Category Archives: environmental news

Here is your ‘national emergency,’ Mr. President

Donald Trump keeps yapping and yammering about the “national emergency” he insists is occurring on our nation’s southern border.

I continue to doubt that such an emergency actually exists. I do know of an actual emergency that the president and his fellow Republicans keep ignoring.

It involves climate change, the meteorological condition known formerly as global warming. That emergency is real. It’s occurring 24/7. It is bringing harm to Earth, the only planet we are able to inhabit.

Here is a bit of good news. The Democratically controlled U.S. House of Representatives today had an actual hearing to discuss climate change. It was the first such hearing in about eight years. The GOP has controlled the House and it decided that climate change was a phony issue. It’s a “hoax,” as Donald Trump prefers to call it.

It’s not a hoax. It’s real. It is posing an existential threat to our coastal regions. It is putting our polar wildlife in dire peril. Polar ice caps are melting, creating a significant loss of hunting habitat in the Arctic for polar bears.

The hearings in Congress, which must continue, are meant to expose further the cause for this changing climate. Scientists from across the spectrum are arguing that human beings are a primary cause for the changing climate on Earth. Those carbon emissions are depleting oxygen, causing the atmosphere to warm at dangerous levels.

I know that’s at times a tough thing to swallow during winter months. The Upper Midwest is enduring frigid temperatures, causing climate change deniers to say, “See? We told you that climate change is ‘fake news.’ It’s phony. It ain’t happening.”

Except that it is happening.

Can we stop it? Slow it? Can we prevent Earth from suffering irreparable damage? Those, folks, are the questions we need to explore. I am glad to know that a change in the congressional command structure in one legislative chamber is going to elevate this discussion to where it belongs.

Man it’s cold out there . . . but Earth is still getting hotter!

I love the ignorant statements from climate-change deniers who insist the record winter deep freeze means the planet’s climate isn’t changing, that it isn’t getting warmer.

One of those bizarre declarations came from none other than Donald J. “Stable Genius” Trump, the nation’s president. Why, he just cannot understand why if the planet is warming that people are coping with record low temperatures in the Midwest.

Sigh . . .

Scientists say cold doesn’t debunk warming fear

We need to look at the big picture, the longer term. Ice caps are melting. Median Earth temps are climbing. Sea levels are rising.

It’s happening. Scientists say it is and I believe them. I disbelieve the notion that snow, ice and bitterly cold wind means that climate change is a “hoax” or that it is a conspiracy cooked up by lefty tree-huggers who are bent on destroying our industrial infrastructure.

Yet we keep hearing this nonsense from political leaders — such as POTUS. Donald Trump doesn’t have a scientific background. He quite likely hasn’t studied the works of those who do have such expertise. He instead appears to rely on the word of fossil fuel industry lobbyists, radio talk show hosts who agree with his “hoax” allegation and politicians from states that produce fossil fuels and spew tens of thousands of tons of emissions into the atmosphere.

I stand with the scientific community. They know more than I do about these things. They also know more about them than the president of the United States. Therefore, the president is wrong and he should be ashamed over his profound ignorance.

Except that he knows no shame.

Knock it off, Mr. POTUS; Earth is getting warmer!

Donald John “Dipsh** in Chief” Trump put this tweet out today to take note erroneously of a global crisis.

He wonders why, given the intense cold in the Midwest, that Earth’s climate is changing, that it’s getting warmer and that quite likely human beings are largely responsible for this peril.

Never mind the typo when he refers to “Global Waming.” That sort of thing happens, even when it involves the president’s self-proclaimed brilliance.

What I cannot fathom is why this individual cannot understand the need to look at the bigger picture, that today’s cold temps do not negate what scientists around the world have been reporting on for many years. Perhaps he does understand, but chooses to willfully ignore it because his political “base” comprises so many climate change deniers.

Climate change debate is over? Don’t believe it is

Chuck Todd, the moderator of “Meet the Press,” has done something I find troublesome. He said he longer will give air time on his program to those who deny the existence of climate change.

Here is a snippet from a monologue Todd gave at the start of his program this past Sunday: “We’re not going to debate climate change, the existence of it. The Earth is getting hotter. And human activity is a major cause, period. We’re not going to give time to climate deniers. The science is settled, even if political opinion is not. And we’re going to confuse weather with climate.”

Debate hasn’t ended

Where do I begin? I’ll start with the acknowledgment that I happen to agree with Todd, that climate change is settled science and that human beings are a major cause of it.

However, the existence of differences in “political opinion” make the debate a live option.

I am disappointed that Todd has decided that he no longer will allow his TV show to be a forum to debate this critical issue. That a major TV news talk and analysis show would cease that debate bothers me. It shuts out important voices, even if many of us disagree with them; there certainly are other Americans who side with those who question the existence of climate change, let alone its cause.

It troubles me that “Meet the Press” won’t welcome an open debate on what well might be the most compelling issue of our time. Let both sides argue their points. Indeed, there are plenty of “experts” on either side who can make their case.

As Todd himself as admitted, “political opinion” remains deeply divided on the issue of climate change.

Let’s confront the ‘existential threat’: climate change

Newly installed U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid a number of key issues on the line today moments after taking the gavel.

One of them is what she described as the most dangerous “existential threat” facing the nation: climate change.

Pelosi pledged to bring climate change back to the front of the nation’s attention, to the top of our national mind.

It has been pushed aside by Republicans who formerly ran the House, by those who continue to run the Senate and by the individual who sits in the Oval Office, Donald Trump, the president of the United States.

Trump has called climate change — formerly known colloquially as “global warming” — a “hoax.” His allies in Congress have bought into the Trump mantra. The president selected a key climate change denier, Scott Pruitt, to run the Environmental Protection Agency; another such denier, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is now the energy secretary; still another denier, Ryan Zinke, has just left his post as interior secretary.

Pelosi clearly understands what most Americans understand, that Earth’s climate is changing and the change is due largely because of massive amounts of carbon emissions being thrown into the atmosphere. That phenomenon, coupled with deforestation, is warming the planet’s temperature; the polar ice caps are melting; sea levels are rising; communities along our seas, gulfs and oceans are being placed in dire peril — not to mention what it’s doing to wildlife habitat.

Pelosi pledged today to return climate change to the front of the line. I wish her well. Whether this discussion produces legislation and a restoration of regulations aimed at curbing those emissions remain to be seen. The GOP still runs the Senate. The Republican president is still in office.

Whatever it is worth, and I hope it’s worth more than it might seem, Pelosi has the public on her side. Whether that’s enough to, um, turn the tide fills me with a bit of hope that this nation might take a proactive stance against this existential threat.

Government endorses notion that humans cause climate change

Divided government can produce constructive push back

Divided government is about to descend on Washington, D.C.

Democrats will control half of the legislative branch, leaving Republicans to handle the other half, along with the White House.

What will it mean — other than the expected turmoil to come from the Democratic House of Representatives that is expected to summon a lot of Trump administration officials to appear before committees asking questions about presidential conduct?

It could mean that the Republican effort to roll back and/or ignore environmental regulations and issues will start to receive some needed and constructive push back from Democrats who control the House.

I look forward to the confrontation.

Let’s examine climate change, for instance.

Donald Trump insists that climate change is a “hoax.” His first Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, is a fellow climate change denier. As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt was constantly suing the Obama administration over its regulations. Trump has rolled back a number of rules and regulations designed to curb emissions, protect our water and wildlife.

Meanwhile, the nation appears to be turning its back on the climate change crisis that is causing considerable havoc in places like the Arctic, Antarctic, our rain forests and on glacial mountaintops around the world. The storms that are battering the world are getting more ferocious and more frequent. Sea levels are rising, putting communities in approaching dire peril.

House environmental committees will get some new energy once the gavels are passed from Republican to Democratic chairs. My hope for them — and for the country — is that they reinvigorate the discussion about the environmental crisis that is threatening to overtake every single one of us.

Climate change will bring more storms

A report came to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk that delivers a stern message without actually saying the words it needs to say.

The Gulf Coast is going to experience more severe storms with increasing frequency, the report states. Why? Earth’s climate is changing. However, the report doesn’t use the words “climate change” to explain what is patently obvious.

Gov. Abbott won’t accept climate change as a contributing factor, but the report does contain some stern and dire warnings.

According to the Austin American-Statesman: “The enormous toll on individuals, businesses and public infrastructure should provide a wake-up call underlining the urgent need to ‘future proof’ the Gulf Coast — and indeed all of Texas — against future disasters,” according to “Eye of the Storm,’ the report released Thursday by . . . Abbott’s Commission to Rebuild Texas.”

But as the American-Statesman notes, “future proof” has become Abbott’s favorite term as it relates to what the state is experiencing.

Earlier reports note that storms as savage and sweeping as Hurricane Harvey are going to pound the coast with increasing frequency and savagery. Again, our climate is changing. Sea levels along the coast are rising. The rising levels put our fragile coastal wetlands in peril. Other reports note the shrinking Arctic and Antarctic ice caps that could cause sea levels to increase by more than four feet by 2100.

Also, according to the American-Statesman: “The current scientific consensus points to increasing amounts of intense rainfall coupled with the likelihood of more intense hurricanes,” the report states.

The president of the United States says climate change is a “hoax.” I believe he is wrong to say such a thing knowing that he is making a false declaration.

As for the Texas governor, it is long past time for him to climb aboard the climate change wagon. The evidence is there, even if a thorough report doesn’t say it in so many words.

Time of My Life, Part 4: Staring down a volcano

I long have been proud to say that my career allowed me to do things that most folks don’t get to do . . . such as fly over an erupting volcano!

But in late March 1980, I had that singular honor thrust on me.

You’ve heard of the cataclysm that occurred on May 18, 1980 when Mount St. Helens exploded, wiping roughly 1,400 feet off dirt, ash and rock off its summit. It killed about 65 individuals and wiped out Spirit Lake, Wash., and thousands of acres of virgin timberland.

What you might not recall is that the eruption began two months earlier.

I was editor of the Oregon City (Ore.) Enterprise-Courier at the time. I had written a feature story about a father and son in Clackamas County who restored vintage aircraft; the son gave me a ride in a biplane, which was a thrill in itself.

I got back to the office and a day or two later we got word of Mount St. Helens rumbling; the earth was trembling under the mountain. The U.S. Geological Survey sent teams to the region to monitor the quakes. The USGS then determined quickly that the mountain was entering a pre-eruptive phase. It could blow at any minute.

I called my young friend who gave me the biplane ride and said something like this: “If Mount St. Helens starts to erupt, can I call on you to fly me to the mountain to take pictures?” He agreed.

Then came the pre-cataclysm. St. Helens began to “erupt,” meaning that the quakes began creating craters along the summit. I called my friend. I drove out to his airfield. We boarded a two-seat single-engine prop airplane and took off. In the meantime, a colleague of mine at the newspaper, David Peters, drove about 75 miles to the USGS station near the foot of Mount St. Helens, where he would interview a young man who became a legendary figure in the Pacific Northwest; more on him in a moment.

My pilot friend and I arrived at the mountain and buzzed the summit repeatedly. I threw open the window on the passengers side of the plane and snapped hundreds of pictures of the summit as ice and snow began caving into newly created craters on top of the 9,600-foot peak.

Now, full disclosure time: The plane had no working radio. We were unable to hear any warnings from the FAA or the USGS about the “stunt” we were pulling off in the moment. I would learn upon returning to the airfield that the FAA had placed a no-fly zone around the summit. We were unaware. The statute of limitations ran out long ago, so I won’t be prosecuted for this admission.

As for Dave Peters’s assignment, he interviewed a USGS volcanologist by the name of David Johnston. On May 18, 1980, it was Johnston who radioed to his headquarters in Vancouver, Wash., from a ridge north of the mountain as the peak exploded.

He yelled: Vancouver, Vancouver. This is it! The pyroclastic flow of white-hot ash and rock that sped across the ridge vaporized Johnston in an instant. He was gone. The spot where he told the world of what was occurring now carries the name Johnston Ridge.

I was enabled because of the work I did to have more fun in pursuit of that job than I really deserved. That event in March 1980 pretty much tops the list of unique experiences.

I caught my breath. We published some pictures in the newspaper. Dave Peters wrote a wonderful feature on Johnston.

My wife shared with me the thrilling experience I had on that fateful day. I told Mom and Dad about it the next day.

They, um, were not pleased.

Oh, how I hate trophy hunting

I am not a hunter. Yes, I’ve gone hunting a time or two in my life. It’s not my bag, man.

Having declared that, I want to add that I detest trophy hunting, the idea of going into the wild and killing animals for the purpose of displaying their stuffed carcasses as trophies.

A social media acquaintance of mine has been posting pictures of trophy hunters that show up on my Facebook timeline. I won’t reproduce them here, because they disgust me in the extreme.

I just feel the need to vent for a moment about the ridiculousness of shooting big game, depriving Mother Nature of a prized creature and then displaying the remains in one’s “game room,” or “trophy room” or even in one’s living room.

Although I do not hunt wild animals, I do understand the idea of hunting them for, say, food. Deer provide venison. Elk can be consumed as well. I once had a stew prepared with black bear meat; it was quite tasty, if you want to know the truth.

However, I cannot pull the trigger on those creatures.

I especially cannot do so when it involves an animal I won’t eat at the dinner table.

Thus, trophy hunting disgusts me. So do the pictures I keep seeing of those hunters and their sh**-eatin’ grins sitting behind one of God’s magnificent creatures.

If you are a trophy hunter and you take offense at my remarks . . . that’s just too damn bad.

As long as we’re talking about what we ‘believe’ . . .

Donald John Trump says he has read “some” of the much-discussed National Climate Assessment, says it is “fine,” but then adds quickly that he doesn’t “believe it.”

What doesn’t he believe? He doesn’t believe the projection from the government-ordered analysis of the impact of climate change on our economy. The Assessment projects a 10 percent decline in our Gross Domestic Product if we fail or refuse to do anything about climate change.

This report comes from the government. Donald Trump is the president of the United States. Connect the dots here. OK?

So, as long as we’re talking about what we “believe,” I happen to believe that Donald Trump shouldn’t be president of the United States. What’s more, I want to suggest that more people share my belief in his unfitness for public office than share Donald Trump’s belief as it regards the National Climate Assessment.