Tag Archives: climate
“I’m not a politician. I’m not an elected official. I don’t expect anybody to give two shits about my opinions. But I will say this, you know, those are lies.”
Michael Fanone, Capital Hill police officer who was stun-gunned several times and beaten with a flagpole during the attack, about the January 6 riots and denials by some Republicans on the severity of the event
Fanone, who said he suffered a concussion and a heart attack during the violence, added, “Peddling that bullshit is an assault on every officer that fought to defend the Capitol. It’s disgraceful.”
“Right now it’s basically the Titanic. We’re … in the middle of this slow sink. We have a band playing on the deck telling everybody it’s fine. And, meanwhile, Donald Trump’s running around trying to find women’s clothing and get on the first lifeboat.”
“We are up currently against the ticking time bomb of an unrelenting climate crisis and an economic crisis wearing down working people. Each day the process of passing an infrastructure package is delayed by performative negotiations with the GOP – who are clearly disinterested in working with Democrats – another day goes by that we are not healing our planet or getting people good jobs to support their families.”
Ellen Sciales, press secretary for Sunrise Movement, on the apparent unwillingness of Republicans to work with President Biden on his infrastructure bill proposal
“It’s vital for all of us to show that this is not all about some expensive politically correct, green act of bunny-hugging, or however you want to put it… This is about growth and jobs, and I think the [US] president was absolutely right to stress that.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during a virtual world summit on climate change
The memo was clear. Everyone should make a concerted effort to get into the office, no matter what the weather is like. That included winter storms. It was the mid-1990s, and the manager of the department where I worked in a bank in downtown Dallas insisted that business was paramount. This was seemingly light years before the Internet and telecommuting became dependable and functional. And every time ice and snow paralyzed the Dallas / Fort Worth metropolitan area I managed to make it into work. One week day I awoke to sleet falling outside of my apartment bedroom window; it was about 4 in the morning. I knew the weather would only worsen, so I shut off my alarm clock and readied for work. Travel time from my far North Dallas abode into downtown took almost 2 hours by navigating ice-laden streets. When I arrived just before 8 a.m., I literally had to turn on the lights in the department.
When I went to work for an engineering company shortly after the turn of the century, I ended up back in downtown Dallas, laboring on a contract for a government agency. I learned quickly the federal outfit had a phobia of snow and ice. They’d literally shut down when snow began descending upon the city. As contractors, my colleagues and I had to vacate the premises as well. One afternoon a monstrous rainstorm attacked, and – in a faux frenzy – I asked loudly if we had to leave the building. Rain, I declared, was just liquid snow. No such luck. We had to continue laboring over our strained keyboards. Everyone laughed.
Last weekend Winter Storm Uri catapulted into North America from the Pacific, generating ice storms that blanketed the state of Texas this week and inducing an even more paralyzing effect: our power grid shut down. Literally millions of people have lived without power (and in some cases, without water) since this past weekend. As of this moment, most homes have their power back. But a lack of water is now the problem. Meanwhile, the number of deaths in Texas related to the event has risen. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport led the world in the number of flight cancellations this week.
This has been a cataclysm of unimaginable proportions. I have experienced a slew of serious weather events and witnessed plenty of incidents of government incompetence, but I have NEVER seen anything like this!
What has occurred here in Texas this week is a prime example of the ineptness of conservative ideology and intense deregulation. Texas is an energy island; producing its own energy and relying upon no one else. The exception is far West Texas, where El Paso and its immediate surrounding communities experienced the same weather event, yet had no power outages. That strong sense of independence and individual reliability looks great in political campaigns, but doesn’t always turn out well in real life. Since the mid-1990s, Texas has had the habit of electing the biggest morons to public office. And they’ve come to dominate state government. Texas conservatives have done more to protect gun rights than basic human rights.
Now many of those same conservatives who always espouse the concept of personal responsibility are pointing their gnarly fingers at everyone and everything except themselves and their own disjointed attitudes. Even though President Joe Biden approved emergency relief for Texas, some Republicans are accusing him of indifference. They somehow missed Ted Cruz running off to Cancun, México this week because his kids wanted to go. Governor Greg Abbott has blamed green energy and the Green New Deal for the crisis. Green energy, however, only makes up about 10% of energy sources in Texas, and the Green New Deal hasn’t even gone into effect yet. But they’re liberal programs, so of course, Republicans consider them demonic and will trash their mere presence whenever they get the chance. Abbott also blames the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for mishandling the event, but still hasn’t looked in the mirror.
This debacle points to the vulnerability of modern societies that have come to rely upon optic fibers and wires; a weakness that would both appall and humor our hardy ancestors. In March of 1888, a massive winter storm assaulted the Northeastern U.S., downing power lines and disabling even modest commutes in the region’s largest cities. People in rural areas, however, lived through the storm and its effects without much trouble. They were accustomed to such weather anyway and prepared for it.
Preparedness – the word of 2021.
Consider this irony. Earlier on Thursday, the 18th, NASA was able to land a vehicle on Mars. The endeavor cost millions of dollars and is an epic triumph in the name of science and technology. But we can’t get power and water to millions of human beings here in Texas – on planet Earth – for several days.
That’s not just sad; it’s unbelievably outrageous.
“Climate change shouldn’t be fodder for commentators who represent the interests of the fossil fuel industry by muddying the science. As a human and a scientist, this focus on controversy is frustrating. A thermometer is not liberal or conservative.”
– Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University
Photo by Randal Ford.
As the horror of the wildfires continues to unfold in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison felt the heat of anger from residents forced to evacuate, when he visited them at an encampment in the town of Cobargo, New South Wales on January 2. With the death toll for both humans and animals rising, it didn’t seem appropriate for Morrison to take a vacation as the fires grew. As people are wont to do even in the worst of situations – especially to political figures – Australian artist Scott Marsh has done what artists do best: made a stinging rebuke. His “Merry Crisis” tee shirts have already proven popular. Marsh isn’t just expressing bad sentiments towards Morrison. Proceeds from sales of the shirts will be donated to helping victims of the fires. Someone, of course, must always keep our elected officials in check.
The threat of climate change – and the forecasted rising sea levels – prompts a variety of responses from people: anger, frustration, denial and new ideas. The latter is often a matter of subjective interpretation. Many think of converting human waste to biofuel. Others, like Wojciech Morsztyn, design new structures to accommodate the changes.
Morsztyn, a creator with Yanko Design, recently unveiled plans for massive house boats called ‘Ocean Communities’ where people could escape, as sea levels increase. Some coastal and island communities are watching as seawaters encroach more and more upon them. In the U.S., residents of some coastal small towns are being relocated further inland. Dykes and levees just aren’t functioning properly in the face of such slow-moving catastrophes.
It’s inevitable, though, that some people will flee to the water itself and relocate their lives to an aquatic existence entombed in a boat. Ocean Community doesn’t offer a monetary figure for such an abode, but I’m certain those of us in, say, the lower 95% economic range won’t be able to afford one. That’s inevitable, too. Most of the aforementioned communities being relocated are of the indigenous persuasion, such as the Alaskan Inuit.
I imagine, however, that the boating life is for those who don’t amass much in the form of material possessions. I mean, if I was forced onto a luxury barge, would I have enough room for my collection of books, National Geographic magazines and porn DVDs? Could I even bring my truck? Yes, it’s getting old like me and this house. But I’ve kind of endeared myself to the big black bastard. Okay, that may be a man/Texas thing. Yet, how much could one bring aboard a house boat to make their life as easy as on land?
More importantly, is this the real solution to dealing with climate change? Aren’t house boats an admission of defeat? Regardless, this video may be appealing, but I have to wonder if it’s the right answer to the pending chaos.