Climate crisis…Did you notice the hurricanes?


Orlando Sierra/AFP

Hurricane Mitch in 1998 was the most destructive storm to hit Central America. But hundreds of thousands of subsistence farmers across the region have lost everything in flooding caused by Eta, which made landfall in Nicaragua as a category 4 hurricane on 3 November. Now, with a second hurricane projected to make landfall on Monday near where Eta did, even more could find themselves in the same situation.

The evidence of the influence of the climate crisis is not so much in the record-breaking 30 tropical storms in the Atlantic so far this year, but the strength, rapid intensification and total rainfall of these weather systems.

Central America has been one of the regions most affected by the climate crisis to date, first with Hurricane Mitch, and in recent years with more extreme weather patterns, particularly in what’s known as the dry corridor, which extends from northern Costa Rica all the way to southern Mexico…

The Atlantic hurricane season is expected to last until December this year, meaning that Iota might not be the last.

Stay tuned, campers. There is nowhere near anything that can add up to a significant effort to deal with climate change. Which only means things will get a helluva lot worse before we can even think about it getting better.

The GOUSA can afford this in a New York minute. Just not in Trump time!

Denmark announced the ambitious plan of tripling its off shore wind power production by building two ‘energy islands’ linked to new wind farms in the Baltic and North seas.

The project is rumoured to cost upwards of 100 billion Crowns (a bit more than 14 Billion $$$), and according to Denmark’s climate minister Dan Jorgensen, will be the “biggest single infrastructure investment in our history”.

Jorgensen also went on to confirm that the island project would be financed through public-private partnerships, with the majority of the funding coming from private investors.

Liberal or conservative, it’s no surprise to have national leaders direct their energies to projects which benefit the whole nation. Unless, of course, they’re greedy, self-centered thugs whose only interests are profits and the exercise of power in his name.

Europe’s biggest construction project is underneath London


Click to enlargeCrossrail/PA

Creating a new 118-km rail route with 10 new stations and 42 km of new tunnels is no mean feat. The logistics of doing so in one of the world’s major cities, however, are staggering. That is the task for the UK’s Crossrail line. Major tunneling ends in May, so Gizmag went to take a look…

Work on Crossrail began in 2009 and the route is expected to start operating in 2018. Once completed, it will link Reading and Heathrow to the west of London with Shenfield and Abbey Wood to the east. The route goes directly through Central London, meaning that not only is it a huge undertaking, but one that is incredibly complex.

The facts and figures about Crossrail are mind-boggling. Over 10,000 people are employed across 40 construction sites. It is expected to increase rail capacity in London by 10 percent in a stroke, and will bring 1.5 million more people to within 45 minutes of the city’s major employment areas. Over 6 million tonnes (6.6 million tons) of excavated material will be removed to create tunnels at depths of up to 40 meters.

The list goes on, but perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the project is the tunneling itself. Not only must miles of new tunnels be created underneath London, but they must be created without disturbing the ground and buildings above, and avoid the subterranean tangle of existing tunnels, cables, sewers and so on…

The Crossrail tunneling has been being carried out using a total of eight tunnel-boring machines…Each machine is 150 m long and weighs 1,000 tonnes…They burrow an average of 100 m per week, with one machine setting the record of 259 m in a week. The clay and rubble excavated by the machines is transported out of the tunnel on a conveyor belt fed out behind them.

As they bore through the ground, the TBMs lay preformed concrete segments around the inside of the newly-dug tunnels. These form “running tunnels” that the future trains will run through. To create the much larger platform tunnels from where passengers will board trains the concrete segments are then removed so that the tunnels can be widened. The sides are then sprayed with a concrete mixture called “shotcrete” that contains steel fibres…A “shutter machine” then moves along the tunnel adding a final concrete lining…

Once Crossrail’s tunneling work comes to an end, much of the focus will move on to installing and setting up the required railway systems, as well as building and fitting out stations.

Something like this has to dazzle Americans. Excepting a few cities and states with the buck$ and determination to move beyond the constraints of American politics, there isn’t any consideration of taking on projects like this. Our politicians haven’t the backbone or economic good sense to repair and maintain the infrastructure we have – much less step towards the future.

China ready to spend $16 Billion on charging stations for electric cars

China is considering providing as much as $16 billion in government funding to build electric-vehicle charging facilities and spur demand for clean cars, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The policy will be announced soon, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. The people declined to provide further details of the plan such as how long the program would last or whether the chargers would be compatible with cars made by Tesla Motors…

Increased state funding would be a tailwind for carmakers coping with consumer concerns over the price, reliability and convenience of electric vehicles. It would also build on the tax breaks announced by China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, to fight pollution and cultivate its local EV industry, which includes BYD Co. and Kandi Technologies Group…

Among recent government initiatives, China will exempt new-energy vehicles — defined as electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles — from a purchase tax starting next month, and has ordered government departments to buy such vehicles for their official fleets.

Supporting a strategic and emerging industry like new-energy vehicles is a “win-win” for industrial development and environmental protection, the central government said last month in the statement announcing the waiver of the purchase tax. Developing new-energy autos is important for spurring innovation, promoting energy savings and reductions in emissions, and will help to drive domestic demand and nurture new avenues of growth, according to the notice.

Chinese governmental departments target a minimum of plug-in vehicles to 30% over the near term.

Let’s see. I’ll go peek at what the United States target is. Golly – a million EV’s on the road in another decade. Based on federal tax breaks for consumers.

There is a grouping of eight Democrat-dominated state legislatures collectively aiming for over three million electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids on the road in the same sort of timeframe. Triple the federal goal!

Oh, that’s right. There’s a clot of bought-and-sold politicians in the way of any such national spending. It’s called Congress. Stuffed full of cowards and decrepit ideologues.

Show your religious commitment with a tattoo!


There are alternatives, of course

Apparently holding services in a punk rock nightclub every weekend wasn’t quite cool enough for City Church. So, to mark its first birthday, the budding Anaheim congregation Sunday proposed following its regular rock ‘n’ roll revival with a “radical commitment” – tattoos of various versions of the church logo

The ambience combines sacred (a large wood cross) and profane (club fliers for irreverently titled bands such as Jabba the Slut). KFC buckets double as offering baskets, and signs prohibit mosh pits.

About 100 people typically attend, and Bonenberger challenged his flock to attract 200 for Sunday’s festivities, promising he would be first to go under the needle if they succeeded. Halfway through the service, they still weren’t there, but Bonenberger kept faith, revving up the crowd with allusions. God “has tattooed your name on his heart,” Bonenberger told guests.

Eventually, a 200th person did arrive, right when a band started jamming and just before a climactic burst of confetti and a shout of “Happy Birthday!”

Afterward, as attendees enjoyed a picnic of pulled pork and coleslaw, Bonenberger extended his arm, alternating between smiles and grimaces as an artist stained his skin with red ink.

Several onlookers, including Irvine resident Scot Parker, were prepared to follow suit. “I’m strongly behind the vision of the church,” Parker said, explaining that he was “getting my tattoo to display my commitment to that.”

Fullerton resident Pourio Lee said two previous tattoos required years of reflection, but that the City Church ink was a no-brainer. “I said, you know what, you’re my pastor, got to show my support,” Lee said.

Somehow – [you know what’s coming] – “no-brainer” is one of the most accurate things you could say about these churchgoers.

Remember when Americans led the world in college degrees?

The United States used to lead the world in the number of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees. Now it ranks 12th among 36 developed nations.

“The growing education deficit is no less a threat to our nation’s long-term well-being than the current fiscal crisis,” Gaston Caperton, the president of the College Board, warned at a meeting on Capitol Hill of education leaders and policy makers, where he released a report detailing the problem and recommending how to fix it. “To improve our college completion rates, we must think ‘P-16’ and improve education from preschool through higher education.”

While access to college has been the major concern in recent decades, over the last year, college completion, too, has become a leading item on the national agenda. Last July, President Obama announced the American Graduation Initiative, calling for five million more college graduates by 2020, to help the United States again lead the world in educational attainment…

William Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, who hosted the Washington discussion along with Gaston Caperton, said…“We led the world in the 1980s, but we didn’t build from there,” he said. “If you look at people 60 and over, about 39-40 percent have college degrees, and if you look at young people, too, about 39-40 percent have college degrees. Meanwhile, other countries have passed us by.”

Canada now leads the world in educational attainment, with about 56 percent of its young adults having earned at least associate’s degrees…

You can’t address college completion if you don’t do something about K-12 education,” Mr. Kirwan said.

The group’s first five recommendations all concern K-12 education, calling for more state-financed preschool programs, better high school and middle school college counseling, dropout prevention programs, an alignment with international curricular standards and improved teacher quality. College costs were also implicated, with recommendations for more need-based financial aid, and further efforts to keep college affordable.

Aside from sound governance – which drained away down sewers of greed in the eight years preceding the present administration – the mediocre stimulus budget approved by Congress doesn’t even keep up with maintaining staff minimums for education around the country. While there are legitimate discussions about the ratios of administrators to students, quasi-pro sports budgets versus the broad range of intelligent curricula, the task still remains to equip the young people of the United States to build a nation that can grow beyond an economy based wholly on consumption and service.

Though I imagine little or no change would please the beancounter breed of reactionary.

Preventable infectious diseases cause two-thirds of child deaths

Preventable infectious diseases cause two-thirds of child deaths, according to a new study published by The Lancet. Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF’s Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG) assessed data from 193 countries to produce estimates by country, region and the world. While the number of deaths has declined globally over the last decade, the analysis reveals how millions of children under five die every year from preventable causes….

These findings have important implications for national programs,” said UNICEF Chief of Health, Dr. Mickey Chopra. “The persistence of diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria, all of which are easily preventable and curable but which nonetheless remain the leading single causes of death worldwide, should spur us to do more to control these diseases.”

The study’s country and regional estimates, however, underscore how global efforts must be targeted to have maximum impact. Malaria, for instance, is responsible for approximately 16 percent of deaths in Africa, but is a comparatively minor disease in the rest of the world. The study did reveal successes in fighting some infectious diseases, such as measles and tetanus—each now only accounts for 1 percent of child deaths worldwide.

Newborn deaths—those within the first month of life—increased as a proportion of all child deaths globally from 37 percent in 2000 to 41 percent in 2008. The two greatest single causes of death among neonates are pre-term birth complications and birth-related asphyxia. “These new data make the compelling case that for countries to get on track for Millennium Development Goal 4, they need to scale up low-cost, effective newborn health interventions,” said co-author Dr. Joy Lawn, director of Global Policy and Evidence for Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program.

Overdue – as we all know.

I remain unimpressed with right-wing priorities assigning mythic proportions to militarism, corporate power and, so often, theocracy.

Those who manage to ignore children, their health as well as education and opportunities – deserve nothing but contempt.