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154. Champions: Climate Change Crisis

20 Mar

This is an update on the latest efforts, findings, and theories on the Climate Change crisis. But first, I want to acknowledge the great contributions of  Ex-Veep Al Gore (who should have been elected president) in defining and promoting the climate change crisis. I also want to mention presidential candidate Governor Jay Inslee who has made climate change his most important issue. Now, there is an increasing number of leaders (mostly Dems.) who are enthusiastically promoting climate endeavors. 98% of all reputable scientists support the idea that human activities are causing global warming.

A new approach to fixing Climate Change is the work of Penny Chisholm The marine microbe Prochlorococcus draws in CO2 and uses sunlight to produce oxygen and sugar. The functioning of this microbe may hold the key to reducing CO2 in the air, saving our planet from climate-change devastation.  Since the world is not doing so well in producing less carbon dioxide, it is very important to support promising research on removing CO2 from the air. Penny Chisholm, in her recent TED talk, is one of the researchers in this area. This method may be key to saving our planet.  Please tell Trump and Congress to support research in this area and fund grants for testing. 

Another promising method to help is using Carbon Cure. It is a method of injecting CO2 into concrete. This removes it from the atmosphere and also helps to strengthen the concrete — so less is needed. Using this method, climate-change is helped in two ways. We need a President that can support climate efforts like this.

There are many other methods of carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere, by natural and tech processes.  For a really good discussion, I recommend reading:  http://www.eesi.org/articles/view/carbon-removal-strategies-a-broad-overview  .

The “Green New Deal” proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others, is filled with good progressive ideas and emphasizes the Climate Change crisis.  Many of the Democrat Presidential candidates support the deal fully or substantially.

The President has established a Climate Change Scientific Panel to investigate. It is led by 79 y.o. William Happer, C. Fogg B. Physics Professor Emeritus at Princeton, who is notable for being the only professor stating that excess CO2 in the atmosphere is beneficial. Note that “emeritus” means retired. In essence, Happer says: don’t worry about global warming because CO2 will be good for agriculture. Many commentators believe that the president’s panel was set up just to “muddy the waters.”  The USA Military, most other countries, some CEO’s and many members of Trump’s staff are concerned about global warming dangers, which in fact, we are already experiencing.

Recent investigations of show that climate-change is taking place much faster than previously estimated. One reason is that the melting of ice exposes dark-colored earth that tends to absorb more heat. Studies of the Arctic, Antarctic, and glaciers clearly show significant changes due to warming. Please see my BasicCauses blog number 147 for more info.  Here are the references for the two most authoritative recent reports.  One is  United Nations Special Scientific Panel released October 8, 2018. This report indicates the rapid change.  The other report is the “Fourth National Climate Assessment” (Nov. 23, 2018) by US Global Change Research program.

What we must do right now is support research like removing CO2 from the air and developing better batteries for electric needs. A panel of experts chosen by the National Science Foundation (or similar) should determine where the funding goes. Mr. President, time is running out, this is your last chance to do the right thing in this area.

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153. Current Issues, Briefly #2

20 Mar

This is the second of a series of blogs with brief discussions of current issues. The material is based on my Tweets, unpublished thoughts, and descriptions of various publications that are so important that they must be repeated and emphasized.

Who said: Mexico pays for wall, immediate replacement for ObamaCare, Medicare unchanged, so rich that donors not needed, ban all Muslims, climate-change is hoax, N. Korea is no longer a threat, he likes tyrants, Saudi MBS innocent, leave NATO, McCain not a hero, grab them by the pu..y ? We know who said all these things. Can anyone still support him? (Yes!, because he hates the same people that you do.)

It is very important that presidential candidates express themselves sensibly and honestly. Beto O did well when asked about healthcare. He said that Medicare-for-all was one of several good plans. Generally, anyone pledging a detailed specific plan is not realistic — too many contingencies.

Trump is angry with TV shows that mock him, but NOT the other side. Duh! You mock the bad, crude leaders, NOT those saying wise and respectable things.

For a long time, my top choice for president was Elizabeth Warren. I still think she would be a great president, but Beto O. is rising rapidly, and must be considered for his strength, popularity, sincerity, and intelligence. He may be the best for beating Trump and I agree 98% with his goals. On the other hand, Warren is coming up with some interesting tax proposals.

I am convinced that anyone over 80 is at least somewhat affected by memory loss and reduction in intellectual ability. Consequentially, I have eliminated some popular presidential candidates (B. Sanders, J. Biden, etc.) that will be over 80 by the middle of their first term in office. This is based on personal observations and established data.

As we enjoy advancing technology and cultural evolution there is a parallel development of corruption. We see this in almost every system, from car-repair to the USA gov. The latest scourge is in top college admissions; affected by bribery and false testing scores. The university admission scandal tells us at least two things. One is that many rich people are corrupt, the other is that college expenses are unjustly huge. As scammers gradually improve their skills, institutional expenses also must rise. Is there any solution to this enigma?

If you care about fixing Climate Change read this:   The marine microbe Prochlorococcus draws in CO2 and uses sunlight to produce oxygen and sugar. The functioning of this microbe may hold the key to reducing CO2 in the air, saving our planet from climate-change devastation.  Since the world is not doing so well in producing less carbon dioxide, it is very important to support promising research on REMOVING CO2 from the air. Penny Chisholm, in her recent TED talk, is one of the researchers in this area. This method may be key to saving our planet.  Please tell Trump and Congress to support research in this area and fund grants for testing. 

Carbon Cure is a method of injecting CO2 into concrete. This removes it from the atmosphere and also helps to strengthen the concrete — so less is needed. Using this method, climate-change is helped in two ways. We need a POTUS that can support climate efforts like this.

(In answer to a Sean Hannity remark.)  Repubs love to distort facts. No one advocates pure socialism, which says ideally, all citizens must have the same amount of money by a redistribution of wealth. Democrats advocate better social programs, like Medicare, where non-rich benefit, and don’t worry – greedy rich folks will still be rich.

Manafort was just given a 47 month sentence, much lighter than the guidance. The judge made some remarks that very conservative politicians would say. Pres Reagan chose the judge, T. S. Ellis, a strong Virginia conservative, a fact not often mentioned. This is an example of the continuing damage to our country: the appointment of radically conservative judges.

Tom Steyer, “need to impeach” advocate, is a true patriot and national hero. He is working hard and spending much of his own money trying to fight the corrupt Trump gov.  For more info on corruption and the Trump-Russia connection, please see my previous blogs.

Major policies are always developed at the top of an organization. The Trump staff has had numerous convictions and indictments, and has well established unethical practices. It is no longer speculative, but a fact, that the corrupt nature of his staff proves that Trump is has promoted illicit methods. He is the cause of his staff corruption and voters must take note.

According to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, French President Emmanuel Macron is proposing significant improvements to the EU including collective defense, guarding elections, minimum wages, new tech, and climate issues. Some of this is in response to D.T. abuse. Bravo to Macron. Sad about BREXIT. Maybe there should be another vote?

It’s really important that Democrat speeches and writing are accurate. We must be better than Don Trump. Failure to be exact and correct will cause distrust. We must always be the ones to be relied upon. Also, there is no point in promoting ideas that are very extreme. The most important thing about the next election is the “defeat.”

Just read some nonsense about Democrat Candidates. The Indian problem for Eliz. Warren is nonsense and so are criticisms of Kamala Harris when she was the state AG. The problems cited have nothing to do with future performance as president. Desperate people magnify slight negatives with no significance.

 

 

 

152. Current Issues, Briefly #1

3 Mar

This is first of a series of blogs with a set of brief discussions of issues that I want to emphasize. This will include ideas from my recent blogs, tweets, and unpublished thoughts. The major topic will be gov and politics but I will include science advancements, and other areas.  I anticipate publishing this type of blog every 7 to 10 days.

The testimony of Michael Cohen is important and I think mostly truthful. The world population is not divided into liars and non-liars. Everyone lies at some time or another, or is a social outcast. Cohen made some serious mistakes, but many of them were made under the aura of a US President, presidential candidate, or earlier a powerful, rich, influential and persuasive person. Cohen is not a high-minded dealist, but there are now major legal reasons for his telling the absolute truth.

Michael Cohen said that he “knows of no evidence for collusion.” Note to Trump: this does not say that others do not have such evidence. Almost certainly, Special Council Mueller does have some significant evidence for collusion. The many indictments, convictions, and lies about Russian contacts, support this.

The “Green New Deal” is filled with good progressive ideas, but like Nancy Pelosi, I hesitate to endorse it because it goes too far in certain areas. I think the climate part is so important that it should be separated out and vigorously promoted. There are also claims that some of the concepts and numbers are incorrect. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) states that the numbers don’t matter; its only the morals that matter. That is a teenage know-it-all answer. Democrats must be better than Trump. What we say must be correct or we will be mistrusted.

According to New York officials, there would be 27 billion in taxes over 25 years from an Amazon move and at least 25,000 new jobs.  A. O. Cortez and others killed the deal by worrying about 3-billion in incentives. Her enthusiasm for progressive causes is great, but in this case she may have made a horrible error. Her concern over 3 billion may have killed tax revenue of 27 billion and many thousands of new jobs.

As I think about Nancy Pelosi and her recent achievement in blocking “the wall” construction, and other responsible decisions I am extremely impressed. She could be the very best politician, negotiator, and patriot our country has ever had. Look at how effectively she negotiated her election to House Speaker. She has a long history of supporting science. As I think about her career I am truly amazed.

It looks like woman will take over more and more political leadership roles. Many are extremely competent, and are national leaders in Germany, the UK and elsewhere. For years, my top pics for president have been women. Male leaders are disadvantaged by the threat of scandals. Men voted into high office are usually powerful, handsome, rich, healthy, and articulate. This description is exactly what most women want in a male companion, and for most men, the temptations of seductive women are difficult to control. Healthy men have powerful sex drives resulting from biological evolution.

The moral of the Ralph Northam (Virginia Gov) year-book issue is that it is foolish to ruin a person’s life because of a mistake made many (35) years ago. People do sincerely change. How many US and world leaders could stand scrutiny of their early years? To hold against a person a mistake 35 years ago is to discourage people from improving their lives. Remember, it is what a person does and says (for a long period of time) that is important, not what you imagine is in his brain.

In the area of science, there are many publications concerning the structure and function of DNA. One group is working on a new DNA with two extra codes, total of six instead of the usual four (bases: A,G,C,T). Floyd Romesberg and his team (Scripps  Institute) are working on this and promise exciting applications.

Another scientific group has made major advances in understanding how the brain recognizes faces. Some of the best recent work was performed by Doris Y. Tsao of the California Institute of Technology. She discovered brain areas called face detectors and provides a description of “face codes” that allows the brain to organize visual input for identifying faces. Scientific American, February 2019, describes this work.

151. Trump: I Did It My Way

2 Mar

If you have had much contact with teenagers, you notice that the brighter ones often learn a little about something and think they are now experts. They will explain how you are wrong and they are correct. But I have found that most of the time the older wise person has the best answer. Often, the teenager will not consider all of the possible results of a new approach.

I want to talk mostly about Trump, but I will start with a Democrat issue. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is an intelligent and dedicated young person who is promoting the “Green New Deal.” (I totally agree with her “dreams”). I received an email asking if I believe in Climate Change, and would I endorse the Green New Deal. I hesitated because it became clear that this new deal covered much more than Climate Change. The email was misleading; there should have been an option for agreeing with most of it. I did not endorse it because some of the deal included ideas that were so far left that some voters would be turned off. Since beating Trump is paramount, the deal should state good progressive goals, but not include specific features that go too far. AOC should have discussed this deal with older more experienced politicians.  Nancy Pelosi is hesitating to endorse the Green New Deal. Pelosi is a well-proven political genius and AOC should consult with her, along with others.

There are many examples of Trump errors due to his inexperience. In negotiating a treaty Trump’s procedure is to have secret one-on-one meetings with the foreign leader. This is very different from the established USA method of interaction. traditionally, the Secretary of State and foreign equivalent work out the details and then the leaders get together for finalizing. The current meeting with Kim Jong-un of N. Korea illustrates the advantage of the usual method. Trump’s trip to the Vietnam summit was a waste of time since there was no deal. And Trump is left with a serious failure. It only enhanced the status of Kim.  A complex deal requires a lot of negotiating time and should be left to experienced experts. Furthermore, the secret meetings of our President with foreign leaders leads to distrust  here in the USA and in other countries that would be affected. The secrecy makes one suspicious of illicit private deals.

Another good example of doing it his way, is in international trade deals. Traditionally, trade deals result from the combined efforts of many USA experts and representatives from relevant foreign countries. Trump does not have the capacity to predict all of the effects of a complicated deal. That is a major reason why the traditional method is better. Trump’s bad plans have produced job layoffs, closing of companies, and loss of USA leadership. China and other countries will be able to takeover more leadership roles in trade that have belonged to the USA for many years.

Briefly, here are some other areas where traditional methods employing many experts would have led to better results: organizing military troop deployments, setting up border regulations and procedures, filling of various staff and judicial positions, establishing policies based on the conclusions of our intelligence agencies,  and developing the best possible government budget that benefits the USA citizens (not just the wealthy few).

The traditional methods of USA gov were developed based upon decades of experience and trial-and-error. Sometimes there is justification for developing a new method, particularly when new technology is relevant. But in most cases, methods based on many years of experience will work best. Trump is using methods that were tried and had failed, 50 or a 100 years ago. Please see my many “BasicCauses” blogs for additional discussions of these issues.

 

 

 

 

147. Attention to Climate is Urgent

19 Feb

The vast majority of nations in the world understand the urgency of climate solutions. We already have worse hurricanes, new flooding, forest fires, glaciers and polar caps melting, sea levels rising, etc. The city of Venice, Italy is already sinking and flooding due to climate factors. Major USA coastal cities and most of Florida will soon be at risk.

Our President refuses to recognize this vital problem because it does not suit his billionaire friends, like the Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries. Making proper changes would cost them a few billion out of their 100 or so billion in assets. Helping his extremely rich friends (and donors) is more important than saving millions of lives and in other ways protecting the USA and many others in the world.

Two very authoritative reports have definitely concluded that the average global temperature is increasing, and the increase is caused by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels. (The Koch family has been in the oil business for decades.) One report is by a United Nations Special Scientific Panel released October 8, 2018. This report indicated that the climate is changing faster than originally anticipated. The other report is the “Fourth National Climate Assessment” (Nov. 23, 2018) by US Global Change Research program. This report is from Trumps gov and he only very reluctantly released it. The official report summary says: “Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.”   Trillions of dollars and millions of lives are at stake. Contrary to his claim of “draining the swamp,” his cabinet is full of climate deniers and promoters of CO2 pollution.

The Trump position on climate-change has vacillated like many of his other concerns. In 2009 his family was a major part of a business coalition that asserted “If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.” Later, when running for President he labeled the issue as a “hoax” and then later, not a hoax. He said “he does not believe it.” At one time he said that the climate will change back again. When Amy Klobuchar spoke in a freezing snow storm, he inferred that this disproves global warming. Trump does not understand that local weather is not relevant to global average temperature increases. Trumps Secretary of State Tillerson urged him not to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. That apparently led to his being fired.

Recent scientific research has indicated that we have about 10 years to make major changes in climate factors, such as burning fuels that send carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We must spend some money on converting to battery operated cars and converting to cleaner power plants. Our gov must support research and incentives in these areas.  We must also support promising research on methods for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Time is running out and all possible solutions must be supported.  Please see my previous blogs for more discussions on climate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

146. Slowing Trump’s Runaway Train

17 Feb

For about three years, the runaway Trump train, filled with Repubs,  raced down its tracks and seemed unstoppable. Trump felt like a king. He could get away with anything, and his sycophant crew totally backed him up.  But now, with the Democrats taking over the House of Reps., the train is slowing and starting to come under control.

A subsequent event was another defeat. The Trump wall was blocked and a gov shut-down was prevented. A woman was mostly responsible for this result. In a way, Trump has always waged war on women and now what could be called his second major defeat, was by a 78-year-old remarkable woman, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This mild-mannered, polite, soft-spoken woman demonstrated the kind of power that we need to  guide our country. The threat of a second gov shut-down is over, Repubs are now, more than ever, getting off the Trump train. Senate leader Mitch McConnell now feels able to act more independently.

We now have a powerful Democrat party that is beginning true (unbiased) investigations. Trump lost his only way of defeating the Dem. House, which was the threat of a gov shut-down. Many people suffered from the long shut-down, but more would have suffered from an unchecked Trump. Primarily Nancy Pelosi made the extremely difficult decision to sacrifice the few, to save the many. Every US President makes almost impossible life-and-death choices. Soldiers are killed in our wars, shifting economics can cause deaths from starvation, healthcare policies will result in patient deaths, even taxation rules can elevate some and destroy others. Nancy P. stopping Trump truly saved lives.

Now, the Dems are better organized and have a wonderful choice to make: who will they select to beat Trump in the next election? Most of the candidates are well-qualified and would do a good job, a few, would do a great job. I stated some preferences in previous  blogs, but I am still gathering info and my mind is still open. When you have a difficult choice to make, it is really nice to have several really great alternatives.

So much more could be said but this (unlikely) story of the USA gov. But I want to close this blog with a thought. I can’t help thinking that Trump could have made a few different choices and could have gone down in history as a hero. He just did not have the intellect to see the best path, and was influenced by conservative radicals like Rush Limbaugh.  Briefly, he could have stopped the name calling and whimsical decisions. He could have continued vital international agreements like the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran Nuclear Deal, and genuine support of NATO. He could have built a coalition of allies to deal more effectively with China’s unfair trade policies. He could have consulted with true experts instead of his wealthy (and greedy) friends. He could have left alone regulations designed to protect the citizens.  All of these factors  would have been possible for any well-educated normal person, but not for him. The limited skills of a real estate developer are not applicable to the profound complexities of POTUS.


Added note: I am increasingly concerned about the gov neglect of climate-change solutions, and we are running out of time. Please talk about and contact our leaders re this vital topic. I have discussed and explained climate factors in many previous blogs.

141. Recent Events Suggest Government Improvements

27 Jan

The recent government shut-down, the election of Donald Trump, and changes in the Republican party, all suggest the need for gov reorganization and  revision. Below is a discussion of troubling events and possible solutions. The unfortunate thing is that fair and reasonable system changes maybe nearly impossible under the current political climate (but we must still try).

In the past, our USA government has worked so well that many of us have ignored it. This general lack of concern, which is entirely understandable, has led to serious damage to our country. The emergence of a president totally unsuited for office is one result. Another result (maybe more serious) is the gradual shift in the Republican party from ordinary limited greed and self-serving interests — to those factors in the extreme. More responsible Republicans have gradually left the party and those remaining, cowardly and foolishly devote themselves to Trump. This is not currently the party of men like John McCain, who was highly respected by almost everyone.

Looking back on where we went wrong, here are some observations. Our gov system needs some fundamental changes. The executive branch has too much power and we might do better with a small committee instead of a president. Perhaps a committee of five persons should make executive decisions. The chairman of that committee could assume some special (presidential) functions, but all major decisions would be based on a group vote. And the “executive committee” could change the chairman at any time. The five men of the executive committee would be elected by all  USA citizens (independent of state).

We need a special non-political group to control elections. Our elections are extremely important and must be protected from foreign and all other illicit influence. All USA elections must also be reliable, efficient, inclusive for all citizens, and must provide good methods for any needed recounts.  Currently, in the USA there are hundreds of different systems for voting, which vary from good to dangerously vulnerable. Voting machines should be standardized and carefully selected and monitored.

Understanding Trump is important for dealing with his chaos. Commentators emphasize and search for strategies, because that is what they know. But it must be recognized that he does have serious mental problems (like ‎narcissism) and probably moderate Alzheimer’s syndrome. I think he has some strategies, but also memory loss and confusion. Trump’s doctor Ronny Jackson reported that he only gets four to five hours of sleep per night. This can account for much of the “demented” action and can promote Alzheimer’s disease (according to recent research). He could be called a sociopath and has no empathy for struggling people. I think more philosophical orientations have come from close associates like Bannon, Stone, and Manafort. But there also are influences by others like family members, and extremists like Rush Limbaugh. He is like a billiard ball bouncing off various “advisors” and also generating his own whims and egocentric thoughts. An “executive committee” (see above) could prevent this kind of problem.

Like the presidency, there is too much power given to individual leaders of the Senate and House. In terms of the bringing bills to the floor, there should at least be an override for the judgment of a leader.

In the Senate, some western states with a small population have equal representation with California and New York with huge numbers of citizens. Having two legislative bodies definitely leads to gridlock. Why not have one very  fairly composed legislature make all decisions. And as a safeguard, say 54% yes votes would be required. By careful structuring the one-body could represent all concepts of fairness (with very little gridlock).

Our whole governmental system could be improved based upon almost 250 years of experience. The original US Constitution was a wonderful thing. But, it is foolish to think that rules developed that long ago are still perfectly applicable to today, with our:  Internet, jet airplane travel, TV, complex trading systems, international monetary systems, mult-national stock markets, computer viruses and hacking,  many cultural changes, drug epidemics, nuclear bombs, Facebook, climate-change dangers, multi-national alliances, etc., etc. The body of case-law helps, but only in certain areas. One of the impediments for this kind of change is that current leaders were elected with this outdated system and so are not interested in change. In a recent TED talk, Katharine Hayhoe said that the best thing the people can do about remedying climate-change is to keep talking about it. It may not be the only good solution to all our governmental problems, but definitely could help. Better education will help. Ultimately, if a large majority of people want something, there is a good chance that legislators will take note.