Category Archives: environmental news

Climate change: existential threat

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden has blasted his way out of the chute determined to make good on proclamations he made along the campaign trail.

He has a pandemic with which to deal. He vows to restore our worldwide alliances. Biden vows to boost our economy with a titanic stimulus package. Oh, and he wants to tackle climate change head-on, full throttle.

I want to explore briefly the climate change matter.

In one of his first acts as president, Biden signed an executive order returning the United States to the worldwide Paris Climate Accord, from which Donald Trump pulled this nation.

Then he named John Kerry the head of a newly created position, special envoy on climate change. Kerry comes to this task with an impressive personal and professional record: combat veteran of the Vietnam War, senator from Massachusetts, secretary of state during the second term of the Barack Obama administration.

He now takes on the role of climate change envoy to communicate with the world on policies enacted by the Biden administrationĀ  dealing with climate change.

President Biden isĀ  taking precisely the opposite approach to climate change than the one articulated by Donald Trump. Biden calls climate change an “existential threat” to the nation; Trump calls it a “hoax.” It isn’t a hoax. It’s the real thing. It is harming us tangibly. It poses a threat to Earth and to our ability over the long term to continue to thrive, let alone survive, on the only planet we can call home.

Biden wants to suspend oil and natural gas leases. He intends to re-energize — no pun intended — efforts to develop renewable energy sources. The president plans to restore the tougher air quality rules andĀ  regulations that Donald Trump rescinded.

John Kerry doesn’t take on this task peering through sparkly glasses. He is realistic about the threat. Kerry said recently that even if we reduce carbon emissions today to “zero,” we still might be unable to reverse the effects of climate change on Earth’s environment.

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I must add an important caveat to what I hope is a concerted effort to stem to effect of climate change. Someone will have to explain to me how our military establishment will operate the equipment it uses in a climate-friendly manner. Our jets, naval vessels, and our vast array of land vehicles — tanks, trucks, fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers — require fossil fuels to operate. If we can find our way to balance those needs with strategies that attack the existential threat many of us believe is out there … then we might be able to save the world.

I want to give President Biden a push in the direction he needs to go to attack climate change.

Hoping for more than climate change lip service

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President-elect Joe Biden is giving an abundance of lip service to climate change, global warming, clean energy development as he continues to formulate an executive government.

He did so yet again today in revealing his choices to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department and the Energy Department.

Look, I believe the president-elect is sincere in his state desire to tackle what he has called the greatest “existential threat” to our national security. I agree with him. However, I intend to watch intently as the new president starts rolling out the policies that will put some meat on the rhetorical bones that President-elect Biden is delivering on the climate change issue.

I want to see investments made in clean energy development. Energy Secretary-designate Jennifer Granholm spoke to that desire when she spoke to us after Biden introduced her. Indeed, the POTUS-elect has talked about climate change initiatives as being job creators. He has said he wants to employ millions of Americans in clean energy development.

Climate change and global warming do present a grave threat to the nation. The gloom-and-doomers among us suggest it might be too late for humankind to stem the effects of our changing climate. I am not going to buy into that notion.

I want my government and the president I supported with my vote to contribute more than lip service. We need federal policies that will help us harvest the wind, the ocean tides and other clean renewable energy sources to do the job upon which we continue to rely on fossil fuels.

Those fossil fuels have their limits. They also are contributing to that existential threat that our new president says is endangering our planet.

Mr. President-elect, it’s time to get busy. As in immediately.

Push toward energy alternatives? Yes

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A nation is watching a government take shape.

President-elect Joe Biden is systematically appointing Cabinet and high-level advisors at a brisk clip. They are by and large competent, knowledgeable and forward-thinking. I don’t see any real clunkers in the group.

We’re going to get an energy secretary who once served as governor of Michigan. Jennifer Granholm is expected to take over from Dan Brouilette as soon as the Senate confirms her. What do I want from the new energy boss? Well, I want something that’s been missing for the past four years under Brouilette and from former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who preceded him as energy boss. I want an emphasis on renewable energy.

Will this be part of the Granholm agenda when she takes over as head of the Department of Energy? It damn sure better be.

What was most troubling to me about Rick Perry’s tenure at Energy was his silence on the issue of renewable energy … the clean energy that could replace fossil fuel-driven energy. What disappointed me was that while he was governor of Texas, we saw wind energy farms sprouting like wildflowers all over West Texas. Perry’s tenure as governor saw a huge investment in the kind of energy that promotes environmental protection while heating and cooling our homes and delivering electricity to business and industry throughout the state.

Indeed, Texas became the nation’s leading producer of wind-generated electricity during Perry’s time as governor. Then he ran for president twice; he called Donald Trump a “cancer on conservatism,” pulled out of the 2016 contest and then got selected to serve as energy secretary during the first part of the Trump administration. He must have made a pledge to keep quiet about his record in Texas, because we didn’t hear much from him about alternative energy sources.

President-elect Biden is expected to select Gov. Granholm as the nation’s next energy secretary. He also is committing considerable interest and resources to battling climate change. He has named former Secretary of State John Kerry as his international climate envoy and former Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy as the nation’s domestic climate change guru.

Fossil fuel production and the carbon emissions that choke our air have caused a worldwide crisis with its impact on our planet’s climate. The nation’s energy secretary can play a key role in stemming that trend and perhaps guide us toward a reversal of fortune.

Jennifer Granholm must be able and willing to take that lead. So must the man who will nominate her to the key job. President Biden has stated clearly and without equivocation that climate change presents a dire threat to our national security. He needs to give the next energy secretary the go-ahead to attack that problem head-on.

Welcome back, John Kerry

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Good show, Mr. President-elect.

Joe Biden has delivered on a key campaign promise, which was to re-elevate the worldwide climate crisis to the top of the presidential administration’s priority list.

Biden has named former Secretary of State John Kerry as head of a climate change post within the National Security Council. This is a clear signal that President-elect Biden intends to put Kerry to work full time on searching for solutions to the worldwide crisis that, indeed, poses a national security threat of the first order.

I am delighted (a) to see John Kerry brought back into public service and (b) to know that Joe Biden intends to follow through on a key campaign promise to devote sufficient energy and emotional capital to the world’s most glaring international threat.

Kerry made climate change a key focus of his time as secretary of state, seeking to persuade his peers around the world of the need to curb the impact of carbon emissions and other human-caused effects on the world’s climate.

There can be no doubt that the climate is changing. There also should be no doubt that human activity has led to an acceleration of that change. I won’t buy into the notion that the change is part of some natural epochal cycle over which we have no control. We must seek ways to do whatever is humanly possible to stem the effects of the changing climate.

The new president is making it clear he intends to do what he can.

I applaud his decision to bring John Kerry back onto the field of battle against climate change.

Bring back climate accords!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President-elect Biden vowed during his winning campaign to commit to restoring our nation’s effort to head off climate change.

Donald Trump had pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accord agreement, citing perceived damage to U.S. jobs. Well, Trump is leaving office and Biden has listed a number of executive orders he intends to sign on Day One of the new presidency.

One of them would revoke Trump’s order removing the nation from the climate accords. It would return to the United States to the community of nations that believes — as many Americans do — that climate change needs international attention.

The climate accords intend to reduce carbon emissions that are blamed for much of the planet’s changing climate.

I am one American who fears the effect of climate change. I am afraid of the rising sea levels; the frequency and increasing intensity of hurricanes scare the daylights out of me; the prolonged droughts out west and the intense wildfires that this year have destroyed millions of acres of forestland and timber give me grave concern.

Donald Trump’s response to the wildfires? Do a better job of raking up dead and dry tinder from the forest floor!

Joe Biden sees the climate change for what it is: an existential threat to Planet Earth.

He wants to reassert our national leadership throughout the world.

One of the executive orders he intends to sign to restore our commitment to the Paris Climate Accord is a signal of our return to the world stage.

No. 1 issue? Climate change

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

If someone were to ask me about the top priority facing the president of the United States, I would place climate change at the top of the list of “existential threats” that needs our attention.

Donald J. Trump is a lost cause on that one. He calls climate change/global warming a “hoax.” He pushes for more fossil fuel drilling and development; he has pulled the nation out of the Paris Climate Accords that establishes a framework for cutting carbon emissions; he has been silent on deforestation.

The wildfires that have ravaged several western states are essentially the direct result of climate change. Trump’s answer? He calls on states to sweep the forest floor clean of dead trees that provide fuel for the fires.

This is where Joe Biden can deliver the goods if he is elected president. Oh, how I hope that happens 36 days from now.

He said he would return to the Climate Accords. Biden has vowed to invest in clean energy technology. He vows to work with Congress — where he served for 36 years before being elected vice president in 2008 — to find common ground on legislative solutions to this growing threat to the only planet we can call home.

Trump is clueless. He is feckless. He is reckless in his declarations of “hoax.”

The men will face off tonight in the first of three debates. May the better man — and I consider him to be Joe Biden — return climate change to the front edge of the top shelf of issues that need presidential attention.

Reinvest in renewables

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Politics is everywhere, including places where it doesn’t belong.

As Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden notes, fires and hurricanes don’t discriminate between “red and blue states.” He is seeking to rely on science to determine what the national response should be to fight what he has identified correctly as an existential threat to the nation.

That is climate change.

Donald Trump took office in January 2017 and began dismantling environmental rules and regulations established by the Obama administration. He fought to restore a full-throttle fossil fuel exploratory policy.

What the president ignored is that Obama’s effort to develop clean, renewable energy actually contributed to this nation’s independence from foreign-produced fossil fuels. Do you recall when Republicans blasted Hillary Clinton for saying in 2016 that she intended to eliminate jobs related to the coal industry? They ignored the rest of her statement, which was that she intended to replace those jobs with those associated with renewable energy development.

So it was prior to the time Donald Trump took office.

The Pacific Coast wildfires are the direct result of a changing worldwide climate, as scientists have affirmed. Trump is casting aside those analyses. He said “forest management” needs improvement, which he insists will prevent the explosive fires that have incinerated more than 4 million acres in California, Oregon and Washington.

Joe Biden is vowing for all he is worth to restore the effort to develop renewable energy sources. I haven’t heard him say he would propose ending fossil fuel exploration and development.

We have on our hands a direct national security threat that has nothing to do with terrorism. It has everything to do with the changing climate that is bringing untold destruction in the form of fire, heavy wind, shattering coastal surf.

This great nation needs national leadership from the top of the governmental chain of command. It isn’t getting it from the individual in charge at this moment. I am quite confident we will receive it when we replace him with someone who will listen intently to scientists who know what they are talking about.

Trump denies science … wow!

(Photo credit should read ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Donald Trump plastered a silly grin on his mug and then told a California environmental analyst that “I don’t think science knows” about the cause of wildfires that have incinerated millions of acres in three Pacific Coast states.

Trump ventured to California to inspect the damage done by the fires that have scorched about 5 million acres in Oregon and Washington in addition to California. He continues to insist that the way to prevent the intense fires is to practice something called “forest management.” He contends the states aren’t doing enough of it to keep the forests from igniting.

What he ignores, of course, is that much of the timber that has been burned stands on federal land, which comprises a great deal of the real estate in states out west.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom made it clear that in his view there is no “debate” over the existence of climate change. I happen to agree with the governor. I also happen to agree with scientists around the world that human activity has contributed greatly to the changing climate and that we are hurtling toward the point where Earth likely cannot be saved from the catastrophe that awaits.

So, to hear the president of the United States continue to deny scientific findings because he “thinks” science can be wrong displays a level of ignorance that puts the entire planet in dire peril.

Forest management vs. climate change?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Donald J. Trump continues to deny the impact of climate change on our nation and the world.

He went to California today to “inspect” the damage being done by fires that are ravaging the Pacific Coast states.

Does he say a word — anything at all — that recognizes the impact that climate change is delivering to those suffering from Mother Nature’s wrath? Nope. He said states need to do a better job of “managing” their forests. They need to clean them up better, get rid of the fuel that dries up and explodes in flames.

Oh, wait! How does this situation develop? I am going to presume that climate change is bringing about the intense fires.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared that the “debate is over” regarding climate change. I believe the governor is correct. I also believe the president is wrong to focus on forest management as a way to extinguish the flames.

What’s happening back home?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I lived in Oregon for my first 34 years of life on this Earth.

Not until this year have I seen the devastation that is occurring at this moment in my beloved home state.

I am heartbroken. Moreover, I am aghast at the scope of the fires that have swept through entire neighborhoods in the southern part of the state. I saw the pictures this morning out of Phoenix, a town near Medford. Words escape me.

What are we to make of the destruction that is threatening the Pacific Coast region? Washington is ablaze, as is California. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants to label the fires “climate change fires,” not just “wildfires.” Inslee ran briefly for president this year, vowing to make climate change the signature issue of an Inslee administration. He won’t get the chance to set federal policy as president, but he is making a valid point about what climate change is doing to my home state and the states that border it north and south.

Will the federal government pay attention? We can be assured that Donald Trump won’t listen to the pleas of the governor he called a “snake” earlier this year. I doubt he’ll listen to Oregon Gov. Kate Walsh, or to California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Their biggest “sin,” along with Inslee, is that they are Democrats who also happen to believe that Earth’s climate is changing and that human activity has contributed greatly to what is happening at this very moment to their states.

I, too, believe climate change has exacerbated the destruction from the flames. I also want the federal government to step up its fight against the factors that have contributed to the unfolding tragedy.

I am enough of a realist to understand that the feds’ involvement will remain muted as long as Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office. Let the peril facing our good Earth be just one more reason to send the current president packing.