Tag Archives: Climate change

Climate change: It’s here!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We have reached critical mass, it appears to me, on the issue of climate change.

There should be no more debate on what to do “when the time comes.” It has come. We’re there. Earth’s climate, I fear, has changed to the point that it might be too late to stop the effect we human beings are having on the planet we call home.

That, however, shouldn’t preclude our efforts to try to do something. Anything! We need to find solutions to stop what is happening to us in real time.

That Bootleg Fire in Oregon? It’s now creating its own weather system as it scorches more than 600 square miles of my home state. Icebergs the size of small U.S. states continue to break off Antarctica, drifting into the Southern Ocean and continuing to contribute to the rising sea levels around the world. We continue to emit too many carbon gases, diminishing the oxygen supply that is supposed to help cool our dear planet.

Oh, and this story needs to be covered more intently: Third World countries continue to destroy millions of acres of forestland, depriving animals of their habitat and, of course, depriving the atmosphere its primary source for oxygen.

The fire seasons are raging out of control. They are arriving sooner, it seems, each year. They are burning more intensely.

What is the world’s most indispensable to do about it? Our Congress is tying itself up in knots over climate change. Republicans still don’t want to confront it. Democrats see the urgency but are fighting among themselves over the scope and breadth of what to do legislatively.

Meanwhile, President Biden is trying to include climate change into an infrastructure package he wants enacted as soon as humanly possible.

This dithering, dawdling and debating isn’t helping us deal with a problem that is destroying our planet in real time.

Let’s get busy.

Climate change, anyone?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Under most circumstances, I am not usually prone to hold up singular weather events as evidence of climate change.

I know the difference between weather and climate. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time. When we talk about climate change, we talk about changes in long-term averages of daily weather.

However … the events of this early summer in my hometown of Portland, Ore., and elsewhere out west tell me that the changing climate has contributed to the misery that my family members and many friends are suffering.

Portland set an all-time heat record of 108 degree F on Saturday. Another record might be set today and again tomorrow. They’re saying the temp could top 115!

I remember vaguely being in Portland when the mercury topped out at 107. It was a horrible heat. The fire season is starting earlier this year than ever before. The snow pack in the Cascade Range — which produces Portland’s water when it runs off in the spring — is a good bit below normal. Drought conditions are taking hold.

Hmmm. Is this the result of climate change? I kinda think so.

Is there anything we can do to stem its impact? Yes. There is.

Does our Congress have the will to do anything about it. Uhh, let me see. Probably not.

President Biden is holding out for a climate change effort to be included in the infrastructure deal that a bipartisan group of senators presented to him.

I am inclined to dismiss climate change as the cause for all weather-related crises. Not this time. Not with the evidence piling up that climate change is real and it needs humankind’s undivided attention.

Climate threat is real and dangerous

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden is seeking to redefine the term “infrastructure.”

However, he is running into plenty of old-school resistance from his former friends in the Republican Party, who continue to insist that infrastructure should include roads, bridges, airports and ship channels.

Biden sees a wider world than that. He has reeled in climate change and the effect it has on our way of life. That, too, deals with “infrastructure,” according to the president.

No surprise, but I happen to agree with President Biden’s broader view of the world and the impact of factors that change it.

Biden and congressional Republicans have reached an impasse. Biden wants a massive infrastructure bill to include work on climate change; Republicans think it’s beyond the scope of the traditional definition of the term “infrastructure.”

What, though, happens to our coastal communities if sea levels keep rising? Or to our seaports? To highways, bridges and other thoroughfares threatened by the inevitable warming of the climate and the effect it has on our environment?

That is why in my view climate change must take a front-and-center place among the issues that need our government’s attention.

Joe Biden brought former Secretary of State John Kerry on board as a climate change adviser. Kerry is working with heads of state around the world to rivet their attention as well on the impact that climate change is having on their nations. We have returned to the Paris Climate Accords, from which we withdrew four years ago.

I can think of nothing at all more compelling than finding a way to preserve Planet Earth’s ecosystem for future generations to enjoy. It might already be too late to prevent all the destruction of our planet that is coming. None of that should preclude any effort to seek ways to head it off or to limit the impact it will bring to the only planet we can call home.

Yeah, infrastructure must include climate change.

Gohmert asks for this? Really?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This question deserves to be asked: Is Louie Gohmert really as stupid as he sounds?

The Republican congressman from Tyler, Texas, actually wondered aloud during a House committee hearing whether the U.S. Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service could — get ready for it — change the moon’s orbit around Earth or Earth’s orbit around the sun. 

I am left initially to mutter: Holy sh**!

To be clear, Gohmert represents a portion of the GOP that I call the Loony Bin Wing. I also must stipulate that Louie the Goober is a graduate of Texas A&M University and from the law school at Baylor University. That’s right. The wacko has a law degree!

The Hill reports:

Gohmert was speaking with Jennifer Eberlien, associate deputy chief of the National Forest System, during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing.

“I understand from what’s been testified to the Forest Service and the BLM [Bureau of Land Management], you want very much to work on the issue of climate change,” Gohmert said to Eberlien, adding that a past director of NASA had once told him that orbits of the moon and the Earth were changing.

“Is there anything that the National Forest Service, or BLM can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun?” Gohmert asked Eberlien. “Obviously they would have profound effects on our climate.”

Gohmert asks if federal agencies can change Earth’s or moon’s orbits to fight climate change | TheHill

So help me I do not know what to think of this. Gohmert cannot possibly contend he was joking, or that his question was taken out of context, or that the media are making hay out of a “fake news” event.

My goodness, this man represents a portion of the state where I live.

I am reminded of something my father used to tell when I complained about the weather. Dad would say, “Go talk to God.”

Hey, Rep. Gohmert, you need to ask the Almighty about doing something that is, shall we say, way above the BLM or USFS paygrade.

Biden keeps going big

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden isn’t wasting a moment of time in pushing hard for an agenda he hopes will transform the nation and perhaps the world.

I welcome the president’s intensity.

He went hard in declaring his intention to get 100 million COVID vaccines into Americans during his first 100 days in office. He has doubled that goal by getting 200 million vaccines injected … and the 100 days isn’t even here yet.

Biden pushed for a COVID relief bill that has helped millions of American affected by the pandemic. The Democratic Party majority in Congress listened and got it done.

Now he is imploring other world leaders to join the United States in battling climate change. Biden took part in a virtual summit of heads of government and state and declared his intention for the United States to cut its carbon emissions in half by the end of this decade. President Biden said, in effect, it’s now or never for the world to act to combat what he has called the world’s greatest existential threat.

I agree with the guts of Biden’s agenda so far. I  want him to succeed. I also agree that climate change poses the most serious threat to our lives — and not just our way of life.

President Biden is making me proud of our head of state again. Many millions of Americans agonized during the previous four years living in a nation governed by a carnival barker who had no prior government experience before taking the presidential oath of office. His ignorance was on full display damn near daily.

I intend to keep pulling for President Biden as he seeks to go big on all manner of important issues.

Green New Deal is back!

 

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Just in time, a newer version of legislation that got stalled a couple of years ago in the U.S. Senate, has returned to the center stage of environmental policy discussion.

The Green New Deal — the bogeyman of the Republican Party — has been reintroduced by U.S. Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; indeed, AOC herself has become a favorite target of GOP critics.

Why is this so timely? Because we have Earth Day coming up Thursday. It’s the one day of the year — as if we should dedicate just a single day — we call attention to the fragility of the only planet we can inhabit.

I’ll save a discussion on the nuts and bolts of the Green New Deal for another day. I do want to make a point about the importance of what the GND intends to accomplish. It seeks to preserve our environment, to retain Earth as a place where human beings can inhabit.

President Biden has made climate change one of the linchpins of his tenure in office. He appointed former U.S. Sen. and Secretary of State John Kerry as a special international envoy on climate change. The president signed an executive order upon taking office to return the United States to the Paris Climate Accord, from which Donald Trump had walked away when he took office.

Climate change presents an existential threat to our national security. Never mind the spring chill that has swept across the nation in recent days. The evidence continues to show that Earth’s median temperatures continue to increase year over year. Ice caps are melting. Sea levels are rising. Third World nations continue to fell millions of acres of forest each year. The industrialized nations of the world continue to pour millions of tons of carbon-related pollutants into the air.

We must find some answers to these crises. Many of us say it when Earth Day rolls around every year: We only have one planet … and we have to protect it.

Is the Green New Deal too much? Too little? I don’t know. However, I believe we must not continue to do what we have been doing. We are contributing to the destruction of our Good Earth.

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.