Category Archives: environmental news

City, college scrap recycling program … damn!

This bit of news out of Commerce and the university that serves North and Northeast Texas simply is astounding.

KETR-FM radio reports that the city of Commerce and Texas A&M University-Commerce have abandoned the recycling program that had been functioning in the city since 2016.

Why is this so distressing? Because I have spoken with officials who recycle material in Princeton and in other North Texas communities and they proclaim great success with the effort. It has reduced landfill waste by nearly one-third, say Community Waste Disposal officials, preserving and extending the life of existing landfills. Indeed, recycling became a way of life in my house the moment my bride and I moved into Princeton.

That isn’t happening, apparently, in Commerce, a community about 50 miles east of Princeton.

KETR reports that the university and the city issued a press release announcing the termination of the recycling effort. According to The release, along with information obtained from Commerce City Hall, indicates that the reasons behind the decision include the rising costs of the program, the limited effectiveness stemming from misuse of the recycled collection bins, and a general lack of education with regard to how the recycling program was intended to work.

It appears that part of the problem stems from residents tossing household trash into recycling bins, which of course is a no-no to the company seeking to recycle the material it receives.

TAMUC, City of Commerce can local recycling program (

KETR reports further: “We regret that the current recycling program was not a good fit for our community at this time. We are exploring fiscally responsible recycling solutions that might work in the future,” says University Police Chief Brian Vaughn, who now directs the Department of Emergency Management and Safety for A&M-Commerce.

Not a “good fit” for the community? Is that for real? We are talking about a university town, full of students who ought to embrace the notion of recycling as a way to protect this precious planet of ours.

I am left almost without much to say about this except to offer my profound disappointment in a community I thought would embrace a program such as this as a statement in favor of protecting our cherished Mother Earth.

Climate is changing … period

Let’s be sure to wait for what’s to come this winter, as it likely will drive many environmentally conscious Americans to the verge of screaming out loud.

We have endured a searing summer, with high-temperature records falling seemingly every day. It has become almost a given in weather-watching circles that severe summers usually precede severe winters. We’ll go from very hot to very cold.

What will be the mantra we can expect to hear? It will come from climate-change deniers who, when trying to stay warm during the next frigid winter, will express open doubt that Earth indeed is getting warmer.

Let’s hold on for a moment, eh?

There’s a simple difference between the terms “weather” and “climate.” Weather is intended to examine day-to-day events. Climate looks at the longer term. So, when someone says the climate isn’t changing because it’s cold on a given winter day, then he or she is blowing it out of his backside.

Many of us prefer the current term of art, which is “climate change,” rather than “global warming.”

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association reports damn near every year about how our climate events are getting more frequent and more severe.

Of course, the linchpin argument centers on the reasons for the intense change. I happen to be one American patriot who believes human beings are significantly responsible for the change in our climate. Thus, I won’t listen to the climate-change deniers.

We are throwing carbon emissions into the air; we are cutting trees and removing plant life that turns carbon dioxide into oxygen. This isn’t happening by itself. It is happening because human beings are acting irresponsibly.

I am preparing for a severe winter. I also am getting ready to listen to the doubters who will deny the obvious, that our climate is changing.

A break on the way?

You have heard it said, I am certain, that “only a TV weatherman or woman can be so wrong, so often, and still have a job.” 

Well, kids, I heard a gem today from a Dallas/Fort Worth TV weatherman who said, with the sound of metaphysical certitude in his voice, that our oppressive heat is about to end.

He said “in a day or two” we are going to see temperatures plunge from the near-record 100-degree-plus temps to the 80s and then the 70s. It got my attention, to be sure.

I have boasted about my adaptability. Well, it has its limits. I never have liked extreme heat. For that matter, I don’t do well with extreme cold, either … but I won’t go there.

I am going to take this TV talking head at his word that the summer blast is coming to an end.

Toby the Puppy and I are getting ready to leave Princeton for a few days near the end of the month. I am hoping against all hope that we don’t run into any more of this furnace-like weather as we proceed westward.

I am ready for an end to it. If the weather guys and gals are wrong this time … they need to be canned!

Politics turns ugly in times of need

Don’t you just hate the gamesmanship that develops among politicians when disaster strikes communities, and even entire states? I do. It drives me batty.

For example …

President Biden traveled to Florida to examine he wreckage brought by Hurricane Idalia. Biden is running for re-election. One of the candidates wishing to succeed him is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of a thundering herd of Republicans seeking his party’s nomination.

Biden says the federal government “will take care of Florida.” He added that “I don’t know” what the governor’s plans are during his brief visit to the “hurricane state.”

This kind of crap seemingly occurs all the time. Politicians seeking high public office just don’t dare be seen on camera cozying up to other politicians against whom they might be running.

Do you recall the time in 2012 when Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey? Democratic President Barack Obama went to the Jersey Shore to see the damage. Republican Gov. Chris Christie greeted him and was photographed — get ready for it — with his arm around the president’s shoulder. 

The response from Republicans was astonishing, to say the least. How in the world could a GOP governor be so damn friendly to a Democratic president who was just doing his job as the nation’s consoler in chief? 

How about the time Republican President Bush embraced then-Democratic U.S. Senate leader Tom Daschle after delivering his speech to Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks? Or when he sought to console New York’s Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer by cupping Schumer’s face in his hands on the floor of Congress?

It’s common knowledge, of course, that we have only president at a time and that individual is on call 24/7 to respond to emergencies when they occur. One of the occurred this past week in Florida and Joe Biden is answering that call. Why does it matter one damn bit whether the governor of that state is running for the office that Joe Biden now occupies?

It shouldn’t matter!

DeSantis had me … then he lost me

Just as I was feeling pretty good about Florida Gov. Ron  DeSantis’s ability to do the job to which he was elected, he then stiffs me with a petulant slap at the Biden administration’s effort to help ease the pain of Floridians suffering from the effects of Hurricane Idalia.

DeSantis wants to become the Republican presidential nominee in 2024. He took time off from the campaign trail to inform Florida residents of the things his state’s government is trying to do to protect them against the hurricane. That’s what he was elected to do, yes? Of course!

Then the GOP governor says “no dice” to President Biden’s relief effort — part of the Inflation Reduction Act — that totaled $350 million. The feds can keep the money, DeSantis said. What? But … shoot, governor, it’s money that aims to help your residents, your constituents, the people to whom you are responsible!

As Politico reports: “It’s unfortunate that some officials are putting politics ahead of delivering meaningful progress for hard working Americans,” said White House spokesman Michael Kikukawa. “Despite this, President Biden and his administration are working with cities, counties, businesses, nonprofits, and other entities in the Sunshine State to ensure Floridians benefit from the lower costs and stronger economy delivered by his agenda.”

Yeah, it’s “unfortunate.” It’s also disgusting and petulant.

The IRA contains several energy-savings provisions in it. As Politico reports: The Biden administration has explored ways around the energy rebate blockade but has come up empty so far, according to federal and state officials. The IRA was written in a way that requires the rebates to go through a state energy office. Unlike many federal laws, there is no federal fallback option or way to circumvent an obstinate governor.

Gov. DeSantis, though, will have none of it, given that it just might reflect positively on President Biden.

Time for Hells Canyon National Park? Yes!

OK, Mr. President, this plea is for you, because I happen to believe you have the authority to act on this request from one or more of your constituents.

Would you please make the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area a national park? As you would say yourself: C’mon, man … you can do this!

Those of us with Pacific Northwest ties — such as yours truly — understand what a gorgeous stretch of river real estate along the Oregon-Idaho border we’re talking about.

Idaho has zero national parks designated within its state, although a tiny sliver of Yellowstone National Park along the Idaho-Wyoming border sits in Idaho. Oregon has just one, Crater Lake, which is a beaut to be sure.

Hells Canyon would add an impressive array of spectacular river gorge scenery to the national park roster as well.

Hells Canyon, as you know, Mr. President, is deeper than the Grand Canyon. The Snake River runs through the bottom of the canyon more than 7,000 from the rim. The Snake is a spectacular river system that flows into the Columbia River not far from Walla Walla, Wash.

I know you are aware of Hells Canyon, Mr. President. I appreciate the national recreation area designation for Hells Canyon, but to be called a “national park” gives the region some welcome ummpphh. 

There you have it, Mr. President. I know you’re busy, running for re-election and tending to national security issues. Give this at least some measured thought. Take a look at the place and you’ll see for yourself that it needs national park recognition.

Yep, climate is changing

The heat that is bearing down on us in Texas has quelled the arguments too often heard from those who deny the obvious.

Which is that Earth’s climate is changing … and that human beings are largely responsible for the intense warming we’re experiencing.

We keep setting heat records in the Dallas/Fort Worth area damn near daily. The weather forecasters look down the calendar for the next week to 10 days and they say the same thing: No relief is in sight.

Now, I truly understand the difference between weather and climate. It’s just that the current weather is acting like a harbinger of what we can expect in the years — maybe decades — to come.

National weather organizations tell us constantly that months are getting warmer; our ocean water is getting warmer, spurring more intense storms.

Many news networks long ago quit interviewing climate change deniers, telling us their arguments are not valid, that they promote lies. I’m fine with that.

And so, here we are. The summer of 2023 has been a brutal event so far.

I am ready for autumn. Then again, that remains the same as it has been for as long as I can remember.

Until then, I am quite content to live without listening to the crap offered by those who deny the obvious.

Heat wave: not a new issue

All this chatter about how hot the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean have become during this murderous summer heat wave reminds me of an episode my family and I experienced in the early 1990s.

We were living in Beaumont, Texas. One weekend I was mowing the lawn during a heat wave; the temperature was in the high 90s, the humidity was the same. It felt like 200 degrees out there.

Finally, I quit mowing. I walked inside and announced to my wife and sons, “We’re going to the beach!” We packed up our 1987 Honda Civic with coolers full of drinks, beach towels, a couple of folding chairs … and off we drove.

We headed south toward the Gulf of Mexico, we hung a left at Sabine Pass and drove to Holly Beach, La., one of our favorite — and unexplored — resorts on the coast. We drove our Honda onto the beach, piled out of the car and ran into the surf.

My … God! The water had to be 100 degrees!

So, this is my way of telling you that what we’re experiencing these days is nothing new. Am I dismissing the climate change/global warming arguments? Not … one … bit!

I am going to submit that the human impact on our climate has been decades in the making and that its effect has been felt long before what many of us are experiencing in the summer of 2023.

We are pouring carbon emissions into the air; we are ridding the planet of trees that replace the carbon dioxide with oxygen. Plenty of politicians have warned us that we are approaching — or have surpassed already — the point of no return. Others, including scientists, say we can still save this planet of ours.

We had better get busy. As of this very moment, it’s the only planet we have in this vast universe.

Green energy saves the day?

Well, I’ll be swathed in sunshine and whipped by the wind! Reports now indicate that green energy sources have kept Texans’ electricity running during the recent heat wave that blanketed the state.

According to The perfect meteorological conditions have allowed renewable energy generated by wind turbines and solar panels to supply the grids with enough power to meet demand, experts told ABC News.

This is heartening news to this armchair environmentalist.

ABC News reports: While natural gas is still the primary power source for the state’s grid, wind and solar energy are heavily contributing to the supply, data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas shows. On Thursday afternoon, solar produced 10,757 megawatts, while wind produced 7,433 megawatts, representing about 26% of the grid’s power.

At the same time, natural gas produced 33,514 megawatts – nearly 50% of the grid’s power – while coal and lignite produced 11,357 megawatts – about 17% – the ERCOT data showed.

I get that fossil fuels still provide most of the energy to run our power plants, but it does make me smile to learn that environmentally friendly sources are taking a larger bite out of the demand for electricity.

I just returned from a two-day jaunt to the Texas Panhandle, where I drove through many miles of wind farms. I watched the turbines turning furiously as the wind ripped across the Caprock. I always think consciously of the power being generated by those turbines and long for the day when we can wean ourselves of the finite fossil fuel sources that eventually — albeit over a lengthy period of time — will run out.

Check out ABC News’s story here:

Solar, wind energy keeping Texas power grids running amid weekslong heat wave – ABC News (

Another item from ABC News: Wind and solar are also the fastest-growing electricity sources in the country, with solar power accounting for 43% of the capacity added in 2020 and wind power amounting to 38%, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

I get that the sun will expire in — what? — in a million or two million years from now. Who knows what’ll happen to the wind source when the sun burns itself out?

For those who are worried about the here and now, the news about sun and wind playing increasing role in keeping the lights and conditioners running is good news, indeed.

What gives with ERCOT?

Here we go one more time and it ain’t likely to be the final time.

The Texas temperatures are rocketing into the triple digits and we’re starting to hear concern expressed on local media over whether the state’s electrical grid will be able to withstand the demand that we are going to place on it.

It’s the Winter Freeze of 2021 in reverse!

Back in February 2021, when Texans were freezing to death in the grip of that killer freeze, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas came under intense criticism for mishandling the power load placed on it. The power shut off, as did the water. We lucked out a bit in Princeton, in that our power was out only for a few hours; the water came back not long after it went down.

The state vowed to fix the power grid. To modernize it. To make it less vulnerable to the elements.

Most of the ERCOT board quit, as did the Public Utility Commission of Texas. New leadership meant changes, right?

Hah! Stop me from laughing out loud.

Summer has arrived! The temps are climbing. We’re getting advisories to conserve energy. Why? Because ERCOT — the seemingly misnamed electricity provider — needs help to keep the AC units running in this heat.

I am baffled as to why Texas — with its enormous supply of energy resources — cannot issue guarantees that its electrical grid will withstand the demands placed on it. It just remains a puzzle to me that a state such as Texas, which boasts constantly of its self-sufficiency, just gnaws on its proverbial fingernails when the temperature rises in the summer.

I mean, it’s not as though it’s a surprise! It gets damn hot around here every year at this time!