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The Good News and The Bad News on Climate Change

On Friday, at my university, we were fortunate enough to have a very well know climate science researcher speak, Michael Mann.  IF the name sounds familiar it’s because he was the one that produced the famous “Hockey Stick” graph that appeared in the peer-reviewed Geophysical Research Letters journal in 1999 (I wonder how many graphs have their own Wikipedia page!).  The graph of course was much maligned by climate change deniers funded by various lobbying groups, but has since that time proven to be quite accurate and verified by other researchers.  His was also among the e-mails leaked in the scandal called “climategate” which, despite the spin of deniers from out of context e-mail excerpts, has been debunked by the scientific community.  It was a great opportunity to hear from someone who has been at the heart of promoting scientific research on climate change, while also dealing with a great deal of political controversy and pseudo-science promoters who try to claim human-induced climate change is a hoax.  Like many climate scientists he has reached a point where he no longer finds it very useful to reach out to the public with facts and figures.  Numerous research articles have concluded that now, views on climate change are governed by political ideology rather than directly arguing with the science behind human-induced climate change.  I found the talk quite illuminating since I too have reached the same conclusion that scientific evidence seems to carry little weight when having discussions with people about the issue.  I also found it illuminating to learn more about the political state of affairs in the U.S. right now, so I wanted to share some good news and bad news takeaways for those of you concerned about our Earth.

The Good News

One thing that I thought was a good take away is that if you are a person debating or discussing this topic with a friend, relative, stranger whatever, that talking about the scientific consensus is probably the most helpful thing you can do.  Obviously there are always going to be contrary people, but for many there is still a misconception that this is a split issue, and research demonstrates that a lot of minds are changed by pointing out how much consensus there really is.  For more conservatively minded people reminding them that there are more economic benefits to doing something to not doing something, and that climate change also represents a national security issue is also important.  Fortunately there is already a faction of the military addressing climate change from this perspective.

The other bit of good news is that there is a great deal of plans in place by scientists and engineers to start dealing with climate change.  Basically the scientific community is prepared, and are simply waiting for the political will to be able to spring into action.

Michael Mann also said there are a lot of Republican members of congress who are closeted climate change supporters.  They accept the scientific evidence and feel that it is important to do something about it.  Why are they in the closet, well they have learned the lesson of Bob Inglis.  He was a SC congressman who served from 2005-2011 and came out for doing something about climate change from an evangelical Christian perspective.  He said the scientists were right and as Christians we should be caring for God’s creation.  If you are a Christian this is a valid position to take and is supported by scripture.  Bob Inglis ended up losing by a landslide in the Republican primary as his opponent was support by the Koch brothers.  Michael Mann and Bob Inglis are good friends and so I believe this political inside information to be plausible and valid.  In some ways by releasing him like that, conservative America has opened up a can of worms and Mr. Inglis now promotes doing something about climate change from both a Republican and Christian viewpoint.

The Bad News

Well the bad news is also related to the good news.  It makes me concerned, not only that the massive money of the Koch Brothers and energy companies lobbying against solid science is preventing us from taking action that will help this planet, but also that we have so many Republican people in congress without the political courage to stand up to the money.  It seems if they all banded together I am not sure what the likes of the Koch Brothers could do, if all of a sudden all of those people in congress lost their next elections suddenly. It would sort of “show their hand”.  I guess it upsets me that the people we elect can be so intellectually dishonest and live with themselves.

I asked Michael Mann what the political tipping point would be to make all these Republican congress people come out the proverbial closet.  He said that it would take the Republican party to crash and burn in this next election.  Only by losing the executive branch and the senate (and possibly the house) would make them turn around and start to support more environmental concerns.  The problem is that this election is looking a lot closer than it should be.  A small margin of victory by Clinton isn’t going to cut it.

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What is clear is that whatever your political stance, climate change is in your best interest and it behooves you to vote for politicians who do have the courage to fight for this planet.  Given Gary Johnson, and Trump’s stance on climate, these are really not viable options.  And most importantly make sure you vote for people in the senate and the house who accept the scientific consensus on climate change as well.

Finally I also want to help promote Michael Mann’s new book.  It gives a much more in depth discussion than my little summary here.  He also teamed up with a satirical cartoonist from the Washington Post who provides some good humor throughout the book.  The book address things like ethics, politics, the money and ideologies behind climate science deniers, logical fallacies, and of course some basics about the science.  I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

The book discusses tipping point in the climate system which are points which there is no quick return from and can lead to rapid disaster.
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Where Silence Reigns

From cool blue ice She melted into the serene rill below and swirled Her way down the slope.  A cup dipped into the water and She felt Herself poured over a sun-beaten face, thick with sweat.  Thoughts lost in introspection, the man let the water drip back into the stream.  Continuing on Her journey She felt the leaves fall on Her and carried them down, down.  Some slipped away from Her lazy grasp, and others joined Her.  She came now to a bridge and looking up She saw the face of a woman who saw to peace in the waters below.  A single tear landed without a sound to join the gently flowing waters.  Though no one could tell She wept as well as She passed under the bridge downstream.  Tall soft pine waving farewells in the breeze.

It was night when She first entered the sleeping city.  Dark houses are filled with slow breaths and strange dreams while the occasional streetlight reveals nothing but strays contemplating the next meal.  Further on a key slides in noiselessly and turns as a wayward teen sneaks back into their warm home, hoping not to be heard.  While the ever vigilant and worried parent is blanketed with calm knowing their child is safe.  As city center is reached the dawn approaches and She turns into vapor as She wafts into the street, drifting and curling around corners.  It is Sunday morning and only a few vehicles pass on towards churches whose bells call to worship.  She sighs as hidden sins enter wooden doors and quietly sit in polished pews.  A few people shuffle down deserted alleys, failing to recall clearly the boisterous activities of the night before.  An old man with newspaper in hand opens a door and She follows warm smells of roasted beans for steaming brews and feels at home for a moment.  She passes by a woman in her 40’s dressed in Sunday best, who slowly stirs her coffee while feeling ignored and unknown. Her husband staring into his phone to learn the minutia of teams and players in upcoming matches.  She circles in behind the counter as a barista makes conversation with a young man, who is gripped in fear for how vulnerable and in love he is with her.  He contemplates what to say, but never gets it right.  And before the ventilation takes Her out into the streets again She passes by a manager thinking about his wife and young son at home who had to leave on a Sunday morning to come to work in a country that doesn’t rest as much as it should.

In the day’s heat She ascends above the growing bustle and looks down upon missed connections, lost opportunities, and people who have forgotten how to listen, to breathe in the air and be thankful.  It cries to Her. Or sings in continuous discordance.  She cannot tell.  It deafens Her as She continues to rise and feels Herself condense back into Her better self.  As the noise subsides She looks down again and sees fields of green and dives down like a giant tear to the spongy earth below.  She is drawn to the roots of a tree and took asylum in the xylem as She flowed up trunk and out branch and waited.  Each day She fed to the growing fruit, incorporating Herself into the flesh.

The sky turns above and She hears Her benefactor hum a song of patience as Her branch becomes heavier with fruit.  And each day a young girl comes to sit under the tree.  Hoping for better days.  Hiding from the screaming of parents. Breathing in the clean air to replace that dank smell of her father’s alcohol.  And each day She hears the hope, the hiding, and the relief from clean air.  She hears Her kind slide down cheeks and get wiped away on pretty dress sleeves.  She hears the slow decay of an untended farmhouse, and the façade of a mother pretending everything is alright.  And then one day, with leaves fading from green to orange, the girl sits with head between knees, shutting out the world.  The wishing to be whisked away is like a piercing scream into the sky and She has no choice but to fall to the ground.  Vibrant in Her redness, full of sugar and quenching juices.  A thud that could be heard by no other, save someone sitting under the swooping branches, caused the young girl’s head to turn.  A soft rumble reminds the girl she is hungry.  And there was a meeting to never forget as she, but for a moment, loses all remembrance.  Each bite slow and savored and She can hear the sound of laughter as She is consumed.  From the lattice of fruity flesh to the dendritic flow of blood through flesh.  Through lung, to ventricle and atrium, the girl and She merge together as one.

Eyelids widen in the dead of night and She slips out through door in defiant trance.  With divine strength she climbs stealthily into hills and then on to rocky slopes rising like a fog in a valley breeze.  She is sustained by Her purpose alone and through 3 days and nights she climbs and climbs until white frozen ground is beneath Her bare feet.  Soft snow shuffles and She listens between gusts of wind for the calling of Her home.  As She gazes out at the wide world, the first of the sun’s rays dance of Her face, sweet peace is like a hymn from a jubilant choir in Her ears.  She sits down on Her throne of ice and closes Her eyes in glacial contentment.

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Do you know her?

I’d like to tell you about somebody.  Maybe you know her.  She’s not uncommon.  It is perhaps why we don’t talk about her that much.  Maybe she’s your mother, your aunt, a sister, or friend of the family.  She calls on Christmas.  On the rare times you visit, she’s always good to you.  She’s getting older now and she’s tired much more than she should be for age.  Still she keeps going even if she herself isn’t always sure why.

She was raised in a pretty traditional household.  Raised on Christian values, but not too overtly as there was too much work to do during the day to worry too much about it.  She learned good morals in her upbringing, she learned to work hard, and she learned what love is.  But she never knew herself really.  Normal was that a woman didn’t get that many choices in life.  Women, as far as she could tell was for others.  She wasn’t the oldest of her siblings either, so never got to do anything first.  She flew below the radar most of the time, but never really made any special attempts to get attention.  She just accepted her place in this world.  As a result of remaining in the background and assuming she belonged there, she never really got to know herself.  She was probably a bit smarter than her other siblings, or at least had her talents.  Maybe it was cooking, decorating, or sewing.  She would learn to use them, but never really thought they were anything special.  Never really let them be a source of pride for her, even though you could tell that it made her happy to do them.  Her true talent was probably much further than what she showed.  Cooking could have easily turned into a career in nutrition and diet, decorating could have turned into interior design, sewing could have turned into fashion.  Those jobs were for people with big dreams.  She was in no kind of position in life to have big dreams.  And for the most part she was just happy to be close to family and love the people in her world.

She was good at loving others, but never really good at finding someone to love her.  Even at the best of times she never felt as pretty as she was.  Love was something you’d probably just grow into.  She got married when she was young, because that’s what you did.  Someone was paying attention to her and it felt nice.  His drinking problem?  Well…everybody drank.  But eventually it did get too bad, and her family who always loved her helped her to get out before it got worse.  She did, with child in hand.  She kept looking for love, but hadn’t really learned what she did wrong the first time.  She knew that life was hard being a single mom, and a fear of being alone kept creeping up on her.  So she found someone else.  Someone who paid attention to her that could help her financially and lighten the load.  She believed once again that if she just loved, good things would come of it.  This time there were bruises, and the family helped her get away again, a second child in hand.  It was best to go it alone for a while she figured, it was even harder now.  If she wanted to get to know herself, she’d have to find the time.  With two children and a full time job to support them who has the time to find themselves?

She still had her family, and she loved them a lot.  Siblings and nephews and nieces, she always gave love without question.  She was never the cool aunt, she was never the funny sibling, but she knew how to listen and she knew how to laugh.  Her children were the world to her, even if they didn’t quite understand why she couldn’t always be there for her.  The mystery that all children whose parents are always working live with.  She’d do anything for them, except perhaps be tough with them.  When they hit their teenage rebelliousness she couldn’t follow through with the discipline.  What if they hated her?  What if they abandoned her?  How alone would she be then?  She loved them and never wanted to push hard.  She traded their respect for their company, but she never stopped loving them.  And even if they had a bit of a tough road, her kids turned out to be good people, but perhaps still feeling a little lost, without really knowing why.

With children grown and gone she was once again alone.  She was older now…certainly not as attractive.  Years of hard work, with only food as an indulgence had taken its toll on her body.  But she put on her hope cap, and the young girl inside her went looking for love again.  Still not really knowing who she was, she couldn’t find anybody who really appreciated her.  Just another man who was once again happy to have a quiet, compliant partner.  For just a little attention she didn’t need to be respected.  She seemed content to just have another living human being in the house so she didn’t have to be alone.  And maybe she would have walked away again, but that body who worked hard and was still trying to work hard didn’t have much energy for walking once the day was done.  And who had the energy for trying love once more?  So she resigned herself to just the emotional bruises every now and then, to have somebody else’s voice to talk to every once in a while.  She wouldn’t die alone.  She still believes in God, but mostly out of habit.  She’s really not sure if any other options make any more sense.
She still loves others well, whether they deserve it or not, and it is still uncertain how much she loves herself.

I love this woman.  She’s not uncommon.  Perhaps you know her. Perhaps you remember her.  Maybe she has always loved you.  Don’t be afraid to love her back.  It can only make her happy.

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Deconstruction

Cold titanium, metallic touch,
Protect from feeling far too much
Your crutch

Awaken darling, feel this flesh,
My hand conforms to yours,
Our eyes connect by unseen tether
Love dances across the medium.

Laser looks in calculated gaze,
Information fills emotionless days,
Safety pays

I have joys to show you, give you,
That surge you feel is chemical,
The heart throbs, blood pulses,
Cellular exchange renews you.

Corrupted memory banks are sealed,
Places your Designer never healed,
Must shield

Put your faith in something greater,
An idea to bring peace of mind,
I might have an idea…or two,
Let my lips help you think of something new.

Thoughts in circuits gridded tightly,
Produce their bedtime logic nightly,
So unsightly.

Pick wildflowers in the green fields,
And let them adorn your silken strands,
There’s a place you’ve never been,
Only you can go out, only you can let it in.

Powering down as eyelids close,
After habitually ingested prose,
Current slows

I’ll stand with you at the precipice,
Take that leap into the misty abyss
You won’t fall as hard as you think,
I’m already waiting on the other side.

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Soft Things

Seeking comfort when we begin,
By lying next to mother’s skin,
In flannel jammies snug for night,
Soft woolen blanket wrapped so tight
Daddy hands out plush new toy,
Is squeezed for infant’s peaceful joy.

Jumping, rolling in piles of pillows,
Fingers touching pussy willows,
Fighting winter’s cold with fleecy hat,
Pressing face in the fur of fuzzy cat,
Hugs through quilts tucked in to bed,
Big hungry bites of warm fresh bread.

Falling on powdered snowy ground,
Laughing in parkas filled with down,
Hands on lightly coated arms so fair,
Cheeks brushed by gently flowing hair,
The tingle from kisses on inviting lips,
A cozy spoon while caressing hips.

It seems as I grow, I also harden,
From worldly hurts, I entreat your pardon,
My creature comforts are not fragility,
Just sensory inputs that bring tranquility,
I look up at the puffy clouds aloft,
And hope not to lose a love for soft.

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In Parallel

There’s a type of love I found,
It’s the love that shouldn’t have been,
But was
Is

And there springs an alternate timeline
Another universe side by side with your own
Fabric
Torn

And so like the ghost that only you see
Hidden to others, nobody believes you
Haunted
There

A companion always in your periphery
Nothing wrong with dependable
Silent
Grave

Reality split, worlds in restless conflict
To go back to one, loss is too great
Courage
Fear

And so I resign myself to gratitude
For love that shouldn’t have been
Struggle
Life

Sadness of boy in the city

Syrian Refugee Crisis Nearly Solves Homelessness in the U.S., Again

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Omran Dagneesh who nearly solved homelessness in America

Washington, D.C. – Last week, the bombing of Aleppo, Syria caused social media in the U.S. to surge with evanescent concern for their over 500,000 homeless people.  Experts are saying that the plight of Syrians has been one of the best tragedies for getting people to feign interest over the increasingly prevalent problem of homelessness in the U.S.  One of the more moving scenes from last week’s bombing was the vacant expression on the face of a young boy, Omran Dagneesh, who was pulled from the rubble in the aftermath and bolstered vast amounts of fleeting sympathy for homeless people.  Once his wounds had been tended to, reporters had a chance to speak to him about his reactions to the near end of homelessness in the
U.S.  “Of course,” remarked the traumatized young boy, “I am pleased that my town, my neighbors, could all be bombed so that people in America could demonstrate momentary outrage at the terrible homelessness problem.  I mean it’s the most powerful economy of any country on Earth so I was glad that bricks and cement could bury me like that so that people could seem to care for homeless people, even if just for a day.”

Omran Dagneesh’s father echoed his son’s joy at being part of the short-lived concern for homeless people in the U.S.  “I only wish,” said the smiling father whose life was recently destroyed, “that we could have shown pictures of the other children, particularly the ones that died.  Oh and my neighbor who was pregnant and whose unborn baby was killed in her womb.  I’m certain that concern for homelessness could have trended on Facebook in the U.S. in a much more significant way.”

But social media experts say last week’s wave of false concern was small in comparison to last year’s overwhelming spurious concern for the homeless.  Reporters asked Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg whether this was true. “There is no doubt that when millions of Syrians were desperately fleeing the deteriorated conditions in Syria last year, the concern for homeless people was so great that it almost felt tangible.”  Zuckerberg added, “not tangible enough to do anything, but boy you really felt liked homelessness would be over soon.”

Long time Facebook user David Olsen of Battlecreek, MI remembers the time well.  “I don’t know what came over me,” reflected Olsen, “as I saw so many articles being posted about taking in all these Syrians who were completely destitute and in need of help, I suddenly become aware of all those who were destitute and in need of help, and thought about our own homeless.  Unfortunately, I was too busy reminding everybody about them to donate any money or volunteer any time to actually help them.  But you know it really felt good to get the information out.  When news about the Syrians disappeared from my newsfeed, it was like the homeless problem disappeared as well. Problem essentialy solved.”

Other Facebook users like Shirley Potter of Enid, OK however had a difficult time showing overall temporary care for homelessness.  “In general I think homeless people just need to pull themselves off their bootstraps,” said a resolute Potter, “but I am very pro-military, and when I found out that many of our vets were homeless as I learned about how much help the Syrians needed, I was able to join the chorus of people with transient sympathy for homeless people.”

To get the opinion of those who were at the receiving end of this ersatz concern, reporters asked homeless man Barton Kirby how he felt.  Kirby however was too moved to respond by the fact that in 12  years nobody had asked him his name and also that reporters didn’t spit at him.

mcconnellAt the political end of the spectrum Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) answered numerous questions from reporters at a press conference last week.  “Ultimately as a nation we can only act like we care for so many things at once, and we simply don’t have the resources to be helping Syrians with so many homeless people about,” exclaimed the senator from the nation that spends a higher percentage of their GDP on health care than any other developed nation.  “Currently we lead all developed nations in the category of child homelessness.  This problem isn’t going to go away unless we really get exposed to some long term suffering of the Syrian people so we can generate some solid and temporary concern for the homeless.”  The senator then added “We also have other problems we need to pay lip service to.  There are our veterans.” asserted the senator from the country that spends more per capita on defense than any other nation over 30 million people, and still has homeless veterans and veterans without proper physical and mental health care after their service. “We also have many people unemployed,” declared the senator, part of a congress whose work to pass jobs bills has been dwarfed by the over 60 times they tried to repeal the ACA, “so you see we have our hands full with all these other things we pretend are important, and can’t possibly help Syrian refugees.  And we’d like to thank the media for exposing the issues the good people of Syria face so we can continue this very moral and serious façade of being too busy working on our own problems to help others.”

Some detractors say that ultimately helping people is really more about the political and popular will to do so, but Dave Olsen disagrees.  “The only way we can solve homelessness through mock empathy is if we remain vigilant to stories about the suffering of the Syrian people.  I, along with many others on social media, are working together as a community to make sure that the Syrians never get helped while inspiring us to keep talking, but not actually doing anything, about the very important topic of homelessness.”