Tag Archives: deforestation

Happy Earth Day … if only we could cheer it this year

I have been fond of wishing everyone a Happy Earth Day, which I have done repeatedly on this blog.

This year it’s different. It’s vastly different, in fact. We acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Earth Day under a severe, foreboding and ominous cloud brought to our good Earth by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fifty years ago we began setting aside a day to celebrate the only planet we have. Earth is home. That’s it. We have to care for it. President Nixon founded the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, vowing to exert greater emphasis on ways to protect our precious Earth.

Here we are today. Our worldwide economy has effectively been shut down by the viral infection that has killed hundreds of thousands of human beings.

The “good news,” if you want to call it such, is that our air has gotten much cleaner as we have driven far less. We have nowhere to go. Our motor vehicles are parked.

OK, so the air is cleaner. We still have water pollution issues. We have deforestation that leads to global warming and climate change. We’re still throwing too much trash into landfills. We still are using too much fossil fuel that also spews pollution into the air.

Our minds and hearts, at the moment, are directed at fighting the pandemic. I am all for that effort, to be sure. I do not want to rush into a return to “normal living” while the virus is still infecting and killing human beings.

I do want to wish everyone once more a Happy Earth Day, although I understand completely that our attention is being diverted to more immediately urgent matters.

Meanwhile, the Amazon forests are burning

Americans are rightly worried about the damage that Hurricane Dorian is likely to bring to the eastern coast of the United States.

I am, too.

I also am worried about the damage being done to our planet’s atmosphere by those wildfires along the Amazon River watershed. I have heard the region called the “oxygen chamber” of the planet. However, many millions of trees are destroyed by the fire, exacerbating the climate change that is plaguing Earth.

The Amazon fire story has been shoved aside for the time being, thanks partly to the rain that fell on much of the region in recent days and also because our attention has been diverted to the peril Dorian is bring to the east coast.

It’s kind of a karma thing with me. I had written a blog post just a few days before the world was startled by the immense Amazon forest fires. I remain deeply worried about the impact that deforestation has had on changing climate worldwide. That worry only deepened when we heard about the fire that incinerated so much of the forest.

We all know of the value of that forest land. It produces oxygen to replace that atmospheric compound being consumed by living creatures that inhabit Earth. With fewer trees the less oxygen is generated to counteract the carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere.

Yes, the result is dire. It results in a warming of Earth’s atmospheric shroud and it produces dramatic and potentially catastrophic changes in our planet’s climate.

It’s never a good time for vast stretches of forest land to go up in smoke. In this period of time, as Earth’s climate is changing, those fires present a clear danger to the survival of the only planet we have.

Climate change? It is no hoax!

Why are we ignoring deforestation in the climate change debate?

I am delighted to hear the Democratic Party presidential primary candidates debate among themselves about how they intend to attack the scourge of climate change/global warming.

They recognize the obvious, that it poses a grim and dire threat to our national security. They are challenging Donald Trump’s ridiculous assertion that climate change is a “hoax” cooked up by the Chinese, who are trying to “destroy our fossil fuel industry.”

There. That all said, I am wondering about what I believe is a missing element in the climate change debate.

While the candidates talk about carbon emissions and their impact on the atmospheric temperature and the changing climate, I hear next to no one mention deforestation as a key part of the crisis.

What’s going on in many regions of the world? Human beings are encroaching further and more deeply into habitat occupied exclusively by wildlife. To do that humans are wiping out millions of acres of forestland annually. Why is this important? How does it contribute to the changing climate worldwide?

Trees consume carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. CO2 warms the atmosphere, while oxygen cools it. With more CO2 being thrown into the air with less oxygen present to counteract its impact, well … what do you think happens? The atmosphere warms up. Those polar ice caps are exposed to warmer air. The ice melts. The oceans’ levels rise. You know how this goes.

And yet we hear precious little from these men and women running for president that speaks directly to ways to pressure other nations to curb their deforestation efforts. What’s more, the European Union is the leading importer of goods produced from the deforestation epidemic that continues full throttle throughout the world.

This plague is occurring throughout Latin America, in Africa, in Southeast and South Asia. Lush forests are disappearing daily.

Developing countries are looking for places to grow, to improve industrial capacity, to find places where their residents can live, rear their families and continue their search for success and happiness. I don’t begrudge them those desires.

However, the cost of all this hideous scarring of our planet is too great to ignore.

We’re going to elect a president in 2020. If we keep the current guy in power, climate change will continue to get short shrift from the White House. We need someone in power who at a bare minimum is going to refocus our effort to curbing this terrible trend.

We also need to apply a lot more of our focus on finding ways to stop obliterating Earth’s forest lands. Without those trees, we are doomed to suffocate in an ever-warming environment.

Trump buries report that disagrees with climate-change screed

Donald John Trump won’t admit this, but he doesn’t know anything about science. For that matter, neither do I. Thus, I am left to heed the analyses given by actual scientists, people trained to study things that go far above my level of understanding.

Climate change, for example.

The federal government itself has issued a report that says the hazards presented by Earth’s changing climate are going to accelerate. The National Climate Assessment is done by living, breathing experts on this stuff.

What’s the president’s response? He doesn’t believe them. He has buried the report because it disagrees with his own “belief” that climate change is a hoax. He’s said so repeatedly. He stands by his view about climate change. It’s made up. Fabricated. A product of “fake news.”

He tweets idiotic messages that take note of a cold spell and asks, “Where’s global warming?” As CNN’s Chris Cillizza has declaredA warming planet doesn’t mean there won’t be cold days. Or even cold weeks! Or months! It means that, in the long seep of history, the planet is getting hotter and hotter. And that those changes in the climate produce more wild and unpredictable weather events, like tornadoes and fires.

Scientific agencies such as, oh, NASA, take note of the evidence they have witnessed over time: ice caps are shrinking, sea levels are rising, Earth’s annual mean temperatures are increasing.

Humankind is burning too many fossil fuels that are spewing carbon gases into the air; we human beings are encroaching on natural habitat, level vast expanses of forest, taking down trees that replace carbon dioxide with oxygen.

The president doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand what’s happening. He continues to repeat the lie that climate change is a hoax, that it’s not actually happening.

His own National Climate Assessment says the exact opposite.

Who do you believe, a politician/serial liar or the experts who study these matters intensely? I’m all in with the experts.

He’s got rocks in his noggin

Mo Brooks has emerged as one of Congress’s premier climate change deniers.

What did the Alabama Republican House member say to an environmentalist today during a congressional hearing on climate change?

Check it out, as reported by USA Today: “Every single year that we’re on Earth, you have huge tons of silt deposited by the Mississippi River, by the Amazon River, by the Nile, by every major river system — and for that matter, creek, all the way down to the smallest systems,” Brooks said. “And every time you have that soil or rock whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise. Because now you’ve got less space in those oceans because the bottom is moving up.”

There’s a bit more: Brooks pointed to the White Cliffs of Dover and to California “where you have the waves crashing against the shorelines” and “you have the cliffs crash into the sea.”

“All of that displaces the water which forces it to rise, does it not?” Brooks asked.

That’s it. Rocks are filling the ocean bottom, forcing the water to rise — worldwide! That’s the Mo Brooks doctrine.

Carbon pollution? Deforestation? Other causes that might come from human activity? That’s a non-starter among climate change deniers, such as Rep. Brooks.

Such so-called “thinking” tells me that those who deny the link between the changing climate and human behavior have rocks in their heads.

Why not debate climate change in public schools?


As a believer in the view that human beings are contributing to Earth’s changing climate, it causes me some pain to say the following.

I believe the Portland Public Schools system has made a mistake in banning texts that question the causes of climate change.

Oregon’s largest public school district has issued a directive that bans texts that cast doubt on what many scientists have said: that human activity has created a global warming crisis that threatens the planet’s ecosystem.


I grew up in suburban Portland, Ore., so this decision strikes me close to my heart. I attended Portland schools until the seventh grade; my parents moved us to the ‘burbs in East Multnomah County in 1962.

I have long feared that human activity — deforestation and the emission of carbon gases into the atmosphere — have contributed to the changing climate. Did you see the latest report that said April was the 12th consecutive month of record temperatures worldwide?

That doesn’t mean, though, that we cannot allow our students access to those who doubt the results of such activity.

This isn’t even close to the same thing as teaching the biblical version of Earth’s creation alongside Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory. One theory is based on a faith-based belief; the other is based on science. Teach the scientific theory in public schools and teach other in church.

Climate change and its causes, though, seems to be fair game for an open discussion in our public schools.

The Portland school system has slammed the door on those who have raised legitimate concerns about the notion that Earth’s climate is changing and that humans are the primary cause of that change.

Do I accept those concerns? No. That doesn’t mean they’re coming from crackpots.

The students would do well to be exposed to competing ideas on this important global issue.


Happy Earth Day, everyone!

So help me, I wish Earth Day was a bigger deal than it has become.

For a whole day — as if that’s enough time to honor the only planet we have — we’re supposed to put Earth on the top of our mind’s awareness.


This is the 45th annual Earth Day. Many communities around the world are going to have public events to commemorate the day. That’s fine. I welcome all the attention that will be paid to Earth until the sun comes up tomorrow.

Given that it was created 45 years ago, that means Earth Day began during the Nixon administration. I doubt President Nixon really paid a lot of personal attention to the condition of the planet, but I certainly applaud that it was during his years in the White House that the Environmental Protection Agency was created.

In the decades since Earth Day’s creation, though, it has become something of a political flashpoint.

Some of us believe the planet is in peril. Our climate is changing and yet humankind keeps doing things to the planet that exacerbate the change that’s occurring. Deforestation is one thing. Spewing of carbon-based emissions is another. Some of say we need to do a better job of protecting our planet — or else face the consequences, which are as grim as it gets. Hey, we have nowhere else to live — for the time being, at least.

Others of us say there’s little we can do. Climate change? It’s part of Earth’s ecological cycle. We need to accept the inevitable and not seek to destroy our industrial base to chase after a cause that is far too big for mere human beings to tackle.

I won’t accept the hard-core climate change deniers’ thesis.

For the time being, I am at least grateful that the world sets aside a day to honor the good Planet Earth.

We ought to do it every day of every year.


Snowball stirs climate change debate

U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe’s snowball stunt has done something quite useful.

It has sparked another round of debate over whether Earth’s climate is changing.

The Oklahoma Republican sought to debunk the climate change theorists when he brought the snowball to the Senate floor this week. It’s really cold in Washington, D.C., the chairman said. So the snowball is a symbol of what he believes, which is that climate change is a load of crap.


Actually, it’s not.

As the brief essay attached to this post notes, although the D.C. temperature was quite cold, that very day it was swelteringly hot in Opa Loca, Fla. — 87 degrees hot, as a matter of fact.

Does the temperature in Opa Loca on one day mean that Earth’s climate is changing? Not any more than the snowball in D.C. disproves it.

But the debate is a good one.

Science has produced mountains of evidence to suggest that the planet is getting warmer. Yet we keep hearing deniers suggest that the planet is getting colder. The polar ice caps are melting. No, wait! They’re getting larger.

The climate is changing because of human activity, scientists have concluded. Others say the climate change is part of an epochal cycle.

Here’s a notion worth considering. What if we actually did reduce carbon emissions significantly by requiring industrial plant managers to do a better job of controlling what they’re spewing into the atmosphere? How about if Third World governments cracked down on those who are obliterating forests and reducing the level of oxygen being pumped into the atmosphere to counteract the carbon dioxide that contributes to the carbon levels? What if we did all we could do to make the air cleaner with less carbon?

Wouldn’t that sustain the planet longer? Wouldn’t all that work slow the deterioration of our resources, if not reverse it?

Chairman Inhofe can deny the existence of climate change. But a cold day in D.C. doesn’t prove his point.

I am not going to buy into the notion that doing nothing about any of this is good for the only planet we have.


Global warming risks mount up

The United Nations says that global warming is putting billions of Earth residents at risk.

OK. Earth’s climate is changing and we’d better do something about it. Or else. That settles it, right?

Not even close.


You see, what’s going to happen now is that global warming-climate change deniers are going to take dead aim at the authors of this report. They will say the U.N. is nothing but a bunch of politically correct greeners, lefties whose major intent is to destroy industry as we’ve known it and, while they’re at it, destroy our way of life.

“We’re now in an era where climate change isn’t some kind of future hypothetical,” said the lead author of the report, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science in California. “We live in an area where impacts from climate change are already widespread and consequential.”

I happen to concur with what the basic outline of the report, which is that the planet’s climate is changing. I’m trying to keep something of an open mind as to the cause: manmade or part of the planet’s ecological cycle.

But let’s assume for a moment that the change in Earth’s climate is all part the planet’s cycle, that there’s nothing we can do about it. Does that mean, then, that we should just sit back and let nature take its course? I think not, given that the very lives of billions of people are going to be affected by things such as sea level increases and possible loss of livelihood as natural resources diminish and possibly disappear.

Extreme weather is getting more extreme. The planet is getting warmer, believe it or not. Yes, we had a chilly winter with lots of snow and ice. The bigger picture tells us that average temperatures continue to rise.

Would reductions in greenhouse gas emissions matter? Must we end the massive deforestation in the tropics? Yes to both. Is there a relationship between the deforestation and the increase in greenhouse gas? Duh!

That’s one example of how humans can affect the change in climate. The report is much more comprehensive and should be taken seriously.

Yes, especially if it comes from the United Nations.

Winter chill vs. climate change

Here come the deniers, the folks who take every opportunity to deny what science has declared to be fact, that Earth’s climate is changing.

Much of the nation is locked in a deep freeze. Hey, it’s winter. It happens every year at the time. Correct?


The Texas Panhandle is no different in that regard. Some of our locals like to brag about how cold it gets every winter. The wind howls and we joke about having to string another length of barbed wire to keep the wind from blowing in from the Arctic.

Of course, this time of year brings out those who keep insisting the planet’s climate isn’t changing. Well, it is.

The debate, as I’ve tried to note all along, isn’t whether the climate is changing. The debate ought to center on its cause. Manmade or natural?

I’m not smart enough to make that determination myself. I try to leave it to scientists who’ve spent many lifetimes studying these things. Many of them say human beings have caused the climate to change by (a) emitting carbon dioxide into the air and (b) laying waste to hundreds of millions of acres of forestland populated by trees that replace the CO2 with oxygen. Others say the climate change is part of the epochal cycle the planet experiences every few million years — and that we’re entering the next cycle.

I tend to believe the human factor is the cause.

I’ll repeat something my dear late mother used to say about those who cannot see the big picture, that they’re “so narrow-minded they can look through a keyhole with both eyes.”

Look at the big picture, folks.