even more restrictions on the ability to get an abortion after its Republican governor, Greg Abbott, quietly signed into law new restrictions banning the mail-order provision of abortion medication seven weeks into pregnancy.
The law prevents providers from prescribing abortion-inducing drugs more than seven weeks into pregnancy, instead of 10 weeks, the current limit. It takes effect on 2 December.
Abbott signed the law with no meaningful fanfare on Friday and news about the event only broke later, triggering outrage from reproductive rights advocates who warned the move was another devastating blow to pregnant people in the state.
The Biden administration is preparing to reopen a migrant detention camp on Guantánamo Bay in the wake of a surge of migrants and asylum seekers on the southern border. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) bureau is inviting tenders for private contractors to run the Migrant Operations Center on the US naval base, close to the prison compounds housing the remaining 39 detainees held in the “war on terror”.
The migrant camp was first set up in 1991 and was intended to hold Cuban asylum seekers. Ultimately it was used to detain about 34,000 Haitians and roughly the same number of Cubans until it was wound down by the Obama administration. It has not been used to hold migrants since 2017. Ice is looking for a private contractor to run the centre and provide unarmed custody and security officers. ...
The advertised “contract opportunity’’ states: “The facility has a capacity of 120 people and will have an estimated daily population of 20 people, however the service provider shall be responsible to maintain on site the necessary equipment to erect temporary housing facilities for populations that exceed 120 and up to 400 migrants in a surge event.” The contractor would have to assemble tents and cots for a surge of migrant detainees at short notice.
A wide-ranging ban on books in a southern Pennsylvania school district has been reversed following widespread protests and criticism. The ban, which was implemented last October by the Central York school board, focused almost entirely on titles by or about people of colour, with a lengthy list of works by acclaimed authors including Jacqueline Woodson, Ileoma Oluo and Ibram X Kendi all prohibited. Teachers were informed that titles including Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography and children’s books about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr were also banned, along with articles and videos, including a documentary about the writing of James Baldwin.
While school officials told CNN the educational resources were not banned, rather “frozen” while the board vetted them, the situation continued for almost a year. One teacher, who chose to remain anonymous, described the ban as “disgusting” to local paper the York Dispatch, adding: “Let’s just call it what it is – every author on that list is a Black voice.”
Jane Johnson, the school board president, told CNN in a statement that it was just a coincidence that almost all the material banned by the all-white school board was by or about people of colour, adding: “Concerns were based on the content of the resources, not the author or topic.”
While some local parents supported the ban – one told CNN that “I don’t want my daughter growing up feeling guilty because she’s white” – students mobilised against it, protesting in front of the school. Two local women, meanwhile, called for book donations so they could put the banned titles in Little Free Libraries around York. They have collected thousands of books so far.
Yesterday, the school board voted unanimously to reinstate the list of books immediately, the York Dispatch reported.
Bipartisan negotiations in the US Congress over a police reform bill that was prompted by the killing of George Floyd have collapsed. ... The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in March, and Democratic congresswoman Karen Bass and the Democratic senator Cory Booker have since been working with the Republican senator Tim Scott to try to reach a bipartisan agreement on a bill that could pass the Senate.
But the talks dragged on for months with negotiators remaining at odds over a few crucial issues in the bill, and the lawmakers now appear to have thrown in the towel.
Most notably, the bipartisan negotiating team could not reach an agreement on the Democratic proposal to reform qualified immunity, which shields police officers from civil liability for misconduct.
“We made it clear from the beginning of our negotiations that a bill must ensure true accountability, transparency and the policing standards necessary to bring an end to horrific incidents of violence Americans are routinely seeing – like the murder of George Floyd,” Booker said in a statement on Wednesday. “After months of exhausting every possible pathway to a bipartisan deal, it remains out of reach right now,” he added.
The sweeping legislation passed by the House would have banned chokeholds and qualified immunity for law enforcement and would have created national standards for policing in an effort to increase accountability.
The House select committee investigating the 6 January attack on the US Capitol is considering issuing a blitz of subpoenas for top Trump White House aides including the former chief and deputy chief of staff, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The subpoenas – which are expected to be authorized as early as this week – would place House select committee investigators inside the White House and Trump campaign war rooms at the time of the insurrection as the panel prepares to ramp up the pace of its inquiry.
House select committee investigators are considering subpoenas for call detail records or testimony of key aides including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, the source said.
The scope and subjects of the subpoenas are not yet finalized and discussions about who to include in the first tranche are still ongoing, the source said, although the three Trump officials are presently considered likely targets.
Taken together, the developing move from the select committee marks perhaps the most aggressive investigative actions since the panel made an array of records demands and records preservation requests for Trump officials last month.
Microplastics are plastic particles smaller than 5mm in size that have been released into the environment from the breakage of bigger plastic objects. They are a threat to the environment because they do not easily biodegrade, and recent research has found them in dust, food, fruit, bottled water and, as a result, animal and human faeces.
Human exposure to microplastics is a possible health concern, but little is known about its extent. In a small study, researchers from New York University School of Medicine discovered that infants have 10 to 20 times higher microplastic concentrations in their stool than adults, specifically when it comes to PET (polyethylene terephthalate) microplastics. These are used mainly in the production of textile fibres, water bottles and mobile phone cases, for example. ...
The research is published in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science and Technology Letters.
It has been estimated that the average person can ingest up to 5 grams of microplastic a week. Some of the microplastics pass seamlessly through the digestive system and are expelled in faeces, some microplastics are accumulated within bodily organs, and recent research has shown that some pieces cross cell membranes and enter the bloodstream. Other studies have shown generational transmission of microplastics from pregnant mothers to their baby’s placenta.
Not much is known about how microplastics affect and possibly damage the human body, but some tests on laboratory animals have shown inflammation, cell shutdown and metabolic issues.
The pledge by China’s president, Xi Jinping, on Tuesday to cease building new coal-fired power projects outside the country will be welcome news to environmentalists around the world. It came on the anniversary of Xi’s unilateral pledge for China to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. Last year Xi also promised that Chinese emissions would peak by 2030. ... Xi is personally invested in the climate agenda. Since he came to power in 2012, Beijing has been taking more visible steps in tackling its own environmental problems such as pollution. It has been extending its influence abroad, too, by joining international initiatives such as the 2015 Paris climate agreement – a pledge that Donald Trump pulled the US out of four years ago but which Joe Biden has rejoined. And unlike in some countries, there is consensus among China’s political elite that the climate crisis is real.
Inside China there has been growing awareness among citizens about the impact of the climate crisis. This summer’s devastating floods in Henan province illustrated to many people the consequences of inaction on the climate emergency. ... Sam Geall, the chief executive of China Dialogue, an environmental thinktank, said: “[Xi’s pledge at the UN] means China remains committed to climate action ahead of Cop26, even when geopolitical tensions are rising in other arenas – because China sees climate action as being in its national self-interest, in terms of technology leadership, political economy and, no doubt, soft power. ...
Dr Thomas Hale, of the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, said coal remained very much alive within China, which is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. After Xi’s pledge, all eyes would focus on China’s domestic plans. “Ultimately, the single most important question for the future of life on planet Earth is how quickly China can shut its thousands of coal facilities,” he said. But China’s historical reliance on coal is driven by the need to keep economic activity going. Ultimately, how China is to reduce its coal dependency will be determined by the transition of the economy itself. It is what Beijing has promised to do, but it is proving to be a difficult task. China’s provincial governments approved the construction of 24 new coal power projects in the first half of 2021, including three large-scale power plants, according to Greenpeace, although that represented a decline on numbers approved in 2020.
After more than two months, the battle to contain the Dixie fire – a behemoth blaze that swept nearly 1m acres, leveling mountain towns and blackening the conifer-covered landscape – is nearing its end. But even after the fire crews pack up, threats remain for the plants and animals that call this area home. Scientists are warning that the severity of today’s wildfires is making the recovery process increasingly challenging, sometimes for years after the flames are put out.
The American west has evolved alongside fire, which is a natural part of the landscape. But fueled by warmer, drier conditions and an overabundance of parched vegetation, blazes are increasingly burning more ferociously, consuming nearly everything in their path. The size but also the severity of today’s wildfires is a growing concern. Fires that exhibit erratic behavior and burn with more intensity are more likely to leave behind only patches of living landscape.
“There is the extent of the fire and there is the intensity of the fire. When you get these big intense fires, you mostly kill those animals,” said ecologist Brad Shaffer, the director of the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science. “If you don’t kill them then when they come back and it’s just a big ash field, there are no plants and therefore no insects. They starve to death.”
In these high-severity burns, vegetation on the forest floor is consumed by the flames, and shrubs and stumps are reduced to ash. The soil itself changes, and even beneath the ground, tree roots are burned. These moonscapes can take between five and 10 years to regenerate – far too long for some species to wait. Scientists are also finding that some landscapes remain permanently changed and trees struggle to grow where they once flourished.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Harold Burrage - Messed Up
Harold Burrage - Say You Love Me
Harold Burrage - What You Don't Know
Harold Burrage - You K O 'D Me
Harold Burrage - Hi-Yo Silver
Harold Burrage - You Eat Too Much
Harold Burrage and His Band - Betty Jean
Harold Burrage - She Knocks Me Out
Harold Burrage - I Don't Care Who Knows