The John James Newsletter 194
26 August 2017
As the average temperature increases by more than 1C there are big changes in the
extremes in the more susceptible regions. Our thermometers and our responses
remain fixed. How do we fare as the planet heats up around us?
By far the most troubling aspect of Trump’s foreign policy is Trump himself, his repeatedly demonstrated ignorance of world affairs, which leaves him prone to making confusing and impolitic public remarks, many of which are later incoherently walked back by his staffers, and susceptible to the views of whichever adviser has most recently had his ear
Before Trump spends the windfall he hopes to reap from mining Afghanistan, he should consider one starting reality: We are now losing a war to an enemy that has already surrendered. That’s not easy to do
In June, China added a staggering 13.5 gigawatts of solar panels. In July, it added another 10.5 gigawattsr. The two month total of 24 gigawatts is more than half the size of the total US solar fleet of 44.4 gigawatts. In other words, China just added more solar capacity in two months than the US added in all of the past two years
Cooking sauces were one of the highest contributors of salt to the diet, alongside bread, breakfast cereal and processed meat
The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear
Herbert Sebastien Agar
Rising CO2 Levels Are Sapping Staple Crops Of Their Protein & Iron Content
Growing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide from emissions will seriously impair the nutritional value of wheat, rice and other staple crops, putting millions of people around the world in danger of protein deficiency, under increased CO2 concentrations, the protein content of rice, wheat, barley, and potatoes decreased by between 6 and 14%. The study — believed to be the first to quantify this risk — estimates that an additional 150 million people globally could suffer from this nutritional loss on top of the “hundreds of millions of people who already suffer protein deficiency, whose deficiencies will be exacerbated,
Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban of killer robotsOpen letter signed by Tesla chief and Google’s Mustafa Suleyman urges UN to block use of lethal autonomous weapons to prevent third age of war. Experts have previously warned that AI technology has reached a point where the deployment of autonomous weapons is feasible within years, rather than decades. While AI can be used to make the battlefield a safer place for military personnel, experts fear that offensive weapons that operate on their own would lower the threshold of going to battle and result in greater loss of human life.https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/20/elon-musk-killer-robots-experts-outright-ban-lethal-autonomous-weapons-war
The open letter and names of signatoriesAs companies building the technologies in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics that may be repurposed to develop autonomous weapons, we feel especially responsible in raising this alarm. ……. Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close. We therefore implore the High Contracting Parties to find a way to protect us all from these dangers.https://futureoflife.org/autonomous-weapons-open-letter-2017
Last Month Tied as the Hottest on RecordJuly 2017 has tied with August and July of last year as the hottest month on record. What makes this year’s July record noteworthy is that it occurred in the absence of a natural climate cycle, like El Niño, which would help heighten global average surface temperatures. A strong El Niño, combined with human-caused global warming, helped push 2016 to claim the record for the warmest year since reliable thermometer records began in 1880. In addition, the finding comes during a summer in which large parts of the Arctic have seen below average temperatures, bucking the recent sharp warming trend there.http://mashable.com/2017/08/15/july-warmest-month-on-record-nasa-finds/#bZOcnQ4U4OqN
The new normal: Fires, devilish heat waves, and flash floodsThe video – 140 wildfires began on that one day – a new record?http://mashable.com/2017/08/08/summer-weather-on-steroids-wildfires-heat-waves/?utm_cid=a-seealso#WUBfYkDZRsqJ
Dry winter primes Sydney Basin for early start of bushfire season
Record-setting July warmth and low rainfall have created conditions very similar to 2013, when highly destructive bushfires burned across NSW and Victoria. Crucially, this research has found we’re approaching a crucial dryness threshold, past which fires are historically far more dangerous.
Department of Justice Wants Info on Every Person Who Visited Anti-Trump Protest SiteWeb hosting company vows to protect users from ‘overreach’ and ‘abuse of government authority. ‘”No plausible explanation exists for a search warrant of this breadth, other than to cast a digital dragnet as broadly as possible. But the the overly-broad request “chills free association and the right of free speech afforded by the Constitution,” and the information the DOJ is attempting to collect “could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech…That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/08/15/trump-doj-wants-info-every-person-who-visited-anti-trump-protest-site
Emerging climate bonds boom, but are they really green?Green bonds are intended to finance environmental projects such as solar and wind farms. Bt what of bonds from polluting countries and investment in controversial hydro projects? A record $32.2 billion-worth of them were issued in the second quarter of 2017. This is called “greenwashing”.https://www.reuters.com/article/us-emerging-bonds-green-idUSKCN1AY1F4
Imagine a house with no electrical wiring, no plugs, and a remote for switchingThe Wireless Charging of Moving Electric Vehicles Just Overcame A Major Hurdle
If electric cars could recharge while driving down a highway, it would virtually eliminate concerns about their range and lower their cost, perhaps making electricity the standard fuel for vehicles.https://futurism.com/the-wireless-charging-of-moving-electric-vehicles-just-overcame-a-major-hurdle/
Man flu is real, but women get more autoimmune diseases and allergies
Men die significantly more often from infectious diseases than women. For instance, men are 1.5 times more likely to die from tuberculosis, and twice as likely to develop Hodgkin’s lymphoma following Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) infection. Men are also five times more likely to develop cancer after infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), than women. This is because women’s immune systems mount a stronger response against foreign invaders, particularly viruses. While the male hormone testosterone tends to dampen immune responses, the female hormone oestrogen increases the number of immune cells and the intensity of their response. So women are able to recover more quickly from an infection. All this may reflect a sneaky evolutionary trick used by viruses to enable their survival. Women have developed multiple mechanisms to transmit infections; mainly through passing bugs from mother to child during gestation or birth, or through breastfeeding. So women are better vessels for viruses.
Any other countries done this? What does this say about the Russian economy and the value of US sanctions?
Russia pays off balance of Soviet Union’s foreign debt
As of 1994, the debt of the old USSR was almost $105 billion. The largest part of this amount (over $47 billion) was to the Paris Club of creditors. One of the final large Soviet-era debts was repaid last year to Kuwait; $1.1 billion and delivered $620 million worth of high-tech products to the country. Russia has written off more than $100 billion in debt owed by developing countries over the past decade.
Major Sanctions Escalation? Informed Sources Say Russian Bank Disconnected From SWIFT
with the right amount of influence from the right sources, any Russian bank can be disconnected from SWIFT without much legal recourse or chitchat. This does not look to be a de-escalation of tensions. Then what other domino’s might follow, and to whose real advantage?
The death of the internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine has had a good run—and could still dominate shipping and aviation for decades to come. But on land electric motors will soon offer freedom and convenience more cheaply and cleanly. As the switch to electric cars reverses the trend in the rich world towards falling electricity consumption, policymakers will need to help, by ensuring that there is enough generating capacity—in spite of many countries’ broken system of regulation.
The Future Of Electricity Pricing
The power sector is on a path not unlike that of the mobile phone industry where most users pay a fixed monthly fee based on a 2-year contract with a network service provider. While the analogy is not perfect – e.g., currently electrons cannot be delivered without copper wires – it is clear that mobile phone service is increasingly about connectivity and access to the network rather than the volume or frequency of calls. Subscribers choose a provider on the basis of the ubiquity and reliability of its network access, the strength of the signal, bandwidth and speed.
First Solar-Powered Plane To Journey Into Space
Having succeeded in making the first ever solar-powered round-the-world trip in 2012, the team behind PlanetSolar, the largest solar-powered boat in the world, have now set their sights on another solar-powered first — a journey into space.
Air Quality In Northern China Continuing To Worsen At Rapid Rate
The 13 largest cities in the northern Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region apparently saw PM2.5 levels climb 11.3% over this time period, going by the new figures. Average readings during this time period were 69 micrograms per cubic meter.
Full of Sound and Fury
Bannon’s departure from this administration is unequivocally a welcome development. His absence from the West Wing means one less white nationalist potentially filling the deeply impressionable Trump’s head with talk of immigration bans, a future war with China, or the apocalyptic war with Islam in which Bannon already believes Western (AKA “Judeo-Christian”) civilization finds itself. There’s also strong reason to believe that Bannon has been protecting other dangerously radical Trump appointees in the White House.
A New Gene-Editing Breakthrough Could Forever Change Life on Earth
“It means that we can control human evolution now.” But with the thrill of discovering such a powerful tool came a somber realization. Doudna describes a nightmare: “Hitler was leaning forward and looking at me very intently. And he said, ‘So please tell me about the CRISPR technology.’ And I just felt this chill running down my back.”
Washington’s new strategy in Afghanistan aimed against China
China is active both in the Silk Road Economic Belt project and in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Destroying these projects or at least weakening their active development is the target of the US administration. But, on the other hand, we could expect a growing activity and relocation of militants from the territory of the Middle East to Afghanistan as they will be suffering defeats, and thus escalation of a civil war in that country,
The Taliban Tried to Surrender and the US Rebuffed Them. Now Here We Are
For centuries in Afghanistan, when a rival force had come to power, the defeated one would put down their weapons and be integrated into the new power structure — obviously with much less power, or none at all. That’s how you do with neighbours you have to continue to live with. So when the Taliban came to surrender, the U.S. turned them down repeatedly, in a series of arrogant blunders. The problem was that the Taliban had stopped fighting, having either fled to Pakistan or melted back into civilian life. So how do you kill terrorists if there aren’t any?
More American Troops to Afghanistan, To Keep the Chinese Out? Lithium and the Battle for Afghanistan’s Mineral Riches
Trump calls for escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Why? Is he going after the bad guys, or is it something else? Afghanistan has significant oil, natural gas and strategic raw material resources, not to mention opium, a multibillion dollar industry which feeds America’s illegal heroin market. These mineral reserves include huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and lithium, which is a strategic raw material used in the production of high tech batteries for laptops, cell phones and electric cars. The implication of Trump’s resolve is to plunder and steal Afghanistan’s mineral riches to finance the “reconstruction” of a country destroyed by the US and its allies after 16 years of war,
1,000,000 African migrants en route to Europe
Many African countries have been reluctant to prevent the flow of migrants to Europe partly due to the vast remittances migrants send back to their countries. Specific “take back” agreements between the EU and African countries of origin would focus only on those who arrived in Italy after these agreements entered into force, reducing the impact on current remittance flows. In return the EU would offer these countries concrete benefits, including scholarships and annual visas.
In the absence of national leadership, cities are driving climate policy
Imagine a future in which every one of Australia’s 537 local government areas, including all our capital cities and major regional centres, achieve net zero greenhouse emissions. It might sound like a pipe dream, but it could be closer than you think. A new Climate Council report, released today, tracks the climate action being taken at the local government level. It gives myriad examples of cities, towns and local shires, in Australia and abroad, setting and achieving ambitious goals for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable transport.
The Climate Council Report
Coal in decline: an energy industry on life support
The pace of coal plants shutting down in Australia could mean the country’s fleet could be gone before 2040. The transformation is enormous – and seems inevitable. About a fifth of the country’s coal capacity has disappeared since 2012; Muja AB will be the 13th station to shut in that period; no new ones have opened this decade. For all the talk of new coal-fired power plants, none are in development.The coal-fired power sector is in free fall, and wind and solar are competing on cost with fossil fuels
Mathematical secrets of ancient tablet unlocked after nearly a century of study
Dating from 1,000 years before Pythagoras’s theorem, the Babylonian clay tablet is a trigonometric table more accurate than any today. Mathematicians have been arguing for most of a century about the interpretation of the tablet known as Plimpton 322, ever since the New York publisher George Plimpton bequeathed it to Columbia University in the 1930s as part of a major collection. He bought it from Edgar Banks, a diplomat, antiquities dealer and flamboyant amateur archaeologist said to have inspired the character of Indiana Jones – his feats included climbing Mount Ararat in an unsuccessful attempt to find Noah’s Ark – who had excavated it in southern Iraq in the early 20th century.
The So-Called “Civil War” Was Not Over Slavery
The real issue was economic as DiLorenzo, Charles Beard and other historians have documented. The North offered to preserve slavery irrevocably, but the North did not offer to give up the high tariffs and economic policies that the South saw as inimical to its interests.
UN Issues Rare “Early Warning” – Signals Potential Civil Conflict In America
This rare signal often preludes the potential for civil conflict. In the past 10-years, the early warning has been issued in Burundi, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria. “We are alarmed by the racist demonstrations, with overtly racist slogans, chants and salutes by white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan, promoting white supremacy and inciting racial discrimination and hatred”.
Nearly 3,500 settlement homes built on private Palestinian land
These illegal structures could be legalized under Israel’s contentious ‘land-grab’ law, whose validity is now being determined by the High Court of Justice. These illegal structures could be legalized under the expropriation law, whose validity is now being determined by the High Court of Justice in response to Palestinian petitions against the law. Extensive details on the scope of illegal structures on private Palestinian land were revealed in an appendix to the state’s response to the petitions.
Harvey’s Mammoth Deluge Potential: Some Models Are Showing Storm Could Produce Five Feet of Rain
During recent years, a warmer than normal atmosphere has been producing more and more intense rain storms. The number of record daily rainfall instances around the world has been rising precipitously. This is, in large part, due to the fact that human-forced warming amps up the hydrological cycle — producing more intense rain storms and more intense droughts. In other words, the climate dice are loaded for extreme rainfall and droughts in the present atmosphere.