Recent articles have described the use of gray water – incompletely treated sewage – in snow machines at Arizona ski resorts and elsewhere. The Hopi nation is suing to stop this practice at one resort, and it appears that at least one court believes their case should proceed.
This reminds me of a battle over the use of incompletely treated sewage to water the soccer fields of one southern city. These fields are used by youth soccer leagues. The city and the sewerage authority (separate entities) both claim it is safe. At least one environmental scientist has argued otherwise. But, like so many issues, it’s been buried by a series of statements from politicians, nebulous statements, proclamations such as “It’s safe. Trust me. Take your Soma.”
The Hopi battle against the use of gray water from sewage plants is likely to be a harbinger of things to come. One of the problems in this county is that while the county provides water to all residents, much of the county is rural, and people are “on septic.” The water that is removed from lakes and streams and pumped to them does not flow back through a sewage treatment plant then to the lakes and streams. At best, it evaporates and may join clouds that may drop rain on our watershed. In other words, we’re taking out much more than we are putting back. And that’s a problem that is going to get worse as the county grows. Developers are adding literally hundreds of new homes just north of me. The new residents will increase demand for water. Although they will be on sewer, they will be watering lawns and landscaping and filling swimming pools. That water, like septic, evaporates and doesn’t always get back in the lakes and streams.
I’ve been reading Jared Diamond’s book, “Collapse.” It talks about why civilizations such as Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, the Greenland Norse, the Maya, and others collapsed. So far, it seems the reasons are (1) people making decisions the consequence of which they couldn’t foresee and (2) leaders making decisions to benefit themselves at the expense of the populace.
There are often environmental factors associated with (1). For example, the Greenland Norse arrived during a climatic warm period, and thought the weather would always support their kind of farming and herding. Then, there was a cold spell, crops failed, smaller and more remote farms could not support the farmers, so they moved to towns or larger farms and stressed the limited food supply. Eventually, most of the colony starved to death. They could not foresee the cold spell, and only a few degrees of cooling killed them.
Easter Island is an example of (2). Chiefs required the people to erect all those statues, which took labor away from farming. Moving and erecting the statues required a lot of wood (logs to roll them on, if I remember correctly). Eventually all the trees were cut down. Without tree roots to hold the soil, and without people to work the farms, the soil became depleted and – once again, everyone starved to death.
Yes, there are reasons to believe that our civilization may be headed for collapse. Several of my friends and I are reading things like “The Dark Mountain Manifesto,” which predicts that civilization will “die from civilization” and calls for “new stories” to guide us away from collapse. Daniel Quinn, who years ago wrote “Ishmael” and “Beyond Civilization,” among other books, blames overpopulation and the “stories” that drive our civilization. He suggests that in order to survive we will have to adopt tribalism – something he says is already happening in ghettos and among so-called minority populations. Dimitry Orlov, a Russian who studied the collapse of the Soviet Union and has drawn parallels with the current situation in the US, suggests stocking up not with gold, but chrome steel pipes to make bicycles.
I find myself always angry, sometimes fearful, but seldom optimistic when I read the news. I read many news sources from many places including The New York Times, Aljazeera (Qatar), occasionally Al Arabia (Saudi Arabia), Associated Press, National Public Radio, The Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian (United Kingdom), Reuters (Canadian), occasionally Sputnik and RT (two Russian news sources) and others. I often skim articles in the Google news feed, and usually read several of them. I am trying to separate fact from speculation. I have learned that the first 30%-50% of most articles, even in the most stately of news sources, is factual reporting and the remainder of the articles is speculation and commentary disguised as news and designed to fill space. I also find it interesting to see the difference in how these sources treat the same story.
I believe that Russian Internet Trolls and others are using social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, as well as some I’ve heard of but never used, to draw people to web sites to read what is truly fake news. I believe there is enough information to accept the suggestion that Robert Mercer and a tiny group of rich mega-donors have virtual control of all major elections. We don’t need the Russians to hack our voting rolls or voting machines. We have been turned into a nation of sheep who gladly follow a rightist or leftist bellwether. (By the way, a bellwether is a castrated sheep.) I know social media companies analyze their users, learn their likes and dislikes, and use that to direct advertisements, links, etc. to draw their users to spend more time on the site (earning more advertising money for the company).
I don’t want the social media companies, the Russians, or Robert Mercer and his ilk telling me what I need to see. Therefore, I no longer use Facebook or Twitter, and have not signed up for any other social media sites.
I do use the Google search engine – often. Google probably has a hard time figuring out what I like and dislike, since my searches are all over the map. After all, I’m currently writing two science fiction books, and just finished a book that dealt with cremation, autopsies, and organ transplants on and around the Navajo reservation. Still, I know that some ads I see are targeted to me because of my past behavior. For example, I once spent a couple of hours researching wheelchairs for a friend. For about a month afterwards, most of the news sources had at least one ad for wheelchairs. So far, however, no one has tried to sell me a cremation oven.
EnergyBulletin.net :: Closing the 'Collapse Gap': the USSR was better prepared for collapse
Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media. The Guardian, 26 February 2017
Does the ontogeny of the Russian internet trolls recapitulate the phylogeny of the Bolshevik revolution?
It was recently reported by legitimate sources that when the most recent Florida shooting reached the media, Russian internet trolls set their bots to create messages on social media which pumped up the number of followers of various hashtags and addresses on both left and right (e.g., #taketheguns, #saveourguns) simply in order to get people to click on real fake news sites which these same Russian trolls created. It seems that these trolls are bent on stirring up confusion and conflict among the American electorate. And it appears that they are succeeding. Lenin said, "You cannot do anything without rousing the masses to action."
If the Russians want to rouse the massives * of this country, certainly the actions of these trolls seem well designed.
* "Massives," as in "Television is the opiate of the massives," who sit before it with a six-pack of beer and a plate of tortilla chips covered with something resembling melted linoleum, glazed eyes fixated on a modern gladiatorial game or a fake reality show or a foxprop * news channel.
* By the way, I coined the word "foxprop" for my book, "Holy Fire," and may have used it elsewhere. Here's the definition: Disparaging term for political propaganda. From the kitsune, a fox of Japanese legend—a shape shifter—and the legends of the Quechua, a fox of the Andes—a scoundrel.
Lenin also said, "People always have been the foolish victims of deception and self-deception in politics, and they always will be until they have learnt to seek out the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises."
And that, IMHO, encapsulates a lot of what is wrong in our society, a flaw that the trolls are exploiting. Too many of us have no idea of what's really going on in politics and religion. Our politicians, in particular spend a great deal of time and energy hiding their real purposes. We are distracted by Twitter messages, real fake news sites, extremists on the internet (remember, there are no gatekeepers on the internet), and the modern version of "bread and circuses” (see opiate of the massives, above).
There is a cooling; there is a heating.
What an elegantly simple way of describing – not climate. Perhaps the seasons. Temperatures generally rise in spring and summer and decline in fall and winter. But these seasonal changes are not climate. If one is to talk about climate, one should use the word correctly. By definition, “climate” is a description of long-term trends in weather. Trends that are at least ten years long, often more. Climate is not an instantaneous measure of temperature, but includes a long-term average.
By those rules, there has been a recent heating of Earth. Every year for the past 17, the average global temperature has been at least 0.4° C warmer than the average during the 20th century. That’s clearly “a heating.” By those rules, the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8°C since 1880. On the other hand, there hasn’t been a cooler-than-average year since 1976. It would be more correct to say, “Forty-one years ago, there was a cooling; since then, there has only been a heating.”
Eight-tenths of a degree C? That’s just a shade less than one-and-a-half degrees F. Difficult, but not impossible to detect with a tongue or a fingertip. On the other hand, that is an average of temperature readings taken from around the world. In some places, the local average increase has been higher than 0.8°C. In some places, the local average increase has been lower. (Ref 1)
Earth is warmed by the sun, by radioactive decay from deep within Earth, and by heat left over from the primordial Earth (the Hadean Eon, from about 4.5-to-4.0 billion years ago). What is important about the last two is that they are slowly but inexorably decreasing. (Ref 2) The only source of an increase in Earth’s average temperature is the sun.
The sun’s output is known to fluctuate. For example, there is an eleven-year cycle in the number of sunspots.
When there are more sunspots, the sun radiates more light than when there are fewer. In addition, when there are fewer sunspots, there is a lighter solar wind. More cosmic rays strike Earth’s atmosphere and may create aerosol particles that may create more clouds which reflect more sunlight. (Ref 5)
Recent research (Refs 3, 4) offers other measures of solar activity, and suggests an increase in some measures during the early 20th century. The effect on climate, if any, is not yet known; however, solar activity has leveled off in the past several decades, while average temperatures on Earth have continued to rise.
The amount of energy from the sun that is absorbed by Earth depends, first, on a number of cyclical factors, including the eccentricity of orbit (how close to the sun the earth is) and some wobbling of Earth’s axis, as well as the imbalance in land area in the northern and southern hemispheres. These factors were first captured by Milutin Milancović in the 1920s. Please see Ref 6 to begin a look at this.
We should be able to agree, at this point, that Earth’s internal heat is not causing a rise in average global temperatures, but that the sun’s affect on Earth’s average global temperature is the culprit (if culprit is the right word).
There is not, however, enough of a difference in solar energy explained by either the Milancović cycles or sunspot cycles to account for the recent (since 1880) increase in average global temperatures. A simple reason is that these things are, after all, cyclical and we would expect they would “level out” over the past nearly 140 years.
If you will accept what has been presented so far, perhaps you would also be willing to accept the notion that the rise in average global temperature can be laid at the feet of greenhouse gasses.
In preparation for writing the fourth book in the “Stuff of Life” tetralogy, I’ve been reading Jared Diamond’s “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.” So far, I’ve read about Easter Island, Montana (at least the Bitterroot Valley), the Maya, Pitcairn Island, and the Anasazi. What I’ve taken from this is that those collapses are largely due to bad decisions made by people in power, usually decisions made to benefit those in power at the expense of the public. Certainly there were other factors, including (let me whisper these, lest I offend) climate change and people’s inability to restrict breeding (think Malthusian catastrophe).
An order from Amazon was scanned as being at the PTC Post Office at 4 AM yesterday morning and then scanned as Out for Delivery about 11 AM. Now the order is marked as "Carrier Delay" and neither Amazon nor I can find anything else.
A package for which I paid much money for Two Day Air, and which was marked Out For Delivery by UPS on Wednesday, then marked delayed until Thursday, then marked delayed until Friday, then marked for delivery by 4:30 PM Friday was finally delivered at 5:50 PM on Friday.
Peachtree City offices and I suspect most of the schools were closed for several days. All this due to perhaps an inch of snow.
Oh, yes, and the entire government was "shut down" because either (1) some people got the guts to stand up to a bellwether that is leading us to disaster, or (2) some sort of pecker contest among idiots on both sides of the aisle, or (3) the entire Congress overdosed on Imodium and is so tight and full of feces they can't do anything, or (4) lack of interest. Perhaps, all of the above.
How are these things related? I hypothesize that they are all symptoms of the civilization we have crafted being too fragile to be sustained and well into its inevitable decline.
For a long time, I thought it was Thomas Jefferson who said that the new Republic would exist only until the people discovered they could vote themselves largess from the public purse. Apparently, there is some debate about who said that. (For example, see the reference, below.)
Still, I cannot help but watch as the current administration and its allies vote themselves and their supporters largess in the form of tax breaks for multi-millionaires while pretending to offer crumbs to the middle class while also killing off the poor and people of color by restricting or denying reasonable medical treatment. I cannot help but be aghast at the lack of honesty and ethical behavior by the administration and the coterie of vultures with which it has surrounded itself.
(Final message to supporters of the current administration, only: Are you offended, yet? Good. Maybe, just maybe, that will cause you to think for a change.)
I have a friend who is a “conspiracy theorist.” No, he’s not a nut; he just likes pulling my chain with outré theories. He has proposed everything from ancient astronauts to the existence of a creator god who is also a personal savior.
His latest, however, trumps (pun intended) everything. He’s decided that (1) Trump (the one in the White House) is an alien; (2) Harvey and Irma are some god’s punishment or test of the human race; and (3) these are signs of the “end times.”
Oh, and (4) all these things play together nicely, somehow.
I cannot comment on (1) (that Trump is an alien) except to say that he’s definitely not my idea of a president. Remember when “gravitas” was considered important? What ever became of that? No, Trump lacks gravitas. In fact, sometimes it seems that he’s taken gravitas into negative territory.
Harvey and Irma. There’s a lot of crap on the internet. You knew that. There are no gatekeepers on the internet, and we are responsible for understanding and assessing all that we read.
I won’t call it fake news, even though some of it is what that is. $3500 fares on a major airline? In your dreams. The person who posted that is one of the reasons the rest of us Primates are called stupid. Post an anecdote and get the state’s attorney general involved. Weatherpersons are wrong and shouldn’t be paid? Another of those cretins who thinks they know the cost of everything (but, as the adage goes, know the value of nothing). It’s been shown that if the TV weather persons simply said, “Tomorrow’s weather will be a lot like today’s,” they would be correct more than 50% of the time… unlike their usual attempts to spin the information from the National Weather Service—which is where they all get their raw data. Meteorologists? It’s like calling me a doctor because I know how to access the internet’s medical sites.
Yeah, I know some of them have degrees in meteorology, and some really know what they’re talking about. However, most of them appear to be slaves of the networks, which are fighting for ratings. The worse the meteorologists say things will be, the higher the ratings, and the higher the advertising revenues. Did you know that “meteors” were once defined as anything that appeared in the heavens, from clouds to comets? Just saying, you know.
I find it disappointing that the Christian fundamentalist preacher who ordered Irma, in the name of his god, to return to the Caribbean, failed in that attempt. I also wondered what he had against the peoples of the ravaged Caribbean islands who would face the brunt of his curse.
It was interesting to see that an ugly haint, known as a right-wing political pundit, claimed that Harvey was her god’s punishment of Houston for electing a lesbian mayor. That was almost as ludicrous as the mega-church preacher of the ‘my god wants me to have a mansion and G5 jet” persuasion who claimed that Harvey was his god’s test of the people of Houston. I guess we can assume that the 70+ people who have already died failed that test. To bad we don’t know exactly why they failed. Nor do they include the thousands who are devastated by the storm, the hundreds who will die from cancer after exposure to toxic chemicals that got into the water that soaked into their drywall, and on and on. You should be able to complete this picture.
A news story I saw last night showed Trump at Camp David meeting with his cabinet about Irma. Apparently he started the meeting with prayer. Ummm. That didn’t work for the Xtian Fundamentalist preacher who ordered Irma, in his god’s name, to “turn back.” I just don’t understand. If you believe your god can stop (or mitigate) a storm, you must (if you are a rational person) believe he (or she) also caused the storm. But, why would he?
Of course you know that an infamous (and ugly as sin, initials AC) political pundit and author said that Harvey was her god's punishment of Houston for having elected a lesbian mayor. Of course, this mayor wasn't in office when the storm struck. What? Her god couldn't gin up a storm earlier? He (or she) forgot?
Joel Osteen, he of the "Jesus wants me to have a mansion and a G5 jet" said Harvey was his god testing the people of Texas. I guess it's safe to say the 60+ people who have already died so far failed that test, as did the thousands who are displaced, and the hundreds who will contract cancer from the toxic chemicals that got into the water and then into the drywall of their waterlogged homes, and the thousand who will suffer stress as a result of the storm. Looks like Joel's god got this one right... with all the testing that has happened and will continue to happen for years... he (or she) got a lot of bang for his (or her) buck.
Of course, it goes without saying that god (some god) is testing the people of the Caribbean islands, Florida, parts of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, etc. with Irma. I'm not sure what this god is doing with Irma's little brother, Jose, who is likely to spin around and flake out some 700-800 miles due west of Miami. Perhaps god (he or she) decided Jose wasn't needed. Why, then, didn’t he (or she) simply cancel that storm? Inquiring minds want to know. (Maybe Trump can turn Jose into a divine border wall, but only if he prays enough.)
I think it is just as logical to say that Harvey and Irma are some god's punishment of this nation for having elected Trump.
When it rains, it pours. I learned today not only that Irma was projected to sweep over me next week as a tropical storm, but also that millions of “customers” of Equifax had their personal information, which might include names, addresses, social security numbers, and drivers license numbers compromised by a hack or flaw of Equifax data bases.
Naturally, I’m not happy.
First, I’m not a customer of Equifax, although their web site says my personal information may be included in the breach.
No, I’m not a customer. Creditors, insurance companies, lenders, credit card issuers, leaseprs, have colluded with Equifax and the other national credit monitoring services to collect, without my permission, information about me and my finances. That information is then offered for sale to anyone who wants to buy it. Usually, that’s limited to insurance companies, banks, and other lenders.
I’ve never needed a credit report or a credit rating. I’ve used the same bank for some 35 years… three home loans, checking account, two credit cards. When I recently asked for an auto loan, my bank had all the information it needed to make that decision—and give me a loan with a 0.01% APR. Yeah, I’m a good guy.
So why do I need Equifax? I don’t. They, and others including Experian and Trans-Union, need me and they need information about me. Information they don’t have any right to have
That’s right. They don’t have any right to that information, and we as consumers should demand that they do not collect or store that information. Not that it would do any good for us to do so.
I don’t believe that the Revelation of St. John the Devine is truth… it’s an apocryphal and a little frightening myth… but the idea of the “Mark of the Beast” offers a lesson. What might be that mark? A tattoo of “666” on our foreheads? A death camp number tattooed on our arm by Nazis, the models for today’s right-wing haters? IMHO, we are already bearing that mark, and it exists on the internet in the form of records of our every moment, records that will outlive us perhaps until the end of civilization.
How many of us have been compromised? Depends on whom to which you listen. More important, what is the source of that compromise?
One report says 143 million records. On the other hand, most of that information has already been made public (although for a fee) by people who offer such. There are many more examples of information about us, collected, and then turned into a profit-making opportunity by modern vultures.
It’s safe to say that we all have been compromised not only by the Experian experience, but also by hacks that have penetrated other credit reporting agencies as well as a hack that exposed something over 200 million records collected by a contractor of the Republican party. Yeah, remember that? Or has it slipped from contemporary memory (yours, to be sure) by time and more “important” things?
The wonderful thing about this is that Professor Pangloss is reveling in his pleasure. You do remember him, don’t you? If not, consider reading “Candide.” If you haven’t, and still have access to Amazon, consider buying a copy.
I understand that Equifax is offering “free credit monitoring.” What does that mean? Not a damn thing. What, then, can you do?
Freeze your credit. Contact Experian and others and demand they freeze your credit.
Very important: Change your passwords for all money accounts (bank credit cards, autopays, and similar). Use different passwords for each account.
Do not link credit cards to your phone. “Auto pay,” and “touch pay” and other fancy things are cool and they are convenient, but they are also traps. If you can’t pay by cash or use a credit card, don’t plan to pay.
Do not use debit cards. If a credit card is compromised, you have legal protection. If a debit card is compromised, you have no protection. That’s right: someone cannot only empty your bank account, they can also overdraw your account, and you have absolutely no legal protection. If you have a debit card, lock it up (better, shred it).
Keep your car’s gas tank at least half full all the time… it’s smart whether there is a storm or not.
Make a “bug-out bag” with clothes, bottled water, certified copies of important papers, and a list of meds and other things including DME (durable medical equipment), diapers and other things you will need.
Believe it! Listen to your government…
The GA Goobernor ‘s pronouncement will certainly benefit hotel and motels, restaurants, and others. There’s always that underlying concern. But for the most part, they’re going to be overly-concerned for your safety. Listen to them.
In the end, it’s better to react (which is happening) than to plan. It is better to react than to over-react.
Our Georgia Goobenor has invited us to pray to the imaginary friend he pretends (or truly) to believe in. What does he expect the result to be? His god is going to save us from a storm his god caused? Is there any better definition of irony?
For a longer exposition, please see “Holy Fire,” my novel that can be ordered from Amason.com from the home page of this web site.
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.
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.