Camille, Andrew, Katrina, and Harvey are names that evoke horrible memories. Names that evoke images of presidents and politicians pontificating, “We will rebuild.”
What no politician said was that most of the rebuilding would be done to pre-hurricane standards. Sure, people in certain high-risk areas such as the Florida and Gulf Coasts and in New Orleans have been required by regulations and insurance companies to build to new standards. However, cities and states received scant help from the American taxpayers to rebuild to tougher standards. Few local politicians were willing to raise taxes or utility fees to rebuild to tougher standards. Images of houses on stilts, once common only along east coast beaches, now grace many residential areas in New Orleans. Most of them don’t look nearly as elegant as this one.
For the most part, however, roads, sewers, chemical plants, electrical infrastructure, have been rebuilt with no heed taken to future weather-related disasters. And, it looks like Houston will fare no better.
Trump is right about one thing: the American infrastructure of roads, bridges, canals, electrical production and transmission, oil and gas pipelines, water and sewer systems, and other elements needs a shot in the arm. The Federal Government is best equipped to deal with this, especially where infrastructure elements cross jurisdictional boundaries.
However, just in time for Harvey, Trump cancelled an Obama-era order dealing with federal emergency aid. By doing so, he virtually guaranteed no federal aid to build infrastructure elements such as bridges and roads to higher standards. As a result, they will fare no better when the next storm hits.
Remember, that Trump believes Climate Change is a hoax created by the Chinese to destroy American business. Remember that Trump’s staff immediately after his inauguration purged the whitehouse.gov website of climate science information.
Remember that the Trump version of reality at www.whitehouse.gov, especially the “America First Energy Plan,” is in part, “…Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and Waters of the U.S. Rule… committed to shale oil [“fracking”]… clean coal technology… reviving [the] coal industry…”
There is no such thing as “clean coal.” It is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, and rebranding it “clean coal technology” doesn’t make it any cleaner. Action on climate change and to protect the waters of the United States is neither harmful nor unnecessary. Saying so doesn’t make it so. Perverting the Bully Pulpit to say it so doesn’t make it so.
Trump has also called climate change a “con job,” a “hoax” and “bull ---t.” His appointments of former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator show clearly that those words are what he believes. His attempts to walk back his opposition to the Paris climate pact, the role of the Chinese, and the anthropogenic component of climate change are only attempts to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people. His beliefs have not changed.
It appears to me that Trump’s desire to make America great (again) is being buried under bad decisions on many fronts, including his orders and positions denying the reality of Climate Change.
Months before Trump was elected, I wrote about this notion, and predicted the “H” hurricane (in my case, Hillary) and the devastation because utilities had been rebuilt only to pre-hurricane standards. Check it out on the home page. The book is available from Amazon.com. The “Hillary” report is on Page 366 of the printed edition. If you’re reading the Kindle edition, search for “Hurricane Hillary Hits Hard.”
The Obama Administration’s June 2013 “Climate Action Plan” no longer appears on whitehouse.gov, but a .pdf copy is available at https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/image/president27sclimateactionplan.pdf
www.whitehouse.gov A search of the site using the word, “climate” got two hits from history (c. 1933 and c. 1961 in the biographies of two First Ladies). The only current hit was from the “America First Energy Plan,” in the sentence: “…Trump is committed to eliminating…the Climate Action Plan…”
Trump on “clean coal,” climate change denial: See Blog Posts of 2016-12-13
Trump on climate change and cabinet nominations: See Blog Posts of 2016-11-18, 2016-12-19
Trump on Paris Agreement on climate:
Republican Party platform on fossil fuels and climate change: Blog Post 2016-11-18
The science and reality of climate change:
Blog posts of 2016-12-07, 2016-10-21
Rebuilding to pre-flood standards: https://apnews.com/e3dd6ec99f9546eaa9f736d6fc2ad0a1
Our understanding of climate and weather is insufficient to blame any individual storm on Climate Change. But (there’s always a but), we can say with very high confidence that the Harvey’s massive amounts of rain are very likely the result of Climate Change.
How can we do this?
During the winter of 2016-2017, the temperature of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico was higher than ever before. Warmer water evaporates faster than cold water. The air that Harvey blew over Texas was packed with water, which is still falling in record amounts.
The temperature of Gulf waters is one thing that validates the science of Climate Change.
Scientists and laypersons can be confident that climate change has threatened the human race through more extreme weather events, including storms like Katrina and Harvey.
We can be confident that climate change includes the droughts and heat that have sparked years of increased wildfires in the western US. We can be confident that heat waves in Europe and Russia that killed thousands are a face of Climate Change.
We can be sure that new diseases with vectors (e.g., mosquitoes) that have spread far beyond their origins are a face of climate change. We can be sure that the spread of Lyme disease and Zika are faces of climate change.
We can be sure that poorer air quality in many locations (e.g., downwind of wildfires, in over-heated cities) is an aspect of climate change.
Harvey is not the ultimate storm. It’s been called a “600-year” storm, meaning it’s as bad as anything that might occur in a 600-year period. That’s a bold statement with no evidence yet produced to back it up. It may have originated in hysteria.
Nevertheless, Harvey is another example of what science has known and measured for a century. Since the 1960s, the number of heavy rain days has increased dramatically and the amount of rain falling on these heavy rain days has also increased… we’re getting more water more often, especially in the Midwest.
To echo Mr. David Leonhardt’s Op-Ed column in the “New York Times,” 29 August 2017 (first reference, below), it’s time to stop whining about Climate Change. It’s time to understand that there is no equivalency between the work of thousands of scientists who agree on the major points of climate change and the few shills of energy companies who deny climate change. (To those shills, I would add Trump, who has said that climate change is a hoax and the hoax was created by the Chinese.)
Now for my advertisement: my dystopian novel, “Holy Fire,” available from Amazon describes a number of effects of climate change. All are plausible. Some are pretty frightening. I hope you’ll read the book. You’ll find links on the home page. Thank you.
For my fellow geeks: heavy rain days are defined as two-day rains that exceed the five-year average. See the next link.
“Can people be taken from the jungles of Africa and forced into slavery [later] be fully integrated as citizens in a majority white population?”
This question is posed in an article entitled “The Black Dilemma” which has been attributed—wrongly—to The Baltimore Sun newspaper.
The question is posed as a “hypothesis to be tested.” That is a legitimate process. However, I claim that it is the wrong question. Let’s explore that.
You know the “one drop rule,” which says that anyone with any ancestor from Sub-Saharan Africa is considered black. This was never a federal law; however, it was law in Tennessee (passed in 1910) and in other states. Not to be outdone, Virginia finally got in the act in 1924 when the Racial Integrity Act was passed.
You may also know the rule of hypo-descent: children with a mixture of blood from different social or economic groups are assigned to the group with the lower status.
Here’s the kicker. Everyone alive today, and everyone who has ever lived, is descended from hominids who evolved in sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, everyone alive today is, by those rules, black. (Actually, if we were to follow the thoughts of Langston Hughes, we’re brown. You see, in Africa, “black” means “pure black.” Those of us who are melanin-deficient are, at best, brown.)
There are, to be sure, two competing hypotheses about the origins of modern humans. However, both are based on the findings of geneticists and paleontologists, and both posit that all humans originated in Africa. One hypothesis is that there were two migrations from Africa, one 130,000 years ago or so, and one between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. The second hypothesis is that there was only one migration. While there is debate, and while study continues, there is no argument but that all modern humans are descendants of people from Africa.
Some of the most recent research, from Cambridge University, is firm in its conclusion that our species, Homo sapiens, originated in Africa about 150,000 years ago, and migrated to Europe, Asia, and Australia between 60,000 and 45,000 years ago. The research also supports an earlier migration of the ancestors of our cousins, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens ssp. Denisovia, with which later humans interbred.
But why different skin colors? That’s easy, and it’s not rocket science. It’s not even ninth-grade general science.
We all need Vitamin D. Lack of Vitamin D puts us at risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures. Low levels of Vitamin D have also been associated with prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and neuromuscular problems. If children do not receive enough Vitamin D from mother’s milk, they can develop rickets.
Vitamin D is not really a vitamin; it got that name because it was discovered back when vitamins were being discovered. It’s a chemical produce by a chain of chemical reactions that begin in the skin when sunlight (ultraviolet B) strikes one kind of cholesterol (7-dehydrocholesterol). Two more chemical reactions take place in the body before Vitamin D is created.
But, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL). Sunlight also can create skin cancer. When our ancestors lived in Africa, those who had lots of melanin in their skin (making their skin dark) got cancer less often, lived longer, and were more likely to have children who inherited their dark skin. There was enough sunlight near the equator to make Vitamin D, and enough melanin to protect from skin cancer. Over time, their descendants’ skins got darker and darker.
When our ancestors migrated to higher latitudes where the sun isn’t as bright as in equatorial Africa, dark skin was no longer a survival factor. Instead, those with lighter skin who could absorb more sunlight and make more Vitamin D lived longer and were more likely to have children who inherited their light skin. Over time, their descendants’ skin got lighter and lighter.
We all are descended from people who lived in Africa and who had black skin. The only significant genetic difference is that some of us are melanin-deficient.
The question should not be “Can we coexist?” but “Why do we not seem to be able, in this country at least, to coexist?”
The only answers I see are ingrained bigotry, ignorance, and fear.
So, to Trump and his coterie of melanin-deficient Nazis: By the rules of your white-supremacist ancestors, you are black. Live with it.
(Both Snopes.com and the Baltimore Sun aver that the article was never published in the Sun.)
Langston Hughes, The Big Sea, an Autobiography (New York: Knopf, 1940)
Zero-T, or Zero-Tolerance is no more than an attempt to create an easy, one-size-fits-all solution that allows school administrators (from teachers to boards of education) to manage without requiring them to think.
As Ms. Sherri Jefferson so eloquently put it in her article in “The Fayette News” (Fayette County, Georgia) on July 24, 2017, "...zero tolerance means having no tolerance for children or their misjudgments..."
Zero-T as practiced today ignores the contradiction in the phrase, "juvenile delinquent." The opposite of "delinquency" is "responsibility." Responsibility is an adult trait and one that we should be teaching children rather than punishing them when they fail to meet adult standards. Especially when the punishment is indiscriminate and applied without due process or in manner that makes due process impossibly difficult to obtain. That is delinquency. That is adults being irresponsible.
The number of egregious abuses of a school's Zero-T policy that reach the public's attention likely masks hundreds, if not thousands, of abuses that don't reach the media. Think of the student of Middle-Eastern ethnicity who built an electronic clock, and whose family eventually left this country rather than face the slurs and attacks of the school system and community.
Ms. Jefferson also wrote something that should be self-evident: "...students do not belong to the state." As she clearly showed, children do not give up their constitutional rights when they enter school grounds.
To paraphrase John Donne, "No one is an island. We are all part of humanity." We all, therefore, bear responsibility for the mindless implementation of Zero-T policies in our school systems.
I call upon the school boards everywhere to obliviate all vestiges of Zero-T in the nation's school system, and I call upon citizens, whether parents of students or not, to demand this of their elected representatives.
(Click button, below, for Jefferson article.)
A friend recently mused, “Which will come first, Civil War II or World War III.”
I expect both.
The divisiveness in this country now being nurtured by the president, the demagogues surrounding the president, the congress, and the press will increase. This will continue to be fed by social media.
Skirmishes between extreme right activists and those opposing them will expand.
Ultimately, the government in this country following the example of Russia, China, and countries in the Middle East and Africa, will seize control of the internet and suppress protests and access to information.
More people will understand the gulf between rich and poor, the inequalities of wealth and income not only in developed countries but also between developed countries and other countries. This will lead to increased unrest, protests, and riots.
Extreme right movements, aided by individuals and nations who meddle in elections, will take greater roles in European governments.
Law and order—the rule of law—in this country and throughout the world will gradually be replaced by demonstrations, counter-demonstrations, and riots.
Hitler’s rallies at Nuremberg will be eclipsed by those of the American president.
There will be greater global competition for resources, primarily food and energy.
There will be more migration not only between countries but also within countries as people flee crime, riots, and violence in urban areas.
This will further strain resources of developed countries, leading to more conflict and migration.
There will be more severe climate events that will lead to more migration and further strain on resources. Climate change will facilitate the release of new diseases. Old diseases will find new vectors, and disease will be spread worldwide.
There will be millions of deaths from starvation and millions from murder as people and nations try to defend their property and resources.
There will be more radical religious groups fighting guerilla-style wars.
There will be more armed reactions to these wars by developed countries using high-technology weapons,
Developed nations will expand their current “wars-by-surrogate” (e.g., Syria) leading to more incidents and low-level clashes between forces of the developed countries.
Eventually, we (humanity) will be engaged in World War III. It will not consist of alliances of developed nations facing one another across trenches or in cyberspace. It will consist of civil wars in multiple nations, religious wars especially in and among countries with largely religious populations, skirmishes between citizen militias and regular military, multiple proxy wars between and among developed countries, and worldwide breakdown of civilization. It will truly be a world war.
If you've not read, “Holy Fire,” which describes a different dystopia, please check the home page and order a copy. I don’t pretend it’s a modern “On the Beach,” but it has its moments. And, it’s cheap on Kindle.
Solar eclipse glasses are widely available at big-box stores. Civilization eclipse rose-colored glasses are also widely available and apparently widely used.
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.