BW photograph of a dropped leave in dried, cracked mud.

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

Yesterday, the president did what he said he would do-he withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.  NPR posted this fact-check of the speech within which the president made the announcement.

BW photograph of a dark vehicle driving in a parking lot on a rainy day as seen through a windshield.

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

And the world has responded:  It appears that China is moving towards leadership in this critical issue; France replied in this manner;  and this is the response from the EU.  This report is a little older, and, of course, we now know the result.  Ideally, the U.S. withdrawal will strengthen the resolve of the remaining 190+ countries who signed the Accord.

For someone who claims to be so enamoured with the environment (listen to or read the text of the speech), the president sure has a contradictory way of showing it-Scott Pruitt as head of EPA, the roll-backs of Obama-era climate efforts, and now this one.

It is worth noting that current Secretary of Defense James Mattis had this to say about climate change earlier this year.

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.

 

74 Degrees

February 18, 2017

BW photograph of a shopping center's parking lot.

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

Today, February 18, 2017, it was 74 degrees in Frederick, Maryland.

BW photograph of the back side of a store front's wall.

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

While walking around the downtown area in the early afternoon, one gentleman was overheard saying to his companions “Sure, it’s global warming, but it’s nice.”

And it was.

The issue, though, is that we are dealing with climate change.  In a previous post, I referenced Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation by Alan Burdick, which really is an excellent read.  One of the chapters, “The Days,” describes the impact of climate change on the circadian rhythms of some migrating species and their sources of food.  Historically, their biological clocks were synchronized-as the planet warms, they are becoming less so.  Some species’ biological clocks are driven by time, others by temperature.  As such, this creates a problem for those migrating species with biological clocks that are time-based whose food sources may have hatched much earlier than usual due to a circadian rhythm reacting to warmer temperatures.  As Mr. Burdick points out, those species that are able to adapt to these changing patterns will survive and those that don’t, won’t. (pg. 64)

So, while it was undeniably an excellent day for a walk around town, there are much larger implications involved.  It is easy to adapt to the warmth of a day like today by putting on a lighter jacket or by wearing none at all.  Assuming the temperatures drop over the next week as is forecast, one can adjust by selecting a heavier jacket or adding a sweater.  No big deal.  For some species, though, the evolutionary process of adaptation may, in fact, take too long.

Take care.

“Home Free”

January 31, 2017

BW photograph of a cardboard sign stating "Home Free Broke & Hungry Anything Helps God Bless Trying to gt A Room" in a trashcan.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It is very difficult to reconcile the above image.

This documentary is also difficult to watch-it is entitled 4.1 Miles and depicts Kyriakos Papadopoulos and his crew’s efforts to rescue refugees off the coast of Lesbos.  It does, however, provide a very powerful juxtaposition to current U.S. policy regarding immigration.  This news analysis also provides a counter-point to said policy.  (As an aside, given that we are in an era of “alternative facts,” it is important to carefully review the actual language used and check and validate statistics when examining such issues.)  The current policy has created a great deal of controversy here in the U.S. and abroad.

As stated in the news analysis, the goal of terrorism is to create fear.  Individuals and social institutions can wittingly and unwittingly play into such efforts by creating a globalized fear of the other.  Critical thinking and actual facts do make a difference so as to avoid the dangers inherent in stereotyping and demonizing.  With specific regard to refugees, at what point do empathy, compassion, and humanity become factors?  The same need to be afforded to the victims of terrorist actions.  It is vitally important that one group not be played against the other.

Returning to the photograph at the head of this post, part of what is heartbreaking is that the sign was in the trash.  Perhaps, in the best sense, it was no longer needed as the person or persons achieved what was expressed.

Take care.

Record Heat-2016

January 23, 2017

BW photograph of silhouetted trees with a partially rain clouded sky in the background.

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

It is official-2016 was the hottest year on record.  It is very significant to note that this was confirmed by both NOAA and NASA.

BW photograph of a tree in front of a building with a broken window and vines creeping up one side.

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

That significance is demonstrable in at least two ways:  One, the recently elected president has suggested cutting NASA’s climate research budget-“politicized science” as it is referred to here; and, two, according to The New York Times “Within moments of the inauguration of President Trump, the official White House website on Friday deleted nearly all mentions of climate change.”

Disagreement between the president and his cabinet appointees on several issues is evident based on the congressional hearings held thus far.  For example,  EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt has acknowledged that climate change in real and that human activity plays “some” role.  This is in comparison to the president’s referring to climate change as a “hoax” as is also mentioned in that last link.

So many posts on this site contain the phrase “time will tell” and once again that is the case.  We will see how the new administration actually responds to climate change.  Given the important role that NASA plays in the measurement and observation of said change, one directly relates to the other.  One way or another, the seas will continue to rise, desertification will continue to progress, and populations will continue to be impacted unless there is a concerted, organized effort to reduce greenhouse gases.  If those types of initiatives are not supported, then there needs to be the same effort directed toward adaptation and mitigation.

This article highlights one of the reasons that time will tell.  For years China and India resisted efforts to rein in greenhouse gases by making the argument, essentially, that as developing nations, they had every right to advance by using the same resources as most-developed nations, chiefly the U.S., to advance their economies and standards of living.  As per the article, that position has changed.  Having some of the “…most polluted cities…” on the planet most likely influenced this point-of-view.

For the U.S., the zeroing out of a budget item and the removal of a website, much like pulling the covers over one’s head, does not make the problem disappear.

Take care.

 

“Game On”

January 18, 2017

BW photograph of a closer view of an outdoor chess board's pieces-emphasis on the white king.

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

In Season Four, Episode Six of The West Wing, President Bartlett’s staff exhorts him to do well in the presidential debate by using the phrase “Game On”, which is also the title of the episode.  This coming Friday is Inauguration Day in the United States-a day when the president-elect officially becomes the Commander-in-Chief.  In that sense, it most certainly becomes “game on” for the incoming administration.

BW photograph of an outdoor chess board's pieces.

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

Many moves have already been made in this “game” as it began with the 2016 campaign and election season.  Many cabinet appointees have had their hearings before congressional committees and more of those are to come.  The tweets have been flowing.

And, of course, this is not a game, nor is it a television show.

Given the ease of using Netflix, it is possible to binge watch The West Wing, which originally aired from 1999 to 2006.  What is fascinating to see is just how many of the political, social, cultural, and environmental issues addressed in the show remain relevant, if not headline-generating, today.  It is just as interesting to watch how the fictional President Bartlett and his staff navigate those issues.

The president-elect and his staff will have the opportunity to do so in real time.

Take care.

Here to There

January 14, 2017

BW photograph of a concrete road overpass overtop a field.

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

How do we get from here to there?

That is a quintessential/existential question-the answer to which is based on the determination of what or where “here” and “there” are.  Once again we are within the realm of perception.

From a psychological perspective, sensation is the sensory data we encounter through sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch.  Perception is the meaning ascribed to that data.  For example, while the data documenting climate change is quite clear, there are different conclusions drawn.  Some see this an opportunity to gain access to natural resources heretofore covered by the now melting ice sheets and glaciers.  Others interpret this as a continuation of the mindset that created the problem in the first place.

This interview is what generated the idea for today’s post.  Please be sure to listen to the entire discussion as it is interesting to hear the different perspectives provided by the host, Bob Garfield, and the interviewee, Rebecca Solnit.  Ms. Solnit’s view of optimism and pessimism is particularly intriguing.  As an aside, climate change factors prominently in this discussion.

Take care.