Week In Review December 9

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Week In Review December 9
Dec 092018
 

by Bill Onasch

Worth Repeating

Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change… If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

This reminder of what scientists and activists have been warning for decades was delivered by Sir David Attenborough in keynote remarks to delegates gathering last Monday for a 2-week UN conference on climate change. Attenborough is an eminent British natural scientist who has done much to popularize science on BBC radio and television. The 92-year old has done his part in offering solutions for “the last generation who can save civilization from the climate crisis.”

The choice of venue for this crucial meeting was curious. The host city, Katowice, Poland is in the heart of a major coal producing region—and is determined to preserve that status quo. The right-wing Polish establishment shares love of coal—and much else—with Trump. Such out-and-out deniers of global warming among world leaders is rare. Cynicism, however, is abundant.

Designated as COP24, this conclave is charged with reviewing and bolstering the progress of implementation of the “historic” 2015 Paris Climate Accord. Paris adopted a primary goal of capping insidious growth of global warming since the launch of the Industrial Revolution at 1.5C–with a fall-back of no more than 2C [3.6F]. [At the time of Paris, warming had already passed the 1.0C. landmark] To meet this tardy objective every party to the deal was required to submit voluntary, non-binding pledge to reduce greenhouse emissions.

Few countries are on target for fulfilling their promises. Worse yet, it’s now clear that even if every nation met their present goal it still wouldn’t be enough to meet the 1.5/2C objective. In fact present trends are heading to a catastrophic 3C by the end of this century.

Sources of Greenhouse Emissions

Kendra Pierre-Louis opened a useful piece in the New York Times,

Greenhouse gas emissions worldwide are growing at an accelerating pace this year, researchers said Wednesday, putting the world on track to face some of the most severe consequences of global warming sooner than expected.

Scientists described the quickening rate of carbon dioxide emissions in stark terms, comparing it to a “speeding freight train” and laying part of the blame on an unexpected surge in the appetite for oil as people around the world not only buy more cars but also drive them farther than in the past — more than offsetting any gains from the spread of electric vehicles.

We’ve seen oil use go up five years in a row,” said Rob Jackson, a professor of earth system science at Stanford and an author of one of two studies published Wednesday. “That’s really surprising.”

Worldwide, carbon emissions are expected to increase by 2.7 percent in 2018….

French right-wing President Macron cynically claimed his austerity tax hikes on gasoline and diesel–sweetened by the offer of a 100 euro [$114] rebate to buyers of electric powered vehicles—was really an important measure in stopping climate change. Some Greens tried to help Macron sell his scam but the big majority of workers and farmers are staunchly opposed and back the massive Yellow Jacket protests in Paris and a number of other towns. There was also a previously planned Paris climate change march of 17,000 on yesterday [Saturday.]

A coming WIR will review what emerges from COP24 and discuss the role the working class can play in the “last generation.”

Not Meeting Expectations

From time to time the WIR has commented on the fact that while the USA spends far more on health care than any other country we lag behind many countries in some important outcomes for this spending.

For example, residents of Japan, Canada and most European countries have for decades enjoyed longer life expectancy than us Yanks. The latest World Health Organization ranking in 2015 slotted the US in to 31st place, barely nosing out embargoed Cuba. Bad as that is, over the past three years American life expectancy has actually gone down each year.

It was not long ago that the Obama liberals were advancing the complaint that old folks were living longer and depleting Social Security and Medicare. They started advising everybody to work at least until 70 and sought a bipartisan deal to slash retiree benefits.

Today’s decline in longevity is attributed to opioid addiction and suicide. These killers are not hereditary or contagious. They are often acts of despair in a sick capitalist society.

Good To Be Back

I’m trying to recover some of my old routine and send you a couple of more editions before the year-end holiday break.

That’s all for this week.


Good & Welfare

Receive notification when a new WIR is posted in one of the following ways:

On Twitter

http://www.workdayminnesota.org/sites/workdayminnesota.org/themes/workdayminnesota/images/social/large/rss.png Really Simple Syndication (RSS)

Simply send your name and e-mail address to billonasch[at]kclabor.org

Our sole source of operating income is reader contributions. If you can help please visit the KC Labor Donate page.

Privacy Policy. We don’t share any information about our readers with anyone else—period.

The original content we provide is copyrighted and may not be reproduced by commercial media without our consent. However, labor movement and other nonprofit media may reproduce with attribution.

Week In Review April 17

 Week In Review  Comments Off on Week In Review April 17
Apr 172018
 

by Bill Onasch

This is an abbreviated WIR. Perhaps because of the weather I’m feeling a bit under it. Hopefully, next time I will have recovered my normal long wind.

A Welcome Correction

In the last WIR I reported there were 2800 attending the Labor Notes Conference. That was the last figure I had heard before we had to leave early because Amtrak put us on a bus to Kansas City due to a bridge replacement on the BNSF track. An e-mail blast from Labor Notes says 3,000 participated in the April 6-8 gathering in Chicago.

An Exchange on Nuclear Power

A supportive reader in Los Angeles and I long ago agreed to disagree about the role of nuclear power in combating global warming. He recently pointed out that an article I posted on Labor Advocate about ambitious new goals for renewable energy in New Jersey also included continuing subsidies to the state’s nuclear plants. This was the gist of my reply,

Since most of the environmental damage has either already been done—or is an inevitable threat in decommissioning—I could live with keeping existing nukes still in good condition online during the transition to renewable energy. But, if for no other reason than the fact that it takes at least a decade of planning and construction to connect new nukes to the grid, they are not an option for even “emergency” off-setting of fossil emissions as some climate scientists advocate. Solar, wind, even hydro have become quicker and cheaper to build.

The New Jersey action goes about as far as a state can go—and clearly is not enough. Conversion to renewable energy needs to be part of a planned restructuring of the economy—ultimately on a global scale. The current orientation of 350.org and other activist wings of the climate/environmental movement are doing a disservice, in my opinion, by contributing to illusions that states, divestment, and electing Democrats in the midterms, are progress. Emissions are still increasing and the planet is getting hotter. This is not going to decisively change under capitalism.

While there can be a case for keeping New Jersey’s nukes online until they can be replaced by clean renewables there is no justification for continuing to subsidize their capitalist owners who, at the end of the day, will leave behind a dangerous, costly environmental mess.

Many are hailing the effort in New Jersey, along with similar programs in California and New York, as essentially meeting their share of the goal for reduced U.S. emissions included in the Paris Climate Accords. While that may be true it’s hardly anything to brag about. That leaves 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico with either inadequate goals—or none at all.

And that’s not the worst of it. The collective goals of the signers of the Paris agreement fail to come close to the target of limiting warming to 1.5C and would allow our planet to grow disastrously hotter to perhaps as high as 3C.

New Jersey is also home to refineries, petrochemical plants, and one of the nation’s busiest airports. Just as states can’t socialize all energy under worker management—as advocated by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy—they don’t have the power to implement a Just Transition restructuring to put workers in to new climate-friendly jobs.

I’ll continue this topic next time.

That’s all for this week.


Receive notification when a new WIR is posted in one of the following ways:

New—Now On Twitter

http://www.workdayminnesota.org/sites/workdayminnesota.org/themes/workdayminnesota/images/social/large/rss.png Really Simple Syndication (RSS)

Simply send your name and e-mail address to billonasch[at]kclabor.org

Follow Bill Onasch on Google +

Powered By Blogger Our companion Labor Advocate news blog posts articles of interest to working people by 9AM Central, Monday-Friday.

Our sole source of operating income is reader contributions. If you can help please visit the KC Labor Donate page.

Privacy Policy. We don’t share any information about our readers with anyone else—period.

The original content we provide is copyrighted and may not be reproduced by commercial media without our consent. However, labor movement and other nonprofit media may reproduce with attribution.