Something to think about on this Sunday afternoon …
Tag Archives: Carbon emissions
Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls …
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued yet another ruling that is devastating, to say the least. The news stories reported that this is a “serious blow to Biden’s climate agenda.” NO, my friends, this is a serious blow to the lives of every single person around the globe, today and forever. No, that is not hyperbole … that is FACT. I am left spluttering … not speechless, but so filled with words that I cannot corral them into a coherent post just yet. Fortunately, Robert Reich has no such problem …
The beginning of the end of regulation
The radical Supreme Court is giving the big business backers of the GOP exactly what they paid for
Today the Supreme Court – again, with the 6 Republican appointees on one side and the 3 Democratic appointees on the other — limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants. This ruling deals a major blow to America’s (and the world’s) efforts to address climate change. Also — as with its decision reversing Roe v. Wade — today’s ruling has far larger implications than the EPA and the environment.
West Virginia v. EPA is the latest battle pitting America’s big businesses (in this case Big Oil) against the needs of average Americans. In this Supreme Court – containing three Trump appointees, two George W. Bush appointees, and one George H.W. Bush appointee – big business is winning big time. The financial backers of the Republican Party are getting exactly what they paid for.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts admitted that “capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day.’” But then came the kicker: “But it is not plausible,” he wrote, “that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme.”
Not plausible? Congress enacted the Environmental Protection Act in 1970. As with all laws, Congress left it to an administrative agency – in this case, the EPA – to decide how that Act was to be implemented and applied. That’s what regulations do: They implement and apply laws.
For the Supreme Court to give itself the authority to say whether Congress intended to delegate this much regulatory authority to the EPA is a truly radical act – more radical than any Supreme Court in modern history. If Congress has been unhappy with decades of EPA regulation, Congress surely has had the power to pull that authority back. But it has not.
As Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the dissenters, countered: “The Court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decision maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”
The implications of the ruling extend to all administrative agencies in the federal government – to the Securities and Exchange Commission implementing the Securities Acts of 1933 and 1934, to the Federal Trade Commission applying the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914, to the Department of Labor implementing the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and so on, across the entire range of government – and the entire range of regulations designed to protect consumers, investors, workers, and the environment. (This same Supreme Court has ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was not authorized to impose a moratorium on evictions and that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was powerless to tell large employers to have their workers be vaccinated or undergo frequent testing.)
In passing laws to protect the public, Congress cannot possibly foresee all ways in which those laws might be implemented and all circumstances in which the public might need the protections such laws accord. Starting today, though, all federal regulations will be under a cloud of uncertainty – and potential litigation.
A final implication of today’s ruling is that the filibuster has to go. If the Supreme Court is going to require that Congress be more active and specific in protecting the environment or anything else, such a goal is implausible when 60 senators are necessary to enact it. Senate Democrats now have it in their power to abolish the filibuster. Today’s case should convince them they must.
We Owe It To Our Children
Long after the pandemic has been conquered, long after Donald Trump is but a dark memory, long after most of my generation is gone, the environment will remain the world’s biggest single problem. I’m always a bit shame-faced when I listen to the young climate activist who has done so much to awaken people to the problem of earth’s atmosphere being headed to the point where it can no longer sustain life. I think about the lights I keep on, about allowing my van to idle for 10 minutes every day to keep the battery from draining, about the plastic water bottles that we still use … then discard. The pandemic has led to even worse habits, for we are no longer allowed to use reusable shopping bags, but must carry our purchases home in plastic bags, and it seems that environmental concerns have been pushed back, overridden by the pandemic crisis.
The young climate activist I refer to, of course, is none other than Greta Thunberg. The World Economic Forum (WEF) holds an annual meeting at the end of January in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland. One of the topics discussed in this year’s meeting is, of course, the environmental and ecological crises facing every nation on the globe. Due to the pandemic, this year’s meeting, being held this week, is a series of virtual meetings, rather than face-to-face. One of the speakers is Greta Thunberg, and what follows is her recorded statement for the group, and the text of her statement.
Greta Thunberg’s Message to World Leaders at Davos Summit
My name is Greta Thunberg and I’m not here to make deals. You see, I don’t belong to any financial interest or political party. So I can’t bargain or negotiate. I am only here to once again remind you of the emergency we’re in. The crisis that you and your predecessors have created and inflicted upon us. The crisis that you continue to ignore.
I am here to remind you of the promises that you have made to your children and grandchildren. And to tell you that we are not willing to compromise on the very minimum safety levels that still remain.
The climate and ecological crisis can unfortunately no longer be solved within today’s systems. According to the current best available science that is no longer an opinion; that’s a fact.
We need to keep this in mind as countries, businesses and investors now rush forward to present their new so-called “ambitious” climate targets and commitments. The longer we avoid this uncomfortable truth, and the longer we pretend we can solve the climate – and ecological emergency — without treating it like a crisis — the more precious time we will lose. And this is time we do not have.
Today, we hear leaders and nations all over the world speak of an “existential climate emergency”. But instead of taking the immediate action you would in any emergency, they set up vague, insufficient, hypothetical targets way into the future, like “net-zero 2050.” Targets based on loopholes and incomplete numbers. Targets that equal surrender. It’s like waking up in the middle of the night, seeing your house on fire, then deciding to wait 10, 20 or 30 years before you call the fire department while labeling those trying to wake people up alarmists.
We understand that the world is very complex and that change doesn’t happen overnight. But you’ve now had more than three decades of bla bla bla. How many more do you need? Because when it comes to facing the climate and ecological emergency, the world is still in a state of complete denial. The justice for the most affected people in the most affected areas is being systematically denied.
Even though we welcome every single climate initiative, the proposals being presented and discussed today are very far from being enough. And the time for “small steps in the right direction” is long gone. If we are to have at least a small chance of avoiding the worst consequences of the climate and ecological crisis, this needs to change.
Because you still say one thing, and then do the complete opposite. You speak of saving nature, while locking in policies of further destruction for decades to come.
You promise to not let future generations down, while creating new loopholes, failing to connect the dots, building your so called “pledges” on the cheating tactics that got us into this mess in the first place. If the commitments of lowering all our emissions by 70, 68 or even 55 percent by 2030 actually meant they aim to reduce them by those figures then that would be a great start. But that is unfortunately not the case.
And since the level of public awareness continues to be so low our leaders can still get away with almost anything. No one is held accountable. It’s like a game. Whoever is best at packaging and selling their message wins.
As it is now, we can have as many summits and meetings as we want, but unless we treat the climate and ecological crisis like a crisis, no sufficient changes will be achieved. What we need — to begin with — is to implement annual binding carbon budgets based on the current best available science.
Right now more than ever we are desperate for hope. But what is hope? For me hope is not more empty assurances that everything will be alright, that things are being taken care of and we do not need to worry.
For me, hope is the feeling that keeps you going, even though all odds may be against you. For me hope comes from action not just words. For me, hope is telling it like it is. No matter how difficult or uncomfortable that may be.
And again, I’m not here to tell you what to do. After all, safeguarding the future living conditions and preserving life on earth as we know it is voluntary. The choice is yours to make.
But I can assure you this. You can’t negotiate with physics. And your children and grandchildren will hold you accountable for the choices that you make. How’s that for a deal?
A No-Snark (Mostly) Sunday
After my last couple of rather rant-y posts, I felt like giving some thumbs-up and kudos tonight, proving that there are some things to be thankful for.
Christmas was over more than a week ago, but I thought I’d like to highlight a special Santa …
That’s right, folks, it’s former President Barack Obama decked out in a fluffy red cap to surprise patients and pass out a few gifts on Christmas Day at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. The facility is the same one his wife, Michelle Obama, visited every holiday season during her time as first lady to read stories to patients. She sometimes came with one of the couple’s two daughters.This year, it was the 44th president’s turn. He walked the hospital halls with a giant red bag of goodies slung over his shoulder. He visited a hospital playroom and stepped inside patient rooms, to the delight of the children and teens inside. Dressed casually in a sweater and pair of jeans, Obama posed for selfies while handing out jigsaw puzzles, race cars and other gifts he and his staff collected recently.
He also recorded a video message that could be relayed for the people he couldn’t meet during his visit. Before he left, hospital staff members greeted the president with a rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Obama responded by thanking the crowd for their work during the holidays.
“At a time that obviously is tough for folks, and as the dad of two girls, I can only imagine, in that situation, to have nurses, staff and doctors and people who are caring for them, and looking after them, and listening to them and just there for them and holding their hands. That’s the most important thing there is. What a great reminder of what the holiday spirit is supposed to be all about.”
One could make a comparison to another who spent the day in a luxury resort and on a golf course, but I won’t go there.
Two thumbs up to Germany who will close all 84 of its coal power plants. The nation — one of the world’s largest consumers of coal — will rely on renewable energy instead. The announcement came earlier this year as Germany revealed its struggle to meet its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions targets. Coal accounted for 40% of Germany’s electricity at the start of the year.Coal is the EU’s biggest economy. Germany accounts for the lion’s share, responsible for around one-third of electricity-related CO2 emissions, according to Carbon Brief. It generates roughly half of the EU’s electricity from brown coal (lignite), which emits higher levels of CO2.
More than halfway into 2019, German coal production had fallen by a fifth, largely replaced by renewables such as wind farms and solar. Wind is on track to become the country’s largest source of electricity, surpassing environmentally-unfriendly lignite. Germany also pledged to close its 19 nuclear power plants since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Renewables will account for 65 to 80 percent of Germany’s electricity by 2040, officials say.
And more good news on the environmental front comes from Australia, where bans introduced by two major retailers, Coles and Woolworths last summer, resulted in an 80 percent reduction in the country’s overall use of single-use plastic bags.
Initially, some customers felt “bag rage” about having to BYO-bag or fork over 15 Australian cents (11 cents) to buy a reusable one. Woolworths execs blamed slumping sales on “customers adjusting” to the plastic bag ban. Coles even briefly backed down on the bag ban and caught a lot of flak from environmentally conscious shoppers for giving away reusable plastic bags.
But the good news is that it seems most Aussies haven’t found it too hard to adjust to the change—and that’s fantastic for our landfills, oceans and the greater environment, which have become dumping grounds for our plastic waste.
There has been a growing movement to ban or tax these bags. Around the world, at least 32 countries have bans in place, according to reusable bag company ReuseThisBag. The U.S. is obviously NOT one of the nations to ban single use plastic anything. Only two states, California and Hawaii, have bans on single-use plastic bags. A handful of others have either a tax or mandatory recycling, but on the federal level there is … nothing.A personal note here … thanks to the initiative of my environmentally conscientious granddaughter Miss Goose, I now use my own re-usable canvas bags to bring groceries home, and re-usable mesh bags for my produce rather than the store’s plastic bags. Most of the cashiers and baggers are upbeat about it, but on occasion I have had a surly clerk who acted as if I were intentionally making her life hard by bringing my own bags. Twice in the past few months, I have written to the management of my local Kroger store, asking what their plans are for replacing plastic bags with paper or some other biodegradable material, but have yet to receive any response. The U.S., it would seem, is far behine Australia and at least 31 other countries.
Well, that’s your good news for the month, and now I’m going back to my usual fare, complete with snarking, ranting, growling and grumbling. Have a happy Sunday!
A Fresh Batch Of Snarky Snippets
Some days just seem to be meant for a fresh batch of cookies snarky snippets, and today is such a day. The stranger times and people get, the snarkier I seem to feel. So, fasten your seat belts … or leave them off so you can run away quickly if needs be.
Da Book of Trump???
You may want to get your sick-bags for this one. Remember Miriam Adelson? She and her husband Sheldon are friends (aka donors) of Donald Trump and during his 2016 campaign they donated millions to assist in the potential destruction of the United States. It is estimated that the Adelson’s gave more than $110 million to the GOP during the 2016 election campaign, most going to Trump. In return, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom last November, for … well … assisting in the destruction of the nation.But all of that is water either under the bridge, or over the dam, whichever expression you prefer, for today, Miriam Adelson is back in the news, praising Trump and taking it one step further. She wrote an OpEd piece that was published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, in which she praises Trump …
“We are now at platinum — a miracle of preciousness, radiance, and endurance. And the man who most deserves credit for this is President Donald J. Trump.”
Adelson cited many reasons why she credited Trump with improving relations with Israel, including formally recognizing Jerusalem as the nation’s capital, and declaring the Golan Heights to be Israeli territory, in his view. The withdrawal by the U.S. from a nuclear agreement with Iran was also brought up by Adelson as to why Trump was the best president for Israel. It should be noted that the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement has every likelihood of leading to World War III, but … oh well, as long as Trump and the Adelson’s are happy, right? But the crowning absurdity of her piece was …
“Would it be too much to pray for a day when the Bible gets a ‘Book of Trump,’ much like it has a ‘Book of Esther’ celebrating the deliverance of the Jews from ancient Persia?”
A ‘Book of Trump’ addendum to the bible. Think about that one. Now, I don’t know much at all about the bible, and I realize that it is written by many different men at various times, but … a ‘Book of Trump’??? Surely even the evangelicals must be incensed over that one, right? Right? Sigh. It matters not to me who puts what into the bible, but it does matter to me, should matter to all of us, that this would give Trump the acclaim he seeks to call himself ‘Supreme Leader’, and we would be doomed for the rest of our lifetimes, ‘til somebody knocked him off his golden pedestal.
Some people just got no sense!
He lies … and lies … and lies some more
You’d think I would be used to it by now, wouldn’t you? But no, I’m not, for I still shook my fist at my laptop’s screen as I looked around for something to throw, all the while feeling rather ill. Yes, of course this has to do with Donald Trump … was there ever any question? Well, happens that some of his advisors have determined one area he is not polling high in is the environment. Sooooo … determined to fix that, Trump gave an hour-long speech on … what a wonderful steward of the environment he has been, and what a great job … nobody has ever …
Trump called himself a protector of public land. Does a ‘protector’, open up public lands to drilling? Does a protector sign off on the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history? He repeatedly cited his desire for clean water, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is rolling back an Obama-era clean-water regulation of pollution in streams and wetlands.
He described himself as a champion of the oceans. Does the champion of the oceans open up the entire United States coastline to offshore oil and gas drilling?
Does a protector pull out of the Paris Climate Accords that every single nation on the globe has signed, only so that he can de-regulate industries in the U.S., increase carbon emissions, and be accountable to nobody? Does a person who gives even a little damn about the environment, threaten punishment to those who are attempting to cut back on fossil fuels and turn to renewable energy sources?
Does this fool on the hill realize that the United States is THE LARGEST EMITTER per capita of CO2, the main pollutant that is destroying the air we breath, causing global temperatures to rise, sea temperatures to rise to the point that the arctic ice is melting, causing extreme weather everywhere, and ultimately causing the planet to no longer be inhabitable by any lifeform that requires clean air and potable water. Donald Trump did not create the current crisis … and make no mistake, it IS a crisis … but he is singlehandedly working to ensure the destruction of the environment such that the Earth will no longer sustain life. And he brags about his environmental record? How. Dare. He??? Noted presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley said …
“It is an utter farce for the president to talk about America’s environmental leadership, when he has been a champion of the polluters.”
Baby Trump on Amazon?
It came to my attention yesterday afternoon that Amazon carries mini-versions of the baby Trump blimp, so of course I had to check it out, right? ‘Tis true! They have a variety of the blimps in sizes ranging from 21 inches and upward. They even had one filled with catnip, so the furry babes can have fun shredding his face! They have coffee cups, t-shirts, and all sorts of toys and novelties based on the baby trump blimp! Here are a couple of my favourites …
While that is not all the snarky I have built up, it is all I have time for right now. However, never fear, I shall return! A promise or a threat? It’s all in the perception.
Best Explanation EVER!
I happened across this Robert Reich video today, and I really hope you will all take a minute to watch it, then send a link to your friends who are still in denial over climate change. This is the best brief (2:30) explanation of how to respond to climate change deniers that I have ever seen/heard.
Greta Thunberg Speaks Out …
Back in December, one of my ‘good people’ was a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden named Greta Thunberg. She is the originator of the movement that has young people all over the world leaving their classes on Fridays to participate in protests against governments that aren’t doing their part to protect our planet. Ms. Thunberg is a courageous and caring young woman who refuses to ‘sit down and shut up’, as some wish she would do.
Yesterday, Ms. Thunberg gave a speech to the UK’s Members of Parliament, and she pulled no punches. I would like to share that speech with you today, and I really wish she would cross the pond and give that same speech to our Congress! Prime Minister Theresa May did not attend, though a seat was saved for her.
My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I come from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations.
I know many of you don’t want to listen to us – you say we are just children. But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science.
Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future. Is that really too much to ask?
In the year 2030 I will be 26 years old. My little sister Beata will be 23. Just like many of your own children or grandchildren. That is a great age, we have been told. When you have all of your life ahead of you. But I am not so sure it will be that great for us.
I was fortunate to be born in a time and place where everyone told us to dream big; I could become whatever I wanted to. I could live wherever I wanted to. People like me had everything we needed and more. Things our grandparents could not even dream of. We had everything we could ever wish for and yet now we may have nothing.
Now we probably don’t even have a future any more.
Because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once.
You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard.
Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?
Around the year 2030, 10 years 252 days and 10 hours away from now, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it. That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 50%.
And please note that these calculations are depending on inventions that have not yet been invented at scale, inventions that are supposed to clear the atmosphere of astronomical amounts of carbon dioxide.
Furthermore, these calculations do not include unforeseen tipping points and feedback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas escaping from rapidly thawing arctic permafrost.
Nor do these scientific calculations include already locked-in warming hidden by toxic air pollution. Nor the aspect of equity – or climate justice – clearly stated throughout the Paris agreement, which is absolutely necessary to make it work on a global scale.
We must also bear in mind that these are just calculations. Estimations. That means that these “points of no return” may occur a bit sooner or later than 2030. No one can know for sure. We can, however, be certain that they will occur approximately in these timeframes, because these calculations are not opinions or wild guesses.
These projections are backed up by scientific facts, concluded by all nations through the IPCC. Nearly every single major national scientific body around the world unreservedly supports the work and findings of the IPCC.
Did you hear what I just said? Is my English OK? Is the microphone on? Because I’m beginning to wonder.
During the last six months I have travelled around Europe for hundreds of hours in trains, electric cars and buses, repeating these life-changing words over and over again. But no one seems to be talking about it, and nothing has changed. In fact, the emissions are still rising.
When I have been travelling around to speak in different countries, I am always offered help to write about the specific climate policies in specific countries. But that is not really necessary. Because the basic problem is the same everywhere. And the basic problem is that basically nothing is being done to halt – or even slow – climate and ecological breakdown, despite all the beautiful words and promises.
The UK is, however, very special. Not only for its mind-blowing historical carbon debt, but also for its current, very creative, carbon accounting.
Since 1990 the UK has achieved a 37% reduction of its territorial CO2 emissions, according to the Global Carbon Project. And that does sound very impressive. But these numbers do not include emissions from aviation, shipping and those associated with imports and exports. If these numbers are included the reduction is around 10% since 1990 – or an an average of 0.4% a year, according to Tyndall Manchester.
And the main reason for this reduction is not a consequence of climate policies, but rather a 2001 EU directive on air quality that essentially forced the UK to close down its very old and extremely dirty coal power plants and replace them with less dirty gas power stations. And switching from one disastrous energy source to a slightly less disastrous one will of course result in a lowering of emissions.
But perhaps the most dangerous misconception about the climate crisis is that we have to “lower” our emissions. Because that is far from enough. Our emissions have to stop if we are to stay below 1.5-2C of warming. The “lowering of emissions” is of course necessary but it is only the beginning of a fast process that must lead to a stop within a couple of decades, or less. And by “stop” I mean net zero – and then quickly on to negative figures. That rules out most of today’s politics.
The fact that we are speaking of “lowering” instead of “stopping” emissions is perhaps the greatest force behind the continuing business as usual. The UK’s active current support of new exploitation of fossil fuels – for example, the UK shale gas fracking industry, the expansion of its North Sea oil and gas fields, the expansion of airports as well as the planning permission for a brand new coal mine – is beyond absurd.
This ongoing irresponsible behaviour will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind.
People always tell me and the other millions of school strikers that we should be proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished. But the only thing that we need to look at is the emission curve. And I’m sorry, but it’s still rising. That curve is the only thing we should look at.
Every time we make a decision we should ask ourselves; how will this decision affect that curve? We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases. We should no longer only ask: “Have we got enough money to go through with this?” but also: “Have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?” That should and must become the centre of our new currency.
Many people say that we don’t have any solutions to the climate crisis. And they are right. Because how could we? How do you “solve” the greatest crisis that humanity has ever faced? How do you “solve” a war? How do you “solve” going to the moon for the first time? How do you “solve” inventing new inventions?
The climate crisis is both the easiest and the hardest issue we have ever faced. The easiest because we know what we must do. We must stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. The hardest because our current economics are still totally dependent on burning fossil fuels, and thereby destroying ecosystems in order to create everlasting economic growth.
“So, exactly how do we solve that?” you ask us – the schoolchildren striking for the climate.
And we say: “No one knows for sure. But we have to stop burning fossil fuels and restore nature and many other things that we may not have quite figured out yet.”
Then you say: “That’s not an answer!”
So we say: “We have to start treating the crisis like a crisis – and act even if we don’t have all the solutions.”
“That’s still not an answer,” you say.
Then we start talking about circular economy and rewilding nature and the need for a just transition. Then you don’t understand what we are talking about.
We say that all those solutions needed are not known to anyone and therefore we must unite behind the science and find them together along the way. But you do not listen to that. Because those answers are for solving a crisis that most of you don’t even fully understand. Or don’t want to understand.
You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before. Like now. And those answers don’t exist any more. Because you did not act in time.
Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.
Sometimes we just simply have to find a way. The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything. And I’m sure that the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate and ecological catastrophe. Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses.
We children are not sacrificing our education and our childhood for you to tell us what you consider is politically possible in the society that you have created. We have not taken to the streets for you to take selfies with us, and tell us that you really admire what we do.
We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back.
I hope my microphone was on. I hope you could all hear me.
An Important Message …
I came across this video created by Greenpeace a few days ago. Greenpeace, founded in 1971, is a non-governmental environmental organization focusing on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues. Their mission statement:
Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.
The video contains probably some of the worst singing you will hear this week, but the message is important, the message is one that needs to be remembered and shared. Our lives, the lives of our children and their children are at stake here, and every person on this planet has the ability to make a difference.
Filosofa’s State of the Union Address
Yesterday, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, sent a letter to Donald Trump strongly urging that he either reschedule the State of the Union Address or deliver it in writing, in the wake of the ongoing government shutdown, which entered its 26th day on Wednesday, and which has affected nearly 800,000 federal workers. Pelosi cited critical government agencies in charge of overseeing the event — namely U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security — that have been hobbled by the shutdown.
Under the circumstances, it is highly unlikely that Trump will, in fact, deliver a State of the Union address in person on Friday, 29 January. So, it seemed prudent, just in case I am asked to deliver it in his stead, to go ahead and write my own speech … Good evening Ms. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans.
Ms. Pelosi graciously invited me to fill in for Mr. Trump in giving the State of the Union Address tonight, for with the government shutdown in its 39th day, the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security are stretched far too thin to provide adequate security to attend this address to Congress. It was determined that far fewer people want to bump me off than Mr. Trump, so my safety seems not to be at risk and thus I am here to deliver the speech to Congress and the Nation tonight. Mr. Trump’s speechwriters worked very hard to provide me with a written speech, however, I seem to have left it back at the hotel, so luckily I have written my own.
This is called the State of the Union address because the purpose is to inform the American people how the country is doing, and where we are going, what we plan to accomplish in the coming year. Let me start with how we are doing.
America is more divided today than at any time since the end of the Civil War years. We have problems, folks – serious problems. As I mentioned today marks the 39th day of the partial government shutdown that is affecting everyone in one way or another. You, the people of this once-great nation are losing confidence, and understandably so, in your government. Investors are losing confidence and it is being reflected in the dropping stock market and also in the job market. Consumer prices are on the rise. The food you buy to feed your families costs more than it did a month ago and there is a very real danger that meat and produce may be contaminated, since the U.S. Department of Agriculture hasn’t sufficient staff to continue food safety inspections.
Apart from the government shutdown, we have a plethora of other problems that we seem unable or unwilling to address. Perhaps the most critical one is that of the environment. Since the rollback of past environmental regulations that were intended to cut back on carbon emissions, it was reported earlier this week that carbon emissions in the U.S. have increased by 3.4%, not decreased as they needed to. This is a problem, not only for the United States, but for our neighbors, Mexico and Canada, as well as the rest of the globe.
The other critical problem facing the nation is that we have lost the trust and respect of our allies, which leaves us in an extremely vulnerable position. We abandoned our allies when we announced our intent to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, when we exited the Iran nuclear agreement, and more recently when we announced that we would pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, leaving our allies holding the bag. In addition, our threats to pull out of NATO, our unwarranted criticism of our allies, high import tariffs, and seeming attentiveness toward our adversaries further have our allies wondering whether they could depend on us in case of an emergency. This is a dangerous situation.
Here at home, we face other problems.
Last year we saw a number of mass shootings in the United States. 113 people were either killed or injured in school shootings alone, and young people are asking us why we don’t do something, why we don’t pass laws to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental problems, of people who are known domestic abusers, why we don’t have stronger gun laws in this country.
The nation is torn apart by the debate about immigration and a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico. Border states are particularly torn, for such a wall would limit, if not eliminate trade and tourism between our two countries and would almost certainly cause further political and economic unrest.
Our education system is failing our young people. They are not receiving the education they need in order to succeed, to become the next generation of leaders, of scientists, of historians or great inventors. Instead, we are training them only for specific jobs, thereby severely limiting their options.
We have fallen far behind other Western nations in the development of renewable energy sources, have become far too dependent on fossil fuels which are causing more damage and destruction to the environment every day.
Bigotry in all its forms is at an all time high in our nation today. Racial tensions are the highest they have been since the 1960s when people died to gain Civil Rights for African-Americans, for all people. Rights are being taken away from the LGBT community. Women’s rights are being trampled. Muslims are discriminated against openly in public.
Our elections are no longer fair, for almost every state has gerrymandered districts, newly imposed voter identification laws that discriminate against the poor and minorities. Polling places in poor districts are closed, or in some cases the hours dramatically reduced, making it impossible for a working person in one of those neighborhoods to vote. Foreign entities have interfered in our elections, often skewing results. Both domestic and foreign lobbyist firms have influenced elections and now have some of the people sitting in this room tonight in their pockets. All of this has led to voter disenfranchisement and apathy.
And healthcare … drug prices are obscenely inflated in the United States, as are insurance costs. The ACA has been chipped at to the extent that many can no longer afford their health insurance. People are sick and dying for lack of money.
I wish I had better news to report, but frankly, ladies and gentlemen, our nation is in a sorry state today. I cannot speak for Mr. Trump as to any plans for the coming year, but I have given you a rundown, in brief, of the State of the Nation. And on that note, I thank you for your time this evening.
Putting 2 + 2 Together …
A few of the recent headlines …
Heat Wave Grips Northeast U.S.
Dangerous Heat Wave Hitting U.S. Over Fourth of July Weekend
UK Weather Forecast: Summer 2018 To Be Hottest Ever
Town Hit By Major Freak Flooding in the Midst of a National Heat Wave
And the list goes on. In my city, it has been over 90° F (32° C) and with heat index factored in, has hit 104° F (40° C) for the past four days. A check with The Weather Channel shows that there is very little, if any relief in sight at least through July 15th, another two weeks. The average temperatures here in the two hottest months, July & August, are typically 86° and 87° with rarely more than 3-4 days over 90°. I remember a few years that there were no 90-degree days all summer! Humidity has been between 56% – 99% for the past several days.Funny thing about all of this, though … nobody seems to be too concerned beyond the inconvenience of being uncomfortable, having trouble breathing and/or sleeping, and worrying about seeing next month’s electric bill. I haven’t once heard mention of that forbidden phrase … climate change. I haven’t heard any others express my own concern, that this is how summers will be from now on. For the past two winters, we have barely had any snowfall. Last year saw a record number of intense hurricanes, including three Category 5 hurricanes, Harvey, Irma & Maria, that together caused over $281 billion in damage!
When Trump took office on 20 January 2017, he had already made it known that he believed climate change was a “hoax invented by the Chinese”. He then nominated Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pruitt had already sued the EPA thirteen times while he served as Oklahoma’s Attorney General! And now, as EPA Administrator, he has climbed into bed with the fossil fuel industry, hidden his agenda from the public eye, falsified records, spent taxpayer monies recklessly and on personal items, engaged in unethical activities and in short, been one of the most corrupt cabinet members in history! The one thing he has not done, is address the most serious issue facing our environment, climate change.
In June 2015, Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement, saying that “The Paris accord will undermine [the U.S.] economy, and puts [the U.S.] at a permanent disadvantage.” In keeping with that philosophy, he has rescinded, via ‘executive order’, a large number of regulations and safeguards that were put into place to regulate CO2 emissions, water standards, chemical toxicity, wildlife and national park protections, and the list goes on.
Now, it is not my intention to say that because Trump has given free rein to coal and oil companies, that is the reason we are sweltering. However, I do say that unless this nation, the only one on the globe that is not remaining in the Paris Accord, takes responsibility for doing its share to take care of the planet, we will continue to see the effects that we are seeing and they will only continue to multiply. The predictions of the climate scientists are being realized even sooner than they anticipated.
Despite the losses of life and property during last year’s hurricane season, despite the nearly unbearable extended heat wave both in the U.S. and across the pond, people seem to be oblivious. I don’t see people leaving their cars at home, taking a bus or walking to their destination. The lady across the street from me even starts her car and drives her bag of trash to the dumpster at the end of the street! And no, she is not disabled, but is more ‘abled’ than I am, while I walk my trash to the dumpster! The end result is that people are much more concerned with things such as jobs, the economy, health care, taxes and other things that they can see affecting their own lives on a day-to-day basis.
This explains in part why it has been so easy for the current bunch in Washington to pull the wool over the public’s eyes about climate change, for it is seen as having more long-term than immediate effects, and also the science is not well understood among those of us who are non-scientists. One has to take much on faith, believing that the men and women who have the education and have spent most of their lives studying the earth and environment know of what they speak. And, of course, part of the resistance to climate change is the convenience factor, for once you acknowledge that human behaviours are destroying the environment, it is hard to argue against changing those behaviours.Another part of the reason that people are failing to sit up and take notice, I think, is that lackadaisical attitude that “somehow things will work out … they always do”. I imagine the dinosaurs believed much the same once upon a time, eh?
It is encouraging that some states and cities in the U.S., as well as some corporations are taking matters into their own hands and taking steps toward being more environmentally responsible. It is encouraging to see that in 2017, renewable energy sources accounted for about 11% of total U.S. energy consumption and about 17% of electricity generation. But it isn’t enough. The U.S. is not only letting its own citizens down, but is letting every man, woman and child on the globe down, for this is a global problem, not a local one. The U.S. has emitted more planet-warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other country. Yet while we are a big part of the problem, we refuse to be a part of the solution.
This summer’s high temperatures and humidity will lead to increased energy use as air-conditioners run non-stop in homes and businesses. People will drive their cars more, rather than walk, and run the a/c in the car, thereby using more fuel … more polluting fuel. What does it take to wake people up to the fact that we are very likely bringing about the extinction of the human race, and unlike the dinosaurs, who did not have the ability to control their fate, we have a choice. Perhaps we cannot force Donald Trump to care about the earth, to care about our survival, but we can get the knuckle-draggers out of Congress and elect people who care enough to do something. AND … we can do something. We can combine trips so we drive less, turn our thermostats up (or down in winter), turn off lights, conserve energy in any way possible. It may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the energy used by factories, office buildings and big trucks, but every little bit counts. WE MUST WAKE UP!!!
A few informative links, if you’re interested:
- Human influence on climate change will fuel more extreme heat waves in US
- Heat Waves and Climate Change
- With rising greenhouse gases, U.S. heat waves to become more common & longer-lasting (an older article — 2012 — but still very relevant)