And no doubt it is similarly coincidental that the pro-pollution, anti-science extremists who run the House of Representatives are demanding relief efforts for these disasters be offset by cuts in clean energy programs that create jobs and cut emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases that make extreme weather disasters more likely.
I believe Congressional Democrats and the White House should be willing to shut the government down rather than giving in to the GOP masters of disaster.
UPDATE: TPM reports, “Senate Averts Government Shutdown Threat, Funds FEMA“: “The threat of a government shutdown, and the possibility that FEMA will run out of money this week, will both be averted, thanks to some clever accounting and the GOP’s lack of will to keep holding disaster relief funds hostage to budget cuts.” So it looks like the GOP overplayed an inanely weak hand and blinked:
The technology needed to cut the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 already exists, according to a joint statement by eleven of the world’s largest engineering organisations….
The statement says that generating electricity from wind, waves and the sun, growing biofuels sustainably, zero emissions transport, low carbon buildings and energy efficiency technologies have all been demonstrated. However they are not being developed for wide-scale use fast enough and there is a desperate need for financial and legislative support from governments around the world if they are to fulfil their potential.
That’s the news release from the UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME), one of the 11 signatory groups. The groups explicitly call for a peak in global emissions in 2020 and an intensive effort to train workers for green technology jobs.
Dr Colin Brown, Director of Engineering at the IME, says bluntly:
“While the world’s politicians have been locked in talks with no output, engineers across the globe have been busy developing technologies that can bring down emissions and help create a more stable future for the planet.
“We are now overdue for government commitment, with ambitious, concrete emissions targets that give the right signals to industry, so they can be rolled out on a global scale.”
Our guest blogger is A. Siegel, of Get Energy Smart Now. The Solar Decathlon is running on Potomac Park off the National Mall until October 2. Tomorrow, ThinkProgress Green will present A. Siegel’s full guide to the 19 teams competing in the Solar Decathlon.
U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 collegiate teams, representing five countries and four continents.
One of the nation’s most important intercollegiate competitions has just opened in Washington, DC: the biennial Solar Decathlon. For two weeks, 19 university teams from around the globe put up solar-powered demonstration homes that compete across the decathlon’s ten categories, including the functionality of the house (for example, for household tasks like washing dishes and cooking dinner), measured performance items (how much electricity does the house produce), and perception items that can’t be tangibly measured (aesthetic design quality). The houses are open to the public, and team members are on hand to discuss the architecture and technology that underlie these visions of a clean green future that is available today. Here’s the Department of Energy’s preview:
Each year, the Solar Decathlon is awaited by many, including this author, with much anticipation and bated breath. After years of work, the homes were assembled at Potomac Park off the National Mall and opened to the public this past weekend. In preparation for visiting the homes, here are some general observations:
The Solar Decathlon is a serious competition. The Solar Decathlon has truly transformed. A decade ago, it took only a few moments to sort out which teams would be on top and which weren’t in the same caliber. Even just two years ago, while every single house had elements meriting praise, sorting “top” from “bottom” wasn’t that difficult. (My ‘top five’ prediction, in terms of team composition, was off by one in 2009 as I expected the Spanish team to compete with the German team for #1 rather than placing 14th …) This year, looking at the teams and having visited the site, I believe that the judges, happily, face much more difficult challenges in ‘juried’ elements and can’t predict how the teams will sort out in measured performance. This competition is wide open with what look to be 19 tremendous houses and teams putting their finishing touches on their homes prior to opening doors to the public in just a few days.
Marketable Solar Homes. It is easy to see every single one of these homes commercialized. Every single one looks to be (very) livable, attractive homes that fit some form of market niche. This has not necessarily been true, despite team aspirations otherwise, in the past. The 2011 Solar Decathlon’s emphasize on affordability hopefully has driven the teams to truly cost-sensible solutions. If so, might this be the Solar Decathlon where a team emerges (or teams emerge) with a meaningful path toward producing large numbers of their house (or derivatives of it)?
The Solar Decathlon Appeals to All Ages. While I will provide some of my reactions to the houses, my seven and ten year old children’s comments will appear in a few. The Solar Decathlon, in part, provides an exciting vision for a path toward a sustainable and prosperous climate-friendly future. This excitement is shared, in my experience, by the vast majority who get there — of all ages. As a window on this, my seven-year old chose to watch the team videos (rather than asking to watch TV). And, she watched them … every single one … and when my better 95+% came in, my daughter had team videos that she wanted to show her mother, highlighting specific features that she thought her mom would love. And, well, “beautiful … can we buy that … that is really cool …” were the types of phrases coming out of her mouth, in wonder, in over an hour of watching (not all at once). And, well, my ten-year old son ended up doing much the same thing the next morning. And, they can’t wait to visit The Solar Decathlon to see the homes. As a parent, this joy, wonder, attention to detail, and intellectual interest (more my son) were a real pleasure to experience. As someone concerned about our energy reality and seeking to help foster a better path forward, this youthful passion and enthusiasm was an encouraging note.
As ThinkProgress previously reported, unions are a key building block of the middle class, and as unionization rates fell in the 20th century, so did the middle class’s share of national income.
Now, the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s David Madland and Nick Bunker have crunched the numbers and found that if unionization rates were just 10 percentage points higher — meaning there would be a net rate of 22.2 percent as opposed to the current 12.2 percent — the typical middle class household would earn $1,479 more every year. That number is almost equivalent to the $1,638 more these families would earn every year from increasing college attainment rates by 10 percent:
The table below shows the state-by-state impact of unions on income. If unionization rates increased by 10 percentage points—to roughly the level they were in 1980—the typical middle-class household, unionized or not, would earn $1,479 more a year.
To put that number in context, increasing college attainment rates by 10 percentage points would boost middle-class incomes by $1,638. Similarly, decreasing unemployment rates by 4 percentage points—bringing rates down to pre-Great Recession levels—would increase household income by $772 per household.
Madland and Bunker charted out the estimated gains from a 10 percent increase in unionization for typical middle-class households across the 50 states. They range from a $1,096 gain in Nevada to a $1,969 gain in New Jersey. Find your state in the chart below: Read more
I’m really liking The Adventures of Athena Wheatley, Or, Warp & Weft, a new graphic novel that’s publishing an installment every Wednesday. The story isn’t very far along yet, but I just appreciate the basic premise: a black woman, who from the autonomy she seems to have I assume is free, in Baltimore in 1841 becomes a time traveler. It’s a lot of fun to see that extremely familiar premise (time-travel) from a new perspective, whether Athena’s wondering in her journal if she’s becoming a prophetess because of her strange dreams, or skipping a rock through a force field to see if it’s safe to escape through, only to see it transformed to something else entirely. One of the easiest ways to refresh an old concept or scenario is to show how someone with a different set of background assumptions and experiences would react to it rather than trying to convince an audience that a tweak to the scenario itself is radically new and inventive.
I’ve seen a few people wonder how flip-floppy Mitt Romney could possibly benefit from Rick Perry being heterodox on the distinctly second-tier issue of in-state tuition fees for undocumented children at Texas public universities. What I think they’re missing is exactly what Perry said, namely that people who disagree with him about this are heartless.
As it happens, I agree that the conservative view on this is kind of heartless. Still, it was a crazy thing for him to say. To win an election of any kind, you need the votes of people who disagree with you about some stuff. Sometimes it’s going to be the case that most voters disagree with you on something in particular. When that happens, what you want to do is suggest that your disagreement with the majority is about something boring and technical and that on fundamental issues of values you’re all on the same page. What Perry did was the exact reverse of that. He took an issue that’s simply not that important in the scheme of things and elevated it to a deep moral issue about compassion. I think Perry thought he was saying that Mitt Romney is heartless, but what he actually said is that most American conservatives are heartless and their unwillingness to offer subsidized tuition to undocumented children is evidence of their heartlessness.
International Trader: ‘I Go To Bed Every Night And I Dream Of Another Recession’ |
While European government and financial leaders are scrambling to prevent a financial crisis in the Eurozone that would likely throw the global economy into even more turmoil, stock trader Alessio Rastani took to BBC today to tell the world that traders were looking forward to the possibility of a second big recession. “For most traders, it’s not about – we don’t really care that much how they’re going to fix the economy, how they’re going to fix the whole situation,” he said. “Our job is to make money from it.” Rastani, who also claimed “Goldman Sachs rules the world,” said, “Personally, I’ve been dreaming of this moment for three years…I go to bed every night and I dream of another recession. When the market crashes… if you know what to do, if you have the right plan set up, you can make a lot of money from this.” Watch it:
Forbes contacted Rastani today after rumors emerged online alleging that he was a member of the Yes Men, a group that carries out hoaxes with a goal of public humiliation. Rastani denied being a member of the organization, and the BBC issued a statement today claiming it had undertaken an investigation into the matter and found no evidence that Rastani was part of a prank.
Fox News chief Roger Ailes gave a no-holds-barred interview to Newsweek and the Daily Beast’s Washington bureau chief Howard Kurtz, but the interview took a strange turn when Ailes lashed out at the Associated Press’ reporting on an Aug. 29 suicide bombing in Baghdad. Kurtz writes:
The talk turns to terrorism. Ailes is angry about an Associated Press report that 29 worshipers were killed by a suicide bomber in Baghdad’s largest Sunni mosque during prayers. “How do we know they were worshiping?” he demands. “I think the AP is so far over the hill, they’ve become left wing, antiwar. Gotta watch their copy.”
Andrew Sullivan notes Ailes’ comment and asks readers to “take a few steps out”:
Ailes seems to believe that an assumption that Muslims in a Mosque were at prayer is a function of “left-liberalism” not empirical fact. Why? Because, presumably, the sacrilegious carnage would reflect badly on the aftermath of the Iraq war and occupation – showing that we had achieved almost nothing after so much sacrifice. This is wrong because it would be “anti-war,” and therefore “left wing”. Not because it’s untrue.
But also, Ailes claim that the AP’s reporting represents its supposed left-wing bias lacks evidence. The AP’s story that a a suicide bomber detonated during prayers is corroborated by reporting from a wide variety of news outlets, including the Christian Science Monitor, the Voice of America and Reuters. And CNN, citing a source in the Iraqi Interior Ministry, reported:
Twenty-eight people are dead following a suicide bomb attack at a Sunni mosque in Baghdad. We’re getting that from an official at the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Another three dozen people were wounded. The attack occurred during prayers at the Umm al-Qura mosque in western Baghdad. A Sunni member of parliament was among those killed.
While numerous reports, both from eyewitnesses and in the Iraqi government, confirm that the attack occurred during prayers, Ailes suggests that the AP’s report, which was in line with all other news accounts, needs to “watch their copy.” Ailes fails to explain how a report that a suicide bomb was detonated during prayers helps further the “leftwing, antiwar” agenda he attributes to the AP and its reporters.
This spring, the GOP attempted to cripple family planning by voting to defund Planned Parenthood, but as Jodi Jacobson notes, Republicans were supportive of women’s health programs and family planning long before they denounced it. In May 1972, then-U.N. ambassador George H.W. Bush wrote a letter to “Alan Guttmacher (founder of the Guttmacher Institute) congratulating him on creation of a ‘family planning’ stamp commemorating (gasp!!) Margaret Sanger”:
As a congressman, Bush also advocated that family planning services be available to every woman, calling it a “public health matter.” He championed Title X funding, lobbied President Richard Nixon to enact the program, and described family planning as an effort “that help[s] further work of such worldwide importance, something for which this country can be justly proud.” “We need to make population and family planning household words,” he said in 1969. “We need to take sensationalism out of this topic so that it can no longer be used by militants who have no real knowledge of the voluntary nature of the program but, rather are using it as a political steppingstone. If family planning is anything, it is a public health matter.”