Monday, September 04, 2017

Climate Change: The Litmus Test


Imaginary candidate: he is gung-ho on Medicare-for-All and is eager to sign onto John Conyers' HR 676 as soon as he's elected. In fact, his campaign is based not just on Medicare-For-All, but on free state colleges, a higher minimum wage, getting corrupting cachet of elections. He's adamantly pro-choice and adamantly in favor of equality based on gender, race, religion, etc. He even wants to crack down on banksters and put them in prison. So why isn't he on the Blue America endorsement list? He's not quite sure about Climate Change. He has some good feelings about it but... do we really know? Don't we need more proof before we disrupt the whole economy? he asked me. Alarm bells start ringing loudly. He's too stupid-- dangerously stupid-- to be endorsed.

The conservative politicians-- particularly the conservative politicians in Texas-- whose decisions transformed Hurricane Harvey from bad weather to a national catastrophe that's going to cost taxpayers from every part of America over $100 billion, don't need more reinforcement in Congress. Climate Change is a litmus test.

Texans have decided they don't need a state income tax. Texans have decided they don't need environmental protection laws. Texans have decided not to use their $12 billion "rainy day" fund to help Harvey victims. Texas GOP congressmembers, who opposed helping victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey, seem to be already grossly padding the budget for Harvey cleanup. The state's crackpot, extreme right-wing governor, who called a special session of the legislature to deal with which transgender children should use in schools, has already announced he won't call a special session of the legislature to deal with the immediate consequences of Hurricane Harvey. Sunday, Nick Kristof tweeted this meme, alerting me to this column: "We Don’t Deny Harvey, So Why Deny Climate Change?"

"Imagine," wrote Kristof, "that after the 9/11 attacks, the conversation had been limited to the tragedy in Lower Manhattan, the heroism of rescuers and the high heels of the visiting first lady-- without addressing the risks of future terrorism. That’s how we have viewed Hurricane Harvey in Houston, as a gripping human drama but without adequate discussion of how climate change increases risks of such cataclysms. We can’t have an intelligent conversation about Harvey without also discussing climate change." But with Trump leading any national discussion on anything, is "an intelligent conversation" even remotely possible?
That’s awkward for a president who has tweeted climate change skepticism more than 100 times, even suggesting that climate change is a Chinese hoax, and who has announced he will pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord. Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s head of the Environmental Protection Agency, says it’s “misplaced” to talk about Harvey and climate change.

Really? To me, avoiding the topic is like a group of frogs sitting in a beaker, fretting about the growing warmth of the water but neglecting to jump out. Climate scientists are in agreement that there are at least two ways climate change is making hurricanes worse.

First, hurricanes arise from warm waters, and the Gulf of Mexico has warmed by two to four degrees Fahrenheit over the long-term average. The result is more intense storms.

“There is a general consensus that the frequency of high-category (3, 4 and 5) hurricanes should increase as the climate warms,” Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at M.I.T., tells me. Likewise, three experts examined the data over 30 years and concluded that Atlantic tropical cyclones are getting stronger.

Second, as the air warms, it holds more water vapor, so the storms dump more rain. That’s why there’s a big increase in heavy downpours (“extreme precipitation events”). Nine of the top 10 years for heavy downpours in the U.S. have occurred since 1990.

“Climate change played a role in intensifying the winds and rainfall associated with Hurricane Harvey,” says Charles Greene, a climate scientist at Cornell. He notes that there’s also a third way, not yet proven, in which climate change may be implicated: As Arctic sea ice is lost, wind systems can meander and create blockages-- like those that locked Harvey in place over Houston. It was this stalling that led Harvey to be so destructive.

Frankly, it’s staggering that there’s still so much resistance among elected officials to the idea of human-caused climate change.

Last year was the third in a row to set a record for highest global average surface temperature, according to NASA. The 10 years of greatest loss of sea ice are all in the last decade. And poor Houston has suffered three “500-year floods” in the last three years.

Remember also that we in the rich world are the lucky ones. We lose homes to climate change, but in much of the world families lose something far more precious: their babies. Climate change increases risks of war, instability, disease and hunger in vulnerable parts of the globe, and I was seared while reporting in Madagascar about children starving apparently as a consequence of climate change.

An obvious first step is to embrace the Paris climate accord. A second step would be to put a price on carbon, perhaps through a carbon tax to pay for tax cuts or disaster relief.

We also must adapt to a new normal-- and that’s something Democratic and Republican politicians alike are afraid to do. We keep building in vulnerable coastal areas and on flood plains, pretty much daring Mother Nature to whack us.

We even subsidize such dares through the dysfunctional National Flood Insurance Program. This offers underpriced insurance, encouraging people to live in low-lying areas-- compounded by flood maps that are old and unreliable. One Mississippi home flooded 34 times in 32 years, resulting in payouts worth almost 10 times what the home was worth.

The truth is that what happened in Houston was not only predictable, it was actually predicted. Last year, ProPublica and The Texas Tribune published a devastating article about Houston as a “sitting duck for the next big hurricane” and warned that Texas was unprepared.

In other domains, we constantly manage risks that are uncertain. We address a threat from the Islamic State or North Korea even when it’s complicated and hard to assess. So why can’t our leaders be as alert to climate risks that in the long run may be far more destructive?

A brainwashed citizenry, where self-interested industries pay off media giants like Fox and buy off callow politicians to propagandize for them? I'm just asking for a friend. But these are the currently-serving members of the House who have accepted the most in bribes from the financiers of Climate Change denial-- the dirty dozen consigning our grandchildren and their grandchildren to a brutish life of misery:
Joe Barton (R-TX)- $4,560,727
Fred Upton (R-MI)- $2,837,431
Steve Pierce (R-NM)- $2,807,154
John Shimkus (R-IL)- $2,538,190
Paul Ryan (R-WI)- $2,454,153
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- $2,168,460
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- $2,021,985
Kevin Brady (R-TX)- $2,011,001
Greg Walden (R-OR)- $1,680,787
Pete Sessions (R-TX)- $1,612,788
Tim Murphy (R-PA)- $1,606,382
Mike Conaway (R-TX)- $1,597,597
No progressives on that list of death's disciples! Although there are a couple of Democrats, beyond just sleaze bag Steny Hoyer, who take massive bribes from the Climate Change deniers and help the Republicans pass their agenda. Gene Green (D-TX- $1,388,688) and Jim Clyburn (D-SC- $1,067,993) are the only other House Dems who have taken over a million dollars from the culprits. Should that be reason enough toward for their retirements? Damn straight! Hector Morales is a Houston public school teacher running for seat occupied by corrupt conservative Democrat Gene Green, the congressman who keeps telling his constituents he'll do something about all the pollution in the district but just keeps taking bigger and bigger bribes from there polluters. You can help Hector repeal and replace Green here. Today he told us this:
The Arkema Plant explosion in Crosby, TX was an accident waiting to happen, just like the refineries in Pasadena, TX and the Superfund site near it. Members of Congress are known for accepting large sums of special interest money-- so far that is the only way they have been able to maintain their seats while continuously voting against the health and well being of their constituents. To see the the influence of special interests, look no further than incumbent congressional member and Blue Dog-type Democrat from TX-29, Gene Green. Green has taken in millions of dollars from the energy industry in his twenty four year tenure as a member of Congress and ranking member on the Energy and Power and Environment and Economy subcommittees. There, Green has wielded his influence to continue development of harmful refineries and one of the few lowly Democrats to vote with the GOP and President Trump for the Keystone Pipeline not just once, but every time it has come up- something he ought to bring up more during his townhalls ripping Republicans and Trump about harming the environment. Green religiously campaigns on needing the refineries, much like the Arkema Plant, to keep what he calls "good jobs" for the district. The jobs he refers to have harmed and killed countless people due to plant explosions and exposure to hazardous chemicals linked to cancer.

I grew up with those Pasadena refineries and the seemingly endless shelter in places, boil water warnings, and poor air quality. That was, and still is, the way of life in Pasadena and the 29th District. Why not advocate for renewable energy? It is here that Green's hypocrisy is blatant and on full display- adopt and campaign on the Democratic Platform of "renewable energy" while voting against incentives for the development of renewable energy. And Green gets away with it because he seems untouchable with his million dollar war chest and lack of Democratic and Republican opponents in almost every election cycle.

In twenty four years, Green is proud of having high school graduation rates that are twice as low as the State and three times as low as the nation, an average household income of under $40,000 a year for a family of five, schools that have repeatedly been rated as the top 1% of most polluted in the US-- including 26,000 students going to school within one mile of a refinery, and constituents being fifty times more likely to develop leukemia here than anywhere else in the US. "Good jobs," right?

My plan calls for addressing the issues at their core- by shifting the refineries to produce 100% clean and renewable energy and manufacturing the equipment to build the nation's renewable energy infrastructure. The future of our nation depends on renewable energy and the jobs it will create. This can be our future only if our members of Congress would be beholden to their constituents and not the corrupt money of special interests or the energy sector. And on March 6, 2017, Congressman Gene Green will see what happens when the people make their voices heard and drown out the special interests- he loses and the people win.

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At 1:58 PM, Blogger VG said...

"But mostly the problem comes down to helter-skelter development in a county with no zoning, leaving lots of concrete where water doesn't drain, and little green space to absorb it, Bedient said.

Local politicians are simply unwilling to insist in the local code that developers, who are among their biggest campaign donors, create no adverse effects, said Ed Browne, chairman of the nonprofit Residents Against Flooding."

"In general, developers run this city and whatever developers want they get," Browne said.,amp.html

At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

developers pay bribes. Greenspaces don't. simple math.

Obamanation devoted words to climate.. but nothing "concrete". That was part of the mandate he was elected to implement... but also part he refused.

Face it. The democraps are shit. They'll never be rehab'd. And voters are DUMBER than shit.. and THEY'LL never be fixed.

As individuals, do what you can to insulate yourselves. Thinking people are nowhere near a majority any more... and the legacy of FDR has decayed into an historical footnote, which nobody but my generation will know because we stopped teaching history (, science, math, rational thought...) about 1982. Voters have been repudiating FDR for 3 decades now.
The only way that will change is when (not if) voting is not done any more.

At 1:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If something doesn't display the hand of a wealthy man making money from it, then it clearly has no value. Greed IS Good!

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The litmus test should be trivial: Do they support profits over all else? Or do they support people over profits when sensible?

The climate ?? is one of profit (oil, coal, gas...) over the ultimate extinction of our species (and millions of other species too).


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