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.Trump-AdelsonBut 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

trump-pinocchioYou’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.”

Damn straight.


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 …

baby-blimpbaby-blimp-mugbaby-blimp-shirtbaby-blimp-shirt-2baby-blimp-shirt-3


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.

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.


Greta-ThunbergMy 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.

Greta_Thunberg_pissed-800x450You 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 … Text dividersGood 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.climate map eastern usFunny 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.dinosaurAnother 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:

The Unraveling of the EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, is intended to do exactly what you might expect from the name … protect the environment.  In the Trumpian world of alternative language, however, it is apparently understood a bit differently:  the EPA is to protect the fossil fuel industry and assist them in destroying the environment.

pruitt-pollutionIf there was a worse possible choice for Director of the EPA, I do not know who it could have been.  I won’t rehash all his disqualifications, but merely remind you that as Attorney General of Oklahoma from 2011 – 2017, Pruitt sued the EPA, the very agency he now runs, no less than 13 times on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, and labeled himself as “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”  Indeed, in 2015, he called for the elimination of the agency! Rather like hiring the man who threatened to shoot my horse, to watch over my horse, don’t you think? And it goes without saying that Pruitt rejects the scientific consensus that human activities are a primary contributor to climate change and that carbon dioxide is the primary contributor.

Since taking the agency reins in February 2017, he has:

  • Lied to Congress about a private email account he uses to communicate with representatives of the fossil fuel industry

  • Cut the EPA budget by more than 30%

  • Cut staffing by more than 700 employees, some in key positions that remain unfilled.

  • Imposed a cloak of secrecy where employees are forbidden to take notes at meetings, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are blatantly denied, and implemented ‘gag rules’, forbidding employees to speak of environmental issues.

  • Shifted numerous staff members to his own private security detail, costing taxpayers $830,000 per year.

  • Eliminated regulations that:
    • Verified emissions from a company’s industrial expansion are what the company says they are. (Now the EPA will simply take estimates at face value. But all these big corporations are so honest that this should work out well, don’t you think?)
    • Blocked a potentially disastrous mining operation in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. (The mine will now go forward, though a single leak could devastate the world’s largest sockeye salmon population.)
    • Required the tracking of methane emissions (this decision was overturned by the Supreme Court).
    • Required data collection of emissions from oil and gas companies.
    • Monitored fracking.
    • Required companies to disclose which hazardous chemicals they’re storing.
    • Protected tributaries of sensitive bodies of water (even though the EPA’s analysis showed it would cost less to prevent the pollution than to allow it).
    • Set tighter emissions standards for trucks.
    • Banned the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos.
  • Repealed the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era rules that imposed strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Propagated false or misleading information regarding the costs of renewable energy, need for removal of regulations on fossil fuel companies, and climate change.

pruitt lies

  • Removed the term ‘climate change’ from the agency’s website, and offices that were working on climate change have been closed, staff re-assigned.

And just last week, when nobody much was watching because of the holidays …

  • The EPA says a controversial herbicide is not harmful to humans. For the past few years, a debate has been raging over Monsanto’s use of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Round-Up, the top-selling weed killer sprayed on millions of acres of crops across the globe every year. The EPA came down clearly on Monsanto’s side, saying that glyphosate likely does not cause cancer. This contradicts a 2015 report by the World Health Organization (WHO). Score another for corporate profits over global health and well-being.

The U.S. produces the second largest amount of carbon emissions, second only to China, and we have the largest amount of carbon emissions per capita in the world. And yet, we are the only nation on the planet that is not part of the Paris Accord, the agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation and adaptation.

carbon-emissionsWhat arrogance on the part of the U.S. … we are in the process of destroying, not only our own environment, but that of the entire planet, for the effects of pollution are not contained to the country from which the pollutants originate.  I’m sure that if the rest of the world could, they would like to build a giant bubble over the U.S. to contain our emissions, and let us all choke slowly to death on the results of our corporate greed.

The news is not all bad, for there are some cities, states and even corporations that are moving forward with renewable energy projects.  But there are not nearly enough, and the corporate greed of Trump and his rich cohorts is a horror show in the making.

Can Scott Pruitt be removed as Director of the EPA?  It would take an act of Congress, literally, impeachment proceedings with the same criteria as impeaching the president: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  Does anything Pruitt has done thus far qualify as a high crime or misdemeanor?  Legally, it is very doubtful, and the bottom line is that it matters not, for the current, republican-controlled Congress, would not even consider it for a minute, for their pockets are lined by the same people who are lining Pruitt’s.  Yet another reason to choose wisely when you go to the polls in November.

On The U.S. Withdrawal From Paris Accord – Part I

Mr. Donald Trump has just made what is arguably the worst decision of his short, yet too-long, presidency.  He has announced that he will withdraw the United States from the Paris Accords.  He has decided that there will be ZERO commitment from the United States to control and reverse the lethal effects of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.  He has, in essence, announced that the United States will do absolutely nothing to save the planet on which we live.  But wait … it is even worse than that.  Mr. Donald Trump, the man who swore his goal was to “make America safe again”, has just made a decision that erodes our national security.  Mr. Donald Trump is a fool and an imbecile.

There are many angles that need to be considered, and to do so in a single post would be unwieldy, at best, indigestible for certain.  This post is Part I, and there will be at least one more, possibly two in the coming days.  To some extent, I want to put some time and distance between the announcement and my writing, because there will be fallout over the next few days that may affect what I write.  But for today, I am addressing some general thoughts and reactions from others here in the U.S.

There are 196 or 195 countries on this globe, depending on how you feel about Taiwan.  Of these, all but two, Nicaragua and Syria, signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.  Donald Trump brings that number to 3 … we are now aligned only with Nicaragua and Syria on the most important issue of the century!  And do you know WHY Trump made this disastrous decision?  There may be a subset of reasons, most having to do with his uber-rich friends in the fossil fuel and auto industries, but the main reason … the driving force behind his decision … is that he is pulling out of the Paris Accords simply because our last president, the one with a brain in his skull, signed it in 2015.  That’s right, folks … Trump promised his supporters that he would erase all signs that President Obama ever existed, thus if President Obama’s name is on it, it must go. A fourth-grade playground mentality has no place in the world of international relations and governance.  Go, Trump … go back to your playground with your filthy rich, hedonistic friends, and get out of our lives.

The U.S. is the world’s second largest contributor to carbon emissions, second only to China, and the highest contributor per capita on the globe.  We put more harmful filth into the environment, doing more than our share to destroy the planet, but we are unwilling to do any part to help correct the problem.

I firmly believe that none other than Steven K. Bannon was the driving force behind this decision.  Remember Bannon’s comment when talking to a New York University academic?

“I’m a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

Well, who knew that he also meant to destroy the very environment upon which we must depend for our lives?

Trump considers himself to be the ultimate deal-maker, as he wrote in his first published book, The Art of the Deal.  So, in his announcement this afternoon, he said that he intends to negotiate a new “fair” deal that would not disadvantage US businesses and workers.

“In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord… but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States. So we’re getting out but we will start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair.”

Less than two hours after his announcement, French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump in a phone call that the Paris climate deal could not be renegotiated and that while France would continue to work with Washington, it would no longer discuss climate issues with the United States.  I suspect the rest of the western nations will respond similarly.  It is either/or, all or nothing at all.  This is not a business deal, not a child’s game.  This is the very life of our planet and it is far too serious to allow Trump, the man with no values, to call the shots.

The line “In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America …” is an extreme oxymoron.  With his words, his actions today and also last week in Brussels and Italy, what he has actually accomplished is to make the U.S. far more vulnerable.  When Trump refused to affirm our commitment to Article 5 at the NATO conference last week, he created a huge rift between us and our allies.  Article 5 stipulates that the G7 countries will come to the aid of any other G7 country that is attacked by a foreign entity.  Trump would not make that commitment, choosing instead to berate the other nations and claim that they “owed” money to the U.S.  Nothing could be further from the truth, but then, when has truth ever mattered to Donald Trump?  According to Foreign Policy magazine, it was an attack against all of NATO. The one thing that should be obvious to even the least enlightened citizen is that if we will not commit to help our allies in their time of need, how can we reasonably expect them to come to our aid?

And now that he has announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Accords, he has just driven another nail, perhaps ultimately the final nail, into the coffin.  Let us take a look at some reactions from the home front.

Two groups notably applauded Trump’s announcement:  the coal lobby, whose spokesman said, “We support President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement. The previous administration volunteered to meet one of the most stringent goals of any country in the world, while many other countries do far less to reduce their emissions. Meeting President Obama’s goal would have led to more regulations, higher energy prices, and dependence on less reliable energy sources.”  (It should be noted that many of those ‘other countries’ are underdeveloped nations who put very little carbon into the atmosphere.) What they fail to understand, apparently, is that the coal industry is one in death throes with or without the Paris Accords. The other group to support the move was, of course, those die-hard Trump supporters who long ago traded their brain for a box of Cracker Jacks.

“I’m celebrating, he’s saved jobs and businesses,” James in Virginia

“It’s not worth the paper it’s printed on,” said Will.

“I think it was a bad deal in the first place,” said Cathy.

Marta in Texas said she wasn’t too familiar with the accord, but was “fed up” of environmental groups, which she views as “exclusive clubs”.

By leaving the Paris Accord, President Trump has unraveled another thread of Barack Obama’s legacy, and that’s another reason many of his supporters are celebrating.

And of course, lapdog Pence said, “The American people & the wider world will see once again – our President is choosing to put American jobs and American workers first.”

More encouraging, however, were responses from the mayors of 61 cities around the US who have joined together to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris agreement. In an open letter, the mayors – representing 36 million people from Arkansas to Vermont – promised to “intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy.  The world cannot wait  – and neither will we.” 

And … The governors of Washington state, New York and California have announced the formation of the “United States Climate Alliance, a coalition that will convene US states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change”. They said they are “committed to achieving the US goal of reducing emissions 26-28% from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.” California Governor Jerry Brown told the BBC earlier this week he would now work with China on the issue.

Trump has made the worst decision of his term to date.  However, a large portion of our population are firmly convinced of the dangers of climate change and that we need to take immediate action.  I believe that in many areas, such as renewable energy sources, we are past the point that Trump has much leverage.  However, what he has done to our alliances is another story, and one that I will address soon.

Trump The Great Destroyer

There are those who say wind turbines are an eyesore, that they ruin the landscape.  But have you ever seen a strip mine in coal country?

Which do you think is the greater eyesore?  The picture on the right was once a beautiful green mountain, but this is what it looks like after the coal was extracted.

Today, Don Trump decided that he would much rather turn nature’s beautiful mountains into that picture on the right side, above.  Today, Don Trump signed a new executive order titled “Energy Independence” that is even more potentially destructive than the rest of his orders have been.  (Note that the man who was going to “make America great again” has, thus far done nothing constructive, but has attempted much destruction!)  The order directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to start the legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan.

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Surrounded by coal miners, he signed with a flourish and stated, “C’mon fellas. You know what this is? You know what this says? You’re going back to work.”  Jackass.  The order also lifts a short-term ban on new coal mining on public lands. Jerk. The order will all but ensure that the United States cannot meet its global warming commitments under the Paris accord.

“We’re ending the theft of American prosperity and reviving our beloved economy. The miners told me about the attacks on their jobs. I made them this promise. We will put our miners back to work.”

While the coal industry executives may be applauding and singing happy tunes today, there is more to the story than meets the eye.  There are some real world facts to be considered:

  • Regulatory relief could restore 10 percent of coal companies’ lost market share at most — nowhere near enough to return coal to its dominant position in power markets and put tens of thousands of coal miners to work.
  • Improved drilling techniques over the past decade have made natural gas a much more economical option than coal. Most utilities have already reduced their infrastructure and they already have commitments geared toward natural gas.
  • Wind and solar power are also taking market share, as the costs of utility-scale generation have become competitive with those of hydrocarbons in many parts of the country.
  • By the end of last year, 29 states had adopted rules to replace a substantial share of fossil fuel electricity production with cleaner power. California is far ahead of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan in environmental stewardship, and promises to resist the federal government’s new agenda. The existing state mandates alone are on track for meeting 20% of the nation’s energy needs within the next 8 years.
  • Federal tax credits for wind and solar enacted during the Obama administration will continue for at least several more years, and they have the support of Republican members of Congress from states producing wind power, like Texas and Iowa.

Nicholas K. Akins, chief executive of American Electric Power (AEP) said, “Our plans remain the same. We’re going to invest over the next three years $1.5 billion in renewables … This industry is moving in a direction that really moves toward a clean energy economy. That’s what our customers expect, that’s what our shareholders expect.”

And speaking of customers, a recent (January 2017) study by Pew Research found that fully 65% of Americans give priority to developing alternative energy over fossil fuels.    Apparently, for all his bluster and his faux claims, Don Trump has failed to listen to the voices of the American people, the citizens, taxpayers and voters.  Most in this country would prefer wind turbines to destroyed mountains, and most have come to understand that we simply cannot continue to destroy our environment, as we have been for so many years, without suffering devastating effects.

energy-Pew-chart

Earlier this month, with Trump’s blessings, the State Department granted the pipeline giant TransCanada a permit for Keystone construction to re-start, and Trump halted the initiative to impose stringent fuel-economy standards for automobiles, saying, “The assault on the American auto industry is over.”

The mining of coal is dirty and harmful to the environment, as is the burning of the ore.  Scott Pruitt, Trump’s puppet EPA Administrator, said today’s executive order would “be both pro-jobs and pro-environment.”  The reality is that it will be neither.  It is yet another ‘alternative fact’. What it will do is contribute further to the destruction of our environment, but not only our environment … the global environment.  When we dump CO2 into the atmosphere, it does not only affect the air we breathe, but it spreads the poison around the globe.  This is why nearly every country on earth has committed to try to reduce carbon emissions.  Quite frankly, every other nation on the globe has a right to be very angry at Trump over his recent anti-environmental moves.  In large part, Trump likely knows that nothing he has done will add a measurable number of jobs to the economy, but rather, he is driven by an obsession to ‘undo’ whatever President Obama did, such as repealing ACA with no viable alternative on the horizon.  This is exactly the wrong way to lead a nation, and it is why I claim the entire Trump administration is a circus … nay, a nightmare!  We The People deserve better!  We The People DEMAND better!

* Note:  John Podesta, an advisor on climate and energy policy to President Obama and campaign chair for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, has written a very good Op-Ed piece on this topic that is worth reading.

Live For Today, or Preserve For Tomorrow?

As humans, one of our less desirable traits is our attitude of “yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t promised, so live in the moment … live for today”.  On the surface, that seems like a decent philosophy, and I know many who follow it, but there are some big problems with it.  Personal finance, of course, is near the top of the list.  There are those for whom living “payday-to-payday” with no savings for emergencies is a way of life.  They spend and buy what they want today without concern for the future because “tomorrow isn’t promised”.  There is, however, a more global effect of the “live for today” attitude that humans tend to employ, and the one I have in mind at the moment is climate change and our environment.  I do not know how citizens in other nations view the threat to our globe but as a citizen of the U.S., I can tell you that Americans are short-sighted, selfish and arrogant when it comes to their willingness to make sacrifices today in order to save the planet tomorrow.  Apparently it is easier to deny that there is a problem than to suffer sacrifice or inconvenience in order to work toward solving the problem. There is very real and irrefutable evidence that we (and I use this term in the global sense) have contributed to changes in the environment, changes that will have long-lasting consequences and ultimately have the potential to make this earth uninhabitable for human life.  Yet rather than be inconvenienced, far too many people choose to turn a blind eye, declaring that climate change is some conspiracy dreamed up by politicians … to what end I do not know. Just this morning I read a post by a fellow blogger who referred to the concept of climate change as the “hoax of the century”.  Yet most all scientists now agree that climate change is a very real and lethal phenomenon.

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The evidence is clear and overwhelming as seen in the effects of our environmental neglect:

  • Sea level rise – Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.
  • Global temperature rise – All three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880.5 Most of this warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years. Even though the 2000s witnessed a solar output decline resulting in an unusually deep solar minimum in 2007-2009, surface temperatures continue to increase.
  • Warming oceans – The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969
  • Shrinking ice sheets – The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005.
  • Declining Arctic sea ice – Both the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades.
  • Glacial retreat – Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa.
  • Extreme events – The number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing, since 1950. The U.S. has also witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events.
  • Ocean acidification – Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent. This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans. The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year.
  • Decreased snow cover – Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier.

The above information with supporting detail and much more from the scientific community can be found at: http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

The leading cause of climate change remains the burning of fossil fuels for power plants and transportation.  Though this is by no means the only cause of what is known as the “greenhouse effect”, it is the biggest culprit and the one over which we, as humans, have the most control.  I hear people say that it won’t make a big difference if the turn their thermostat up by 5 or 10 degrees in the winter, or if they make an extra trip to the market to pick up just one or two items.  The fallacy in this way of thinking is that of volume.  You may not save the world by turning that light out when you leave the room or donning a sweater instead of turning the thermostat up, but your efforts combined with millions of others just might contribute to making a difference.  On a larger scale, we can refuse to support businesses that are not environmentally-friendly.  We can elect politicians who support environmental legislation such as research for alternative, renewable energy sources.

I do not claim to be a scientist, nor do I entirely understand the science behind the data despite having taken two courses on Environmental Science.  Thus it is not my intent to go into the details of the science behind climate change, but merely to assert that there seems to be more evidence in support of the fact that mankind is destroying the global atmosphere than there is evidence to the contrary.  No matter how diligent or negligent you and I are at working toward solutions to the problem of climate change, we will not be around to see the effects, but other humans will.  Shall we not worry about the future and simply “live for today”, or shall we be responsible global citizens and do that which is in our power to preserve the world for future generations?

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