Earth Day 2070, for good or ill

This Is Insane

National Geographic.April 2020
National Geographic.April 2020
The National Geographic had a “flip” magazine issue for Earth Day. Where will we be in 2070? Will we have saved the world? Or will we destroy the planet?

Based on the past three years, I am pessimistic. The current regime has rolled back vehicle emission standards and the Clean Power Plan. It has appointed a former coal lobbyist to lead the EPA, who replaced a guy equally unqualified. Scientifically inaccurate information about climate change is regularly inserted into scientific reports.

Regularly, court cases break down protections. For instance, in March, toxic copper sulfide mining in the watershed of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was permitted.

The effects of climate change appears everywhere we look. Fires are pervasive in Australia, California, Siberia and elsewhere. In fact, “wildfires in California today burn 500 percent more land per year than they did in 1972.” We’re also seeing devastating hurricanes such as Harvey, Dorian, and Maria.

Yet, and ‘Holy Crap This Is Insane’: Citing Coronavirus Pandemic, EPA Indefinitely Suspends Environmental Rules. “The EPA uses this global pandemic to create loopholes for destroying the environment.” The regime indeed has “issued a total suspension of enforcement of environmental laws, announcing that companies will no longer need to meet environmental standards during the outbreak. The EPA has set no end date to the policy.”

That was the absolute wrong takeaway. What would happen if the world reacted to climate change like it’s reacting to the coronavirus? In spite of some failures in addressing the pandemic, we’d be going in the right direction.

COVID and the environment

Some semi-good news: Could COVID-19 Spell the End of the Fracking Industry as We Know It? “Seven of the most active companies involved in fracking in Texas have already cut $7.6 billion from their budgets as a response to the oil price collapse.”

And some actual good news from the Boston Globe: Amid coronavirus pandemic, air pollution declines in Boston and elsewhere. It’s an antidote to the cooped up, post-COVID-19 world: a walk or run to get some sun and breathe the spring air. And yes, it’s no illusion born of captivity, the air is actually fresher.

“Pollution — in a remarkably short time — has abated. In the past few weeks, satellite measurements have found that emissions from cars, trucks, and airplanes have declined in metropolitan Boston by about 30 percent, while overall carbon emissions have fallen by an estimated 15 percent.

“Such a sudden drop has few precedents in the modern era, a testament to the scale of societal disruption caused by the virus.”

Do we really need a pandemic to make our planet less polluted by Earth Day 2070? If so, what does that say about us?

1619 to eight encouraging minutes

I need SOMETHING to hold onto

It’s very easy for me to become discouraged about issues of race and ethnicity in America. Every once in a while, I say, “Ooo, I like that!”

HISTORY

1619.first Africans in VA
Both the New York Times and National Geographic have extensive pieces on the year 1619, 400 years ago, when “enslaved Africans first arrived in Virginia.”

A New York Times magazine article suggests America Wasn’t a Democracy Until Black Americans Made It One, by working towards its 1776 ideals. It’s a slow process: Here’s, for instance, the shameful story of how one million black families have been ripped from their farms.

Meanwhile, their U.S. roots date back centuries, but some Latinos still wonder if it’s enough.

Check out the funny-if-it-weren’t-so-pathetic When The U.S. Government Tried To Replace Migrant Farmworkers With High Schoolers.

NOW

It’s to a point where most Latinos now say it’s gotten worse for them in the U.S.

This Week Tonight with John Oliver unpacks Bias In Medicine, based on both gender and race.

Voter suppression is as alive now as it was in the 1960s and earlier.

The conservative Foreign Policy suggests that white supremacists want a dirty bomb, and the regime “is letting them get dangerously close to acquiring one.” It’s no surprise that the Department of Justice HID a 2018 report on white supremacy and domestic terrorism.

When you talk about these things, those who disagree accuse you of just being PC. It has become “a rhetorical reflex.”

AND YET

I watch the Vlogbrothers’ four-minute videos a lot, and it’s not just because their surnames are Green. The authors have an outsized influence on their online community of Nerdfighters.

I was surprised and pleased when John talked about How I (barely) Passed 11th Grade English, which includes a paean to Toni Morrison. Then Hank responded in …Not My Proudest Moment, which was eerily similar in some respects. In both cases, they acknowledged their privilege and part of that was a result of their skin color.

Undoubtedly I’ve said before that I LOVE it when white people talk about white privilege. When black and brown people talk about it, too often it falls onto deaf ears.

I KNOW it’s a small thing, in the grand scheme of four centuries of racialism in what we now call the United States. Still, I need SOMETHING to hold onto, some sliver that it’s getting better, not worse.

My Ancestral Journey, part 1

The National Geographic had its Genographic (their word) kits on sale and I bought one, registered it, mailed it back, and in about eight weeks got some results.

My ancestors are from:
Western Africa 52%
Northwestern Europe 21%
Eastern Europe 11%
Northeastern Europe 7%
Italy & Southern Europe 3%
South China Sea 2%
Central Africa 2%

My paternal line, in the main, stayed in Africa longer than my maternal line, it appears.

My first reference population, i.e, the obvious comparable, is African-American.

Western Africa 65%
Central Africa 15%
Northwestern Europe 12%
Southern Africa 8%

My second reference population is Bermudan; i.e., “This population is based on samples collected from mixed populations living in Bermuda. The percentages shown here reflect Bermuda’s vast racial diversity, including Africans brought during the slave-trading era (West and central Africa, as well as Southern Africa) and European and Asian colonists and workers (Great Britain and Ireland, Western and Central Europe, and Southern Asia). In addition, some Native Americans were sent as slaves to Bermuda in the 17th century, accounting for the small Native American ancestry. Bermuda had no indigenous inhabitants when Europeans first arrived in the 16th century.”

Western Africa 54%
Northwestern Europe 17%
Central Africa 11%
Southern Africa 9%
North America & Andes 5%
Southwestern Europe 4%

I’m a surprised by the eastern Europeans in my ancestral journey. I grew up in a primarily Slavic part of Binghamton, NY, but don’t know of any intermarriage there. And northeast Europe, which appears to be Finland and the Baltic states, I totally didn’t see coming.

I’m also 0.9% Neanderthal, compared with 1.3% for the average person they tested. “Everyone living outside of Africa today has a small amount of Neanderthal in them, carried as a living relic of these ancient encounters. A team of scientists comparing the full genomes of the two species concluded that most Europeans and Asians have approximately 2 percent Neanderthal DNA. Indigenous sub-Saharan Africans have none, or very little Neanderthal DNA because their ancestors did not migrate through Eurasia.”

Here’s the summary.

I was so interested in the results that I’ve now done the Ancestry.com test, which, I’m gathering, will be even more specific. I’ll get the results in six to eight weeks.