Our Planet … Our Home … Our Lives

Just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  Do you understand how your car’s transmission works?  Do you understand about the little and slightly-less-little gears that engage and disengage to shift your car into just the right ratio based on speed, incline, etc?  Do you understand the intricacies about how your lungs take in air, process the oxygen and send it into the blood stream, then emit the unwanted part, carbon dioxide (CO2)?  Do you understand how the bit of electricity coming from that wall outlet can make your clothes washing machine agitate and spin and sometimes sound like the Eagle Has Landed?  No, and neither do I, but yet we take for granted that the car will run, our lungs will do what they are supposed to in order to keep us alive, and as long as we insert the plug properly, the machine will clean the clothes.  There are many, many things in our daily lives that we accept at face value, even though we may not understand the science behind them.

So please tell me why, all of a sudden, half the nation has decided to repudiate the concept of human-caused climate change and the predictions made by highly-educated, intelligent and knowledgeable scientists?

People go to a doctor and are altogether too willing to assume that he knows exactly the right medicine to give you to cure whatever ails you.  Most people don’t even ask questions, like how does this drug work, what are the likely and remote side effects, why do you think this drug is the best for my condition.  Nope, they just say okay, take the script to the nearest pharmacy and happily ingest whatever doc said.  Why?  Because he has a degree, because he is supposed to be knowledgeable, because he wears a white coat.  The truth is that far more doctors play trial and error, or pander to the drug reps who wine & dine them and give them nice gifts at Christmas time than you probably care to know.  But still, you trust them.  So, why not trust scientists who also have a degree, are knowledgeable, and unlike your doctor, have no reason to lie to you?

There is likely no simple, single answer to that question.  For some, merely the fact that Donald Trump says it’s a hoax, and that even if the earth is warming, it will “all change back” soon.  Why anybody would believe a ‘man’ who is proven to lie some 96% of the time, over the entire scientific community and the results of their research is well beyond my comprehension.

In the past, we have had presidents who listened to the experts in their fields.  These men understood the value of knowledge and education.  These men asked questions, gave careful consideration to the data they were provided, and made the wisest decisions they could based on the information they had.  This is why nearly every leader on the globe, including our own President Obama, signed the Paris climate accord, the agreement dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance.  When 97% of the worlds scientists studying the changes in climate tell you that there is a serious problem, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

But Donald Trump, because it isn’t convenient for him, calls it a ‘hoax’, says the Chinese are the initiators of said hoax in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.  Say WHAT???  I imagine there is some twisted connection somewhere inside Trump’s head, but to a reasonably intelligent person, that statement makes absolutely no sense.

It is enough that half the nation fall prostate at Donald’s feet when he denies that climate change is a serious problem, but far, far worse is the fact that the U.S. Congress … or at least the republican element of it … is toeing the party line, falling in line behind Trump, wanting to be seen to be in his corner, on his ship.  Why?  I don’t know, but I know that since we voted for them and we are paying their salary, they are supposed to be looking out for our best interests.  Ignoring report after report showing the likely effects, not in some far off distant future, but now … today … is definitely not in our best interest.

Donald Trump is without question the biggest liar we have ever seen in a leadership role in this country.  He lies even when there is no reason to do so.  He lies so much that he doesn’t even know what is true anymore.  So why on earth would anybody believe him when all the evidence is the opposite of what he says.  Remember last month’s fires in California?  The hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico in 2017 and in North Carolina this year?  Not just any ol’ fires, not just your run o’ the mill hurricanes, but ecological disasters!

Donald Trump may refute the evidence, the reports and what is before his very eyes, but some people are taking it all very seriously and doing something about it.  One such man is Yvon Chouinard, billionaire founder of outdoor apparel firm Patagonia.

Yvon Chouinard

Yvon Chouinard

According to a Forbes article on November 29th

Patagonia announced it has an additional $10 million in profits on its books for 2018 as a result of Trump’s “irresponsible tax cut” last year, which lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Instead of investing the additional dollars back into its business, Patagonia said it would give $10 million to grassroot groups fighting climate change, including organizations that work in regenerative organic agriculture to help reverse global warming.

“Our government continues to ignore the seriousness and causes of the climate crisis,” Chouniard said in a statement. “It’s pure evil.”

A billionaire businessman with both a brain and a conscience!  Can we clone him?

“We need an agriculture system that supports small family farms and ranches, not one that rewards chemical companies intent on destroying our planet and poisoning our food. And we need to protect our public lands and waters because they are all we have left.”

Last December, the front page for Patagonia’s website read …Patagonia front pageThe planet Earth will remain in its orbit for the foreseeable future.  Whether it will sustain human, animal or plant life beyond the next few years is up to us.  Donald Trump is not a good steward, is not taking care of our home, but is systematically making decisions on a near-daily basis that are likely to make all lifeforms we know today unsustainable into the future.  It is up to us, for the billionaires in Trump’s circle are too busy making money to care about our future.

Trump Picks More Losers …

The rollback of regulations that were meant to protect the environment and the withdrawal from the Paris Accord were bad enough.  The nomination of climate change deniers Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke to top positions in agencies whose primary functions pertained to protecting the environment added insult to injury.  And now, to ice the cake, Trump has appointed William Happer for the key job of “senior director for emerging technologies” at the National Security Council.Will-Happer-climate-science-denierWant to know what’s wrong with William Happer?  Happer is a “theoretical physicist”, whatever the heck that is, at Princeton, and is one of the most demented climate change deniers in existence.  Here are just a few of the things he has to say about climate science …

  • In Defense of Carbon Dioxide: “The demonized chemical compound is a boon to plant life and has little correlation with global temperature.”

  • “This is George Orwell. This is the ‘Germans are the master race. The Jews are the scum of the earth.’ It’s that kind of propaganda.”


  • “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler. Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”  Say WHAT???


  • “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that’s a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult.”

So, just what qualifies him for this position?  Well, for many years, he was chairman of the board of the George C. Marshall Institute, which was funded in part by the Koch brothers to promote climate science denial.  He also writes and co-signs anti-science Wall Street Journal op-eds.

Will-HapperThe reality is that Happer knows little about emerging technologies or real threats to America’s national security but he does know a great deal about denying climate science. And, sadly, that appears to be the only qualification you need to join the Trump team these days.

Another Trump nominee, J. Steven Gardner, had been nominated to lead the Interior Department’s mining agency, but withdrew his nomination earlier this week.  Gardner was a long-time coal advocate who applauded the decision last year to allow coal companies to dump their toxic waste into streams.

According to Tom Morris of the Sierra Club …

“Gardner has shown time and again that he will try and fight anything that gets in the way of profits for coal executives — even if it means sacrificing the health of the families and communities …”Steven GardnerLike Zinke, Pruitt, Happer and all the rest in the current administration, he is a denier of climate science.  Some of his beliefs:

  • Mining is simply “accelerated erosion”
  • Mountaintop mining is good because it creates flat land
  • There is no such thing as renewable energy

Fortunately, Gardner has withdrawn his nomination in light of the stalled confirmation process, and certain requirements by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) with which he was unwilling to comply.  Good riddance, but who will be next?  No doubt another person who doesn’t believe in science, but rather puts corporate profits above preserving our lives.Patrick Chappatte / International New York Times

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The Death March of Planet Earth

Europe doesn’t want to play with us anymore, and I don’t blame them.

“The European Union will no longer make trade deals with the United States if President Trump follows through on withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, according to a French official whose comments were endorsed by the European Commission.” – ThinkProgress, 06 February 2017

The planet’s second-largest polluter and we are not only refusing to help clean up our own mess, but determinedly making an even bigger mess.

“One of our main demands is that any country who signs a trade agreement with EU should implement the Paris Agreement on the ground. No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement. The US knows what to expect.” – Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, French foreign affairs minister

No word yet of any response from Trump … he probably didn’t understand what they meant, and anyway, he has been too busy worrying about who did or didn’t clap for him at his State of the Union Address to actually consider such trivial things as whether our nation will lose one of our biggest trading allies.

And in other environmental news …

  • The state of Idaho has decided to remove all references to climate science from its science education standards. Way to go, Idaho … keep those kids in the dark and don’t let them know the dirty little secret that we are killing our planet.

  • Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, is still trying to drum up support for his 5-year offshore leasing program that would open up the entire eastern seaboard to offshore drilling. This despite the fact that the governors of 15 of the 16 coastal states are against the plan.  According to Athan Manuel, director of the Sierra Club’s Lands Protection Program, the plan “underscores how disorganized and uninterested this administration is in preserving our coastline or stewarding our public lands.”  Yep, pretty much..

  • Nebraska State Senator Tom Brewer has proposed a new bill that would restrict wind power development in the state and end the designation of wind power as ‘renewable.’ “Wind energy is not Nebraska Nice. Wind energy is a scam that hurts people and animals, wastes billions in tax dollars, and isn’t ‘green’ energy by any definition of the term.” Oh for Pete’s sake!  Wind energy is one of the least polluting sources of energy available.

  • Trump wants to eliminate the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, a federal agency with a strong record of improving public safety. The goal seems to be to give a boost to the nation’s petrochemical industry as part of its “energy dominance” agenda. The agency is charged with investigating major chemical fires, explosions, leaks, and other accidents. Nothing too important there, right folks?

  • Oil and gas companies are suing municipalities that pass ordinances banning drilling and other types of industrial activity. Say what?  But it’s even worse.  Federal judges are sanctioning the lawyers who represent the small towns trying to protect the environment, imposing financial penalties.  (More about this one at some later date)

And that, my friends, is the latest in environmental news.  You may wish to spend  some time outdoors today, for I don’t know how much longer we will be able to breathe out there if this keeps up!

Destruction of HUD, ACA, and EPA … All In A Week’s Work!!! – Part I

It is time to stop this madness.  This entire week has been lunacy the likes of which we have never before seen in this country.  First, there is the absolutely horrible healthcare bill I wrote about yesterday that seems to be flying through Congress to ensure that none of us below a certain income level will qualify for affordable healthcare.  Then came the news that Mike Flynn, the man who served for 24 days as National Security Advisor was serving as a foreign agent, lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government, for which he was paid over a half-million dollars, while at the same time working as Trump’s campaign advisor.  Then came the news that Republican Representative from Illinois, John Shimkus objects to the inclusion of prenatal care in the health plan because after all, why should men have to pay for prenatal care when they don’t get pregnant???  And now there is this horrific massacre of what was once known as the Environmental Protection Agency – EPA.  The only possible solution to halt this runaway train we are on is to get rid of the damn engineer.  TRUMP MUST GO!!! epa-runaway-train

 

Last month, a man named Scott Pruitt was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Think about the name of that department.  Environmental. Protection. Agency.  Its sole purpose, its Raison D’être, is to protect the environment.  PROTECT … not destroy.  And yet, Mr. Scott Pruitt does not believe in protecting the environment if it will cost his buddies over at Exxon-Mobil.

Go to the EPA website, and this is what you will see:

“Since the Industrial Revolution began around 1750, human activities have contributed substantially to climate change by adding CO2 and other heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. These greenhouse gas emissions have increased the greenhouse effect and caused Earth’s surface temperature to rise. The primary human activity affecting the amount and rate of climate change is greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.”

Now, listen to Mr. Pruitt, and this is what you will hear:

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” 

This is the voice of the man who leads the EPA, the same man who has sued the very agency he now leads no less than 14 times for a variety of issues, including the Clean Power Act, mercury and air pollution, the agency’s attempts to regulate pollution of waterways, and methane emissions from oil and gas facilities.

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report from 2014, which summarized the findings of 2,000 international scientists, states it is “extremely likely” that the steep rise in CO2, along with other greenhouse gases such as methane, has caused most of the global warming experienced since the 1950s. And yet … this buffoon who is over the EPA, who has a law degree, not a science degree, believes he knows better than all 2,000 scientists who worked on the Climate Change report??? And the buffoon sitting in the Oval Office is allowing this to happen right under our very noses?  But wait … that buffoon in the Oval Office announced today that he is proposing to cut the EPA’s budget from $8.2 to $6.1 billion – a 26% cut – in the current year, which would likely reduce staffing by at least 20%.  Remember yesterday when I proposed that Ben Carson had been put in charge of HUD to keep quiet about budget cuts?  Well, looks like Scott Pruitt is to serve much the same function, and more — to disarm the EPA.  He has already explained why he believes he does not need as large a budget … there is no man-made condition to correct, no problems to solve … I guess they will just sit around and eat brownies from now on!

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Pruitt’s comments produced a torrent of criticism from scientists, environmental groups, and even his predecessor at the EPA, Gina McCarthy:

“The world of science is about empirical evidence, not beliefs. When it comes to climate change, the evidence is robust and overwhelmingly clear that the cost of inaction is unacceptably high. Preventing the greatest consequences of climate change is imperative to the health and well-being of all of us who call Earth home. I cannot imagine what additional information the Administrator might want from scientists for him to understand that.”

Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said: “Pruitt has demonstrated that he is unqualified to run the EPA or any agency. There is no doubt whatsoever that the planet is warming, and it is primarily due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and we can demonstrate clearly that the observed warming of the planet would not have occurred without that change in atmospheric composition. These are scientific facts, not opinion, and it is incumbent on politicians to take account of the scientific evidence.”   

epaTrump has previously called the EPA a “disgrace” and promised to reduce it to “tidbits” in order to spark economic growth through additional jobs in the oil, gas, and coal industries, as well as expansion in other industries as environmental regulations are lifted, increasing their corporate profits.  It looks like he has picked just the right man to help him in his devious plan of mass destruction.

Trump & Co. have also threatened … or promised, depending on which side of the coin you stand on … to abolish the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.  But that, and other atrocities, must be saved for Part II of this post, as I cannot squeeze everything into a single post.  Stay tuned as we look at the potential fallout both in the U.S. and across the globe from the decisions being made, and also what this world might look like in 50 years, 100 years, if we stay the course that Trump and Pruitt have chosen.

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