Monday, February 20, 2017

If you're not angry, disgusted, outraged, and inspired... you're not paying attention.

I would like to preface this by the fact that I have learned more about politics in the last month than in my previous 28 years. I have heard a lot of radio stories from both sides, done a lot of reading, and listened to worries and hopes of people from diverse backgrounds in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, New Mexico, New York, and Massachusetts, in addition to countless other opinions I've read on my Facebook feed. 
In the past month I have cried for future generations, and for students in New Mexico who have so many hurdles to gain a general education. I have strengthened my stance that education affects everything, and seen and heard the dramatic actions and beliefs caused by people who have lacked access to a holistic education. 
In the past month, I have come to some conclusions about our current political climate

  • I am a part of a growing minority. 
  • The things I care the most about, environment and education face irreparable damage for the sake of wealth. 

I have thought a lot about what I can do. Protest? Cry? Yell at people? Practice my aim? Argue on Facebook? Alas, although it seems futile, my main objective in this life is to perpetuate knowledge. So here goes.

It seems our nation is easily distracted by media cycles on Russia and Sweden, and Muslims. While some may brush this off as something happening "somewhere else," and other's feel the connectedness of these and other countries to our global economy, there is historically little media coverage on the climate anomalies and catastrophes across the United States. Weather is usually confined to local news, causing people to miss the opportunity to connect the dots. 

In the past two weeks, here's a brief look at what has happened to our Environment.

In California, atmospheric rivers are helping relieve drought and cause flooding. To me this is an awesome example of the highly complex systems that aid in our Goldilocks planet. There are dozens of systems that impact the climate of our Earth, and people that spend their life studying them. Unless you have a degree in atmospheric science, please keep your global warming attributions or denials to yourself until you consult a professional. 

In Australia, thousands of bats literally dropped out of the sky after searching for shade and fanning themselves. As a native Texan I initially scoffed at complaints of how hot it's been in Australia for their summer, but this is a valuable reminder that we are not the only beings on this planet. However we are the only beings capable of telling ourselves that this isn't our fault, and turning away from the responsibility.

In the House of Representatives, 225 members of the house voted to overturn a federal rule (crafted over years by wildlife managers at the US Fish and Wildlife Service) to stop denning of wolf pups, killing of hibernating bears, and targeting grizzlies from aircraft and shooting them after landing, among other cruel practices. "Some members favoring the Young resolution cloaked their vote behind the mantle of states’ rights." While I'm still trying to learn the benefits of this stance, it doesn't apply to the National Wildlife Refuge referred to in this bill. 

In the Southwest Power Pool region, (a large swath from North Dakota to Montana and New Mexico to Lousiana) wind power constituted over half the energy least for a few minutes. After hearing a report about Trump's promises on the future of Coal industry, I'm reminded of the power of our dollar. We can vote every day by making informed decisions and choosing consciously what we pay for. 

In Colorado, and all across the US, insect populations are slaughtering forests. This is directly related to our rising climate because cold weather used to provide trees with an opportunity to build defense and communicate-- yes, communicate with one another to warn of attacks. Now the lack of a long winter season means that trees are not only fighting non-stop, but tree-boring insects are having two breeding cycles within a year, causing twice the damage. I hope I don't have to explain the importance of diverse forests to our country and world.

In the northern alps, a glacier that has been retreating for decades is revealing gruesome artifacts, including corpses, from a WWI battle. Perhaps this is a silver lining? Until you think further on the effects of retreating glaciers...

Perhaps the most disheartening thing I've learned from the articles I've read and radio segments I've heard, is realizing that American's care less about environmental protection. I think this is partially attributed to our education, where students in an economics class are prompted to consider only the cost and the personal gratification of a decision, not the effects to others and the environment. I also think this is a product of our success at managing Environmental dangers. Since the Clean Water and Clean Air act passed in the 70's, rivers that catch on fire and unrestricted pollution pouring out of smokestacks in industrial areas have curbed. But the battle is far from over. I have read a lot of about the environmental injustices of our decisions. Mostly poor communities are shouldering the health problems and eyesores that people with greater income are able to ignore.

Tonight, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse explained the power of Corporate lobbying. Outspoken environment-hero Bob Inglis, a South Carolina Senator who lost reelection to a Tea Party candidate likely because of his anti-fossil fuel stance is an example of our trending trade-off for increased money to futile industries at the cost of our natural resources.

You can read all of these articles with skepticism. You can, and should, research the funders of scientific reports that come out (as scientists are often targets of corruption as much as politicians). But to me it comes down to this. What do people have to WIN by denying climate change and approving legislation that destroy our environment? More wealth in their pocket, decreased regulations, money money money. What do people have to gain by protecting our environment*? A lot of uphill battles, hard work, and spending. But the rewards are emotional, and mental, not economical. I will always side with the people making decisions with their heart over those making decisions with their wallet.

Knowledge 'n Action Equal Power
*Apparently their are environmentalists that stand to make some money of fear-mongering, etc. I've read that Michael Crighton book. But the majority of the people suffering climate change have no voice, and nothing to gain from our warming earth, save a few shorter winters before we all cook in Earth's oven.

I'm trying to hear many points of view on this. If you've read this far, you likely are too. I would love to hear your thoughts, challenges, and articles.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Groundhog forsees many warmer, darker winters ahead

I have been... fortunate... enough to have a week off from work, so I can wallow in the dread of Trump's presented policies and executive orders and estimate when the first nuclear bomb will hit, and where. 

In solidarity with friends everywhere, especially back home where there have been marches and protests I couldn't be a part of... I do feel like I'm drowning. I feel like I'm in a fog in a nightmare where I can see what's happening and can't reach through the fog and affect anything. A thought that keeps plaguing me is wondering if this feeling will be dismissed by many as a typical reaction to a president with opposing political views

Yesterday I happened to be at the Texas State Capitol with two out-of-state friends. We saw a huge group of Muslim visitors for Muslim Day at the Capitol. There was a fury of energy because the session is In. There was a man with a big beard and a shirt that had Texas outlined and exaggerated within the US and the words "I'm with Stupid" in Texas pointing to the rest of the country. Inside, we admired the architecture and the buzz, and found ourselves looking longingly at a photo of George Bush Jr. "Gosh, I almost wish he was president again," we all agreed. 

Because even though I Don't agree with a lot of the things George Bush did or believes in, I was able to exercise my right as an American. I signed petitions, wrote letters, and listened to news. What's happening right now is not only a threat to my rights as an American, but my right as a steward of the Earth. And it is through that vein that I will be focusing my energies and efforts henceforth. 

I was proud of the protests for the "Muslim-ban" and the people that stood up to it. But I couldn't help but see it, and the extensive news coverage of it, as a distraction from some equally tragic promises that Trump has signed in. 

So here's a look at what I've seen, just in the last two days. 

1) EPA pick Scott Pruitt is a nail in the coffin, not just for the environment but the future of our Nation. I strongly recommend Bill Moyer's commentary for a full picture. 

2) Congress is looking to overturn the Stream Protection Rule that Obama set in place that urges mining companies to restore stream habitats to the way they were once they were done. The way it's written, there's plenty of potential for polluters to find loopholes, unfortunately. So why bother eliminating it. HOW DO PEOPLE NOT SEE THE VALUE OF STREAMS? 

3) And perhaps the biggest horror is the legislation Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz proposing the US sell of 3.3 million acres of public land (read- public land, meaning they don't OWN it, WE do, we ALL do). 

To me, this is life or death. This is greedy leaders in the Present pulling physical and aesthetic resources away from the Future. I can't even believe this is legal, much less accepted. 

What truly worries me is how little people understand about the Environment. I spent 2 years studying the systems and interworkings of the environment and BARELY scratched the surface. Our Earth will not HEAL itself from the mass of wounds we are digging into it. We must act as stewards. 
 What gives me hope, is that Veterans will continue standing for local tribes, for families and for the future of our water, our Earth, our favorite hiking places. 
What else can you do? Call your senators! Tell them to oppose Chaffetz's legislation. Do your best to keep your head above water and I will continue to collect what information I can about environmental policy.