Two interesting climate change stories

In the sea of news about all things Trump, we lose sight of other things going on. Two stories caught my eye this week about climate change that deserve more oxygen, pun intended. On Monday, The Charlotte Observer published a front page story called “Rising sea erodes property values at beaches.”

Per the Observer, “Scientists have found that $7.4 billion was lost in home values across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Florida because of sea level rise flooding from 2005 to 2017.

“Scientists at First Street Foundation – a technology nonprofit dedicated to increasing awareness of seal level rise – used data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Geological Survey, local governments, the National Weather Service and the US Army Corps of Engineers to estimate flood risks.”

The “peer reviewed” study showed 616,626 homes lost value during this time. Per the Observer, “The study is the first of its kind to show depreciation of homes values has already taken place in the United States…” The article noted this is a concern to not only the homeowners, but the municipalities and counties where property taxes have (and will) decline through reevaluation.

Last week, an article in Yahoo Finance called “Kids around the world are suing governments over climate change – and it’s working,” it was noted the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a US lawsuit to move ahead.

As reported in Yahoo, “Back in 2015, a group of 21 young Americans decided to sue the US government over climate change. In Juliana v. US, the plaintiffs argue that the government has violated ‘the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property’ by adopting policies that promote the use of fossil fuels—despite the knowledge that carbon dioxide emissions are a primary cause of global warming.

“That might sound like an extreme claim. But in the years since, the lawsuit has kept succeeding against all odds. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on July 20 denied the Trump administration’s attempt to dismiss the suit, and the case remains set for trial 0n October 29.” Yahoo notes the plaintiffs range in age from 11 to 22.

These two stories stand on their own. The first confirms with peer reviewed data, climate change is impacting coastal properties now and has been for at least twelve years. This is not a future thing. Most of this burden has been borne by the state of Florida, which is interesting as their governor forbid his staff from mentioning the words climate change or global warming in speeches or articles.

The second says these kids get it. The US government is lax on doing definitive measures and planning to address climate change. I am reminded of the multi-partisan plan developed by Denmark to address climate change impact over the long term, as it had to last beyond the current leadership. The kids have gotten to the next step with the Ninth Circuit Court saying their case has merit. Well done to all. It is sad the kids have to resort to this kind of measure when adult leaders fail to act or accept funding based on them not acting.

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A few puzzling questions in the summer of 2018

A few years back, there was a wonderfully nostalgic movie called “The Summer of ’42.” It was about a friendship between a  teen boy who befriended an older woman (played by Jennifer O’Neill) whose husband was a soldier fighting in WWII. Using the nostalgia of this movie and summer season, let me ask a few puzzling questions.

After witnessing Richard Nixon’s criminal actions and cover-up of Watergate, why is it difficult for some people to believe that the current President may be equally corrupt?

Having seen politicians get caught lying why do so many still do it? When you dig your own hole, at some point you need to stop digging. It amazes me how politicians forget that things are recorded.

Do you remember how embarassed we were that a senior KKK member named David Duke ran for office? Now, there are at least seven White supremacists running for office.

Do you remember when significant numbers of Senators and Congresspeople served in rhe military? That has waned, but we have a chance to remedy that this fall. These folks know what duty and service mean, as opposed to false bravado. There is an old saying of beware of the quiet guy. The trash talker should  be ignored.

Do you remember the quote that I paraphrase as it is better to let people think you are a fool, than to open your mouth (or Twitter account) and remove all doubt? Just because you think it, does not mean you should say it.

Do you remember when people thought so highly of the Mayor of New York as he brought people together after 9/11? What happened to that guy? Now, he has a doppelgänger parading around spewing utter nonsense to defend a man who would throw him under the bus if he had to.

Our name is our most important asset. We should protect and have people remember it well. Being truthful, honorable and accountable are vital. Barking like a dog at people who disagree with you is not a good path forward.

 

When you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you will know that I love cleverly worded song lyrics. The above title comes from an unexpected source (if you don’t follow the band) – a song called “Free will” by the rock band “Rush.” I find this lyric, penned by drummer Neil Peart, compelling as it speaks to people who choose to do nothing in the face of obvious problems. Martin Luther King saved some of his criticism for the silent people who did not condemn Jim Crow actions.

People choose not to vote because they do not like the choices. But, “none of the above” is not an option and one candidate tends to be worse or represents worse. If you did not vote because you did not think Brexit or Trump would win, you water down your right to protest. And, I would add there are seven white supremacists running for office, empowered by a US President who won’t condemn racist actions and has made racist statements. So, your vote does matter.

If you witness a daily assault on civil rights, women’s rights, truth, media, science, allies and environment and don’t speak up, then you condone the actions as acceptable.

– It is not OK for leaders to lie multiple times a day.

– It is not OK to have governmental websites delete data that run afoul of unsubstantiated opinions by leaders.

– It is not OK to demean people because they dare criticize a leader’s point of view.

– It is not OK to demonize groups of people or exaggerate causes of problems, as it is hard enough to solve real problems with real data.

– It is not OK to ignore real problems or have faux efforts to address them. Gun deaths, poverty, health care access and costs, infrastructure deterioration, increasing debt, environmental degradation, climate change, etc. are real problems.

Please do not remain silent. Speak up. Call or email your representatives. Attend marches and protests. Share diplomatically your opinion, but listen to theirs. Find a way to get your opinion heard and heeded. Calling someone a name is not the way to be heard.

The other day as I was looking for a new battery for my cordless mower, a store clerk and I chatted about the need to move toward renewable energy. While he supported the eventual move, he said renewable energy is “seven times” the cost of fossil fuel energy. I responded and said that is a ten-year old argument. The costs are now more on par. In fact, there is a city in Texas who chose to be 100% renewable energy powered as its CPA mayor said financially it is a better deal. Did he hear me? I don’t know, but he would not have  if I had not listened to his argument and responded.

Do not follow the words of the song lyric. Choose to decide.

Saturday in the park salutations

Happy weekend. Saturday in the park is an idea worth considering. I will need to check with my better half regarding her thoughts for the day. Below are a few rambling thoughts to salute the news of the week.

Pakistan has selected a new leader, a very charismatic former cricket star named Imran Khan. He has promised to end corruption and offer better governance. I wish him well, but a reporter once said on NPR, the corruption is ingrained and corrupts the best of intentions. It should be noted his rivals are crying foul and want a new election.

Speaking of the best of intentions, Theresa May is trying to take Great Britain out of the EU with some semblance of a plan. It is surprising it has gotten this late in the game without more planning achieved. I still hold out hopes that the Brits will realize they screwed up and remain in the EU. Voters were not told of all the facts and I fault people like Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Vladimir Putin for their roles in deceiving folks. Decisions based on pride tend to lack prudence.

The now annual severe wildfires out west continue and are alarming. On the other end of the spectrum, stalled or slow moving weather patterns in the east are flooding various areas. In the middle of the country, severe heat is causing major concerns to drought areas. In 2011, a report put together by the largest pension trust managers in the world noted their financial concerns over not addressing climate change. They noted the increase in wildfires, concerns over severe droughts and stalled weather patterns as huge financial concerns. All of the above are a concern, but the fire and drought issues also shine a spotlight on our global water crisis, where certain areas around the world are in danger of diminishing access to fresh water. Yet, the leaders of our federal government are doing their best to avoid recognition or discussion of climate change action.

Another CEO, Les Moonves of CBS, has been accused of past sexual misconduct. It seems that men who lead (or are stars in) entertainment businesses that hire and promote attractive people cannot keep their hands and other body parts to themselves. Fox, NBC, Weinstein, and CBS have each had bad apples. But, as women know, this is a universal problem where men with power can impose their will on women in less senior roles. This is why the video of the waitress throwing the man, who felt up her fanny,  to the ground is so inspiring. He was held and charged with sexual battery.

Finally, the stand your ground law in Florida has caused yet one more death. A white man, who has taken it upon himself to accost people who park in handicap spaces, was shoved to the ground by a black man who took offense at his remarks. From the ground, the man is seen shooting (and killing) the shover. The man was not charged due to this law, which has caused a split on public opinion. Two questions – would opinion change if the races of the men were reversed?  Would a man be dead if a gun was not present?

Other news abounds, but I wanted to focus away from news that seems to suck all the oxygen out of the room.

 

 

The US President “annihilates the truth”

With the taped conversation between Michael Cohen and then candidate Donald Trump, it confirms that Trump lied to the American people about his awareness of the settlement. But, that is not abnormal. In a recent PBS Newshour/ NPR/ Marist poll, 58% of Americans believe the President tells the truth sometimes or hardly ever, with 3% saying he never tells the truth. 36% of folks think he tells the truth almost always or most of the time.

Before the summer, The Washington Post counted 3,200 lies communicated by Trump as President and in a recent speech in Montana, measured 76% of the comments were false, misleading or unsupported. This percent is similar to the 69% untruthful rate that Politifacts has measured during his Presidency as of earlier this year. Using the latter percent, it means for every three comments, two of them are untruthful. These numbers do not surprise me at all. But, we should not rely only on statistics.

Earlier this week, PBS Newshour had a panel discussion on President Trump and his relationship with the truth. Judy Woodruff interviewed Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington who served in the last three Republican administrations, Lara Brown, the director of the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University and author of several books on presidents, including “Jockeying For the American Presidency,” and Domenico Montanaro, the lead political editor for NPR.

Wehner started out echoing what some have said publicly that Trump is a “pathological liar.” He also uttered the comment in the title above that Trump has set out to “annihilate the truth.” Brown concurred and noted the sheer “volume of lies” makes it hard to categorize. She noted that he “exhausts” Americans with the continual stream of lies. Montanaro echoed their comments, but also pointed out if two numbers from the PBS Newshour/ NPR/ Marist survey are added together, 61% of Americans believe the President tells the truth either sometime, hardly ever or never.

It should be noted that 56% of Americans believes he lies more than other Presidents, with only 32% saying the opposite. Wehner and Brown noted that all Presidents tell lies (LBJ in the Pentagon Papers, Clinton about sexual relations, Reagan about the Iran-Contra affair and Nixon about Watergate, e.g.), but the number and volume dwarf that of his predecessors. Montanaro noted that we expect truth from our President and it is unnerving when we don’t get it. Brown’s comment about the lies being exhausting is true in our house. The man wears my wife and me out. We should not be expecting our President to be untruthful.

Each cited examples of lies, but Wehner said one that is not that big of an issue is an exemplar that set the stage for this President. It related to the size of his inaugural crowd. With visual evidence to contradict him, Trump lied and then made his spokesperson repeat the lie. He said it showed out of the gate, the President was ready to lie even when the facts demonstrated otherwise. That is also in keeping with Brown’s comments that he lies big and small and a comment I have cited from Thomas Wells, an attorney who worked with Trump for years. Wells said “Trump lies every day even about things of no consequence.”

Nothing in this post is news to readers. What is newsworthy is to hear someone use the term “annihilate the truth.” That is an astounding revelation and one I truly do not find fault with. As I shared with a Senator on his website earlier in the week, one way to tell the President may be guilty of more than obstruction of justice is the number of times he has changed his story just since Helsinki. We must let Robert Mueller get at the truth. We certainly are not hearing it from this President, at least not very often.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/whats-happened-to-the-truth-under-president-trump

A new phone scam

One of the downsides about having a phone is getting phone scam calls. The latest scam is for the caller to leave a recorded message that does not include your name but says “You are a person of interest in a formal proceeding. We have tried to contact you several times, so please call this number to discuss this issue.”

This is a scam. I am certain someone at the number I am asked to call back would ask me to wire money to make it go away. If I was a person of interest, they would not be calling me.

This serves as a reminder of other scams. Top of mind, here are a few to watch out for:

– IRS Scam: Someone will call leaving a message that you owe back taxes and the IRS will seek legal action to collect. The IRS will send you a letter if there is an issue with your taxes.

– Grandparent scam: The caller will pretend to be a grandchild and wait for the person to give the caller a name of a grandchild. The caller then assumes that identity. Typically, the faux grandchild says they have been in an accident and need money wired.

– Microsoft scam: This scam uses a caller who says Microsoft has detected that you are having computer problems. They want access to your computer at which time they will glean important financial information and passwords.

This does not address aggressive marketing attempts where the caller appears to be your credit card company. They are not really, but just want to issue you another credit card. It also doesn’t address other unscrupulous schemes where callers pretend to be who they are not to sell another product. Nor does it address the email phishing attempts that will allow someone to commandeer your computer.

Be on the look out. People want your money. Too many will lie, cheat and steal. All it takes is one bite to get hooked on a bad deal for you. What are some of the other scams you have come across?

Oyster shells have a beneficial shelf life

Oysters have long been hailed to be an aphrodisiac. That may be the case, but their shells have been quite useful in protecting and recreating shoreline. They have a beneficial effect long after their alleged aphrodisiac influence. How so?

Per a PBS Newshour news report in June, rather than building a sea wall, there are several locations in Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, et al that are using mesh bagged oyster shells to stack in the water near the shores of bays, coves and inlets. They create an organic wall that facilitates the growth of marsh grasses between the land and barrier. Living organisms can be found in the water such as various crabs and fishes. The natural growth of the marsh grasses and collected mud is noticeable even after one year.

From a cost standpoint, one family noted the cost differential is significant. The oyster shells are 1/4 of the cost of the wall ($3,000 vs $12,000) on their property. Plus, the wall needs to be replaced at some point, while the oyster shells do not.The word has gotten out, so now there is a waiting list for the oyster shells in these areas.

Rebuilding the natural marshes and wetlands are tactics to combat the loss of shoreline due to climate change. These marshes provide a needed natural barrier or buffer as hurricanes hit land and offer oxygen to combat carbon build up.

Per a “Scientfic American” article in April, 2017, “Coastal wetlands are among the best marine ecosystems to fight climate change, new research confirms. A study published this week in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment compared the carbon sequestration potential of a handful of marine ecosystems and found that mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows have the greatest impact on climate change.”

This is another reason to order oysters on the half shell. But, ask the restaurant what they are doing with the shells. Make them aware of this terrific use if they are not. It is truly an organically utile idea, aphrodisiac or not.