3 more years, every Chinese coal plant will be more efficient than every US coal plant


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China has gotten tired of this — Trump says it will Make America Great, again

❝ President Trump and his administration have claimed that the Paris climate accord is a “bad deal” because it requires much more of the US than of China. This reflects an enduring conservative paranoia that the Chinese are getting one over on us…

In support of this position, conservatives point to the fact that dozens of coal plants have either recently been built or are in the planning or construction phases in China. This, they say, gives the lie to the country’s promises.

❝ It can be difficult for the average news consumer to sort out this dispute. The Chinese government is notoriously opaque, the situation is developing rapidly, and most of what reaches US media is shallow he-said, she-said coverage.

Happily, the Center for American Progress is on the case. It recently sent a team of researchers to China to investigate its energy markets, analyze regulatory and plant construction data, and interview Chinese coal miners and coal plant operators. It sought to answer a simple question: What is China doing about coal?

The result is a report — authored by Melanie Hart, Luke Bassett, and Blaine Johnson — that offers the clearest picture yet of the big picture on coal in China. And a closer look, it turns out, utterly destroys the conservative argument. Far from sitting back and coasting while the US acts, China is waging an aggressive, multi-front campaign to clean up coal before eventually phasing it out — reducing emissions from existing plants, mothballing older plants, and raising standards for new plants. Unlike the US, it is on track to exceed its Paris carbon reduction commitments.

In short, while the US dithers along in a cosmically stupid dispute over whether science is real, China is tackling climate change with all guns blazing. The US, not China, is the laggard in this relationship.

RTFA. You ain’t seeing this side of the topic in news-as-entertainment newspapers or TV coverage. Since our extended family includes a couple of geeks who’ve actually earned our respective livings working for a portion of the matrix of US energy producers, the discussions can be interesting.

Yes, we’re convinced that coal, nuclear fission, natgas [in a while] can and should be left behind. Cost as well as having a healthy planet being the deciding element. Which points out even further the corruption of so-called fiscal conservatives who support backwards crap like coal-generated electricity.

The White House Frontiers Conference is TODAY!

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❝ President Obama will host the White House Frontiers Conference, a national convening co-hosted with the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University to explore the future of innovation here and around the world. The convening will include topics inspired by the November issue of WIRED, which will be guest-edited by the President on the theme of “Frontiers.” The conference will focus on building U.S. capacity in science, technology, and innovation, and the new technologies, challenges, and goals that will continue to shape the 21st century and beyond.

Listen and learn, watch and learn, participate. A pretty good beginning.

Feds barred from prosecuting medical marijuana cases

A federal appeals court has banned the Justice Department from prosecuting medical marijuana cases if no state laws were broken.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the federal agency to show that 10 pending cases in California and Washington state violated medical marijuana laws in those states before continuing with prosecutions…

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but Congress has barred the Justice Department from spending money to prevent states from regulating the use or sale of medical pot.

Federal prosecutors argued unsuccessfully that Congress meant only to bar the department from taking legal action against states and that it could still prosecute individuals who violate federal marijuana laws. The court rejected that, saying that medical marijuana-based prosecutions prevent the states from giving full effect to their own measures…

Federal prosecutors could ask the 9th Circuit to reconsider the case or petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue. Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said officials are still reviewing the decision.

Marijuana activists and lawyers representing medical pot suppliers say the ruling is a significant addition to the growing support for broad legalization of the drug. Marijuana is legal for medicinal or recreational use in 25 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, ten states have marijuana legalizations measures on the November ballot…

Hey, it’s a HUGE election year. So, we have at least four choices among the two old parties: Liberals who support freedom to choose to partake of Freedom Weed; Liberals who fear the religious conservatives in their district and will cop out as usual; Conservatives enlightened sufficiently to consult scientists and physicians on matters of the Demon Weed; Conservatives in bed with every demented religious fundamentalist who promises to deliver a churchload of votes – and forgiveness for decades of corruption and fraud.

Obama said he’d let science – not ideology – dictate policy — [except for the so-called War on Drugs]

On Thursday, the Drug Enforcement Agency formally refused to reconsider its classification of marijuana, which is officially regulated as a dangerous substance with no medical value, alongside drugs like heroin and LSD. Despite a growing body of scientific evidence and changes in public opinion, the federal government has refused to budge on a 46-year-old stance borne out of the War on Drugs.

According to the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 61 percent of Americans support legalization. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws reports that eight out of ten Americans support medical marijuana legalization…

As public opinion moves in favor of legalizing pot, the DEA is clinging to the past — with little scientific evidence to back up their position.

Research has shown that pot has a multitude of medical benefits. And by reaffirming its position, the government has set back patients who relied on it for treatment for years.

Thursday’s announcement means pot will remain a Schedule I drug, defined as having “no medical value and a high potential for abuse.” That means the federal government believes marijuana is just as harmful as heroin and less harmful than cocaine. It also bars scientists from receiving federal funding and forces them to jump through hoops to conduct their research. Insurance companies are banned from covering marijuana treatment, so patients have to rely on the black market for treatment.

As of 2013, 78 percent of physicians in the world support the use of medical marijuana. In May, Ohio became the 25th U.S. state to legalize it. Even Congressional Republicans who have long opposed pot legalization recently vocalized support for more medical marijuana research.

And Republicans are more afraid of science than they are of democracy, non-white voters and women. More or less.

If Obama persists in saying he prefers science over ideology, how about opting for backbone over election year-opportunism.

The fact about climate change that must be repeated

The overwhelming majority of climate scientists — over 97 percent — understand that humans are the primary cause of climate change. This is one of the central facts about human-caused climate change that any climate communicator needs to keep repeating, for several reasons.

First, it’s true, as Politifact detailed on Monday. The scientific literature is clear on this.

Second, the ongoing disinformation campaign funded by the fossil fuel industry (together with false balance by the media) has left the public with the impression that there is considerable scientific debate on a subject where there isn’t.

When people are informed about the reality of the overwhelming consensus they naturally are more inclined to want to take action, as social science research has shown.

The thing is, by 2013, the IPCC’s summary of the science — which are notoriously conservative in part because they require line-by-line approval by every major country in the world — concluded. “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

The IPCC defines “extremely likely” as 95 to 100 percent certainty. That is comparable to the confidence the medical and public health community have that cigarettes are dangerous to your health.

When push comes to shove, how much of your life do you want to spend arguing about whether or not the Earth is round with some Flat-Earther who’s been pulling the Republican Party lever on Election Day ever since their grandfather said they wouldn’t go to heaven otherwise?

Just sayin’ – pick who you have this conversation with.

How to tell if conspiracy theories are real

David Robert Grimes, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Oxford who studies cancer, is familiar with conspiracy theorists. His mainstream writing for the likes of The Guardian and BBC News has included controversial topics that lend themselves to conspiracies, including homosexuality, climate change and water fluoridation.

“The charge that there is a scientific conspiracy afoot is a common one,” said Grimes, in an email interview with Live Science, “and almost inevitably those making these charges will descend into accusing one of shilling or being an agent of some malignant entity…”

For this new study, Grimes considered four common conspiracy beliefs: that NASA faked the 1969 moon landing during the Apollo 11 mission, that human-caused climate change isn’t real, that vaccines are unsafe, and that pharmaceutical companies are hiding cancer cures from the public. He created an equation to figure out how long these four cover-ups would likely last (if indeed they were cover-ups), given how many people are involved, the likelihood of leaks from the inside (whether on purpose or by accident), and how much upkeep would be required to keep everything under wraps.

Grimes then calculated the potential success of the four conspiracies that continue to garner support. He used the best-case scenario for the conspirators, where the fewest number of people are involved who could leak such undercover machinations…Using the same equation but modifying it to consider the need for added conspirators, the “lie” of climate change would last nearly 27 years if only scientists were involved in the cover-up, but under four years if scientific bodies were to take part. The vaccination conspiracy makes it to almost 35 years if it’s confined to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, but is revealed in three years and two months if drug companies are co-conspirators. The suppression of a cancer cure — maintained by Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi, Merck and Co., Johnson and Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca — fails after around three years and three months as well.

Grimes is not idealistic about the impact of his study

“I think true believers will never change their views; in the words of Leon Festinger, ‘A man with a conviction is a hard man to change,'” he said. “While these people are ideologically deeply invested in a given narrative, I would hope that this paper might help the more rational people who have maybe heard some claims and want to ascertain if they’re probable or not.”

His main concern is the myths and conspiracies that could cause serious harm, such as climate change doubters and the anti-vaccination movement. As more people forgo vaccinations for their kids, so-called herd immunity — in which large numbers of people with immunity from a disease can shield smalls numbers of people who are not immune because outbreaks are unlikely — collapses. With this work Grimes is attempting to chip away at the less confident conspiracists and move them toward more science-based beliefs.

There still is no patch for stupidity.