Curtain Raiser

The Climate Alarm Went Off, Colltalers

The U.N. Climate Summit, which starts tomorrow in New York, is a last-ditch effort by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to engage governments and corporations in the climate change issue. It’s also a way to prevent next year’s official conference in Paris from turning into a complete fiasco.
Thus, just in case the urgency of the matter is lost to those decision makers, thousands have marched yesterday in major cities around the world, to demand action and pressure political and corporate leaders, who so far, have shown an appalling, less-than-enthusiastic response to the crisis.
As the decision to call up the summit has been criticized by many, for giving equal footing in the conversation to both governments dedicated to increase environmental protection rules, and well-known polluters, it may also put the spotlight on both parties’ true intentions. Just as the rallies, which were organized by climate organizations, seemed to have underlined a powerful message: we, the world, will be watching you.
And the U.S., as usual, has an oversized role to play, if it chooses to do so. Or should we say, a lot of catch up to do, since the Bush administration decided, in 2001, to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, an already timid agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Whereas measures such as carbon capture or increased taxation were also on the table, overall, the protocol did have its shortcomings. But the U.S.’s rejection opened the floodgates and gave tacit approval to the fossil-fuel energy industry to boost even more oil drilling in pristine regions, and ramp up coal prospection, ultimately giving rise to highly pollutant new technologies such as fracking.
It’s been since a costly game of hide and seek by American officials, both from the Bush and Obama administrations, as the oil and gas industry continues to dictate the nation’s energy policy, and investments in alternatives remain plagued by partisan gridlock in the U.S. congress.
Speaking of costs, Ban Ki-moon’s has emphasized that policies with a minimal chance of being effective have to be backed by hard cash. The richest among the 125 nations Continue reading

Thanksgivukkah

A Holiday Combo
& a Smashed Comet

It happened before and, if you’re not in a hurry, it’ll happen again. Good luck with that, though. And good luck with one of the most loaded of the American holidays, both celebrated and vilified for its special brand of family time, the kind that often verges on murder.
Thanksgiving, which after Thursday, will only conflate with Hanukka again in the year 79811, is being called Thanksgivukkah this time around, in what Wikipedia insists is a portmanteau but that’s not for reasons we’re sure our illustrious readership knows so well.
As if eating overfed, extra-hormone stuffed, hardly a bird at this point at all, turkey were not enough, we’re already feeling lazy and not up to the task to add yet another exquisite commentary to the joyous occasion (for some, naturally, not the turkeys).
After some three years, we did accumulate a nice share of posts on the subject, which we’ll proceed to lay on your plate, as you try to ignore the grand debate on healthcare and how ‘that Kenyan is ruining this country,’ while at the same time trying not to call attention to your text messaging.
Feel free to jump in with congratulatory asides and additional servings of praise for our foresight, which will only require a few tweaks, perhaps a dollop of the salsa du jour for flavor, and a few minutes in the microwave. Just like the leftovers you’re sentenced to have for the next several days.
For there’s little about this holiday that’s new and fresh, and this year particularly, the pickings are indeed slim. You have your White House sanctioned turkey pardons, the appalling conditions consumer-bound poultry is handled in this country and the need to raise them more humanely, and the multitude of well-intentioned souls who decide to go vegan at this time of the year out of sheer disgust.
But there’s something else going on, that may be important for astrophysics and scientists: a comet is about to zip by, head and tail, the sun. ISON, as it’s known, has been so far a disappointment all on its own, though. Earlier reports that it’d offer a stunning sky show have been greatly downgraded since.
Thus there’s little hope for you but to dive yourself among your family and friends, and hey, it doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, you should Continue reading