Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Atmospheric levels of all three greenhouse gases hit record high


We have had more than 30 years to develop better energy sources, and chose not to.


Helena Horton Environment reporter
Wed 26 Oct 2022 11.00 EDT 

Atmospheric levels of all three greenhouse gases have reached record highs, according to a study by the World Meteorological Organization, which scientists say means the world is “heading in the wrong direction”.

The WMO found there was the biggest year-on-year jump in methane concentrations in 2020 and 2021 since systematic measurements began almost 40 years ago.

Now the theory is that the methane rise could be caused by activities of microbes in wetlands, rice paddies and the guts of ruminants. Rising temperatures have caused the ideal conditions for microbial methane production, as they enjoy warm, damp areas.m

[Could one of the causes of the increase in methane be the melting of methane clathrates due to warming oceans.]


However, even if they act rapidly to stop the damage, much of it is already baked in. As long as emissions continue, global temperature will continue to rise. Given the long life of CO2, the temperature level observed will persist for decades, even if emissions are reduced swiftly to net zero.

Florida attorney who fought helmet laws dies in motorcycle crash


If they had survived, they might have had injuries that cost the taxpayers a lot.


 Gloria Oladipo
Wed 26 Oct 2022 12.58 EDT


For almost a decade, Ron Smith, an attorney and avid motorcycle rider from Pinellas county, Florida, advocated against laws which said motorcyclists had to wear helmets to ride. Eventually, the state law changed.

This August, Smith, 66, and his girlfriend, Brenda Jeanan Volpe, 62, died in a fatal motorcycle crash. Neither was wearing a helmet, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Smith and Volpe were on their way to a funeral when Smith reportedly lost control of their bike while slowing down for traffic. The motorcycle crashed into a trailer attached to a truck.



Smith was a member of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education (Abate), an advocacy group that has lobbied against helmet laws.

As an attorney, he represented clients caught violating Florida’s motorcycle safety laws in cases experts say may have helped overturn the state’s mandatory helmet law.


In 2000, Florida changed its laws to state that anyone over 21 was no longer required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle, if they had more than $10,000 of insurance to cover accidents.

Smith was remembered by friends and associates as someone who valued his independence and that of others.

“He thought everybody should have their own choice,” said Dave Newman, who with Smith was a member of the American Legion Riders.


You don't know what friends are really thinking


Oct. 26, 2022

  Recently I heard a man interviewed on the radio who said everyone he knows is voting republican.  The truth is that many people will not admit they vote Democratic to a republican because they are afraid of being harassed and/or vandalized.   When I have let myself get pulled into discussions about politics at work by conservatives, people will come up to me when no one else is around, look around to make sure no one is around to her, and tell me quietly that they agree with me.

Being fooled


"There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true." ~ Soren Kierkegaard
The Essential Kierkegaard Paperback – May 30, 2000 by Søren Kierkegaard


Sunday, October 16, 2022

Mississippi River Drought Imperils Trade on Vital US Waterway


This must be a contributor to inflation.

 Oct 6, 2022

 The Mississippi River is a vital US waterway that ferries key commodities between the heart of America and the Gulf Coast -- and drought is putting waterborne trade in jeopardy.

Drought depleted river levels so much that in some spots vessels are getting stuck. One shipping company said low water levels are causing severe impacts to navigation not seen since 1988. It’s a key concern for transporting goods from a river basin that produces 92% of the nation’s agricultural exports, especially during harvest season.


The drying Mississippi is reminiscent of this summer’s transportation woes on the Rhine River — and both are functions of a Northern Hemisphere drought worsened considerably by climate change. Drought in root-level soil this summer was roughly 20 times more likely north of the tropics, according to a report this week by World Weather Attribution, a scientific research group. The drought caused rivers to dry up around the hemisphere, and caused particular harm in Western Europe, where summer crop yields plummeted.

The Mississippi River is currently closed near Stack Island, Mississippi, causing a backup of 117 vessels and 2,048 barges in the area as of midday Thursday, while a shutdown near Memphis, Tennessee has caused a smaller logjam, according to the Coast Guard. The US Army Corps of Engineers is dredging near Stack Island and the Coast Guard intends to reopen the waterway with restrictions at some point Friday.


About 35% of US thermal coal for export travels on the Mississippi, so this will significantly affect the market, said Ernie Thrasher, CEO of Xcoal Energy & Resources LLC, a major US exporter.

“It will be a big disruption to supply,” he said.



Kemp has hurt Georgia

 Blows my mind that people think Kemp is good for Georgia.  He cut taxes for the rich while state agencies that help regular people are too short-handed to do their work in a timely manner.  Eg., unemployment benefits during Covid layoffs; tax refunds from the state revenue department; organizing Covid vaccinations, with the result that Georgia was one of the slowest to get vaccinated, so we had a higher death rate.

Renowned conductor Yurii Kerpatenko killed by Russians

 Ukrainska Pravda
Sat, October 15, 2022 at 7:34 AM


Yurii Kerpatenko, principal conductor at the Kherson Music and Drama Theatre, has been killed by Russian occupiers in Kherson.

His death was announced on 14 October, said the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy.


 The Ministry of Culture, citing regional media, said the invaders and collaborators had planned to organise a "gala concert" featuring the famous Hilea Chamber Orchestra on International Music Day, 1 October.

The occupiers wanted to use this concert to show that "peaceful life" had supposedly been established in Kherson.


A co-founder of the firm behind Truth Social says Trump retaliated against another exec who refused to gift some of his shares to Melania (Kelsey Vlamis)

Oct. 15, 2022

A co-founder of Trump Media & Technology Group, the company behind Truth Social, said former President Donald Trump pushed another executive to give some of his shares to Melania Trump and retaliated when the request was declined, according to a Washington Post report.


Trump had been given a 90% stake in the company when it was founded, according to the SEC complaint. But Wilkerson told the Post he was with fellow co-founder Andy Litinsky in October 2021 when the latter received a call from Trump. At the time, the company had recently reached a merger deal that would catapult the value of its stock. Wilkerson said the former president asked Litinsky to give some of his shares to Melania Trump.

 Wilkerson told the Post that Litinsky demurred and explained the gift would result in a tax bill he would be unable to pay: "Trump didn't care. He said, 'Do whatever you need to do.'"



Saturday, October 15, 2022

Animal populations experience average decline of almost 70% since 1970, report reveals


Patrick Greenfield
Wed 12 Oct 2022 19.01 EDT

Earth’s wildlife populations have plunged by an average of 69% in just under 50 years, according to a leading scientific assessment, as humans continue to clear forests, consume beyond the limits of the planet and pollute on an industrial scale.

From the open ocean to tropical rainforests, the abundance of birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles is in freefall, declining on average by more than two-thirds between 1970 and 2018, according to the WWF and Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) biennial Living Planet Report. Two years ago, the figure stood at 68%, four years ago, it was at 60%.

Many scientists believe we are living through the sixth mass extinction – the largest loss of life on Earth since the time of the dinosaurs – and that it is being driven by humans. The report’s 89 authors are urging world leaders to reach an ambitious agreement at the Cop15 biodiversity summit in Canada this December and to slash carbon emissions to limit global heating to below 1.5C this decade to halt the rampant destruction of nature.


“Despite the science, the catastrophic projections, the impassioned speeches and promises, the burning forests, submerged countries, record temperatures and displaced millions, world leaders continue to sit back and watch our world burn in front of our eyes,” said Steele. “The climate and nature crises, their fates entwined, are not some faraway threat our grandchildren will solve with still-to-be-discovered technology.”

The coming hard times?


Oct. 15, 2022

 If the republicans get back control of one or both houses of Congress, they will do to Biden what they did to Obama and Carter: block efforts to improve the economy knowing people will blame the president, and the press will not inform the public what they are doing.

Sunday, October 09, 2022

24 Harsh Truths That People Think Americans Aren't Ready To Hear But Probably Should

Recently on r/AskReddit, u/swansonite456 asked, "What are Americans not ready to hear?"

Sat, October 8, 2022 at 9:16 AM


18."America is only capitalist for poor people. Rich people live in a socialist state, where they constantly get bailouts, subsidies, and debt forgiveness."



Michael Cohen says Trump believed the classified documents stashed at Mar-a-Lago were his 'get out of jail free card'


Joshua Zitser

Oct. 9,022


 Michael Cohen said that former President Donald Trump saw the classified documents stashed at Mar-a-Lago as his "get out of jail free" card, he told Salon magazine in an interview.

"He's only interested in one thing: the get out of jail free card," Cohen said. "And that's exactly what he saw in those documents."

Cohen, once Trump's personal attorney and fixer, suggested in the Salon interview that Trump thought he might be able to leverage the confidentiality of these documents to his own advantage.


The Washington Post reported that FBI agents were looking for secret documents about nuclear weapons during the Mar-a-Lago raid in August. The Post's source did not say if this refers to the US arsenal or that of another country.


According to The New York Times, Trump has already floated the idea of using classified documents as a bargaining chip. Trump last year suggested to advisors that he would return boxes of materials from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives and Records Administration in exchange for  "sensitive" documents about the FBI investigation of his 2016 campaign's ties to Russia, the paper said.

Aides to the former president did not go through with the proposal, per The Times.


Facts are facts


“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” ― Aldous Huxley

Reptiles of the mind


The man who never alters his opinions is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Study links in utero ‘forever chemical’ exposure to low sperm count and mobility


Note that sperm counts have been decreasing for years.


PFAS, now found in nearly all umbilical cord blood around the world, interfere with hormones crucial to testicle development

 A new peer-reviewed Danish study finds that a mother’s exposure to toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” during early pregnancy can lead to lower sperm count and quality later in her child’s life.

PFAS – per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances – are known to disrupt hormones and fetal development, and future “reproductive capacity” is largely defined as testicles develop in utero during the first trimester of a pregnancy, said study co-author Sandra Søgaard Tøttenborg of the Copenhagen University hospital.




Climate crisis made summer drought 20 times more likely, scientists find


Where I live, it's a fall drought. Had too much rain this summer, now none for several weeks.


 The droughts and flood which have been occurring around the globe have reduced crop yields and contributed to inflation, which the news media doesn't mention when talking about inflation. 

Damian Carrington Environment editor
Wed 5 Oct 2022 17.00 EDT

The climate crisis made the record drought across the northern hemisphere this summer at least 20 times more likely, scientists have calculated. Without human-caused global heating, the event would have been expected only once every four centuries.

The drought hit crop production and power supplies, exacerbating the food and energy crises already sparked by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Droughts will become even more severe and more frequent unless the burning of fossil fuels is phased out, the researchers warned.

The dry conditions, assessed using data on soil moisture, largely resulted from the heatwaves that struck across North America, Europe and Asia, with lower rainfall relatively less important. The scientists said a summer as hot as that of 2022 would have been “virtually impossible” without global heating and in Europe alone there were 24,000 heat-related fatalities.


The dry conditions caused widespread water shortages and wildfires, with a record number of blazes in Europe, the first national drought alert in China and more than half of the US being declared in drought. In the UK, temperatures hit 40C for the first time on record, shocking scientists, and hosepipe bans are still in place across much of the country.


Dr Friederike Otto, at Imperial College London, UK, and also part of the team, said: “In Europe, drought conditions led to reduced harvests. This was particularly worrying as it followed a climate change-fuelled heatwave in [India and Pakistan] that also destroyed crops, and happened at a time when global food prices were already extremely high due to the war in Ukraine.”

The scientists had already found that the deadly South Asian heatwave was made 30 times more likely by the climate crisis and that the intense rainfall, which caused devastating floods across Pakistan, was made 50% worse by global heating. 

-----The scientists found the record northern hemisphere drought of 2022 would be expected once every 20 years in today’s climate but only every 400 years without climate change. The drought in western and central Europe was made at least three to four times more likely by global heating. But they said this does not mean that climate change has had less influence in Europe as the fingerprint of climate change is harder to discern in smaller regions.

The analysis is complex and carries uncertainties, but the researchers said the estimates in the study are conservative, with the real influence of human activities likely even higher.


 “We’re also seeing the impacts compounding and cascading across regions and sectors,” he said. For example, the drought cut hydropower production, as well as power from nuclear and coal plants, due to lack of cooling water. “That compounded a situation where electricity prices were already under stress, due to the Russia-Ukraine war and when we needed lots of electricity for air conditioning all across Europe to deal with the high heat.”


What kind of person should we elect?


Oct. 5, 2022


The people we elect affect the well-being of everybody in our country and world. A person who would vote for someone just because they were a star football player is not patriotic. 

Can hyaluronan cure dry eye disease?


hyaluronan is also called hyaluronic acid.  I have been taking it several years for my joint, and it has improved my problem with dry eyes, although I still have to take artificial tears at night. But I no longer need them during the day.


 News Release 14-Sep-2022
Can hyaluronan cure dry eye disease?
Already known to reduce wrinkles, hyaluronan under the microscope at UH College of Optometry
Grant and Award Announcement
University of Houston


As you read this are your eyes burning, itchy, tired, dry or red? If so, you may be one of 21 million people in the United States living with dry eye disease (DED). If you don’t have it now, you may soon – the numbers are expected to rise as the population ages, and as anyone who suffers from it can tell you, it will decrease your productivity and reduce your quality of life.  

Unfortunately, treatment options for DED are limited. What is known is that the Meibomian gland undergoes age-related changes that may account for the disease. Clinical studies suggest that 85% of all dry eye cases are caused by some form of Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Meibomian glands are oil glands on the edge of the eyelids; the oil they produce is an important part of the eye's tears, keeping tears from quickly drying.  

Enter a discovery in the lab of Vivien Coulson-Thomas, associate professor of optometry in the University of Houston College of Optometry: an extra cellular matrix or ECM (a network of proteins and other molecules) that surrounds and supports the Meibomian gland and is rich with hyaluronan (HA), a molecule known to protect and lubricate soft tissue. Hyaluronan is widely used for treating numerous conditions, including application around the eyes and into the eyelids in order to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.



Cost of cancer treatment can impact health of survivors

 News Release 15-Sep-2022
Peer-Reviewed Publication

Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University


A significant number of people who have survived cancer are living in poverty, which can have negative effects on their physical and mental health, according to researchers at the Medical College of Georgia and the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University.

Using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which contains data from people across the US regarding health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions and their use of preventive services, they found that 12% of some 28,000 cancer survivors were living in poverty.

“The high cost of oncology care in the United States and its adverse effects on cancer survivors is of increasing concern,” they write in the journal JCO Oncology Practice. “The financial burden of cancer often persists years after diagnosis, due to ongoing costs of cancer care and late effects of cancer treatment, as well as incurred debt, lost income and inability to work.”

Many cancer treatments now total $100,000 or more annually, and without health insurance, those costs can be entirely out-of-pocket.


People who receive periodontal care have better outcomes after heart attack


 News Release 15-Sep-2022
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Michigan


The conventional wisdom is that medical and dental care are related, but less is known about how dental care relates to health outcomes after acute incidents like heart attacks.

 To that end, University of Michigan researchers studied patients receiving periodontal care, dental cleanings or no dental care during 2016-2018 and who had acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) in 2017.

 They found that patients who had heart attacks and received periodontal maintenance care had the shortest length of stay in the hospital, and more follow-up visits. The longest length of stay was experienced by the no-dental-care group. 


Five years after water crisis, 1 in 4 Flint residents has PTSD


 News Release 20-Sep-2022
Very high rates of depression and PTSD linked to water contamination
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Duke University


Data from the largest mental health survey of the Flint, Michigan community indicate that one in five adults, or roughly 13,600 people, were estimated to have clinical depression, and one in four, or 15,000 people, were estimated to have PTSD five years after the water crisis began.



Study gauges positive impacts of Medicare on low-income adults


 News Release 4-Oct-2022
Medicare eligibility and enrollment at age 65 were associated with improvements in measures of health care access and financial strain
Peer-Reviewed Publication


Medicare eligibility and enrollment are associated with decreases in the percentage of low-income adults who delay or avoid medical care due to costs, as well as in the percentage who worry about or have problems paying medical bills, according to a new study publishing on October 4th in the open access journal PLOS Medicine by Rishi Wadhera, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, USA, and colleagues.

In the United States, low-income adults are more likely to lack health insurance coverage, face barriers accessing health care, and disproportionately experience financial strain due to health care expenditures compared with higher-income adults. The Medicare program provides health insurance coverage to more than 50 million older adults in the United States.



A prediction I hope is not accurate


Oct. 5, 2022


I hope that I'm wrong to expect that the supreme court will blatantly vote to help republicans in the upcoming courses on redistricting.  I expect them to continue to allow republicans to gerrymander to blatantly disenfranchise Democrats, and also to not allow states to redistrict in order to allow African-Americans the number of districts proportional to their population in the state.  It will then be interesting to see how they rule if they get a case where the Democrats gerrymander to their own advantage.

Sunday, October 02, 2022

The US ultra-rich justify their low tax rates with three myths – all of them rubbish


I suggest reading the whole article:


Robert Reich

Sun 2 Oct 2022 06.15 EDT


A record share of the nation’s wealth is in the hands of billionaires, who pay a lower tax rate than the average American. This is indefensible

On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office released a study of trends in the distribution of family wealth between 1989 and 2019.

Over those 30 years, the richest 1% of families increased their share of total national wealth from 27% to 34%. Families in the bottom half of the economy now hold a mere 2%.

Meanwhile, a record share of the nation’s wealth remains in the hands of the nation’s billionaires, who are also paying a lower tax rate than the average American.

How do the ultra-wealthy justify their wealth and their low tax rates? By using three myths – all of which are utter rubbish.

The first is trickle-down economics.

Billionaires (and their apologists) claim that their wealth trickles down to everyone else as they invest it and create jobs.


In reality, the super-wealthy don’t create jobs or raise wages. Jobs are created when average working people earn enough money to buy all the goods and services they produce, pushing companies to hire more people and pay them higher wages.

The second myth is the “free market”.

The ultra-rich claim they’re being rewarded by the impersonal market for creating and doing what people are willing to pay them for.


no other advanced nation has nearly the degree of inequality found in the United States, yet all these nations have been exposed to the same forces of globalization and technological change.

In reality, the ultra-wealthy have rigged the so-called “free market” in the US for their own benefit. Billionaires’ campaign contributions have soared from a relatively modest $31m in the 2010 elections to $1.2bn in the most recent presidential cycle – a nearly 40-fold increase.


The third myth is that they’re superior human beings.

They portray themselves as “self-made” rugged individuals who “did it on their own” and therefore deserve their billions.

Bupkis. Six of the 10 wealthiest Americans alive today are heirs to fortunes passed on to them by wealthy ancestors.

Others had the advantages that come with wealthy parents.

Jeff Bezos’s garage-based start was funded by a quarter-million-dollar investment from his parents. Bill Gates’s mother used her business connections to help land a software deal with IBM that made Microsoft. Elon Musk came from a family that reportedly owned shares of an emerald mine in southern Africa.



Study finds higher rates of traumatic injuries for outdoor workers during hotter weather

  News Release 29-Sep-2022
OSU study finds higher rates of traumatic injuries for outdoor workers during hotter weather
Peer-Reviewed Publication

Oregon State University


Rates of traumatic injury among workers in the Oregon agricultural and construction sectors are significantly higher during periods of high heat compared with periods of more moderate weather, a recent Oregon State University study found.

The results underscore the importance of providing robust safety protections for outdoor workers, especially as extreme heat events become more common with climate change, researchers said.

“The big take-home message I want people to get from this is that, if the temperature is high and you have workers out there, they’re more likely to be injured, whether it’s due to dehydration, reduction in mental capacity or exhaustion,” said Richie Evoy, lead author on the paper and a recent doctoral graduate from OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.




Study reports first evidence of social relationships between chimpanzees, gorillas


 News Release 30-Sep-2022
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Washington University in St. Louis


A long-term study led by primatologist Crickette Sanz at Washington University in St. Louis reveals the first evidence of lasting social relationships between chimpanzees and gorillas in the wild.