While Devil Winds continues to burn through California, an amazing and growing number of protesters the world round march for justice, equality, and the environment.
In the USA, Twitter Takes one small step for Democracy, while the aviation and auto industries regress on climate, demonstrating once again why a stakeholder-first economy is still a distant dream.
All this and more in This Week in Sustainability.
The Devils’ Wind fuels wildfires California
There is not much that hasn’t already been said about the fossil fuel terror blazing away an enormous swath of Northern California.
It is the worst two-for-one climate combo nightmare possible (and unfortunately predicable).
Tinder dry California forests are only half the problem
California has warmed by about 3 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 100 years. That’s 2 degrees higher than the global average.
More than just higher temperatures, spring, summer and autumn seasons are also getting longer, sucking more moisture out of plants and soils.
Primed to burn, tinder-dry trees, shrubs, grasslands, vegetal litter hardly describes the state of California’s forest. It’s Christmas tree on an August afternoon dry. Throw a match. See what happens.
Howling dry winds: Nature’s fire accelerator
Speeding up as they pass over the desert, the winds get dryer, parching everything in their path.
Diablo Winds an unpredictable fixture in CA fire season
These winds are known as the Devil’s Wind in Northern California, cousin to the more infamous Santa Anas in the South.
Once sporadic if frequent, the winds have been celebrated and or vilified for their routine shaking effect. All is possible good, bad and evil when the Devil and Santa Ana winds come to play.
“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen.”
Detective novelist Raymond Chandler
Wildfires: making large portions of CA uninhabitable?
Today, the Devils and Santa Anas come too often, too fast, and, worst of all, too close together.
This is the third consecutive year these winds have laid siege to forests made exceptionally dry by less rain falling in increasingly unpredictable patterns. Once a fire ignites, heat, oxygen, and vegetation combine to explosive effect.
NOS Mother Nature style
As Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman wrote this week in the Washington Post, “The current fire is part of a clear pattern toward larger, more frequent and destructive blazes in the state.
Fifteen of the top 20 largest wildfires in the state’s history have now occurred since 2000.
GM, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota Side with White House on Harmful Emissions Standards
Until this week, the US auto industry uniformly backed the tougher auto emissions standards of California over the #ClimateCrisis enabling standards set by the Trump administration.
General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota broke ranks this week saying they will follow the national standards which lowered those established by Obama from 54.5 to 37.0 miles per gallon.
Not all auto companies are myopic to the #ClimateCrises auto market outlook
Honda, Ford, Volkswagen, and BMW are siding will follow the #ClimateSmart Obama era standards set by California.
Those standards were smacked down by Trump who sees lower standards as a jobs v climate issue (not to mention a part of his uncontrollable fetish to smear climate-woke President Obama).
Companies willing to careen down Trump’s Highway of the Macabre, are making a mistake. According to Tom Cackette, of the California Air Resource Board, the global vehicle market will run primarily on biofuels, fuel cells and electricity and not gasoline by 2050. He predicts those vehicles that do use the noxious stuff, will need to get 70 mpg (29.76 km/l) or better to be allowed on the roads.
Should the auto industry go full-Trump-EPA, another 6 billion tons of carbon will be excreted into the atmosphere annually.
The New York Times Outs Aviation Industry’s Purposeful Weakening of Safety Rules
Many recall with sadness the Boeing 737 Max that crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018 killing all 157 people on board.
A second crash in Ethiopia, with no fatalities, happened less than five months later, causing the Max to be grounded by most national aviation regulators.
What many don’t know is that US aviation industry regulations passed in 2018 were heavily influenced by corporate lobbyists who worked to dramatically weaken industry safety oversight.
This week, the New York Times outed the industry’s successful effort to defang the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) in the drafting of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
Aviation industry: favoring efficiency over human safety and life?
The Act has many incredulous, nay, unbelievable elements. Two are of special note for This Week in Sustainability.
First, the Act made it eye-poppingly difficult for the FAA to review manufacturer aircraft designs, essentially delegating safety oversight to the industry itself.
Lobbyists worked to ensure regulators could check design risks only after documenting problems. That is, the FAA must prove a problem exists before they can step in to investigate.
Even if the FAA can prove a problem exists, a lengthy and potentially litigious process would almost inevitably result before it could investigate.
FAA union raised concerns over aviation safety oversight as early as 2016
The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union representing many FAA employees raised these concerns as early as 2016 saying that the FAA’s ability to investigate will “…as a practical matter, mean after the accident has happened and people are killed.”
The second issue (yes finally the second issue) is less complex, equally stunning, and even more telling of how the industry trys get its own way.
Industry lobbyists fought to have the Reauthorization Act give industry reps substantial input over FAA employee performance reviews and pay increases.
Astounding by any standard.
Ex-Exxon Executives Confess Climate Sins to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
This week former Exxon executives confessed to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez during a Congressional hearing for their role in advancing the #ClimateCrisis past the point of no return.
Telling the now well-known story of Exxon’s willful destruction of the environment and massive contribution to the #ClimateCrisis, must have been a great unburdening to the executives being questioned.
As revealing, their story once again confirms that the fictitious deep state has nothing on corporate vested interests.
Exxon’s drive for profit is also a sad reminder of how capitalism left unchallenged can make a lot of good people do many bad things with worse outcomes to the benefit of an increasingly smaller number of people.
But I digress.
Local Grievances, Global Problems – Marching Against Oppression and for Climate Action
It’s near to impossible to count the millions of people marching in the streets these days, demanding change.
Hong Kong, Lebanon, Chile, Haiti, the UK, and all across the US, folks are in the streets demanding government action on climate, social inequality, corruption and more.
Protests: Distinctly local flavor decidedly global problems
Demonstrations are fueled by local grievances but reflect world-wide frustration at growing social inequality, worsening climate, corrupt elites, ineffective leadership, and broken promises.
Linked with vigorous social media efforts, mass protest the world round gives heart and courage to those who believe in a happier and healthier world.
Feet in the street: democracy in action and/or democracy denied?
Check out Joseph Krauss article last week, “From Beirut to Hong Kong, protests evoke global frustration,” which examines recent demonstrations across the globe.
Or listen to the lighter side as Trevor Noah of the Daily Show explains why the world is marching.
Protesters Want Food Service Industry to Source Locally and Ethically
Speaking of marching….
There was a small, almost unnoticed march last week which spoke volumes about how much food matters for a happy and healthy world, and how very vulnerable that goal is to the diinterest of concentrated corporate power.
Famers and students rallied outside Aramark, which, along with the Compass Group and Sodexo, controls nearly 80% of school, corporate, hospital, prison, stadium, and other organizations cafeterias and restaurants.
Real Meals are not ready made
The protestors, organized by the Community Coalition for Real Meals, want the three companies to use their combined USD 14 billion food expenditures to source 25% of their inputs from “local, humane, ecologically-sound, or fair sources, without a history of labor violations.” The group also wants a reduction of industry greenhouse gas emissions by 25%.
The protestors didn’t march alone, however. They were backed by a petition of over 100,000 signatures.
Schumer Introduces Bill to Swap Your Gas Vehicle for Electric
A lot of people want an electric car. I know I do. Desperately
We want them for a variety of reasons: to save money on fuel, help the environment, or just for the bragging rights.
Whatever the desire, its less carbon in the sky.
But while many dream of a Telsa or Leaf in their driveway, most of us simply can’t afford to let go of our internal combustion engine vehicle (ICE) until it devalues to the point we need to replace it.
Schumer’s electric vehicle (EV) bill = 5.7 million tons less carbon
A bill fast-tracked by US Senator Chuck Schumer this week might make our dreams come true a lot faster.
The bill proposes offering cash vouchers of up USD 7,000 towards the purchase of an EV, and aims to put an some 63 million of them on the road .
Given a typical passenger ICE vehicle emits some 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, the plan would reduce auto emissions by nearly 290 million tons annually or approximately 5.7 trillion pounds over the life of the EVs the bill would put on the road.
Proposed EV program is low cost with big carbon savings
With a proposed budget of USD 450 billion, the program would take a metric ton of carbon out of the atmosphere at a cost of an estimated USD 5. That is well below the USD 15 to USD 52 carbon tax rate proposed by numerous US law makers.
Twitter Ends Political Ads Hitting an Accountability Double
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey stepped up to the corporate responsibility plate and hit an accountability double when it announced this week the company will no longer accept political ads.*
Finally, a bit of sanity in the endlessly evolving Story of Refusal of tech giants refusing to refuse demonstrably false, misleading, or viciously untrue political propaganda.
Twitter: on the second base of accountability, but who will hit them home?
That Twitter makes less than 2% of its revenue through political ads doesn’t move the social media needle towards ‘free of disinformation’ all that much. But for those who take democracy as a cornerstone of sustainability, we’ll take it where we can. For now.
Other tech giants? They continue to put lies and profit before democracy and progress.
Facebook: still in the accountability tee ball league
I direct all eyes to Facebook who continues to refuse truth in advertising over democracy…..
Are we really going to run an ad that claims Kamala Harris ran dog fights out of the basement of a pizza place while Elizabeth Warren destroyed evidence that climate change is a hoax and the deep state sold meth to Rashida Tlaib and Colin Kaepernick?”
Aaron Sorkin on Facebook (in NYT)
For more details…
Check out The Nation’s detailed assessment of what it means to have Dorsey on second and who might be next up to the plate.
*Normally sports metaphors are to be avoided. But hey, congrats to both the Nationals and Astros this week for a successful and entertaining World Series. A shout out to all the MLBA teams for a great season.
The Last Word in Sustainability this Week
Farhana Yamin, climate change lawyer, author, speaker & activist, said it best this week: No social justice no climate justice.
Signs of Change
Adapt or die. Its our choice.
That’s a wrap. We are out until next week…
Invest Like You give a Damn…
Want to get all the awful and nasty out of the economy and politics? Get on your protest boots and march definitely march.
But you can also get a copy of my book Invest Like You Give a Damn and learn how to make your investments more sustainable for a happier and healthier world.