Hope

The other day a woman came up to me and asked, “How do you have hope for the environment with a President like this?” It’s an interesting question and worth an answer.

The key reason I have hope that we will get through this and on to a better day, is by looking at how far we have come. In my life of 65 years, I have personally watched a polluted river burn in Ohio, smelled the steel mills of south Chicago spewing massive amounts of toxic pollution into the air, ran with all the other children behind DDT smoggers in our neighborhood on a regular basis every summer, and witnessed the pollution of Los Angeles at its worse. There was no organic food movement when I was a child. No one imagined that cars could run on battery power.

Since then, the country, with help from both the old Republican Party and Democrats, has put  into action thousands of laws to protect us, our children, our food, air and water. The laws are so ingrained that many of the voters who supported Donald Trump and his minions in the current incarnation of the Republican party, have forgotten just why the laws are there. That we have huge numbers of eagles in our area is because of public pressure, and science research recognizing the dangers of DDT and Congress passing a law that a President signed banning its use in the U.S.

The splitting of news media into real news (now labeled fake news by Trump) and a propaganda machine called Fox News,  which has through clever programming become one of the most watched news media in the country, has worked to dumb down those watching it and created a population who no longer understands what we have gained by the laws that it rails against.  This was by intent. As documented in numerous news reporting a small cadre of people  started working on the program to take control of America back in the 1970s. They were reactionary to the events happening in the 60s. They have all but succeeded in their goals, but whether the population will continue to support them remains to be seen.

As Trump and his administration go about tearing down the laws and even the notion of using science to make decisions, those inside those institutions are not willingly going along with the destruction. Outside the organizations, there is a coordinated effort to take the Trump administration to court over these blatant attacks on our resources. We will lose some of these battles to be sure. But when it’s all over, I have no doubt that future administrations will come along and rebuild these laws.

When looking at these laws, it is undoubtedly true they often are laws that were built and added onto over the decades since the 1970s, and probably can be improved. A rewriting of them by future administrations and Congresses can be hoped to improve on them,  not destroy them.

The bigger concern is the lack of desire to even admit to global warming and do anything about it by Trump. As many of the world’s leading climate scientists said last week, we have not much time left to avoid global catastrophe. Over the last decade we witnessed from afar the creation of a global class of climate refugees.  This year, we are witnessing the creation of a class of climate refugees here in the U.S. As we have seen in the Southeast U.S. just this last two months, and the forests of Northern California this summer and last summer, along with numerous smaller incidents that don’t make “ink”  in the news. The poor along the Gulf Coast of Florida, the backwaters of South and North Carolina, the areas around Redding and Santa Rosa California, and elsewhere are facing a horrendous future as they watch their entire homes and places of work blown to bits or burned to ash. Given that it has been reported by Money magazine and other real news sources that 6 in 10 Americans don’t have $500 savings, it points to an unrecoverable situation for those who are affected by global warming.

While each of us can do some small thing to help, like use less fossil fuels or install solar panels, this looming global catastrophe is waiting on leadership from the U.S. to move towards a true solution. Our country is the largest global polluter closely followed by China and India. We have to lead in order to really change anything. Luckily, the economics of solar have created a financial incentive that even Trump can’t lie his way around. Coal is doomed by the costs of solar. It’s happening already. And states such as ours are taking the initiative because of popular demand, to move towards sustainable energy sources. But there is a huge amount of work yet to be done.

Once we were challenged by a true leader, President Kennedy, and supported in that challenge by President Johnson and Republican President Nixon, to put a man on the moon in 10 years. We did it. Out of that effort, came huge benefits to our society and to the rest of the planet. When the next true leader comes along, it will be up to us to get ourselves out from under the rule of fossil fuels to a solar and wind powered future. It will not be easy. It will disrupt numerous industries and jobs (just ask the coal miners in Kentucky).  But the outcome will eventually create a better world. Unfortunately, in the meantime we have to protect ourselves from the planet doing what it is programmed to do with a rise in greenhouse gasses, absorbing the heat in the oceans, which fuels hurricanes and creates ocean acidification, among other problematic scenarios.

My hope is in  two things that humans have had in their favor over the last 100,000 or more years,  ingenuity and tools. We have created our way out of so many seemingly insurmountable problems, from bacteria caused illnesses with penicillin to  sewer, light and transportation systems to support cities of tens of millions of people. I trust in our ability to find a way through the next hundred years.  A good place to start is to vote in politicians who believe in science and recognize the problem for what it is. That starts next week. The decision is yours to make.

 

 

 

Supreme Court rejects government motion in “climate kids” case.

Stunning loss for the Trump administration. Now the facts can be presented in court and the kids can claim damages and a threat to their “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Ours too!

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to suspend proceedings in a potential landmark climate case that pits a group of youth plaintiffs against the federal government.

The court’s decision preserves the Oct. 29 start date for a federal trial in U.S. District Court in Eugene.

Read the whole story here;

http://www.registerguard.com/news/20180730/supreme-court-rejects-government-motion-in-climate-kids-case

Support local journalism. Subscribe to real news.

 

We are almost certainly underestimating the economic risks of climate change – VOX

I have long argued that the field of economics is simply propaganda for the status quo. Their findings are helping continue a headlong drive, exemplified by our current ‘head in the sand’ administration, towards the Sixth Extinction, which will take us and likely eliminate most of the planet’s diverse species. Here’s more evidence of how the field is failing real science. Is it even science?

https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/6/8/17437104/climate-change-global-warming-models-risks

On its hundredth birthday in 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming -The Guardian

This is an interesting find, but doesn’t really surprise me. Teller was one of the people responsible for the atom bomb and was a staunch supporter of nuclear power. His predictions were right on the money, claiming that around 2000 we could see the melting of the poles. My guess is that he told the audience that they should support a move to nuclear power and electric cars to fuel this future.

I attended a lecture by Teller at the University of Washington, probably around 1978 or 79. I was very much anti-nuclear, which I still am. I asked Teller a couple of questions after the talk, including how we were going to deal with nuclear waste and the issue of protecting the facilities from attack. He outlined that it would take the U.S. military to surround and protect the facilities and the transport of fuel. I questioned whether this was essentially asking for a military state and he said he had no problem with that. He assumed that issue of nuclear waste would be solved technically. I was skeptical of the enormous costs with cost overruns and possibility of meltdown of the core in the event of an accident, something that could (and later prove true in Fukushima), make downwind cities like New York, Chicago, Olympia and others into wastelands. I still am skeptical, and the emergence of advanced solar and wind shows we likely can solve it without nuclear power.

Somebody cut the cake – new documents reveal that American oil writ large was warned of global warming at its 100th birthday party.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/jan/01/on-its-hundredth-birthday-in-1959-edward-teller-warned-the-oil-industry-about-global-warming

 

Upcoming legislative climate action

Worth noting.

Olympic Climate Action is organizing support for a major new statewide campaign: Climate Countdown. With time fast running out to curtail the climate crisis there can be no excuses from the Washington State Legislature to undertake bold climate action now. It will ask two things of the legislature: ban new fossil fuel infrastructure (by passing Climate Test Legislation) and commit to rapid transition to 100% renewable energy (as has been done in Maryland recently). There is broad excitement for the possibility of significant action on climate in our state, however it is a short legislative session.

The legislature has just sixty days to get this done, the clock is ticking. To launch this campaign, there will be a major mobilization in Olympia on the opening day of the legislature–Monday, January 8. The OCA is filling carpools from the Olympic Peninsula, reserve your spot here. Please carve out this date if you can! For further information email Olympic Climate Action or visit the event facebook page.
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Location: WA State Capitol Building, Olympia, WA 98504

2017: The Year In Climate – New York Times

The Big Picture

Record surge in atmospheric CO2 seen in 2016 – BBC

The question that comes from all of this is “at what point do we make the planet uninhabitable for humans? “ And as many scientists have thought, the unintended consequences of not doing enough for CO2 is that we are finding that methane is suddenly exploding in the atmosphere.  One likely source could be the exposure of tundra as the permafrost melts.

Concentrations of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Last year’s increase was 50% higher than the average of the past 10 years.

Researchers say a combination of human activities and the El Niño weather phenomenon drove CO2 to a level not seen in 800,000 years.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-41778089

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