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Luis Miguel Goitizolo

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RE: ARE WE NOW IN THE END TIMES?
12/4/2018 5:51:10 PM


Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro Evaristo Sa / AFP / Getty Images
COP-OUT

Bad news for the Amazon as Brazil backs out of hosting U.N. climate talks

Brazil was set to be the host country for COP 25, next year’s crucial United Nation talks to address climate change, but just two months after offering to do so, the country’s officials have reversed their stance.

Brazilian leaders communicated the decision on Monday to Patrícia Espinosa, executive secretary of the U.N. Convention on Climate Change, just days before the start of COP 24, this year’s annual climate conference being held in Katowice, Poland. The Brazilian government blames the change on budget constraints and the ongoing presidential transition process. But others are interpreting the move as yet another sign of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s impending war on the environment.

“This decision is not surprising considering it comes from a leader with proven skepticism towards the reality of climate change, and open animosity towards those working to preserve our climate,” Christian Poirier, program director atAmazon Watch, told Grist. Poirier also says he doesn’t buy Brazil’s budget excuse for reversing on hosting the conference. “It is clear that Mr. Bolsonaro’s reactionary political agenda was the decisive factor in this decision.”

Bolsonaro confirmed that he participated in the decision, saying “I recommended to our future minister that we avoid the realization of this event here in Brazil.”

(The United Nations did not immediately reply to Grist’s request for comment.)

Before Bolsonaro’s election, the country seemed eager to host the next round of international climate talks. According to Brazilian news site O Globo, the foreign ministry had said Brazil’s offer reflected “the consensus of Brazilian society on the importance and the urgency of actions that contribute to the fight against climate change.”

But in some ways, the current reversal comes as no surprise. During his campaign, Bolsonaro (a.k.a. The Trump of the Tropics) vowed to jettison from the Paris Climate Agreement — though he’s since backtracked from that promise. Still, he’s been steadfast in his desire to open up the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, to mining, farming, and dam building. He’s said he wants to open up the country’s existing indigenous reserves to commercial exploitation. And earlier this month, he chose a new foreign minister that has said he believes climate change is aMarxist plot to help China.

A recent report issued by the Brazilian government found the Amazon has reached its highest levels of deforestation in a decade, thanks to illegal logging and the expansion of agriculture in the area. And there are major concerns that Bolsonaro’s lax environmental policies could push the Amazon past its tipping point as one of the world’s most important carbon sinks.

Brazil withdrawing its offer to host COP 25 also carries symbolic weight when you consider the country is the birthplace of global climate talks. The milestone Rio Earth Summit of 1992 set the green agenda for decades to come.

“The image of Brazil is at risk,” said Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of the Brazilian Climate Observatory, a coalition of environmental non-governmental organizations, in an interview with the New York Times. “Climate and the environment are the only issues where Brazil is a leader in global terms. We are not leaders in world trade, we are not leaders in a geopolitical sense on security issues. But on climate and environment we are leaders, and we are giving that up.”

The South American country’s decision has left the United Nations scrambling to find a new site for the summit. A new venue for the summit has not yet been determined.


(GRIST)



"Choose a job you love and you will not have to work a day in your life" (Confucius)

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Luis Miguel Goitizolo

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RE: ARE WE NOW IN THE END TIMES?
12/4/2018 6:32:13 PM


White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Mark Wilson / Getty Images
CLIMATE DESK

What the Trump administration got wrong on its own climate report (pretty much everything)

This story was originally published by the Bulletin and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The federal government’s new National Climate Assessment is the latest scientific report to confirm the devastating effects of climate change: Extreme hot weather is getting more common, wildfires are becoming more devastating, rising sea levels are forcing people from their homes, and so forth. “Climate change is transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us,” the report says. And without rapid action to reduce carbon emissions, these problems are going to get worse. A lot worse.

The Trump administration has responded to the climate crisis by rolling back regulations and policies intended to reduce carbon emissions — exactly the opposite of what experts say is required to slow global warming. So it was no surprise when the Trump administration tried to bury the inconvenient report by releasing it on the afternoon of Black Friday. It didn’t work, though.

On Monday, when asked about the report’s conclusion that climate change will wreak havoc on the U.S. economy, President Trump said, “I don’t believe it.” Tuesday, the White House doubled down on its climate denial, with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders questioning the methodology and conclusions of the climate report and saying it was “not based on facts.” That phrase is a fitting description for the talking points offered up by the White House. With one exception, none of these points is factually accurate:

Climate change won’t affect the economy. The president may not “believe” it, but economists do. The report released a few days ago says that if climate change is left unchecked, “annual losses in some sectors are estimated to grow to hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of the century.”

It’s worth noting that the 1,656-page report was issued by Trump’s own government. It is backed by NASA, NOAA, the Pentagon, and 10 other federal scientific agencies. It represents decades of work by more than 300 authors.

Trump is leading on clean air and water. The president and his spokespeople have repeatedly tried to divert attention from climate change by claiming that what really matters is clean air and water. “The president is certainly leading on what matters most in this process, and that’s on having clean air, clean water. In fact, the United States continues to be a leader on that front,” Sanders said at the White House press conference. In case anyone missed it, she said it three times.

First off, the president is not leading on clean air and water. In fact, he has been working steadily to overturn or relax rules and programs designed to protect air and water, everything from the Clean Power Plan to fuel efficiency standards. The only reason America’s air and water are relatively clean today is because of policies and legislation adopted before Trump took office. The level of particulate matter in the air actually increased last year, after a long period of steady decline.

More important, the continued burning of fossil fuels is expected to make both the air and the water more polluted. The National Climate Assessment estimates with “high confidence” that global warming will increase ozone levels across the nation’s central region, and that it will lead to increased smoke from wildfires.

What the Trump administration fails to understand is that climate change is air pollution. Human activities are polluting the air with heat-trapping gases that are raising the planet’s temperature to feverish levels. Reducing climate change is simply a matter of reducing the air pollutants that are causing it.

America’s air is the cleanest ever. In an interview with the Washington Post on Monday, Trump asserted that the nation’s air and water is “right now at a record clean.” Um, no.

The United States has relatively clean air, but not the world’s best. Canada, Australia, and four other countries have cleaner air by at least one metric. And thanks to wildfires exacerbated by climate change, Northern California literally had the world’s worst air quality earlier this month, dirtier even than the air above smoggy mega-cities in China and India.

The new report relies on extreme climate models, not facts. At the press conference, Sanders claimed that the latest climate assessment “is based on the most extreme model scenario, which contradicts long-established trends … It’s not data-driven.”

Not true, say authors of the report. In a Twitter thread, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University said Sanders actually made two false statements, because Hayhoe and other authors of the report “considered many scenarios” including ones in which carbon emissions would be very low, and the observed increase in carbon emissions over the past 10 to 15 years has been consistent with the scenarios modeled in the report.

The report is based on decades of federal data, not just models — data that show carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures rising in tandem. As Axios reported last week, the Earth has been warmer than average for 406 months in a row: “This means that no one under the age of 32 has ever experienced a cooler-than-average month on this planet.” That’s an entire generation.

Climate modeling is difficult and imprecise. As Sanders said at the press conference, “Modeling the climate is an extremely complicated science that is never exact.” OK, score one true statement for Sarah.

What Sanders didn’t say, though, is that computer models have done a good job of predicting what has already happened to the climate, and they are constantly improving. Also, climate models are more likely to underestimate than overestimate the amount of long-term future change.

Obama’s science adviser agrees with Trump. One of Sanders’ talking points seemed to suggest that skepticism about the climate report was bipartisan: “Even Obama’s undersecretary for science didn’t believe the radical conclusions of the report that was released.” Sanders neglected to mention a few key facts about Steven E. Koonin, the former undersecretary who has frequently argued that climate science is not “settled.”

Koonin is a theoretical physicist, not a climate scientist. During the Obama administration, he served within the Energy Department for only 18 months, with limited budget authority and responsibilities. Sanders could just as easily have called Koonin “the former chief scientist for the multinational oil and gas company BP,” a position he held for five years. Or she could have called Koonin “the former Obama official that Trump’s EPA administrator wanted to use special authority to hire.” Either of those identifications would have made it clear that Koonin has far more in common with Trump than Obama.

The fact that one of Obama’s high-level employees doesn’t agree with the latest climate report is meaningless. But it’s a classic climate-denier strategy: Lean heavily on the few scientists who don’t agree with the mainstream consensus on climate change, and hope that the public will be fooled into thinking that scientists are evenly divided on the issue.

Based on facts. During its live broadcast of the press conference, CNN took the unusual step of displaying a “Facts First” sidebar next to Sanders. As the press secretary criticized the report, CNN posted a graphic with bullet points about the report: “Climate Change report involved 300 scientists, 13 federal agencies; Co-Author: Not paid for report; Open for review & transparency before publishing.”

It almost seemed as though CNN was trying to “inoculate” its viewers against what Sanders might say, a communications strategy that may be more effective than debunking false statements that have already been made. If that’s true, perhaps it would be better for me to focus on what the Trump administration isn’t talking about, than on the climate claptrap that came out of the White House over the past few days.

Here’s what Trump and Sanders are mum on: the other climate report published by the federal government on Black Friday. In that report, the Interior Department and the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the extraction and burning of fossil fuels produced on federal lands, including offshore areas, was responsible for about one-fourth of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 to 2014. The Trump administration wants to lease even more public land to drillers, at bargain-basement prices, which will make global warming worse. That’s not just a bad deal for taxpayers; it’s a bad deal for everyone on Earth.


(GRIST)


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Luis Miguel Goitizolo

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RE: ARE WE NOW IN THE END TIMES?
12/5/2018 5:18:42 PM
12/03/2018 07:16 am ET Updated 2 days ago

Michigan To Become First Midwest State To Allow Recreational Marijuana This Week

The law is set to take effect on December 6.

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan clears a threshold this week as the first state in the Midwest to allow marijuana for more than just medical purposes.

In the Nov. 6 election, voters by a wide margin endorsed recreational use by adults who are at least 21. The move comes 10 years after voters approved marijuana to alleviate the effects of certain illnesses. Many supporters believe that decadelong experience, as well as similar legalization efforts in other states, led to victory at the ballot box. “It’s certainly going to smell like freedom,” starting Thursday, said Detroit lawyer Matt Abel, who specializes in marijuana law and whose office sign says, “cannabis counsel.” Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Of course, there are many caveats in Michigan and already some tension.

HOW MUCH? Michigan residents who are 21 or older can possess or transport up to 2.5 ounces (70.8 grams) of marijuana. They can grow up to 12 plants, although not in public view. They also can give 2.5 ounces (70.8 grams) to another person, but not for payment.

BUZZ ZONES Marijuana can be consumed only at homes or other private property, although landlords and employers can prohibit it. It can’t be smoked at bars or restaurants or any other place that is accessible to the public. That means getting high while walking the dog or hustling between college classes could lead to trouble. Michigan colleges and universities have repeatedly stated that campus anti-drug policies won’t change. Employers will still be able to fire people for drug use.

POT SHOPS The doors are not open yet. The new law creates a system of growing and selling marijuana, with millions of dollars to be collected in taxes, but those shops still are months away and must involve state regulators. So people who want marijuana now will need to grow it or obtain it by other, perhaps illegal, means. Michigan is just beginning to license medical-marijuana dispensaries. Abel hopes Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer considers allowing them to sell marijuana for recreational use to meet demand. “The sooner they license retail stores, the sooner the state will be collecting revenue,” he says.

LOCAL RESISTANCE Depending on where people live, buying marijuana won’t be as easy as buying bread. Elected officials in some communities already have voted to ban pot businesses, long before rules are in place. A local veto is available under the law. Local governments also can revisit their policy later. Communities that block marijuana businesses lose an opportunity to capture a portion of a 10 percent tax. But St. Joseph Mayor Mike Garey predicts: “It’s not going to be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.” St. Joseph is out for now.

POLICE AND PROSECUTORS After the election, some prosecutors said they would dismiss any pending misdemeanor cases involving small amounts of marijuana that now will be legal. “The people have spoken,” Kent County prosecutor Chris Becker says. Expungement of past convictions is also being considered in some counties. Marijuana still is illegal under federal law, although Michigan’s federal prosecutors say they typically pursue major drug traffickers, not “low-level offenders.” State police spokesman Lt. Mike Shaw says it remains illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. “This law isn’t going to change that,” he says.


(huffingtonpost.com)


"Choose a job you love and you will not have to work a day in your life" (Confucius)

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Luis Miguel Goitizolo

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RE: ARE WE NOW IN THE END TIMES?
12/5/2018 8:45:04 PM

Strong earthquake hits South Pacific on "Ring of Fire"


A U.S. Geological Survey map shows the location of an earthquake that struck the New Caledonia island chain on Dec. 5, 2018.

USGS

Last Updated Dec 5, 2018 2:25 AM EST

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- A powerful earthquake that struck in the southern Pacific Ocean on Wednesday sent jitters around the region after authorities warned of possible tsunamis, but there were no initial reports of destructive waves or major damage.

The magnitude 7.5 quake hit in the afternoon near New Caledonia at a shallow depth, where earthquakes are generally more damaging. It was felt as far away as Vanuatu.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves of between 3 and 10 feet were possible along some coasts of New Caledonia and Vanuatu before later lifting the warning.

Judith Rostain, a freelance journalist based in New Caledonia's capital Noumea, said there was no damage to the city and that the threat of a tsunami appeared to have passed. She said the situation remained unclear on the east coast and scattered outer islands.

In Vanuatu, Dan McGarry said he heard only of three small wave surges hitting the southern island of Aneityum. McGarry, the media director at the Vanuatu Daily Post, said the waves traveled only 7 feet beyond the normal tidal waves, and that everybody was fine on the island.

McGarry said he felt the quake where he is based in Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila, as a mild shaking.

"We get a lot of earthquakes every year," he said. "The tsunami warning was what was different this time, though."

The warning center said there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii. It said waves of up to 3 feet were possible in Fiji.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake struck about 104 miles east of Tadine in New Caledonia at a shallow depth of 6 miles. At least five aftershocks also hit, ranging in magnitude from 5.6 to 6.6. The 6.6 was also six miles down.

The populations of Vanuatu and New Caledonia are similar, with just over 280,000 people living in each archipelago.

Last month, voters in New Caledonia elected to remain a territory of France rather than becoming independent.

Both New Caledonia and Vanuatu sit on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world's earthquakes and volcanic activity occur.


(cbsnews.com)


"Choose a job you love and you will not have to work a day in your life" (Confucius)

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Luis Miguel Goitizolo

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RE: ARE WE NOW IN THE END TIMES?
12/6/2018 8:46:35 PM

Satanic Temple statue stands at Illinois Capitol

by Katelyn Bandish
Tuesday, December 4th 2018

There is a new statue in the State Capitol building and it isn't the Nativity scene or the Menorah. The Satanic Temple-Chicago Chapter just put up its own display.

The statue depicts a hand holding an apple with a serpent wrapped around the wrist. The plaque reads: "Knowledge is the greatest gift."

"I don't see a problem with it," Illinois resident Wayne Rovey said. "It seems like it's a part of the freedom of speech and it doesn't project a bad message."

The Satanic Temple-Chicago Chapter said its organization aims to encourage kindness and understanding among all people. Despite the message the satanic organization is trying to get out to the public, some people aren't buying it.

"I suppose it is their free speech rights to do that, so I can't deny that. But do I agree with it? Absolutely not," local tour guide Garret Moffett said. "I can't disagree with the statement in itself but when it's coming from a satanic or a cult group, my response would be that everything about Satan is a lie."

While some people recognize the freedom of expression, others don't agree with it.

"I think it's inappropriate because it's not something that should be displayed for a lot of people to be offended by," local caregiver Shellie Berg said. "I would be offended by that myself."

The group's application for the display says the organization is non-theistic and aims to "encourage benevolence and empathy among all people."

Secretary of State Spokesman Dave Druker says the Satanic group has the same rights as other religious organizations to have the display in the rotunda.

The state can't censor the contents of the display if they're not funded by taxpayer dollars because the Capitol rotunda is a public place.

Illinois Capitol rotunda includes Satanic Temple display (File Photo)



(newschannel20.com)



"Choose a job you love and you will not have to work a day in your life" (Confucius)

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