Tag Archives: Climate change

Let’s talk about existential threats … OK?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Among the reasons I have welcomed the presidency of Joe Biden is  the return of frank and open discussion by our head of state of existential threats to our nation and to Planet Earth.

Donald Trump called climate change a “hoax”; he said the same thing about the pandemic. He chose to ignore those subjects whenever he appeared in public, which was quite often given his penchant for self-aggrandizement.

President Biden has turned our attention toward issues that really matter. They present serious  threats to all of us.

Climate change? Biden is all in on efforts to combat the change in our worldwide climate. Do not tell me that the bitter cold wave that recently swept in over much of the nation, including Texas, puts the lie to the notion that our climate is changing.

President Biden at least is talking about developing cleaner energy sources, which will — make no mistake about it — produce jobs that could be lost from the fossil fuel industry.

The major beneficiary will be the planet. That’s a bad thing? I think not.

The pandemic? We are welcoming a third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson. It’s a single-shot dose. It joins Pfizer and Moderna as vaccines that are inoculating millions of Americans each week. Again, Trump chose to downplay the sickness, misery and death that afflicted the nation. Joe Biden is talking openly about it, reminding us to not let up in taking safety measures to prevent infection. Did his predecessor issue such warnings? I cannot remember hearing those warnings fly out of Trump’s blow hole.

Human rights? Donald Trump wouldn’t dare talk about human rights abroad while proclaiming he and North Korea tyrant/despot/killer Kim Jong Un had fallen “in love.” At the very least we are hearing President Biden give needed lip service to the quest for human rights in places where human beings are enslaved, starved, abused by those in power.

Domestic terror? It exists in the form of white supremacists who, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray, pose the greatest existential threat of all to Americans. President Biden vows to attack it head-on and is saying so loudly.

These threats have been all but ignored for the past four years. They require laser focus from the president of the United States. I happen to believe President Biden is devoting the attention to all of them that they deserve.

Infrastructure needs help!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texans from Amarillo to McAllen, from Texarkana to Texico and from Orange to El Paso all got a serious wakeup call this week.

It is that “infrastructure improvement” includes much more than roads, bridges, airports and ship channels. It also includes natural gas pumping stations, wind farms and perhaps even petroleum pump jacks.

Texas claims to be proud of its energy production machinery. However, we seem to have neglected taking sufficient care that it works during rough weather.

Yep. We had some rough weather this week … you know?

I’ll set aside until later a discussion about the mismanagement of the power capacity, which was the result of some pi**-poor decision making at the top of the electricity grid management chain of command.

The state’s energy infrastructure needs to be winterized, upgraded,  made to withstand what well could become more frequent dramatic climate events such as what we endured.

It won’t be an easy task. As the Texas Tribune reports: Energy experts said that in some cases, retrofitting plants to withstand cold could be extremely difficult and expensive in Texas. Many of those plants already skimped on such upgrades due to the infrequency of prolonged and widespread subfreezing temperatures in the state.

What it means to winterize Texas’ energy plants | The Texas Tribune

I get that events such as what we saw don’t happen all that often in Texas, except perhaps in  the Panhandle — where my wife and I lived for 23 years before we moved to Collin County in 2018.

Texas’s utility system operates under the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which is independent of other major regional electricity management concerns. It failed us, folks. It didn’t turn out to be so, um, “reliable.

How do we winterize the network? Many experts believe the natural gas transmission system should be Priority No. 1, given that LNG provides the bulk of the energy that Texas uses to power its electrical plants. One thought is to enclose the plants during the winter, protecting them from nature’s cruel blasts.

Look, I am not an engineer. I don’t have specific solutions to offer. All I know for certain is what my wife and I experienced at the first part of this hellish experience. Our power went out because of system failure, as did our water … for the same reason. 

A state that proclaims to be energy dominant should not expose its residents to the nightmare that millions of them are experiencing at this very moment.

If we’re going to invest in infrastructure, we ought to start — and perhaps even finish — with our energy grid. It needs help to withstand the wrath that well could present itself with more frequency in the future.

That’s what is likely to occur when Earth’s climate is changing. More on that, too, to come.

It’s cold, but …

Winter can be a bitch.

My wife and I sat in a cold house for most of two days, victimized by a remarkable freeze that paralyzed much of Texas. It certainly grabbed North Texas by the throat. Our electrical grid was overtaxed and it couldn’t handle the demands placed on it by the plummeting temperature.

I am struck by a thought that keeps nagging at me. Weather such as what we experienced – 10-degree high temperatures and lows near zero in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, for crying out loud! – is going to energize the climate change deniers out there.

They are going to say something like this: Hey, the bitter cold weather of the winter of 2021 just proves that Earth’s climate isn’t changing, that it isn’t warming up, that our planet isn’t in dire jeopardy at all!

To which I would say: Nonsense. Earth’s climate is changing and our planet and those of us who live on it are facing dire peril every year we fail to come to grips with humanity’s contribution to the change.

I am reminded of the time an infamous climate-change denier, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, brought a snowball onto the Senate floor to illustrate the very point that climate change is a hoax. Why, how can Earth’s climate be warming when Washington, D.C., at that very moment was gripped in such a bitter cold snap?

Such idiocy doesn’t take the long view, doesn’t look at it through the longest lens possible.

National environmental observers note that the median temperature of Earth, examined over a period of an entire year, suggest a distinct warming trend. I daresay that when they take our planet’s temperature at the end of this year it will continue to show the same trend.

So please. Spare me the notion that a current deep freeze – a symptom of winter weather – is somehow proof that the larger crisis doesn’t exist. It most certainly does exist.

Now … I am just wishing for a quick warmup.

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 administration  dealing with climate change.

President Biden is  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 and  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.

* * *

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.

Wishing to put distance between now and the immediate past

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It might be just me, but I am sensing a serious desire among many millions of Americans who yearn to welcome a new presidential administration with an extra sense of zeal.

We’ve been through a tumultuous past four years. It started with a president declaring an end to what he called “this American carnage.” The presidential term ended with another rash of carnage spilling on the steps of our nation’s Capitol Building, inside the structure, threatening the very democratic process that makes us proud to be Americans.

We somehow got through the horrible event of the Sixth of January. The House the following week then impeached the president for inciting the riot that erupted on Capitol Hill. A week after that we welcomed President Biden and Vice President Harris to the pinnacle of power.

The former president jetted off to Florida. Vice President Pence managed to shake the hands of the new president and vice president.

I cannot possibly know what is in the hearts of all Americans. My own heart is quite full tonight after watching one of the strangest inaugurals I ever have witnessed.

There were no large crowds. No grand parade. The former president and the new president did not share a limo ride from the White House to the Capitol.

Throughout the day, my sense has been a feeling of relief that the past is behind us along with a strong desire to put it farther behind us … in rapid fashion!

Yes, many crises confront the new president and vice president. The pandemic needs focused attention from the center of our federal government. Our worldwide allies need assurance that our nation has returned to its rightful place on center stage. Our climate is changing. Our nation is torn by racial strife.

I get a sense that we now have considerable faith in President Biden and Vice President Harris are up to the task of moving us forward.

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.