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                                                                                 by Rich Miller

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The Spectator
by Jim Bennett • jwbnnt@aol.com
JAN 13 2022

A Nation’s Resolution?

IS IT TOO LATE to make a new year’s resolution? I don’t think so, and as a nation we need to act with singularity of purpose and urgency. We need to declare war on climate change and do so immediately.

In 2021, we saw record downpours and flooding east of the Rockies, while west of the Rockies the nation baked under unprecedented heat and drought while enduring record-setting temperatures and the worst fire season in the nation’s history. A particularly thorough investigation and report by USA Today researchers highlighted the deadly enemy we face.

In the report, climatologist Dinah Pulver said, “People talk about the climate we’re leaving for our kids and grandchildren, but the reality is climate change is here now and it’s affecting most of us.” Michael Mann, a climatologist at Penn State University told our reporters “The greenhouse effect is important to keep Earth from freezing, but excess heat reduces the temperature difference between the warmer tropics and cooler polar regions in the summer.”

Mann added that “Reduction in the temperature difference slows down the jet stream, which makes it weaker and wavier in the summer. That means weather systems moving across the country can slow or stall more often.” “The gentle rains for a number of days are kind of disappearing and are being replaced by downpours,” said Chris Davis, USA Today’s executive editor.

2021 saw countless areas of massive flooding and a proliferation of catastrophic wildfires destroy entire communities. The study shows, “Oregon had its most destructive wildfire season on record in July with roughly 2,200 fires that burned more than 11 million acres and destroyed more than 4,000 homes.”

THE USA TODAY investigation is the most thorough look at climate change I’ve seen in a mainstream media outlet. According to Nicole Carroll, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, “Our reporters analyzed more than a century of precipitation records from the

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a unique collection of snow and rain extremes computed by Alaska-based climate researcher Brian Brettschneilder.

Reporters read thousands of pages of climate assessments, scientific papers, weather reports, and government documents.”

In eastern states, global warming shows “A stunning shift in the way precipitation falls in America. At some point over the past three years, 27 states—all east of the Rocky Mountains—hit their highest 30-year precipitation average since record keeping began in 1895. In June of this year, at least 136 daily rainfall records were set during storms across five states along the Mississippi River.”

These events don’t come without consequences. Major flooding leaves many thousands homeless and/or dead. Power outages can run from a few days to a few weeks. Agricultural runoff poisons rivers and lakes clear to the Gulf of Mexico, leaving many without potable drinking water. Flooding undermines agricultural production.

Three weeks back, a collection of fierce tornados ripped a path of unprecedented destruction along 170 miles of the Mason-Dixon line. Wind speeds up to 150 mph were common as the deadly storm shredded its way, and in a winter month. Some pockets of Kentucky are still without power. Many people died, and thousands upon thousands were left homeless. Building back may be impossible in many locations, despite help on the ground from the federal government. Andy Beshear, Kentucky’s Governor, has called it the worst natural disaster in state history.

AT THE OPPOSITE EXTREME, especially in July, eight states in the West had at least three record-dry years in the same period. More rolling blackouts and long-term power outages, more profound impact on agriculture, more raging fires laying waste to habitat, human life, wildlife, and even entire towns. Year over year, Lake Shasta’s water level continues to plummet.

We don’t need to speculate on the effects of climate change for our children and grandchildren. We’re living them now.

Some climate scientists claim it’s already too late, but there were plenty of Americans in 1942 who thought it was too late for the U.S. to have an important impact on the outcome of WWII. But I think of Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation and I read in the Washington Post, “Coming on the heels of the Great Depression, when millions could find no work and a terrible malaise gripped the land, the war shook the U.S. out of its lethargy and put it on the move physically, emotionally, socially, and above all, economically.

In big cities, factories that previously turned out gleaming automobiles or appliances operated on triple shifts to make airplane engines, troop carriers, tanks, bombers, and guns. People planted ‘victory gardens’ in their back yards. Boys and girls enthusiastically brought pocket change to school to buy stamps that would collectively purchase war bonds.”

The nation was unified and committed. The war on climate change needs that kind of common purpose. President Biden’s Build Back Better plan includes $550 billion to transition the country to clean, renewable sources of energy. “Without those actions,” according to the Associated Press, “Greenhouse gasses with emissions of net zero by 2050 can’t be achieved, which will trigger a cascade of devastating effects.”

Can this nation find enough unity? I’d like to think so, but it’s awfully hard to be optimistic.

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Senior moments aren’t just for seniors. Experts say those little mental glitches affect everyone at all ages and are more likely to impact people when they are tired or stressed out. Maybe that is what happened to me when I penned last week’s classic. Many of our readers have since questioned me about that article. In case some of you haven’t forgiven me, let me assure you that I had intended to submit an updated version entitled “Will Gas Prices Restore Mainstreet America” that was still relevant and instead I sent Laurie the original from 2008. Again my fault and I’m sorry. I could say that I was still ankle deep in water but that is no longer the case and when one presses the send button that is what this laptop does.

Needless-to-say it did lead to this week’s classic. “Forgetful Moments.” It seems that I have been more forgetful lately than before the flood of our basement on December 28, 2015. Cite an example you might ask. Why, just the other morning I positioned my orange juice at twelve o’clock and the coffee cup at three o’clock, something I have rigidly done since my eyesight began diminishing. Step two is routinely putting one packet of Spenda into the coffee cup and then adding several spoonfuls of Coffee-Mate. Except I poured the mixture into the orange juice instead of the coffee cup. UGH!

Mrs. C always tells me that I just have too much on my mind and not to fret about it. But it does irritate me. I have significantly cut back on my schedule and we’ll just wait and see. So much so that once I went to Advocate Bro-Menn for blood work and parked on the third deck as is my habit. After completing the blood test I returned and could not find my truck on the third deck. The truck wasn’t on the 2nd deck either. I promptly returned to the hospital and was preparing to contact the police department and report my truck stolen. Reached into my pocket and found my keys to Mrs. C’s car. I had driven the car!!!! UGH. Folks I have done this more than once. Hopefully, with Mrs. C. doing most of the driving, I no longer will misplace whatever I drive. Here are a couple of other moments, but not attributed to me: The pipe underneath the sink was leaking so I placed a bucket to catch all the water. When the bucket was full I emptied it out into the same sink! Then there are those times when refilling the gas tank on your car or truck and you must pay the cashier/attendant prior to gassing up. You dutifully hand the cashier/attendant a two twenty dollar bills and return to your truck and drive off without filling up and leaving your sunglasses behind.

Whether you are going up or down stairs; getting something out of or putting into the fridge or going to the mail box twice in one day may simply be just too much stress and has nothing to do with the aging process.

Till next time…john

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