Climate Addendum

February 6, 2019

BW photograph of the Hurricane Jose's flooding of Bethany Beach.

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

This is an addendum to the previous post.

Tuesday night, the president made no mention of climate change in the State of the Union Address-here is a transcript.  (This version has also been fact-checked by the reporters at NPR.)  There certainly has been talk about declaring a “national emergency” (although that also was not in the speech) in order to fund border security.  That term, “national emergency”, which does trigger some presidential power, has not been used for climate change by the president.  One should also not expect that to happen.

In light of that, this headline (and article) would certainly make a different argument.  One issue, and I am not a legal scholar, is that climate change is not an unforeseen problem:  it is a well-known entity, but one that is denied or minimized in a variety of ways or flat-out ignored.  Therefore, the term “emergency” may not apply as per the National Emergencies Act-this report provides an overview of the Act and the political ramifications involved with its invocation-specifically as the president has threatened its use.

BW photograph of the Hurricane Jose's flooding of Bethany Beach.

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

This is the link to Mr. Balog’s interview about the new documentary The Human Element, which was mentioned in the previous post.  It is well worth a listen as there is much to be said about the political conflicts that arise with climate change.  Mr. Balog describes the movie as operating of the premise that humans are as elemental as the Earth, fire, water, and wind.  As Mr. Balog states, “We are in nature.”  I think he also very nicely sums up this issue when he says “Climate protection equals people protection.”  To further that point, please read this report.  Himalayan glaciers are theorized  to be responding in much than same manner as arctic ice as a result of climate change.

BW photograph of Detour with Double Pipe Creek flooding its banks onto a road.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It must be understood that climate change does not respect borders or boundaries-there are no walls to build, unless one talks about adaptation efforts to control rising seas.  (Importantly, Mr. Balog does provide an example of that type of wall in the interview.)  From a climate standpoint, what the United States does or doesn’t do impacts the Maldives.  What China does or doesn’t do impacts Tangier Island.  This is truly a global issue wherein some already are paying a terrible price.  For others, that time is yet to come.  Some may have the resources to insulate themselves.  For a little while longer.

Make no mistake-climate change does not disappear simply by ignoring it.

Take care.

P.S.  I know there are a lot of links in this post.  I suppose the entirety of what is written and linked here is very much summarized in the first and last sentences.  The evidence, though, is important-particularly for the political context in which this is written.

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Volatility

February 1, 2019

BW photograph of the winter sun while it was snowing.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

We are in the middle of record-breaking temperatures due to the recent polar vortex.  However, by the weekend and into the beginning of next week, temperatures are forecast to rise through the 50s into the low 60s.  That is quite a swing-it was 9 degrees and sunny as these opening sentences were being written, which was yesterday afternoon.  The photograph above was made earlier today as a light snow was falling.  It was 12 degrees at that time.

And so goes the stock market as well.  This article explains the CBOE Volatility Index or VIX, while this article includes graphs to illustrate the application to the markets back in October.

Polar vortexes are a periodic occurrence, and scientists have difficulty pinning these extreme temperatures completely on climate change.   However, it does appear that the loss of polar ice (scroll down that link) has played a part and so the human contribution cannot be completely discounted as yet.  Likewise,  the stock market will rise and fall.  Here, the human element is much more clear:  the recently ended partial shut-down (and its potential reinstatement) and various tariffs, as current examples, have rattled investors leading to the peaks and valleys with investments.

As one who is closing in on retirement, the stock market’s rapid violation and adherence to the principles of gravity is attention-getting and disconcerting.  As an outdoors-oriented individual, the inability to go outside due to the profound cold is disheartening.  At least we did not have much snow to move…and the weekend is coming.

Take care.

 

 

Another Dose

January 30, 2019

BW photograph of wet snow clinging to trees while it is still snowing.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Awhile ago, I wrote a post about the concept of relativity.  Right now, we are experiencing another strong dose of that.

The weather in this area calls for a temperature of 0 degrees tonight-add in the wind chill and it becomes -17 degrees.  That is cold, frigid, arctic-like, whatever descriptor would appear to be appropriate.  Not at all comfortable to be outside-downright dangerous, in fact.

However, it is not quite the same as this.  These weather patterns are from the same system, but the Upper Midwest has been brutalized by the recent polar vortex.  This is another example of the importance of relativity.  It also points out that no matter how anything is, there is always something bigger, faster, stronger, and yes, colder.  This summer I am sure we will switch to discussing what is hotter.  (As an aside, check out the weather is Australia.)

According to that linked report, the Governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, considered closing all of the schools in the state.  He did not, however, do this because “…one of the things that I’m concerned about is, is when you close a school sometimes, that is the place of warmth and food that is not available elsewhere.”

That summarizes the state of the human condition for far too many.

Take care.

UPDATE:  The Appalachian Mountain Club has these recommendations for dressing for extremely cold weather-this report on NPR brought that link to my attention.  It is quite clear why such temperatures and wind chill present issues for those without the resources to be safe.

 

 

 

 

Furlough or Not

January 26, 2019

BW photograph of wind-torn Maryland and U.S. flags laying in bushes.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The partial government shutdown ended, at least temporarily, after having reached 35 days in length-it was by far the longest in U.S. history to date.  According to Vox, “Approximately 380,000 federal employees are currently furloughed and 420,000 are expected to work without pay…”

BW photograph of wind-torn Maryland and U.S. flags laying in bushes.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

That quote came from this article, which provides graphics and details to summarize the effect-this is a “big picture” (macro) view.  A micro analysis of the shutdown would examine the individual stories of deprivation due worker’s lost wages and the shock waves extending outward to those who also depend on government employees for their livelihood-some of those are described here and here.

BW photograph of wind-torn Maryland and U.S. flags laying in bushes.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The members of Congress were being paid during the shutdown.

Beyond the financial impact, though, is the psychological toll being exacted on those furloughed workers, their dependents, and those who rely on federal employees for their well-being-this includes anyone flying via U.S. airports.  Earlier this month, the president said that the shutdown could last for “months or even years“.  Such language does nothing but exacerbate the stress and worry of all involved.  More on this point later.

Yesterday, the president announced an agreement to re-open the government until February 15, which is, indeed, important.  The president gave an address explaining his position on the agreement, which included his current description of the alternatives for border security and the need for such.  Should an agreement not be reached, the president stated the government would be again shut down and he would use executive power by declaring a national emergency to address the funding for the wall.  It is worth listening to the speech and then fact-checking the information for validity.  For example, the president repeatedly refers to the heroin being smuggled into the country from Mexico as one reason for the wall-the evidence, including the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Drug Threat Assessment report, does not support that claim.  The definition of “wall” also changes.

The measures taken by Congress yesterday and last evening do not address the funding for border security.  As is usual, more will be revealed as this process continues.  For all affected by the shutdown, there is a temporary respite for many-federal contractors appear to not be getting lost pay.  In addition, the spectre of another shutdown hovers as work continues to find, and fund, a politically agreeable solution to address border security.  Should that not occur in the next three weeks, and the president declares a national emergency, more political and legal wrangling may be the result.  Federal workers and their associates may again be in the middle.  For them, this could be an intense three weeks.

What is also clear is that the appeal of working for the government, doing civil service, has taken a hit.  That may, in fact, turn out to be the longer term casualty for which there are higher consequences.

Take care.

 

 

Time Passing

January 4, 2019

BW photograph of the Sands Motel and its marquee.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The Sands Motel was in business from 1948 until 2018-that is quite a run.  It is now being demolished and is to be rebuilt and updated.

As per the info from that second link, it must not have aged gracefully.  Indeed, a brief review of feedback indicates that it was in need of renewal.  So it would seem to be of almost anything of that vintage, especially one subject to a fair amount of wear and tear from weather and occupation-the marque seems indicative of that.  Still, it makes one wonder how many people stayed at the Sands over that 70 year history.

BW photograph of a door at the being demolished Sands Motel.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

From where did they come?  How long did they stay?  What did they do while here?

BW photograph of the lower level of the being demolished Sands Motel.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

What must have happened in these rooms over the years?  Were the visitors happy or sad to leave?

BW photograph showing the bucket of the crane this is being used to demolish the Sands Motel.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

While the physical structure is soon to be no longer there, those that did spend time at the Sands Motel will have their memories of the experience.  That is unless they, too, have deteriorated…age will do that.

Take care.

2019 Begins

January 2, 2019

BW photograph of the NPS closure notice about the "lapse in federal appropriations".

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

More than a few people most likely awoke with a bit of a hangover yesterday morning to greet the year.  That is an unpleasant way to start this new beginning.  On a much larger, and considerably more important, scale, the federal government continued its shutdown, which goes well beyond the short-term effects of a headache.  Hundreds of thousands of federal employees ended last year and began the new with furloughs or are working without being paid.  The effects are not limited to federal employees as per this report.  Indeed, after making the above photograph, a gentleman approached and asked if the rest rooms were open-they were not.  Fortunately, there was a port-a-pot a mile or so up the road.  As per that linked report, some in the national parks are doing their business (which is itself a euphemism for relieving themselves) elsewhere because visiting centers are closed due to the “insufficient appropriations”.

That is, perhaps, an effective metaphor: without an appropriate, functional outlet, excrement spreads.  That, in turn, creates many other problems down the road.

A briefing is being held today to take stock of the entrenched positions regarding governmental funding.  Democrats officially take charge of the House tomorrow.

Take care.

UPDATE:  NPR’s 1A aired this program on the government shutdown on 1/3/19-it is worth a listen.

More Rain

December 28, 2018

BW photograph looking out over traffic on a rainy evening from a sixth floor hotel window.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The mountains in the Pacific Northwest have had quite a bit of snowfall recently.  Meanwhile, here in the Mid-Atlantic, it has been another deluge of rain.  It started raining last evening…

BW photograph looking out over traffic on a rainy evening from a sixth floor hotel window.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

and continued well into the day before a period of relative dryness appeared.

BW photograph of another flood of Morgan Run.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

During that brief spell, a trip to check Morgan Run made sense.  The water level appeared to have exceeded its banks for the umpteenth (an imprecise term) time this year.

BW photograph of exposed roots from the recent flooding of Morgan Run.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a view from the road of a flooded Morgan Run.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It was clear that these photographs were made after the high water mark for this particular event had been reached.  However, it had begun to rain again as I was leaving.

In the spirit of gratitude, it was nice that the temperature was in the 50s, so this was not snow.  Even though this is the end of December, I am still not ready for that kind of snowfall.

On the other hand, this is the opposite of both the amount of rain and snow experienced in other parts of the country.  Indeed, it is imperative that one understand the complexity of the cultural, economic, environmental, political, and social aspects of weather (in the short-term) and climate change (in the much longer term).  With respect to the latter, one must also remember that as the planet warms overall, different geographic areas will experience differing effects:  some will indeed warm and dry out-others will become cooler and wetter.

And in related news, as per this report, the same socio-economic factors listed above come into play with the issue of “mercury and other toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants…” the regulations on which are now under review by the EPA.  This is in keeping with efforts to revise the regulations on CO2 emissions, which are also summarized in the report.  It appears clear that longer-term thinking is not at work here.

Take care.