Category Archives: environmental news

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.

This ‘gift’ will benefit us

In case you’ve missed, they’ve been turning over some dirt along Beauchamp Blvd. We noticed the back side of the sign on the side of the street, so I looked at the other side to see the message.

It will be an 8.5-acre park, complete with a splash pad, playground equipment, walking paths and plenty of parking for those visiting the park.

The way I see it, this development — which is slated to be done by the spring of 2023 — only boosts our homes’ value. Not that it matters to my wife and me, as our home will be ours, um, forever.

Land for the park came as a gift to Princeton from the family of JJ (Book) Wilson, for whom the park will be named. Think of how cool that is, with the city receiving land as a gift, allowing the city to spend its money (our money, truth be told) on a tangible benefit for the city it serves.

Park space and green space is a marvelous use of that land.

We are thrilled in our house to see this park on its way, as it is within easy walking distance from our home.

It’s just another reason to make us glad we settled in Princeton.

Biden to use his power

President Biden has made a vow that many of us will seek to ensure he keeps it.

He pledges to use all the executive authority contained in his high office to wage war against climate change, which he labels — quite correctly — as an “existential threat” to the nation’s security.

Biden cannot depend on Congress to enact legislation. Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who seems to take pleasure in torpedoing Biden’s agenda, signaled yet again he won’t back any legislative answers to climate change.

That means, according to Biden, that he will use the power of his office to take whatever measures he can legally take.

Let’s understand that only one person is elected on a national scale: the president of the United States. The Constitution does distribute power to the legislative and judicial branches of government. Individual senators, House members or judges, though, do not have the authority bestowed on the individual who is elected by the entire nation.

Thus, President Biden is spot on in his effort to deploy the power of his office to do what Congress is unable — and unwilling — to do.

That is to declare war on climate change. Many of us are keeping our eyes open to ensure he follows through.

Fix the damn grid!

Hey, didn’t Texas Gov. Greg Abbott promise to fix the electrical grid after it nearly failed during the February 2021 deep freeze that killed all those Texans?

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas wasn’t very “reliable” then. Abbott made the grand promise to ensure the grid wouldn’t fail.

Well, that was then.

Now we keep getting these advisories from ERCOT asking us to turn the air conditioners up to 78 or80 degrees … even though the summer heat is cooking us crispy. The temp hit 107 degrees today in our North Texas home in Princeton. There is no long-term relief in sight!

Now comes the question: When will we get the grid fixed to avoid the potential for electrical failure … Gov. Abbott?

We do not yet have a totally “reliable” electrical grid in Texas. It came close to collapsing nearly two years ago during the Texas deep freeze. Now we are getting warnings of potential failure as temperatures set records for summer heat.

We all should stand up and take a bow, though, by saving ERCOT from dealing with demand eclipsing the supply of electricity. ERCOT’s initial hot-weather conservation request helped the grid managers from having to implement rolling blackouts to conserve energy; the success came because Texans responded by shutting down non-essential use of electricity. Good job, y’all!

Back to the point …

Greg Abbott told us when we came out of that February 2021 deep freeze that he would ensure the grid is fixed, that ERCOT would live up to its “reliability” promise.

I am not yet convinced that the governor has kept that promise.

Yeah, it’s hot … but wait

I keep sweating through my shirts, soaking them and me to an annoying level. It’s been hotter ‘n hell out there for most of July and is likely to stay that way in North Texas through the next month, too.

Let us, though, put a thing or two in perspective.

Does the current heat wave prove without a doubt that Earth’s climate is changing? Nope. It doesn’t prove a thing, only that it’s damn hot.

I am reminded of when a U.S. senator traipsed onto the floor of that chamber with a snowball in hand. Republican Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, a noted climate change denier, sought to use the snowball as absolute proof that climate change — aka global warming — is the hoax he has said it is.

Inhofe was wrong. Indeed, he insulted the intelligence of many others of us who do believe that Earth’s climate is changing, that the planet’s temperature is rising.

So,, juxtaposed with that example, I want to caution those who would equate the current blistering heat as proof of the thing that Inhofe said is a hoax are mistaken if they equate the current heat wave with climate change.

A Dallas-Fort Worth network affiliate station, WFAA-TV, has been running a public service announcement that seeks to explain the difference between “climate” and “weather.” WFAA meteorologist Greg Fields makes the point that “weather” measures conditions in the moment, while “climate” conditions should be measured over lengthy periods of time.

That’s a boiled-down explanation of what many of us have known all along. Still, I happen to believe that our climate is changing. I also believe humankind has played a huge role in that bringing about that change. And … I believe we need to get busy to mitigate the damage that we keep doing to it.

Let us complain all we want about the hot weather. Heck, I’m doing plenty of it myself. However, let us take care that we don’t conflate today’s 100-degree blast with the changing of Earth’s climate.

Remember the chill? Me neither!

Memories are too short, given that we rarely remember what we bitched about when the weather outside was the extreme opposite of what it is at this moment.

I am complaining a lot these days about the North Texas blast furnace that has brought us record heat, with no relief in short-term sight … although I heard a TV weather forecaster this morning say something about a “cold front” that might be heading our way.

It wasn’t that long ago when my complaints concerned winter’s grip over North Texas and how it wouldn’t let go. We had daily temps at or near freezing. Oh, and then we remembered what it was like around here a year ago, when the killer freeze swept in over the entire state. It killed hundreds of Texans and forced our junior U.S. senator, Republican Ted Cruz, to flee to Cancun while the rest of us were shivering.

The winter of 2021-22 did let go. Boy, did it ever!

We are just now entering summer. This is Day Two? Holy smokes, man! What is gonna happen when the dog days arrive?

This much is certain. I won’t wish for winter to clamp its icy grip on us. I also will refrain from complaining about “climate change,” because I know that today’s weather has little do with Earth’s climate.

Stay cool, folks.

Where is John Kerry?

President Biden made quite a show of announcing the appointment of John Kerry as the administration’s special envoy specializing in climate change. Do you recall it? Of course you do!

Kerry served as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, ran for president in 2004, served as secretary of state during Barack Obama’s second presidential term. He fought for his country during the Vietnam War and has been an eloquent spokesman for whatever cause piques his fancy.

Biden wanted to bring him back into public life and gave him a special title with an extra-special responsibility: chief envoy representing our nation in the fight to combat the existential threat posed by climate change.

But, wait! He’s vanished. I think he has anyway.

Yes, I get that the Ukraine War has eclipsed a lot of issues. We have this inflationary fight erupting. Fossil fuel prices are skyrocketing, which to my way of thinking only elevates the importance of climate-change initiatives that Kerry should be promoting, pushing and arguing.

Joe Biden was right to declare climate change a key threat to our national security and our way of life. He wants to promote green energy initiatives. John Kerry is an important worldwide figure to make the case around the world.

But … dammit! We need to keep this guy front and center!

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.