Summer 2017

May 18, 2017

BW photograph of a twisted and broken sapling in the woods.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It was 84 degrees this morning at 10:00 a.m.  By 1:00 p.m., it was 94 degrees.  That is supposed to change this weekend as cooler weather and possible thunderstorms are forecast for the area.

Meanwhile, the Mid-West continues to be hammered as described in this discussion.  That source indicates we are coming off the wettest April in the past 60 years and provides an overview of the weather expectations for Summer 2017.  Please be sure to listen a few minutes into the discussion for meteorologist Angela Fritz to explain the relationship between weather and climate change-particularly as it relates to the development of extreme weather.

The discussion of FEMA is just as important.

Take care.

BW photograph of California poppies.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Last month, Governor Jerry Brown officially declared that the five-year drought in California was over.

BW photograph of a billboard in Los Angeles saying "Loving Water Means Saving Water".

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The question now becomes how much these efforts to conserve water will remain going forward.  California’s experience over the last half-decade provides hard lessons well-learned in the age of climate change-lessons that would be well-applied locally, nationally, and globally.  Of course, one definition of learning is “Any relatively permanent change in behaviour brought through experience” (Lahey 194). The operative words there are “relatively permanent change”.  Arguably, not much will have been gained if folks return to previous patterns of water use and consumption.

Time will tell what learning has actually taken place.

Take care.

The Budget and the Birds

March 16, 2017

BW photograph of Klee Mill Road after a snow storm.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The president’s preliminary budget was announced today, and it certainly does appear to represent the campaign promises made.  Given the large focus this site has on climate change, it is significant that the EPA is slated to be cut by about 31% as discussed here.  In addition, monies for least-developed nations to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change/sea level rise/desertification would be slashed.  There are other environmental-related initiatives/programs also identified for de-funding.

The gutting of such efforts is particularly compelling as it is not yet above freezing today in this part of the world, and the ground is covered with a concrete-like mass as a result of the most recent snow/sleet/snow storm and well-below freezing temperatures.  It is painful to see some robins, whose circadian rhythms are programmed for spring temperatures and conditions at this time of year, be unable to find the requisite food and water.  (The need for breeding and certain foods would have triggered the flight north toward a usually more temperate clime-the unparalleled warmth of this past December, January, and February could have disrupted their behaviour.)  These kinds of alterations to migratory patterns as a result of climate change is a major concern. Nature has its own timetable for evolutionary adaptation-one not based on short-sighted, ego/ethnocentric, year-to-year federal spending, and politics.  There simply may not be enough time to develop the necessary accommodations.

It is important to recognize that the announcement of this budget is just the start of the process of negotiation, so there is more to be revealed as to the final budgetary outcome.  In a similar vein, NPR posted this report a few days ago, which deals with the proposed health care plan.  If you are concerned about this budget’s impact on environmental issues (or health care for that matter), then it is worthwhile to make that position known by writing a letter to your Congressperson(s) in the House and Senate.  Be part of the process.

In all fairness, it is important to the democratic process for those who do support this proposed budget to contact their reps as well.  It behooves everyone to be sure to investigate these issues with enough due diligence so as to make an informed decision and one not based on confirmation bias or distortion.  Using multiple legacy-based sources helps.  That is what a democracy is supposed to be.   (As an aside, that is one of the issues with the recent controversy over the proposed health care plan-some recognized they would be worse-off if the Affordable Care Act were indeed repealed and replaced, which prompted contacts with those in power.  Brexit is another example if we want to go global.)  Unfortunately, the Citizens United decision brought much more money and the influence that buys into American politics.  This makes it ever more important to have individual voices be heard (or read, as it were).

NOTE:  For those reading outside of the U.S., this is certainly a bit of a look into our politics.

Take care.

 

 

 

Take care.

Distance

March 13, 2017

BW photograph of a tractor in a field during a snowstorm.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Distance is another measure of both time and place.  Traveling a couple of hours and nearly two hundred miles west into the mountains brought a drop in temperature to about 24 degrees and enough of a snowstorm to create whiteout conditions.

BW photograph of clouds moving over snow covered trees.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It was quite beautiful to watch the transition of the sky and the landscape.

BW photograph of clouds over snow covered trees.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a large cloud above some trees after a snowstorm.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

And now the time and physical distance between such weather and here is about to close.  The forecast is calling for 12-18″ of snow starting tonight and lasting well into tomorrow.

That changes the perspective.  Part of what made the snow beautiful out there, was not having to do anything but sit in the warmth and look out the window.  Now, back home, the need arises to move it as work will eventually beckon…which leads to yet another point-of-view.  The western part of the state relies on snow and cold as there are a couple of ski resorts in the area.  Given the overall warmth of this winter, February 2017 was the second warmest on record, it has been quite difficult to have, make, and keep snow on the slopes.  This storm will be of economic benefit to those establishments and a welcome opportunity to those who enjoy such activity.

Take care.

Long Term Consequences

March 6, 2017

BW photograph of a mini-falls with bubbly water.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It was 16 degrees Sunday morning and just above freezing this morning.  The forecast calls for temperatures in the 60s over the next couple of days and then for the possibility of snow showers later in the week.

A local NPR station has a relatively new show entitled 1A, and one of today’s broadcasts dealt with climate change-a topic that Mr. Joshua Johnson, the host, has addressed before.  The panelists reported on the fluctuation of weather systems coupled with the longer term consequences of climate change.

BW photograph of sycamore trees against the sky.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There were two major areas of discussion involving the warming temperatures: the shift in weather patterns and the de-synchronization between plant and animal species.  (The book Why Time Flies covered in an earlier blog includes this as well.)  One of the panelists presented a theory that addressed the former and both discussed examples to illustrate the latter.  The biological and economic consequences of these developments are quite notable.

Take care.

 

Fuel

February 18, 2017

BW photograph of cars in line awaiting a take-out order.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Looking out from the inside of a coffee shop that has a drive-through window.  How much gasoline do you think was used as the occupants were awaiting fuel of a different sort?

While not specifically dealing with being stuck in that type of line, this 2016 article references 2015 data regarding the cost of being stuck in traffic as measured by time, dollars, and gasoline.

Take care.

Availability

February 12, 2017

BW photogaph of a vehicle moving across a parking lot on a rainly day as seen through a windshield.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The majority of the state of California has been suffering from severe drought conditions for much of the past five years-a subject that has been a recurring theme here.  This winter has been much different as per this article.  So much snow and rain has fallen that parts of the state are no longer considered to be under such a status.  Please, though, do read through the entirety of that second article.

Alleviating drought and the concomitant problems is a good thing, as is learning ways to conserve water.  It is also important to recognize, however, that a return to wasting water only sets the stage for future problems.  California and its relationship with water is an example of a larger issue-that being how we respond to deprivation and availability of resources.

Another example of the response to deprivation/availability comes from the auto industry.  In 1973-74, OPEC instituted an oil embargo against the United States, which quite literally brought travel to a standstill.  In response, Americans began to seek and buy much smaller, more fuel-efficient imports from Datsun (now Nissan) and Toyota.  As such, the U.S. auto industry had a rough time adjusting to a new reality and suffered economically.  Fast forward to now as the price of oil has plummeted and gasoline prices are also down.  2016 was a record year for U.S. automakers-with trucks and SUVs largely being the vehicles purchased.  One of the reasons for the surge in buying was the availability of cheaper gasoline.  (As a group, trucks and SUVs get far less gas mileage than do more fuel-efficient smaller cars.)  The incentives discussed in the article also made a difference in the purchase of vehicles.  Tellingly, such incentives could produce a longer-term problem that can offset the shorter term gain.  When gasoline was rationed and expensive, we responded one way; once it was available and cheaper, we responded in quite a different way.

The current lower price of oil creates political and economic issues for the OPEC nations and Russia, as detailed in this report from November, 2016, thereby depriving those countries of revenue (not to mention power and control).  Their response?  Cut production.  Global oil markets and pricing is quite a complex issue, as discussed here.

However, the fundamental point I am taking a long time to make is this.  We need to be very careful what we do when it seems like a problem is no longer a problem-when deprivation turns to availability.  Short term thinking really can create longer term consequences.  Political movement is already afoot to undo the Obama administration’s environmental initiatives.  The fact that California’s reservoirs are in better shape in no way means that issues with water will not continue.  The planet continues to warm.

Take care.

UPDATE:  The amount of rain and snow that has fallen in California has also resulted in this.