Monday, May 22, 2023

Good news on energy


Why the fossil fuel companies are inundating social media with posts and comments that either deny climate disruption is happening or say it's too late to do anything about it. They want to cement people's opinion against the truth.


Kevin Holland
May 20
at 2pm today, 87% of the UK's energy supplying the grid was Low Carbon.  63%  of total was from renewables.

We've all but killed coal. We're smashing Oil in the face and putting gas on notice as we create a #SolarNation    

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Spanking and crime rates


Christian Pfeiffer, the director of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony in Hanover.

Mr Pfeiffer has found a correlation between declining rates of children being spanked (or otherwise punished physically) and subsequent decreases in violent crime. In Germany, for example, it used to be common until well into the last century to discipline kids in this way. Not doing so almost amounted to being negligent. But then parents and teachers gradually stopped beating children.


People who as children experienced the “powerlessness” of frequent spankings report a disproportionately greater interest later in life to own guns, Mr Pfeiffer says. They also demand more draconian prison sentences, including the death penalty, for convicted criminals. And they seem more prone to violence themselves. In a study of 45,000 ninth-graders Mr Pfeiffer conducted in 2007-08, those kids who had been beaten by their parents were five times as likely to commit repeated crimes or to use cannabis, and missed school four times more frequently for ten days a year or more.

Scandinavian countries, in part inspired by the children’s books of Astrid Lindgren, the author of the popular Pippi Longstocking (pictured) series, were the first to make spanking illegal for teachers in the 1950s and 60s. Between 1979 und 1983, they also outlawed spanking by parents. Crime rates, gun ownership and prison populations have been falling since.

By contrast, spanking is still common in large parts of America, especially in the Evangelical milieus of Southern states. This is also where crime remains relatively high, gun ownership common, and incarceration excessive. (America’s incarceration rate is between eight to ten times that of northern European countries.)

Within Europe, countries like Germany followed the Scandinavian example with a law against spanking in 2000, while others, like Britain, fall somewhere between Europe and America (as so often). Again, Mr Pfeiffer notices the expected correlations with crime and punishment.


Two studies in 2010 showed that only 15% of American children are raised by their parents without any physical violence at all. To Mr Pfeiffer, this is one (of admittedly several and complex) factors, that explain why Americans own more guns, commit more crime and punish more severely than western Europeans. The conclusion, suggests Mr Pfeiffer, is that everybody, including Americans, should try raising kids with what he calls “Liebe statt Hiebe” (love instead of beatings).


Saturday, May 20, 2023

World likely to breach 1.5C climate threshold by 2027, scientists warn


Fiona Harvey Environment editor
Wed 17 May 2023 06.00 EDT


The world is almost certain to experience new record temperatures in the next five years, and temperatures are likely to rise by more than 1.5C [2.7F] above pre-industrial levels, scientists have warned.

The breaching of the crucial 1.5C threshold, which scientists have warned could have dire consequences, should be only temporary, according to research from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

However, it would represent a marked acceleration of human impacts on the global climate system, and send the world into “uncharted territory”, the UN agency warned.


Prof Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the WMO, said: “This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5C specified in the Paris agreement, which refers to long-term warming over many years. However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5C level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency.”

Global average surface temperatures have never before breached the 1.5C threshold. The highest average in previous years was 1.28C  [2.30F] above pre-industrial levels.

The report, published on Wednesday, found there was a 66% likelihood of exceeding the 1.5C threshold in at least one year between 2023 and 2027.


As La Niña ends and a new El Niño develops, there is a 98% likelihood that at least one of the next five years will be the hottest on record, the scientists found.


The Arctic is heating much faster than the rest of the world, and this appears to be having an impact on global weather systems, including the jet stream, which has disrupted weather across the northern hemisphere in recent years.


Friday, May 19, 2023

Animals Are Not Things’: Brazil Bans Live Cattle Exports


 By Polly Foreman
17th May 2023

 Brazil has banned live cattle exports from its ports, in a move that animal rights campaigners have described as “historic.”

The South American country brought in the new law last month. Speaking about the ruling, federal judge Djalma Gomes said: “Animals are not things. They are sentient living beings, that is, individuals who feel hunger, thirst, pain, cold, anguish, fear.”

The new law is a result of a 2017 lawsuit from the National Forum for the Protection and Defense of Animals, a Brazilian NGO. Heralding the “historic” move, the group praised its recognition of “the suffering caused to animals … in an activity similar to human trafficking at the time of slavery.”


Exporting live animals from country to country is a hugely controversial practice. Each year, millions of animals endure journeys of hundreds – and sometimes thousands – of miles. They typically travel by truck, train, plane, or ship.

Such journeys inevitably come with huge welfare costs for animals, who suffer from dehydration, stress, hunger, and overcrowding. Many will die before they reach their destination. Cattle aren’t the only animals to fall victim – horses, pigs, goats, and sheep are also regularly exported.

As well as the suffering endured on regular crossings, some animals have also perished in accidents at sea during transport. In 2019, a ship named the Queen Hind carrying 14,000 sheep from Romania to Saudi Arabia capsized. Almost every single animal drowned .


Brazil is just the latest in a long line of countries to have made moves away from live exports in recent years. In April 2023, New Zealand’s (Aotearoa’s) ban on the practice was enacted. The country, which previously exported live animals for breeding, not slaughter, made the decision two years after 41 crew members and 6,000 cattle died after a ship sank during a storm. 


 There are also increasing calls across Europe to ban live exports. Luxemburg last year cracked down on the industry, and Germany recently announced that it would stop exporting to countries outside of the EU. Romania – a top sheep exporter – has reportedly been considering a ban since the sinking of the Queen Hind.



Thursday, May 18, 2023

'Critical situation': Eight dead after flooding in northern Italy


Warmer air can hold more moisture. As a result, we are having an increased number and intensity of extreme precipitation events such as this.


 AFP - • 17 May, 2023   Updated Wed 17 May 2023 14:34 CEST


Eight people died and thousands were evacuated after heavy rains caused devastation across Italy's northern Emilia Romagna region, while this weekend's Imola Grand Prix was cancelled, officials said on Wednesday. 


Emilia Romagna, one of Italy's richest regions, had already been hit by heavy rain just a fortnight ago, causing severe floods that left two dead.

This time, around 50 centimetres (20 inches) of rain fell within 36 hours in Forli, Cesena and Ravenna - around half the normal annual rainfall, a situation "with few precedents", Italy's Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci said.

 "It is still a very critical situation," he told reporters, adding that while the rain was still falling, it was expected to lighten during the day.


Rescue workers had worked through the night to save children, the elderly and the disabled from the rising waters.


"We have to get used to it for the future, because unfortunately in recent years it often happens that these extreme rainfalls arrive," Air Force meteorologist Paolo Capizzi told AFP.

He said it could not directly be blamed on global warming but the "ever-increasing frequency of these phenomenon can obviously be the consequence of ongoing climate change".


The GOP proposal to raise the debt ceiling would force Americans on Social Security and Medicare to wait longer to receive help and make college more expensive, the White House says

 Ayelet Sheffey,Juliana Kaplan
Tue, May 16, 2023 at 9:50 AM EDT


    The Office of Management and Budget released a memo outlining the impacts of the GOP debt ceiling plan.

    Under various scenarios, the OMB estimated federal programs could be cut by up to 30%.

    That would include worse customer service times for Americans receiving Medicare and Social Security.


The GOP's latest line on spending is that it wants to maintain the same funding levels as fiscal year 2022; that level of funding is reflected in their narrowly-passed House bill to raise the debt ceiling for just one year. The bill includes a long list of proposed spending cuts and changes to federal programs, including banning student-loan forgiveness and raising work requirements to access social welfare programs.

While Young noted that the GOP bill doesn't include a line-by-line breakdown of exactly how cuts would be implement, she lays out a few scenarios. If Republicans leave defense funding, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security untouched, everything else would have to be cut by 30%. That could mean people waiting for disability benefits through Social Security might face wait times of at least two months longer, and those seeking help through Social Security and Medicare offices could experience worse customer servicer. Additionally, the cuts would mean less funding for affordable housing vouchers, and the maximum Pell Grant award going down by nearly $1,400.


Young notes that the calculations are likely optimistic, saying it's unlikely that Republicans can find cuts that deep in the bills they're currently looking over — meaning instead that everything else will suffer a deeper slash.


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Interpretations of Transcendent Experience

In Sunday's Parade magazine (6/10/2012), actor Larry Hagman said he isn't afraid of death: “I had a liver transplant 16 years ago and saw the white light, saw that we're all joined together. You don't forget that feelin of peace and love.”

I've read about near death experiences. People interpret the white light and feeling of peace and love according to their own religious beliefs They don't say they were told to try to convert others to their religion. They don't say they were told to go around talking about God to make people think well of them.

They are told to help others, and to learn, especially things that are helpful to humanity. Having been lucky enough to have had what Abraham Maslow called “peak experiences”, I would say we are connected to all life, not just human. But of course, the people who write about these things ask questions and interpret what people say in terms of their own beliefs. It would be interesting to know how people from other cultures and beliefs interpret such experiences, eg.
Hindus and Buddhist.

I've also noticed that it's now hard to find information on the part about how we should live our lives. It's all about the white light and feeling loved, and these experience ssupposedly proving life after death. I don't know how much of that is just that the people who write, blog, and read about such things don't want to know about this because it's uncomfortable. I have noticed thru the years that if research contradicts what is in the interests of the powerful, it often drops out of view. We know that tobacco companies deliberately supressed information about the health risks from being known to the public. And the fossil fuel companies are currently deliberately fostering disbelief in global warmiing.

It is in the interests of the powerful to suppress cooperative feelings among most of us, which prevents us from working together in our own interests. But it is also charactersitic of the cycle of history that we are currently in. And it is the interest of the powerful elites to encourage the belief in an afterlife. It makes others more willing to put up with unfairness if they believe they will eventually have a better life. And it lightens any guilt, if any, the fortunate have that they are taking advantage of others, if they think those others will eventually have a happier life.

Maslow and I both came independently to the expectation that conservatives might be capable of having a peak experience, but it would probably scare them so much they would quash it.

Conservative governance leads to more infections disease


If this the reason Republican politicians are encouraging actions that lead to more disease?

 Another possibility  is that the cause is the other direction, that conservative, authoritarian attitudes lead to less effective measures against disease.  We have seen that in action in the U.S.  Of course, both could be true.

 News Release 21-Sep-2021
Rates of infectious disease linked to authoritarian attitudes and governance – study
Peer-Reviewed Publication

University of Cambridge

According to psychologists, in addition to our physiological immune system we also have a behavioural one: an unconscious code of conduct that helps us stay disease-free, including a fear and avoidance of unfamiliar – and so possibly infected – people.

When infection risk is high, this “parasite stress” behavior increases, potentially manifesting as attitudes and even voting patterns that champion conformity and  reject “foreign outgroups” – a core trait of authoritarian politics.

Now, a new study, the largest yet to investigate links between pathogen prevalence and ideology, reveals a strong connection between infection rates and strains of authoritarianism in public attitudes, political leadership and even lawmaking.

While data used for the study predates Covid-19, University of Cambridge psychologists say that greater public desire for “conformity and obedience” as a result of the pandemic could ultimately see liberal politics suffer at the ballot box. The findings are published in the Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

Researchers used infectious disease data from the United States in the 1990s and 2000s and responses to a psychological survey taken by over 206,000 people in the US during 2017 and 2018. They found that the more infectious US cities and states went on to have more authoritarian-leaning citizens.

The US findings were replicated at an international level using survey data from over 51,000 people across 47 different countries, comparing responses with national-level disease rates.        

The most authoritarian US states had rates of infectious diseases – from HIV to measles – around four times higher than the least authoritarian states, while for the most authoritarian nations it was three times higher than the least.

This was after scientists accounted for a range of other socioeconomic factors that influence ideology, including religious beliefs and inequalities in wealth and education. They also found that higher regional infection rates in the US corresponded to more votes for Donald Trump in the 2016 US Presidential Election.     

Moreover, in both nations and US states, higher rates of infectious disease correlated with more “vertical” laws – those that disproportionately affect certain groups, such as abortion control or extreme penalties for certain crimes. This was not the case with “horizontal” laws that affect everyone equally.

“We find a consistent relationship between prevalence of infectious diseases and a psychological preference for conformity and hierarchical power structures – pillars of authoritarian politics,” said study lead author Dr Leor Zmigrod, an expert in the psychology of ideology from the University of Cambridge.



 May 17, 2023

I had always thought it is good to have a mix of different kinds of people, to perform different needed functions. Recently I have been feeling more like we might be better off w/o conservatives because they are blocking action on climate disruption, which is already causing much destruction, and is very possibly going to cause a breakdown in society as it progresses. The irony is that their fear causes them to deny the reality, which will lead to a really scary future. Of course, I do not advocate killing them off, as some of them want to do to others.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Risks of Harm from Spanking Confirmed by Analysis of Five Decades of Research

April 25, 2016

The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan.

The study, published in this month’s Journal of Family Psychology, looks at five decades of research involving over 160,000 children. The researchers say it is the most complete analysis to date of the outcomes associated with spanking, and more specific to the effects of spanking alone than previous papers, which included other types of physical punishment in their analyses.

“Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors,” says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. “We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.”

Gershoff and co-author Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, found that spanking (defined as an open-handed hit on the behind or extremities) was significantly linked with 13 of the 17 outcomes they examined, all in the direction of detrimental outcomes.


Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor tested for some long-term effects among adults who were spanked as children. The more they were spanked, the more likely they were to exhibit anti-social behavior and to experience mental health problems. They were also more likely to support physical punishment for their own children, which highlights one of the key ways that attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation.

The researchers looked at a wide range of studies and noted that spanking was associated with negative outcomes consistently and across all types of studies, including those using the strongest methodologies such as longitudinal or experimental designs.


Both spanking and physical abuse were associated with the same detrimental child outcomes in the same direction and nearly the same strength.

“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” she says. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”


How Big Oil is manipulating the way you think about climate change


By Kathleen Dean Moore 

Published May 13, 2023 10:00AM (EDT) 


This practice became the namesake of one of the best-known types of fallacies, the red herring fallacy. As a philosophy professor, this is how I explain the fallacy to my students: If the argument is not going your opponent's way, a common strategy — though a fallacious and dishonorable one — is to divert attention from the real issue by raising an issue that is only tangentially related to the first.

If our collective philosophical literacy were better, we might notice that this fallacy seems to be working spectacularly well for the fossil-fuel industry, the petrochemical industry, and a bunch of other bad actors who would like to throw us off the trail that would lead us fully to grasp their transgressions. We shouldn't keep falling for it.

But we do. Time after time, the real issue stands before us, and we find ourselves baying after some side issue of far less importance.


Another example of this subterfuge, also from the fossil fuel world, is the idea of carbon sequestration. How can we capture the carbon dioxide that is spewing into the atmosphere? Embed it in concrete blocks, engineers propose. Pipe it to underground caverns, store it in algae blooms or marshes or timber-frame skyscrapers.

Obviously, we need to remove excess carbon dioxide from the air if we want Earth to remain habitable. But the best, fastest way to reduce the carbon dioxide load of the atmosphere is to stop burning fossil fuels — not to spend billions of dollars developing an entire new industry devoted to sequestering carbon in all kinds of complicated ways. Close down the coal plants. Phase out oil and gas drilling. Get those brilliant engineers back on track, addressing the real question of how we are going to stop oil and gas drilling, and soon.


 [In the last example in the article, I would say the red herring is to convince people to depend on the fossil fuel industry to fix the problem, instead of encouraging people to use less energy.  The fossil fuel companies do need to make their own changes, but in should be in addition to our changing our habits.  The companies produce their product because we use it.  If we change our habits, we can make an immediate change.  In addition, there will be other benefits.  Eg.,  If we use fewer plastic bags, which are made of oil and also require energy to make them, we will reduce the pollution from their manufacture and the pollution from their breakdown in our environment.]


Friday, May 12, 2023

As Title 42 ends, post falsely claims Biden has no plan for migrants at US-Mexico border | Fact check

Sudiksha Kochi

May 11, 2023

The claim: The Biden administration has 'no plan' to stop migrants once Title 42 ends

A May 9 Facebook post (direct link, archive link) makes a claim about the end of Title 42.

"There are currently 700k migrants waiting to surge into the US southern border May 15th when title 42 ends," reads the post. "The Biden administration has no plan to stop them. He has totally abdicated his responsibility to follow the laws and constitution of this country."

A similar claim from Republican 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley generated over 1,000 likes on Twitter. Other posts with similar claims from politicians have spread widely on Facebook.

Our rating: False

The Biden administration and federal agencies have laid out numerous plans and policies related to border security and migrant processing ahead of Title 42’s end, according to news reports and press releases. The plans include sending more troops to the border, reverting back to standard immigration law and tightening measures for asylum seekers.


The Biden administration continued shaping its policy in the days leading up to the deadline, including a May 10 announcement – after the Biden plan claims began circulating –that it will begin denying asylum eligibility to migrants who did not first apply online or seek protection at other countries they have traveled through, the Associated Press reported.

Various agencies under the Biden administration have also taken steps to ensure border security ahead of Title 42’s expiration.