Tag Archives: Climate change

U.S. is shamefully MIA at climate change conference

ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images

They’re convening an international conference on climate change.

As my dear late Mom would say, I’ll give you three guesses on which nation is missing from that conference … but the first two guesses don’t count.

That’s right. The United States of America ain’t there.

We should be. Why? Well, let’s see. We’re the most industrialized nation on Earth. We are the world leader in scientific research. Our factories pour out tons of carbon emissions into the air annually. We occupy the bulliest of pulpits of any nation the planet.

But we’re not there because the president of the United States, Donald John Trump, calls climate change a “hoax.” Trump yanked the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, saying it would be too burdensome on U.S. businesses. The accord carries the names of virtually every country on the planet … except the U.S. of A.

This is how the president intends to “make America great again” or “keep America great.” He wants to isolate the nation from a world made “smaller” in a proverbial sense by modern technology.

The United States made great strides in weaning ourselves of dependence on foreign-produced fossil fuels largely through development of alternate energy resources and, yes, more production of oil and natural gas. Trump wants to develop more “clean coal” and wants to drill for even more petroleum-based products. How is that going to stem the warming of the planet and the changing of its climate? Short answer: It won’t.

We are shaming ourselves by failing to attend the conference that seeks to find remedies to what has become established as an existential threat to every nation on Earth.

As the world’s pre-eminent economic power, we need to be heard and we need to listen to what our Earthly neighbors are telling us.

Texas is becoming the ‘windy state’

We’re No. 1! It’s a common refrain heard on fields of athletic competition in Texas.

However, Texas has achieved a top-tier ranking in a most fascinating — and one might say unexpected — category. Texas has become the most wind-powered state in the Union. Texas is known more for its pump jacks that pull oil out of the ground. They’re still doing all over the state, but wind power is not to be denied.

I just posted a blog item lamenting the lack of discussion about climate in the upcoming presidential campaign. Here, though, is a reason to hope that Texas might become a leader in the discussion and promotion of wind energy.

The Electrical Reliability Council of Texas reports that wind has replaced coal as the leading provider of electricity in this state. Yes, natural gas remains a huge energy source. Texas, though, has seen a skyrocketing rise in wind energy over the past several years.

I am happy to report that my wife and I have sat at a ringside seat while Texas has become a major wind-power producer. We used to live just a bit east of the wind farm in Adrian pictured along with this blog post. We’ve since moved on to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, but the wind energy industry is continuing to grow significantly along the High Plains of Texas.

This is exciting news.

Wind power remains a costly endeavor. It is expensive to produce and store electricity generated by wind. Believe me, though, the Texas Panhandle has an infinite supply of wind, which to my mind is the cleanest possible energy source possible. Whereas petroleum, natural gas and coal are finite resources, the wind will always blow.

I usually am quite critical of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, however, I want to give Gov. Perry — who is soon to depart as secretary of energy — a proverbial high five for presiding over much of Texas’s wind-power development during his lengthy stint as governor. And, no, it didn’t hurt a bit to say something good about the man the late columnist Molly Ivins dubbed “Governor Goodhair.” 

So, the wind will blow in Texas. The state’s growth will require more electrical use. The wind will continue to play a growing role in fulfilling those power needs … and our precious environment won’t suffer a bit.

Climate change needs candidates’ attention … all of it!

When in the name of environmental sanity are the candidates for president of the United States going to devote their attention to what I believe is the world’s greatest existential threat?

Climate change, man!

Accordingly, Donald Trump — one of those presidential candidates — has declared that he has made the greatest mistake of his presidency. He said via Twitter that he has begun the nation’s formal withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. The United States was among more than 200 nations to sign the agreement to aggressively battle the effects of climate change and global warming.

So help me, this is the action of an incompetent fool. An imbecile. The president of the United States has turned this nation into effectively an “outlaw state” in the fight to stem the devastating impact of a changing global climate.

What in the world are any of the men and women who are seeking to defeat this goofball going to do about it?

I want to hear from all of them that they intend to sign an executive order the moment they sit down behind the big desk in the Oval Office that restores this nation’s commitment to fighting climate change.

I also want to hear specifics on how they intend to restore our nation’s commitment to alternative energy sources. I want them to tell us how they intend to replace fossil fuel-producing jobs with jobs related to the development of certifiably clean energy sources.

If we are able to get past this impeachment madness and if we ever could get Donald Trump focused on issues that actually matter and yanked away from the nonsense that pours routinely out of his mouth, then there might be a serious discussion and search for answers for what I believe is the issue that threatens every human being on Earth.

Let’s get busy!

Trump to California: Don’t count on me to help you out

Donald J. Trump appears to be laying down a clearly defined marker to residents of states that voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016 or are governed by politicians of the party other than Trump’s Republican Party.

It is this: Don’t count on the president of the United States to offer words of empathy or support in the event of monumental natural disasters, let alone statements of unqualified federal assistance to help you fight those disasters.

You see, Trump is in a war of Twitter words with California Gov. Gavin Newsom. The president is excoriating Newsom over the state’s forest management policy, which Trump says is the reason that wildfires have exploded across the state.

Trump and Newsom are political foes. They might even be called “enemies.” Newsom’s state happened, I should say, to vote for Clinton by a huge margin in her losing bid to Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

The rhetoric Trump is leveling at California’s elected leadership is not the kind of thing he says to those in, say, Texas or Louisiana or Mississippi, Alabama or Florida. Hurricanes have savaged those states since Trump took office. They all voted for Trump in 2016.

Trump, though, seems to get a bur under his saddle when tragedy strikes California.

I guess I should point out that Donald Trump has emerged as the Climate Change Denier in Chief, calling the issue a “hoax,” despite scientific evidence that suggests that climate change is responsible for the huge fires that are erupting with more frequency and ferocity than ever.

Yes, Trump did say in one of his weekend tweets that the firefighters are doing a “great” job. Then he tees it up against Newsom, saying he should insist on clearing forest floors more frequently and should make sure the state has plenty of water to pour on the fires.

I just find this back-and-forth between the president and the governor of one our states — whose residents are fleeing for their lives ahead of devastating fire — to be unbecoming in the extreme.

There once was a time when the federal government stepped up to lend a much-needed hand to American citizens in distress. Please tell me those days are not gone forever.

Confession of a weather wimp

I am about to admit something I have resisted admitting.

I am a weather wimp. There. I said it out loud.

The realization came to me this morning while standing next to the fuel pump where I was putting diesel into my big ol’ pickup. The weather is chilly. It is damp. It is dank and dark. Even in Princeton, Texas, where we thought we would enjoy a more temperate climate longer into the autumn.

Oh, no! My teeth were clattering. I kept my hands buried deeply into my pockets. I couldn’t wait for the fuel pump to shut off so I could get the heck outta there, back into the truck and then back to the house.

Maybe it’s a function of age. Maybe I am just getting impatient as I wind my way toward the finish line.

We went through a long, hot summer. I longed for cooler days and nights. I lusted for a bit of rain.

Then, boom! It arrived. With something of a vengeance!

I am not going to complain too loudly about the weather. I know there ain’t a thing I can do about it. The weather is so far out of humankind’s control it’s not even worth the gripes we lay on it. And by all means, I know that many places on Earth have much more severe weather than we get in the Metroplex.

I merely am acknowledging what I’ve known to be true.

I am a weather wimp who is going to start wishing any day now for warmer temperatures … and it’s not even winter yet!

Please forgive me.

Weather vs. climate … short term and long term

When we gripe about the weather, we are speaking of an event in the moment.

If it’s hot out there, it’s hot at the time you notice it. Same if it it’s cold. We’re talking about the weather, not the climate.

Our climate, though, cannot be discussed in real time. It requires a longer look, a broader view.

Thus, when politicians or citizens conflate the two — weather and climate — they’re talking about non-parallel phenomena.

I have spoken already on this blog about my desire to see climate change assume the important role it deserves in the upcoming presidential campaign. Donald Trump calls climate change a hoax; scientific analysis calls it real. Who do you believe? I’ll go with the scientists who study these matters intently even though Donald Trump — in his own mind — is the smartest human being ever to inhabit Earth.

NASA, the agency that launches satellites and people into space, calls it correctly: The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time.

Earth’s climate is changing. We’re posting record high temperatures virtually every year. Those ice caps on either pole — North and South — are shrinking. Icebergs the size of cities are breaking off at alarming rates. Sea levels are rising as a result, threatening coastal cities on every continent.

Weather patterns are changing, too. Storms are getting more severe, more frequent. We see evidence of this each year. When have we ever seen, for instance, a storm drop 50 inches of rain in 24 hours as Hurricane Harvey did when it pummeled the Upper Texas Gulf Coast in 2017?

I want the candidates for president — even the one who occupies the office — to tell us how they intend to do battle with climate that threatens the nation and the world. No more platitudes. No more clichés.

No more phony denials about it all being a hoax. Climate change presents an existential threat to the very planet on which we all live.

‘Climate change’ needs to take center stage

There can be no doubt in my own mind — none at all — that climate change must become the pre-eminent issue of the 2020 presidential campaign.

The incumbent president calls the issue a “hoax.” Donald Trump says it’s a figment of some plot concocted by China to undermine the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

The president is as wrong about this as he is about damn near everything. Except his error bodes grim for the country and the planet.

Most of the Democrats running for their party’s nomination have spoken with varying degrees of eloquence and detail about how they intend to tackle climate change if they are elected in 2020.

I am waiting to hear some more detail about what they intend to do and how they propose to pay for it.

I simply know this: Earth’s climate is changing and it is imperative that the world’s most powerful industrial power and the nation that is chiefly responsible for humankind’s role in changing the climate to do something about it … now!

Climate change deniers endanger the nation. Do you remember that idiotic stunt U.S. Jim Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican, pulled on the Senate floor some years back? It was cold in Washington one winter, so Sen. Inhofe brought a snowball onto the Senate floor to prove, by golly, that Earth’s climate isn’t getting warmer. Of course, Inhofe conflated weather with climate, ignoring the science that separates the two phenomena.

The scientific community is speaking with increasing sameness on this the gravity of this issue. Climatologists tell us that it well might be too late for humanity to change the trend that already is developing. My response? OK, but that doesn’t mean we do nothing!

The Trump administration is backing away from air-quality emission standards. It has been silent on the issue of deforestation. The president nominated and the Senate confirmed an Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, who himself is a climate change denier; Pruitt forgot during his time at EPA that the agency’s mission is to “protect the environment,” not destroy it.

Climate change is real. It is endangering the planet we call home. It’s the only planet we have. Or, as someone noted just recently, there is “no planet B.”

The president takes an oath to protect Americans. The current president is far falling short of fulfilling that oath. The next one needs to step up.

Rain threatens region still recovering from earlier deluge

REGINA, Saskatchewan — My worry index is off the charts today as I listen to reports of extreme rain and flooding in a part of the world I know pretty well.

My wife and I are away at the moment, vacationing in Canada, but CTV News is all over the story: Rain is inundating the Golden Triangle region of Texas, that southeastern corner of the state that barely two years ago was blasted by the unspeakable wrath of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey.

I am not going to make this a political blog, other than take note that climatologists have said all along that we can expect this kind of extreme weather as we cope with and combat the effects of climate change. It ain’t a hoax, folks. It’s real and it is affecting lives daily.

The Gulf Coast storm is another example of it.

However, my concern turns now to my friends who live there, folks we got to know during nearly 11 years living in Beaumont. We return when we can. When we do we see the destructive marks that Harvey left behind when the storm blasted ashore in 2017.

My heart breaks for them all. We send them our love and our hope that they find the strength to persevere.

Meanwhile, the Amazon forests are burning

Americans are rightly worried about the damage that Hurricane Dorian is likely to bring to the eastern coast of the United States.

I am, too.

I also am worried about the damage being done to our planet’s atmosphere by those wildfires along the Amazon River watershed. I have heard the region called the “oxygen chamber” of the planet. However, many millions of trees are destroyed by the fire, exacerbating the climate change that is plaguing Earth.

The Amazon fire story has been shoved aside for the time being, thanks partly to the rain that fell on much of the region in recent days and also because our attention has been diverted to the peril Dorian is bring to the east coast.

It’s kind of a karma thing with me. I had written a blog post just a few days before the world was startled by the immense Amazon forest fires. I remain deeply worried about the impact that deforestation has had on changing climate worldwide. That worry only deepened when we heard about the fire that incinerated so much of the forest.

We all know of the value of that forest land. It produces oxygen to replace that atmospheric compound being consumed by living creatures that inhabit Earth. With fewer trees the less oxygen is generated to counteract the carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere.

Yes, the result is dire. It results in a warming of Earth’s atmospheric shroud and it produces dramatic and potentially catastrophic changes in our planet’s climate.

It’s never a good time for vast stretches of forest land to go up in smoke. In this period of time, as Earth’s climate is changing, those fires present a clear danger to the survival of the only planet we have.

Climate change? It is no hoax!

Candidate calls a halt; his issue lives on

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was one of those 0-percenters who sought to catch fire among the huge field of Democrats running for president of the United States.

He didn’t ignite. Today he ended his campaign.

That’s the bad news … for Inslee. The good news is that his signature issue, climate change and Donald Trump’s ignorance of its significance, lives on.

Gov. Inslee had vowed to make climate change/global warming the linchpin of his campaign. Sure, he said he felt strongly about other issues, but this one really floats his boat.

As for Trump, he calls climate change a “hoax.” He said it’s cooked up by China, which wants to undermine and destroy the U.S. fossil fuel industry. The president is blowing it out of his backside.

Inslee sees the issue as the nation’s premier national security concern. So do many other Americans. I am one of those millions of others who stands with Inslee and others who want the government to pay attention to the tangible evidence that climate change is having around the world … and to acknowledge that humankind is at least partially responsible for the damage it is inflicting on Planet Earth.

Gov. Inslee vowed today to remain active in the dual-edged pursuit of (a) talking up the dire peril that climate change is posing and (b) the peril the nation faces if it re-elects Donald J. Trump to another four years as president.

Keep up the fight, governor. I stand with you.