The Evening Blues - 5-24-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features jump blues guitarist and singer Stick McGhee. Enjoy!
Sticks McGhee - Six To Eight
"I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail."
-- Abraham Maslow
News and Opinion
The United States, as the near unanimous vote to provide nearly $40 billion in aid to Ukraine illustrates, is trapped in the death spiral of unchecked militarism. No high speed trains. No universal health care. No viable Covid relief program. No respite from 8.3 percent inflation. No infrastructure programs to repair decaying roads and bridges, which require $41.8 billion to fix the 43,586 structurally deficient bridges, on average 68 years old. No forgiveness of $1.7 trillion in student debt. No addressing income inequality. No program to feed the 17 million children who go to bed each night hungry. No rational gun control or curbing of the epidemic of nihilistic violence and mass shootings. No help for the 100,000 Americans who die each year of drug overdoses. No minimum wage of $15 an hour to counter 44 years of wage stagnation. No respite from gas prices that are projected to hit $6 a gallon. ...
We are paying a heavy social, political, and economic cost for our militarism. Washington watches passively as the U.S. rots, morally, politically, economically, and physically, while China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, and other countries extract themselves from the tyranny of the U.S. dollar and the international Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a messaging network banks and other financial institutions use to send and receive information, such as money transfer instructions. Once the U.S. dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency, once there is an alternative to SWIFT, it will precipitate an internal economic collapse. It will force the immediate contraction of the U.S. empire shuttering most of its nearly 800 overseas military installations. It will signal the death of Pax Americana.
Democrat or Republican. It does not matter. War is the raison d’état of the state. Extravagant military expenditures are justified in the name of “national security.” The nearly $40 billion allocated for Ukraine, most of it going into the hands of weapons manufacturers such as Raytheon Technologies, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, is only the beginning. Military strategists, who say the war will be long and protracted, are talking about infusions of $4 or $5 billion in military aid a month to Ukraine. We face existential threats. But these do not count. The proposed budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in fiscal year 2023 is $10.675 billion. The proposed budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is $11.881 billion. Ukraine alone gets more than double that amount. Pandemics and the climate emergency are afterthoughts. War is all that matters. This is a recipe for collective suicide. ...
Since all we do is war, all proposed solutions are military. This military adventurism accelerates the decline, as the defeat in Vietnam and the squandering of $8 trillion in the futile wars in the Middle East illustrate. War and sanctions, it is believed, will cripple Russia, rich in gas and natural resources. War, or the threat of war, will curb the growing economic and military clout of China. These are demented and dangerous fantasies, perpetrated by a ruling class that has severed itself from reality. No longer able to salvage their own society and economy, they seek to destroy those of their global competitors, especially Russia and China. Once the militarists cripple Russia, the plan goes, they will focus military aggression on the Indo-Pacific, dominating what Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, referring to the Pacific, called “the American Sea.” ...
You cannot talk about war without talking about markets. The U.S., whose growth rate has fallen to below 2 percent, while China’s growth rate is 8.1 percent, has turned to military aggression to bolster its sagging economy. If the U.S. can sever Russian gas supplies to Europe, it will force Europeans to buy from the United States. U.S. firms, at the same time, would be happy to replace the Chinese Communist Party, even if they must do it through the threat of war, to open unfettered access to Chinese markets. War, if it did break out with China, would devastate the Chinese, American, and global economies, destroying free trade between countries as in World War I. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
Washington is desperately trying to build military and economic alliances to ward off a rising China, whose economy is expected by 2028 to overtake that of the United States, according to the UK’s Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). The White House has said Biden’s current visit to Asia is about sending a “powerful message” to Beijing and others about what the world could look like if democracies “stand together to shape the rules of the road.” The Biden administration has invited South Korea and Japan to attend the NATO summit in Madrid. But fewer and fewer nations, even among European allies, are willing to be dominated by the United States. Washington’s veneer of democracy and supposed respect for human rights and civil liberties is so badly tarnished as to be irrecoverable. Its economic decline, with China’s manufacturing 70 percent higher than that of the U.S., is irreversible. War is a desperate Hail Mary, one employed by dying empires throughout history with catastrophic consequences.
Critics of U.S. imperialism sounded the alarm Monday after President Joe Biden said that he would use military force in response to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
"That's the commitment we made," Biden said at a press conference held jointly with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a visit to Tokyo, abandoning the "strategic ambiguity" that U.S. presidents have long maintained to obscure how far Washington would go to protect Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory.
"We agreed with the One China policy, we signed on to it," said Biden, "but the idea that [Taiwan] can be taken by force... it's just not appropriate."
Biden has provided billions of dollars in weapons to help Ukraine stave off Russia's ongoing military assault but refused to deploy U.S. troops for fear of triggering a direct confrontation between the world's leading nuclear powers. However, he said Monday, the U.S. would go further on behalf of Taiwan.
"You didn't want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons," a reporter said to Biden. "Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?"
"Yes," Biden responded tersely. The president argued that the need for the U.S. to intervene in Taiwan if China attacks the island is "even stronger" following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
As the New York Times reported:
The White House quickly tried to deny that the president meant what he seemed to be saying. "As the president said, our policy has not changed," the White House said in a statement hurriedly sent to reporters. "He reiterated our One China Policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. He also reiterated our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself."
But Mr. Biden's comments went beyond simply reiterating that the United States would provide Taiwan with arms, because the question was posed as a contrast to what he had done with Ukraine. The president made no effort to qualify what he intended when he agreed that he would "get involved militarily."
"It is truly dangerous for the president to keep misstating U.S. policy toward Taiwan," historian Stephen Wertheim, a senior fellow in the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote on social media. "How many more times will this happen?"
This is not the first time Biden has "ignored the practiced imprecision of his predecessors with regard to China and Taiwan," the Times noted.
Last August, in an attempt to reassure allies following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Biden promised that "we would respond" if a fellow NATO member were attacked. "Same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with Taiwan," he added.
However, the Times reported:
Taiwan... has never been granted the same U.S. security guarantees as Japan, South Korea, or America's NATO allies, and so the comment was seen as significant. Two months later, Mr. Biden was asked during a televised town hall if the United States would protect Taiwan from attack. "Yes, we have a commitment to do that," he said. That also set off a frantic scramble by the White House to walk back his remark by insisting that he was not changing longstanding policy.
According to Wertheim, "The West's robust response to Russian aggression in Ukraine could serve to deter China from invading Taiwan."
"But Biden's statement risks undoing the potential benefit and instead helping to bring about a Taiwan conflict," he stressed. "Self-injurious and entirely unforced."
The president's remarks came just before he formally unveiled the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), a new 13-nation trade pact meant to advance U.S. corporate interests and counter Chinese influence in the region. Though it excludes Taiwan in a diplomatic nod to China, the IPEF has already been criticized by the Trade Justice Education Fund for partnering with countries that have "abysmal labor rights records."
"Biden escalates tensions through a trade deal to secure U.S. interests in Asia and the Pacific and threatens U.S. military retaliation against China," tweeted journalist Nick Estes. "The forever war continues."
We’re in the final countdown to British Home Secretary Priti Patel’s decision on the fate of Julian Assange, with the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition to the United States due to be approved or rejected by the end of the month. Joe Lauria has a new article out with Consortium News on the various pressures that Patel is being faced with from both sides of this history-making issue at this crucial time.
And I can’t stop thinking, as this situation comes to a boil, about how absurd it is that the US empire is working to set a precedent which essentially outlaws information-sharing that the US doesn’t like at the same time western news media are full of hand-wringing headlines about the dangerous threat of “disinformation”.
Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) has an article out titled “‘Disinformation’ Label Serves to Marginalize Crucial Ukraine Facts” about the way the mass media have been spinning that label to mean not merely the knowing distribution of false information but also of information that is true but inconvenient to imperial narrative-weaving.
“In defense of the US narrative, corporate media have increasingly taken to branding realities inconvenient to US information goals as ‘disinformation’ spread by Russia or its proxies,” writes FAIR’s Luca Goldmansour.
Online platforms have been ramping up their censorship protocols under the banner of fighting disinformation and misinformation, and those escalations always align with narrative control agendas of the US-centralized empire. Just the other day we learned that Twitter has a new policy which expands its censorship practices to fight “misinformation” about wars and other crises, and the Ukraine war (surprise surprise) will be the first such situation about which it will be enforcing these new censorship policies.
Then there’s the recent controversy over the Department of Homeland Security’s “Disinformation Governance Board,” a mysterious institution ostensibly designed to protect the American people from wrongthink coming from Russia and elsewhere. The board’s operations (whatever they were) have been “paused” pending a review which will be led by Michael Chertoff, a virulent swamp monster and torture advocate. Its operations will likely be resumed in one form or another, probably under the leadership of someone with a low profile who doesn’t sing show tunes about disinformation.
And this all comes out after US officials straight up told the press that the Biden administration has been deliberately sowing disinformation to the public using the mainstream press in order to win an infowar against the Kremlin. They’ve literally just been circulating completely baseless stories about Russia and Ukraine, but nobody seems to be calling for the social media accounts of Biden administration officials to be banned.
You see so many discrepancies between what the oligarchic empire says and what it actually does regarding the issue of disinformation because the empire has no problem with disinformation. The empire that is built on propaganda and lies has no problem with propaganda and lies. It has a problem with the truth.
They’re not worried about disinformation, they’re worried about information. They’re worried about journalists using the unprecedented information-sharing power of the internet to reveal inconvenient facts about the largest and most murderous power structure on earth. They’re worried about people finding out that they’ve been lied to their entire lives about their world, their nation and their government. They’re worried about people using their newly connected minds to decide together that they don’t much like the status quo as it’s been laid out for them, and deciding to build a new one.
All the safeguards they’re setting up now to manipulate the flow of information online are not there to eliminate lies, they’re there to eliminate truth. These people have a vested interest in keeping things dark and confused, and we the ordinary people of the world have a vested interest in shining a big inconvenient spotlight on everything. The elite agenda to keep things endarkened is at direct odds with the people’s agenda to get things enlightened.
We are not being protected by a compassionate alliance of corporations and governments who only want us to know the truth, we are being manipulated and oppressed by an oligarchic empire that wants us to believe lies. That’s why they’re locking up Assange, that’s why they’re censoring the internet, that’s why they’re filling our minds with propaganda, and that’s why we can’t let them win.
Anthony Albanese, the newly-elected Australian prime minister, has what might be the best opportunity he will ever have to exchange Julian Assange’s freedom for Australia’s continued cooperation with U.S. aims in the Pacific region. Albanese is set to have his first bilateral meeting on Tuesday with U.S. President Joe Biden after a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) summit in Tokyo, when the leaders of the four nations — Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. — meet to discuss relations with China.
But in remarks made on Monday before he even left for Japan, Albanese already said his Labor government is fully on board with the Quad’s agenda, as the previous government of Scott Morrison had been. Perhaps more importantly, Albanese said Australia would sign on to Biden’s just announced creation of a new, 13-nation Asian economic bloc aimed at opposing China’s economic dominance in the region, according to reports in The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald. ...
Albanese also spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The Herald reported:
“Albanese spoke to UK counterpart Boris Johnson while flying to Tokyo on Monday. A spokesman described the conversation as friendly and positive. The discussion with Johnson included a commitment from Albanese to support the AUKUS alliance on nuclear submarines and talks on climate change.”
Apparently asking for nothing in return, Albanese gave away the store to Biden and Johnson, not even raising Assange’s name, according to these reports. He had the leverage of asking Biden to drop the case and Johnson to block the extradition in exchange for continuity from the Morrison government on AUKUS, the Quad, and on joining Biden’s new economic bloc. Of course, not everything discussed between the leaders was reported. There remains an outside chance Albanese did raise Assange. But there has been no movement on Assange after Albanese gave Biden and Johnson what they wanted. ...
With British Home Secretary Priti Patel’s decision on extradition imminent, it may be Albanese’s last chance to make good on his past comments that “enough is enough” and that Assange should be freed.
The Australian federal election on Saturday has revealed a historic crisis of the two-party parliamentary set-up. Millions of people expressed their hostility to the traditional parties of capitalist rule, Labor and the Liberal-National Coalition. , at around 68.5 percent of primary votes. This compares with 74 percent at the last election in 2019 and 81 percent in 2010. So-called minor party and independent candidates received 31.5 percent of the total, also a record.
Coalition Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded defeat on Saturday night, declaring that his priority was to ensure “certainty.” Labor leader Anthony Albanese was sworn in as prime minister this morning, with unprecedented haste. But it remains entirely unclear whether Labor, which currently claims 72 House of Representatives seats, will secure the 76 required to form a majority government. Whatever the outcome, Albanese’s declarations that he is “getting on with the job” cannot paper over the immense crisis revealed in the election result. .
Both Labor and the Coalition have lost any mass base of popular support. An enormous chasm, developing over decades, has opened up between the sentiments of masses of people and a sclerotic political establishment beholden to the banks, the corporations and the military-intelligence apparatus. ... There is a growing recognition that there is no difference between either of the parties, whether on support for war and militarism, the profit-driven COVID policies or the offensive against workers’ wages and living conditions.
The election campaign was among the most right-wing in Australian history. Labor and the Coalition, with the assistance of the media and the other parliamentary parties, sought to confine discussion to degraded mudslinging and mind-numbing diversion, while agreeing on the substantial issues. At the same time, Morrison and Albanese waged a shadow campaign, pitching themselves to the ruling elite as the best political vehicle to step up Australia’s frontline role in the US-led plans for conflict with China, and for the sweeping austerity measures and pro-business restructuring demanded by big business. Both sought to ensure a “khaki election,” with Labor and the Coalition declaring it necessary to “prepare for war” against China, but the attempts to whip up a wartime atmosphere did not resonate with any substantial section of the population.
Ukraine’s president has given an insight into the level of losses being suffered by Ukrainian forces in the Donbas, saying between 50 to 100 Ukrainians could be dying every day. While Ukraine and its allies have made much of Russian losses since the war began, the issue of Ukrainian casualties has been something of a black hole.
The heaviest fighting is focused around the twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in Luhansk, one of the two provinces that make up the Donbas. “Today, from 50 to 100 people could be killed here in the most complicated area, in the east of our country,” Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday evening.
Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk, said in a local television interview that Russia was using “scorched-earth” tactics in the region and that Severodonetsk had been attacked from “four separate directions”, though Russian forces had not succeeded in breaking into the city.
The Donbas has been the scene of recent heavy fighting involving intense shelling by both sides, with Zelenskiy’s remarks appearing to be a reference to fatalities in combat. The high recent death toll on the Ukrainian side also suggests an even larger number of non-fatal casualties. ...
The new estimate came as Kyiv also revealed its worst military losses from a single attack of the Ukraine war on Monday, saying 87 people had been killed last week when Russian forces struck a barracks housing troops at a training base in the north. The disclosure that scores had been killed in the attack demonstrated Russia’s ability to inflict huge losses, even far from the front.
The number of people who have been forced to flee their homes has crossed 100 million for the first time in recorded history, the United Nations reported Monday, with the crisis driven largely by violent conflicts including the war in Ukraine. ...
"One hundred million is a stark figure—sobering and alarming in equal measure. It's a record that should never have been set," said Filippo Grandi, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. "This must serve as a wake-up call to resolve and prevent destructive conflicts, end persecution, and address the underlying causes that force innocent people to flee their homes."
The number of people who have been forced to leave their homes now represents 1% of the global population and is equivalent to the population of the 14th largest country in the world, according to the UNHCR.
The agency will release full current global, national, and regional data next month about forced displacement; last year, the U.N. reported that "close to 60 million" children were among the world's refugee population and that more children had been displaced than ever before.
The population of forcibly displaced people includes 53.2 million people who have been forced to flee to other parts of their home countries, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.
Shireen Abu Akleh was a seasoned al-Jazeera correspondent for the past 25 years. She was known and respected throughout the Arab world for her brave, honest reporting of the Palestinian struggle.
On May 11, she was shot and killed while covering an Israeli raid on the Palestinian refugee camp outside Jenin.
Abu Akleh’s killing in the Israeli-occupied West Bank was shocking, but hardly unusual. According to the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, she was the 86th journalist to be killed while covering Israeli oppression since Israel first occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in 1967.
But her killing is part of a longer pattern of Israeli violence and collective punishment — not just against journalists but against all Palestinians — committed with impunity and rationalized by trumped up “security” concerns.
The depth of this abuse was again made shockingly visible after the killing itself, when Israeli police attacked the funeral procession carrying Shireen’s body to the church. They threw Palestinian flags to the ground and violently beat mourners — including the pallbearers, who nearly dropped the casket.
The killing of Shireen and the assault on the funeral procession demonstrated once again the structural nature of Israeli racism and violence against Palestinians. As Amnesty International describes it, Israel’s “regular violations of Palestinians’ rights are not accidental repetitions of offenses, but part of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination.”
There’s no serious question that Abu Akleh was deliberately killed by an Israeli sniper. ...
Washington sends more than $3.8 billion every year directly to the Israeli military, most of it used to purchase U.S.-made weapons systems, ammunition, and more. This makes the U.S. complicit in Israel’s criminal wrongdoing.
The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said the war in Ukraine has darkened the outlook for the global economy and could result in recession for more vulnerable countries. Kristalina Georgieva predicted that 2022 would be a tough year and declined to rule out a global recession if conditions worsened markedly.
Asked in a session on the world economy at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, whether the IMF was forecasting a global recession, Georgieva replied: “Not at this point. It doesn’t mean one is out of the question.” The IMF managing director said her organisation had recently downgraded the growth prospects for 143 of its member states, which represent 80% of global output.
“Since then the horizon has darkened,” she said, pointing out that the impact of the war in Ukraine was being amplified by a tightening of financial conditions, a rising US dollar and a slowdown in China. “2022 is going to be a tough year.”
When Biden sent a delegation to Caracas in early March, rumors began to circulate that the U.S. was considering reopening relations with Venezuela as oil prices soared. Now, after a period of silence from Washington on the subject, it appears that the U.S. is going to ease its sanctions on the Latin American oil giant. At the same time that the U.S. is lifting some sanctions, Venezuela is working with Iran to help revive its oil industry. It seems geopolitics has taken a back seat to the global energy crisis as oil prices soar. The U.S. imposed oil sanctions on Venezuela under the Trump administration in 2019 due to ongoing human rights violations by President Nicolás Maduro. Under President Biden, there were discussions about reopening some trade links by allowing crude-for-diesel exchanges on humanitarian grounds, although this never came to fruition. However, the U.S. oil and gas firm Chevron has been allowed to continue limited operations in Venezuela in order to help avoid the collapse of the country’s oil industry. There has been speculation in recent months around whether Biden would ease restrictions on Venezuela in response to global crude shortages and a severe rise in oil prices, with several commentators highlighting the dangers of such a move.
The White House announced in May that it was reconsidering its restrictions on Venezuelan oil, entering discussions with Maduro. Biden will now allow Chevron Corp. to negotiate its oil license with state-owned oil producer Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), thereby reducing certain sanctions on the oil-rich state. Although no further oil drilling or additional revenues for the Maduro government will be permitted. The move follows a meeting between US officials and Maduro in March to discuss how to move forward.
Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez confirmed rumors about the shift in policy by tweeting “Venezuela aspires that these decisions of the United States of America pave the way for the absolute lifting of the illegal sanctions that affect all of our people.”
The SCROTUS makes an evil decision:
The US supreme court on Monday gutted constitutional protections that for years have provided a federal lifeline to innocent prisoners facing prolonged incarceration or even execution following wrongful convictions stemming from poor legal counsel given to them by the states.
In a 6 to 3 ruling, the newly-dominant rightwing majority of the nation’s highest court barred federal courts from hearing new evidence that was not previously presented in a state court as a result of the defendant’s ineffective legal representation.
The decision means that prisoners will no longer have recourse to federal judges even when they claim they were wrongfully convicted because their lawyers failed to conduct their cases properly.
The decision eviscerated the supreme court’s own precedent in a move that the three liberal justices called “illogical” and “perverse”. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor slammed the decision, warning it would leave “many people … to face incarceration or even execution without any meaningful chance to vindicate their right to counsel”. ...
The ruling in Shinn v Ramirez was written by Clarence Thomas. ... In his opinion, Thomas presented the case as one of states’ rights. He said that federal courts should not be allowed to override the states’ “core power to enforce criminal law [badly -js]”.
For Native Americans in Arizona, the recently redistricted US House map will mean a loss of political power once protected by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, leaving the state’s solidly Democratic tribal areas with the prospect of a fringe-Republican congressional representative. Democrats supported by Indigenous voters won every election for the past ten years in a district drawn expressly to empower Native American voters by a redistricting commission that relied on input from the area’s various tribes in 2011.
But new redistricting commissioners in 2021 didn’t have to comply with longstanding justice department “preclearance” requirements, after the landmark voting rights act provision was dismantled by a conservative majority of the US supreme court in the 2013 Shelby County v Holder decision.
The new district, redrawn without having to protect minority voting blocs from political backsliding, leaves Indigenous voters in the state with a near guarantee that a bolstered white majority will overpower them and elect Republicans for the next decade. “The redistricting commission did a job on us,” said Lena Fowler, a county supervisor and longtime advocate for Native Americans in northern Arizona. “What they did to us was unbelievable.”
The unique relationship between Native Americans and the federal government, Fowler emphasized, is what makes congressional representation especially important. “Tribes have treaty obligations and funding that comes directly from the federal government for education, water rights, roads – our health care is directly related to our congressional representation,” Fowler said. Being able to have that voice in Congress, and having that representative know what your needs and issues are, is so important.”
The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is expected to stage six public hearings in June on how Donald Trump and some allies broke the law as they sought to overturn the 2020 election results, according to sources familiar with the inquiry.
The hearings are set to be a pivotal political moment for the country as the panel aims to publicly outline the potentially unlawful schemes that tried to keep the former president in office despite his defeat at the hands of Joe Biden.
According to a draft schedule reviewed by the Guardian, the select committee intends to hold six hearings, with the first and last in prime time, where its lawyers will run through how Trump’s schemes took shape before the election and culminated with the Capitol attack.
“We want to paint a picture as clear as possible as to what occurred,” the chairman of the select committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson, recently told reporters. “The public needs to know what to think. We just have to show clearly what happened on January 6.”
The select committee has already alleged that Trump violated multiple federal laws to overturn the 2020 election, including obstructing Congress and defrauding the United States. But the hearings are where the panel intends to show how they reached those conclusions. ... The select committee appears to be planning for the hearings to be extensive affairs. The prime-time hearings are currently scheduled to last between 1.5 and 2 hours and the morning hearings between 2 and 2.5 hours.
An annual assessment released Monday by a U.S. agency underscored the need to dramatically cut planet-warming pollution with a notable revelation about heat-trapping gases over the past three decades.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution from human activities trapped 49% more heat in the atmosphere in 2021 than in 1990, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NOAA announced that finding in its update of the Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI), which converts the warming influence of carbon dioxide—or CO2, the most common GHG—as well as methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and 16 other chemicals into one number that can be compared to previous years, as the agency explained in a statement.
"The AGGI tells us the rate at which we are driving global warming," said Ariel Stein, acting director of NOAA's Global Monitoring Laboratory (GML).
"Our measurements show the primary gases responsible for climate change continue rising rapidly, even as the damage caused by climate change becomes more and more clear," she added. "The scientific conclusion that humans are responsible for their increase is irrefutable."
Echoing other experts and reports—including recent publications from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—NOAA scientists on Monday urged humanity to reduce GHGs.
According to the agency, "Roughly 36 billion metric tons of CO2 are emitted each year by transportation, electrical generation, cement manufacturing, deforestation, agriculture, and many other practices."
"CO2 is the main player because it stays in the atmosphere and oceans for thousands of years and it is by far the largest contributor to global warming," said GML senior scientist Pieter Tans. "Eliminating CO2 pollution has to be front and center in any efforts to deal with climate change."
Still, as a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences made clear, cutting CO2 is not enough. Co-author Veerabhadran Ramanathan, an adjunct professor in the Department of Global Development at Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said that "we have a near-term and long-term climate crisis."
"In the near-term, the planet is likely to cross the 1.5°C warming threshold in the next 10 years,” Ramanthan explained, referencing the more ambitious Paris agreement target for 2100. "On the longer-term, with unchecked emissions, the warming can exceed the catastrophic 3°C by end of century."
"This study clarifies a long-standing misunderstanding on the role of non-CO2 climate-warming pollutants," he said. "In so doing, it demonstrates why we should simultaneously reduce emissions of both CO2 and non-CO2 pollutants."
"Causes for the dramatic post-2007 increase are not fully understood, but NOAA scientists have concluded that changes in isotopic composition of atmospheric methane over time point to microbial sources, likely from wetlands, agriculture, and landfills, as the dominant driver," the agency said. "Fossil fuel emissions, they suggest, have made a smaller contribution."
Xin Lan, a Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) scientist working in the GML, explained that "we should absolutely target manmade methane emissions—especially those from fossil fuel—because it is technologically feasible to control them."
"If wetlands are giving off more methane because of warming and changes in global precipitation caused by rising CO2 levels, that's something we can't control directly," the expert added. "And that would be very concerning."
While U.S. President Joe Biden last year joined with European Union to launch an international methane pledge and the American leader has vowed to halve the nation's emissions, relative to 2005, by the end of this decade, Republicans and a few right-wing Democrats in Congress have blocked legislation to deliver on those climate goals.
In response to NOAA's AGGI announcement, David Doniger, senior strategic director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate and Clean Energy Program, tweeted: "Getting hot in here. Gotta get congressmen and senators to do more midday outdoor events in their dark suits."
A senior safety consultant has quit working with Shell after 11 years, accusing the fossil fuel producer in a bombshell public video of causing “extreme harms” to the environment. Caroline Dennett claimed Shell had a “disregard for climate change risks” and urged others in the oil and gas industry to “walk away while there’s still time”.
The executive, who works for the independent agency Clout, ended her working relationship with Shell in an open letter to its executives and 1,400 employees. In an accompanying video, posted on LinkedIn, she said she had quit because of Shell’s “double-talk on climate”.
Dennett accused the oil and gas firm of “operating beyond the design limits of our planetary systems” and “not putting environmental safety before production”. She said: “Shell’s stated safety ambition is to ‘do no harm’ – ‘Goal Zero’, they call it – and it sounds honourable but they are completely failing on it.
“They know that continued oil and gas extraction causes extreme harms, to our climate, to our environment and to people. And whatever they say, Shell is simply not winding down on fossil fuels.” ...
Shell was a “major client” of Dennett’s business, which specialises in evaluating safety procedures in high-risk industries including oil and gas production. She began working with Shell in the aftermath of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, which rocked the industry.
“I can no longer work for a company that ignores all the alarms and dismisses the risks of climate change and ecological collapse,” she said. “Because, contrary to Shell’s public expressions around net zero, they are not winding down on oil and gas, but planning to explore and extract much more.”
California could face mandatory water restrictions if residents don’t use less on their own as the drought drags on and the hotter summer months approach, the state’s governor has said.
Gavin Newsom threatened the possibly of statewide mandates in a meeting with representatives from major water agencies, including those that supply Los Angeles, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area, according to his office. The Democratic governor has avoided issuing sweeping mandatory cuts in water use and instead favored an approach that gives local water agencies power to set rules for water use in the cities and towns they supply.
January through March is typically when most of California’s annual rain and snow falls, but this year those months were the driest in at least a century. Despite calls for conservation, the state’s water use went up dramatically in March – 19% compared to the same month in 2020 – and now Newsom is considering changing his approach.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Stick McGhee - Venus Blues
Stick Mcghee - Let's do it
Sticks McGhee - Jungle Juice
Stick McGhee - Housewarmin' Boogie
Stick McGhee - Southern Menu
Stick McGhee - Get Your Mind Out Of The Gutter
Sticks McGhee - The Wiggle Waggle Woo
Sticks McGhee - One Monkey Don't Stop No Show
Stick McGhee - Sad, Bad, Glad
Stick McGhee & His Buddies - Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee