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Thursday, January 12, 2023

I Learned Some Things From Thom Hartmann Today -- And Maybe You Will, Too!

 This is today's Hartmann Report, published by Substack:

Hairdryer Climate Mathematics Revealed

Our hairdryer math gets really bizarre when we apply it to global warming


Most people know that a hairdryer draws about as much power as your average modern outlet will give it — typically around 1000 watts or, at 110 volts, just shy of 10 amps. (Plug in and turn on two hairdryers from the same outlet and you’ll usually blow a circuit breaker: most homes max out at 15 or 20 amp circuits.)

If those numbers are gibberish to you, hang on: it’ll all have meaning in a moment, particularly when I get to the really shocking part about climate change and hairdryers.

I was recently listening to a rightwing radio talk show host trashing electric cars and the need for them (he was also denying climate change) and he went into this rant about how if everybody in America bought an electric car, charging them would “take down the entire country’s power grid.”

This assertion is, to be charitable, BS. But since we all know what a hairdryer is and have, at least, a sense for how much power one typically uses — the equivalent of ten 100-watt light bulbs — let’s convert an electric car’s power usage into hairdryers.

A typical electric car using a 110 volt home charger pulls about the same amount of electricity when it’s charging as does a hairdryer: between 800 and 1200 watts, or 8 to 12 amps, with an average of 10 amps or around 1000 watts per hour (one kilowatt-hour).

So, charging your car is about the same as running a hairdryer, our new unit of measurement.

The average electric car travels 100 miles on around 30 kilowatts (30,000 watts or 30 “hairdryer-hours”) of electricity (Tesla Model 3 only uses 25, the Chevy Bolt 29), while the average driver in America travels around 1000 miles a month or 33 miles a day: roughly 10 kilowatts or 10 hairdryer hours a day to cover those 33 miles.

So the average driver charging their car overnight for ten hours (to replenish that 10 kilowatts of electricity to travel 33 miles) will use the same amount of electricity as running a single hairdryer for 10 hours.

First off, you can see how silly it is to argue it would “take down the grid” if every family in America were to turn on a single hairdryer in their home for 10 hours every night, the equivalent of everybody recharging 33 miles worth of driving every day.

Particularly because most of that charging is done overnight, when electric demand is lower than normal.

(The average cost of electricity in the US, by the way, is $.10 per kilowatt hour, or ten cents per “hairdryer hour.” So, simple math suggests it costs about $3 to drive 100 miles — 30 “hairdryer hours” worth of electricity x 10 cents per hour — in the average electric car. For comparison, in the average 25 mpg gas-powered car that same 100 miles would consume 4 gallons of gasoline, costing around $16 at four dollars a gallon.)

But our hairdryer math gets really bizarre when we apply it to global warming.

Our planet isn’t warming because we’re all running hairdryers or even cars or home furnaces; it’s warming because the greenhouse gasses we’re pouring into the atmosphere from generating electricity, heating our homes, and driving our gas-powered cars are acting like a giant blanket, trapping heat from the sun in the atmosphere.

In other words, we are not warming the Earth (at least not significantly) with the heat we’re adding: it’s the greenhouse gasses (principally carbon dioxide) that are warming the Earth by trapping heat from the sun that would otherwise radiate out into space.

A new study published this week in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences found that our oceans — which absorb about 90 percent of the increased heat in the atmosphere from global warming — took in and held an absolutely massive amount of solar energy last year.

As Damian Carrington, the Environment Editor at The Guardian, put it in a recent article summarizing that new study:

“The oceans absorbed about 10 zettajoules more heat in 2022 than in 2021, equivalent to every person on Earth running 40 hairdryers all day, every day.”

Clearly, all 8 billion of us aren’t anywhere close to using the power equivalent of 40 hairdryers all day, every day. But that’s the amount of extra energy our planet is trapping every year at our current rate of energy consumption because greenhouse gasses are so very efficient at trapping solar heat.

As a result, our oceans are warming. And that’s driving “atmospheric rivers,” derechos, “bomb cyclones,” and a whole variety of other atmospheric phenomenons we’d never seen or even heard of before the past decade or two.

Graph of global ocean heat content change in the upper 2,000 meters of the ocean, showing the monthly average by year as compared to the annual average, for 1955–2019. Courtesy of NOAA NCEI and IAP.

Again, it’s not our energy use that’s driving this. It’s the carbon waste byproduct — mostly CO2 — of the fossil fuels we’re burning to create that energy that’s doing most of it.

If we were simply capturing all our energy from the sun and wind, that blanket of greenhouse gasses wouldn’t keep growing, the heat wouldn’t continue accumulating, and our atmosphere might stabilize (assuming — and it’s not a safe assumption — that we haven’t already passed tipping points that can’t be reversed).

By the 1970s it was common knowledge across the scientific community that these greenhouse gasses — particularly CO2 and methane — were warming our planet. As you can see from the graphic above, it became irrefutable by the 1990s.

In 1979 President Jimmy Carter pointed to this knowledge and these trends and took action to try to stop the crisis the world is now experiencing.

“The energy crisis is real,” Carter told the nation. “It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.

“What I have to say to you now about energy is simple and vitally important.

“Point one: I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 -- never.”

He declared a national crisis that year and proposed legislation to create:

“[T]his nation’s first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.”

Tragically for America and the world, it all came crashing down 43 years ago this month when the fossil fuel industry’s candidate, Ronald Reagan, replaced Carter, killed the solar bank and the solar bond program, and even took Carter’s solar panels off the roof of the White House.

Reagan embraced the fossil fuel industry with gusto (and they embraced him back), promoting climate deniers like James Watt to head the Department of the Interior (which oversees oil, gas, and coal drilling and mining), and Neil Gorsuch’s mother, Anne Gorsuch, to head the EPA.

Simultaneously, the fossil fuel industry began throwing millions of dollars a year into sellout scientists and climate deniers while pouring billions around the world into politicians and political campaigns.

As a result, we actually increased our consumption of fossil fuels — and the fossil fuel industry made hundreds of billions in profits. Our World in Data summarizes it well:

Electric cars are a huge step forward because they don’t consume fossil fuels (transportation is our second-largest producer of greenhouse gasses), but most of our world’s electricity is still produced using coal, oil, or natural gas.

President Carter tried to save America — and lead the world away — from the climate disasters that are killing millions of people around the world every year. The fossil fuel industry and the Republican Party killed his efforts here, as have “conservative” political parties and the fossil fuel industry all around the world.

It’s gotten too late to consider this anything other than a potential Armageddon.

We’ve reached the crisis point where we can no longer afford anything even close to business as usual. This is a climate emergency.

Yet here in America the Republican Party continues to deny climate change and Republican politicians do everything they can to block green and renewable fuels, all in service to a grotesque industry that makes billions in profits every year from killing our planet.

But we are not without solutions.

Heating our houses and places of business, for example, represents our biggest use of fossil fuels. Yet in Urbana Illinois, Vancouver Canada, and across Germany they’re building homes that are so efficient they can be… wait for it… heated with a single hairdryer.

A new and better world is possible, if we can only overcome the money of the fossil fuel industry, the corruption of a political party, and stop squandering the little remaining time we have before, if we don’t act, climate disasters overwhelm civilization. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint (Washington Post)

Here's the intro to the article - link to full article is below:

Here’s the thing: Small changes alone won’t save our planet. To keep the Earth from warming above the critical 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) limit, climate action needs to happen at an institutional level. The Washington Post has built a tracker to keep you up to date on all of President’s Biden’s environmental actions.

But that doesn’t mean you should feel helpless, or that your actions aren’t worthwhile. Taking steps to lower your own carbon footprint may help ease your climate anxiety by giving you back some power — and even the smallest of actions will contribute to keeping our planet habitable.

With that in mind, here are 10 places to start.

Subscription-free link to the full article

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Dems in House Are Missing the Opportunity to Nominate a "Good" Republican -- Like Liz Cheney

Every vote for Speaker of the House in which the Dems vote for their Democratic leader is a wasted vote.

Recognizing that they're not going to get a Democratic Speaker, they should nominate a Republican that as few as six Republicans would vote for.  I suggest Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger, but there are others too!

There are enough Republicans, I'd guess, who are pissed off at those 19 far right members who are blocking Kevin McCarthy, that electing Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger might give them an opportunity to get revenge!

Monday, January 2, 2023

Thom Hartmann Really Nailed Republican "Values" in His Jan. 2nd Email Newsletter

Here's an excerpt.  You can subscribe to his daily email on Substack.

In most developed countries homelessness is not a crisis; nobody goes bankrupt because somebody in their family got sick; and jobs pay well enough and have union pensions so people can retire after 30 or 40 years in the workforce and live comfortably for the rest of their lives.

But not in America. Republican politicians have fought tooth-and-nail for generations to prevent any of those things from happening here.

Which raises the question: “Why?”

Why do Republican politicians promote hateful messages and cruel policies? Why are Republican-run states the real “shithole” parts of the US with the highest rates of poverty, violence, early death, disease, and illiteracy?

What motivates these Republican politicians to say they’re for the “little guy” when the only policies they pursue are to cut taxes on the rich, gut unions, destroy public schools, and ship jobs overseas?

It’s not about ideology.

Republicans don’t hate Social Security and Medicare, for example, because they’re afraid that those programs are going to somehow turn America into a “socialist” country. They hate those programs because they’re paid for with tax dollars, and greedy Republicans hate to pay their fair share of taxes.

It’s not about racism, although it often appears that way.

The reason Republicans work so hard to keep Black and Brown people down is because they subscribe to a weird economic theory that “requires” an underclass who do most of the hard work for very little money. Thus, morbidly rich Republican “donors” — being part of the overclass — can reap the benefits of increased corporate profits while keeping their taxes low so they can stuff the extra cash into their money bins. 

If their use of racist language and Confederate iconography brings in a few more low-IQ white voters, that’s just icing on the cake. They can use the racist yahoos to get themselves reelected so giant corporations will continue to stuff their SuperPACs with lobbyist cash they can use for their own retirement.

It’s not about charity: they say that the housing and healthcare needs of poor people should be taken care of through “private philanthropy” instead of government.

What they’re really saying is that they don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes to maintain a healthy society. By cutting government support for poor and working-class people, as Anand Giridharadas documents so well, those very average Americans will become more dependent on the noble philanthropists among the billionaire class and less bonded to their own nation’s government.

It’s not about Christianity, although they’re constantly invoking Jesus for everything from pushing the death penalty on women who want to get an abortion to giving bigots the legal right to discriminate against gay, lesbian, and trans people.

Jesus never once mentioned abortion and decried bigotry, but they regularly ignore and even flout His teachings in the Sermon on the Mount and His warnings in Matthew 25. They protect multimillionaire evangelists’ tax-free status, and the preachers repay them by preaching politics from the pulpit.

It’s not about saving Americans from the pandemic or concern for public health.

Trump used the Defense Production Act, for example, to force mostly Brown and Black meatpackers back to work, not to keep Americans safe. As long as the factories are humming and the stock market is rising, a few hundred thousand dead Americans are just collateral damage.

It’s not about conservatism.

They’re not interested in slowly or “cautiously” improving society, or “conserving” anything other than the balances in their own checking accounts. They like to use the word “conservative,” but they’ve rendered it meaningless at best and code for “racist” at worst.

It’s not about making the world a better place.

Republican politicians deny climate change, deregulate industries that poison our air and water, and do everything they can to screw working people out of unions, good wages, and decent benefits. They’re totally down with pesticides that are killing our pollinators while they poison our atmosphere with their carbon emissions, all just to make a buck.

It’s not about having a better-educated electorate or populace.

They’ve spent decades trying to destroy our public education system that was, in the 1960s, the envy of the world. When they did away with free and low-cost college education during the Reagan years they kicked off almost $2 trillion worth of student debt which is preventing people from starting families, opening small businesses, or even buying their first house. But it sure is profitable for Republican-donor bankers!

It isn’t about “culture.”

They do a good-old-boy NASCAR/Duck Dynasty routine to bring in the rubes, but there’s no way Donald Trump would ever invite the average Republican voter with a giant flag and a pickup truck to any of his golf clubs, nor would Ted Cruz want to vacation with one of them or their families in Cancun.

It’s not about “gun violence.”

As long as their investments in weapons manufacturers are profitable and the problem of gun violence is limited to poor- and working-class Americans, Republican politicians don’t give a rat’s ass about “gun safety.” Although they’re happy to use guns as a wedge issue to bring in male voters who are insecure about their own masculinity.

It’s not about “protecting our children.”

The main through-story of the GOP attacks on queer people is that “they’re coming for your kids.” If Republican politicians actually cared about our kids, they’d do something about America being the only country in the world where gun violence is the leading cause of childhood death.

Republican politicians know that most pedophiles are straight men, but attacking defenseless minorities has been the cheap trick of craven demagogues from the eras of crusades, pogroms, and witch burnings to this day.

It’s not about immigrants taking jobs from working-class Americans.

After “reforming” our immigration laws in 1986, Ronald Reagan stopped enforcing the laws against wealthy white employers hiring people who are here without documentation (even though those employers were — and are — committing a crime by hiring undocumented workers).

As a result, entire industries like construction and meatpacking that once provided good union jobs have been de-unionized, their former American-citizen union employees replaced by low-wage workers without documentation.

And when the spotlight gets shined on those industries, Republicans are more than happy to put poor, hard-working Brown people in jail, but there’s no way they’re ever going to go after wealthy white employers. The Trump administration, for example, kicked off the midterm election year of 2018 by raiding over ninety 7-Eleven stores, hauling off undocumented Brown people for the cameras they invited to the arrests. Not a single employer went to jail, although they were the ones who initiated the “crime.”

Republican politicians don’t give a damn about your job, particularly when they can find somebody else to do it cheaper.

It’s not about putting America or Americans “first.”

Reagan and Bush the Elder negotiated NAFTA and revived the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) so businesses could offshore entire factories. Since the Reagan administration instituted neoliberalism in 1981, over 60,000 factories have left America, taking along with them at least 15 million jobs.

Donald Trump‘s rewrite of NAFTA even gave American companies a huge new tax break if they’d move their factories from America to Mexico.

At the end of the day, all Republican politicians care about is money. Greed is their principle animating force, and what binds them to their morbidly rich donors. 

The greed embraced by Republican politicians — and the billionaires and CEOs who fund them — is why average Americans can’t have nice things. It’s why we and our children must walk the tightrope of life without the same safety net other countries — from Canada to Costa Rica, France to Taiwan — offer their citizens.

It doesn’t matter to Republican politicians how many Americans die unnecessarily, how many of our fellow citizens struggle in misery and poverty, how many children’s growth is stunted or bodies and brains are poisoned by industrial and mining waste being poured into our air and rivers. 

As long as the money keeps rolling in and the GOP’s billionaire patrons keep paying less than 3 percent in income taxes, greed is all Republican politicians care about or are willing to fight for.