Category Archives: environmental news

Hey, it’s still just spring!

You’ll remember, I am sure, when we all were bitching about the freezing temperatures, about how winter just wouldn’t release its grip on North Texas.

It wasn’t that long ago, right?

Well, we don’t have to gripe about shivering at night.

The weather guys and gals are telling us we’re going to set heat records this weekend in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area. Temps are going to approach 100 degrees Fahrenheit!

Now, let me be clear about something. I am not going to launch into a climate change rant; I’ll save that for another day.

I just want to remind everyone — I hope you’re sitting down for this — that the start of summer is still five weeks away!

Stay cool, y’all.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Earth deserves more than a ‘day’

Mother Earth is going to have her “day” at the end of this work week.

They set aside April 22 as Earth Day each year, when we humans are supposed to keep Earth at the top of our awareness. We’re asked to commit to do whatever we can to save our planet from the destruction we have brought to it.

My goodness! Our fragile planet deserves far more than a single day to earn our honor, our attention and our concern over its health.

It’s the only planet we can inhabit! We have eight other planets circling our sun. None of them contains the combination of air, water and just the right atmospheric pressure and composition to allow human beings to live and prosper.

Beyond our solar system? Who knows what’s out there?

I know there’s nothing I can do from my cheap-seat perch to elevate this day, to turn it into something more meaningful. I only can lament that we dedicate only one calendar day to recognizing that Mother Earth deserves to be protected always.

The U.S. government founded the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970; Earth Day came into being that same year. The planet’s overall health has deteriorated since Earth Day’s founding. Our climate is warming and it is changing. Sea levels are rising. Ice caps are melting. Wildlife is threatened. Our air quality makes us cough and gasp.

OK, I don’t want to leave you with a total downer. We live in a community — Princeton, Texas — that encourages us to recycle material that otherwise would go into the landfill; we do so gladly. We live in a state that over the past 20 years has become a leading supplier of wind energy, which is a far better alternative than the very fossil fuels that contribute to our climate change.

Those matters give me a glimmer of hope that we might be able to forestall the destruction of our planet. I don’t want to believe human beings’ conduct will result in the inevitable demise of Planet Earth.

If we could devote more than a single day to honor our fragile world, then perhaps we can increase my hope from a glimmer to a bright light.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Biden energy policy undergoes big shift

It pains me to say this, but it appears that President Biden is flailing as he seeks to grapple with skyrocketing energy prices.

The president made a vigorous pledge during the 2020 campaign that there would “never” be drilling for oil on federal land were he elected to the nation’s highest office. I applauded the pledge when he made it.

Now he has changed his mind in a major fashion. The president now will allow that drilling to boost the supply of fossil fuel. He said times have changed since the 2020 campaign, requiring a pivot from that environmentally sound policy pronouncement.

The price of gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products has zoomed skyward, causing considerable pain at the pump for millions of Americans.

Still, Biden’s decision has angered environmental activists. I am not officially one of the “angry” Americans. I am just disappointed in the president’s policy reversal, which isn’t likely to have much of an impact on the price of fuel we are paying.

Joe Biden has sought to steer the nation toward a more renewable energy posture. Critics suggest any diminishing of the fossil fuel industry deprives Americans of jobs. What they ignore, though, is that green-energy job creation can help soften such job losses.

What’s more, efforts to rely more on alternatives to fossil fuels free the nation of any dependence on foreign sources of oil … while creating a cleaner environment that helps stem the damage caused by climate change.

President Biden is feeling the heat — no pun intended — from those who want relief from high fuel prices. If only he could stop flailing.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Weather changes … rapidly!

You know how it goes if you live in Texas; if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes … it’ll change.

Man, oh man. Did it ever change Monday!

We had been battling dry wind. Well, last night the dry wind turned wet and really violent! Twisters destroyed schools in Jacksboro and homes there and in Bowie. The rain pummeled us in Collin County and in all points throughout the Metroplex.

We are hearing this morning about stricken communities digging themselves out of the rubble and lending a hand to help those in trouble. That became an old story long ago around here, but it’s always one worth re-telling.

Spring arrived this past weekend and it got here with a vengeance.

We are counting our blessings today and we are wishing, hoping and praying for all the very best for our stricken neighbors.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Long-term solution needs attention

The immediate impact of the world’s current crisis in Ukraine has been profound and powerful with the skyrocketing cost of fossil fuels — the gasoline and diesel we pour into our motor vehicles to get us from place to place.

It is affecting our plans here in North Texas, forcing my wife and me to rethink our travel plans as we move through this challenging year.

With that I want to offer a brief look at how this nation ought to deal with the immediate crisis. We ought not worry ourselves sick over immediate solutions but look ahead farther down the proverbial road at longer-term fixes. I refer to “green energy.”

We still consume a lot of oil-based products we pump out of the ground. That energy source is finite. There’s only so much of it we can remove from beneath Earth’s surface. Once it’s gone, it’s gone … forever.

Texas, though, has taken the lead on renewable energy sources, along with continuing to be among the world’s leaders in producing fossil fuels. We are continuing to invest in wind energy and in solar energy.

As far as I can tell, that old wind is going to keep blowing until the end of time. Take it from me, as someone who spent 23 years on the West Texas Caprock, I am well-acquainted with the power of wind and the potential it brings to keep the lights on. Any kilowatt hour we can generate from a wind turbine takes away what we need to produce from fossil fuel.

The Russians keep talking about cutting off oil supplies to Europe and beyond. The United States still imports some oil from Russia. If the Russians make good on a threat to cut us off, too, then the price is going to skyrocket to even higher levels.

The climate-change deniers debunk green energy as the stuff of washed-up hippies. Baloney! It is a serious alternative to the way we fuel our current lifestyle. Is there a short-term repair to the damage we are feeling at this moment? Not really. If we look at the longer term, we can keep our eyes on the bigger prize, which is the harvesting of energy from endless sources.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Getting ready for worst

As I write this blog post, I am sitting in my North Texas home prepared for the worst from the latest winter storm to roll in over us.

To be clear, it’s not that I expect the worst. It’s just that after what we endured a year ago when millions of Texans froze in the dark during zero-degree winter blasts, no one I am aware of is taking any chances this year.

A member of our family told us this morning she ventured to the grocery store to buy some food and found the shelves “terribly picked over.” Seems that others in her neighborhood had the same thought. Oh, by the way, she said she and her family are well-stocked and ready for what is coming.

The Texas Tribune reports: The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the grid, issued a winter storm watch through Sunday, saying it expects high energy demand through the duration of the cold front. But even with sleet, snow and ice predicted for a large swath of the state, ERCOT says it has sufficient power generation to meet the anticipated demand.

What a Texas winter storm means for the power grid | The Texas Tribune

The weather forecasters and the TV news presenters over the past couple of days have spoken to viewers with a twinge of frantic urgency in their voices. The blast that is rolling in isn’t as dramatic as what we endured a year ago, but our experience from February 2021 is too fresh in our memories for us to take it too lightly.

My wife has sheltered some of her treasured plants around the front of our house; she has filled several containers with fresh water; we’ve secured some candles; oh, and Toby the Puppy is going nowhere outside unless he insists that he has to relieve himself (he’ll let us know).

We didn’t suffer nearly the misery that many other Texans endured a year ago. Our lights were out for a few hours; we lost water for a little more than a day. Yes, there were those who suffered through several dark and waterless days in 2021. Still, we are prepared for the worst of this next winter blast.

We are going to hope for the best. We might even offer a prayer.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Nervous about the chill

This past winter’s big freeze and the misery it created has inflicted me with the nervous jerks as we prepare for this winter’s first big chill.

The temperature in North Texas is going to dip tonight into the low 20s, with wind chills registering in the low to mid-teens. There once was a time when I didn’t worry too much about whether the electricity and the water would hold up.

The disaster brought by the February 2021 freeze has disabused me of the complacency. We’re taking extra steps tonight to ensure we don’t lose water if the power goes out.

We likely should have been prepared better this past winter. We weren’t, I am ashamed to acknowledge. This year it’s different.

We also have that issue dealing with whether our electrical grid will hold up if Mother Nature returns another killer blast this winter. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the managers of our electrical grid, assure us — along with Gov. Greg Abbott — that our grid will hold up. ERCOT says we won’t suffer the misery we endured nearly a year ago.

ERCOT and Abbott had better be right on this one.

We aren’t going to place all our faith in their promises, though. We’ll hunker down and be ready for the worst if it comes.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Citizens need comfort in times of trouble

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

It occurs to me that one of the things we aren’t hearing from the White House in response to wildfires that are destroying people’s homes and dashing their dreams are lectures from the president about “better management” of the land.

Recall how Donald Trump once scolded Californians over the forest management as fires were decimating communities in the Sierra Nevada region. We aren’t hearing such a thing these days as Colorado battles fires and, yes, California faces the potential for more fires.

President Joe Biden isn’t wired to chastise political leaders of states that didn’t grant him their electoral votes in the previous election. Indeed, he ventured to Kentucky — a decidedly red state — after tornadoes tore through several towns; he hugged people’s necks and prayed with them.

You won’t hear this president follow the path blazed by his immediate predecessor. We should never hear that kind of churlishness from our head of state as people suffer such misery and heartache.

Let me be clear about something. There is an element of human management that needs to be examined. As Politico reports: California’s wildfire problems are fueled by decades of fire suppression, climate change and a persistent desire to escape city life. The state has seen some 40,000 structures destroyed since 2017 and the largest conflagrations in state history.

The fire suppression accounted for the immense destruction at Yellowstone National Park in the late 1980s. Yet one did not hear President Reagan chastise parks officials for “forest management” policies in1988.

My point is that when Americans are hurting, we need comfort and empathy from the president. We do not need to hear our national leader lecture state and local officials while their constituents are crying out for help.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

POTUS reverses predecessor’s denial

Joe Biden sees climate change as an existential threat to the nation and the world.

Donald Trump called it, among other things, a “hoax,” a figment of the “fake media” and its obsession with leftist policies.

Biden is correct. His predecessor is wrong. Biden was correct to return the United States to the Paris Climate Accord; Trump was wrong to pull us out the accords in 2017.

Which is why many of us are applauding President Biden’s decision to return to the climate change negotiating table and to hammer out potential solutions to what the scientific community has concluded: that humankind’s contribution to the changing world climate compels it to seek solutions.

Biden selected former Secretary of State John Kerry to serve as the administration’s spokesman on climate change issues. He brought Kerry with him to Glasgow to talk with other world leaders about the United States’ potential role in seeking answers to the crisis.

Indeed, Kerry is no novice at this level of international diplomacy. He served for four years as chief diplomat during the Obama administration. Prior to that he served in the U.S. Senate, ran for president in 2004 and distinguished himself as an articulate purveyor of national policy.

So, the United States is back in the climate change game.

That, I daresay, is a very good thing for the future of the planet. Or at least it could be a good thing if the industrialized world pulls its collective head out and gets busy seeking solutions.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

UN offers hope amid peril

ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The United Nations has offered the world a bad news/good news report on the state of Earth’s changing climate.

I’ll go with the bad news first: Climate change is here, it is now and the state of our planet’s climate is not well.

Now for the good news: It  is not too late to fix it.

The U.N. monitors these things for all 8 billion of us Earthlings. I mean, we need to know the state of the only habitable planet known to humankind. The report comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It says in part, according to Wired: “We’ve known for decades that the world is warming, but this report tells us that recent changes in the climate are widespread, rapid, and intensifying—unprecedented in thousands of years,” said Ko Barrett, IPCC vice chair and senior adviser for climate at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, at a press conference Sunday announcing the report. “The bottom line is that unless there are immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C—or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit—will be beyond reach.”

I get it. I hope you do, too. Here is a glimmer of hope from the IPCC. We have it within our power to slow the rate of increase in the worldwide temperature, which could forestall a global environmental catastrophe. President Biden has said he wants to cut carbon emissions by half over the next couple of decades. He has appointed former Secretary of State John Kerry as the nation’s international climate diplomat.

There once was a theory that we had passed the point of no return on climate change. That theory has changed somewhat. Environmentalists suggest now that it we can do more.

Climate change is not the “hoax” that too many deniers have called it. The wildfires out west, the flooding in the east, the rising sea levels, the diminishing polar ice caps, the deforestation that continues in the Third World all provide all the proof I need that we need to get busy.

The UN Climate Report: All Is Not Well—but All Is Not Lost (msn.com)

Time is not our friend, ladies and gentlemen.