On King Coal’s Return, Plus a Music Playlist

Lately, news reports have broadcast alarming images of extreme flooding in parts of Asia and extreme drought across Europe. Pakistan has 7,000 glaciers, the most of any country outside the polar regions. These glaciers are melting, which is one of the reasons (along with a particularly wet summer monsoon season) that a third of a country of 225 million people is now believed to be under water. In Pakistan, the climate impact has been amplified by the disastrous effects of rampant deforestation.

Elsewhere… Europe is going through what would be its worst period of drought for half a millennium. Both of these extremes can be attributed in part to advancing global warming. Apart from the impact on people and on economic life, droughts also have strange side effects, because the (paywall) Washington Post daily newsletter recently stated:

….Falling water levels in a Serbian stretch of the Danube, Europe’s second largest river, surfaced

a flotilla of Nazi-era German warships that were still loaded with munitions and unexploded ordnance.

And further:

A submerged 1st-century AD Roman bridge likely built on the orders of Emperor Nero emerged from the Tiber River last month; further north, out of the depths of Lake Como crowded with Italian tourists, emerged a 100,000 year old skull of a deer and the ancient remains of lions, hyenas and rhinos.

And in addition:

Scorching temperatures left the Iberian Peninsula drier

than at any time in the past 1,200 years. In Spain, parched riverbeds and shrinking reservoirs have exposed a Neolithic monument known as the Spanish Stonehenge, a Roman fortress, a medieval church and a number of newer ‘ghost towns’ that had been abandoned and flooded following dam projects in the 20th century.

And even scarier still:

Europe’s rivers hold bleak omens – receding waters in parts of central Europe have revealed old ‘hunger stones’, markers placed along riverbeds that people from previous centuries left behind as guides to previous droughts. A stone that emerged from the Elbe read“When it collapses, life will become more colorful again.”

It’s apocalyptic. However, there is one final twist. Droughts fueled by global warming are eroding one of the main forms of renewable energy – hydropower – that has the potential to save us from further global warming. To fill energy gaps, coal production is being brought back into service, even though we all know the links between King Coal and global warming. Alas, none of this is stopping Australians:

The controversial Adani Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland has moved into commercial production, just as soaring coal and power prices drive up ASX power sector profits ….

Shipments of Carmichael coal to international markets have become a regular occurrence…as the mine safely and efficiently ramps up its level of built production…Carmichael mine ramps up to export in the range of 10 million tonnes per year …

The same story has been going on for months in Europe. The coal industry is not only a beneficiary of the drought conditions, but also of the war in Ukraine:

….Plans include relying more on operational coal and lignite units, recommissioning mothballed coal plants in an emergency and converting retired gas units to run on coal. The measures are considered temporary, but some [European]
governments warn that they could last a few years.

Supposedly, the increase in coal production will only be a temporary resurrection:

Brussels… insists that greater short-term reliance on coal will not undermine the EU’s longer-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by below 1990 levels by 2030 and become net zero by 2050.

Hmmm. At this stage of the fight against global warming, can we really afford to take a few steps back and still hope to catch up later? Barely.

Bad week on the rise

While Labor is not good, the very bad week is coming to an end – thank God it’s Friday! – it is staggering how much of the carnage has been self-inflicted. All this, in fact. The big Kiwibank GST fee fiasco has squandered a golden opportunity to put the government on good terms with the public and with small Kiwisaver suppliers – and against big Australian-owned bank suppliers and their party accomplices national. Yet, through a fatal combination of political timidity and excessive ingenuity, Labor has managed to portray itself as a predator, preying on the nest egg of ordinary Kiwis. How the hell did the People’s Champion end up looking like Scrooge McDuck?

If that hellish 24-hour policy you activate on Kiwisaver fees wasn’t bad enough, the ghost of Poto Williams’ time as police minister has also come back to haunt Labour. It appears that the $6 million compensation fund for dairy owners affected by the raid victims (and touted by Williams in May) still remains stuck at the starting gate.

Apparently, there are no disbursements from the fund yet. The reason being that the police are the intermediary in a process of reparation and compensation, and their resources are called upon. The obvious solution would be to allow victims of dairy raids to apply directly to the fund. Currently, this does not appear to be an option.

Chile votes

On Sunday, Chile will vote to accept or reject a draft constitution aimed at burying the last vestiges of the Pinochet era. Next week,
Werewolf will report on the genesis of this inspiring exercise in grassroots collective action. Win or lose on Sunday, the process has been remarkable, and it won’t stop on Sunday.

Currently… While the gap has narrowed in recent days, polls still indicate that the majority of the population will vote to reject the draft constitution. However, even if that particular project fails on Sunday… Political polls last week indicated that a clear majority of Chileans also favor revising and rewriting the current constitution.

Despite the recent election of a centre-left government in Chile. The current constitution remains a relic of the neoliberal economic policies that worked hand in hand with the Pinochet dictatorship. Instead, the new project focuses on social and indigenous rights, the environment and gender parity. But more on that next week.

Werewolf Playlist 21

For weekend listening, here’s a playlist of random new tracks, plus a handful of older cuts. Starting with the older tracks… “Lucklucky” by veteran Vancouver performance artist Veda Hille, was first released in 2008. As she says in the lyrics, we build personal memory networks from the places we live…and if we’re lucky, these physical and psychological maps have begun to give us direction by the time we hit 30.

Earlier this weekrolling stone magazine released its list of top 100 country albums. Number 18 on this list is the Out of Hand album by doomed honkytonk singer, Gary Stewart. Werewolf wrote about Gary Stewart before, and this playlist has a Rodney Crowell song that fits him like a glove. The next track – a country waltz called “Abilene” – is from Plains, a side project by Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee.

New releases – almost everything else on the playlist only released in the last month – tend to be quiet and intense, although the playlist includes “Pivot Signal”, one of Kaitlyn Aurerlia Smith’s most accessible tracks. It’s from Smith’s new album Let’s turn it into sound, which is an excellent starting point for his work. …

EDM track “Sharevari” features a reinterpretation of the early 1980s dance hit by A Number of Names, an electro disco band from Detroit. As for November Ultra, she lives in Paris, has a Spanish mother, a Portuguese father and is a big fan of Frank Ocean. The charming “Come Into My Arms” is from her bedroom walls first album. Ela Minus is a Colombian electronic musician who now lives in New York.

Hayden Durham, the non-binary artist who performs as Hyd, is perhaps known to some as the avatar for the QT concept art project they created in collaboration with AG Cook, (who is the creative director of Charli XCX) and with the late, much-missed music producer known as SOPHIE.

Katie Bejsiuk was the driving force behind Free Cake For Every Creature, but she now uses her own name, and the excellent track “Feels Right” is by her

woman on the moon

album… The playlist starts with a track by Tatyla Parx. She’s an actress/singer who co-wrote tracks for Ariana Grande (“Thank U Next”) Panic at the Disco (“High Hopes”) and Justin Bieber. Here is the playlist:

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