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Showing posts from 2015

Truth Be Told

December 25, 2015 - We saw the movie The Big Short today; I highly recommend it.  It's surpassingly sad that we, i.e. American society, have allowed the compilation of lies accumulated during the Bush/Cheney years to go so long unaddressed.  This movie takes an important step in the direction of redressing these omissions.  I readily confess I didn't understand all parts of the movie, though the delightful "asides" provided throughout did help.  Though I wouldn't characterize the movie in general with the word delightful, it has its moments.

To what degree were the actions of our government, the banks, real estate companies, and investors set in motion the day Bush/Cheney were permitted to steal the 2000 election?  Permitted by an apathetic and confused electorate, aided and abetted by the Supreme Court of the United States, the patently nefarious intentions of the Republican candidates proceeded as planned.  Speaking for myself, I argued silently that my place w…

COP21: Setting Our Sites

December 14, 2015 - I wonder whether the US Congress will vote to approve the COP21 climate treaty or not.  I don't think it would be approved by the current Congress, but if the vote can be forestalled until a new Congress begins in 2017, perhaps it would.  There is a lot of debate in the press right now about the treaty's merits, but since it's the best global leaders could do, I think we should sign on.  If the U.S. can do better than what is required by the treaty, that would be wonderful.  That's really what we should set our sites on doing.

The fact that the entire world has acknowledged that drastic change is necessary is very encouraging.   At first I thought that wealthy countries were only donating $100 billion in total to help poor countries lessen their emissions.  However, I just heard on the Diane Rehm Show that that is an annual budget, beginning in 2020.  That sounds much more aggressive; I can only say I hope wealthy nations live up to the agreement.  …

Look Who's Talking

October 4, 2015 – Business is at long last throwing its weight around on behalf of the climate.Progress toward mitigating climate change has been a nearly nonexistent process, occurring at nowhere close to the scale it needs to happen.Governments bewail the fact they have too many constituents to keep happy, while business has wrung its hands over the cost of switching to renewable energy.Meantime, this weekend alone has seen over 100 people buried in a landslide in Guatemala, 17 killed by flash flooding on the French Riviera, and unknown numbers of missing or dead in South Carolina as a result of torrential rain associated with Hurricane Joaquin.
Corporations haven’t exactly broken any records in their rush to speak out, but ten companies came forward on October 1 with a letter to American and world leaders. The chief executive officers of these firms are pledging to accelerate actions that will mitigate climate change, and are urging word leaders to do the same with an airtight int…

The Land of the Rising Sea

Sept. 26, 2015 - Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, pushed a bill through the lower house ofParliament last week which authorizes expansion of the military in Japan.Japan was shorn of its military subsequent to World War II and today, the move is not a popular one amongst the Japanese.They have grown unaccustomed to bearing responsibility for a well-armed military.It will cost Japan a lot of money, for one thing.In addition, the island nation is not well known for friendly relations with its neighbors.The United States, however, supports the move, since it can ill afford to continue in its post-war role as world policeman.Help from an ally would be very welcome.

Japan’s primary motivation is China’s growing military.  The actual building of islands in the South China Sea has disturbed all of China’s neighbors, with good reason.  It would appear their purpose in creating the islands could well be an aggressive one.  It bears pointing out that North Korea is, at best, an unstable …

Too Little, Too Late

September 14, 2015 - The news just isn't getting any better, is it?  Heroic people all over the world are working very hard to keep climate change from reaching the tipping point, but governments continue down the same road they've been following for decades.  Sadly, their inertia means the bill that's coming due just keeps getting bigger.  And oh! how badly they and their super-wealthy citizens don't want to pay it.  That's ok.  This bill collector is never turned down.  It will all work out in due course.  After all, it's only humankind that may face extinction.

Actually, I do believe there will be survivors.  I don't mean that in the sense of "me and my family have this all figured out."  I mean that in the sense that the odds favor it.  Somebody, somewhere, will get through this.  Maybe a lot of somebodies.  Humanity's chance to influence a more favorable outcome is just about over, however.  Much as we human beings love to believe we'…

A Washington El Nino

July 27, 2015 - It's great to be sitting in my very own office, and writing to you from Washington state. We've been here for 3 months now, and feel very much as though we've wound up in paradise.  The views of Mt. St. Helen's, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood are spectacular, the Columbia River Gorge is incomparable, and Portland is a very fun town, albeit one that suffers from horrible traffic.  We're feeling very blessed these days, and humbled by our good fortune.

The weather here is quite different from what much of the country has endured.  Unlike the rain which has flooded so much of the middle and the south of the country, Washington is in the midst of a drought, along with Oregon and California, of course.  While our situation is nothing like California's, which is dire, there have been a number of wildfires this summer.  Farmers are getting by using irrigation, and the fruit crops look abundant to my inexperienced eyes.  I, for the first time, am the proud own…

Defense Department Leads the Way

April 8, 2015 - As petro-profit continues its downward spiral, investors are seeking out The Next Big Thing.  More and more of them say the future belongs to solar energy.  Companies like Tesla, Google, and Apple are investing in solar.  In fact, Tesla will soon announce the release of a "home battery" that will help store power generated by rooftop solar panels.  While there's a part of me that questions how well solar will work in a warming world, where warm air that holds more moisture will create more thunderstorms, I'm pleased that Americans are finally looking beyond fossil fuel.

Oddly enough, the word "Americans" now includes American conservatives.  Though they may not always feel free to spell out their support, they come pretty close in places like Florida, where Floridians for Solar Choice welcomes members from both the tea party and the Christian Coalition, as well as liberals, environmentalists and retailers.  More and more of us seem to be abl…

One Very Small Step for Humankind

March 25, 2015 - I recall, back in the early 1970's, the constant stream of news stories telling Americans that virtually every new product recently developed contained something that caused cancer.  Honestly, it was hard to know what to do with the information.  I think because there were so many stories - several a week, it seemed like - there was also a lot of skepticism.  All these years later, I will confess we should have demanded that the products be pulled from the shelves.  We didn't, and now we pay the price with our own lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren.

I volunteer at the elementary school's library.  The librarian, incredibly competent and caring, is also the mother of two daughters.  Her younger child has had to be treated twice for leukemia.  The second go-round was caused by the first; yes, that's what I'm saying - the chemotherapy caused her to contract leukemia for a second time.  In all likelihood, chemicals in the environmen…

The Noose Tightens

CORRECTION:I failed to mention in my last article that Australia sells and sends a great deal of coal to China every year.My oversight – sorry!
February 24, 2015 – It’s been 43 years since the Club of Rome commissioned scientists at MIT to conduct research into the likelihood of civilization collapse.Their results were published in a book titled The Limits to Growth.Its primary focus was the finiteness of our planet, and its inability to support never-ending population growth and resource depletion.
Researchers at the University of Melbourne recently decided to examine the accuracy of Limit’s predictions.Dr. Graham Turner used data provided by both the United Nations and the United States, specifically the UN’s department of economic and social affairs, Unesco, the UN’s food and agriculture organization, the UN statistical yearbook, and the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
What he and his research team learned is that, in keeping with the book’s many fo…

What Lies Ahead

February 15, 2015 -NASA released a report on Friday the 13th, detailing the effects of megadroughts they foresee occurring in the United States throughout the rest of this century.  I don’t think I need to tell you that the only way to mitigate these effects is by sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE).  What might very well need saying is that our future and the future of humankind rests in the hands of the Chinese, and the people of India.

Book Review: This Changes Everything

January 7, 2015 – I want to tell you about a book I just read, by Naomi Klein, called This Changes Everything.Klein’s book is about climate change, and how very close we have now come to exchanging our world for a place that’s nearly unlivable.
She begins with dogged conjecture regarding why we appear to want to change our world in such a manner.We don’t, of course, so we engage in various degrees of climate change denial.I’ll interject here that looking away and pretending everything will be just fine is essentially mandatory, at least from time to time, if we’re to continue living in this world without going mad.Draconian measures are required, as all non-Republicans are now aware.In the words of Angelica Navarro Llanos, “We need a Marshall Plan for the Earth.”All good Republicans know what that means: the United States will get stuck with the bill.And that terrifies them.
Except that now, China has admitted that it must do something to greatly reduce coal-burning emissions.So have…