How San Francisco should really be helping the Philippines

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Devastation like that in the Philippines now will become more common as the oceans warm.
Ted Aljibe/Getty Images

There were a couple good stories in today’s San Francisco Chronicle related to concerns the Guardian and its readers have sounded in recent months: Mayoral appointees blocking CleanPowerSF against the will of the elected Board of Supervisors, and the massive scale of the proposed Warriors Arena, which is now getting slightly downsized.

It was getting a little lonely beating the drum over the anti-democratic actions of the Mayor Ed Lee and his minions to undermine the only plan San Francisco has to substantially decrease its greenhouse gas emissions and meet its own ambitious goals for addressing climate change. Glad to see the Chronicle turn up the heat, at least in its news section (unlike the neocon neanderthals that write the paper’s editorials).

While the mainstream media sometimes does good work, it usually fails to connect the dots, which is an important journalistic function. So if I would find fault with the otherwise solid and long overdue story by reporters Marisa Lagos and David R. Baker, it would be with its failure to note that CleanPowerSF is really the only plan for seriously addressing climate change, which is one of the biggest and most impactful challenges we face.

This morning on KQED’s Forum, while discussing the devastating typhoon that struck the Philippines — one of the strongest ever recorded — they did connect the dots between the severity of that storm and the warming oceans of the world, albeit in fairly detached and non-urgent way.

So please allow me to connect another dot.

“Our hearts go out to all of those who have suffered in the Philippines from possibly the world’s strongest storm. The people of the Philippines are in our thoughts and prayers today, and we will continue to support them in the days and months ahead as we learn the true impact caused by Typhoon Haiyan,” Mayor Lee said Friday in a prepared statement sent to the media. “San Francisco stands ready to aid in the rebuilding and recovery efforts. The work of rebuilding communities begins immediately, and San Francisco understands how important a sustained, vigorous recovery effort is. Our City stands ready with the Bay Area Filipino-American community to assist today and into the future to help in the rebuilding efforts in the Philippines.”

What he didn’t mention was climate change. While it’s great that San Franciscans stand ready to address the effects of this and other natural disasters — which all the global warming models show will become stronger and more frequent — why aren’t we willing to show more leadership in addressing the root cause of this problem?

Instead of collaborating with developers on ever more ambitious schemes to build expensive buildings on a waterfront that will already be challenged by rising seas, the Mayor’s Office should be channeling its energies into making San Francisco a role model for other 21st century cities to follow.

The real challenges that we and other cities around the world face now are how to address poverty, the energy and transportation needs of a growing population, and a planet in peril; instead, this Mayor’s Office is focused on poaching Oakland’s basketball team and building more housing for the 1 percent.

If Mayor Lee is serious about the sympathies he’s expressing for vulnerable populations in the developing world, then he and allies should do more than send care packages when they are devastated by the byproducts of the wasteful and overly consumptive economic policies that they are promoting.  

Comments

blaming that on any alleged global warming is a stretch. In fact, one unerringly tedious thing about the global warming mob (and god knows, there are enough of them) is this tendency they have to blame everything on global warming.

Meanwhile, this whole green power thing has been a con from the start. Unlike public power, which the voters have always rejected, this was an end-run around the voters, and the Supervisors should not have done that just because they can. Heck, you can't pick and choose i.e. go to the people with 8-Wash and then credibly disenfranchise the voters with the Shell-scam.

The people don't want this and Ed Lee knows that, so I am sympathetic to him for his passive-aggressive deceleration of green power. I can only support green power if the voters have a say, so let's do that. and stop using every tragedt at home and abroad as some faux justification of geophysical extremism

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

Yes, typhoons happen, but this is this the worst one on record. And we know that typhoons get stronger and more frequent as the oceans warm, which allows more of their energy to be transferred into driving winds and rain. This is a real problem, directly connected to the choices humans are making, more real than the misleading attacks on public power that PG&E sponsors with overwhelming amounts of ratepayer money whenever the topic comes up.  

Posted by steven on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

I want to see proof of causation, and not just a few coincidences or alleged correlations.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

Having lived in the Philippines, for several years, during a typhoon, I feel that global warming is making them worse.

The best way to help stop this climate collapse, is for each city to pass a solar feed-in tariff policy that requires PG&E to pay anyone who feeds solar onto the grid $0.49 kwh.

This is how Europe has banned nukes & fracking, by displacing nukes & gas with solar.
It works, because it has also created over a million new solar jobs in Europe.

We have to do something. Tomorrow, Japan will try to remove the 1,300 fuel rods from Fukushima #4. This will take 20 days.
What will happen if another Super storm hits during the delicate operation?

As for the Shell-scam, I agree with you 100%. Shell is now asking for $1 billion to build a solar farm in the desert. No way. We won't pay Shell $1 billion.
How many zero's in a billion?

Posted by Paul Kangas on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:09 am

...to build renewables and efficiency quickly because of its collective customer financing capacity.

There is so much misinformation in almost all of the newspaper reports about CleanPowerSF that most readers simply don't understand how it works and why it is so important.

Community Choice law does one very simple thing; it allows the electricity customers in a city or region to all group together their buying power as a cooperative, so that they can get much stronger buying power and economies of scale in in buying and building clean energy and efficiency installations.

That's it. That's what the law does.

It is this far more robust buying power that makes it possible to issue large scale bonds for building hundreds of megawatts of installations very quickly so that the city can replace 50% of its electricity use with clean sources within the next decade. No other mechanism under California law makes this kind of rapid switch possible.

(And of course it will be professional contractors with lots of experience who will install these clean energy and efficiency facilities for the City.)

So it is fact, quite true, that opposing CleanPowerSF is worse than climate indifference.

Opposing CleanPowerSF is outright attacking the best method San Francisco has to switch to clean electricity quickly enough to help reverse the climate crisis in a real way.

Mayor Lee and his lead staff are corrupt puppets of PG&E who are single-handedly blocking CleanPowerSF from being launched, for no other reason than to protect PG&E's monopoly and profits.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:11 pm

I'm not even close to surprised that Steven T. Jones would use a natural disaster to attack Mayor Lee.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

I'm not even close to surprised that the same conservatives who attack progressives for paying attention to foreign issues, are silent when their idol Ed Lee does it.

The Comical was vicious in attacking Chris Daly when he wanted to help disaster victims in 2009 (in places like the Philippines, among others). But now they're silent. The same people attacking Chris Daly are praising Ed Lee for doing the same. Their hypocrisy knows no limits.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

we should have a presence in global affairs is laughable.

Ed Lee needs to fix the streets and build more homes and create more jobs. Foreign aid is the job of the federal government.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

Not this time.

This editorial is a complete fail. Over 10,000 people dead - maybe not the best jumpoff for the daily Ed Lee bashing? Duh.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

Remember how Oracle and Lee killed that British AC sailor?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

that Steve was so worked up over.

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

if it can be parlayed into an attack on the mayor with a 65% approval rating.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

There may or may not be a direct connection between human activity and the typhoon. That is best left to the climatologists and related scientists to analyze.

But the very last thing that the Filipinos need is for someone to take their suffering and use it to score cheap political points against the Mayor of San Francisco.

It is beyond silly and absurd, it also works against both the immediate suffering and it degrades the debate on climate change.

So read what Steven Jones says, shake your head, feel a bit sorry for him and the movement that he claims to speak for, laugh if you must, and then go on to read meaningful, well researched material on the typhoon and the overall context of climate.

But there is nothing for you here except juvenile cheap shots that make no sense.

Posted by Adrienne on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

It was really just a cheap shot at our popular mayor, dressed up as concern about the city;s lack of housing.

He was ridiculed just as merciless for that as well. But it would be better sport if he wasn't so transparent about it.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

The Philippines would clearly not have been hit like that if we had purchased those credits from Shell.

I don't see how anyone could argue otherwise.

Ed Lee has a lot of blood on his hands.

Thanks for the typical great work, Steven.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

don't we all?

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

Political points are valued by politicians, not me. I'm raising important issues because that's what journalists do, calling out sanctimonious politicians who would rather issue statements of concern than do the hard work of creating a better world for future generations. When politicians send out press statements expressing sympathy for victims of tragedies, that doesn't help anyone. That's the real cheap shot, using a tragedy to make it seem like you care about people. But really caring about people involves using your power to try to help them, and I can't think of a better way for politicians today to help billions of vulnerable people around the world than taking immediate steps to address climate change. Instead, our mayor is doing just the opposite, sabotaging the work that other people who do care about this issue have done over the last decade. That's appalling, and it's what journalists should be talking about now rather than applauding empty statements of concern. 

Posted by steven on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

which goes all the way back to Brugmann's perverse obsession with that.

The rest of us really do not care who supplies the power. We just want the power to come on and for it to be cheap.

You hate PG&E, you hate Lee and you don't give a flying crap about the typhoon victims. .

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

You mean like a headline about helping the people of the Philipines...

...for a piece that just attacks the Mayor of San Francisco?

You mean that type of empty statement of concern, Steven?

Guess what...you don't have the answer to global warming, you just think that you do. It is going to take people a lot smarter than you to figure out the best way to go forward.

Just because someone don't think that CleanPowerSF is the way to go doesn't mean that they are not concerned about climate change.

You're just lucky that nobody reads the pathetic drivel that you publish in the Guardian. And if I was a Progressive I would be really pissed about how you have turned this platform into a laughing stock.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

...to build renewables and efficiency quickly because of its collective customer financing capacity.

There is so much misinformation in almost all of the newspaper reports about CleanPowerSF that most readers simply don't understand how it works and why it is so important.

Community Choice law does one very simple thing; it allows the electricity customers in a city or region to all group together their buying power as a cooperative, so that they can get much stronger buying power and economies of scale in in buying and building clean energy and efficiency installations.

That's it. That's what the law does.

It is this far more robust buying power that makes it possible to issue large scale bonds for building hundreds of megawatts of installations very quickly so that the city can replace 50% of its electricity use with clean sources within the next decade. No other mechanism under California law makes this kind of rapid switch possible.

(And of course it will be professional contractors with lots of experience who will install these clean energy and efficiency facilities for the City.)

So it is fact, quite true, that opposing CleanPowerSF is worse than climate indifference.

Opposing CleanPowerSF is outright attacking the best method San Francisco has to switch to clean electricity quickly enough to help reverse the climate crisis in a real way.

Mayor Lee and his lead staff are corrupt puppets of PG&E who are single-handedly blocking CleanPowerSF from being launched, for no other reason than to protect PG&E's monopoly and profits.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:47 am

A block of ice just below the freezing point is far above absolute zero, so it actually contains plenty of heat. Can we take advantage of this to boil a pot of water, by setting it down on a block of ice?

Expecting an ambient heat engine to do any work, with only one heat reservoir, is exactly equivalent to expecting a teapot to boil water by absorbing heat from a block of ice.

Both processes are ruled out by the very same law - the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

An ambient heat engine, with only one heat reservoir, would not merely "circumvent" the Second Law of Thermodynamics - it would actually DISPROVE the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

An engine that only uses ambient heat would need to be able to DECREASE the entropy of the universe. The Second Law tells us that we can never decrease the entropy of the universe, or of an isolated system.

As a consequence of this law:

"It is impossible for any device operating on a cycle to produce net work from a single temperature reservoir; the production of net work requires flow of heat from a hotter reservoir to a colder reservoir."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy#Second_law_of_thermodynamics

In a strictly ambient heat engine there are not two heat reservoirs at different temperatures; no reservoir would be available at any temperature other than the ambient temperature. No matter what cycle we design with this constraint, we will find that the cycle would have to be able to decrease the entropy of the universe in order to do any work.

The Second Law tells us that we can never build an engine that does some work with heat taken from a heat reservoir, without also transferring some heat to another reservoir at a lower temperature.

An equivalent statement is that we can't decrease the total entropy of an isolated system.

The entropy change differential due to heat transfer to or from a reservoir is inversely related to the temperature at which the transfer occurs. The consequence is that transferring heat INTO a cold reservoir produces a larger GAIN in entropy, than the LOSS of entropy that occurs due to transfer of the same amount of heat FROM a hot reservoir. This noteworthy and remarkable inequality enables a heat engine to use some heat to do some work without violating the Second Law - as long as it can make use of two different heat reservoirs, at different temperatures. The ambient-heat-powered engine only involves a single reservoir, at a single temperature (at any given moment). Use of heat from the single reservoir would reduce the entropy of the reservoir, and with no colder reservoir, the engine has no way to compensate by increasing the entropy anywhere else. Therefore we know for certain that the engine will disappoint us. It will never be able to do any work.

Flow of heat from a block of ice to lukewarm water would also result in a DECREASE of the total entropy. To repeat, this is because the entropy change differential due to heat transfer to or from a reservoir is inversely related to the temperature at which the transfer occurs. Therefore the LOSS of entropy by the ice would be greater than the GAIN in entropy by the warm water, resulting in an overall decrease in entropy.

Once again: Expecting an ambient heat engine to do any work, with only one heat reservoir, is exactly equivalent to expecting a teapot to boil water by absorbing heat from a block of ice. Anyone who claims to be developing a "prototype" of such an engine is only developing a pretense, and nothing more.

http://physicsreviewboard.wordpress.com/aesop-institute-s-purely-ambient...

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

Hey - how do you explain the lack of hurricanes in the Atlantic this year Steven?

Oh, I forgot. Less hurricanes is a sign of global warming. More hurricanes is a sign of global warming. Normal amount of hurricanes is a sign of global warming.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

"If Mayor Lee is serious about the sympathies he’s expressing for vulnerable populations in the developing world [sic], then he and allies should do more than send care packages when they are devastated by the byproducts of the wasteful and overly consumptive economic policies that they are promoting."

He's not serious. It's feel-good, bull shit hot air propaganda, as usual with that piece of work. If he were serious, he would start HERE by taking care of the homeless we have in San Francisco rather than making pejorative comments about getting them out of the city parks at nights.

I have a problem with this "developing world" language. It sounds smug and elitist (and I know Steven is not smug or elitist at all). I'm tired of hearing other places on the planet referred to as: First World, Third World, etc. Many places in the US now look like (what people call) "Third World" these days, speaking of the "developing world." People from Europe who have visited here recently have remarked about that in their online comments. Yet many places in what people call "The Third World" are more modern and advanced than we are in the US. Just do a bit of international travelling and one will understand that. I think it's time to end this rhetoric about: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth (or whatever number it is) World. We're all on the planet together IN ONE WORLD regardless, and most people think they live in "The Best Country," although I'm not one of them when it comes to the US.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

why should rich nations help them out? If they are affluent and fully developed, they can fix their own mess like we did with Katrina and Sandy.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

the bong here come some deep thoughts.

Posted by stoned drop out on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

All this PC stuff about not calling the third world the third world.

Gimme a freaking break already.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

Steven's reply reeks of first-world elitism. He's become the progressive Marie Antoinette. While Filipinos scream for relief and the US Navy offers temporary housing Steven counsels San Franciscans to drive less in response and castigates the mayor for not achieving carbon emission reductions - as if San Francisco's tiny drop in the bucket makes all the difference to people in real immediate need of food and shelter.

You really have to admit it - Steven has scaled new heights of demagoguery with this piece. It's not only mean-spirited but also incredibly elitist and first world-centric and all without trying because Steven actually believes this shit.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

slap down his most outrageous hyperbole and faux pas. But know the lunatic is running the asylum, and we are routinely treated to incredulous reasoning like this.

Just goes to show that white liberals can go too far in seeking to assuage their misplaced shame and guilt.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

In the past when Steven would write something stupid there was a senior editor who might counsel him to cool it a bit.

But look at this mess...now Steven is now writing that the city's Asian-American Mayor does not sincerely care about the suffering going on in the Philippines.

There must be somebody that Steven can go and talk to after he does something stupid because, left to his own devices, he only makes things worse.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

O-K. But then he could give a rats ass if Asians are getting evicted... even if their name is Lee!

I just think it's odd that when Chris Daly tried to help the city, everyone attacked him mercilessly. Now these same people are defending Ed Lee and attacking anyone who points out the cynicism of it all.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 7:13 pm

"When Chris Daly tried to get the city to help with foreign disaster relief" is what I meant to say.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 10:02 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:45 am

I'm not defending the eviction of the Asian family. I'm condemning it.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

you routinely hate on Asians because they do not fit your stereotype of non-whites being victims.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

Why don't we listen to what Filipinos have to say about this tragedy then. Watch Philippine delegate Naderev Sano's heart-wrenching speech to the UN climate change conference this week and then tell me how care packages and your statements of sympathy are more important that taking meaningful actions to address climate change. Or is he just exploiting his country's tragedy for political points as well?
As to why I called out Lee, he is the one person solely responsible for blocking San Francisco's only serious attempt to substantially reduce our carbon output, a plan developed by people who know more about this issue than me or y'all. The apathy and cynicism expressed in response to my post is telling. San Francisco could be creating a model program that cities around the world could adopt, but you'd all rather just tap witticisms into your expensive electronic gadgets.

Posted by Steven T. Jones on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:31 am

trying to guilt the west into giving more, by claiming it is "all our fault".

There were typhoons in that area before humans discovered fire.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:46 am

Sano was obviously an A-student in the Ray Nagin school of crying like a bitch when you should be leading.

Posted by Chromefields on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:40 am

The pro CleanpowerSF side seems to like to make the argument that anyone who doesn't like their plan is clearly indifferent to the hazards of climate change, man made or otherwise.

Someone can honestly feel that the best way to go is NOT for every small population center to build their own infrastructure, knowing that they have zero experience or expertise in doing so. And that any gains in one small population center could easily be offset in another. Even if it was successful, CleanPowerSF might do nothing more that create a smug pleasing feeling for some San Franciscans.

Responsible journalists have pointed out the alarming lack of detail in the CleanpowerSF plan. But it is easier, I guess, to just use demagoguery against them.

Not everyone is as sophomoric as Steven Jones (a real journalist would have known that he/she needed to wait at least a few days before exploiting the tragedy) but you do see similar actions, even from more sophisticated writers with real followings.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:09 am

...to build renewables and efficiency quickly because of its collective customer financing capacity.

There is so much misinformation in almost all of the newspaper reports about CleanPowerSF that most readers simply don't understand how it works and why it is so important.

Community Choice law does one very simple thing; it allows the electricity customers in a city or region to all group together their buying power as a cooperative, so that they can get much stronger buying power and economies of scale in in buying and building clean energy and efficiency installations.

That's it. That's what the law does.

It is this far more robust buying power that makes it possible to issue large scale bonds for building hundreds of megawatts of installations very quickly so that the city can replace 50% of its electricity use with clean sources within the next decade. No other mechanism under California law makes this kind of rapid switch possible.

(And of course it will be professional contractors with lots of experience who will install these clean energy and efficiency facilities for the City.)

So it is fact, quite true, that opposing CleanPowerSF is worse than climate indifference.

Opposing CleanPowerSF is outright attacking the best method San Francisco has to switch to clean electricity quickly enough to help reverse the climate crisis in a real way.

Mayor Lee and his lead staff are corrupt puppets of PG&E who are single-handedly blocking CleanPowerSF from being launched, for no other reason than to protect PG&E's monopoly and profits.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:39 am

Well, I think we can all agree (according to the logic of this article) that it is the fault of everyday American citizens who are directly responsible for the tragedy and horrific post-storm aftermath in the Philippines.

After all, the daily energy consumption of each American is a whopping 100,000+ calories (as measured in heat/energy units). And as there were fatalities involved,
then Americans must pay.

Starting w/ chardonnay-sipping, Mercedes-driving, private-jet-flying Californians (as they are the likeliest suspects, closest to the Philippines; Hawaii is of course exempt as they are all non-whites).

Al Gore would be a good start, the best choice to be made an example of.

Blood must be paid w/ Blood.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

I guess nature really does abhor a vacuum.

Maybe Steven can point us to the computer model that explains why the globe hasn't warmed in 16 years, despite CO2 concentrations continuing to rise.

Next: Steven berates the cooling climate for not being progressive enough.

Posted by Chromefields on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:10 am

wasn't actually warming, they tried to change the name to "climate change" so that they could use that as the "explanation" for any weather-related change.

And since weather is always changing, by definition, they never met a weather event that wasn't "proof" of global warming.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:25 am

in order to diminish the impact of discussion about the climate crisis

here's the memo:

http://www.motherjones.com/files/LuntzResearch_environment.pdf

Posted by blkdjfgo on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

But I'm glad to see you understand how the GOP generate ideas and the lefties then steal them.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

progressives and environmentalists continue to label the crisis with terms like "global warming" and "climate crisis"

you clearly don't know what the fuck you are talking about

Posted by kjdfhk on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

I don't care what you call it and I don't believe a word of it.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

in a debate

tell us

have you spotted any UN black helicopters lately?

Posted by blihdro on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:41 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

Not in favor of Warriors in SF. It’s a form of urban bullying for a much more affluent city to snatch a team from another city that could really use the revenue (i.e.. Oakland). Let’s spread the wealth around, and stop being so selfish! BART goes right to the Coliseum/Arena. MUNI has not been able to deal with Giants’ games’ traffic/transit effectively (how long have you had to wait in the neighborhoods for the N Judah on game days?)Luxury suites, less seating overall, greater population of affluents = higher seat prices–just like AT&T Park. Great for owners, lousy for average income fans. Stay in Oakland!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

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