World Leaders commit to Pledge for Nature, Environmental Recovery

Worldwide, the natural environment is straining under the weight of a myriad of threats, and time is quickly running out to stem the damage before it becomes irreversible. The urgency of the situation prompted leaders from 64 countries around the world to sign a Pledge for Nature on Sept. 28, committing to work together to put ecosystems—land, ocean, and freshwater—on a path toward sustainability. The group released the pledge ahead of the Sept. 30 United Nations Summit on Biodiversity, which will bring together heads of state and other government representatives under the theme of “Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development.”

Can you guess which “advanced” nation hasn’t yet decided if it should sign on to such a radical proposal?

Economic concerns recede — Environmental concerns grow

For the first time in Pew Research Center surveys dating back nearly two decades, nearly as many Americans say protecting the environment should be a top policy priority (64%) as say this about strengthening the economy (67%).

In addition, while a smaller share (52%) rates dealing with global climate change as a top priority, this is 14 percentage points higher than just three years ago. Today, similar shares rate climate change and improving the job situation (49%) as top policy priorities for President Donald Trump and Congress. Three years ago, 68% said jobs were a top priority, compared with just 38% who named climate change…

The issue of climate change highlights the deep partisan divides in views of many public priorities. Dealing with global climate change ranks at the bottom of the list of 18 policy priorities for Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (just 21% call it a top priority). By contrast, climate change is near the top of the list of issues among Democrats and Democratic leaners (78% call it a top priority).

Large majorities of Democrats also place top priority on protecting the environment (85%), reducing health care costs (80%) and improving the educational system (80%). For Republicans, no more than about half rate these issues top priorities. And there is a sizable divide on the importance of addressing gun policy: Democrats are roughly 40 percentage points more likely than Republicans to view this as a top priority for the president and Congress (66% vs. 25%).

No surprises IMHO. All my questions rest on the shoulders of Democrat staff who will run the nitty-gritty of the 2020 Presidential Election campaign. Frankly, I would vote for either of Mayor Pete’s shelter dogs before I’d vote for the Fake President.

Space is running out of space [and time]

Humans have put 8,378 objects into space since the first Sputnik in 1957 and at the beginning of 2019 4,987 satellites were still up there, and 1957 are operational. From 1964to 2012 roughly 131 satellites were launched every year. In 2017 453 satellites were launched in space. In 2018, the number fell to 382. But 5200 are planned over the next four years and another 9,300 thereafter. That’s 15,000 satellites.

❝ First, wow…. how far have we come where the cost of launching a bird is so cheap now. Secondly, the unintended consequences of these many birds are going to be pretty substabtial. No one should be surprised if some complications develop overhead and cause problems down on the planet.

Think we’ll get it sorted?

Celebrate!

Yesterday morning, just before dawn, Helen woke first. Rolled over and said, “Happy Lunaversary!” She got me.

Since the day of our marriage over 25 years ago, we always celebrate our lunaversary. Even if it’s just that first minute of waking, one of us will remind the other that this is the day over hundreds of months ago that we stood with friends and family to be together in love.

So, yes, it’s the best kind of game that reinforces memories and good times and tough times – and the growing together we have experienced. Learning and sharing.

I think Ziggy Marley says it pretty well.

Ravens are probably smarter than your four-year-old


birdsandblooms.com

❝ We’ve long known ravens aren’t your typical bird brain: Myths featuring the wily black bird extend from Aesop’s fables to Native American folklore.

In more recent times, experiments testing the problem-solving capabilities of ravens and their corvid kin, the jays and magpies, have shown these birds have cognition on par with people and some other great apes…

❝ [Swedish researchers] Kabadayi and Osvath designed a series of experiments with five captive birds to see if ravens can plan for an unseen future…

In almost identical experiments on four-year-olds, the ravens were technically more successful in planning ahead…than toddlers.

❝ The researchers also set up an experiment to test the birds’ bartering skills.

They instructed the ravens how to exchange tokens to get their favorite foods at a later time. Again, the birds passed these tests with flying colors over 90 percent of the time.

I admit to being crazy about ravens. That started decades ago watching the genetically-older, bigger versions common to places I spent camping, hill-walking, in Europe and the UK. RTFA for details of the experiments and where this all may lead.

Actually, the world might run out of people


Click to enlarge

❝ You know the story. Despite technologies, regulations, and policies to make humanity less of a strain on the earth, people just won’t stop reproducing. By 2050 there will be 9 billion carbon-burning, plastic-polluting, calorie-consuming people on the planet. By 2100, that number will balloon to 11 billion, pushing society into a Soylent Green scenario…

But what if they’re wrong? Not like, off by a rounding error, but like totally, completely goofed?

❝ That’s the conclusion Canadian journalist John Ibbitson and political scientist Darrell Bricker come to in their newest book, Empty Planet, due out February 5th. After painstakingly breaking down the numbers for themselves, the pair arrived at a drastically different prediction for the future of the human species. “In roughly three decades, the global population will begin to decline,” they write. “Once that decline begins, it will never end.

I only disagree with the last sentence. Just as – over time – even people ignorant enough to vote for someone like our Fake President will come to understand the economics of birth control. You can afford a better life by not trying to create and support an excess population. That translates from simply staying comfortably alive to how you order your life and living into any number of additional qualities of time spent doing what you’d like to be doing instead of just treading water to afford basic necessities for your family.

Women in particular can order their own lives and lifestyle beyond biblical rules and backwards politicians. Mostly men. All of that inevitably continues to change over time.

While there are many factors outside birth and death helping these decisions along, I believe they will also constrain the potential for our species dying off. We’re just as likely to come up with alternatives to gestation as evolved within our species. We are bright enough – with sufficient education – to redirect our lives’ path beyond the scope of evolution.

Tesla Rolling Out Prototype Semi Truck Look and Test-Ride in October

Tesla’s announcement of an electric semi-truck is a big deal – not only does it have the potential to disrupt one of the nation’s largest industries, but it marks another leap forward in making Tesla’s grand vision a reality. That said, we caution that it will take years for the Tesla Semi to come to market.

❝ Based on Tesla’s history, the most logical go-to-market approach would be staggered: Within about 3 years, Tesla could target short haul trucking (think of UPS or Fedex trucks that return to a depot to be charged at night). Then in about 5 years, Tesla could target long haul trucking, and, in 6-10 years, offer a fleet of trucks as a service. We expect the Oct 26th event will be short on details (we don’t expect details on pricing or delivery date) and long on the opportunity. That opportunity is ripe for Tesla’s taking, considering legacy truck manufacturers’ past struggles with innovation.

Way cool!

Vermont Yankee nuclear plant shuts down

Ellen Merkel says she gets “a little teary-eyed” when she thinks about the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant sending its last electrons to the regional power grid. She knows it will likely mean moving from her nice neighborhood in Vernon, where her husband works at the plant, to the South for a new job.

Frances Crowe, of Northampton, Massachusetts, says she’ll take some satisfaction that her anti-nuclear activism, which began before Vermont Yankee was built in the late 1960s, has had an impact. But she promised to continue to push for the highly radioactive spent fuel from the plant to be moved as soon as possible.

Those were among the reactions in the three-state region of Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts as the plant finishes powering down and prepares to disconnect from the grid, most likely Monday…

Vermont Yankee, the state’s only nuclear reactor, employed more than 600 people when it announced it would close. The workforce will be cut in half after a round of layoffs and retirements Jan. 19. In 2016, the plant will see another big reduction as it prepares for a 30-year period during which time its radiation will cool. The plant likely won’t be dismantled until the 2040s or later. [My emphasis added – Eid]

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