Climate March … Successful? Hopefully!

Not since the Vietnam War have there been so many protests and marches in the U.S., and perhaps not even then.  The latest, on Saturday, was the People’s Climate March held in Washington, D.C., which reportedly drew either ‘tens of thousands’ or ‘hundreds of thousands’, depending on which news media you read – the official estimate is 200,000. The goal of the march was to voice opposition to the Trump administration’s environmental agenda and the decades-long history of American inaction on climate change.

The March, sponsored by the People’s Climate Movement, began at the foot of the Capitol, then the protesters marched to the White House, surrounding the mansion while President Trump was inside on his 100th day in office. Once there, the demonstrators let out a collective roar, meant to symbolically drown out the voices of the administration’s climate change deniers.

The weather cooperated, helping make the point that climate change is not fantasy or fiction, but in fact … fact.  The average high temperature in Washington in April is 66° F.  During yesterday’s march, the temperature reached a fairly sweltering 91° F, which tied the record for highest temperature on that date in recorded history.


Other similar but smaller demonstrations took place around the nation, all protesting the Trump regime’s terribly short-sighted actions over the past three months.  Trump has appointed one of the chief antagonists of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, as its administrator and proposed slashing its budget by nearly a third, more than any other federal agency. He has signed several executive orders aimed at rolling back President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a set of regulations intended to close heavily polluting coal-fired power plants, and restrictions on vehicle emissions, among others. This past week, Trump signed orders intended to initiate reviews aimed at opening certain protected lands and waters to drilling, mining and logging. And on Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it had taken down several agency web pages that contained climate data and other scientific information relating to climate change. Apparently Scott Pruitt found it inconvenient to deny the scientific evidence presented on his own website.

Just four days before, this headline caught my eye:  California submerging: Rising seas are claiming its famed coast faster than scientists imaginedCALmatters, 25 April 2017

The gist of the article is that polar ice is melting and glacier shelves cracking at a faster pace than scientists first thought, and this will likely lead to a rise in sea level of 10 feet over the next 70 years.  Some of those lovely beachfront homes will be under water in a few short decades.

By most measures, the Climate March was considered a success, and I would agree, but the true measure of its success will depend on the legislators and executive branch. One march is not likely to do the trick, but it will require us all to continue voicing our opposition to destructive laws and executive orders, to make Trump and Congress aware that we value our planet more than corporate greed.

A few quotes from participants:

“It also sends a message to the corporations that really run things that people care. Even in Appalachia, now, the power companies are moving to renewables. Marches like this continue that pressure.” – Deborah Markowitz, the former Vermont secretary of state and a current professor at the University of Vermont.

“From the time I was a child, I just loved trees and nature. My plea is please, please, care about our planet. It’s the only one we have—how dumb is it to mess up your own home?” – Laura Isensee, a 65-year-old physician from Houston, Texas

“I think first of the grass, plants, animals, eagles, birds, fish — without water, nothing will survive. This isn’t just important for me; it’s important for everybody.” – Alphonse LeRoy, a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota

And a few signs:



Even Bill Nye, The Science Guy Showed Up!

Mr. President, if climate change is not real, then why are you deleting data?

Blogger-friend Keith has just asked one of the most important questions of the day … please take a moment to read this blog … it is short, but poses such a relevant, important question. Thanks, Keith, for implicit permission to re-blog.


Prominent climate scientists are concerned as research papers and supporting data are disappearing in the halls (and websites) of our US governmental agencies. It is to the point that several cited links in professional publications are no longer valid and the authors are scrambling to defend their work. As feared, there appears to be concerted efforts to delete climate change information off important government websites.

So, my question is simple, “Mr. President, if climate change is not real, then why are you deleting data that supports it exists and is man-influenced?” To me, this is a legitimate question to ask the President, Scott Pruitt, his EPA Secretary or Sean Spicer, his White House press agent. I would not let him escape without an answer. To me, this is telling. The President’s argument is so poor, it cannot stand up to scrutiny and he must destroy the evidence.

It is not dissimilar to…

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In Response To A Comment … On Impeachment

“So you want to impeach someone who has only been in office for two months. It usually takes a least that long for anyone starting a new job to be trained on their job. Anything tricky Dick or Slick Willy did they did not do in the first month or so on the job. Then we have the last one who was in office for eight years and did nothing. And, omg thank heaven crocked [sic] Hillary was not elected. Why don’t you try to look on the positive side and give the man time to turn things around and accomplish good for this country.”

The above was in response to my post yesterday, Let’s Talk Impeachment, from one of my Facebook friends, who also happens to be a personal friend and former coworker.  I was not able to respond as I wanted to, was not, in fact, able to respond at all, because while I was pondering my response, another friend replied out of anger, and I ended up deleting both comments.  I will tolerate disrespect toward myself, though I do not appreciate it, but I cannot allow disrespect to my friends and readers, even though I understood the other commenter’s anger and angst.  However, I would like to reply here to this comment, as I think it needs a carefully considered response. I apologize in advance to my readers, for this is rather a lengthy post, but I felt this comment needed a carefully considered response. Let us look at each statement, one at a time.

“So you want to impeach someone who has only been in office for two months. It usually takes a least that long for anyone starting a new job to be trained on their job.”  Yes, actually talks of impeachment began long before he even took the oath of office, as many doubted he was fit to lead this nation. And while it is true that in any job, there is a learning curve and the new employee is taught through his/her mistakes, this is not just any other job.  This job has the capacity, the potential, to hold the fate and future of the globe in its hands.  Not only that, but the mistakes he has made are not a result of not understanding what is expected of him, they are mistakes that are intentionally calculated to destroy, rather than build. 

He lied on his résumé, claiming that he and he alone could fix all the problems people perceived were holding them back.  But in reality, he is making the problems worse.  There are any number of examples, but let us just quickly look at last week’s health care bill fiasco.  Trump promised that we would all have great healthcare, better than under ACA, everybody would be covered, and we would pay less.  Yet the reality of his bill was that it would cover FAR less than current plans, would cost more, and … this, to me, is the deal-breaker, it would leave some 24 million people with NO health care and no means to pay for insurance nor medical care.  Somehow, that falls so far short of his promise that I don’t see how he had the nerve to propose it, let alone try to bully its passage.

Anything tricky Dick or Slick Willy did they did not do in the first month or so on the job.” We are not talking about Richard Nixon or William Clinton, but … for the record, both were better qualified going into the job than Trump, and, while each was embroiled in a scandal of their own making, there were many things during their terms in office that they did quite well.  Let’s take a look at a few of those accomplishments, shall we?

Richard Nixon, along with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, tempered the Cold War through diplomatic channels, such as participating in SALT (Strategic Arms Limitations Talks), signing the ABM (anti-ballistic missile) Treaty with the Soviet Union, and he was the first president to visit China, with whom he established diplomatic relations.  Domestically, he established the EPA, set up funding for cancer treatment programs, supported the 26th amendment which lowered the voting age to 18, and was instrumental in passing laws on desegregation, gender equality, and affirmative action, to name a few.  There is more, but I am not writing a book, so these are merely a few examples.  While certainly not trying to downplay the mistakes he made in Cambodia, and the Watergate scandal, I am of the belief that you do not strip a man of his achievements for his errors.  Richard Nixon achieved much during his time in office.

Bill Clinton established the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), cut taxes for fifteen million low-income families, making tax cuts available to 90 percent of small businesses, and raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2 percent of taxpayers.  He was the first … and last, so far … president in recent history to turn the tables from a budget deficit to a budget surplus.  Clinton signed the 1993 Brady Bill imposing a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases.  His achievements may not have been many, but they were important, and should not be overlooked in the shadow of the Lewinski scandal.

“And, omg thank heaven crocked [sic] Hillary was not elected.”  I could write a book, but I shall not even bother to dignify this comment with a response.

“Then we have the last one who was in office for eight years and did nothing.” Nothing???  You say President Obama accomplished nothing?  Given the inexplicable and unreasonable hurdles and roadblocks thrown in his path by Congressional Republicans, President Obama accomplished one heck of a lot!  First, and perhaps the crowning achievement, he brought the country back from the recession that was in effect when he took office and was instrumental in reducing unemployment from over 10% to 4.7% when he left office.  He fought for and signed ACA which, whether you like it or not, has enabled millions to have health insurance who would not have otherwise been able to afford it.  He reduced the veteran’s homeless rate by 50% and provided $78 billion in tuition assistance for veterans.  His other accomplishments, too numerous to list, included ensuring equality for the LGBT community, for women, and minorities.  And all this, while swimming against the tide of the GOP who attempted to de-rail him at every turn.  And you claim he did NOTHING???

“Why don’t you try to look on the positive side and give the man time to turn things around and accomplish good for this country.” My friend, there is no positive side to Don Trump, else I would gladly look there.  Allow me, if you will, to reiterate the damage he has already done in just under ten weeks:

  • He has offended our best allies, including the UK, the EU, Australia, and Mexico, to name a few. He has also managed to annoy North Korea and China … a dangerous thing to do.
  • He is embroiled in the midst of a scandal that, when all is said and done, is likely to far outweigh the Watergate scandal.
  • He has signed ‘executive orders’ that are intended to reverse the progress that we have made thus far in helping to protect the environment, not only of our own nation, but of the entire globe.
  • He has proposed a budget that would eliminate or severely decapitate agencies such as the EPA, HHS, Department of Education, and others, not to mention PBS, the arts, and other cultural venues, in favour of more military spending. This, in light of the fact that the U.S. already spends more than twice as much on its military than any other nation in the world!
  • He has filled cabinet positions with people like Betsy DeVos, Rex Tillerson, and Scott Pruitt, who are in direct opposition to the goals of the departments they are in charge of. In addition, he appointed a blatant racist and homophobe to oversee the Department of Justice.
  • He has, not once but twice, signed executive orders to ban people from Muslim countries, in direct contradiction of constitutionality.

The list goes on … and on … and on … but I stop here, as I have provided enough facts … not alternative facts, but cold, hard facts, to support my position.  Don Trump is not fit to lead this nation, he never was, and the majority of Americans realized that from the beginning.  I firmly believe that the shady Russian connections will ultimately lead straight into Trump’s lap, which will be considered an act of treason – an impeachable crime.

To wrap up, as I have been rather too wordy already, these men, Richard Nixon, William Clinton, Barack Obama, were all statesmen.  None were perfect, all were human, but they tried to make the nation a better place for its people.  They understood that the safety of the nation would be secured through diplomacy, not threats and bombs.  They understood the needs of the people in this nation far better than Don Trump ever will, and they were, above all, leaders.  Trump is not a leader.

Thoughts on Preserving Federal Lands

yellowstone-4On March 1, 1872, Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the U.S., signed the bill creating Yellowstone National Park, America’s first and the world’s first such place, “set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” This move was intended to protect Yellowstone with its natural geysers, river canyons and waterfalls, from becoming commercialized by private profiteers as Niagara Falls had been turned into a “circus of amusements”.  In addition to providing benefit and enjoyment for the people, public lands shelter wildlife and provide watersheds that provide clean water to millions of people.

As the world becomes ever more over-populated, and large corporations seek even higher profits, there comes a call to remove large portions of land from federal protection.  There are a number of federal agencies that are tasked with protecting the approximately 640 million acres of federal, or public land in the United States, including:

  • National Park Service.
  • Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Bureau of Land Management.
  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.
  • Bureau of Reclamation.
  • Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement.
  • Geological Survey.

Amid calls for selling public lands, or turning them over to the states to decide their fate, environmentalists are horrified at the thought of these lands being opened for mining, timbering, ranching and commercialization.  In January, in one of his more lucid moments, Donald Trump told Field & Stream magazine that he opposed divesting such holdings because “I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do.” If he were to stand by that, it would be one of his better positions.

yellowstone-2.jpegHowever, this week the news from Trump Tower is that he plans to nominate Cathy McMorris Rodgers as Secretary of the Interior, a move at odds with his earlier assertion. Rodgers is strongly in favor of developing the United States’ fossil fuel resources. She has also opposed federal ownership of public lands and voted to make it more difficult for the president to create national monuments. Rodgers, a U.S. Representative of the state of Washington, is the author of a bill that would have directed the Department of the Interior to sell off federal lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. Rodgers has repeatedly voted to limit or repeal key Obama administration climate and environmental regulations. She has also voted to expand offshore drilling and to stop the Interior Department from regulating hydraulic fracturing in states that already have their own fracking rules. On climate change, Ms. Rodgers is on record as saying, “scientific reports are inconclusive at best on human culpability for global warming.”

yellowstoneWhat exactly are federal, or public lands?  They are lands owned by you, me, and the other 319 million people in the U.S. They are there to be enjoyed by all, certainly, but also the protection they are afforded is crucial to the preservation of wildlife and the environment.  I don’t know about you, but I rather like knowing there are places left in this nation where we can go to “get away from it all” and enjoy nature.  We do not need more corporate structures, office buildings, factories, amusement parks and the like.  And we certainly do not need more mining and drilling operations decimating the landscape, destroying water resources and adding to the pollutants in the air.

The nomination of Cathy McMorris Rodgers is yet another of the “worst possible choices” Trump has made for his expanding list of advisors and cabinet members.  Once again, we must hope that Congress as a legislative body will make at least a few wise choices and deny Trump the right to destroy our nation by surrounding himself with those who intend more harm than good.

mined land.jpg

Once a beautiful mountain where trees grew tall and wildlife roamed free, this is how it looks after strip mining

When Will We Ever Learn?

standing-bearWe did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, the winding streams with tangled growth, as ‘wild’. Only to the white man was nature a ‘wilderness’ and only to him was it ‘infested’ with ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people. To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery. – Sioux Indian Chief known as Standing Bear

“Let’s build a pipeline from the Bakken region in North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, then into southern Illinois!” they said.  “We will sell lots of oil and make lots of money for companies like Sunoco, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, US Bank, Barclays, Wells Fargo, Bank of Nova Scotia, CITI Bank, Credit Suisse, Royal Bank of Canada, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of Tokyo, Compass Bank, Phillips 66, Enbridge, and Marathon.”


And so began what would become known as the Dakota Access Pipeline, and with it, controversy and protests that are likely to be ongoing for some time to come.

On the side of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the pipeline would pass under the Missouri River (at Lake Oahe) just a half a mile upstream of the tribe’s reservation boundary, where a spill would be culturally and economically catastrophic. But equally important, the pipeline would pass through areas of great cultural significance, such as sacred sites and burial grounds that federal law seeks to protect.

On the side of landowners who object to the use of eminent domain to secure easements on their farmland, William Smith, an Iowa farmer who refuses to lease away 200 acres of the land he uses to grow corn and soy says it best: “I’ve been paying on this land for 35 to 40 years … and within four or five years since paying for it, somebody is trying to take it away to put a pipeline across it.”

On the side of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, there is money to be made. They, of course, argue that it will provide economic benefit to the communities in the form of nearly 12,000 jobs, $1 billion in materials, millions in taxes, and $195 million in easement payments to landowners.

The proposed pipeline would cost an estimated $3.8 billion to build and would transport a maximum of 570,000 barrels of crude oil over 1,170 miles daily.  Some of the environmental issues to be considered for any pipeline are:

  • Acoustic environment: Noise is increased relative to background noise by construction activities and the operation of pumping stations.
  • Soils: Soils can be eroded, compacted and mixed, contaminated, and removed, and they can be acidified by local emissions of chemicals causing acid rain.
  • Geology and terrain: Possible alterations of geology can cause landslides, along with accompanying risks to safety and environment, such as to fish habitat.
  • Vegetation: Vegetation (including old growth forests and rare communities of plants) can be affected by surface disturbance, changes in water flows, the arrival of alien species and air contamination.
  • Wildlife: Risks to wildlife can be caused by the removal, alteration and fragmentation of habitat, as well as by noise, changing access and sightlines for predators, and the creation of barriers to movement.
  • Surface water resources: Water quality and quantity could be affected by erosion and crossing excavations as well as by herbicides applied to maintain a clearing around the pipeline.
  • Freshwater fish and fish habitat: Activities related to the pipeline such as the clearing of vegetation, and the grading and placement of structures in water, have the potential to affect the productive capacity of fish habitat, migration, and fish health and mortality.
  • Hydrogeology: Blasting, grading and tunnel construction could alter both surface and groundwater flow and expose rock formations, which could potentially leach acid or metals.
  • Paleontology: Fossil resources, which are important for the scientific understanding of evolution and climate change, can be affected by direct construction activities as well as by fossil collectors who have increasingly greater access to these resources.

In addition to the above, however, is the fact that the Dakota Access Pipeline would threaten water supplies on the Sioux reservations and disturb or destroy ancient Sioux relics and sacred burial grounds. It seems to me that this should be an important consideration, but those who think only of lining their own pockets will not think so.

Sadly, in cases such as this, the interests of big business and the fat cats of Wall Street frequently win out over human considerations.  And with the interests of big business at stake, it becomes a matter of the politicians against the scientists.  Which brings us to another question:  why are we even considering yet another oil pipeline when the burning of oil is known to be one of the things releasing harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and destroying our environment.  If companies like Energy Transfer Partners are willing to spend $3.8 billion for a pipeline, why not spend that amount on research and development of clean, safe and renewable energy sources such as wind, air and water?

Though neither of the two political candidates running for president have had much to say about the Dakota Access Pipeline, one thing I found interesting is that Donald Trump’s “energy advisor”, Harold Hamm, is founder and CEO of Continental Resources, a company known for fracking.  Mr. Hamm is likely, in the event of a Trump presidency, to be named as Secretary of Energy. Hamm has called for expanded drilling and said too much environmental regulation threatened to limit U.S. oil production and increase the country’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil producers. Hamm, 70, became one of America’s wealthiest men during the U.S. oil and gas drilling boom over the past decade, tapping into new hydraulic fracturing drilling technology (fracking) to access vast deposits in North Dakota’s shale fields. Hamm also founded a lobbying group, Domestic Energy Producers, that strongly supports the Dakota Access Pipeline.

At a time when the U.S. must be committed to steering away from coal and oil and moving toward more environmentally safe energy sources, another pipeline does not seem to be the wisest idea.  Add to that the concerns of the Sioux tribes, I would at a minimum call for further environmental studies before the project moves forward. The only people who will ultimately gain from this venture are those who are already more financially secure than most of us … stockholders, CEO’s and the like.

I have included links to a couple of articles I think are worth reading below:

  1. Best summary of the key points related to the Dakota Access Pipeline
  2. Link to New York Times OpEd by David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe
  3. Hugh Curtler – Something to think about …. “Sacred Grounds …. What is the difference? …. “!!  – a must read!