You’ve got to wonder why the Nationals asked Bush to throw out the first pitch at the new stadium — it was pretty much inevitable that he’d get booed by a DC crowd. And rightly so, the man deserves to be booed. But the fan’s deserve a first pitch thrower who’s not so boo-worthy. Couldn’t they have gotten Mayor Fenty to open the Nats’ season and sent Bush to a minor league game in Utah or some other place where he’s still got a good approval rating?
As best I can tell nobody’s quite sure what’s happening. Sadr offered a cease-fire, and a government spokesman kinda sorta appeared to accept the terms, but the fighting continues and it remains a bit unclear who’s in control of which forces or what this is even about. What seems certain, though, is that Maliki badly miscalculated his ability to crush Sadr and is prepared for some kind of climbdown far short of his initial demands.
President Bush delivered the first pitch tonight at the new Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. to a resounding chorus of boos. After being announced, Bush was showered by boos as he strode to the mound. Even after Bush delivered the pitch, the jeering did not let up until the President disappeared from the field. Watch it:
Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta caught Bush’s pitch. Acta was chosen after Paul Lo Duca, the Nationals’ catcher was by-passed due to his involvement with performance-enhancing drugs.
One thing to keep in mind about the repeated failures of our effort to train Iraqi security forces is that it’s always been a bit odd to think of this as a situation where more/better training is actually what’s needed. At the end of the day, whatever the shortcomings of our training and equipping mission in Iraq, after all, it’s better than anything the Mahdi Army or the domestic Sunni Arab insurgency or AQI or the Badr Organization has. The issue is one of politics, legitimacy, motivation, and leadership.
Muqtada al-Sadr’s men aren’t well-trained or especially disciplined, but they are fighting for a cause they believe in and that’s at least a first step toward creating an effective military force. No American-led training program is going to be able to make up for that kind of shortfall in the political legitimacy of the central government.
In Part 1, we saw that
- Adaptation as primary strategy for dealing with climate change is widely oversold.
- This is especially true as atmospheric Co2 concentrations approach 800 to 1000 ppm, a likely outcome if we listen to either the delayers or deniers.
- And a leader adaptation advocate and apparent delayer-1000, Roger Pielke, Jr., “labels adaptation what is in fact mitigation, and his idea of mitigation is apparently research into adaptation.”
… if our political system stinks at managing floods, coastal storm risks, and fresh-water resources in the absence of anthropogenic climate change, why would it manage better if climate change does turn out to significantly increase the mean severity and/or variance of the distribution?
I made a similar point last year on the second anniversary of hurricane Katrina, a catastrophe that “showed the limitations of adaptation as a response to climate change“:
… a classic adaptation strategy to deal with rising sea levels is levees. Yet even though we knew that New Orleans would be flooded if the levees were overtopped and breached, even though New Orleans has been sinking for decades, we refused to spend the money to “adapt” New Orleans to the threat. We didn’t make the levees able to withstand a category 4 or 5 hurricane (Katrina was weaker at landfall than that, but the storm surge was that of a category 4).
… even now, after witnessing the devastation of the city, we still refuse to spend the money needed to strengthen the levees to withstand a category 5 hurricane. We refuse to spend money on adaptation to preserve one of our greatest cities, ensuring its destruction, probably sometime this century.
If we won’t adapt to the realities of having one city below sea level in hurricane alley, what are the chances we are going to adapt to the realities of having all our great Gulf and Atlantic Coast cities at risk for the same fate as New Orleans — since on our current path, climate change will ultimately put many cities, like Miami, below sea level?
For some, of course, adaptation is a complete ruse:
The fact is, the Denyers don’t believe climate change is happening, so they don’t believe in spending money on adaptation. The Center for American Progress has written an important paper on hurricane preparedness, which is a good starting point for those who are serious about adaptation.
But don’t be taken in by heartfelt expressions of faith in human adaptability. If Katrina shows us anything, it is that preventing disaster would be considerably less expensive — and more humane — than forcing future generations to adapt to an unending stream of disasters [which is to say a permanently altered climate].
The nation and the world will obviously have to spend serious money adapting to global warming for two reasons. First, we’ve delayed action to reduce emissions for so long. Second, delayers like Pielke (and President Bush, Bj¸rn Lomborg, and Newt Gingrich) still have the upper hand in the debate (as the L.A.T article and this Revkin NYT piece make clear), because the 1) technology trap is so appealing, 2) action requires a lot of effort, and 3) procrastination is always attractive option when someone is whispering in your ear that it is actually the best option.
Note: The cleverest delayers, like Pielke, never oppose action completely, they just never tell you specifically what their targets and actions would be. So they get to take the high road and argue out of both sides of their mouths, effectively arguing — “We need both mitigation and adaptation, but even though I don’t think the problem requires urgent action like the advocates, take my word that I support just enough mitigation to avoid the part of climate change that can’t be adapted to.”
Unfortunately, the part of climate change that can’t be adapted to is coming much faster than we feared. If we can keep total warming from preindustrial levels to 2°C or lower, than genuine adaptation is possible. The more we go above 2°C, the more adaptation will be replaced by suffering.
LIVING/SUFFERING IN A 1000 PPM WORLD
I listed only three catastrophes that would probably occur at 800 to 1000 ppm because I think those are the most serious and most inevitable. But they are hardly the only ones. A major 2005 study of the impacts of about 800 ppm on the United States found in the second half of this century (from 2071 to 2095) a vast swath of the country would see average summer temperature rise by a blistering 9°F.
Houston and Washington, DC would experience temperatures exceeding 98°F for some 60 days a year. Oklahoma would see temperatures above 110°F some 60 to 80 days a year. Much of Arizona would be subjected to temperatures of 105°F or more for 98 days out of the year–14 full weeks. We won’t call these heat waves anymore. As the lead author, Noah Diffenbaugh, of Purdue University said to me, “We will call them normal summers.”
Climate scientists don’t spend a lot of time studying 800 to 1000 ppm, in part because they can’t believe humanity would be so self-destructive as to ignore their increasingly dire warnings and fail to stabilize at well below 550 ppm. The IPCC notes that if equilibrium CO2-equivalent concentrations hit 1000 ppm, the “best estimate” for temperature increase is 5.5°C (10°F), which means that over much of the inland United States, temperatures would be about 15°F higher.
This increase would be the end of life as we know it on this planet. Interestingly, 5.5°C is just about the temperature difference between now and the end of the last ice age, the difference between a livable climate for human civilization that is well suited to agriculture and massive glaciers from the North Pole down to Indiana.
Is it 100% certain that 1000 ppm would result in
One thing to note about Hillary Clinton’s Florida and Michigan strategy is the utter selfishness of it. Her best shot at getting her way on this issue is to keep observing, in a meta kind of way, that if the DNC disses Florida and Michigan by not seating their delegates, that this could hurt Democratic fortunes in Florida and Michigan in November.
There are, however, any number of solutions to this problem. One, if Clinton dropped out and endorsed Obama, the delegates could be seated no problem. Two, 50-50 delegations could be seated without controversy, again removing the concern about MI and FL lacking representation. Three, leaders of the Democratic Party from all factions could reiterate that everybody knew the rules going in and the voters of Michigan and Florida have nobody to blame but their own state party leaders for creating this situation. But instead Clinton has chosen path four of deliberately setting up a train wreck, hoping that by credibly committing to the idea that she’s happy to sink the party’s fortunes in FL and MI if she doesn’t get her way, she can thereby get her way.
Basically, it’s the same old kind of threats you saw with her big dollar fundraisers — either the Democratic Party needs to serve the narrow needs of the Clinton family, or else the Clinton family will do their best to hobble the party. It’s not a very appealing kind of message and I have a hard time imagining it’ll work in the end.
Last week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) spoke to the Orange County Hispanic Small Business Roundtable in California on solving the nation’s economic woes. During that speech, he stated that he does not believe the federal government should assist struggling homeowners:
I have always been committed to the principle that it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers.
McCain instead advocated a laissez faire approach, saying that he would “convene a meeting of the nation’s accounting professionals” and “top mortgage lenders” and try to persuade them to voluntarily help Americans.
Today on ABC This Week, former Labor secretary Robert Reich and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman compared McCain’s approach to Herbert Hoover. “John McCain makes Herbert Hoover look like an activist,” said Reich. Krugman then added that ignoring the housing crisis is just as bad as the administration’s response after Hurricane Katrina:
It would be a little different if the administration said housing prices are going up. If they hadn’t said there’s no bubble. It’s a national disaster in effect. It’s like Katrina. To say, oh, let people suffer, saying let those people who made the mistake of staying in New Orleans suffer.
On March 16, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) also said, “The President’s hands-off attitude is reminiscent of Herbert Hoover in 1929 and 1930.”
Transcript: Read more
Asked how to choose a good mechanic, Tyler Cowen responds that you should buy a Honda or a Toyota and you probably won’t need a mechanic to do anything beyond the super-routine. I’ve never owned a car, but in second-hand anecdotal terms that definitely seems to be the case — folks who own Hondas or Toyotas, even pretty cheap ones, rarely have problems whereas American cars are plagued with reliability issues. This often strikes me as an under-analyzed element in the saga of American deindustrialization; maybe it’s not even true that American durable goods are far less reliable than Japanese brands, but it’s certainly what a lot of people think.
On ABC’s This Week today, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) falsely claimed that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “is not for the private accounts to take the place of social security.” “He’s for what Bill Clinton used to call Social Security plus,” said Lieberman.
Lieberman didn’t disagree, however, when host George Stephanopoulos pointed out that McCain had “disputed that in the Wall Street Journal” recently. Instead, he brushed the contradiction aside and changed the subject.
As Stephanopoulos noted, McCain has abandoned his initial Social Security plan, which called for “supplementing the current Social Security system with personal accounts,” in order to embrace President Bush’s failed effort to replace the system with private accounts. “I believe that private savings accounts are a part of” Social Security reform “along the lines that President Bush proposed,” McCain told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month.
Asked about the contradiction between his website and his own statements, McCain said he would “correct any policy paper that I’ve put out.” As of today, however, his website still hasn’t been changed to reflect his embrace of Bush:
In 2005, Lieberman called the idea of creating private accounts “a very risky thing to do.” But now, he appears willing to take that risk in order to help John McCain keep an indefinite U.S. military presence in Iraq.
Dave Berri notes that despite the sense you frequently get of the NBA declining in popularity, attendance is actually way up:
In 2006-07 the average NBA team attracted 726,954 fans during the regular season. And this was the all-time record. Let me repeat. Last season the NBA – which Shanoff says is declining in popularity – set an all-time attendance record. And this is a per-team average record (of course they also set a record for total attendance).
To put this mark in perspective, 20 years ago – during the peak of the Boston-LA rivalry — the NBA’s per team average was only 550,190 fans. Across the past 20 years, while the U.S. population has grown 23.8%, NBA attendance has grown 38.7%.
So more teams and higher average attendance — that seems pretty good. What’s probably going on is that thanks to the proliferation of media everything has more of a niche vibe than it used to. Back before most people had cable, anytime anything was on television at all it was somewhere between 1/3 and 1/7th (depending on where you lived) of the total things available to watch on TV and there were no DVDs or websites or OnDemand offerings to provide further options. So anything that got above a certain “it’s on television” threshold automatically acquired a certain air of mass relevance that, these days, is very hard for anything to achieve.