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.

This Is Not A Game!!!

There are some stories that you can just look at the headline and call “BULL!”  Here are a few such:

Trump dismisses US climate change report

Trump: ‘We’re the cleanest’

Sen. Mike Lee gives a perfectly ridiculous reason to ignore climate change

G20 draft statement on climate change crafted to appease Trump, report says

California wildfires are the fault of ‘radical environmentalists,’ says Zinke

On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when most people were either sleeping off the calories from the day before, else out pushing, shoving and fighting for the best deals on Christmas gifts, the NCA climate report, which had originally been scheduled for release in early December, was quietly released on what is known as “Black Friday”.  There may have been hopes on the part of Trump and his fellow climate change deniers that it would go largely unnoticed, but that wasn’t the case.Climate change Portland paperMajor national and regional newspapers such as the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Mercury News, Miami Herald, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times and Washington Post carried stories about the report on their front pages.

The National Climate Assessment (NCA) assesses the science of climate change and variability and its impacts across the United States, now and throughout this century.  The report is required by Congress every four years and is issued by 13 federal agencies and the U.S. Global Change Research Program.  More than 1,000 people contributed to the report, including 300 leading scientists, roughly half from outside the government.

The report (link below) is 1,656 pages, but is handily broken into groups, with a nice summary.  I highly recommend you take at least a brief look at it, for this is important. Let’s take a look at the twelve key points:

  • Communities – Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.
  • Economy – Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.
  • Interconnected Impacts – Climate change affects the natural, built, and social systems we rely on individually and through their connections to one another. These interconnected systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services within and beyond the Nation’s borders.
  • Actions to Reduce Risks – Communities, governments, and businesses are working to reduce risks from and costs associated with climate change by taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions and implement adaptation strategies. While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.
  • Water – The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment.
  • Health – Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable.
  • Indigenous Peoples – Climate change increasingly threatens Indigenous communities’ livelihoods, economies, health, and cultural identities by disrupting interconnected social, physical, and ecological systems.
  • Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services – Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being altered by climate change, and these impacts are projected to continue. Without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, transformative impacts on some ecosystems will occur; some coral reef and sea ice ecosystems are already experiencing such transformational changes.
  • Agriculture – Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.
  • Infrastructure – Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature. Without adaptation, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services, and health and well-being.
  • Oceans & Coasts – Coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them are increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change. Without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and regional adaptation measures, many coastal regions will be transformed by the latter part of this century, with impacts affecting other regions and sectors. Even in a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values.
  • Tourism and Recreation – Outdoor recreation, tourist economies, and quality of life are reliant on benefits provided by our natural environment that will be degraded by the impacts of climate change in many ways.

The report supports the data from the IPCC report, issued last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. The IPCC was established by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to review and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change.  Currently 195 countries are Members of the IPCC, and thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC.

So, we have two independent reports with data from a wide variety of the scientific community, both saying essentially the same thing.  Both should be a wake-up call to everyone.  But is the so-called leader of the United States, Donald Trump, awake?  No.  He told reporters on Monday that he had “read some of” Friday’s report, but the ‘man’ who still doesn’t understand the difference between ‘climate’ and ‘weather’ takes no responsibility and largely says he doesn’t believe either of these reports.

“You’re going to have to have China and Japan and all of Asia and all these other countries, you know, it  addresses our country. Right now we’re at the cleanest we’ve ever been and that’s very important to me. But if we’re clean, but every other place on Earth is dirty, that’s not so good. So I want clean air, I want clean water, very important.”global warmingThink of the wildfires in California.  Take a look at this graph showing the increase in expenditures to fight wildfires since 1985:

wildfire graph

Consider the severe hurricanes we have experienced over the past two years.  There can be no doubt in any thinker’s mind that we are destroying our environment.  Trump and the other climate change deniers claim that increased fossil fuel use creates jobs and boosts the economy.  They claim that removing constraints and regulations from industries enhances corporate profits, thereby adding to the economy.  All of which is, first off, lies, and secondly, irrelevant if we bring about the extinction of not only the human race, but every other living creature on this planet.  And that, folks, is exactly what we are doing.  You don’t have to understand the science to know that it is credible. All you have to do is look around, read the newspaper, think!

Other nations would be well within their rights to be furious with the U.S. for pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord and reversing course on environmental protection.  I would hazard a guess that ultimately, the United Nations will issue an edict that, if ignored, will lead to a war.  This is too important to ignore.  Trump thinks this is a game, thinks it is all about money.  It isn’t a game, and frankly, all the money in the world won’t matter if we don’t wake up and smell the coffee … SOON!

Links to reports (all links open in separate tabs):

NCA Report

IPCC Report

The Kanye & Donnie Show

A Category 4 hurricane, Hurricane Michael, has hit the Florida coast, killing at least 6 people, leaving 1.1 million homes and businesses without electricity and damaging thousands of homes.  A journalist for the Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi, is missing and word is that he may have been murdered in Turkey in a hit ordered by Trump’s friend, Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman.  Global markets have plunged for two consecutive days, leaving the Dow some 1,400 points lower than at the close on Tuesday.  Immigrant children are, despite a court order, still separated from their parents and being held in detention centers.  The IPCC report issued earlier this week is an eye-opener and the U.S.’ policy of ignoring climate change needs to be seriously re-considered.

Those are just a few of the things that the ‘man’ sitting in the Oval Office must be very concerned about, must be meeting with advisors and asking for more information about, yes?

No.Kanye West-TrumpDonald Trump’s big achievement, if one chooses to call it such, yesterday was a meeting with a rapper, Kanye West, where the two discussed such important issues as West’s sleep deprivation, street gangs, and ‘male energy’, whatever the heck that is.  Apparently West went off on a monologue that lasted nearly ten minutes, and at the end, he and Trump declared their mutual love for each other (won’t Kim Jong-un be jealous?).  Here are a few snippets …

  • … you know, I love Hillary, I love everyone, right? But the campaign “I’m With Her” just didn’t make me feel, as a guy that didn’t get to see my dad all the time, like a guy that could play catch with his son. How did he get from point A to point B here?  Does anybody follow this sentence?  All I’m getting out of it is a huge dose of misogyny

  • It was something about putting this hat [maga hat] on, it made me feel like Superman. You made a Superman. That’s my favorite superhero. And you made a Superman cape for me, also as a guy that looks up to you, looks up to Ralph Lauren, looks up to American industry guys, non-political, no bulls—t — put the beep on it, however you want to do it, five-seconds delay — and just goes in, and gets it done! Does he think he’s onstage? 


  • So I had the balls – because I had enough balls to put on this hat. I thought only a head was requisite for a hat …


  • There’s a lot of things affecting our mental health that makes us do crazy things that puts us back into that trap door called the 13th Amendment. I did say abolish with the hat on, because why would you keep something around that’s a trap door? If you’re building a floor, the Constitution is the base of our industry, right? Of our country, of our company. Would you build a trap door that if you mess up, accidentally something happens, you fall and you end up next to the Unabomber? Huh? What is he even talking about???  🙄


  • I’m gonna go ahead and drop some bombs for you — 98 percentile IQ test. I had a 75 percentile of all human beings, but it was counting eight numbers backwards, repeating something. We’re gonna work on that one. The other ones, 98 percent — Tesla, Freud. You know. No wonder he and Trump get on so well … they are both idiotic, delusional, self-proclaimed geniuses.

I think you’ve heard/read enough to realize that … this was probably among the least important, least relevant people that Trump could have spent time with yesterday, and why he did is beyond me.  Oh … wait … no, I get it.  It was the praise thing.  Kanye West is a huge Trump fan (though he didn’t vote for him – didn’t vote at all, actually) and they had a few moments of mutual admiration.

Not a fan of rap music, I know almost nothing of Kanye West other than I knew he was/is a rap singer and I knew he was/is married to one of those Kardashian bimbos.  I heard enough, however, in this little impromptu speech to know that he is definitely not somebody I admire, so you might imagine my horror when somewhere near the end of his little soliloquy he noted that he might consider a run for the presidency, but not until 2024 because …

“Trump is on his hero’s journey right now. He might not have thought he’d have a crazy [expletive] like him.  I love this guy right here.”

Impossible, right?  Yeah, well, that’s what I said in June 2015 when Trump announced his candidacy, too, and look how well that worked out.  Meanwhile, perhaps Trump can give him a cabinet position … or perhaps he might even replace Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations!

If you’ve the stomach for it, you can read the full annotated transcript or watch the entire video of the Kanye & Donnie Show here.

 

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?