Tag Archives: Global warming

This just in: Global warming is bad!

Someone ought to remind Scott Pruitt what the initials “EPA” mean.

They stand for “Environmental Protection Agency.” The man who runs the EPA is charged with protecting the environment, with searching for ways to maintain the integrity of the surroundings where we live.

But Pruitt has now declared that global warming — aka “climate change” — isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I believe the former Oklahoma attorney general is mistaken. Yes, it is a bad thing. It’s a very bad thing, dude.

As near as I can tell, global warming produces a number of potential catastrophes. The ice caps on both poles melt, resulting in an inexorable rise in sea levels; the North Pole ice cap is a prime hunting ground for polar bears and if they can’t hunt seals and walruses, they can’t eat and they die of starvation; the rising sea levels endanger our coastal marshes and, oh yeah, they also threaten the many urban areas that have sprung up on coasts all around the world.

The EPA director seems all too willing to dismiss the potential dangers posed by this phenomenon.

I won’t argue the point about the cause of global warming. Whether it’s manmade — which I believe it is — or whether it’s part of Earth’s epochal cycle, it’s a bad thing.

Why can’t the man in charge of the federal agency that is supposed to protect our environment concentrate his energy and attention on his fundamental duty?

Protect the planet, Mr. EPA Director!

Ice caps are melting, Mr. President! Really, they are!

Donald J. Trump now is expressing an opinion that runs counter to scientific consensus.

The president has declared polar ice caps are at “record levels.” He is trying to buttress his bogus assertion that climate change is a “hoax” cooked up by Chinese conspiracy theorists intent on using the phenomenon as a way to undermine the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

But, but, but …

The evidence suggests something else. The ice caps are diminishing. They are endangering wildlife, such as polar bears that rely on the ice caps for their hunting of prey, such as seals and walruses.

The president isn’t buying it. Has he consulted with anyone? Does he ever consult with anyone on anything? I think we know the answer to that question.

According to The Hill: “I mean, look, it used to not be climate change. It used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place,” Trump said.

Indeed, spoken like a man with deep scientific knowledge.

I am going to rely on the scientific community and, oh yes, the pictures that NASA is taking from outer space showing precisely what is happening to the world’s Arctic and Antarctic ice caps.

They are shrinking, Mr. President. The pictures don’t lie … unlike a prominent politician who is known to prevaricate with abandon.

Does this heavy wind equal climate change?

Climate change has become a sort of synonym for “global warming.”

When climatologists talk about the warming of Planet Earth, they drop the term “climate change,” as if the conditions are interchangeable.

I’ve been thinking just a bit about that. I am not so sure we can bind them together.

Out here on the High Plains of Texas, we’ve been battered over the course of several days by high wind. It’s been dry, too.

I bring this up because for the past 23 years my wife and I have called the Texas Panhandle home, we have welcomed those reliable “March winds.” This year, March arrived about, oh, two months early.

For much of January we have been battling the wind that is supposed to arrive just in time for spring. The wind brings with it those threatening clouds, the downpours, the occasional hail storms.

This year it’s just the wind. Fifty mph gusts have followed sustained wind of about 20 to 30 mph.

Is it mere coincidence that the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2017 was the second-warmest year on record? Has the worldwide warming produced some of the windblown consequence we’re experiencing in early 2018 out here on what I call the Texas Tundra?

And is climate change generally synonymous with global warming? Does one event mean the existence of the other?

I believe the climate is changing. I also believe the planet is getting warmer. I am not yet willing to link the two conditions together.

Your thoughts?

Texas coast remains in dire peril

I want to give a shout out to my former neighbors along the Texas Gulf Coast.

They are working diligently to preserve one of the state’s most underappreciated resources: its beaches.

The Texas coast is in peril. It is disappearing before our eyes. It has been disappearing for, oh, many decades. I took an interest in the coast when I moved there in 1984 to take up my post writing editorials for the Beaumont Enterprise.

The Texas Tribune reports that Jefferson County officials are working with a consortium of industry officials, environmental activists, outdoorsmen and women and others to protect the coastal wetlands from drastic erosion.

According to the Tribune: Subsidence, sea level rise and storm surges have all contributed to significant land loss, averaging 4 feet per year along the state’s coastline, according to the Texas General Land Office. In some places, more than 30 feet of shoreline disappears underwater annually.

Todd Merendino, a manager at the conservation-focused group Ducks Unlimited, said sand dunes used to line the shore near the Salt Bayou marsh, forming a crucial buffer between the Gulf of Mexico and the millions of dollars’ worth of industrial infrastructure that lie inland. The dunes are “all gone now,” he said.

“One day, you wake up and you go, ‘Wow, we got a problem,'” Merendino said. “And it’s not just an isolated problem where one swing of the hammer is going to fix it.”

The problem has inspired a coalition of strange bedfellows in Jefferson County. Local leaders, environmental activists and industry representatives are working together to execute a variety of projects — some bankrolled by BP oil spill settlement funds — to rehabilitate the marsh and protect the area’s industrial complex.

The massive deep freeze that is paralyzing the Deep South and the Atlantic Seaboard notwithstanding, the worldwide climate change that produces rising sea levels is a major culprit.

Gulf Coast officials are seeking to build a berm along the coast at the McFaddin Wildlife Refuge. I’ve been there. It’s a jewel along the coast. It’s a haven for all manner of waterfowl. It is a gorgeous part of the coastal region.

It’s also vanishing.

Here is the Tribune story

The Texas General Land Office once placed coastal preservation near the top of its public policy agenda. I am unaware of where that issue stands today. The GLO has welcomed the likes of David Dewhurst, Jerry Patterson and now George P. Bush as land commissioner since Mauro left the office in the late 1990s. I trust they, too, are committed to saving the coastline for future generations of Texans to enjoy.

I am heartened to hear about the hard work being done along the coast. It’s good, though, to bear in mind that Mother Nature can take whatever she wants, whenever she wants.

At least the state is not going to give it away without a fight.

Seven words CDC won’t allow?

Wherever he is, the late comedian George Carlin must be laughing his a** off.

Carlin once made famous those “seven words you can’t say on TV.” I won’t repeat them here. Many of you know them already.

Now we have the Centers for Disease Control being told not to use seven supposedly hot-button words in future budget proposals.

Oh, my. What is the world coming to?

The CDC’s banned words are: fetus, diversity, transgender, vulnerable, entitlement, evidence-based and science-based.

You can’t say it

I want to focus on one of those banned words: science-based.

What in the name of hocus-pocus is going on here? I mean, we’re talking about the Centers for Disease Control, aren’t we? Doesn’t the CDC deal directly and wholly with science? I do not understand this directive. I do not grasp why the CDC — of all agencies — would get this kind of directive from on high.

Critics of the Trump administration have alleged that it is being run by science-deniers. Here’s one example: They deny the existence of climate change despite mounting scientific evidence that Earth’s climate is changing, that it is getting warmer.

So now the CDC is being told it cannot use “science-based” terminology?

What in the world would George Carlin do with this bit of idiocy?

Climate change made Harvey wreckage worse? Who knew?

Imagine my (non)surprise to read that independent analyses have concluded that climate change likely worsened the misery that Hurricane Harvey brought this summer to the Texas Gulf Coast.

The rainfall that inundated the coast totaled 50 inches in a 24-hour period; it set a continental U.S. record for most rain to fall during a single day.

Get a load of this: Researchers say that climate change — or you can call it “global warming” — worsened the rainfall by about 15 percent.

Not that a 15-percent increase created the tragedy that brought so much suffering to Houston, the Coastal Bend and the Golden Triangle. A 40-inch rainfall would have done plenty of damage, too … correct?

According to the Texas Tribune: ” … two independent research teams, one based in The Netherlands and the other in California, reported that the deluge from Hurricane Harvey was significantly heavier than it would have been before the era of human-caused global warming. One paper put the best estimate of the increase in precipitation at 15 percent. The other said climate change increased rainfall by 19 percent at least, with a best estimate of 38 percent.”

Read the Tribune story here.

However, the federal government keeps insisting that climate change is a “hoax,” that it’s a made-up creation of “fake news” and the Chinese government, which is trying to undermine the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

It’s no hoax. We can debate its cause. I happen to believe human activity has contributed to climate change. To call it a phony story, though, puts millions of Americans in extreme peril.

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.