Category Archives: environmental news

Let’s set differences aside

Media representatives have been yapping in the past few days about the “political differences” that exist between President Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

They point out that the differences might stand in the way of the federal government rushing aid to the stricken state in the wake of Hurricane Ian’s destruction.

Let’s set the differences aside … shall we?

DeSantis is being talked about as a potential 2024 Republican candidate for president. Joe Biden is likely to run for re-election.

First things first. President Biden has some comforting to deliver to beleaguered fellow Americans. One of them happens to be his potential rival, DeSantis.

The two men will meet later today. They likely will talk repeatedly in the weeks to come as the feds seek to help Florida rebuild from the destruction that Ian brought to the state’s Gulf Coast.

There will be time for the political stuff. I am not interested in hearing about the differences between these men. I just want them to reach out to each other in search of common ground to repair the lives shattered by Mother Nature’s wrath.

Change of weather brings cheer

I want to take a moment or two away from politics and policy to extol the virtues of seasonal change.

It took a few days after the official arrival of the autumnal equinox, aka the arrival of fall, but I am feeling a bit more cheerful tonight.

The weather topped out here in North Texas at something a bit north of 80 degrees. It began to cool dramatically as the sun approached the western horizon.

I do look forward to the seasonal changes. From summer to autumn is particularly welcome this year. It was as if spring never really arrived. We froze for weeks on end during the winter of 2021-22. Then summer arrived … with a vengeance!

I joked this morning that I was “ready for summer” when I saw that the temperature was 47 degrees. I was just kidding, of course.

I am not kidding, though, in welcoming autumn’s arrival. Soon enough, autumn will give way to winter. There’s chatter out there about whether our electrical grid can withstand another killer freeze which paralyzed us in February 2021.

I won’t worry about that just yet. I just want to welcome the seasonal change. It’s always a good day when we can go from dawn to dusk without turning on the air conditioner.

TEA party goes silent over aid to Florida

Hey, do you remember the TEA party gadflies who bitched out loud over billions of dollars in federal aid going to states battling natural disasters?

They would gripe about spending money without cutting expenses elsewhere to pay for the aid. My favorite example was the aid earmarked for Joplin, Mo., years ago as that city sought to recover from tornado damage; some Republicans in Congress resisted, demanding cuts in spending to pay for the aid.

Now come the Florida hurricane relief efforts. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of the TEA party golden boys, has resisted sending aid to other parts of the country. This time? He wants all he can get. Frankly, the state he governs deserves it! However, where are the TEA party stalwarts who complain about spending this kind of money.

Oh, wait. It might be because Gov. DeSantis is a rising political star and, by golly, the TEA party faithful dare not deny his state the assistance it deserves.

We are, after all, the United States of America.

Yet another salute to first responders

Hurricane Ian has become the latest natural enemy No. 1 to visit the United States of America.

The storm slammed into Florida’s Gulf Coast, bringing storm surges that exceeded 12 feet. The death count from the monster storm has yet to be ascertained, but I did hear that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has predicted it could go into “the hundreds.”

Oh, my. We are left where the weather has been gorgeous to pray for the first responders who do what they do, which is they run toward the danger. Firefighters, police officers, medical EMTs all have answered the call, which they promise to do when they pin the badges to their shirts.

Texans who are no strangers to natural calamity have rushed to aid. Oncor, the electric utility, has deployed 500 technicians to help restore power to millions of Floridians. The Cajun navy, comprising residents and their boats headed toward the storm. Texas Baptist Men, long involved in assisting where emergencies arise, again are on the job.

President Biden has declared Florida to be major disaster area, which means the federal government will expedite aid as officials on site ascertain their needs.

That’s what residents of the United States of America do. They rush to the aid of others.

Meanwhile, the rest of the nation can offer plenty of prayer and good karma.

Will the king follow the queen’s example?

Queen Elizabeth II established many hallmarks that set her apart during her 70-year reign as the United Kingdom’s monarch. One of them was her reticence to get involved politically.

As near as anyone could tell, Her Majesty kept every single opinion she had on pressing issues of the day to herself. She chose to keep the most private counsel possible.

She is now gone, of course. King Charles III has ascended to the throne. His Majesty has spent a good bit of his life getting involved — deeply, I should add — in matters that affect the entire world. I am thinking of this moment of climate change. He also has been outspoken about HIV/AIDS research and, while he was married to his first wife, Princess Diana, in the proliferation of land mines left behind after conflicts around the world.

These all are noble causes that deserved royal attention and his great and eternal credit, the king lent his name to those efforts.

As an outsider looking in from far away, I am left to wonder now whether King Charles III will use his even more elevated platform to continue the fight against climate change. Or will he follow his dear Mum’s example and step away, seeking to preserve the standing she enjoyed as the universally loved and admired British monarch?

On the matter involving climate change, I hope he chooses the former path and continues to lend his considerable standing to the planet’s greatest existential threat.

We only have one planet to inhabit. We need to take care of it. Your Majesty, lend your voice to that battle.

Climate change: legislative target

President Biden’s recent success has prompted plenty of discussion about whether his political standing will hold up through the 2024 election, presuming he actually runs for re-election.

I want to look briefly at one aspect of Biden’s hot streak. It’s the Inflation Reduction Act and the provision contained in it that deals straight ahead with what I consider to be the nation’s most serious existential threat: climate change.

Forbes magazine has taken a good look at specific aspects of the IRA. Here is its summary of the climate change aspect of the law:

The bill includes numerous investments in climate protection, including tax credits for households to offset energy costs, investments in clean energy production and tax credits aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

Now, I have to ask: Why is any of that such a bad thing?

The Inflation Reduction Act is a slimmed-down version of Biden’s Build Back Better legislative ideal. He couldn’t get all Democrats — let alone any Republicans — to buy into the initial version of the bill. So, he settled on this dialed-back facsimile.

What I find horribly disconcerting from GOP critics is their insistence that efforts to curb carbon emissions is a “job killer.” In a way, yes, this emphasis will reduce jobs … in the fossil fuel industry. The payback, though, comes with investment in new clean-energy jobs. 

Here’s What’s In The Inflation Reduction Act – Forbes Advisor

You might recall a statement that 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said about her plan to convert to clean energy. She pledged to virtually eliminate fossil fuel jobs; her foes led by GOP nominee Donald Trump hammered her mercilessly. Except that she said in the very next sentence that she would want to replace those fossil fuel jobs with clean energy jobs.

Here’s a bit more from Forbes: Though the bill may fall short of bringing immediate price relief to consumers, it’s monumental in other ways. According to The Wilderness Society, a nonprofit land conservation organization established in 1935, the Inflation Reduction Act is described as a “breakthrough” on climate policy.

A “breakthrough on climate policy”? I agree about whether this bill bring much immediate relief on inflation. However, I am going to retain a belief that tax breaks and household incentives are going to bring immediate relief to the stresses humankind is putting on our fragile planet.

Democrats have earned it

President Biden is going to get a bill quite soon that won’t have any Republican votes attached to it. The blunt truth is that I wished for at least a smattering of GOP support from Congress to send the Inflation Reduction Act to the president.

Alas, it didn’t happen. However, I am going to say loudly and clearly that Democrats in the Senate and the House have done well for those of they represent across the land.

House Democrats today stood together to enact the IRA. It seeks to reduce inflation, seeks to reduce carbon emissions, seeks to reduce the cost of drugs.

Republicans, of course, say it doesn’t do anything to help us. I will disagree with their bloviating.

The Inflation Reduction Act represents a significant effort to curb climate change. Indeed, it is this nation’s largest-ever investment to help curb carbon emissions.

I have to ask: Why is that a bad thing?

It’s not a bad thing at all! Republican obstructionists, though, remain bound to their commitment to block anything President Biden and Democrats want to accomplish.

It is to their everlasting shame. Democrats, meanwhile, have earned the nation’s gratitude. They have, as Joe Biden once declared, produced a big fu**ing deal.

Not even close …

This isn’t anything like the way I envisioned legislation would proceed upon the election in 2020 of Joe Biden as president of the United States.

I envisioned a return to the type of collegiality and compromise one could see with a president with decades of legislative experience working with members of Congress to enact laws that would do good things for Americans.

What have we seen? More gridlock. More obstruction from the loyal opposition. More partisan wrangling.

Democrats are cheering the enactment of what they call the Inflation Reduction Act. The Senate vote was 50-50, leaving the tie-breaking vote to come from Vice President Harris.

The bill isn’t perfect, but it includes the nation’s largest investment ever on ways to battle the planet’s changing climate. It seeks to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. It is paid for by taxes being leveled on corporations.

The Grand Obstructionist Party fought all of it. Tooth and nail. Hammer and tong.

President Biden’s predecessor took office without a lick of government experience … and it showed. He couldn’t negotiate his way out of a phone booth. Biden took office in January 2021 making what I thought at the time was a reasonable pledge to restore a sense of commonality between Democrats and Republicans.

Silly me. It hasn’t worked. GOP members of both congressional chambers continue to dig in, even to the point of denying that Joe Biden even is the “legitimate president of the United States.” Yes, they have swallowed The Big Lie and are obstructing the president at every turn.

But … Democrats won this latest battle. I am glad and grateful at least to see one side of the great divide working on my behalf.

Small, but weighty difference

I want to mention a small but significant point I have sought to make since the moment I learned that Joe Biden had been elected president of the United States.

Given the context of the mood set by his immediate predecessor, I believe it’s important.

President Biden this past week issued a disaster declaration for the residents of Kentucky who’ve been ravaged by rampaging floodwaters. The deluge has killed at least 26 Kentuckians. The president was quick to unleash federal assistance to help the beleaguered state cope with mounting misery.

In 2019, wildfires torched many thousands of acres of timberland in California. What was Donald Trump’s response in the moment? It was to scold California forestry officials for “poor management policies” relating to the forests.

Biden offered the disaster declaration for a state he lost big-time to Trump in the 2020 election. Trump decided to single out California, which he lost in 2016 to Hillary Clinton, for alleged mismanagement.

Do you get the picture?

Joe Biden understands that when disaster strikes the nation should rally behind its citizens. Donald Trump sought in the moment to use a similar opportunity to stick his finger in the eye of his political foes.

Therein lies one of the many reasons I am glad that Joe Biden is the president of the United States.

Panhandle spoiled us!

My wife and I started a new life with our sons when we moved from the Pacific Northwest to the Golden Triangle region of Texas in the spring of 1984.

It was there that we got acquainted with the legendary Texas heat and humidity. We got acclimated — eventually! — and lived in Beaumont for nearly 11 years before my wife and I (the boys had since gone off to college) relocated again, this time settling in the faraway High Plains of the Panhandle.

It was the Panhandle where we discovered something else about this wonderful place we now call home. It is that the Caprock of West Texas has four distinct seasons … and that the summer, which can get brutally hot, does bring relief on occasion, even during the hottest period of the year.

It spoiled us. We grew accustomed to the lack of humidity in Amarillo, with its 3,676-foot elevation above sea level and its proximity to the Rocky Mountains.

We stayed in Amarillo for 23 years, which is the longest stint we ever have completed during our nearly 51 years of marriage.

Then we moved to the Metroplex in late 2018. We settled in Princeton, which is about 30 miles northeast of Dallas and, more importantly, is about nine miles NE of our granddaughter, who lives in Allen with her Mommy, Daddy and her two brothers.

It has been in Princeton where we’ve been reacquainted with the Texas humidity that accompanies the heat.

It’s been hot, man! We’ve had more than 30 days this summer of 100-degree-plus days. It’s not the hottest on record. For us, though, it’s been too hot, given that we are still feeling spoiled by all those years up yonder on the Caprock.

This is my way of reminding my bride and me that we’ll just need to suck it up and settle in every year for the Dog Days of summer … and remember what it was like when we first arrived in Texas those many years ago.