Tag Archives: Global warming

Climate change portends more ‘Harveys’

Hurricane Harvey once would be considered the storm of a lifetime.

Not any longer, according to a new study published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The MIT report suggests that by the end of this century, storms of the magnitude of Harvey could occur once every five-and-a-half years.

The study was put together by Kerry Emmanuel, a professor of atmospheric sciences at MIT. According to Texas Monthly:

“It’s very, very easy for people—even scientists—to get confused by this. You have to be very careful with what you mean by the event,” Emanuel says. The study looks at both Harvey-like storms hitting the greater Houston metro area (which he forecasts will go from a 2,000-year-storm to a 100-year-storm), as well as storms of that size making landfall anywhere in Texas, which is how we get to the 5 1/2 year number.

What do you suppose is the cause for this increasing frequency? Let me think about that for a moment. There. Time’s up. I am pretty certain we’re talking about climate change.

The deluge brought by Harvey dumped 50 inches of rain in a 24-hour period on Houston and the Golden Triangle this past summer. And that event came after Harvey roared ashore at Rockport with killer winds and immense tidal surge.

It will take years for the Texas Gulf Coast to recover fully from the storm. Texas officials have enlisted Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp to oversee the rebuilding of the coastal region from the Coastal Bend to the Golden Triangle. Think of what might await such an effort years from now. No sooner would the work be done than it might occur again.

Read the TM story here

The Texas Monthly piece I’ve posted with this blog entry doesn’t mention climate change/global warming explicitly. I have mentioned it here. I only can surmise as much to explain why the level of storms thought to occur once in a century might take place with such frightening frequency.

This is a terribly ominous trend for the coastal regions of our state.

The question now presents itself: What in the world are we going to do to either protect our coastal region from such destruction?

There’s also this: What are we going to do to reduce the number and ferocity of these storms?

Government endorses notion that humans cause climate change

It’s called the “gold standard” of environmental studies.

It comes from the U.S. government and it goes directly against the president of the United States, who calls climate change a “hoax.”

The U.S. National Climate Assessment blames human beings for accelerating the planet’s changing climate. Trump, meanwhile, continues to parrot the line of climate change deniers by disparaging that idea that Earth’s climate actually is changing.

What fascinates me is that the report came out on the eve of the president’s visit to China, which he has said is responsible for perpetrating this so-called hoax. What might he say to Chinese political leaders’ face were they to challenge him on his ridiculous assertion?

This, too, is worth noting: Syria has just signed on to the Paris Climate Accord, from which Trump withdrew the United States, citing an alleged negative impact on U.S. jobs. Think of that for a moment. Syria isn’t exactly an internationally known champion of environmental issues; meanwhile, the world’s leading and most powerful nation has backed out of an agreement signed on to by the rest of the planet.

The Environmental Protection Agency, meanwhile, is rolling back measures taken by the Obama administration. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, another climate change denier, insists that President Obama lacked the authority to implement changes mandating cleaner air requirements.

What one never seems to hear from Pruitt is any commitment to protect the environment, which the EPA’s title would appear to demand of the federal agency.

Why in the world can’t we get past the notion that Earth’s climate is changing? I am open to debating the cause, although the latest government study likely would put the kibosh on any serious debate over whether human activity is the primary catalyst behind the planet’s changing climate.

Climate change is the real thing

Rising sea levels present a serious challenge to the entire planet. Same for the increasing ferocity of storms. Meteorologists tell us annually that the planet’s median temperature is increasing.

Can we stop the impact of all these elements? We cannot know the answer if we keep denying what is becoming painfully obvious.

Earth’s climate is changing. It is long past time we got busy trying to stem the damage that’s being done to the only planet we have.

 

POTUS set to tell U.N. to go … ?

The president of the United States is getting ready to deliver a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. It’s a big test for Donald J. Trump. Is he up to the task?

Trump is a novice at this worldwide geopolitical stuff. He campaigned for the office he now holds by pledging to “put America first.” That means, according to some observers, that he intends to pull the United States out of its traditional role as the world’s most indispensable nation. We won’t be the “world’s policeman” any longer, according to Trump’s campaign stump rhetoric.

But … now he’s the man in charge. He’s the president of the world’s remaining military superpower.

Trump went to Europe not long ago and scolded our NATO partners about their lack of paying their fair share for its self-defense. It didn’t go well with our military alliance partners.

He already has decided to back out of the Paris Climate Accord, joining just two countries in refusing to join a worldwide agreement to reduce carbon emissions that a vast majority of scientists believe is contributing to the changing worldwide climate. Oh, wait! The president calls all that climate change stuff a “hoax.” Who needs the rest of the world?

Perhaps the biggest issue for Trump to confront will be the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration. It seeks to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. International watchdog groups say Iran is compiling with the agreement. Trump — no surprise here — is suggesting the Iranians aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do.

The president has until Oct. 15 to make a final determination on Iran’s compliance. What … will … he … decide?

I am going to await the tone of Trump’s remarks. He continues to look and sound like someone who has yet to find his comfort zone on the world stage. Sure, he talks about his prowess as a dealmaker and touts his business acumen. He’ll be standing in front of representatives of a couple hundred sovereign states, each with their own set of values, and political agendas.

Putting America first might play well in front of select domestic audiences. On the world stage? I’m waiting to see if he tries to sell that one to an international crowd.

Why deny the obvious about the climate?

Donald J. Trump must know more about climate change than the scientists do … kind of like he knows “more about ISIS than the generals.”

A report from The Hill newspaper reports that the president has surrounded himself with those who deny the existence of climate change, those who disbelieve the overwhelming scientific consensus that Earth’s climate is changing and that the planet’s temperatures are rising.

Scott Pruitt, for example, runs the Environmental Protection Agency after serving as Oklahoma attorney general and suing the daylights out of EPA over rules and regulations designed to, um, protect the environment.

I’m baffled by the idea that the president can deny what appears to be obvious. Polar ice is melting; the annual mean temperature is rising around the world; sea levels are threatening to rise to dangerous levels.

The only debate appears to be its cause. Manmade or natural terrestrial evolution. I happen to believe human activity at a minimum has exacerbated the problem. But that’s just me.

Suppose, though, it is a function of Earth’s natural cycle. What are we human beings supposed to do? Do we just do nothing? Do we not seek to abate some of the impact? Do we simply keep pouring carbon dioxide into the sky, cut gigantic swaths of forestland?

Human non-intervention, in my mind, is intolerable.

If the planet’s evolutionary cycle is going to do what it does, why must be sit idly by and do nothing?

Pruitt wants to have a public national public debate on climate change. I’m actually OK with that. What I’m not OK with is dawdling over whether human beings should take action to stop what’s happening to the only planet we can call home.

Climate change is real, NW fires notwithstanding

I’m seeing a bit of social media chatter that needs to be put in perspective.

Some of it is conflating a couple of key issues: climate change and those horrific fires that have scarred many thousands of forestland in Oregon and Washington.

Critics of climate change deniers are pointing to the Oregon and Washington fires as evidence that climate change is real.

I agree with the notion that Earth’s climate is changing, that its temperatures are warming. The fires that began along Eagle Creek just east of Portland, though, were the result of a dumbass who allegedly was playing with fireworks in tinder-dry woodlands above the Columbia River.

Oregon State Police have a suspect. He’s a teenager. He is a minor, so we won’t know his name, which I guess gives me license to refer to him as a dumbass.

Back to the issue of climate change/global warming. It’s playing out far from the Pacific Northwest.

The Texas Gulf Coast just got hit with a Category 3 hurricane/tropical storm. It dumped 50-plus inches of rain on Houston and the Golden Triangle; it brought killer winds to the Coastal Bend. It has created unspeakable grief, agony and misery along the coast.

But wait! Now there’s a Category 5 storm blasting its way toward South Florida. It has winds of 185 mph; gusts are reaching 225 mph.

Meteorologists and other scientists are speaking in unison — more or less — on this subject: We’re going to see more catastrophic storms in quick succession in the future because of climate change.

The debate, though, centers on the cause of this change. The scientific consensus appears to suggest that human activity has exacerbated the change, through carbon emissions and immense deforestation.

The fire will be extinguished. I remain supremely confident that the forest will be restored over a lengthy period of time. Humankind can repair the damage done by a single thoughtless idiot.

The frequency of those storms? The rising sea levels? The intensity of the savagery that boils up out of the ocean?

That problem requires our immediate attention, if only we’d stop bickering over whether the climate is changing. It is. Let’s get busy finding solutions to this worldwide crisis.

Climate change? Is it really and truly a ‘hoax’?

Believe it or disbelieve it if you wish. When the water recedes along the Texas Gulf Coast and when authorities can account for all the victims and the repair begins to reconstruct thousands of shattered lives from Corpus Christi to the Golden Triangle, there will be a need for a serious discussion.

We’ll need to discuss climate change.

As this item is being posted, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey has just buried the Texas coast under more than 51 inches of rain. It’s the largest single-event amount of rain ever to fall on the continental United States of America. More is on the way.

For the life of me I am having difficulty understanding where all that water is going to go. The topography along the Gulf Coast is flat; the ground is full of water even when the air is dry; the land rises to a “height” of roughly 30 feet above sea level, meaning that the water isn’t going to travel rapidly toward the Gulf of Mexico or seep quickly into the ground.

The normal “steering currents” that guide these hurricanes over land didn’t materialize with Harvey. The storm crashed ashore and then stayed there. It then backed out over the Gulf of Mexico and is set to deliver another deluge farther up the coast.

It’s fair to ask: Did climate change — or global warming — contribute to this catastrophe?

The Gulf already is one of the warmest bodies of salt water on Earth. Its temperature reportedly was even warmer than it is historically, giving Harvey additional fuel to gather up to deliver to the victims awaiting the storm’s arrival.

Climate change deniers do not contribute to the discussion that needs to take place. The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, denies the existence of climate change. So does the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who calls it a “hoax.”

It is not a hoax, Mr. President. It’s real.

We can debate among ourselves about the cause of the changing climate. I happen to believe that human activity has contributed to it, but that’s just my opinion … for whatever the hell it’s worth.

We must not deny the existence of a change in Earth’s climate, or that the planet’s annual average temperature is warming up. These events have consequences. They are dire. They are tragic.

We’ll need to get to work in due course to put people’s lives back together after the storm clouds lift. The sun will shine again.

However, let us then take part in a meaningful international discussion about how humankind can repair what it has done to the only planet we have.

Manmade or cyclical climate change? Doesn’t matter!

Let’s set aside for a moment the debate over whether Earth’s changing climate is the result of human activity or it’s just part of the epochal cycle the planet goes through every few thousand millennia.

I happen to think human beings do play a big part in it. That’s just me.

The bigger issue of the day is this: It doesn’t matter one damn bit!

Whether the planet’s climate is warming because of carbon emissions or deforestation or whether it’s part of Earth’s life cycle, human beings need to do something about it.

Now! Although it might too late.

The Trump administration has just informed the United Nations that the United States is formally withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, joining those two other stalwart nations that didn’t sign the accords in the first place: Nicaragua and Syria.

Earth’s temperature is rising. Sea levels are rising, too. Indeed, the levels will rise even more once a glacier the size of Delaware melts into the ocean; the iceberg broke off of Antarctica recently.

Climate change deniers — led by the current head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — insist that there’s nothing we can, or should, do to abate those changes. We have members of our Congress who suggest that since human activity isn’t the cause that human beings shouldn’t be held responsible to slow it down, if not stop it altogether.

The president of the United States calls climate change/global warming a “hoax” perpetrated by China and other great powers seeking to intimidate the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

I keep coming back to a simple, fundamental point: Whatever the cause — cyclical or at human hands — we human beings are the dominant life form on Planet Earth. Old Testament scripture instructs us to “fill the Earth and govern it.”

So, are we going to govern it or are we going to just sit back and let nature’s forces have their way?

Yes, I know that human beings cannot match nature’s power. I know we cannot change the flow of the rivers, or stem the tides that will rise no matter what we do to prevent it.

Human beings, though, can insist we stop decimating our forests, depriving the planet of vegetation that oxygenates our atmosphere; without it, the air fills with CO2 and, by design, grows warmer. It’s that simple.

Will any of that prevent Earth’s climate from changing? Probably not. However, it is better to seek to do something than to do nothing at all. That’s what good stewards of the world we inherited must do.

Gore was ‘wrong’ about Trump

Albert Gore Jr. must possess a bottomless wellspring of hope in his soul.

The former vice president told Stephen Colbert this week that he had hoped Donald J. Trump would change his mind regarding his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate change accord.

He has given up. The former VP says on Colbert’s late-night talk show that Trump is beyond redemption regarding climate change, which has been Gore’s signature issue since leaving the vice presidency in January 2001.

According to The Hill: “I went to Trump Tower after the election,” said Gore, who was on the show to promote his new movie, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.”

“I thought that there was a chance he would come to his senses. But I was wrong.”

The former vice president perhaps can take some solace in the belief — at least I believe it — that Trump doesn’t understand climate change or that he doesn’t grasp the theories floated by scientists around the world that human activity is a major cause of the planet’s changing climate.

Science means nothing to the reality TV celebrity-turned-president of the United States.

It doesn’t make Al Gore feel any better, to be sure. Perhaps his wellspring of hope is diminished somewhat as it regards the president of the United States.

Tillerson’s ‘loyalty’ has its limits on Paris accord

Donald John Trump’s version of loyalty seems to have gotten lost on the secretary of state.

To which I say to Rex Tillerson, you go, Mr. Secretary!

Tillerson told a U.S. Senate committee today that he respects the president’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate change accord, but that he disagrees with him.

I disagree with Trump, too. That’s no surprise to those who read this blog. What does surprise me is that Tillerson, given his business background as CEO of ExxonMobil, would support the Paris accord.

It’s a pleasant surprise, to say the very least.

I also will give the president props as well for finding a secretary of state who would have the courage to challenge Trump’s infamous penchant for total loyalty among his senior administration officials.

I believe Tillerson qualifies as one of the president’s top hands.

Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he still supports the climate change accord hammered out and signed by more than 190 nations. Trump blathers about “lost American jobs” and regulations that force fossil fuel companies to reduce their payrolls. What he never discusses are the jobs created by alternative energy endeavors.

I don’t expect Tillerson’s testimony to persuade Trump to change his mind. It does give me hope that reasonable minds at least can have a voice in an administration that that seems to have too few of them.

Kushner, Ivanka get stiffed by POTUS/Dad

Just when you thought Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner were deputy presidents of the United States, the actual president stiffs them on their staunch support of the Paris Accord aimed at dealing with climate change.

What gives? Oh, I think I know, actually.

The nationalist wing of the White House inner circle got to the president; it had his ear for the final time before announcing Thursday that he would pull the United States out of the worldwide alliance to fight the planet’s changing climate and the consequences it is bringing.

So much, then, for Ivanka and her husband’s legendary influence over the president. Frankly, I stand with them — and against Trump and his nationalist buddies — in this crazy development.

The president’s daughter and son-in-law weren’t alone in their support of the climate agreement. National security adviser H.R. McMaster wanted to stay involved; so did Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; same with Energy Secretary Rick Perry. I should add, too, that a number of key Republicans in and out of public office wanted the president to stay the course.

No can do, he said.

The issue is American jobs, which the president believes would be lost because this country would work with other nations in seeking to curb the causes of global warming and climate change.

What … utter … crap!