Tag Archives: Climate change

Shocking! GOP opposes U.S.-China climate deal

Does it surprise anyone at all that congressional Republicans would be highly critical of a deal struck this week between the United States and China to cut carbon gases over the next couple of decades?

I didn’t think so.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the incoming chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, wasted little time in calling the pact a “non-binding charade.”


And the deal is … ?

President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed the nations should cut carbon emissions by as much as 30 percent by 2030. Inhofe — one of the Senate’s premier climate change deniers — said China will continue to build coal-fired power plants and has “no known reserves” of natural gas on which to rely.

He calls the deal a fraud.

Inhofe also says the results of the mid-term elections repudiated the president’s policy agenda on such issues as climate change and that, by golly, he’s going to roll those policies back once he becomes chairman of the Senate environment panel.

I’ll add as an aside that there’s a certain irony in handing over the chairmanship of a key congressional environmental committee to someone who keeps dismissing the notion that Earth’s climate is changing and that there just might be a human cause to much of the warming that’s occurring — the current bitter cold snap that’s gripped much of the nation notwithstanding.

Obama said this in announcing the agreement in Beijing: “As the world’s two largest economies, energy consumers and emitters of greenhouse gases, we have a special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change.”

And we have this, then, from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: “The president appears to be undeterred by the American people’s clear repudiation of his policies of more regulations and higher energy costs.”

Higher energy costs? McCarthy needs to ponder the ongoing trend in fossil fuel prices. They’ve gone down, Mr. Majority Leader.

I get that China doesn’t engender a lot of trust among many Americans. Count me as one who is skeptical of Beijing’s commitment to do what it promises to do.

At least we’ve got them on the record to cut carbon gases. Let’s hold them to that pledge.


Politics invades textbook selection

Do you want to know what happens when politicians are given the authority to select textbooks for public school students?

You get texts that are meant to appease voters, not necessarily provide a balanced approach to studying certain subject matter.

It’s happening yet again in Texas, which is served by 15 elected politicians who sit on the State Board of Education.


The latest kerfuffle involves climate change. A science textbook is drawing fire from those who contend it sells short what scientists are saying about Earth’s changing climate, that human beings are the culprit.

The National Center for Science Education is critical of a sixth-grade textbook that says this in its introduction to a section on global warming: “Scientists agree that Earth’s climate is changing. They do not agree on what is causing the change.”

Politico reports further: “The text goes on to present students with excerpts from two articles on climate change, one written by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the other by the Heartland Institute, a conservative advocacy group. ‘This misleads students as to good sources of information, pitting an ideologically driven advocacy group … against a Nobel Peace Prize-winning scientific body,’ the NCSE reviewers write.”

Texas is full of climate-change deniers. Politicians at the highest level of government have gone on the record essentially denying that Earth’s climate is changing.

Of course, the State Board of Education has developed a national reputation for politicizing almost every academic discipline under the sun. It’s the “social conservatives” vs. the shrinking “moderate” wing of the SBOE. The conservatives keep winning these battles. My favorite fight has been the one that involves whether to teach evolution in public schools. The social conservatives keep arguing that the biblical theory of creation deserves equal treatment alongside the notion that Earth evolved over billions of years.

I won’t engage in that debate here, except to reiterate that biblical teachings belong in church, not in public schools.

As for the climate change debate, Texas public school students need to be taught scientific fact, not dragged into the middle of a political argument.

Hottest May in human history


Planet Earth just experienced the hottest May in recorded history.

That’s according to those left-wing, socialist, tree-hugging, anti-business organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the Japanese government.

OK, so the reaction to this latest report will be quite predictable.

The righties will contend it’s all cooked up, fabricated, tailored to support the climate-change agenda being put forward by the communists who run the White House. The lefties will say these findings prove what they’ve been saying all along, which is that Earth is getting hotter.

I haven’t yet decided how I feel about who’s to blame for what I believe to be happening, which is that the planet is warming up.

Is it manmade or is it part of the planet’s evolutionary cycle?

A lot of scientific data suggest that human beings are largely responsible for this, through the emission of greenhouse gases and the deforestation of large tracts of land that used to serve as a counterbalance to what humans spew into the atmosphere.

I tend to believe the data. I haven’t yet drawn any firm conclusions. I’m still open to the possibility that Earth is beginning a cycle repeated every million years or so.

NOAA, NASA and the Japanese, though, have laid it out — once more — for all the world to see. This past May was the hottest on record. How can we possibly deny that the climate is changing?

Hot time arrives in Panhandle

We’re likely to set a temperature record for the date in Amarillo before today ends.

I won’t predict what it will be. I will predict, however, what’s going to be on the lips of a lot of my friends and neighbors: “Man, it’s too hot out there. When is it going to cool off? I’m tired of the heat … already.”

Too bad, fellow travelers.

I’ll now remind everyone of what we were saying just about eight or so weeks ago. We were wishing, begging, even praying for warm weather to get here. Don’t you remember that? I believe I might have said a prayer or two in seeking some warmth.

Our prayers have been answered, as if we didn’t know they would be, given the time of year and our location here on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle.

Summer’s still about two weeks away. However, it’s close enough to actual summer to be good enough for Mother Nature to bring some heat the region.

Just remember: It gets like this every single, solitary year. We’re going to get hot. That’s what it means to live here, just as it means that we’ll get cold in the winter — and often well into the spring.

Summer’s about to arrive.

Cleaner air a new focus

President Obama has unveiled a strategy that he hopes will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent.

Power-generating plants will have to reduce the emissions by 2030 or else face stiff penalties.

Cleaner air is a good thing. Spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is bad, as it contributes to the climate change scientists say is well under way around the world.


Oh, but just wait. This measure is going to be met with all kinds of hostile reaction.

The coal industry is going to lead the charge, as the coal-fired plants are the chief culprits. Who are the winners? Let’s try the natural gas industry — which, by the way, is flourishing in West Texas. Natural gas fires these plants, too, but does so more cleanly and it is cheaper than coal.

So, do you think our state’s government leadership will climb aboard the Environmental Protection Agency bandwagon and endorse the president’s new initiative?

Do … not … hold … your …. breath.

As with everything these days, politics gets in the way of doing the right thing.

The White House is occupied by a Democrat. Texas state government is populated by Republicans. Therefore, if one party proposes something, it’s a bad thing in the eyes of those in the other party.

Let’s remember something, though, if we’re going to politicize this argument. The 1970 Clean Air Act was signed into law — along with the creation of the EPA — by a Republican president of some note, a fellow named Richard M. Nixon.

Utility companies that rely heavily on coal-fired electricity likely will threaten to raise rates on customers to pay for the improvements being mandated by the EPA. Our electric utility isn’t as reliant on coal as many others, given that we have plenty of natural gas to fuel our electrical needs.

“The purpose of this rule is to really close the loophole on carbon pollution, reduce emissions as we’ve done with lead, arsenic and mercury and improve the health of the American people and unleash a new economic opportunity,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The rule is worth enforcing. I happen to be all in favor of cleaner air, even if it might cost a little bit more to breathe it.

If you don't like the weather …

“I cannot believe I’m getting cold.”

So said my wife just a little while ago as she plunged deeply into the back of her closet for her winter bathrobe. She had donned a lighter summer robe that had been moved to the front of her closet.

Why the change in wardrobe planning?

Well, those record highs the Texas Panhandle was experiencing a few days ago — when temps soared into the high 80s and low 90s — have now been overtaken by what’s forecast tonight as a possible record low.

We’re proud of the saying here on what I like to call the Texas Tundra: If you don’t like the weather, just wait 20 minutes, it’ll change.

OK, so the weather didn’t change in 20 minutes, but it surely has changed rather, um, dramatically just in the past few days.

Oh, have I mentioned that damn wind and the dirt it picks up as it roars in from almost any direction on our vast horizon?

The drought is projected to stay with us for a while. Some doom-and-gloomers think it will stay well past the foreseeable future. I have no clue as to when it will break. As of today, we’ve received a little more than an inch of rain all year recorded at the National Weather Service station at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. At this pace, we’ll finish the year with, oh, about 3 inches total.

The drastic change in temperature is quite another story. It’s approaching the middle of May, for crying out loud. Summer is just around the corner. The weather guys are calling for possible snow just a bit west of us in Union County, N.M.

Does any of this make you think of the issue that some folks seemingly refuse to accept as a reality? You know … climate change?

Bundle up, folks.

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.

Climate change beyond doubt

Let’s see: Who’s the expert on climate change, a scientist or a politician?

I’ll go with the scientist.

Scientist Bill “The Science Guy” Nye debated politician Marsha Blackburn today on “Meet the Press.” The topic was whether Earth’s climate is changing. Nye says it is; Blackburn expresses doubt.


As the program’s moderator David Gregory tried to point out several times during the exchange, the fact of climate change seems beyond dispute. The only topic worth debating is its cause.

And, for my money, even that debate is beginning to look more like a slam dunk in favor of those who believe human beings are responsible for the resulting change in our worldwide climate patterns.

This is a difficult concept to swallow during this winter of extreme cold, record-breaking snow in the Northeast, prolonged cold in the Midwest — including some mighty chilly days in the Texas Panhandle — and the catastrophic winter storms that have swept through the South.

The point Nye was trying to convey this morning, though, was that even those changes reflect a dynamic not seen in many decades, perhaps even centuries.

How many “storms of the century” have we seen in recent years? They seem to arrive annually. Don’t those descriptions of these monumental weather events send up any red flags — even among those who continue to doubt the existence of climate change or those who pooh-pooh the idea as being some sort of left-wing conspiracy to destroy the fossil fuel industry?

Rep. Blackburn chairs a House science and technology committee. So she’s got some credibility on this issue.

Nye looks at this more from a scientific perspective. Yes, there exists plenty of debate among scientists about climate change and its cause.

The evidence continues to persuade me that it’s real and — if there’s anything humans can do about it — that it’s long past time to act.

I’m just hoping it’s not too late.

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.

Time to plan for rising sea levels

Climate change is the subject of intense debate, particularly over its cause.

Manmade or natural? It doesn’t matter to many of us who believe that the climate is, in fact, changing.

What’s more, it should matter even less to those who live along our coastlines where sea levels are rising. That is virtually beyond dispute. The ocean levels are increasing and they figure to threaten the very communities that sit at the water’s edge.


Thus is it time for local experts to take the hint from climatologists and other experts to deal with this issue locally rather than continue to think globally about climate change.

Texas is one of those many states sitting along large bodies of water that are facing increases in sea level. The Coastal Plain, in fact, rises from the Gulf of Mexico quite gradually, meaning that much of the plain rests at or just slightly above sea level for many miles inland.

We’re safe here on the Caprock, which sits nearly 3,700 feet above sea level. No one I’m aware of has said the Gulf of Mexico is going to rise that much.

But our neighbors downstate, along the Gulf Coast from the Valley to the Golden Triangle — indeed all the way along the coast eastward — need to begin thinking about the consequences of doing nothing.

It involves a lot more than just filling up sandbags, folks.