Suddenly Extremely Cold in Ohio! So Where’s the Global Warming?

It’s suddenly extremely cold today in Ohio. When I got up this morning, it was 0 degrees with 35 mph wind gusts.  Just looked at thermometer again, and it is now -1 degree F, and the forecast is for falling temperatures today.  You may hear some folks ask, “So where’s the global warming we’ve been hearing about?”  Of course, you are probably aware of the differences between climate and weather, weather being a more short-term experience, which can include considerable volatility.  Climate is the long-term picture.

However, a longer-term pattern of suddenly colder and then suddenly warmer weather in the middle latitudes, according to climate scientists, is likely an effect of general global warming.  Here’s why. 

Global warming is causing the polar regions to warm twice as fast as the middle latitudes.  This is due to the fact that ocean ice in the artic is being reduced quite rapidly.  Thus, the reflective white surface is being replaced by the dark ocean surface, which causes more heat to be absorbed, and yet more ice to melt, and warming to accelerate in the arctic from this feedback loop.

This accelerated warming in the arctic is causing a reduction in the temperature gradient, the contrast between the temperatures of polar regions and those of the middle latitudes being reduced.  This reduction in temperature gradient affects the jet stream, weakening it, reducing its speed, and causing it to dip more north and south rather than remaining a mostly west-east direction. 

This dipping can bring colder air down from the artic or bring unusually warm air up from southern regions. So, for example, the end of January could be much colder than normal with a sudden change in a week to several weeks later to much warmer than normal. (Just saw forecast for warming to around 50 degrees four or five days from now.) Once in a while this large temperature swing happens within the normal climate range, but the pattern seems to be repeating more than normal, probably as a result of global warming that especially affects the polar regions. So watch the rest of the winter. What will February and March be like? You might be able to detect yet more evidence of this global warming effect.

“I want to say one word to you. Are you listening?”

If you’re old enough or if you are not so old but have seen the now very old movie The Graduate, you may remember the scene in which a businessman, Mr. McGuire, gives a piece of advice to the character Benjamin played by Dustin Hoffman.  Putting his arm around Benjamin, Mr. McGuire declares. “I want to say one word to you---just one word.  Are you listening?”  Benjamin replies, “Yes, I am.” And then Mr. McGuire clearly and precisely pronounces the word—“plastics.” That was supposed to be invaluable business advice for 1967, the year the movie was released.  Plastics was the up and coming industry, and an industry that could make a young man rich if he got into it.

Noting is revealed in the movie about Hoffman’s character taking up this advice.  He has romantic interests to pursue, and his mind was really not focused on the petrochemical industry.  But as a nation, as a world, we have taken that advice to heart with a vengeance.  We have not only remembered plastics, we have fully embraced plastics to the point that plastics are choking our world to death.

According to FracTracker, as much as 12.7 million tons of plastic waste goes into the ocean each year, affecting some 700 species of marine animals.  And of course, it’s not only in the oceans, but everywhere else on land and water.  So what we don’t need now in Ohio – or anywhere—are more petrochemical plants to make plastics.  But that’s what we ARE going to get.  With all the natural gas and natural gas liquids which are being mined and which are the feedstock of plastics, Ohio is on the verge of making the problem worse---much, much worse.

Petrochemical plants like this one are planned for Ohio. Photo: FrackTracker

Petrochemical plants like this one are planned for Ohio. Photo: FrackTracker

God’s Creation and Spirituality

Words for Meditation:

“Human beings are part of the environment and are influenced by it. Certain environments are conducive to the development and enrichment of spirituality. All are, by nature, spiritual. There are hundreds of things in the surroundings, which help us to discover God. Such environments are thought of as the manifestation of God, the creator.

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“A gigantic river that runs by; a vast green meadow; a huge forest with animals roaming around; birds that sing and fly with tiny wings; flowers that open with variety of colors; peaceful dawn that dispels the darkness; light emerging gradually every morning; brightly shining sun in the middle of the day; radiance of the calmly descending sun in the evening spreading beauty in the horizon; thousands of shining stars at night; thunder that flashes across the sky; the plants of the earth and the fishes of the sea; cold wind in the winter and the pleasant sun in the summer; clouds that move slowly under the sky; the mountains, springs, trees, breeze, flood - all these enable the spiritually-minded persons to discover God in the environment.”

-Justice, Paix, & Intégrité De La Création (JPIC-Assumpta.org)

Why Doesn’t Everyone Have Solar Power ?

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Why we do not see more solar power installations? -- a compelling question.  Isn’t it odd to see so few solar installations on our daily journeys?  Isn’t it odd that countries with very low costs of living use many solar panels with the same advanced technology that we have?  Is this by chance?  Louis Pasteur observed, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”   What exactly does that mean for us when it comes to solar power? 

It is easy to get lost when trying to sort out questions about solar power.   But most of what we experience in the world is what nature teaches us.  Small incremental changes produce majestic results, be it grains of sand forming sand dunes or drops of rain water forming river torrents.  Sometimes we need to slow down and see the finite in the infinite.  That is true for solar power. Small packets of energy from the sun are cultivated by our immense creativity into electric power, its motive force provided to us without hesitation from an aging 4.6 billion year old yellow dwarf star. Isn’t that majestic?  Perhaps it is the simplicity and grandeur of solar power that we need to ponder until it is deep in our bones, so that it moves us to use this power for the good it will bring humankind.

The experiences and complexities in our daily lives hinder us when it comes to solar power.  This can feel like an experience untangling a badly backlashed ball of string.   The good news is someone has already mastered the way out of this discombobulation.   Clearing our minds for this simplicity of thought and seeking out the master is not always easy. That goes for solar power as well.  The master is in all of us, and anyone who has finished the race to a solar installation is now a master.  That of course came with help from other masters who crossed the finish line in front of us!

Some of us, the tiny grains of sand or rain water droplets, have found their way to fully embrace solar power. We are conscious of its beauty and its grandeur and sensitive to the mosaic it is creating.    We see it every time a ray of sunshine reveals itself, every time we pass a solar installation, every time we read an article on its up and rising chorus.  It is now a bubbling brook, a rising sand dune. Only we can stop it now, but it is too beautiful to ignore. It is too good for humanity to not feel its nourishment, and it will never leave our consciousness as our creative genius seeks a more beautiful world.  

                                                                                               -Dan Philipps

Time To Get Together To Move Forward

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It’s been four years since we have had a statewide meeting of environmental activists from all around Ohio.  The last one was in 2015 in New Philadelphia.

It’s time we get together again, share ideas, and come up with some plans for moving Ohio forward toward a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future.

So this March 23, we’re doing it again---gathering from all around the state to assess the situation as it now stands, compare notes, exchange ideas, and make some plans for moving forward, perhaps with a bit more coordination and impact!

So clear your calendars for Saturday March 23. 

One of the things that will be a central feature of this summit will be providing ample unstructured time for everyone to network, exchange stories and ideas.  This will create the fertile ground for moving Ohio forward.

For more information and details email: factohio@gmail.com

 

The Shutdown—Learning to Understand and Appreciate Government

For those who think they want a smaller government, pay attention to the current partial government shutdown.  Hopefully, the result of this current shrinkage of government, will be an appreciation for the complexity and scope of the various agencies that function 24/7 to keep us safe, funded, and a government that provides for "... the common defense and promotes the general welfare.”

FaCT promotes sustainability; shutting down the government does not.  Many of the phrases and words that I have used in this writing should be familiar because we have heard them before, but have we actually taken time to think about them when the government shuts down and the impact that has on every aspect of our daily lives?  The obvious answer is “no” because we take for granted a functioning government.

Unfortunately, it is a New Day in America, "...Welcome to the Party, Pal." We are in for a wild ride as our president flounders through his questionable constitutional endeavors.  Our democracy works well when we have qualified, well-intentioned representatives of the people that take their oaths of office seriously.

I have always valued education and life-long learning.  There are lessons to learn when we get the facts and the education required for implementation. This is easy to say when one has the resources for a safe place to live, an adequate education, gainful employment, affordable healthcare, safe food and water supplies, and I could go on.  I am describing an open, functioning government providing for the "general welfare," which is often taken for granted—luxuries that not all of us are able to achieve or have "handed to them" by wealthy relatives. 

That is when government becomes the "shining city on the hill" providing everyday necessities for those that need assistance.  In my own family, my husband not only served in the military but also worked for the government in the Social Security Administration for more than 30 years.  We lived through government shutdowns that directly affected us with work with no pay, missed mortgage payments, and everything else that goes with the uncertainty a shutdown causes.  Fortunately, we were not part of the longest shutdown, and we had an actual functioning government with checks and balances operating among the branches.

What I am hoping for during this shutdown is that everyone has their eyes and ears wide open to see and hear what is happening. Time to get off social media arguing and being manipulated by whomever or whatever and get a real-time education. It is the opportunity to learn about the importance of regulations (rules) and see the impact of having the wrong people in charge of your safety and well-being. Take time to witness.  Pay attention to Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell and the actions or inactions they take.  Think and sort through the impact.  What is the goal of what they are doing or not doing?   

Finally, look to the faithful government employees that want to go back to work, "...to provide for our common defense, promote our general welfare" and "...keep us safe from enemies foreign and domestic.”  Time for all of us to get busy and work for a government "...of the people, by the people and for the people." Take action. Call or write your representatives in Washington and tell them to Open the Government Now. After all, they are about to get a raise, so insist that they earn their keep. 

                                                                                                                        -Marlene Pikus

Green New Deal or New Green Deal? -- Getting the Vision Right

Is the vision of the Green New Deal broad enough and deep enough? What about the problems of the transition from our present economy to a new green economy?

Perhaps the Green New Dealers need to re-work and augment their vision.

For more on this, check out this article at Counterpunch: “That Green Growth at the Heart of the Green New Deal? It’s Malignant” by Stan Cox at https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/01/17/that-green-growth-at-the-heart-of-the-green-new-deal-its-malignant/

Pushing for the Green New Deal

The Sunrise Movement and their young allies in the new Congress are pressing for commitments to the Green New Deal from lawmakers and 2020 candidates.

In the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi at least created a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.  This falls short of what Sunrisers really wanted, which was a standing committee that would have subpoena power.  This would enable the committee to call department heads to House hearings to hold them accountable for policies to implement a Green New Deal or at least to address the climate change challenge.

However, the Sunrisers are pressing ahead.  Already several potential 2020 presidential candidates have expressed varying degrees of support for a Green New Deal, including Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker.

As reported by CNN, the proposed Green New Deal would move the U.S. toward “100% renewable energy, through a series of economic reforms, including a jobs guarantee and a heavy public investment in low or no-carbon infrastructure such as light rail for commuters.”

For a full report, go to CNN online at: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/08/politics/ocasio-cortez-sunrise-justice-democrats-green-new-deal-next-steps/index.html