Procrastinators Rejoice! It Isn’t Too Late

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Have you made a New Year’s resolution yet? Are you thinking about making one? If so, you’re among the 44 percent of Americans who, according to a December 2016 Marist poll, say they are likely to make a resolution for 2017.

The Marist survey asked: “What is it that you will resolve to do or not do in the New Year?” (Here’s a link to the poll in case you’re interested in analyzing the data: http://maristpoll.marist.edu/wp-content/misc/usapolls/us161201/Marist%20Poll_National%20Tables_New%20Years%20Resolutions_December%202016.pdf#page=3).

The results of the poll show that many of the most common resolutions involve reducing some kind of consumption. While the top vow is to “be a better person,” resolutions to lose weight (that is, to eat less), spend less money, stop smoking, and stop drinking are also popular. Absent from the survey are resolutions to achieve materialistic goals. Apparently, Americans aren’t resolving to become rich and famous in 2017—or, if they are, they aren’t admitting it.

In addition to resolving to be a better person, people are vowing to improve themselves by exercising more, eating healthier, getting closer to God, going back to school, setting goals, and getting a better job. They say they want to use their time better, increase family time, enjoy life, be kinder to others, and get politically involved. Worth noting is the fact that, with the exception of the 1% who are resolving to get a new house and the less than 1% who want to travel, Americans are resolving to do things in 2017 that are either environmentally benign or environmentally beneficial.

So now that it’s January, and the super-duper, holy-cow(!), consume-like-there’s-no-tomorrow season is behind us, a lot of us are thinking about reducing our consumption of food and other stuff and spending our time involved in more meaningful pursuits. If we follow through with our resolutions, we’ll not only make our own lives better, stronger, and happier, we’ll also be reducing the strain our consumption puts on the natural world.

A DAY TO CELEBRATE

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Guess what, folks! Today is AMERICA RECYCLES DAY! Woo-hoo! Did you get the day off? Me neither. Rip-off, right?

Let’s hope we get the day off next year. In the meantime, let’s show our America-Recycles-Day spirit by clicking on the following links.

For information about:

So come on, America! CELEBRATE THE DAY! There won’t be another America Recycles Day for an entire year!

The Upside of the Election of @$&#%

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Rather than allow myself to sink into a deep depression following the election of a certain sociopath* (whose name I’d rather not mention for fear of nauseating all the kind people who read this blogpost**), I’ve been looking for any silver linings that might have attached themselves to this catastrophic event.  So far, I’ve found three:

  1. People will have the opportunity to see what happens when Republicans are in control of all three branches of government. If the past is any guide, Republican policies will drive us into a ditch. This time, however, the Republicans will have a hard time blaming Democrats for their failures; they will be held accountable for just about everything.
  2. During Obama’s presidency, rank-and-file Democrats have generally been passive, trusting that Obama will do the right thing most of the time, and feeling that activism has been unnecessary. With @$&#% as president, more progressives will realize the importance of getting involved in politics and fighting back.
  3. Given that @$&#% denies the existence of global warming and has promised to undo Obama’s environmental regulations, the chance that the U.S. government will address global warming—as long as @$&#% is president and Congress is under Republican control—is near zero, and that, of course, is bad news. But here’s the silver lining: When the government refuses to act and the ecological consequences become increasingly apparent, a growing number of individuals will, of necessity, take responsibility for their own ecological footprints. And that’s good news because bringing the planet back from the ecological cliff will take all of us doing our part whichever party is in power. Besides, the more actively we’re involved, the more likely it will be that politicians will have the courage to do the right thing.

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*  Is @$&#% really a sociopath, or am I exaggerating for comic effect? I don’t have the credentials to say for certain, and I don’t know if http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html has the credentials either, but here’s some of what I found at that website:

Profile of the Sociopath

  • Glibness and Superficial Charm
  • Manipulative and Conning

They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.

  • Grandiose Sense of Self

Feels entitled to certain things as “their right.”

  • Pathological Lying

Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.

  • Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt

A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.

  • Shallow Emotions

When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.

  • Incapacity for Love
  • Need for Stimulation

Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common.

  • Callousness/Lack of Empathy

Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others’ feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.

  • Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature

Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.

  • Irresponsibility/Unreliability

Not concerned about wrecking others’ lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.

  • Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity

Promiscuity, child sexual abuse, rape and sexual acting out of all sorts.

Do you think that profile fits @$&#% to a tee?  I do.

** Henceforth, I shall refer to the unnamed one as @$&#%.

What Underlies the Pipeline Standoff in Dakota Indian Country?

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Have you been following the story regarding the Native Americans’ attempts to block construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota?  Briefly, the Standing Rock tribe and its allies are trying to (1) prevent destruction of sacred lands and (2) protect the purity of their water supply. On the other side, Energy Transfer Partners argues: (1) it has fulfilled all of its legal requirements for building the pipeline; (2) as long as we depend on oil to power our cars, etc., we’re going to need to move that oil around; and (3) a pipeline is the safest way to transport oil.  At bottom, then, the problem is our overconsumption of fossil fuels.  If we use less, we won’t need to move as much of it around.

For decades, we’ve  tackled environmental problems primarily on the supply side of the equation.  In recent years, however, politically powerful oil suppliers have pushed back, demanding fewer regulations and restrictions.  We might be able to reduce the power of the oil-and-gas industry eventually, but, in the meantime, we can’t just stand by and wait for a sympathetic Congress to enact strong new environmental laws.  We must reduce our demand.

Here are links to several articles concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Tribes Across North America Converge at Standing Rock, Hoping to Be Heard

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/tribes-across-north-america-converge-standing-rock-hoping-heard-2/

What Will Dakota Access Protesters Do If Final Pipeline Restrictions Are Lifted?

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/will-dakota-access-protesters-final-pipeline-restrictions-lifted/

Obama Holds Private Meeting As Cops Mass Near NoDAPL Front Lines

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/10/26/police-presence-grows-civil-rights-leaders-join-water-protectors-166226

Mark Ruffalo Delivers Solar Panels to Camp Where Thousands Are Fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline

http://www.ecowatch.com/ruffalo-solar-dakota-access-pipeline-2066031293.html?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=20ef4ce389-MailChimp+Email+Blast&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-20ef4ce389-85933793

Police Start to Clear Pipeline Protesters Off Private Land in North Dakota

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/police-start-clear-pipeline-protesters-off-private-land-north-dakota/

Another Series of Presidential Debates with No Climate-Change Qs

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Did you notice? None of the debate moderators asked a single question about climate change. Isn’t that odd? As President Obama recently said: “No challenge  poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” So why didn’t this existential threat merit even one question? Are all of the moderators climate-change deniers?
Probably not. My guess is that each of them asked questions on topics the American people find most pressing, and poll after poll shows that only about 1% of Americans name “the environment” (much less “climate change”) as one of the most important issues facing the U.S. today. The Big Q, then, is: Why do so few Americans express concern to pollsters about the environment? One of the reasons, no doubt, is that the news media under-report environmental problems relative to their importance. People discount environmental issues, because the media rarely bring the issues to their attention. Completing the vicious circle, the news media under-report environmental problems because the public seems not to care about those problems.
Here’s a link to a relevant article, which contains links to a number of other relevant articles.

What Would You Do?

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Fire is a natural part of the boreal forest—an ecosystem dominated by black and white spruce. This species is designed to burn and has cones that release their seeds when under intense heat. (Photo: S. Rupp)Photo by Scott Rupp — http://news.uaf.edu/four-million-acres-burned-questions-alaskas-future/

 

Today, a headline in The New York Times caught my attention. It read:

Global Warming Cited as Wildfires Increase in Fragile Boreal Forest

Here’s a link to the article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/11/science/global-warming-cited-as-wildfires-increase-in-fragile-boreal-forest.html?partner=IFTTT&_r=0

And here’s the first paragraph:

Scientists have been warning for decades that climate change is a threat to the immense tracts of forest that ring the Northern Hemisphere, with rising temperatures, drying trees and earlier melting of snow contributing to a growing number of wildfires.

The first paragraph of the article notes that scientists, for decades, have been warning that global warming would lead to fires like the one that recently devastated Ft. McMurray, Canada.

I know from personal experience that scientists have been predicting for decades a future of increasingly common wildfires in boreal forests. Fifteen to twenty years ago, some of my professors were among the scientists who made those predictions, along with a number of other predictions about the effects of global warming. Much of what they foresaw back then is coming true now.

So if I seem like an alarmist regarding the state of the environment, I hope you will put yourself in the place of someone who began studying scientists’ theories and empirical research decades ago and is now seeing researchers’ predictions come true. And while you’re at it, consider that I’ve also learned over the years that we’re in line for ever-worsening ecological and social disasters.

And now, I’d appreciate your advice. If you were me, how would you handle knowing that our best hope of avoiding ongoing ecological catastrophes is to reduce the stress that we’re putting on the planet? What would you do to motivate people to act?

#@&%#$*$!!!

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CNN aired 23.5 minutes of American Petroleum Institute ads over two weeks, compared to just five minutes of coverage about climate change or the temperature

ECOWATCH.COM

Check out the story that goes with the above headline here: http://ecowatch.com/2016/04/26/cnn-fossil-fuel-ads/

 

The fact that time devoted to oil-industry ads dwarfs time spent on climate change is not a coincidence. Advertisers avoid sponsoring environmental stories on news programs, based in part on the supposition that an informed public would demand big changes, and those changes would be bad for business. So the media report environmental stories in inverse proportion to their importance, and the public assumes that environmental degradation isn’t worth worrying about because the media rarely cover it. And the media rarely cover environmental stories because polls show that the public doesn’t realize the importance of such stories, and because advertisers don’t want to foot the bill for environmental stories that could have a negative impact on their bottom lines. 

So, in my little way, I try to inform people about what’s happening. The big media organizations have the budgets and the talent to do a much better job than I will ever do, but they seem to be more interested in fulfilling their responsibility to their stockholders than fulfilling their responsibility to the public.  I, on the other hand, have only to answer to my conscience.

And my conscience tells me that I have a responsibility to talk about what I know.  I’ve been studying environmental issues for over 30 years, and I know that things are bad and they’re getting worse at an accelerating rate. We’re rushing headlong into a chaotic world of our own making — a world of cascading social, economic, medical, and ecological catastrophies. Our children and grandchildren will blame us. They will say, “You knew or should have known that your wasteful activities would create environmental havoc down the road. Why didn’t you do something while there was still time?”

The Poll Climate Deniers Point To and Why It’s a Crock

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There are still a surprisingly large number of people who think that scientists haven’t reached a consensus on climate change. In making their case, some of those contrarians point to an online petition, signed by over 31,000 “scientists,” which states:

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.[1]

So wow, huh? A petition with the signatures of more than 31,000 scientists seems quite impressive. I mean, if 31,000 scientists say climate change is a bunch of hooey, who am I to argue? But as Glenn Kessler wrote in his “Fact Checker” column for The Washington Post, “Only 9,000 of the [31,000+] signers actually have PhDs, and the list of signers’ qualifications shows only a relatively small percentage with expertise on climate research. One study estimated that under the petition’s rather expansive definition of a ‘scientist,’ more than 10 million Americans would be qualified to sign it.”[2] That same study found that only 39 individual climatologists—that is, people who actually study climate for a living—signed the petition. The remainder of the 31,000 signers came from the following fields:[3]

  • Computers and Math
  • Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Environment
  • Physics and Aerospace
  • Medicine
  • Biochemistry, Biology, and Agriculture
  • General Science

Meanwhile, a peer-reviewed study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found that “97-98% of the [nearly 1,400] climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC [anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change] outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”[4]  Similarly, scientists who analyzed nearly 12,000 climate studies that appeared in peer-reviewed scientific journals, between 1991 and 2011, concluded: “Among papers expressing a position on AGW [anthropogenic global warming], an overwhelming percentage (97.2% based on self-ratings, 97.1% based on abstract ratings) endorses the scientific consensus on AGW.”[5]

So, on the one hand, you have between 97 and 98 percent of 12,000 published climate scientists agreeing that humans are causing climate change, and, on the other, you have 39 climatologists (not 39 percent of 31,000, mind you, just 39 individuals) signing an online petition that says there’s no “convincing scientific evidence” that humans are causing climate change. Now, which of those two positions do you think is more likely to be correct?

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I mention the petition and the peer-reviewed studies because I’m convinced that it’s crucial we recognize that climate change is real and that we’re causing it. If we face the truth, we’re more likely to do whatever is necessary to change our course and avert disaster.

Need more evidence that climate change is an existential threat? Check out this article from today’s Washington Post:

“How Earth Itself Has Dramatically Upped the Stakes for the Paris Climate Accord,” by Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/04/20/as-nations-gather-to-sign-climate-accord-planet-reaches-new-warming-heights/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Need more arguments to use on climate deniers? Check out: “Yes, You Should Listen to Bill Nye Instead of Sarah Palin on Climate Change.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/04/18/yes-you-should-listen-to-bill-nye-instead-of-sarah-palin-on-climate-change/?postshare=7331461186250316&tid=ss_tw-bottom

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NOTES:

[1] Global Warming Petition Project. “31,487 American scientists have signed this petition, including 9,029 with PhDs.” http://www.petitionproject.org/index.php

[2] Kessler, Glenn. “Rick Perry’s Made-Up ‘Facts’ About Climate Change.” Washington Post, August 18, 2011. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/rick-perrys-made-up-facts-about-climate-change/2011/08/17/gIQApVF5LJ_blog.html

[3] Angliss. “Guest Post: Scrutinizing the 31,000 Scientissts in the OISM Petition Project. March 11, 2010. http://www.skepticalscience.com/scrutinising-31000-scientists-in-the-OISM-P

[4] Anderegg, William R. L., James W. Prall, Jacob Harold, and Stephen H. Schneider. “Expert Credibility in Climate Change.” PNAS. June 21, 2010. http://www.pnas.org/content/107/27/12107.abstract

[5] Cook, John, Dana Nuccitelli, Sarah A. Green, et al. 2013. “Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature.” Environmental Research Letters. Vol. 8, p. 6.

 

A BIT OF GOOD NEWS ON A LOVELY SPRING DAY

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Spring began a good month early in Kansas City. Crocuses were blooming by mid-February; daffodils were up before the end of the month.

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By now, magnolias, forsythias,  and crabapples, are done. Redbuds and azaleas are on their way out . . .

. . . but wild violets and lilacs are at their peak.

And, of course, their are plenty of dandelions.

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Clearly, we’re not lacking for blossoms. But something is missing? What is it? Bees.

Almost every afternoon, I walk for an hour or so, and during flower season, I listen for buzzing and look for bees hovering around blooms.  Although a variety of plants have been blossoming for a couple of months now, I’ve yet to see a single bee.

But guess what. I’m happy to report a bit of good news (for a change). Garden-care giant Ortho announced today (April 12, 2016) that by 2021 it will discontinue the production of pesticides containing neonicotinoids, a class of chemicals that are particularly harmful to bees.

You can read all about it here:

http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2016-04-12/apnewsbreak-ortho-to-drop-chemicals-linked-to-bee-declines

WINTER IN KC CANCELLED DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE

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The above picture is of a forsythia bush that I saw blooming on December 15th and again today, March 7th.

Although I lived away from Kansas City for most of my adult life, I remember the winter weather of my childhood, and let me tell you: What we have in K.C. now isn’t it. When I was a kid, winters were cold and drab. The ground in early March was generally covered with patches of ice and dirty snow, all shades of gray. This year, we’ve gone from roses and forsythias blooming in mid-December to magnolias and forsythias blooming in early March. As for snow, we had a couple of dustings, but they melted swiftly away.

On a walk this afternoon, I saw crocuses, daffodils, vinca, spirea, magnolias and forsythias in full bloom; crab apples and redbuds a day or two away from blooming, and yellow-green baby leaves on many of the trees and shrubs.

Unfortunately for the rest of the world, weird weather events aren’t confined to Kansas City; they’re occurring all over the planet. Did you see, for example, the story about the organizers of the Iditarod having train-loads of snow sent to Anchorage for the start of the annual dog-sled race? If you haven’t seen it and would like to, here’s a link: