Climate change continues to hit home in the US

An article on two islands, one off the coast of Virginia and one off Louisiana, reveals what the rest of the planet is witnessing. Both Tangier Island in the Chesapeake and Isle de Jean Charles in the Gulf of Mexico, are being consumed by rising sea levels. Climate change is already impacting the planet and we better do something about it. A link to the articles is below.

These are not isolated incidents. The City of Miami and surrounding counties are spending $200 million to stave off the sea water from coming up through street drains following the mildest of storms. Last month, I read where the sea levels have been threatening a major water reservoir near the Everglades coming through the porous limestone. And, as we enter hurricane season, the rising sea levels are like raising the basketball court, so it is easier for the hurricane to metaphorically dunk a basketball and wreak havoc.

But, what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has stated clearly for years, is the climate change will cause exacerbated weather patterns, where the drought areas will be drier, the forest fires will be more frequent and severe and snow-bound areas will be pummeled with stalled weather systems. This is not just around the world, but here in the states with California seeing much of the first two and states like Texas and plain states seeing more drought conditions.

The World Economic Forum annually publishes a Global Risk Report. In 2015, the report cited failing to act on climate change is the second greatest risk facing our planet over the next ten years. The greatest risk is made worse by climate change – our water resources are declining. So, ironically, as we have too much of sea water, our fresh water is being threatened. This is a key reason I have been against fracking as it requires so much water in the process (2 to 4 million gallons per one fracking attempt) that cannot be reused as the chemicals that are mixed with it are toxic to humans.

When I have been scoffed at for this comment, I note that for three summers in a row, frackers and farmers have been fighting over water in California, Kansas and Texas. Texas has some towns where the water has been severely depleted and California, where many crops are farmed, has recurring water rights legal fights as the water is being used up.

And, last fall, during a panel presentation on the Future Water Crisis, a Duke Energy spokesperson noted that they factor in evaporation into their water models and climate change is anticipated to increase evaporation by 11%. It should be noted that the normal power generation process with fossil fuels and nuclear power heats water into steam several times to turn the turbines to turn the generators. When the water is finally released back into the river, they have also lost about 1% to 2% of the water due to evaporation.

We have a presidential election in front of us and, on this issue, party matters. We have one party who is heavily funded by the fossil fuel industry who wants to get as much profit from fossil fuels as possible, so they require the naysaying of climate change. As a sidebar, Exxon-Mobil is being investigated by the New York Attorney General for alleged misrepresentation of the impact of climate change on its business to shareholders and investors, which is a securities crime.

The presumptive presidential nominee from this party has said several times that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese to steal our jobs. In fact, only one candidate from this party in the primary recognized climate change as a problem. This issue more than any other scares me, as we can no longer afford to wait and must build upon what President Obama has started and what the Paris Climate Change Accord compels us to do.

 

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/rising-seas-are-washing-away-two-us-towns-how-theyre-responding-is-a-matter-of-faith-belief-and-money/ar-BBugN8v?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartandhp

He that shall not be named – climate change

It does not take ardent Harry Potter fans to know this reference to Voldemort of whom people are too scared to use his name. I use this reference as the legislators who govern the State of Florida have followed the lead of others to say it is not legal for state officials to use the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in print or official statements. One state environmental official was suspended without pay for recently violating this new law.

My only rationale for this ostrich-like head-in-the sand ruling is they are too scared to mention the Voldemort like term. My guess is the Florida legislators believe if they don’t mention it, climate change is not occurring. Below is a link to an article on the recent change noted by the Florida Governor. *

On the side of realistic concerns, the President used an example yesterday of how ocean water is coming up through the street drains after each storm in the city of Miami, Florida as a result of climate change. The increasing danger to this sea-level city has caused Miami’s Dade County sufficient alarm to join together with three adjacent counties to invest $200 million to shore up the infrastructure to stave off the rising sea levels due to that Voldemort thing. These Florida counties have received national acclaim for planning ahead. Below is a link to a post written last year on this problem for Miami. **

Closer to my home, the General Assembly of North Carolina refused to accept a peer reviewed scientific report two years ago that noted sea levels could rise 39 inches by the end of the century. This report was consistent with those accepted in Virginia, Louisiana and Maine. Our leaders were appropriately lampooned for holding back the tide with legal briefs. It should be noted our state is particularly vulnerable with our large wetlands inside of the Outer Banks and scientists are greatly concerned about what will happen.

Courtesy of our blogging friend Barney, who sent me a series of quotes, Andy Rooney once said “When you choose to ignore the facts, it does not make them less real.” At age 56, I know firsthand when you ignore water problems, the water will cause more anguish. The same could be said for our climate change problem. We need leaders who will address our Voldemorts, not to pretend they are not there. We are at least eight years behind on addressing climate change thanks to our previous President. It should be noted under President Bush, the White House Council on the Environment struck all references to global warming and climate change as well. So, Florida is not breaking new ground with “he who should not be named.”

Climate change is a real problem and its existence nor man’s influence on its magnitude can no longer be ignored. It is a health issue as well as an economic one. We must accelerate our plans to move forward with alternative energy. We must address the coastal problems which are exacerbated by storms, the longer droughts, the stalling weather systems, the increasing forest fires, all of which are made worse by man-influenced climate change. We are at a point where our planet and nation can ill-afford a candidate winning the White House who does not see this as the huge problem it is.

Please pay attention to legitimate sources of news on this topic and not news biased to tell a story fed by clever and well-paid merchants of doubt. Please ask your candidates questions and know where they stand on climate change. While it gets dwarfed in the news, this is one of the greatest threats we have facing our planet, as it affects so many things. To admit it is not happening as done in the state legislature of Florida is foolish.

* http://mashable.com/2015/03/09/florida-bans-global-warming/

** https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/miami-2017-billy-joel-may-need-to-change-the-ending-with-the-encroaching-seas/

Reality is scarier than fiction this Friday the 13th

I have never been a big fan of gory horror movies, although I did enjoy Frankenstein and Dracula when I was little. And, The Exorcist and The Omen did cause some chills and entertainment. However, what is most scary to me are stories that could happen or did happen in real life. With that in mind this Friday 13th, the most scary things that could happen are very real and that is being led down poor paths by our leaders.

In no particular order:

– ISIS is scary, but what is most scary to me is our leaders possibly taking their bait and introducing US ground troops. That is precisely what ISIS wants. We have reached a tipping point and that is the Muslim world is saying no more to terrorists like ISIS who have hijacked their religion with extreme views. The fight against ISIS must be a Muslim-led effort with our support and help. ISIS knows this and wants to draw in America, so they can point to another enemy.

– Before leaving the Middle East, I shared with my Senator’s office that signing a letter to Iran with 46 other senators is asinine. These 47 senators endangered America by showing our division to the world. It is more than OK to debate and argue, but to circumvent negotiations over something this important and to disagree with something before you know what it is childish and dangerous. Columnist Michael Gerson, who is one of the best conservative bent writers, largely said the same thing in his column today. A shrewd leader will use this to our disadvantage. Putin has already written op-ed pieces in our papers to sway opinion. Remember this is the guy who controls his media, so he can play us against ourselves.

– But, let’s set this aside for a minute. What do the chest beaters want us to do if this agreement fails? What do the chest beaters want us to do in Ukraine? What do they want us to do in Syria? Our troops have said to people who will listen, we don’t mind fighting, but give us a clear-cut mission with an end strategy. What does winning look like? These folks that want us to get more heavily involved can not define what winning looks like, as to be brutally frank, it may not be clearly definable. There is a two-word term that comes to mind that military personnel use often to describe these situations and it begins with the word “cluster.” I will let you complete the thought.

– At the same time I was including in my previous post about the City of Miami and the three surrounding counties spending $200 million to combat the encroaching sea that is now coming up through the storm drains and flooding the streets, the state of Florida was striking the words climate change and global warming from formal documents. This is akin to the George W. Bush White House marking through scientific papers presented to them striking the same language. It is also akin to the state of NC General Assembly refusing to accept a peer-reviewed scientific paper that said the sea levels will rise 39 inches (one meter) by 2100, the same prediction accepted in Virginia, Maine, and Louisiana. I wish I could handle my problems this easily, by erasing them with my delete key or pencil eraser. Didn’t you know you could hold back rising sea levels with legal briefs?

– The scariest thing in America right now is our leadership and political machinations. No one cares to govern and only wants to grease the skids to get elected or remain in office. Everything is a win/ lose zero sum game, where one party has to disagree with the other party no matter what. For example, Obamacare borrows from Romneycare, a Republican idea which was advocated by Tea Party leadership for the country and is working for the most part, but Republicans have to hate it. Americans generally know what the problem is in large part, but with the election system gerrymandered and controlled by large donors coupled with a specifically uninformed public who does not know when they are being lied to by faux news shows, we do not have much hope for better governance.

Yet, we must try to make a difference. We have to hold our elected officials accountable. We have to ask questions of news experts and pundits regarding positions or statements they have made. We should also be wary of name-callers and labelers. When you hear someone resort to labels, be mindful that the person must not have a very good argument. We must also read, listen and watch more reputable news sources such as NPR, PBS Newshour, The Guardian, BBC World News America, Al Jazeera News to name a few. If we don’t, then everyday may be a Friday the 13th.

 

 

 

 

 

Miami 2017 – Billy Joel may need to change the ending with the encroaching seas

In one of Billy Joel’s more memorable songs written in the 1970s, “Miami 2017” sometimes referred to as “The Night the lights went out on Broadway,” he sings of how everyone moved away from New York to Miami when it got so bad there. Here are the concluding lyrics: You know those lights were bright on Broadway. But that was so many years ago… Before we all lived here in Florida. Before the mafia took over Mexico. There are not many who remember. They say a handful still survive… To tell the world about… The way the lights went out. And keep the memory alive…

However, Joel may need to change the song ending as Miami is being encroached upon by the sea and it is not anticipated to let up. Per a PBS Newshour news article led by Kwame Holman, sea water is now coming up through the sewage system into the streets, the only place the water can escape. And, unlike Hurricane Sandy that leveraged off the rising seas to wreak havoc, this is happening without a hurricane, which makes it even more scary. Here is a link to the article:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/south-florida-rising-sea-levels/

I am not implying Miami will be under water by 2017, but I am saying that the predictions of a meter rise in the seas (between 39 and 40 inches) by the end of the century, may be too optimistic. Miami’s Dade County has been joined by three other adjacent counties to plan for the rising sea. Per the article, Eric Carpenter of Miami Beach Public Works Department said, “We have done our storm water management master plan that was adopted in 2012, and that had identified approximately $200 million worth of improvements that we needed to do over the next 20 years in order to keep pace with sea level rise and addressing flooding concerns within the city of Miami Beach.”

Per Holman, “Miami Beach is not alone in addressing sea level rise. South Florida has become a model for regional cooperation on this issue. Projections by a four-county climate change compact were turned into an action plan with more than 100 recommendations. Those now are being reviewed. Some have been adopted by county governments. Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs has been at the forefront of South Florida climate change discussions and has earned national recognition for her work.”

The dilemma is the $200 million estimated fix will likely not be near enough, some thinking it may need to be doubled. Miami is right at sea level, so any rise of significance will be problematic. Yet, the fact four counties have joined together to discuss the problem and identify action steps is encouraging. The logical concern is how to pay for what needs to be done. So, mapping that funding strategy must be a key part of the equation.

Several states have accepted reports of the 39 inch plus sea level rise – Virginia, Louisiana are two that come to mind. Unfortunately, I sit in a state that refused to accept such a report and would only accept one that projected forward off the previous 100 years’ results. So, North Carolina is hoping the seas only rise by 8 inches by the end of the century. North Carolina is literally holding back the sea with legal briefs. I applaud South Florida for doing what we are not in NC. Climate change is real, we are seeing it already and we need to do something about it. I hope that other communities share Miami’s concern and plan accordingly.