Nel's New Day

June 25, 2021

Heat Builds Up in Weather, Voting

Over a month ago, conservative columnist Mark Thiessen wrote one of his evidence-free pieces for the Washington Post, this one about how the U.S. has no problem with drought. He cherry-picked a few facts, including this one from “NOAA figures”—“the past fifty years have been slightly wetter than average” in the United States. 

The new administration recognizes the serious problems of climate change, but those clinging to the unscientific beliefs of the old one are deeply entrenched in denial. They won’t associate the abnormal June heat waves with climate change, but fence sitters may develop an understanding for the seriousness of the problem.

For the second year in a row, Russia saw record-breaking heat north of the Arctic Circle as the country heats up twice as fast as the rest of the world. The land surface temperature in Siberia rose as high as 118 degrees on June 20. The result is record-low sea ice along Siberia’s coastline. Some of the areas are warmer by 16 degrees and severe wildfires burned through Siberia in the past two years.

Last September, a huge Greenland glacier, twice the size of Manhattan and the second largest in the world behind Antarctica, disintegrated. Melting ice in the next eight decades will cause sea levels to rise by over three feet, erasing beaches and coastal properties.

Last summer and fall marked the least area covered by sea ice ever recorded in the Arctic Ocean, unprecedented in at least 1,000 years. The drop has disastrous effects for the planet beyond the sea rise causing storm surges, flooding, and infrastructure costs throughout the world. With higher pH than freshwater, seawater from collapsing ice sheets causes ocean acidification impacting fisheries. In one example, over 80 percent of northeast Arctic cod may be eliminated, dropping the economy from a catch from $285 million to $36 million in eight decades.  

Snow and ice are part of the circular cooling of the earth: less ice, more energy absorbed by land and water which is then translated into heat, blocking an increase of ice. Melting permafrost releases carbon dioxide and methane, accelerating global warming, and diseases from past centuries are released from the thawed permafrost.

Before the end of June, a second heat wave is hitting the western United States. The one last week in the Southwest moved east, and at least 4,000 new temperatures were set this year, including every square inch of Arizona, according to the National Weather Service in Flagstaff. Palm Springs (CA) hit 123 degrees, and Phoenix and other Arizona areas were at least 120 degrees.

Like the current heat wave hitting the Northwest this coming weekend, a heat dome formed by high pressure in the upper atmosphere has put a lid on the area, trapping the hot air. The air sinks down, compresses, and heats up more while the dome blocks clouds and storms which otherwise would provide relief from the sun’s rays. The feedback loop creates longer and more intense heat waves. Temperatures in the next three to seven days will be unusually high—for example, 113 degrees in Portland at a time when normal June highs are in the mid-70s.

The result of this extreme weather can be death from drought, wildfires, and lack of refrigeration. Normal storm systems can’t get under the dome, lack of rain dries up reservoirs, crops suffer, and forests and shrubbery kindle fires. People end up with a shortage of food and water if they don’t burn up in their homes.

With less flow from the Colorado River, Lake Mead (right), supplying water for 25 million people in three Southwestern states and Mexico, is at 36 percent capacity, the lowest point since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. Arizona will lose one-fifth of its water allotment. The Folsom Lake near Sacramento (CA) is so low that a plane from a 1986 crash appeared. 

It’s not summer yet, and Mark Thiessen says our only choice is to “adapt.” Yet conservatives don’t want any adaptation which would requires conservation of resources, infrastructure redesign, and energy grids that don’t fail with the slightest provocation, as currently in Texas. Ranchers are selling their sheep and cattle early, and dairy farmers are selling their cattle because they can’t come up with the daily 50 gallons of water each animal needs. Farmers are leaving portions of their land fallow. The result is higher prices from less supply. Adaptation will be difficult.

Another heated problem this summer is voting rights. A divided 6th Circuit Court panel replaced a Tennessee law prohibiting first-time voters from using absentee ballots.  

The decision overturned a lower ruling. The Tennessee Supreme Court had permitted anyone with a “special vulnerability to Covid-19” to vote via absentee ballot in the 2020 election. The NAACP argued that the situation can be repeated, but the judicial majority called the pandemic a “unique factual situation.” The judge, a George W. Bush appointment, was joined by a Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appointee. In her dissent, the third judge, appointed by Bill Clinton, accused her colleagues of “haphazardly wielding the law and the facts.”

Following the insistence that fraud stole the election from DDT, Michigan Senate Oversight Committee investigated the election in their state for almost eight months. The GOP-majority group, led by a Republican, issued a 55-page report finding absolutely “no evidence of widespread or systemic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election.” According to the report, “Citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan.” Every Republican on the committee adopted he report.

Falsehoods debunked by the GOP investigation:

  • Dead people voted;
  • Hundreds of thousands of unsolicited absentee ballots were sent to Michigan voters;
  • A machine error switched votes in Antrim County;
  • Tabulators at the TCF Center in Detroit, where absentee ballots were counted, were connected to the internet which allowed tampering by outside parties.
  • “Fractional voting;”
  • Over 100 percent voter turnout in any Michigan precinct.  

The irony of the investigative report is that it supports anti-voting bills such as preventing the secretary of state from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot applications to registered voters. Proposed GOP bills also want more GOP poll workers in Detroit and canvassers to be present during the process as a stall to counting ballots as well as locking drop boxes before polling locations close. The Michigan House has passed bills for voter ID and signature matching. Other introduced legislation creates an “audit board” to hire an outside firm to review ballots, voting machines, and poll books, targeting the Democratic stronghold of Detroit.

The state’s GOP precinct delegates have called on the party leadership to fire Michigan GOP Executive Director Jason Cabel Roe because he told Politico last year that “the election wasn’t stolen” and only DDT was to blame for his loss.

Regarding dead people voting, the committee probed the only two claims they found. One was a clerical error; the other was a woman who died after she cast her vote but a few days before the election. A video purportedly showing late-night “ballot dumps” was of a news photographer moving his gear, not ballots. Despite the report showing no fraud in the election, Republicans are pushing almost 40 anti-voting bills.  DDT’s supporters rallied on the state Capitol steps calling on the GOP for an audit of the presidential election, exonerated by the legislative Republicans. Over 250 election audits in the state affirmed the results submitted to the Electoral College, including a human error in Antrim County quickly corrected. DDT carried Antrim by 61 percent. The report also called on the AG to investigate “utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends.”

In Arizona, the counters finished looking at 2.1 million ballots, and the process has turned to the 70,000-80,000 tally sheets, verifying the data. Cyber Ninjas’ counters have compiled 15 subtotals, points of comparison, with official totals for each candidate, according to the leadership of the Ninjas’ CEO Doug Logan. Official 2020 election records used 10,341 subtotals as its benchmark, a spreadsheet of all votes. GOP Senate President Karen Fann is still debating whether to do another count as comparison to the hand counts from the past two months. Don’t expect any results until at least August.

Several prominent Republicans in Arizona, once approving the “fraudit” fiasco, now oppose it. Conservative talk show host, who initially approved the idea, says the Arizona audit is a disaster for the GOP. He said:

“If we are going to let this audit define the Republican Party, which we are doing right now in Arizona, I think it’s going to be big trouble.”

According to a QAnon conspiracies, a GOP Maricopa Supervisor, Clinton Hickman, fed shredded ballots to the chickens at his family’s egg farm. One of his barns burned down, killing 162,000 chickens, leading to the false accusation that it was his way of destroying ballots.

In a Monmouth University poll, only 33 percent of people in the U.S. see the project as legitimate, and even they have no evidence for their belief. In the survey, 57 percent agreed the audits were partisan-based with the goal of questioning the election’s validity. Forty percent think this type of audits weaken democracy, twice as many as those who believe it strengthens it. Another 50 percent of respondents think voter disenfranchisement from red state laws is a bigger issue.

September 29, 2018

DDT: Week 88 – His Very, Very Bad Time

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had another really bad week. It started with members of the UN General Assembly openly laughing at his opening statements on Monday and ended with the failure of his Supreme Court nominee to get the confirmation after a crying, hysterical, weak, bullying Brett Kavanaugh performed badly at the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. In addition, a federal judge ruled that 200 congressional Democrats can sue for violating the U.S. Constitution because of illegally doing business with foreign governments while he is in office. Attorneys general of Washington, D.C. and Maryland had a similar lawsuit also accusing him of violating the constitution’s emoluments clause. And Robert Mueller continues the investigation of the Russian scandal.

(Photo By Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)

Thursday, the ten-hour hearing with accuser Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh was a dismaying visual of what Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called a representation of “we the ruling party” instead of “we the people.” DDT spoke the truth when he said that Kavanaugh’s performance, full of white man’s rage, was “incredible”—because the word means “unbelievable … unconvincing … implausible … highly unlikely.” He also said that it was “something we haven’t seen before,” another accurate statement because the hearing was a low point in U.S. history. Despite smears against Democrats by Republicans and temper tantrums, most notably by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a plea from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) led to a one-week hiatus before the floor vote despite the fury of some GOP senators while the FBI investigates the evidence against Kavanaugh. [GOP Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT) and Chuck Grassley (IA) flank Kavanaugh.] Alexandra Petri has an excellent column on the Kavanaugh situation.

UN representatives laughed at DDT when he bragged about already having accomplished more than nearly every other U.S. president.  During his campaign, DDT called President Obama “a laughing stock to the entire World.” The rest of his speech, focusing on U.S. sovereignty, sounded like a subdued version of his campaign rallies, something not well received by that audience. He said that the U.S. will not “tell you how to live and work and worship” so long as “you respect our sovereignty in return” but attacked several countries.

DDT praised India for reducing poverty, Israel for “vibrant democracy,” North Korea for “courage,” Poland for “standing up” for freedom, and Saudi Arabia for its “bold reforms.” He celebrated Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-supported war on Yemen where over 60,000 people have died in only two years, many of them civilians dying in war crimes. Attacks focused on China for unfair trade practices, Germany for its pipeline deal with Russia, and Venezuela for socialism. He also called on the world to isolate Iran, hours after Europe, Russia, and China agreed to a payment deal to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran. DDT also endorsed a strict dependence on fossil fuels.

Some of DDT’s vitriol—and lies—were saved for the International Criminal Court, a concern to DDT because of the investigation into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Israeli crimes in Gaza. National security advisor John Bolton has been outspoken in his criticisms of the ICC, perhaps because he could be tried for duping the U.S. into the 2003 preemptive war on Iraq that has brought disaster to both countries for the past 15 years. French President Emmanuel Macron said that his country will not enter into any trade deals with countries that have not signed onto the Paris climate agreement. Since every nation signed, the United States is unique in asserting that it is pulling out of the agreement, something that it cannot formally do until November 4, 2020.

WaPo listed 14 of DDT’s lies in his speech, including his inflation of success in legislative acts, economy improvement, jobs creation, tax cuts, building a wall (which he hasn’t), military expenditure. He falsified the trade deficit, North Korea’s secret nuclear production, Iran’s military spending, U.S. foreign aid, China joining the WTO, and rising oil prices that came from DDT’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord and new sanctions, not OPEC and OPEC nations. Dana Milbank wrote that between his lies and his outrageous claims, DDT “spoke as though he had accepted a dare to see how much of the world he could offend in the span of a 35-minute address.” DDT “dissed” “90 percent of the world’s population.”

During the U.N. Security Council meeting, DDT first claimed that China “has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election” before he bragged a few hours later about the great respect he receives from Chinese officials:

“Mr. Pillsbury, the leading authority on China, was saying that China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain.”

Conservative author Michael Pillsbury frequently appears on Fox network. DDT added that the Chinese “are doing studies on Donald Trump.”  China’s state-run media characterizes DDT as a clownish buffoon with many reasons to ridicule him. DDT made no mention of Russia’s interference in the election.

DDT failed to meet his self-imposed deadline to persuade Canada to join his new trade deal with Mexico. Both GOP lawmakers, including Sen. John Cornyn (TX), and businesses are critical of his failure. The deadline was set to allow current Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to sign it on his final day in office, November 30, for fear that the new president will not sign the deal. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shows no interest in accepting DDT’s terms with Mexico, including the increased percentage of vehicles qualifying for duty-free treatment to 75 percent from 62.5 percent and require that much of the vehicle being made by workers with a wage of at least $16 an hour. After the signing, the International Trade Commission has 105 days to evaluate its likely consequences. Congress must approve the new trade deal, and Republicans are very skeptical of a two-country arrangement.

“Trump Effect”:  A 2017 study of middle schools in Virginia found that both teasing and bullying was significantly higher in schools located where a majority of people voted for DDT. No differences were noted in 2013 and 2015. Details here.

The Brett Kavanaugh stories covered the media stories about DOJ Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein possibly being fired because of a NYT story that he had suggested taping DDT, contradicted by people at the meeting who said he was being sarcastic. House Republicans wanted to talk to Rosenstein this coming week, but the House, worried about mid-term elections in early November, is in recess until November 13. Before they left, they kept the government open—without money for DDT’s wall—but failed to agree on the farm bill. Permanently authorized and funded programs such as food stamps aren’t affected but 39 other programs had now lapsed.

DDT’s new plan to reduce the number of legal immigrants is to kill them through starvation and lack of health care. A proposed rule will consider public benefits like food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing vouchers as “heavily weighted negative factors” in green card applications. The government will give people the choice to die or be deported. Despite claims of a good economy, wages stay low, with one-third of the work force—40 million people—earning less than $12 per hour with no benefits. The rule doesn’t require congressional approval and can go into effect after a 60-day public review period.

Hurricane Florence damaged over 51,000 homes, 11,000 of them by sea level rise. Seas have risen by at least six inches since 1970. The projected 15-inch sea rise by 2050 will double the impact with the same storm surge. At the same time, climate change is making all storms much stronger and wetter. Projected costs by Florence for the National Flood Insurance Program can be as much as $1.2 billion to make a total of $2.8 to $5 billion insurance losses. Seventy percent of the homes hit by Florence were not insured. FEMA flood maps are out of date, encouraging people to re-build or repair in vulnerable places.

Two weeks after Florence hit, thousands of residents still could not get power from coal-fired utilities while solar installations were running the day after the storm.

South Carolina native Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show, is raising money for organizations working with hurricane victims, specifically the Foundation for the Carolinas, The One SC Fun, the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund, and World Central Kitchen with a new children’s book featuring DDT’s comments about the disaster, including his comment to a survivor about the boat shipwrecked on his property:

“At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.”

Whose Boat Is This Boat? Comments That Don’t Help in the Aftermath of a Hurricane by Donald Trump (accidentally), featuring an image of the boat on the cover, comes out November 6.  [visual]

DDT’s administration reported that the world will be seven degrees hotter in the next 80 years and parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater. DDT is not concerned about climate change: the EPA is dissolving its Office of the Science Advisor who works to ensure that the highest quality science is integrated into the agency’s policies and decisions.

The government lost another 1,488 immigrant children in addition to the 1,475 migrant children separated from families and subsequently lost. DHS said that the government is no longer responsible after they place the children with sponsors. According to recently released memos, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also lied to Congress and the public when she said that the government had no policy of separating families at the border.

DDT started his five-city campaign rally tour in West Virginia where the poverty level increased 12 percent to almost 20 percent. There, he told the crowd that Kim Jong-Un wrote him “beautiful letters” and “we fell in love.”

December 18, 2014

Climate Change, Sea Rise Real

Filed under: Environment — trp2011 @ 9:02 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The year’s biggest lie: according to PolitiFact, “climate change is a hoax” was the favored choice. Almost 32 percent of the poll respondents chose this as a lie over nine other options. Scientists overwhelmingly support the position that people are causing the climate change. In contrast, chief climate denier Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) will chair his chamber’s Environment and Public Works Committee, and 17 of 22 GOP members of the House Science, Space, and Technology deny any climate change or any human cause for the problem.

Extreme heat in the winter when the polar vortex dipped far south into the United States has driven the warming in the Arctic, twice as fast as in lower latitudes. The average temperature for last year ran 1.8 degrees above the 1981-2010 average. Alaska saw 18 degrees above normal, and Greenland’s temperature were 16 degrees over normal last January. Warm temperatures are driving the above-average melt to Greenland’s ice sheet and the disappearance of a snow cover almost a month earlier than normal. The problem for the rest of the world is the serious loss of sea ice, possibly contributing to a wavier jet stream that stalls weather patterns.

Climate projections for 50 years in the future seem so impossible that many people ignore them. Looking 50 years in the past, however, consider the premier beach resort, Ocean City (VA), within “pleasant driving distance” of Washington and Baltimore, according to the glossy sales brochure. Richard F. Hall sold 2000 lots on Cedar Island starting in the 1950s, and his granddaughter and her developer husband sold more land in the 1980s. People built houses and then moved them away from the encroaching sea if they could afford to do so. Scientists warned about the failure of building at that location; state regulators allowed the development although they knew it was doomed for disaster.

cedar-island-houseNow the last house on Cedar Island has been taken by the ocean.

cedar-island-house-2On another barrier island, Miami Beach has spent millions to replenish sand on its beaches. Scientists believe that the seas will rise three or more feet by the end of the century—85 years from now. And people keep buying and building.

At the other end of the United States, the people of Shishmaref, a village of 563 people just 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle, have watched the eroding shores.  The town, originally with wide beaches, got a post office in 1901 and incorporated in 1969. Alaska’s average temperatures have warmed 3.4 degrees during the past half century, and the thawing permafrost is washing away. Fall and early winter storms also eat away at the area because the surrounding sea freezes for much less of the year than in the past. The island where the village is located loses up to 22.6 feet in one year with big storms and an annual of between 2.7 and 8.9 feet.

alaska house disappearsFor many people in the United States, the sea rise is of no concern. Yet 50 percent of the nation’s coastline is at high or very high risk of impacts from sea level rise, and 16.4 million people live in the coastal flood plain. More than half of the area covered by 40 large cities (population over 50,000) is less than 10 feet above the high tide line. Florida has the biggest problem because 27 of these cities are located in that state with 85 percent in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Even worse, each one sits on bedrock filled with holes, leaving them without any method of defense from the rising ocean.

So much ice in Greenland and Antarctica is melting that these two regions are shrinking and changing the pull of gravity. Water levels may fall in those locations while the gravitational pull contributes to the rising waters along the U.S. coastlines. As high-latitude ice melts in the higher latitudes, the water slopes more towards the equator.

Another contributing factor is the expansion of the ocean because of increased warming. People have argued that the rate of sea level is slowing, possibly because the heat is getting sucked up by the colder parts of the ocean. The slowing, however, won’t last. The last time that the planet warmed at this rate, about 120,000 years ago, sea levels were 15 to 30 feet higher than now.

A recent study shows that the worst-case scenario for sea level rise is 6 feet by 2100, but that study is based from expert opinion in 2012. Things have gotten much worse almost three years later as scientists have discovered that the Greenland ice sheet is far less stable than previously thought.

Everyone is affected by sea rise, even those who don’t live in affected areas. The damage was estimated to reach $2 trillion a year by 2100—and that study was two years ago. Cutting temperature increases in half could avoid losing almost $1.4 trillion of the total cost.

If the United States takes no action to slow down global warming, millions of people will face the same disaster during the next 50 years as residents in Ocean City and Shishmaref have endured. And many more millions will suffer from economic disaster.

February 6, 2014

Climate Change in the Tunisian Constitution

Here on the coast of Oregon, we have had enough snow today to close the schools and keep us in the house—for the second time this year. My partner and I had planned to travel to Portland, but chains are required not only on the state road to the interstate but also on the interstate itself. Global warming deniers would say that the cold is proof that the planet is cooling, not warming. Their grasp of climate, long-term weather conditions, is that it is identical to weather.

Deniers also think that their cold is everyone’s cold. In Alaska, however, an all-time record high for January was 62 degrees. Temperatures across the state were as much as 30 degrees above average during the past month. If these record highs were to continue into the summer, Alaska would see 90+ degree highs. Alaska’s January temperatures come from a ten-month warm air invasion of the Arctic that causes a weakened polar jet stream creating all-time record high temperatures last summer in the state. The anomaly is now called “Arctic Heat Wave.”

One blogger wrote, “The west-east weather train is broken. And a strange south-north train from equator to Arctic is instead set in place.” And the pattern has lasted for almost a whole year. The polar vortex causing extreme cold in January has now split in half by warm air from the south into two separate cold centers. With this pattern, the Arctic and Alaska will continue record high temperatures while the lower 48 states suffer from extreme winter weather.

The Arctic is melting faster than at any time since satellite observations began 35 years ago. A video shows the 2013 meltback. The ice that replaces the melting will melt faster in the future because it’s not as solid, causing a chain reaction of less and less ice. People not at the Arctic might want to shrug off this melting, but they are at risk in the lower 48 states.

Scientist Benjamin Strauss predicts that the warming planet will cause oceans fast to rise at least one foot every decade. A four-foot increase will submerge half the population of 316 cities and towns on the current coastlines, causing about 3.6 million will lose their homes. By the end of the century, an additional 18 million people in 1,400 cities and towns will be affected from a possible rise of 23 feet. Acting now could keep that rise to about 7.5 feet. Check out this interactive map to see the changes.

Deniers  need to know that 97% of the 4,000 papers that analyzed the causes of climate change concluded that humans are causing global climate change. Among 14,000 peer-reviewed studies on climate change, only 24 rejected the phenomenon. In a Scientific American blog, Kyle Hill wrote, “If you put all of the almost 14,000 climate change papers, including the contrary 24, in a bag, the chances that you would pull out 10 studies that reject climate change is 0.000000000000000000000000003%.” He added that people are more likely to be struck by lightning and then hit by an asteroid. Yet 40 percent of people in the United States are convinced that climate scientists disagree about global climate change.

The media is partly to blame for the lack of understanding. For example, radio host Alex Jones has explained how the government has the ability to cause tornadoes—and does it! Jones is right that people are causing tornadoes because human-caused climate change is contributing to the number and intensity just as it contributes to all other extreme weather conditions. When high pressure cold fronts from the north meet low-pressure low temperatures, the result is tornadoes. The more extreme the contrast between cold and warm, the greater the force.

Even Forbes, the magazine that tells people how to invest their money, pushes the idea that climate change is a hoax. An op-ed piece, based on information from Exxon-supported Marshal Institute, claims that scientists study climate change only on a regional basis and that carbon dioxide is just water vapor. It blamed 75 percent of temperature changes on solar activity. According to Forbes, the cost of addressing carbon emissions would be $500 trillion. Beyond the fact that they are wrong, the cost of not addressing carbon dioxide is water shortages, more widespread famine, and war over the planet’s resources.

As the people of the United States complacently ignore looming disaster, Tunisia tackles it head on. I’m guessing that over half the people in this country don’t know where Tunisia is; I wasn’t sure until I got out the globe. This small, northern African country of fewer than 11 million people has a new constitution that addresses climate change, committing the country to contribute to the protection of the climate for future generations. The third country after Ecuador and Dominican Republic to put climate change into its constitution, Tunisia also mandates that  the “state shall provide the necessary means to eliminate environmental pollution.”

Parliament member Dhamir Mannai said that legislators were concerned about the potential impacts that a warming world would have on Tunisia. The country’s government is now obliged to act against global warming and addresses the importance of this issue on an international basis. David Estrin, an environmental lawyer, said it may be possible for one country to sue another on climate change and “eventually allow bodies like the International Court of Justice to act on complaints that one country is causing harm to another by not abating its emissions.”

Tunisia went beyond climate change to ensure gender equality and eliminate Sharia law. The constitution’s second article, which like some others cannot be amended, provides that the country bans discrimination against women by granting them rights and duties equal to those of men. “The state shall the necessary measures to eliminate violence against women,” the constitution also guarantees.

Another article, “freedom of conscience,” allows individuals to profess any religion, even “no religion,” and practice their beliefs without being deemed apostates. The freedom of conscience also covers freedom of political, intellectual, and ideological affiliation, and freedom of opinion away from accusations of apostasy and incitement to violence.

“Health is a right for every person,” the document announces, declaring that Tunisia shall “guarantee preventative health care and treatment for every citizen and provide the means necessary to ensure the safety and good quality of health services.” Another article guarantees workers the right to form unions and the ability to strike, excepting only the army and security services. All citizens, male and female alike, shall “have the right to adequate working conditions and to a fair wage.”

The Tunisian constitution also provides the right to due process and protection from torture, rights that people in the United States have gradually lost.

As a contrast to this constitution, a group of conservatives in the United States is working toward a constitutional convention that would pass amendments to the U.S. Constitution without going through the U.S. Congress. Rep. Ron Johnson (R-WI) believes that Article V would give them this power if 34 states call for a convention.  The popularity of the idea may have come from Mark Levin in his book The Liberty Amendments.

Their goals are a balanced budget amendment, term limits for the Supreme Court, Congressional overriding of Supreme Court decisions by a three-fifths vote, prohibition of international treaties and law to govern U.S. domestic law, limit on taxes, abolishment of the 17th Amendment which allows people to elect U.S. senators, and permission of 34 states to override any federal statute or regulation “exceeding an economic burden of $100 million.”

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), resigning at the end of the year, plans “to be involved with the Convention of States. I’m going to try to motivate so that happens. I think that’s the only answer. I’m just going to go around and talk about why it’s needed, and try to convince state legislatures to do it.”

The Founding Fathers formed a constitution that limited voting rights, discriminated against women and blacks, and allowed people (if you listen to some people) unlimited rights to own guns and shoot at people. Conservatives even think that the Founding Fathers created a Christian country with Christian laws. Now the United States is working on constitutional amendments that would complete corporate ownership of the country.

Through a revolution almost four years ago, Tunisia earned its constitution banning gender discrimination, allowing freedom of religion, fighting against climate change, and union and health rights. Those who believe that the U.S. is “exceptional” should look to Tunisia.

January 30, 2014

The State of the Planet

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:24 PM
Tags: , , , ,

For the past few weeks, governors have given speeches about the state of their states—even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who is probably in worse shape than his state. This week, President Obama gave the State of the Union speech. But what about the State of the Planet?

In the United States, almost one-fourth of the people deny global warming. That’s an increase of 7 percent in less than a year in a nation of over 300 million people.  Although 63 percent understand that climate change is real, only 53 percent of the population is “somewhat” or “very” worried about the consequences. And fewer than half of the 63 percent who believe in global warming believe that it is caused mostly by human activities, fewer than one-third of the population.

People who deny climate change and humans’ participation in the disaster won’t be changing their minds. They argue that the weather is colder the past few weeks, that plants need carbon dioxide, that warmth is good for people. They support politicians who govern by anecdote and personal experience rather than information.

This week, people will claim that the unusual extreme cold in Georgia that has brought Atlanta to a standstill is proof that climate change is at least in a pause or on hiatus. Although global greenhouse gas emissions are rising to an all-time record in 2012 and the carbon concentration has increased, the planet’s surface temperatures have remained almost the same for the past 15 years.

The ocean is the answer. Ocean depths’ soaking up excess heat energy from the accumulation of greenhouse gases protects the land from change. Middle depths of the ocean have warmed 15 times faster during the past 60 years than at any other time during the past 10,000 years. It’s buying time for change but can’t go on forever. Both the global warming and the oceans’ heating up occurred at the same time. Oceans carry 93 percent of stored energy from climate change, and the atmosphere is responsible for just 1 percent. Melting ice and land masses take care of the rest.

Scientists can trace the temperature of the middle-depth ocean waters back 10,000 years by taking sediment core samples from Indonesian seas where the Pacific and Indian Oceans merge. The levels of magnesium to calcium in the shells of the Hyalinea balthica give science the answer to the water’s temperature. The climate was relative stable and the Pacific generally cooled until about 1600 when human civilization and ocean temperature warming occurred simultaneously.

An increase of one-third degree Fahrenheit over 60 years may not seem like much, but the scale of the oceans indicates how much energy is necessary to heat it up that much. The oceans cannot contain the additional heat from human abuses to the planet on a permanent basis. Sea surface temperatures were also unusually high in Australia last year, resulting in extreme heat and drought in some places and flooding in others.

Expanding water heats up and then moves on shore. Some of the largest cities of the country on the ocean shores are in great danger of inundation, a fact made very obvious a year ago when Superstorm Sandy destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes. According to a study published late last year in Scientific Reports, climate change will push sea levels two feet higher by 2083 and eight feet higher by the year 2200, causing large sections of Miami, Boston, and up to 1,400 other cities under water.

People living inland suffer from more frequent and harsher tropical storms and hurricanes/cyclones. Warmer surface water dissipates more readily into vapor, making it easier for small ocean storms to escalate into larger, more powerful systems.

Global currents are responsible for regulating the planet’s temperature. The collapse of polar ice shelves and the warmer water disrupts these currents largely responsible for regulating the world’s temperature. The two polar vortexes of the past month clearly show the dramatic weather conditions occurring because of this disruption.

The die-off of the tiny krill will shrink the world’s food supply. At the base of the food chain, the krill are responsible for all the food that comes from the ocean. 

Science experts are cautious in their predictions, but 97 percent of the climate scientists agree that humans are responsible for climate change and that waiting to take care of the problem will cost more and more money as time goes on. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has already reached a high of 400 ppm; delaying mitigation for the next 15 years will mean that the atmospheric concentration levels won’t be under 530 ppm by 2100. That sounds a long way off, but babies born today would be only 84 years old in that year.

The ensuing 3.6-degree Fahrenheit increase by the end of this century will cause “a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean in late summer,” according to a recent report. The U.S. Department of Energy reported that 37% of the carbon emissions in 2012 came from coal-fired electricity. Ten countries were responsible for 70 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes.

Some conservative politicians believe in climate change, but they deny it openly because they come from an oil or coal state and want to get re-elected. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) admitted that he believed in climate change but doing anything about it would cost too much. The same thing happened with the revelation that smoking causes cancer.

People like Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) accuse the government of setting standards for polluting power plants in a purely partisan manner. Instead of discussing climate change, the chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee used one of 2013’s last seven days to talk about extraterrestrials in the hearing “Astrobiology: Search for Biosignatures in Our Solar System and Beyond.”

During the coming year, climate change and energy will be a major issue in the 2014 midterms, for example as Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tries to protect his seat in what the GOP calls President Obama’s “war on coal.” The conservative American Energy Alliance will be pitted against wealthy green activists such as billionaire Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund manager who believes in environmental causes.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), chair of the Energy Committee, will be hit hard from crude oil export and offshore oil developers.  (Her city of New Orleans will be one of the first to sink into the water.) Other battlegrounds are Alaska as Democrat Sen. Mark Begich works to be re-elected in energy-involved open-seat states such as South Dakota and Montana.

What might be the most ludicrous argument against belief in climate change came from Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Chair of the Energy and Power subcommittee, who said that “3.75 percent of all worldwide emissions come from human activity.” He fails to understand that the natural carbon dioxide emissions from animals, plants, and oceans are counterbalanced by natural absorption. The same thing doesn’t happen to the 30 gigatons of CO2 from burning the planet’s forests and extracting hydrocarbons that has destroyed the equilibrium of the planet and emitting “super pollutants.”

People who think that the United States is separate from the rest of the world should read the study showing that air pollution from China, caused by manufacturing of goods that China sells to the U.S., is polluting the air in the United States.

And that’s the State of the Planet.



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