Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Fire Devil

Memorial Day this year was particularly poignant.  There was a keen sense of sadness and regret in the pungent political atmosphere.  By the end of May, in less than 60 days, over 100,000 Americans had their walk on this earth cut short because of the ineptitude of the UNPOTUS.

But days before, on May 25th, George Floyd, a 46 year old Houston raised black man died in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white Florida born police officer who votes Republican by mail in Florida even though he lives in Minnesota, assisted by three other officers, pressed his knee onto the neck of Floyd, depriving Floyd of oxygen to his brain for almost nine minutes while he was handcuffed and lying face down on the street. His pulse was gone by the 8th minute.

It had been reported by a merchant that Floyd passed a bad 20 dollar bill.

Video taken by onlookers was both terrifying and excruciating.

Within days, this video became viral, and with other shootings of innocent black men and women in recent weeks, the spark of outrage found the dry kindling of despair, and the great flames of injustice and anger  arose from the streets and souls of all men and women of conscience.

As the protest spread from Minneapolis to LA, Atlanta, Houston, and DC, peaceful daytime protests morphed into nighttime looting and burning as right wing white power groups sought to infiltrate and exacerbate the anger and tension in order to fulfill their mission of fomenting the coming race war they zealously anticipate.

And then on the 29th, the UNPOTUS pulled his tweeter out.  This from the National Post:

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Friday to stop looters in Minneapolis with deadly military force, after that city weathered a third night of arson and rioting over the police killing of an unarmed black man.

Some congressional Democrats denounced as racist Trump’s Twitter threat, which called the looters “THUGS” and warned “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter for the first time hid the Trump tweet behind a warning banner that accused the president of “glorifying violence.”

Readers could not like or share it either.

As former Republican operative Steve Schmidt said, "never has a leader failed history's test" as this president has.

“He is calling for violence against American citizens during a moment of pain for so many. I’m furious, and you should be too,” Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden said.

U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, one of the most liberal voices in Congress, took a harsher tone: “The Impeached President is a violent white supremacist.

If you don't read German, our allies across the Atlantic at Der Speigal have another name for him.

The Fire Devil.

The translation is: “The Fire Devil: A president sets his country on fire.”

Here in America, cartoonists drew the obvious caricatures of Trump pouring gasoline on a fire. Military Generals, including the former Secretary of Defense have come out from hiding. James Mattis describes him as a threat to the Constitution:

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis writes. “The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.” He goes on, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.

When asked about it, the Republican enablers in the Senate remarked that they were Late for Lunch.

I've been reading a little book called On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder. It's an easy read but hard on the digestion.  In his twenty lessons from the 20th century, he reminds us to Do Not Obey in Advance; To Defend Institutions; to be Wary of Paramilitaries; to Take responsibility for the Face of the World; to Investigate; to Believe in Truth; to Establish a Private Life; to Listen for Dangerous Words, and to Be Calm When the Unthinkable Arrives.

"On Feb 27th, 1933, at about 9:00 PM the building housing the German Parliament, the Reichstag, began to burn.  Gazing with pleasure at the flames that night, Hitler said: "this fire is just the beginning."  The next day a decree suspended the basic rights of all German citizens allowing them to be "preventively detained" by the police.  On the strength of Hitler's claim that the fire was the work of Germany's enemies, the Nazi Party won a decisive victory in the March 5th elections.  On March 23, the new Parliament passed an enabling act, which allowed Hitler to rule by decree. (Clipped)

Germany then remained in a state of emergency for the next 12 years until the end of World War II and the destruction of the regime and much of the World.

So, it's easy to see how the German viewpoint on setting things on fire would have some merit.

Snyder's last chapter is to Be As Courageous As You Can.

We will need to work on that.

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Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Measure of Success

how to use a logarithmic graph to flatten a curve

One of the truly useful sites I have used over the years is Worldometer.  If you are writing a speech and you want to quote how many computers were made that day or that year, or you want to talk about how much energy was used by humankind and how much was given to us by the nuclear reactor located on the other side of Venus and Mercury, this site is for you.  So, you may not know this, but a few weeks ago, somewhere around April 14th, the number of people living here on earth hit 7,777,777,777.

Now I knew this was happening, and being a bit of a numbers nut, I really wanted to see it happen.  I looked at the counter on Sunday and saw that it was 7,777,300,000 something and knew that since humankind grows about 250,000 a day it would be a couple of days yet.  I told my cousin in Seattle that Seven Day was coming, but at that time Seattle was patient ground zero for Covid 19, so I doubt if it made much of an impression on her. Somehow, I missed it by about 100,000.

It took a long time for us to get to a billion folks.  According to Wikipedia:

"It is estimated that the population of the world reached one billion for the first time in 1804. It would be another 123 years before it reached two billion in 1927, but it took only 33 years to rise by another billion people, reaching three billion in 1960. Thereafter, the global population reached four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, six billion in 1999 and, by some estimates, seven billion in October 2011 with other estimates being in March 2012.[3]

It is projected to reach eight billion by 2024–2030.

According to current projections, the world's population is likely to reach around nine billion by 2035–2050, with alternative scenarios ranging from a low of 7.4 billion to a high of more than 10.6 billion.[4]  Long-range predictions to 2150 range from a population decline to 3.2 billion in the 'low scenario', to 'high scenarios' of 24.8 billion."

Obviously, projections vary a lot because of fertility models.  But it also depends on resources too. Most contemporary estimates for the carrying capacity of the Earth under existing conditions are between 4 billion and 9 billion. Depending on which estimate is used, human overpopulation may have already occurred. But using the 9 billion number, we have perhaps 15 years before we reach our so-called carrying capacity.

Perversely, that's about the date when climate change mitigation efforts will need to be in place if we hope to have a chance of avoiding significant disruptions.  It's estimated that about 250,000 humans will lose their lives from Climate Change every year in the very near future. 

This from Live Science:

"In the coming decades, more than a quarter-million people may die each year as a result of climate change, according to a new review study.

In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that climate change would lead to about 250,000 additional deaths each year between 2030 and 2050, from factors such as malnutrition, heat stress and malaria.

But the new review, published Jan. 17 in The New England Journal of Medicine, said this is a "conservative estimate." That's because it fails to take into account other climate-related factors that could affect death rates — such as population displacement and reductions in labor productivity from farmers due to increased heat.

In the last 50 days or so, we have lost almost 250,000 humans to the Pandemic.  On the 2nd of April, I posted on Facebook that if the United States doesn't get its act together, the current global numbers for Covid 19 of 1,000,000 cases and 50,000 deaths will be our numbers before May Day.

Now, 27 days later, the US mortality numbers for April 29th are 1,064,000 cases and almost 62,000 deaths.  Meanwhile,  the models for the future are all over the place.

Yet our leadership spouts this:

"On a day when the nation’s death toll of covid-19 neared 60,000 and 26.5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner called the administration’s response a “great success story."

“The government, federal government rose to the challenge,  and this is a great success story."

I'm wondering what challenge old puss face is referring to.

And what is his measure of success.

For these are not just numbers,

Statistics are people without the tears.

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Monday, March 30, 2020

We Will Survive

There is a story I tell about change;  how most times things just pretty much stay the same.  But then every now and then, things change in a hurry, in the blink of an eye. It's like a scale where you add just one more little weight and then the scale moves completely.

I had mentioned the corona virus in my January "Midnight in Washington" post:

"Meanwhile, the Coronavirus threatens our social welfare  as cities, ships, and travelers become quarantined and markets react with uncertainty. (clip)

"So where do we go from this dark night?

How do we right our ship? (clip)

"As the Poet says, "There is a crack in everything...that's how the light gets in.

Maybe this Unpresident will overplay his hand, maybe the plague will kill his economy, " (clip)

"Maybe frogs will fall from the sky."

If you don't remember the movie, frogs did fall from the sky. In Magnolia, Tom Cruise, Julianna Moore, Philip Seymore Hoffman, Jason Robards, William H Macy, and Aimee Mann's wonderful It's Not Going to Stop song("Wise Up") are the big stars.

You're sure
There's a cure
And you have finally found it
you think
One drink
will shrink you til your're underground
And living down

But it's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Till you wise up.

So the scale has moved at lightening speed. And we all find ourselves in our own Hollywood movie.  The stock market is into bear territory.  Airlines are going broke.  Most restaurants are going broke.  The banks are going to get seriously bent. Real Estate values will suffer. Trillions of Dollars, Euros, and Yen will be created and spent to save our  global economies.

Oh, and the lives.  Oh yes, the lives.  The Dr. lady on the UnPOTUS non-reality TV show who wears the Hermes scarfs just told us that if we are lucky, only 200,000 Americans will die as a result of their deft management.

Meanwhile, the US has surpassed China as the country with the greatest known cases of Covid 19.  Just last week,  the UnPOTUS was talking about restarting the economy on Easter.

Our movie, just like most disaster movies, starts with some national leader not listening to the scientists.  Our leader said just a month ago that the numbers would go to zero by now.  Now he uses the former Hoax Pandemic to supercharge his now afternoon parade of lie seasoned word salad  Orwellian News-speak.

So we have the incompetent malevolent leader, the greedy advisors, the corrupt politicians, the brave first responders,  the stoic doctors, and the legions of nurses and technicians who all seem willing to play their parts.

But where is the hero?  Where is the life saving new drug or vaccination?

Where are the UV bus tunnels that kill the virus?  And to be correct, it can't be killed, it must be destroyed.  This description is going around:

• A virus is not a living organism, but only a molecule of protein (RNA) covered by a protective layer of lipids (fats), that upon being absorbed by ocular, nasal and mouth mucosa cells changes the genetic code of the cells and converts them into aggressor and multiplier cells.

• Since the virus is not a living organism but rather a molecule of protein, it doesn’t die but rather disintegrates on its own. The length of time it takes to disintegrate depends on temperature, humidity and the type of material where it sits.

• The virus is very fragile, the only thing that protects it is a thin external layer of fat. That’s why any soap or detergent is the best remedy because suds break down grease/fats (that’s why you have to suds up for 20 seconds or more in order to make a lot of suds). Once the layer of fat is dissolved, the molecule of protein falls apart and disintegrates on its own.

But what else works?

• Alcohol or any mixture of alcohol at more than 65% will dissolve any grease/fats, especially the outer fat layer of the virus.

• Any mixture of 1 part clorox and 5 parts water dissolve directly the protein, which kills it from the inside.

• Oxidized water can be used besides soap, alcohol, and clorox because peroxide dissolves the protein of the virus, but you have to use it alone and it damages the skin.

ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT on any object where it can land will disintegrate the protein of the virus. For example, it is perfect to disinfect and be able to reuse a mask. UV is damaging to human eyes and skin. (see comment below)

We need new vaccines and we need medicines that work. But we also need to destroy the virus.  That is what the Chinese have done and are doing.

Our public spaces, our homes, and  our work places must be free of this feral RNA.

For our hero may not be a physician, it may be a physicist.

In our movie, we will survive.

But that malevolent leader must go.

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Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Leap

For the last six months, I have been really unhappy with the  selection process for the Ds.  For me, there was only one obvious solution.  The right candidate, in my view, must among other things, get at least those 72,000 votes back from the three blue states that went red on that dreary November evening in 2016.

The right candidate would be an extension of an administration that had saved the country from an R induced Great Recession and provided 8 years of consistent, yet moderate growth.  The right candidate would be in favor of a public option for health. He would be strong on climate change action, and he would be trusted by the large black constituency in the Democratic Party.

I watched almost every debate.  (at least as many as I could stand)

And, in the last year, 28 democrats have joined the presidential marathon and 25 have dropped out.

Here they are:

Many of these aspirants had a lot of promise and promises.

Some of my friends liked O'Rourke because he was young and energetic and used to be in a punk rock band, plus he could skateboard to the Burger King. Most of my adult politically astute friends liked Warren of course.  Our Mayor liked Buttigieg.  My climate change pals liked Inslee even though they had realistic expectations. His reasonably short campaign proved that this process is not rational.

Yang was also one of the rational ones.  He tried to explain that not only do we have problems with the climate, we have problems with robots taking our menial jobs away and we need to understand that giving folks money for being a good cooperative member of society is a good investment.  Otherwise, they might not cooperate some day when they finally have had enough of not enough.

I always wondered why none of us liked Steyer even though he is a pretty good plutocrat.  And toward the end of the month, it became obvious through two debates that Bloomberg was not going to be our savior.  That's a dodged bullet, because if Oligarchs can buy the presidency without even a front man, our democracy would soon find itself on a ventilator.

I liked Bullock, but he needs to run for senate.  (apparently he will)

And I've always liked Bernie.  But he's not a democrat.  He just caucuses with them. And sure, we should join the other civilized nations and provide health care to us all, but then again, we're just not that civilized.

As a former political operative, and just like our unPOTUS, I thought Biden was our ticket to victory at the White House and hopefully in the Senate.  Sure, he looked tired and a little slow in the debates.  And at 77, he should be expected to need a nap from time to time.  But Biden is tough and he's from a state that we lost and should have won.  And with him on the ticket, we should pick up the other two too.

And isn't that what we want?

To Win?

Leading up to Feb 29th, I had almost begun to be a little embarrassed when folks would ask me who I was voting for.  "Biden",  I would say, even though the party, the other party, the media, the Russians, and Biden's campaign staff seem bent on his destruction.

And then, like from nowhere, the senior members of my brunch bunch said they were voting for Biden.  My friday night dinner group announced they were voting for Biden.  Even my partner said she was voting for Biden.

It's as if Obama got on the phone and called a million or so important people.  Or maybe Jim Clyburn and a bunch of other Democrats decided all at once that they didn't want to "feel the Bern" in November.

South Carolina got the message. And one of the greatest comebacks in American history blew though our living rooms and radios on a day that comes only once every four years.

This was no small step, it is a leap.

One that will allow the electorate to rid itself of a troublesome demagogue.

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Friday, January 31, 2020

Midnight in Washington

If you watched or listened to the Impeachment trial of DJT as much as I did, you probably agree that what we are going through in our government, our media, and in our social institutions is historic.  We are watching history walking through our lives in a way that many have never seen.

Not since the 1930's has the American public moved towards the de-evolutionary urges that are found in the current political landscape.  In his closing argument Adam Schiff characterized it as "Midnight in Washington."

Congressman Schiff does his best to awaken the souls of those who will vote their political expediency instead of their moral conscience.  This is history.

But he knows that it is Midnight in Washington.

He knows that the Senate Majority that did not want to bring the testimony of John Bolton into their deliberation is a majority that is not deliberating but instead perseverating.  They are mentally stuck and unable to shift gears.  They repeat and repeat that this impeachment reverses the election even though their VP and their party would still have the White House.  They can't go beyond their own talking points to allow the  light in to see the possibility that their leader has corrupted their party, the executive branch, and the institutions that touch it.

Some would say that the R's are voting out of fear.  If this is true, then we are indeed in a dark time of ignorance....for fear is indeed a scary thing.

This Un-President will take his coming not-guilty verdict next Wednesday and attack everyone and thing that he blames for his richly deserved impeachment.  He will attack Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff.  His sycophants will gather in the White House to laugh and clap at his off color remarks as he basically threatens revenge on all who would stand in opposition to the imbalance that reigns supreme in his infantile ego state.

Meanwhile, the Coronavirus threatens our social welfare  as cities, ships, and travelers become quarantined and markets react with uncertainty. All the while, Climate Change continues to stalk our civilization into a corner brought about by our own inaction and the inherent greed of our economic system.

So where do we go from this dark night?

How do we right our ship?

Is the answer an aging lovable Jewish socialist, a moderate but damaged vice-president, a  super- bright young gay mayor from Indiana who speaks 7 languages, or a energetic female Harvard professor from Oklahoma?  Or is the answer a real oligarch from New York?

As the Poet says, "There is a crack in everything...that's how the light gets in."

Maybe this Unpresident will overplay his hand, maybe the plague will kill his economy, maybe the far right fascist will march with their torches one time too many and light the hearts of  Christians everywhere.

Maybe Frogs will drop out of the sky.

Maybe the Dawn will come.


And here is Mitt Romney Feb 5th, 2020. The first senator ever to vote for impeachment of a president from his own party....THE FIRST

I can run no more
With that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned, they've summoned up
A thundercloud
They're gonna hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in 

Leonard Cohen

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Monday, December 30, 2019

The Trouble

The end of the year cannot be discussed without talking about impeachment.  DJT, the impotus, has finally reached his rightful place in history as only the third president to ever be impeached. If the "R"s are right about anything, it's that this event was seen as necessary from the day he was elected with 3 million less votes than his opponent.  We have arrived here not because of the "D"s, but because of the man himself, and the party and its base that will not put the good of the nation over the power they crave.

So as the world ends another year without significant action on  Climate Change, we focus on the Trouble of our body politic.

Perhaps the most surprising and well crafted speech of the entire process came from  Steny Hoyer, the Majority Leader:

In this speech, Rep Hoyer is the first D that I can remember who responds to the Republican cry that this process reverses the vote of 63,000,000 voters.  "There has been a lot of talk about the  63 million votes for DJT, little talk of the 65,000,000 who voted for Hillary Clinton."

In a clear and slow delivery, Rep. Hoyer crafts a story of the need, indeed the constitutional obligation for the House to pursue impeachment.

Immediately after, Speaker Pelosi announced that she would not send the impeachment articles over to the Senate until she was satisfied that the Senate would do its constitutional duty and hold a fair trial of the evidence.  Only then would she appoint the prosecutors from the house to pursue removal.

A few days later, in the well known Christianity Today,  Editor Mark Galli wrote this equally brilliant and well crafted editorial about DJT:

It’s time to say what we said 20 years ago when a president’s character was revealed for what it was.

"We love and pray for our president, as we love and pray for leaders (as well as ordinary citizens) on both sides of the political aisle.

"Let’s grant this to the president: The Democrats have had it out for him from day one, and therefore nearly everything they do is under a cloud of partisan suspicion. This has led many to suspect not only motives but facts in these recent impeachment hearings. And, no, Mr. Trump did not have a serious opportunity to offer his side of the story in the House hearings on impeachment.

"But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.

"The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused."

Galli goes on to quote from CT regarding their positions regarding President Clinton during his impeachment and then writes:

"To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. 

"If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end? "

Galli closes his argument with this:

"To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence. And just when we think it’s time to push all our chips to the center of the table, that’s when the whole game will come crashing down. It will crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel. And it will come crashing down on a nation of men and women whose welfare is also our concern."

Of course, those who still embrace this gross immoral president, clamored back.

But new subscriptions at Christianity Today have outweighed cancellations by 2 to 1.  And that is the ratio we will need in the Senate to rid this nation of this trouble.

But it won't end.

Not while the Russians are running the "R"s.

And the "R"s are running Red.

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Saturday, November 30, 2019

A Death We Can Survive

It occurred to me just recently that the world's inability to actually respond to the climate change emergency should not be considered odd or irrational or perhaps even insane. Rather, it is the natural response of any organism that upon understanding that some day it will die, uses it's creative power to manage that understanding.

Humans especially.

We have learned that in order to keep the thought of our impending demise from destroying our ability to enjoy the life that we have, we as the mafia phrase goes, "Forget About It".  We forget about it by inventing a belief system that we don't really die, but rather, we will translate our consciousness into another realm called heaven or the happy hunting ground or wherever.  Or, we will add our life of experience into a soul field that will reincarnate into another individuated life form at some future time.  Clearly, our rational fear of death brings about arguably irrational belief systems and behaviors.

Few of us are able to make the knowledge of our mortal end an ally in our path through this field of light and time.  Making death an ally is a rare trait and gift.

And so it is true of the knowledge of the death of our civilization, at least as we know it.  Some of us simply ignore it, some of us come up with elaborate schemes to marginalize its reality, some believe that the same God that will take them to heaven will handle it without their active response to deal with it.

Death, whether individual or civilizational is a tough thing to digest.  Yet, most of us go to doctors when we get sick.  Some of us go to our doctors early and do what we should to avoid sickness.  Many of us eat less meat, avoid fatty fast foods, and get enough sleep so our bodies can repair themselves as we rest. We do this to remain healthy.

Some of us do something similar with our world body.  We go to city council meetings, we march every now and then, and some of us go to large global meetings sponsored by the UN or C 40.  This from the Guardian:

"The World's governments will meet in Madrid this December to discuss the climate emergency, it has been confirmed, after a last minute intervention by the Spanish government to save the talks.

The Conference had been set to take place in Santiago, Chile, but the government of President Sebastian Pinera decided on Wednesday to call it off because of the unrest in the capital.  Scores of people have been killed and injured in weeks of rioting over economic inequality and social problems.

After Chile withdrew, there was concern that the annual talks might have to be scaled down, postponed or even abandoned.

However, on Friday afternoon, the UN's top official on climate change, Patricia Espinosa, issued a terse statement that COP 25 would go ahead on the original dates, 2-13 December, but in Madrid.

Scientific warnings have become increasingly insistent that time is running out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stave off the worst damages of global heating. But international negotiation under the UN have been slow and plagued by upsets and backsliding, such as the US plans to withdraw from the Paris agreement, Brazil's rejection of its commitments by President Jair Bolsonaro, and the rise of political populism in other regions."

The big thing at these talks is to try to come up with the most rational and fair approach that the governmental community can devise to account for the rather large reality that in the world economic system right now, it is legal to emit chemicals and climate changing gases into our common air without paying a tax or a fine or even a tipping fee.  Imagine a city where everyone simply discharges their human waste right on the street.  You don't have to imagine it in some cities today.

Should we limit CO2 emissions by country or by per capita?  China may emit the most with their large population, but in terms of per capita emissions, each Chinese citizen emits 5 tons of carbon while each American is responsible for almost 20 tons.

Political strategies range from a carbon tax to carbon trading to carbon sequestrations and combinations of them all.  Given that the Madrid Conference is sponsored by large, yet progressive energy companies like Iberdrola, it's not hard to imagine that progress will be at least slow.

But the world's scientists are telling us that this is an emergency.

Yet, I believe that most of us don't consider it that way.  It's more like death.

It's inevitable.  And there's not much we can do about it.

Or perhaps will do about it.

For example, if you know that the climate change emergency is real and you don't drive an electric car right now, you are missing an opportunity to show yourself, your family, and your friends that you  really do care about our world body...that you understand that only electric driving can be powered by carbon free electric power plants.

That the horsepowered world we have known for 100 years will and must pass on.

It will be a death we can survive.

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