Cause of Death: Donald Trump

This column by The Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson speaks for itself … in fact, the title says it all …

Our planet is in crisis. We don’t have time for Trump’s foolishness.

Eugene-RobinsonHere is how to interpret the alarming new United Nations-sponsored report on global warming: We are living in a horror movie. The world needs statesmen to lead the way to safety. Instead, we have President Trump, who essentially says, “Hey, let’s all head to the dark, creepy basement where the chain saws and razor-sharp axes are kept. What could go wrong?”

The answer is almost everything, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The impact of human-induced warming is worse than previously feared, the report released Monday says, and only drastic, coordinated action will keep the damage short of catastrophe.

To this point, climate change has been a slow-motion calamity whose impacts, month to month and year to year, have been hard to perceive. Unfortunately, according to the report, that is about to change.

The burning of fossil fuels on an industrial scale has raised global temperatures by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. That may not sound like much, but look at the consequences we’re already seeing: Stronger, slower, wetter tropical storms. Unprecedented heat waves. Devastating floods. Dying coral reefs. A never-before-seen summer shipping lane across the Arctic Ocean.

Meanwhile, humankind continues to pump heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a tragically self-destructive rate. The IPCC calculates that a further temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius — almost inevitable, given our dependence on coal, oil and gas — would be challenging but manageable. An increase of about 2 degrees, however, would be disastrous.

What’s the difference? With a 1.5-degree rise, about 14 percent of the world’s population would be vulnerable to severe and deadly heat waves every five years; with a 2-degree rise, that figure jumps to 37 percent. With a 1.5-degree rise, an additional 350 million city dwellers worldwide will face water shortages; with a 2-degree rise, 411 million people will suffer such drought. With a 1.5-degree rise, coral reefs will experience “very frequent mass mortalities”; with a 2-degree rise, coral reefs will “mostly disappear.”

Small differences can have huge impacts. Under the 1.5-degree scenario, up to 69 million people will be newly exposed to flooding. Under the 2-degree scenario — which the report estimates would boost sea-level rise by as much as 36 inches — the number rises to 80 million.

Please don’t dismiss all of this as just another boring compendium of carefully hedged facts and figures. I have followed the IPCC’s research since covering the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The new report strikes a different tone that combines weary fatalism with hair-on-fire alarm. In dry, just-the-facts language, it predicts declining fisheries, failing crops, more widespread risk from tropical diseases such as malaria, economic dislocation in the most-affected countries — and, by logical extension, greater political instability.

All of these impacts are bad with 1.5 more degrees of temperature rise. With 2 degrees they are much, much worse.

The obvious solution is to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. The IPCC says emissions need to decline by at least 40 percent by 2030 and to reach net zero by 2050, if we are to hold warming to 1.5 degrees. Yet last year, according to the International Energy Agency, global emissions hit an all-time high.

Since 2016, representatives of 195 nations — including all the big emitters — signed on to the landmark Paris agreement calling for systematic emissions reductions beginning in 2020. But Trump, who has ignorantly called climate change a “hoax,” decided to withdraw the United States from the pact. Even worse, Trump is aggressively trying to increase reliance on coal, which contributes a disproportionate amount of carbon dioxide emissions compared with other fossil fuels.

U.S. carbon emissions actually fell slightly in 2017, because of the expansion of the renewable energy sector. But Trump administration policies are designed to reverse that trend; and if they fail to do so, it will be because the rest of the world is already moving toward clean energy — a huge economic shift that threatens to leave the United States behind.

When you read the IPCC report, you see that what the world really needs is visionary leadership. As the world’s greatest economic power and its second-largest carbon emitter, the United States is uniquely capable of shepherding a global transition to renewable energy. Instead, the Trump administration rejects the science of climate change and actively favors dirty energy sources over clean ones.

Humanity has no time for such foolishness. “I’m the president of the United States. I’m not the president of the globe,” Trump thundered at a recent rally. On what planet does he think this nation resides?

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:

Idiot of the Week — Rick Perry

Idiot of the Week medalYesterday, I started a post about Rick Perry.  It was to be just a post about a ridiculous claim he had made earlier in the week.  We are used to inanity from everyone in the current administration, so, while his comment did cause my jaw to drop, it wasn’t really that unexpected, and I planned to write the post and then put Mr. Perry out of my mind.  But, as I wrote I thought “y’know … people don’t just get this stupid overnight, and there must have been previous signs of such idiocy”.  And so, I went in search of … and after reading for a bit, I decided that it is high time I write another of my Idiot of the Week posts.  And so, allow me to introduce this week’s idiot, Secretary of the Department of Energy, Mr. Rick Perry.  And I simply must begin with the most recent evidence of his condition, for it is what put him onto my radar …


On Connecting the Dots … One Plus One Equals … Four????

No Shit Sherlock.  Dumber Than A Coal Bucket.  You’ve GOT To Be Kidding Me???  Those are the first thoughts that came to mind when I read last night that Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry said that increased use of fossil fuels will lead to a reduction in sexual assaults.

You still with me here, or are you rolling on the floor laughing?  Yeah, me too.  So, how did he connect the dots to come up with this theory?

Rick Perry.jpg“But also from the standpoint of sexual assault. When the lights are on, when you have light that shines the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts.”  Is he serious???

So, if you burn fossil fuels in Africa, more people will have electricity, so it will not be so dark, so guys won’t rape girls as much if the lights are on.  Brilliant, don’t you think?  Possibly the most incredible theory I have heard yet out of this administration.  Even better than the Civil War being a result of people not being able to compromise on the issue of slavery.

And the Department of Energy spokespeople, bless their little hearts, attempted to spin Perry’s words with this …

“The secretary was making the important point that while many Americans take electricity for granted there are people in other countries who are impacted by their lack of electricity.”

No, excuse me ma’am, but the “secretary” is an IDIOT!

The nation’s largest environmental group, The Sierra Club, apparently agrees with me.  Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, had this to say …

“It was already clear that Rick Perry is unfit to lead the Department of Energy, but to suggest that fossil fuel development will decrease sexual assault is not only blatantly untrue, it is an inexcusable attempt to minimize a serious and pervasive issue. Women, and particularly women of color, are among some of the most severely impacted by the climate crisis, and it is these same communities that are most at risk of sexual assault. Rick Perry’s attempt to exploit this struggle to justify further dangerous fossil fuel development is unacceptable. He does not deserve to hold office another day with these twisted ideas, and he should resign from his position immediately before he causes any more damage.” 

It is interesting to note that Perry was one of Trump’s first cabinet picks, and was placed in the position of Secretary of U.S. Department of Energy, the very deparment he said he would abolish during his campaign for president in 2012.

And now let’s look at some of the other qualifications Mr. Perry has for receiving this award, for you know my standards are high and one episode of idiocy is rarely sufficient …


His new job …

While he enthusiastically accepted Trump’s nomination last December, it turned out he had absolutely no idea what the job actually entailed.  He thought he would be “a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry.” Is this man hung up on fossil fuels or what?  Oh yes, I must remember he is a Texan, where oil is king.  But Perry was shocked to discover that two-thirds of the annual departmental budget he would soon oversee is dedicated to maintaining and protecting the United States’ nuclear arsenal.


On climate change …

While not necessarily a climate change denier, he is certainly a skeptic, not convinced that human activities play a significant role.  Read some of his own words on this topic:

  • “We cleaned up our air in the state of Texas, more than any other state in the nation during the decade. Nitrous oxide levels, down by 57 percent. Ozone levels down by 27 percent. That’s the way you need to do it, not by some scientist somewhere saying, ‘Here is what we think is happening out there.'”

  • “The science is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet to me is just nonsense. Just because you have a group of scientists who stood up and said here is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell.”

  • [Climate change is] all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight,Al Gore is a prophet all right, a false prophet of a secular carbon cult, and now even moderate Democrats aren’t buying it.” – from Perry’s book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, November 2010

  • “There are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.”

  • “Yes, our climates change. They’ve been changing ever since the earth was formed.”

Perry-climate.jpgLast month, Perry said that climate change is a “threat to our nation” and that it is contributing to the recent spate of extreme weather slamming the country. But … he still wants to burn more fossil fuels because he refuses to accept the basic science that climate change is caused by carbon pollution.

During a budget hearing in June, Perry went head-to-head with Senator Al Franken in a heated exchange.

“I did not think that CO2 was the primary knob that changes it. I don’t. I think that there are some other naturally occurring events — the warming and the cooling of our ocean waters and some other activities that occur. I also said in the next breath that man’s impact does, in fact, have an impact on the climate, and the question is: What is going to be the economic impact for this country?”

I hate to tell you this, Rick, but if the earth becomes uninhabitable, the economic impact won’t matter … at all.


Scratching the pharma’s back …

Shortly after his 2006 re-election as Governor of Texas, Perry issued an executive order mandating that sixth-grade girls in Texas be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus—a decision that seemed unusual for a man widely seen as a social conservative. It later surfaced that Perry was close to a pharmaceutical lobbyist, Mike Toomey, who had pressed the case for the vaccine mandate. (And no doubt pressed some money into Perry’s palm.)


He fell for it …

Perry I dunno

I dunno …

On July 19th, Perry received a phone call which lasted for 22 minutes.  He was convinced he was speaking to the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Volodymyr Groysman, but in fact he was speaking with two Russian pranksters, Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov, who have become known for targeting celebrities and politicians with audacious stunts.  During the course of the conversation, one of the duo told Perry that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had invented a new biofuel made from home-brewed alcohol and pig manure.  Not even fazed, Perry responded, “I look forward to visiting with the president and getting a more in-depth briefing … If that’s the result, then he’s going to be a very, very wealthy and successful man.”


Dancing with the stars …

Last September, having dropped out of the republican primary race, Perry decided to try something new, and signed on for a season on Dancing with the Stars.  This short video xlip speaks for itself … 

So now, folks, I think you see why I decided to give Mr. Rick Perry this most prestigious award, Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award!  Perry was one of the few hundred (slight exaggeration) republican candidates who threw their hats in the ring for the 2016 presidential election, and on the one hand, I say I’m glad he dropped out of the race, but then again … look what we did get … sigh.

Mr. Perry … please accept this well-deserved award and be sure to hang it somewhere special in your office so that everyone will see it!

Are you sure you want to double down on fossil fuels?

On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offered clear signs that it is likely to weaken Obama’s fuel economy standards: It is considering freezing the fuel efficiency targets, instead of raising them each year as the Obama administration had proposed. This is a step in the wrong direction if one cares about the planet. Blogger-friend Keith Wilson, however, has written an inspiring post telling us of what some other nations are doing to drastically reduce or even eliminate emissions from autos! Please take a moment to read and ponder! Thank you, Keith, for some great news and for implied permission to share!

musingsofanoldfart

The United Kingdom just announced it will ban sales of combustible engine cars in 2040. Australia announced the same week the planned development of a super highway for electric cars, complete with charging stations.

These announcements come a month after France made a similar decision to the more recent UK one to ban combustible cars and Volvo said they would no longer make combustible cars after 2019. And, not to be outdone, several cities like Paris, Mexico City, Madrid et al, want to ban combustible cars much sooner by 2025.

In fact, as reported in the book “Climate of Hope” by former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Sierra Club ED Carl Pope, cities around the world are leading the way on the climate change fight. They are making huge strides in making buildings more green, improving the time for taxis and cars to move across the city which produces less…

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Hillary Clinton – On the Issues (Part VII – Climate Change)

“I won’t let anyone take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change.” – Hillary Clinton, November 29, 2015

hrc-climateYesterday I wrote about climate change supporters, interferers and deniers.  Today I shall take a look at what Hillary Clinton’s plans are in the area of climate change.  This is such an important issue, and yet it is such a complex issue that it is difficult to summarize in a nutshell.  Hillary’s platform includes the following:

  • Defend, implement, and extend smart pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan and standards for cars, trucks, and appliances that are already helping clean our air, save families money, and fight climate change.
  • Launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with states, cities, and rural communities to cut carbon pollution and expand clean energy, including for low-income families. Read the fact sheet here.
  • Invest in clean energy infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing and workforce development to make the U.S. economy more competitive and create good-paying jobs and careers. Read the fact sheet here.
  • Ensure safe and responsible energy production. As we transition to a clean energy economy, we must ensure that the fossil fuel production taking place today is safe and responsible and that areas too sensitive for energy production are taken off the table. Read the fact sheet here.
  • Reform leasing and expand clean energy production on public lands and waters tenfold within a decade.
  • Cut the billions of wasteful tax subsidies oil and gas companies have enjoyed for too long and invest in clean energy.
  • Cut methane emissions across the economy and put in place strong standards for reducing leaks from both new and existing sources.
  • Revitalize coal communities by supporting locally driven priorities and make them an engine of U.S. economic growth in the 21st century, as they have been for generations. Read the fact sheet here.
  • Make environmental justice and climate justice central priorities by setting bold national goals to eliminate lead poisoning within five years, clean up the more than 450,000 toxic brownfield sites across the country, expand solar and energy efficiency solutions in low-income communities, and create an Environmental and Climate Justice Task Force. Read the fact sheet here.
  • Promote conservation and collaborative stewardship. Hillary will keep public lands public, strengthen protections for our natural and cultural resources, increase access to parks and public lands for all Americans, as well as harness the immense economic potential they offer through expanded renewable energy production, a high quality of life, and a thriving outdoor economy. Read the fact sheet here.

Ms. Clinton’s plan is comprehensive, complete with ideas of how to achieve her goals.  Since it is impossible for me to cover it all here, please do take a few minutes to click on the links to the fact sheets, as they contain a wealth of information.

wind-turbineMy concern is not with Ms. Clinton’s platform, per se, but rather with her ability to get legislation through a Congress in which, at last count, 170 elected representatives in the 114th Congress are deniers of the science of climate change.  That is 56% of Congressional Republicans and 39% of Congress in total!  I seriously considered naming each and every one in this post, but there is a great website that lists them all by state, includes a brief statement summarizing their views on climate change, and even has an interactive map. Please take a look and see where your own Senators and Representatives stand.  List of climate change deniers in Congress 

As we have seen during the past eight years, Congress has no compunction against sitting on their collective butts playing video games while significant and important proposed legislation falls by the wayside.  Given the current environment of hostility toward Ms. Clinton, I cannot imagine that her policy proposals will fare any better unless this November brings about a significant change in the structure of Congress.  Even with that, Ms. Clinton’s biggest challenge in this area is going to be finding ways to motivate Congress and the citizens.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 65% of Americans think climate change is a problem that the government needs to address, including 84% of Democrats and 43% of Republicans. 57% of those polled said they would pay at least $1 more on their monthly electric bill for climate action, including 29% who would pay $20 a month more, and 20% who said they would pay as much as $50 more!  On the flip side, 42% of the respondents said they were unwilling to pay even $1 for such policies. Other results of the survey were:

  • 54% of Americans (67% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans) favor federal regulations that would reduce U.S. coal use,
  • Only a quarter of Americans are confident that the U.S. will meet its obligations under an international climate agreement reached in Paris last December, but eight in 10 say the country should still try to meet those responsibilities.

The bottom line is that a majority of U.S. citizens do see climate change as a critical issue and are willing to make some sacrifices to address the issue.  This, I think, is what Ms. Clinton will need to use as her foundation, and build on it by finding ways to motivate and inspire people to send a clear message to Congress that they want action.  This will be Ms. Clinton’s greatest challenge when it comes to developing cleaner energy and working toward our global environmental commitments.

climateCurrently, 27 states, most with Republican governors, are challenging Obama’s Clean Power Plan in court. They say the lower emissions levels it would impose are an undue burden, despite the fact that most are already meeting the new standards, or close to meeting them.  In the words of Cynthia Coffman, attorney general of Colorado, “We don’t have anything against clean air. That really doesn’t factor into my decision to say the federal government has gone beyond its legal authority.” Just like anything else, if the states stepped up to the plate, if they had taken initiative to reduce carbon emissions, develop renewable energy sources, then we would not need to impose regulations at the federal level.  The states have had ample opportunity, yet they have failed.  We cannot continue to ignore this problem, to engage in partisan game-playing, while we are destroying the earth.

Briefly let us take a look at Mr. Trump’s environmental proposals. As with several other issues, he does not have climate change listed on his campaign website, so we will have to look at what he has said:

  • Trump rejects the scientific consensus on climate change
  • “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
  • “You want to have clean air, clean water. That’s very important to me.”
  • Trump issued an energy plan focused on promoting fossil fuels and weakening environmental regulation
  • Trump promised to “rescind” in his first 100 days in office a variety of Environmental Protection Agency regulations
  • Trump has specifically pledged to revoke the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the United States rule, which he characterizes as two “job-destroying Obama executive actions.”
  • Trump has vowed to revive the U.S. coal economy and re-open old mines.
  • Trump implied that the regulations on hairspray and coal mining are both “unwarranted” and incorrectly asserted that hairspray use in a “sealed” apartment prevents the spray’s ozone-depleting substances from reaching the atmosphere. (You’ve really got to think about this one for a minute, folks!!!)
  • Trump pledged in his May 2016 speech on energy policy to “cancel the Paris climate agreement”.
  • “We’ll be fine with the environment. We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.”

buffoonHow can anybody fail to see what a dangerous buffoon he is?  Every one of his statements on climate change and environmental issues are a reflection of a lack of education, as well as a lack of concern for the planet we live on and for future generations.

dead-earthEach of us is responsible for our environment.  We must all do our part, but more importantly, we must do so collectively. No longer can we avoid the realities that mankind is destroying the environment and pretend we don’t see. While it will not happen tomorrow, next week, or even next year, at the current rate, eventually the earth will no longer be able to sustain life.  The earth was not created only for us to have fun and make monetary profit, it was created to sustain life. Ms. Clinton’s goals are a major step in the right direction, but she cannot even begin to implement them without us.  It is our responsibility to take climate change seriously, and to demand that our elected representatives do the same.