Forget About The Mooch, Here’s The News You Should Be Talking About Today—And Every Day

Big effing deal. Anthony Scaramucci, a second-class asshole, lost his job working for a first-class asshole. But that ultimately meaningless story is all the rage. Meanwhile there’s this:

Earth to warm 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, studies say

By the end of the century, the global temperature is likely to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

This rise in temperature is the ominous conclusion reached by two different studies using entirely different methods published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday.

You can go read that CNN story for the methodologies involved and other details, but if the following doesn’t interest you more than one of Tr-mp’s chumps losing a job he was eminently unqualified to do (which happens so regularly now that it doesn’t even qualify as news), then you are missing the larger meaning of all the stuff going on, what CNN termed “a grim reality”:

“These studies are part of the emerging scientific understanding that we’re in even hotter water than we’d thought,” said Bill McKibben, an environmentalist not affiliated with either study. “We’re a long ways down the path to disastrous global warming, and the policy response — especially in the United States — has been pathetically underwhelming.”

Fareed Zakaria said on Sunday morning that the United States was “becoming irrelevant” in the world because of “the bizarre candidacy of Donald Tr-mp, which has been followed by an utterly chaotic presidency.” But even though Zakaria is right about the chaos we see each and every day, and even though he correctly cites a Pew study that shows “People around the world increasingly believe they can make do without America,” he is wrong about our irrelevancy, as anyone who understands climate change can tell you. We are very relevant. It matters that Tr-mp is a coal-loving fool. And it matters that he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on carbon emissions, which first set the 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit mark as a threshold. Why? Because,

If we surpass that mark, it has been estimated by scientists that life on our planet will change as we know it. Rising seas, mass extinctions, super droughts, increased wildfires, intense hurricanes, decreased crops and fresh water and the melting of the Arctic are expected.

The impact on human health would be profound. Rising temperatures and shifts in weather would lead to reduced air quality, food and water contamination, more infections carried by mosquitoes and ticks and stress on mental health, according to a recent report from the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health.

Currently, the World Health Organization estimates that 12.6 million people die globally due to pollution, extreme weather and climate-related disease. Climate change between 2030 and 2050 is expected to cause 250,000 additional global deaths, according to the WHO.

If you think these two latest studies are outliers, think again:

The study confirms conclusions of many other studies, said Bill Hare, director and senior scientists of nonprofit Climate Analytics. Hare was not affiliated with either study.

“This interesting paper confirms the conclusion about where the world is headed unless there is a major increase in the ambition of climate and energy policies,” Hare said….

“It shows, in effect, that unless we start reducing emissions quickly — soon there is a risk that we will overshoot temperature limits like 1.5 or 2 degrees C,” Hare said. “It is just another confirmation of how dangerous the present situation is unless CO2 emissions, which have flatlined in the last few years, really start dropping.”

The solution, if there is one, to this disturbing problem (disturbing even if you, like me, won’t live long enough to feel its worst effects) is, of course, public policy. And unfortunately our public policy on this and so many other critical issues is in the hands of an incompetent, incoherent, and tragically indifferent buffoon. The CNN story ends with this:

“There are only two realistic paths toward avoiding long-run disaster: increased financial incentives to avoid greenhouse gas emissions and greatly increased funding for research that will lead to at least partial technological fixes,” said Dick Startz, economist and co-author of the second study. “Neither is free. Both are better than the catastrophe at the end of the current path.”

Image result for solar powerSilver linings and hope are hard to find in climate change studies, but they also don’t account for every factor.

“The only bright point is that, as the study authors say, they haven’t factored in the plummeting cost of solar power,” McKibben said. “That’s the one way out we still might take — but only if our governments take full advantage of the breakthroughs our engineers have produced.”

Yeah, well, good luck with our government taking full advantage of such breakthroughs. And good luck with getting a significant number of people to pay attention to this alarming story. After all, today we’ve got The Mooch to distract us, and tomorrow it will be some other insignificant intrigue inside the crumbling White’s House or, Allah forbid, a twisted tweet.

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  1. DG

     /  July 31, 2017

    Right on and well said all around. I well add though, it’s not just the work of one buffoon but the work of many. The buffoons I speak of are republicans. Not only did they do more,except perhaps the Russians, to get him elected, they are mightily helping him hang on to the office regardless what price we all must pay. Just read the words of shitdom that Anson promotes on this blog. WOW


    • DG,

      I completely agree that none of what we see would be possible without the hard work of the Republican Party to not only make it a safe place for a Tr-mp, but to fool enough hard-working Americans into thinking that their interests lie with people like Tr-mp and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. That’s some real shitdom there.



  2. ansonburlingame

     /  July 31, 2017


    I firmly believe our climate is warming due primarily to human activity and that is really bad news demanding action. I am no scientist and can hardly read a weather map. But it seems to be almost common sense. More humans, more activity (farts!, etc.) and thus more stuff going up into the air. Even God has yet to find a “natural way” to remove all that crap!!

    Where we differ, maybe, is what to do about it. Just as “no one knows the cost of HC for all”, I submit no one knows how to actually reduce (and pay for it) the amount of bad stuff going into the air OR getting the bad stuff out of the air if it gets to be “too much”. Think about that last one as a technology challenge.

    On submarines we smoked, a lot but we scrubbed the atmosphere to clean it up. We made oxygen (out of seawater) to replenish that which was consumed by humans. We scrubbed the air to remove carbon dioxide, etc. Bottom line, we were independent of the atmosphere for months on end, barring an emergency or equipment (technology) breakdown. That was all 1960’s technology used in those days as well. It was called “atmosphere control equipment” and it worked, for 150 men in a 300 ft. long sewer pipe for 70-80 days at a time.

    Another tack to consider in our thinking. If human activity causes GW then what about reducing the number of humans on Earth, or at least limiting the exponential increase of same. Consider this, if X megatons per year of greenhouses gases cause GW then what is the max level of humans on Earth that our “systems” (ecological to a degree) can sustain. If 7 B causes GW today, what will 10 B say in 2100 cause and how do we limit that growth?

    Using that line of thinking the ultimate solution will be Malthus, unless we do something about it!! Does that make the idea thus “unthinkable”?

    Even more important is how do we deal with BOTH GW and national debt at the same time. Just imagine if we “go solar” too soon how much money it will cost to produce all the electricity demanded by all humans on the globe. Ultimately “solar” may well work but only when we capture and transmit to Earth much more “solar power”. There are not enough deserts in the world to produce all the solar power needed to meet all energy needs, even today, I suspect. (My long stated solution for that one is “think nuclear”, today until technology catches up).

    So let’s just let government power do it for us, right. Slam dunk just the American people with a huge carbon tax and then do the same with an equally huge HC tax. OR just borrow all the money and do them both, now, with government force. Then sit back, breath clean air and live very healthy lives for a while longer and not worry about the national debt.

    Which is worse, incremental drowning in debt or letting seawater drive us to the mountain tops with ultimately Malthus providing the corrective action in either or both cases?

    Simple questions but no answers, yet, below

    1. What happens if (when) Earth temp goes up 6 degrees C? What can we do to prevent it?
    2. What happens if (when) world population reaches 12 Trillion (note we doubled such population going from 3-6 B in just a few decades, right?) and what can we do to prevent it?
    3. What happens WHEN(not IF) our national debt (just a USA problem for a while) reaches $50 Trillion and what can we do to prevent it?

    In other words what, where and when are all these tipping points and what can we do about them, now? Ignoring them won’t work, in my view, not nationally or on a global scale.

    As humans spend (demand) more geometrically, reproduce geometrically, and everyone still needs to breath, eat and drink water, well what can we do about it as humans? Think any democracy can solve such problems, I mean really solve them and not just kick the cans down the road? I only know for sure that Malthus is NOT democratic, either. I suppose he is the ultimate tipping point, far worse than most wars.



    • Anson,

      Getting “the stuff” out of the air that is already there is not a consideration, as far as I can tell. The object of public policy on this issue is to reduce the amount of stuff going into the air. The most effective way of doing that, as the Chinese and to some degree some hardheads here in the United States are figuring out, is to transition to alternative forms of energy, particularly renewables. But we have a fool and his party in charge of the government right now. And that’s a big problem.

      As far as population, as societies become more prosperous the birth rate goes down. Plus, I have more faith in human ingenuity that your Malthus. I think we can figure out how to feed people, so long as we don’t have too many governments of fools. And while we need more prosperity across the world, in some places that prosperity will come at the expense of the environment, if we don’t help developing countries utilize alternative forms of energy before they’re completely hooked on fossil fuels. Again, we have a government of fools and that’s a problem.

      Again, I’m not opposed to nuclear energy, if regulated fiercely. But I’m probably the only liberal you know who holds that position. So, that’s not a likely alternative, even though the damn plants can be run extraordinarily safely, as far as I can tell. Europe does it. The problem is that nobody wants the waste stored in their state (and the environmentalists will go crazy, partly because we too often have a government of fools who won’t see to it that the waste is stored properly).

      I think your carbon tax was originally a Republican idea. It has something to do with a “market approach” as I recall. The problem is that the GOP has changed so much that anything with the word “tax” in it is anathema. Try getting Tr-mp to even understand what a carbon tax is and how it works, let alone champion it as a solution to the “Chinese hoax.” Again, we have a government of fools.

      As for your list of questions, here are my answers:

      1. We’re fucked. See here:   That scenario is what would likely happen if a government of fools existed everywhere, by the way.
      2. Hopefully, by the time the world’s population reaches 12 trillion, we won’t have a government of fools, here or anywhere. And Malthusianism will be a completely discredited idea.
      3. Nothing will happen if our national debt reaches $50 trillion, so long as our economic output is in the same ballpark. Presumably, even under a government of fools, we will at least keep growing a little bit, economically. And, presumably, even a government of fools can see that $50 trillion in debt in an economy with a $25 trillion GDP is a problem. But, then one government of fools questionably elected in 2000 did bring us the Great Recession, so who knows. (By the way, Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio is around 250 percent; last time I checked, they’re not perishing in the streets.)



  3. Bill Miller

     /  July 31, 2017

    Climate change is happening and will continue to happen because the present administration is bought and paid for by business. Democrats are not innocent and deserve some of the credit, but they tried to right the years of wrong by encouraging renewable energy. It brings jobs, high pay and new industry to our country and sends a message to others in the world that we are/were concerned and want to correct the path we have been on for so many years.
    As to other things we need strong environmental control of our climate, water, wastewater and most specifically pesticide use. Over the last 5 years our fields were ripe with honey bees, bumblebees and butterflies; the pollinators. Numbers are basically non-existent due to our neighbors uncontrolled use of sprays and poor planting habits. All this to increase their profit with little regard to what will lie ahead for their children/grandchildren. I too am old enough to not see the end, but I have never seen such a dash to get to the end of the cliff like the lemmings they are imitating.
    Farmers I worked for in Kansas during college showed greater concern for the resource with minimal knowledge that all our “educated” farmers are now showing, or is it the corporate farm taking a quick path to riches in spite of their neighbors. More chickens, cows, turkeys and hogs are the path to riches by sending the product overseas along with our fertility, water and leaving behind degraded environment.


    • Well stated, Bill. Thanks for sharing those observations. Pretty scary stuff, especially if you’re a lot younger than we are.


  4. No, there will be no concern in this administration about climate change. Trump’s vision does not appear to extend beyond tonight’s desert. But, I am not entirely pessimistic about the environment. Thanks to government scientists and engineers, and subsidies provided by Richard Nixon’s EPA, solar panels are now financially competitive with coal. Rivers and lakes have been cleaned up, and vehicle emissions drastically reduced. All this would not have happened if visions of financial cliffs had prevented action. Trump’s downward trajectory will hopefully begin to be reversed in 2018.

    The episodic pustule that was Scaramucci did demonstrate one thing, I submit. Something does trickle down from Trumpian politics, but it’s not money. It is intolerance, anger and pure meanness. Based on comments in this post, we can now add hopelessness.


    • Jim,

      Thanks for your (mostly) optimistic view of things. I agree that things could be much worse if we had not been further along than we are in terms of renewables, etc. Fortunately, we had 8 years of Obama to help push some positive outcomes, even though these Tr-mpers are doing their best, at least those in the government, to reverse the progress. I hope you’re right that it may be somewhat irreversible. But I’m not convinced yet. I just don’t trust these bastards, especially in terms of how far they’ll go to get a coal miner’s vote in an Electoral College state.



      • Duane and Anson,

        Speaking of Malthus, there is on-going research on lab-grown “meat” that could have a huge impact on the environment. It’s not ready for prime time (pun intended), but it’s getting close. And, yes, I know about the movie “Soylent Green”, but, hey, it’s better than starving. An excerpt (emphasis added):

        Meanwhile, a 2011 study calculated that growing meat in labs would cut down on the land required to produce steaks, sausages and bacon by 99 percent and reduce the associated need for water by 90 percent. What’s more, it found that a pound of lab-created meat would produce much less polluting greenhouse-gas emissions than is produced by cows and pigs, even poultry.


  5. ansonburlingame

     /  August 1, 2017

    I was unsure of my understanding of world population growth and went online to see some numbers. The one that jumped out at me was when I was borne in 1942 WP was 2.3 Billion. 75 years later it is about 7.5 Billion. Some estimates put that number in 2100 at 11.5 Billion.

    I present such information not out of sense of hopelessness but rather facts as we understand them today and a challenge to deal with such facts. But I agree with Jim that Trump has no idea about such things and only thinks in terms of “Grand” (crazy) dreams for America, joined by some real shortsighted Dems whose ideas are equally grand/crazy.

    Where is a political party, today, that can actually get real, I wonder. THAT is my sense of hopelessness, today!



    • Anson, it has been estimated that a resource-sustainable planet, in terms of population, is two billion. At present, it takes 3 earths to sustain the current population. And it every country consumed as much as the U.S., it would take five earths. Notwithstanding global warming, it’s even questionable whether the human race can make it to 2100!

      For more on this and other related issues, see my blog at


    • King Beauregard

       /  August 2, 2017

      “Where is a political party, today, that can actually get real, I wonder. THAT is my sense of hopelessness, today!”

      You kinda-sorta reject the Republicans because they are oblivious morons who shouldn’t be allowed unsupervised access to scissors much less a government, and you also reject the Democrats because they are generally competent but they don’t lie to you and tell you there are easy pain-free answers.

      What you’re looking for is a party that offers tidy coloring-book solutions like the Republicans and also offers realistic messy solutions like the Democrats. Can’t help ya there.


      • “…you also reject the Democrats because they are generally competent but they don’t lie to you and tell you there are easy pain-free answers.”

        I immediately thought of “Let’s tell the truth!” Walter Mondale, who at time sounded a lot like Anson Burlingame:


        • Telling the truth as strategy – the Mondale clip was a good one. Another I just came across in a Globe op-ed letter was a reference to Big O during the 2008 campaign trying to explain to a woman why, in some cases, a 105 year-old woman (such as her grandmother) might be better off with pills than with a pacemaker. (In the letter, she was mis-labeled as 95, but so what?) The clip is still on You-Tube and, obviously, still being cited as Democratic social-medicine doom.


  6. As I’ve said many times, we Americans are reactive, not proactive. We wait until the planes hit the tall buildings and then, and only then, exclaim “Oh, THAT bin Laden!” But we’re pretty great in the aftermath. Lots of kumbaya in recovering from 9/11, the OKC bombing, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the big natural disasters – floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes, well, except for Katrina of course.

    The Only thing that will save us in the future is a series of mega-volcanic eruptions on the order of Tambora in April 1815, and Krakatoa in August 1883. Tambora was the largest of these two. And 1816 was called the year without a summer. It actually snowed in Central Park in July of that year. There were crop failures all over the planet leading to starvation. Anyway, the particulate matter that was blown into the atmosphere lingered for several years, helping to keep temperatures low. But it the Yellowstone mega-volcano blows, that might spell doomsday for millions. And Yellowstone is estimated to be bigger than either Tambora or Krakatoa. And it’s overdue to explode.

    In any case, any predictions that go out 83 years from now, especially those involving atmospheric loadings of various compounds, shall not be relied on. As Yogi Berra once wisely noted, “Predictions are hard, especially about the future.”


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