Archive for the ‘Global warming’ category

Is Covid-19 Republican or Democrat?

March 6, 2020

The coronavirus, now named Covid-19, is threatening to upend the global economy and take the lives of many people.  The virus which started in China is now populating most countries around the world as it spread initially from travelers returning home from China, and now from locally infected persons to others.  This health emergency is just another reminder that the world has become a tightly knit place and acting otherwise is a fool’s mission.

Think about the prospect of taking a cruise vacation and then learn while at sea, that ports are closed to  your ship because there is an infected person onboard.  In the past month, one cruise ship was denied docking in many Asian ports.  Finally Cambodia welcomed the ship with open arms.  Passengers raced off the ship and instead of site seeing, caught air transportation to other parts of the world.  And yes, many of the passengers unknowingly transported the virus with them.

In another situation, Japan allowed a cruise ship to dock but not discharge any passengers.  Before the 14 day quasi-quarantine was over, Japan allowed the US to send transportation to evacuate American citizens.  Even though the evacuees were again quarantined an additional 14 days, infections spread outside the containment area.

One can say “America First”.  One can believe that America’s destiny is a matter of self determination and that life is a zero sum game.  One can believe that science and the scientific method are suspect and government expenditures towards science research is not a proper government responsibility.  All these beliefs are possible but their veracities are not probable.

These beliefs may have been rational in 1820, but not in 2020.   Similar to believing the earth is flat, denying today that our lives are part of global events is as ridiculous.  But does that make Covid-19 a product of Republican or Democrat thinking?

Of course the answer is neither.  Covid-19 is a mutated virus and certainly not the last pathogen that will spread around the world.  In 2020, the global economy is complicated and intertwined.  Simply arguing a return to life as in 1820s is foolish because it means asking Americans to adopt a dramatically lower standard of living while still being at risk of infection.

Covid-19 and other future pathogens happen with or without US involvement.  Going alone is like an ostrich putting its head in the sand.  For another example, the harmful aspects of global warming (for example, rising sea levels, more frequent violent storms, droughts) also do not require the US participation to occur.  

So an interesting question might be, which political party, republican or democrat might prefer to ignore global events?

Should America Deal With Global Warming?

April 4, 2019

The question before the house is “should America deal with Global warming”?  Before trying to answer that question, one must recognize that America alone can not solve the problem of global warming even if it were possible for us to cease burning fossil fuels.  Emissions from India and China along would ensure that global temperatures would continue to rise.  And beyond India and China, there are the still emerging economies of Africa and the existing European Union economies.  Hmmm.

So if there is nothing America can do to solve the problem, why do anything?

All tough problem solutions must begin someplace. Accordingly, a good place is to confirm there is a problem.  A great deal of money has been spent postulating that global warming does not exists, that the science behind the global warming assertion is bogus, and that worldwide calamities are overstated.  One reason for America to do something is that these postulations are false and misleading.

  • Global Warming exists and the US needs to go on record again affirming.  The issue is not that the planet is warming (this can be measured) but rather that mankind is facilitating the warming by releasing heat holding gases into the atmosphere at alarmingly high rates.  In earth’s history, scientist can show there has been periods of warming and cooling, glacier formation and melting, and rises and declining of sea levels.  Since the Industrial revolution (1820s to present), coal, wood, and oil combustion has poured tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.  More recently methane gas has joined carbon dioxide.  President Trump disputes the science and does not accept the conclusions that the environment is warming to quickly due to man-made events.


  • Global warming is a world event and will require all countries participating in reducing warming.  The argument most developing countries make is why should we reduce our growth when the developed world has polluted the atmosphere for so long?  This is a reasonable argument that can be addressed by sharing non-polluting technology.  President Trump says the US owes nothing to other developing countries (America First).


  • American Leadership could make a difference.  Leading by example is a well proven method to gain cooperation of others.  The US could embrace a pledge to reduce Global Warming with a goal of stabilizing the annual increase of global temperature.  From that position, the US could form international groups of countries taking a similar pledge.  Such alliances could stimulate both ideas and action with many more countries.  President Trump, however, has chosen to walk away from the Paris Climate Accord and eliminate all means to influence other countries.


  • Actions speak louder than words.  Doing something rather than just pontificating is a more solid sign of support.  Setting emissions targets, sponsoring lower emitting technologies, and recognizing positive action by others can generate a positive momentum.  President Trump has encouraged more oil exploration, greater use of coal, and lowering of automobile emissions standards.  Hmmm. 

There are no short term consequences for President Trump’s actions, other than maybe his supporters may get a bit richer.  But there are potential serious outcomes for the President’s policies on the long term.  The fundamental issue is and will be “if you don’t begin now, when will the right time be?”  Deniers say “never”.  Commonsense says “we must start now if we are ever to expect others to join in.” 

Elections are important.

A Big Fat Nothing Sandwich

July 4, 2017

On this “Independence Day” holiday, Americans are taking stock of their blessings. Through the years, other Americans have sacrificed much, often their lives, in order to defend the liberties we too often take for granted. This year, Americans do not have to rely upon memories of past valor to appreciate the deeds of past generations. Instead, we can open our eyes and witness a President Trump and Republican Party’s attack on what has made America Great.

The President ran on the campaign promise to Make America Great Again, and most Republicans ran on the idea of “taking back their freedom”. President Trump’s slogan pre-supposes Americans agree that America has slipped or that Donald Trump’s vision is greater than our past.   The Republican Party’s charge of taking back their freedoms similarly supposes that whatever constitutes a “freedom” was theirs to take back. It might be more appropriate to say “take the average person’s freedom and give it to the wealthy”.

The Trump White House’s first six months have marked a bazaar chapter in American history. President Trump’s advisors seem set upon the appearance of keeping campaign promises regardless of whether any of them are in the best interest of the average American.

  • Lower healthcare insurance costs sounds attractive but some 20+ million fellow Americans must lose their coverage while the top earners pocket a huge tax reduction.
  • The world is currently awash in oil. Yet, the President has moved to “drill, baby drill”, no matter what the cost. Could this policy be for the benefit of the average American, or maybe just for the fossil fuel industry barons who stand shoulder, wallets open, for Trump in 2020?
  • President Trump has not restricted himself to just domestic issues. His “bull in the china shop” approach to trade and international relations is poised to sell out most all Americans. Either his naivety or his incompetent has the US ready to begin trade wars on many fronts. In trade wars there are no winners, especially the average American consumer.
  • America is a land of immigrants as most Americans can realize if they research their family tree. Making immigrants the enemy is completely out of touch with our history, not to mention our current economic needs. Without a growing population (immigrants plus birthrate), GDP growth must be low or potentially even negative.
  • But by far the greatest danger facing Americans on this 4th of July is President Trump’s child-like assault upon free speech and the freedom of the press. The President’s endless streak of demonstrably false statements will have the effect of trivializing all public officials speech.  Meanwhile, President Trump’s invocation of “fake news”, while patently unprovable, never the less poisons his supporters thinking and increases the odds that real data and facts won’t interfere with their prejudges and false beliefs. History has shown that free speech and freedom of the press are the first casualties of a budding authoritarian regime.

President Trump demonstrates each day that our Country’s best days are behind us.

So, as Americans celebrate July 4th, and gather around the barbecue grill, the President is sending you “a big fat nothing sandwich”.


Call Me Cynical

March 2, 2017

President Trump has announced his intentions to increase Defense spending by $50 billion, an increase “badly needed” according to the President. Hmmm.

The President’s story gets a little cloudy when he says he can pay for this budget increase by shifting money from the State Department and the EPA. This proposed slight of hand is necessary because (1) President Trump and most Republicans want to cut taxes, (2) the President wants to launch a $1 trillion dollar infrastructure plan, and (3) there is the inconvenient law restricting what increases in spending are possible (sequestration). Do we hear the deficit increasing on the GOP’s watch?

President Trump has proclaimed that part of making America Great Again is “rebuilding” the military, woefully underfunded, the President says. Hmmm. The Defense budget weighs in at slightly under $600 billion, more than all other countries combined. An increase of $50 billion or 8% could procure some more airplanes and ships, or could be used to outfit more sailors or troops. But for what purpose?

The Presidents suggestion of taking money from the State Department is laughable unless there were to be across the board reductions in Federal Government spending. But even the act of decreasing Defense and State Department budgets begs the central question, what is to be the over arching US foreign policy?

Many observers have had their fill of the notion that the US is world’s policeman. And to be sure, the US policies in Afghanistan and Iraq have been poorly thought through and to date, failures. But policeman and deterrent can be two different situations. A deterrent if effective can keep other nations from aspiring to enforce their wills on other nations, for example Russia, China, or Iran. Does the President or his advisors really think that buying more planes, ships, and tanks will be sufficient for him to “bluff” other countries into following America’s wishes?  And what will happen if the President’s bluff doesn’t work?

Beefing up the military is a nice sop for his nationalistic followers, especially those who have never worn a military uniform (like the President). More Defense spending will also please a lot of Defense Contractor CEOs. Hmmm.

Taking the money from State Department and the EPA, however, may reflect other motives. Weakening the State Department could (and most likely would) make implementing US foreign policy dependent upon military action. A self fulfilling prophecy so to speak.  Will President Trump be a war President?  Neoconservative rhetoric can be infectious until implemented, then if becomes deadly for the sons and daughters of other Americans.

It is the EPA donation may shine more light on an underlying and even more sinister motive. Which sounds more responsible to you, (1) cutting the EPA budget purposely so the EPA will become resource starved and cannot continue key programs like enforcement of clean air and water regulations or those related to global warming, or (2) cutting the EPA to fund serious national security concerns, and oh yes, unfortunately with a restricted budget the EPA simply cannot do as much as before?


Environmental Catch 22

August 31, 2015

President Obama will visit Alaska and plans to announce a change back from the Mount McKinley name to its original Indian name, Denali. He will use the trip also to emphasize the threat global warming presents and the need for the world to take it seriously. The President’s actions are understandable given the science, the melting glaciers, and that President Obama is in his last months in office.

Environmental groups are calling the Obama Administration “hypocritical”. How can the Administration be for the environment and still give Shell the go ahead for Arctic oil drilling?

For sure the Obama Administration wants it both ways. The Administration seeks to get kudos from environmentalists and yet also see the need for energy and satisfy economic realities with jobs associated with drilling. It does seem a bit odd that the Keystone pipeline has languished for so long even though it involves no new drilling. Building the pipeline will not increase the supply of oil but rather change where it is refined. Why the big deal with Alaska?

Environmentalists are loath to admit global warming is a far bigger and more complicated problem than just Alaska or the US, or other developed countries. China and India are moving towards the spots of #1 and #2 polluter and with their combined 2 1/2 billion people, they will draft the output of US’ 340 million. Getting a handle on global warming is much more involved than drilling in Alaska.

Environmentalist point out that unless the developed world presents an example, the rest of the world will not follow. Hmmm.

Reducing fossil fuel consumption must involved decreasing the world’s dependence upon most carbon energy sources. Wind, ocean, thermal, solar, along with hybrid systems all lie on the path to lower demand for fossil fuels and subsequently reduced global warming. Environmentalist might consider advocating for non-fossil or significantly reduced fossil fuel alternative energy sources.

Both political parties could take a message from this controversy too. The path away from fossil fuels is not clear and is expected to be costly (at least initially). Political parties, who either denying global warming, or approve new oil exploration while embracing global warming dangers is sending a very mixed message to voters.

The unintended message is that politicians cannot be trusted to see right from wrong, and cannot be expected to advocate innovative solutions to tough problems.  Voters may see non-traditional elected officials as just as good as the current crowd.

What say Ben Carson, Bernie Sanders, or Donald Trump?