Daily Archives: February 20, 2017

“For-Profit President”: A Look at How Trump Is Pushing Wholesale Corporate Takeover of the Gov’t

Democracy Now!

Published on Feb 20, 2017

http://democracynow.org – There has been a wholesale corporate takeover of the government. That’s the conclusion of a new report coming out today by the watchdog group Public Citizen. The report looks at how corporate America has benefited from Trump’s first month in office. Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon, is now secretary of state. Goldman Sachs alum now serve several top posts: Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary, Stephen Bannon as Trump’s chief strategist and Gary Cohn as director of the United States National Economic Council. Trump has also signed executive orders to help undo the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law and repeal rules requiring financial advisers to give advice based on their customers’ best interests. We speak to Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

Pre$ident Trump: The For-Profit Presidency, First 30-Days


Published on Feb 20, 2017

A day-by-day review of the Trump administration’s first month shows that virtually every day has been marked by a new, extraordinary grant of power to corporate interests.

Another in the latest Donald Trump get-rich-quick-scheme known as the American presidency.

For-Profit President

Month One of Donald Trump’s Presidency: Enriching His Private Business, Carrying Out a Corporate Takeover and Putting Profits Before People

Follow this link for a PDF version of the report.

Note: Read the Presidents Day column on Trump’s for-profit presidency by Robert Weissman, Public Citizen president.


As seas rise, city mulls a massive sea barrier across Boston Harbor – The Boston Globe

After Hurricane Katrina, the federal government built a 1.8-mile barrier along Lake Borgne, a lagoon of the Gulf of Mexico.

By David Abel Globe Staff February 18, 2017

It would be a massive, highly controversial wall sure to cost billions of dollars. But this barrier would be much closer to home — and potentially more expensive — than the one President Trump has proposed along the Mexican border.

As rising sea levels pose a growing threat to Boston’s future, city officials are exploring the feasibility of building a vast sea barrier from Hull to Deer Island, forming a protective arc around Bosto harbor. The idea, raised in a recent city report on the local risks of climate change, sounds like a pipe dream, a project that could rival the Big Dig in complexity and cost. It’s just one of several options, but the sea wall proposal is now under serious study by a team of some of the region’s top scientists and engineers, who recently received a major grant to pursue their research.

…(read more).

Yale News | Secretary John Kerry ’66 joins Yale as Distinguished Fellow for Global Affairs

February 16, 2017
Former Secretary of State John Kerry will serve as Yale’s first-ever Distinguished Fellow for Global Affairs. A 1966 graduate of Yale College, Kerry will return to his alma mater to oversee the Kerry Initiative, an interdisciplinary program that will tackle pressing global challenges through teaching, research, and international dialogue.

The alumnus will leverage insights, experiences, and relationships on a global scale to oversee the Kerry Initiative, collaborating with students and faculty from across the university and deepening the Yale experience to have greater interaction with the world beyond campus. In partnership with the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, the Kerry Initiative will advance Yale’s long tradition of preparing the next generation of world leaders.

Through the initiative, Kerry will partner with scholars from across Yale, applying their shared expertise to questions of global importance: failed and failing states and the challenge of authoritarian populism; rising sectarianism and violent extremism; climate change and other environmental threats; and capacity building, global economic opportunity, and development. Drawing on experience from his long and distinguished career, Kerry will convene and lead conversations among global stakeholders, both in New Haven and overseas, to develop new approaches to solving these crucial challenges.

Teaching and research are fundamental to the Kerry Initiative. Kerry will lead a seminar open to students from across the university in the 2017-2018 academic year. He will also engage with students at the Yale Law School, School of Management, Divinity School, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and the Jackson Institute. Through the Kerry Fellows Program, Yale undergraduate, graduate, and professional students will collaborate with Kerry on leading-edge research and high-profile publications for a global audience.

…(read more).

AAAS chief puts weight behind protest march – BBC News

By Pallab Ghosh Science correspondent, BBC News, Boston

  • 20 February 2017

The head of the world’s largest scientific membership organisation has given his backing for a planned protest by researchers in Washington DC.

Rush Holt, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), said that people were “standing up for science”.

His remarks reflect growing concern among researchers that science is disregarded by President Trump

Scientists across the US plan to march in DC on 22 April.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire career,” the former Democratic congressman told BBC News.

Image caption A letter of concern was drawn up at MIT

“To see young scientists, older scientists, the general public speaking up for the idea of science. We are going to work with our members and affiliated organisations to see that this march for science is a success.”

Mr Holt made his comments at the AAAS annual meting in Boston as President Trump appointed a fierce critic of the Environmental Protection Agency as its head. Scott Pruitt has spent years fighting the role and reach of the EPA.

Campaigners accuse him of being too close to the oil and gas industry, and allege that he is “lukewarm” on the threat posed by climate change.

Rush Holt says that the concern among US scientists has gone well beyond the usual uncertainty that comes with a change in the Oval Office

(read more).

Researcher’s 1979 Arctic Model Predicted Current Sea Ice Demise, Holds Lessons for Future | InsideClimate News

By Sabrina Shankman Feb 20, 2017

Study from decades ago proved remarkably accurate in showing how global warming would affect the Arctic’s sea ice, currently in steep decline.

Arctic sea ice has reached record lows this winter around Greenland and elsewhere, following the predictions of remarkably accurate models based on global warming. Credit: Getty Images

Claire Parkinson, now a senior climate change scientist at NASA, first began studying global warming’s impact on Arctic sea ice in 1978, when she was a promising new researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Back then, what she and a colleague found was not only groundbreaking, it pretty accurately predicted what is happening now in the Arctic, as sea ice levels break record low after record low.

Parkinson’s study, which was published in 1979, found that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide from preindustrial levels would cause the Arctic to become ice-free in late summer months, probably by the middle of the 21st century. It hasn’t been ice-free in more than 100,000 years.

Although carbon dioxide levels have not yet doubled, the ice is rapidly disappearing. This record melt confirms the outlook from Parkinson’s 1979 model.

“It was one of these landmark papers,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. “She was the first to put together the thermodynamic sea ice model.”

…(read more).

Inside the minds of Trump voters: do they really all believe climate change was invented by China? – Climate & Environment at Imperial


Republican rhetoric, communist hoax and voter psychology; Geraldine Satre Buisson, a PhD student on the Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet Doctoral Training Partnership at Imperial College London, looks across the pond at the United States’ attitudes towards climate change.

We’ve all seen the tweets. Donald Trump thinks that climate change is a hoax created by China. It is often cited by those who are concerned with his administration’s position on climate change, but do Trump supporters really adhere to these views, and, crucially, how might their political persuasions lead them to ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence for climate change?

The people who seem concerned may be justified: Trump’s campaign promises include the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the elimination of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan (which, among other things, included steps to phase-out coal power plants) and the development of infrastructure for shale oil and gas. His first weeks in office have not provided much reassurance: his administration imposed a temporary media blackout to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and nominated a man who once described himself as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” to head said EPA, amid rumours that the agency could be abolished altogether.

…(read more).

Society for Conservation GIS


Ocean Solutions, Earth Solutions – SCGIS Turns 20: A Look at the Past, Present, and Future of Conservation GIS

Oceans cover 70% of the earth’s surface, and influence our climate, and hydrologic and carbon cycles. At least half of the earth’s oxygen is the result of photosynthesis by marine plants. Terrestrial as well as marine habitats and species are disappearing due to agriculture, urbanization, energy production and other human activities.  Climate change is challenging our best scientists to understand the marine and terrestrial impacts, ecosystem vulnerabilities and the future role of protected areas. Currently, 48% of the carbon emitted to the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning is sequestered into the ocean. Understanding these interactions, synergies and the potential impacts that climatic changes have on the earth and the oceans is one of the most important investigations of our day.

The amount of data about oceans, earth, and climate change is mind boggling. More challenging still is how to explain the outcomes of analyses meant to help scientists to understand what we are facing with regard to climate change.  The ultimate challenge is to convey this complex information in succinct and captivating sound-bites that are necessary in order to engage the public in efforts to slow down the human contributions to climate change.  And, finally, to help educate policy makers about what to expect and how to help humans and ecosystems prepare themselves by increasing resiliency, to reduce the worst of the impacts from the projected future changes brought on by superlative storms, and catastrophic weather events.

As SCGIS enters its 20th year, we all are facing some of the most difficult challenges humanity has ever faced. We are also a strong and growing global community that is ready to consider how we got to where we are today and to create the path forward, with the tools we need to support each other through these times. SCGIS provides the forum for sharing what we know through story-telling, workshops, technical sessions and conversation.

Come listen to renowned Oceanographer and ESRI Chief Scientist Dawn Wright, and Frank Davis, Professor, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, UCSB. Come meet our international scholars – some of the most promising conservation activists from around the globe. Come together with like-minded conservation GIS professionals and make life-long friends. Enjoy a guided tour and talk from one of the bay area’s foremost butterfly experts and hear how climate change is impacting the micro-climates that make up butterfly habitat. Come to our famous live AUCTION to benefit the scholars, enjoy beach walks, bonfires, and a beautiful California State Park. And don’t miss the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium!

Ecological Systems in the Anthropocene | Harvard University Center for the Environment


The Harvard University Center for the Environment presents the latest installment of the Ecological Systems in the Anthropocene Seminar Series:

“Poverty Traps, Resilience and Coupled Human-Natural Systems” with CHRISTOPHER B. BARRETT, Cornell University.

Christopher B. Barrett is the Deputy Dean and Dean of Academic Affairs at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Professor of Applied Economics and Management and International Professor of Agriculture in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, as well as Professor in the Department of Economics and a Fellow of the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, all at Cornell University. His research focuses on the interrelationship between poverty, food insecurity and environmental stress in developing areas. His most recent book, Food Security and Sociopolitical Stability, highlights the nexus between global food prices and political unrest in low- and middle-income countries.

Weathering: Toward a Sustainable Humanities | Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University


Lecture by Stephanie LeMenager RI ’17

Stephanie LeMenager’s work at the Radcliffe Institute pursues the question of how the humanities can help to shape modes of being human that are more ecologically connected and prepared for living with climate change. She will take the specific problem of drought as a touchstone from which to build out the concept of what she calls “H2O U,” a university dedicated to thinking through the effects of drought on what humanity is and can aspire to become.

Free and open to the public.


Hundreds gather in Copley Square to ‘stand up for science’ – The Boston Globe


Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Scientists, science advocates, and community members rallied in Copley Square in Boston on Sunday.

By Jan Ransom and Cristela Guerra Globe Staff February 19, 2017

Chiamaka Obiolo was ready to start high school at Boston Latin Academy four years ago when she was diagnosed with severe scoliosis. After undergoing a 10-hour-long corrective surgery, the Dorchester teenager had to learn to walk, eat, and dress herself again. She credits science for saving her life.
Obiolo became a climate change activist and was one of nearly a dozen speakers at the Stand Up for Science rally in Copley Square on Sunday, joining hundreds of scientists in white lab coats and supporters to protest President Trump’s efforts to discredit science and climate research and dismantle scientific institutions in the government.

“The good news of science is not exclusive to the elite and thus its message must permeate throughout the masses and empower everyone from the youth to the elderly,” Obiolo, an aspiring scientist, told the crowd

…(read more).

“If there had not been research on scoliosis and how to fix it, there would have been no way for me to be treated, and my spine would have continued to curve,” said Obiolo, 17. “I probably would not be alive.”